HC Deb 19 July 1967 vol 750 cc2377-9
Mr. Corfield

I beg to move Amendment No. 108, in page 47, line 24, after 'company', to insert 'and not withdrawn'.

In this Clause we deal with a situation in which the Board of Trade issues a direction demanding that a company should change its name if in the Board's opinion it is a misleading name. The Clause now contains a provision by which the company must comply with that direction, unless it is made the subject of an application to the High Court and then, of course, it rests with the High Court.

This is a process very similar to many other forms of direction for an enforcement notice, purchase notice and so on in the Town and Country Planning Acts, with which I am more familiar than I am with Board of Trade Acts. In many of those Acts, and I believe in all, when a direction has an effect of this sort and is a mandatory direction—it becomes completely mandatory once the period of appeal has run out—the words "if not withdrawn" are used.

The Amendment would make it perfectly clear that the Board of Trade was always able to withdraw a direction and that a direction would not have to operate absolutely from the moment of its making, subject only to the decision of the person on whom it was served to apply to the High Court. This is a little like the argument which we had on what used to be Clause 90 but which is now Clause No. 19. We were concerned whether the exemptions were revokable, and the Board of Trade sensibly decided that, if there was doubt, it should be made clear that there was power to revoke the exemption. Equally, it should be made clear that not only is there a power to withdraw these directions, but that as soon as they are withdrawn they have no effect. This is better drafting and better law, and I commend it to the House.

4.0 a.m.

Mr. Darling

The hon. Member is trying to do something which is additional to what is necessary. His proposal is quite unnecessary. A direction to change a company's name will be made only after very careful consideration of the case; and there is an appeal to the courts. The courts can set aside the direction if the Board of Trade makes a hash of things. It is unnecessary within six weeks to provide also that the Board of Trade shall withdraw a direction once given. I cannot imagine it happening.

Mr. Corfield

The right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that, although an application has to be made in six weeks, it will be many more weeks before it comes to court. It may turn out that the Board of Trade wishes to change its mind. This applies, in particular, to purchase notices which have gone through the Lands Tribunal, which is a court. In this sort of case it is wise to have this power. The misleading nature of the name may change because the company or some other organisation which the name is similar to may have changed. It is not sufficient to say that because there is only a six-week lag on the question of the appeal it will be six weeks before the decision is made.

Mr. Darling

We are prepared to look at this matter, just as we will look at the previous Amendment.

Amendment negatived.