§ Mr. Terence L. Higgins (Worthing)
I beg to move Amendment No. 9, in page 3, line 11, leave out "written".
§ The Temporary Chairman (Dr. A. D. D. Broughton)
It will be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 10, in line 12, leave out "written", and Amendment No. 11, in line 15, leave out "one month" and insert "three months".
§ Mr. Higgins
I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee, Dr. Broughton, if we took these Amendments together, though the actual connection between them is perhaps rather tenuous. The first Amendment is concerned with 79 whether or not the export rebate withdrawal should not apply to contracts which are both written and oral, and Amendment No. 11 is concerned rather with the period of notices which those who think they are entitled to the export rebate are required to give before they are considered by the Board of Trade. Therefore, while I think there is some connection between the Amendments, it would be helpful if I divided my remarks in two.
The essence of the first Amendment is to ensure that in cases where a genuine contract has been made with regard to an export order though the contract has not been expressed in written form, the firm concerned should still get the export rebate, whereas if the Bill were passed in its present form it would be excluded from doing so. I think this a legitimate Amendment. We shall listen with interest to what the Minister of State has to say. This is a matter of considerable concern to a number of exporters who, following the exhortations of the Government about exports, find themselves in the post-devaluation period hit not only by the effect of the Government's other measures but also by the effect of the removal of the export rebate. I stressed on Second Reading that the Government had created a considerable amount of uncertainty about the whole question. We seek in the Amendment to clarify the position.
I think it true to say that the matter was partly explained in the speech by the Financial Secretary on 8th February. when he said, scpeaking about oral agreements:So far as the Government are concerned, it is our earnest wish to include as far as we can within the rules of practicability and proof required to protect public funds, all contracts whether oral or written where there is written evidence of the contract in existence before devaluation date. We have not yet found a solution to a widening of the Clause that would give complete effect to our wishes in this regard. We shall continue independently to seek such a solution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 781.]We also have continued independently to seek such a solution, and the result is our simple Amendment.
Our essential point here is twofold. First, the right hon. Gentleman will be well aware from his high office of the 80 very large number of commercial transactions which are not normally expressed in written form until some time after the agreement between the two parties has taken place. This has been exemplified in a number of our institutions, particularly those in the City of London, where the expression "Our word is our bond" is taken as the whole basis of business by those engaged in commercial transactions.
It is necessary to stress that this is not simply a question of mere business morality. It is also backed up by a very real sanction. Any of those who break their word on an agreement even though it has not been expressed in writing may well find it very difficult, if not impossible, to go on doing business with the same customers or with other customers in the market who may hear of their action. Therefore, it is highly undesirable for those in the City of London and elsewhere who engage in contracts agreed originally on an oral basis to find themselves, because of action by the Government, placed in a position where their day-to-day affairs are jeopardised. I think it is common ground between both sides of the Committee that whenever possible we should go to very great lengths to ensure that people in this position do not have the Government participating in such a way that their ordinary commercial contracts deteriorate.
Secondly, we are by no means clear from the Clause itself why the export rebate has been withdrawn. 'The right hon. Gentleman will be well aware that the original intention of the rebate—it came out clearly in the debates in 1964 and 1965—was simply to offset certain indirect taxes, particularly fuel oil taxes, the Road Fund and so on, which exporters had incurred. It was in no sense—I shall return to this point on later Amendments—regarded as a protective device. Therefore, it would be wrong if some oral agreement were invalidated because the Government suddenly withdrew the offset which they had previously given. It would be a shame if ordinary commercial relationships were jeopardised because the Government had changed their policy rather than been forced to change their policy. This is something that we ought to consider. The Government have said that 81 the export rebate is no longer necessary. As I say, I think they have changed their ground to a considerable extent.
Also, the Clause is far too restrictive as it is now worded. If we accept the Bill as it stands, the Government are able to consider cases only where there has been oral agreement, and even if reasonable proof were produced of the existence of such an agreement, if the Bill is not amended in the form we suggest the Board of Trade will not be allowed to give the firm the export rebate. Perhaps the Minister of State can confirm Whether that is so or not.
In particular, we need to clarify the meaning of "written agreement" within the terms of the contract. Clause 2 says:if the relevant transaction (for cases within paragraph (a) as well as cases within (b) in brackets…is a written contract of sale".I hope that the Minister of State will make clear exactly what is meant by:a written contract of sale, or a sale in pursuance o a written contract of sale".While he and hon. Members may well understand what is meant, the ordinary exporter, particularly the small exporter, may not. This is particularly pertinent because of the Financial Secretary's statement to which I have referred:…all contracts whether oral or written where there is written evidence of the contract in existence before devaluation date.It may well be that there is written evidence but that within the legal terminology it is not a written contract. We shall have to consider the Minister's reply before we decide what action we should take about voting on that Amendment.
Amendment No. 11 is concerned with the period of notice to be given by a firm when applying for an export rebate which it believes falls before the very early and arbitrary deadline of 31st March which the Government have now announced. Three or four points arise on this.
First, many small exporters, perhaps preoccupied with their ordinary business interests, particularly if they are taking advantage of devaluation, may not be aware of the exact conditions under which the export rebate has been withdrawn until they suddenly find the effect of the withdrawal turning up in their accounts. The withdrawal has not had enormous publicity in the popular Press 82 so far, and a particular exporter may well not become aware of it until there is some positive action in a case affecting his firm. How long is it likely to be before someone who is entitled to the rebate, and who should perhaps put in a claim under the Clause, will know that the export rebate has been withdrawn on an order for which he thought it would be given.
Second, it may well be that the exporter will find himself at the peak of his business in the coming months. It very much depends on what trade he is engaged in. if he is exporting to New Zealand, his exports boom may be about September, because of the Christmas trade, but there are other trades where the peak period is in March, April or May. The documentation is very complex and even if the exporter knows about the need to claim for the rebate the last thing he wants to do—or the Government want him to do—is to spend time in the middle of his peak period sending off a vast number of forms, having them duplicated, taking up his secretary's time and so on. On these grounds as well there is a case for extending the tight time limit imposed.
Third, I understand that the Government are finding difficulty in administering the claims for export rebate through the normal machinery. I understand that they are normally administered through the Customs and Excise but that the claims for the non-withdrawal of the rebate are being dealt with by the Board of Trade. That presumably means that the Board of Trade must either take on extra staff or allocate people from one Department to another to help. Surely, rather than have a rush, with a whole pile of applications snowing the Department concerned under, it would be better if they were spread over a time, with the more convenient period we suggest.
On all three grounds there is no reasonable basis on which the Government could reject Amendment No. 11, and I hope that they will accept all three.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Peyton
I warmly agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins). I find this kind of legislation unpleasant, if not odious, and I should want to be completely satisfied on the points my hon. Friend made.
83 Are the Government just anxious to secure the position by there being adequate written evidence of a contract? If so, are they satisfied that the courts will so construe the Bill? If they are not, they are taking a great deal too much for granted. The fact that they require…a written contract of sale, or a sale in pursuance of a written contract of sale,…makes it seem to me that they may be demanding formalities which will not ordinarily have been observed by many small firms. It may well be that a practice has grown up which was originally derived from documents. There may be a well-established commercial practice between two concerns. A perfectly legitimate and well-authorised sale may have taken place on the telephone which will not qualify under the Bill for a rebate, as it should. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to allay the anxieties, because the Government are very often a little bit unrealistic in their conceptions of commercial practice, and they judge a good deal too much by their own way of running offices.
On the question of the time within which a claim must be made, Government Departments would do well to learn something from their practice, because there is not always spontaneity of reaction when one is communicating with them. Many people who write to the Ministry of Transport today do not find themselves embarrassed by an immediate reply. The Ministry is overflowing with complaints. There are often times when Government Departments do not respond with quite that speed which either their correspondents or Ministers would wish. Therefore, the Amendment asking for three months instead of one is very fair and well within the limits of the Government's understanding. I very much hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not only accept the Amendments but will make it absolutely clear that an informal contract based on a long period of practice would not be disqualified from a rebate to which it should, in equity, be entitled.
§ Mr. Sheldon
I am not quite sure about the position of Telex messages; I wonder if they would constitute a written contract of sale. A large number of firms now receive many contracts by Telex, confirming them subsequently. 84 Such is the confidence reposed in the Telex messages that some of the written and signed contracts do not appear until long afterwards, or, to an increasing extent, not at all.
It is also fairly clear that there is scope for much abuse, because anybody can sit down at a teleprinter and produce a contract months afterwards. Such is the custom, and such has been the way in which this very advantageous method of placing orders has been used to an increasing extent, that a fairly great area of hardship could be involved here.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. George Darling)
I hope that I shall be able to give the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) some of the assurances he is asking for, but I ask him to excuse me, for the time being at any rate, a dissertation on the law of contract. I have to give it later and I must stick to the legal brief given to me for it, otherwise the Committee will be in trouble. I do not want to make observations about it off the cuff.
It is not, of course, for a Minister to try to make distinctions between Departments of the Government, but we at the Board of Trade are becoming slightly embarrassed by the number of messages we have received about the speed with which we deal with our business, and naturally I hope that this will continue.
I thank the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) for agreeing to take these Amendments together because it means that I can hope to get away with one speech instead of two. In relation to the first two Amendments, I agree that the exclusion of oral contracts—or their apparent exclusion—has caused some concern among certain groups of traders in the City and elsewhere because the Bill as it stands is confined to written contracts. But I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance he seeks about what we mean by contracts of sale and how this will apply.
It has been rightly pointed out, both on Second Reading and again today, that many trading contracts are made between firms here and overseas without any written contract at all and are scrupulously observed. The trader's word is enough. Those who deal with him know without dubiety that his word is his bond. They know that he will 85 honour the contract. Britain's reputation for honest dealing stands high in the world and I fully agree that we should cause grave damage to that enviable reputation if we even faintly suggest that Government and Parliament did not accept that the British trader's word was his bond, that he was not to be trusted and that we should insist on written contracts. That would be wrong and it is not the Government's intention.
We do, however, face a difficult issue here, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod) pointed out on Second Reading, when he put it very clearly. He said the Clause…deals…with written contracts but as the House knows, a great deal of the business of this country is done in the first instance by a verbal agreement. Hon. Members will recall the phrase on which so much of the City of London works—'My word is my bond'—and although I absolutely recognise that, in a matter where public money is involved, one must have special standards of proof—that is not in dispute between us—I suggest that if, say, the President of the Board of Trade was satisfied that a contract was an absolutely genuine one which might be enforceable, so to speak, in honour, though not necessarily in accordance with Clause 2. it would be right for the Government to consider an Amendment to that effect…".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 679.]I fully agree with the right hon. Gentleman's approach, but he begs the question that we have been asked to solve—how is the President of the Board of Trade to satisfy himself that the oral contract was an absolutely genuine one which might be enforceable in honour? If we accepted the first two Amendments in this group, all oral contracts as well as written contracts would get a Board of Trade certificate if they satisfied the general conditions in terms of the Clause. In other words, all contracts, oral and written, would have to be examined by the Board of Trade.
This is where we come up against the legal and administrative difficulties. How does one examine an oral contract? We want to be helpful as far as it is practicable to be in a rather difficult case like this. Our officials and Customs and Excise officials, as the right hon. Gentleman will agree after his earlier remarks about Ministry of Labour officials, are skilled in solving problems of administration. They have examined this matter 86 thoroughly but they cannot find a way of carrying out the right hon. Gentleman's qualification that, in a matter where public money is involved, there must be special standards of proof.
My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury dealt with this point on Second Reading. I shall not quote him fully but I must repeat one sentence he said:We cannot have an exclusively oral constract decided upon in this way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 781.]I shall not go into detail but the Board of Trade is not equipped to conduct a series of oral examinations of innumerable exporters in order to decide who are to be believed when they say that they have entered into oral contracts and who are not to be believed. As I have said, we have tried to find a way out and I think that hon. Members must bear in mind that the Customs Department, under existing law, requires evidence of eligibility for the rebate. It has to see shipping documents, bills of lading and so forth, but does not necessarily have to see an individual contract and has no machinery for examination of trading contracts. Under this Clause, the job of examining contracts will fall upon the Board of Trade, and we have not the machinery for that either, because there has never been any need to examine them.
For the reasons I have given, we cannot take on the almost impossible task of examining and verifying oral contracts. It is inescapable that we must have some sort of written evidence that a contract is genuine, and we will go as far as we can to meet the arguments. But in practical terms, by and large, we shall be dealing with oral contracts and I hope and suppose that those contracts will be by firms which are well known and have impeccable reputations for honest dealing so that we can, therefore, accept, in most cases, correspondence acknowledging a contract made orally or a written acknowledgement of an order. That should cover most oral contracts because some kind of written evidence about an oral contract must appear at some time.
This we are prepared to do and do not need any Amendment to allow us to do it. I do not think that we can go any further. Indeed, I do not think that this Committee, with its keen scrutiny of public expenditure, would allow us to go any 87 further. As my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Barnett) said on Second Reading:There are opportunities for evasion in all sorts of legislation dealing with extracting money from taxpayers or giving money away."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 690.]My hon. Friend went on to explain the difficulties of providing for oral contracts in this matter without written evidence.
I hope that, on the assurance I have just given, the Amendment will be withdrawn. I repeat that we will accept in most cases where we know the firms concerned correspondence or a written acknowledgment of an order as evidence, as it were, of a genuine contract. I do not think that we can say that in all circumstances—and I do not think that right hon. and hon. Members opposite would ask us to do so—oral contracts will be accepted because, obviously, we would land ourselves in difficulties in trying to keep the spending of public money properly under control. The opportunities for evasion under the Amendments would be such that we suggest that they should not be accepted.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. lain Macleod
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to be helpful, and both sides of the Committee are trying to find an answer. There are two things which I do not understand at this stage. First, the right hon. Gentleman said that he can do this, as it were, by administrative arrangement, but is he not bound by the words in the Clause as it stands, which always refer to a written contract of sale? Secondly—and this is a matter which gives some concern—would it not be wiser in that case for the right hon. Gentleman to accept not necessarily our Amendment, for we are not set on the wording by any means, but some Amendment which will satisfy people that the Government are trying to meet this difficulty?
§ Mr. Darling
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that the second question is what matters. We have carried out the undertaking of my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary as far as we have been able, but we have not been able to find a form of words, or any way out of the difficulty which would still bring us 88 properly within the law of contract. This is the point which was made by the hon. Member for Yeovil and I shall have to deal with it later.
We are in difficulty because an oral contract can be enforceable in the courts without written evidence, which is something which we must take into consideration, but I am advised that in these circumstances we cannot take an oral contract, which could be and should be enforceable in the courts, and tell the Board of Trade that it must act in a judicial capacity and that it and not a court must decide whether it is a genuine contract. That is an impossible administrative task to give to a Government Department.
Earlier, the hon. Member for Yeovil was talking about discretion being given to Government Departments and spoke against giving unlimited discretion. In this instance he is asking a Department to make decisions which are clearly judicial and which a Government Department ought not to have to decide. We have come up against this problem in law with which I shall have to deal later. However, I am advised by our legal advisers that the Amendment is unworkable, that we cannot give the Board of Trade discretion to exercise in administration what is now a legal judgment, because no Government Department could decide whether an oral contract was a genuine contract. This is something to be decided only in the courts. If anybody, even at this late stage, can suggest a way round—obviously, the Opposition have not been able to do so up to now—we would consider such representations.
§ Mr. Peyton
Although there may not have been a written contract of sale and although there may not have been a sale in pursuit of a written contract, there might still be a document which would be evidence of a sale having taken place. As the Clause is drafted, that writing, which at least would be evidence of a sale, would not be admissible.
§ Mr. Darling
We would accept that as evidence of a contract of sale in the circumstances which I have been describing—if it were a genuine contract. If there is no contract, we have no problem, because nobody will have bought or sold anything. There would be either 89 an oral or a written contract of some kind, or at least a document backing up a genuine oral contract and if there were we would accept it as evidence in the circumstances when we knew the firms and knew that the operations were justified and so on.
§ Mr. John Nott (St. Ives)
If the issue goes to the courts and is a matter of interpretation, the courts must surely say that if no written contract of sale exists, there is no contract. I do not see how the Board of Trade could take evidence of a contract sale as making the sale eligible under the Bill as drafted. To do so would seem to be contrary to the wording of the Bill. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to help, but, however I read the provision, I cannot see how the Board of Trade would be allowed to take evidence of a contract of sale as being eligible.
§ Mr. Darling
But that is what we are proposing to do. Generally speaking, the oral contract will be a genuine contract in these circumstances. The opportunities for evasion are clear, for anybody could say, "We made this oral contract some time ago and we are therefore entitled to the export rebate, although we have no evidence". There must be some kind of evidence. Whether we are getting foul of the law is something with which our legal advisers will have to deal, but we are prepared to accept correspondence between those concerned, the buyer and the seller, or some evidence of an order for the goods to be supplied, as evidence of a genuine oral contract. In other words, we now apply tine definition of a written contract to this sort of arrangement.
If there is some dispute, which means that some legal action is involved, it is for the courts and not the Board of Trade to decide and the Board of Trade will rave to take account of any judgment given in the courts. I do not know whether hon. Members with more experience of these matters than I have can imagine any circumstances in which this sort of issue would arise over a genuine contract which the Board of Trade had accepted as a genuine oral contract.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
This is an important and highly complex matter. Let us suppose that no correspondence between the supplier in 90 this country and the recipient exists, or existed at the time the Bill was produced, but, as a result of the Clause, a letter can be produced from the recipient abroad, correspondence after that date, confirming that there was an oral contract before hand; would that be acceptable?
§ Mr. Darling
Offhand, I would say that it was, but I should like to consider the timing. Obviously, contracts which are to be fulfilled after the end of March, or in some cases deliveries after March, will qualify for the Board of Trade certificate of satisfaction.
§ Mr. Darling
I am assured that a Telex reply to a Telex message is a written contract, so my hon. Friend need not worry any further.
We think that the period of one month from the date of the Royal Assent as being the time in which firms may apply for their pre-devaluation contracts to be certified is sufficient for the purpose. We discussed this with the C.B.I. which said that industry should have one month from the Royal Assent. In point of fact, it will have longer than one month in which to apply, because paragraph 3(2) of the Schedule permits the Board of Trade once the Bill is law to entertain applications made since the publication of the Bill. Public interest has already led more than 2,000 firms to approach us about contracts and more than 50,000 application forms have been made available to firms concerned. The Customs had already written to 23,000 firms about the Bill a few weeks ago. This means that any applications will be examined and also—I do not know when the Bill will be on the Statute Book—that the one month plus the previous period will give firms time to make applications.
Until the Bill is law—I can see the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) listening intently: perhaps this is the point that he was going to make—the forms are not statutory, but I am sure that he would agree that their availability gives firms much more time than if we had not adopted this procedure. The hon. Member for Worthing said that we were asking 91 firms to work to a tight time limit, but if the Amendment were accepted, the practical difficulty is that some applications for certificates would not reach us until, perhaps, the end of May and such certificates would probably not be available in time for the Customs to deal promptly with the payment in June of rebate on exports made in April.
The reason is that the Customs deal with payment of rebate three months after the exports and this has been generally accepted as a good arrangement. The Board of Trade will have enough difficulty, as it is, in issuing certificates quickly if the period of application is no later than one month after Royal Assent. Firms will not be happy if we alter the arrangement for paying rebate. This explanation is an invitation to firms to apply now. It does not matter whether the firms or the small exporters are doubtful about whether their contracts satisfy the terms of the Bill: they can make their applications and we will have some time to sort them out.
I will consider again the question of publicity with our officials to see whether, in addition to the correspondence which the Customs have had with these firms, we should do something more to draw attention to the time limits. We can consider this—
§ Mr. Higgins
I am trying to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument closely. I can see the case for the rebate being paid as quickly as possible and not over a longer period than in the past, but I do not see why this would be affected by the fact that a particular exporter who thought that he was entitled to the rebate should be allowed to put in his claim after three months rather than one.
§ Mr. Darling
We should get into administrative difficulties, because we have been working on this arrangement up to now. We have gone very carefully into this, and neither the Customs nor the Board of Trade wants to alter the arrangements, but we want to meet the hon. Gentleman's point, which is to give the applicants sufficient time. He says that one month is not enough, but the arrangements which we have been making in fact allow more than one month. I am sure that the course which we follow is appre 92 ciated by those concerned and would be welcomed by hon. Members opposite. To go further, however, would involve us in administrative difficulties which would not help the firms whose interests the hon. Gentleman is looking after.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Higgins
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman with interest, I am sure that he is trying to help, but we find it impossible, try as we might, to accept his explanation. On oral agreements, the Clause will be extremely restrictive, unamended, and will mean that the Government will rely on written contracts of sale. Although we know that the Board of Trade will consider sympathetically any oral agreements which may have been made in good faith by firms of high repute, this is a matter of sufficient importance to justify our insisting on the Amendment. This matter may affect particular firms considerably and have repercussions on their permanent relations with their customers.
My hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott) was justified in saying that he could not understand how the Government could extend their scope and grant rebates to people who had made oral agreements if the Bill were passed as it is. I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have accepted the Amendment, given that, later in the same paragraph, the Board of Trade still has a right to consider the matter and decide, since it has to be satisfied that a genuine agreement has been made and that the export had taken place within the terms of the Clause otherwise.
So, this is not opening a floodgate but merely giving the Board of Trade greater scope to decide whether an agreement is genuine and whether it should be satisfied that the arrangement is reasonable. We still accept what my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said on Second Reading, in the passage which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, but we cannot see that this is prejudiced by the acceptance of the Amendment. On a matter of this importance, when the Government have taken an arbitrary action in reciding to withdraw the export rebate on a date of which exporters had very little notice, it is up to them to formulate an acceptable Amendment and be rather more 93 lenient in these cases. We must adhere to the view in the Amendment given, that there are precautions against abuse.
The right hon. Gentleman's argument about three months was a non sequitur. I say that with respect, because I always listen to his arguments with interest, but he argued clearly that, because the Board of Trade and the Customs and Excise normally pay the rebate after a given period which, accidentally, also is three months—it would somehow completely disorganise matters if the people applying were to be given a little longer, namely, an extra two months. This does not follow at all. If they liked to apply earlier—some could, if the contracts took place some time before—there is no reason why the Government should not pay them the rebate as early as possible.
If that is not so, why should they not be allowed greater scope? This would probably relieve the pressure on Government staff. Given the arbitrary nature of the Government's decision, the important thing is not merely whether the Customs or the Board of Trade is happy, but whether the exporters find a longer period convenient. It may be that they are in the middle of a seasonal rush. It may be—and one hopes that this would be the case—that they are getting many extra orders in the post-devaluation period. If they are receiving extra orders, and if their staff for dealing with this kind of paper work is stretched, it is unfortunate that the Government should put an additional load on them. If there is a time limit on the basis suggested in the Bill, the natural tendency will be for the firm to say, "We must give priority to claiming the rebate on an export we made some while ago rather than to additional export orders".
There is clearly a case for giving greater scope in the Bill. I understand that we are to have separate divisions. I hope my hon. Friends will support the Amendments.
§ Mr. Darling
I should like to deal with two points which the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) has made about oral contracts. The phrase "written contract" covers all contracts which are evidenced in writing, including contracts by correspondence. I understand that this has been legally established and that we need not worry more about it. We can entertain oral contracts which are 94 the subject of written confirmation. The written confirmation creates a written contract for sale or hire as long as it complies with the relevant conditions of the Clause. I cannot agree that acceptance of the two Amendments on oral contracts would not open the door to evasion which could not be detected.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Would it not be better for the Minister to see whether the drafting of the Clause would be more suitably and better expressed by referring to "contracts evidenced in writing" as well as to "written contracts"? Every neophyte at the Bar has drawn statements of claim containing the words "by contract, partly oral and partly in writing. In so far as it was oral, it was made in such and such conversations; in so far as it was in writing, it was contained in such and such documents."
Under British law, the sale of goods is governed by the Sale of Goods Act, which makes it necessary for there either to be some form of acceptance or part performance, or for there to be some note or memorandum in writing of the contract made and signed by the party to be charged or his agent in that behalf. That is the evidence of the contract in writing rather than the contract originally existing in writing.
It may well be that the words "written contract" will be construed to cover all forms of contract, whether they be originally oral and evidenced in writing or whether they be a contract which, as originally made, is an agreement in writing. There may not be a great deal of practical importance in this because I cannot envisage many cases in which contracts are made for the export of goods without there being a sufficient memorandum in writing binding the parties and making the contract enforceable.
It might be as well if the Minister were to look at the drafting of the Clause and ensure that it is correct in the sense, not only that it will be construed as he says but that it will be so understood from the start and save the necessity of argument when the Bill has become law.
§ Mr. Nott
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) made a very good point. There is a distinction between confirmation of an oral contract 95 which may constitute a contract and a contract which arises during correspondence and what the Minister referred to, which was evidence produced to the Board of Trade of an oral contract. Evidence produced to the Board of Trade of an oral contract is quite different from confirmation of a contract or a contract entered into in correspondence. Evidence to the Board of Trade of an oral contract does not, according to the Clause, allow the Board of Trade to give the export rebate.
I think that we on this side of the Committee are right. I do not see why the text is sacred. We are only in Committee.
§ Mr. Darling
I am only a layman, but I cannot see any legal difference between the contract evidenced in writing and a written contract. However, I will look into the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), whose forensic skill in these matters I cannot match. We have covered the point made by the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott). I am prepared to go over all the arguments again, but I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 142. Noes 178.97
|Division No. 55.]||AYES||[6.28 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Grant, Anthony||Onslow, Cranley|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Astor, John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Peel, John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Percival, Ian|
|Balniel, Lord||Hastings, Stephen||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||pounder, Rafton|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Higgins, Terence L.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Biffen, John||Hiley, Joseph||Prior, J.M L.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hill, J. E. B.||Pym, Francis|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Ramsden. Rt. Hn. James|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Holland, Philip||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hooson, Emlyn||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hordern, Peter||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. SirWalter||Howell, David (Guildford)||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hunt, John||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Bryan, Paul||Iremonger, T.L.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Burden, F. A.||Jopling, Michael||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Campbell, Gordon||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Silvester, Frederick|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Stoddart-Scott. Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Cordle, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Corfleld, F.V.||Loveys, W. H.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Costain,A.P.||Lubbock, Eric||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Catheart)|
|Crowder, F. P||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Davidson, James (Abercleenshire,W.)||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Temple, John M.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||McMaster, Stanley||Van straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Maddan, Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Doughty, Charles||Maginnis, John E.||Walters, Dennis|
|Eden, Sir John||Mawby, Ray||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Elliott, R.W (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R.J.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Errington, Sir Eric||May don, Lt.- Cmdr. S. L. C.||Webster David|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Farr, John||Miscampbell, Norman||Wills sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Montgomery, Fergus||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||More, Jasper||Worsley, Marcus|
|Fortescue, Tim||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Foster, Sir John||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles'|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Murton, Oscar||Mr. Hector Monro and|
|Goodhart, Philip||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Mr. Timothy Kitson.|
|Gower, Raymond||Nott, John|
|Albu, Austen||Allen, Scholefield||Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Armstrong, Ernest||Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice|
|Alldritt, Walter||Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Barnett, Joel|
|Bishop. E. S.||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Oram, Albert E.|
|Blackburn, F.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Booth, Albert||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Lianelly)||Orme, Stanley|
|Boyden, James||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hamling, William||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Bradley, Tom||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Haseldine, Norman||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Brooks, Edwin||Hazell, Bert||Park, Trevor|
|Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Heffer, Eric S,||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Henig, Stanley||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Buchan, Norman||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hooley, Frank||Pentland, Norman|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hoy, James||Prentice, Rt.Hn. R. E.|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S-)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Chapman, Donald||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Coe, Denis||Hunter, Adam||Randall, Harry|
|Coleman, Donald||Hynd, John||Rankin, John|
|Concannon, J.D.||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Robinson, W.0.J. (Watth'stow, E.)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rose, Paul|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Dalyell, Tam||Judd, Frank||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Kelley, Richard||Sheldon, Robert|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Kenyon, Clifford||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Davies. Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Lawson, George||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Dell, Edmund||Leadbitter, Ted||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Dempsey, James||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Dewar, Donald||Lee, John (Reading)||Slater, Joseph|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn, John||Lestor, Miss Joan||Small, William|
|Dickens, James||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dobson, Ray||Lipton, Marcus||Swain, Thomas|
|Doig, Peter||Lomas, Kenneth||Swingler, Stephen|
|Dunn, James A.||Loughlin, Charles||Symonds, J.B.|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Tomney, Frank|
|Eadie, Alex||McBride, Neil||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacCoIl, James||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ellis, John||McGuire, Michael||Wallace, George|
|English, Michael||Maclennan, Robert||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Ennals, David||MacPherson, Malcolm||Wellbeloved, James|
|Ensor, David||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S-)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.w.)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield,E.)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Manuel, Archie||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mapp, Charles||Wilkins, W.A.|
|Fernyhough,E.||Marks, Kenneth||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Maxwell, Robert||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MilIan, Bruce||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Molloy, William||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Ford, Ben||Moonman, Eric||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Woof, Robert|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Ginsburg, David||Moyle, Roland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gourlay, Harry||Murray, Albert||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Oakes, Gordon||Mr. Eric G. Varley.|
|Gregory, Arnold||O'Malley, Brian|
§ Amendment proposed: No. 11, in page 3, line 15, leave out ' one month 'and insert three months'.—[Mr. Higgins.]98
§ Question put That Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 139. Noes 178.101
|Division No. 56.]||AYES||[6.36 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)|
|Aliason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)|
|Astor, John||Bryan, Paul||Dodds-Parker, Douglas|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Doughty, Charles|
|Awdry, Daniel||Burden,F. A.||Eden, Sir John|
|Balniel, Lord||Campbell, Cordon||Elliott, R. W. (N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Carlisle, Mark||Erringtorr, Sir Eric|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Channon, H. P. G.||Eyre, Reginald|
|Bennett, Di. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Chichester-. Clark, R.||Farr, John '|
|Biffen, John||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Fisher, Nigel|
|Biiggs-Davison, John||Cordle, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Corfield,F. V.||Fortescue, Tim|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Costain, A. P.||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Crowder, F. P.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Gower, Raymond|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grant, Anthony|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||McMaster, Stanley||Rossi, Hugh (Homsey)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maddan, Martin||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maginnis, John E.||Scott, Nicholas|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mawby, Ray||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hastings, Stephen||Maxwell -Hyslop, R. J||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt - Cmdr. S.L.C.||Silvester, Frederick|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hiley, Joseph||Miscampbell, Norman||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Montgomery, Fergus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quinlin||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Holland, Philip||Mott-Radclyfte, Sir Charles||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Hordern, Peter||Murton, Oscar||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Temple, John M.|
|Hunt, John||Nott, John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Onslow, Cranley||Turton, Rt. Hn.R. H.|
|Iremonger, T.L.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Jopling, Michael||Peel, John||Walters, Dennis|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Percival, Ian||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Pink, R. Bonner||Webster, David|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pounder, Rafton||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Prior, J.M. L.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pym, Francis||Worsley, Marcus|
|Loveys, W. H.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Wylie, N. R.|
|Lubbock, Eric||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)||Ridsdale, Julian||Mr. Jasper More and|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Mr. Hector Monro.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Albu, Austen||Ennals, David||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Ensor, David||Lipton, Marcus|
|Alldritt, Walter||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Allen, Scholefleld||Faulds, Andrew||Loughlin, Charles|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Fernyhough,E.||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McBride, Neil|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Maccoll, James|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alics||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||McGuire, Michael|
|Barnett, Joel||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruthergien)|
|Bishop,E. S.||Ford, Ben||Maclennan, Robert|
|Blackburn F.||Fraser, John (Norwood)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Booth, Albert||Freeson, Reginald||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Boyden, James||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Ginsburg, David||Manuel, Archie|
|Bradley, Tom||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mapp, Charles|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Gregory, Arnold||Marks, Kenneth|
|Brooks, Edwin||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Maxwell, Robert|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Millan, Bruce|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Buchan, Norman||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Molloy, William|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, c.)||Hamling, William||Moonman, Eric|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Harper, Joseph||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Haseldine, Norman||Moyle, Roland|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hazell, Bert||Murray, Albert|
|Coe, Denis||Heffer, Eric S.||Oakes, Gordon|
|Coleman, Donald||Henig, Stanley||O'Malley, Brian|
|Concannon,J. D.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Oram, Albert E.|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hooley, Frank||Orbach, Maurice|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Orme, Stanley|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hoy, James||Oswald, Thomas|
|Cuilen, Mrs. Alice||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hunter, Adam||Park, Trevor|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hynd,John||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dell, Edmund||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dempsey, James||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dewar, Donald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pentland, Norman|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Dickens, James||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prentice, Rt. Hn R. E.|
|Dobson, Ray||Judd, Frank||Price, Christopher (Perry Darr)|
|Doig, Peter||Kelley, Richard||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Dunn, James A.||Kenyon, Clifford||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lawson, George||Randall, Harry|
|Eadie, Alex||Leadbitter, Ted||Rankin, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bitston)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Ellis, John||Lee, John (Reading)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|English, Michael||Lestor, Miss Joan||Robinson, W.O J. (Walth'stow., E.)|
|Ross, Paul||Symonds, J. B.||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Tomney, Frank||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)||Varley, Eric G.||Williams, W. T. (Warnngton)|
|Sheldon, Robert||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Wallace, George||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)||Woof, Robert|
|Slater, Joseph||Wellbeloved, James|
|Small, William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Whitaker, Ben||Mr. Harry Gourlay and|
|Swain, Thomas||White, Mrs. Eirene||Mr. loan L. Evans.|
|Swingler, Stephen||Wilkins, W. A.|
§ The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
With this Amendment we can also take Amendments No. 20, in page 3, line 19, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert:(b) that the contract satisfies the conditions in subsection (2A) or as the case may be subsection (2B) below.No. 13. in line 23, at end insert:'orNo. 21, in line 25, at end insert:
- (a) that the contract of sale was made before 19th November 1967;
- (b) that the price for the goods was payable in a currency other than sterling; and
- (c) that it is expressly provided in the contract that the agreed prices shall be subject to adjustment in the event of a change in the exchange rate of sterling with such currency'.(2.A) Where the price for the goods is expressed in sterling, the said conditions are that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with any other currency or medium of exchange, or on the withdrawal of export rebates, and—
- (a) either that the price for the goods is payable in sterling, or
- (b) where the price for the goods is not payable in sterling, that there is no provision for the conversion of the expressed sterling price into the currency in which the price is payable to be at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967.(2B) Where the price for the goods is not expressed in sterling, the said conditions are—102 No. 22, in the Schedule, page 5, line 22, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert:
and in either case that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on the withdrawal of export rebates.
- (a) either that the price is payable in sterling and the contract provided for the conversion of the expressed price into sterling at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967, or
- (b) that the price is not payable in sterling and the contract provided for the trice to be reduced on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with the currency in which the price is expressed,(b) that the contract satisfies the conditions in sub-paragraph (2) or as the case may be sub-paragraph (3) below.No. 23, in page 5, line 29, at end insert:(2) Where the consideration payable for the hiring is expressed in sterling, the said conditions are that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with any other currency or medium of exchange, or on the withdrawal of export rebates, and—
- (a) either that the consideration is payable in sterling, or
- (b) where the consideration is not payable in sterling, that there is no provision for the conversion of the expressed sterling amount into the currency in which the consideration is payable to be at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967.(3) Where the consideration payable for the hiring is not expressed in sterling, the said conditions are—
and in either case that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on the withdrawal of export rebates.
- (a) either that the consideration is payable in sterling and the contract provided for the conversion of the expressed amount into sterling at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967, or
- (b) that the consideration is not payable in sterling and the contract provided for the expressed amount to be reduced on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with the currency in which it is expressed,
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hastings
Amendment No. 12, is consequential on Amendment No. 13, and I am sure it is for the convenience of the Committee that these two at any rate should go together, and probably Amendment No. 21 as well.
The purpose of the Amendment is a fairly clear one and can be summed up like this—where there is a contract which concluded before the statutory date, in dollars or other currencies, so that devaluation leaves the exporter in precisely 103 the same position as if he had contracted in sterling. The rebate should stand.
Although the right hon. Gentleman was unable, in spite of his efforts, to satisfy us on this side on the last group of important Amendments, I earnestly hope he will be able to do so on this one. I say that with some cause for he has put down an Amendment which appears to me, if I understand it correctly, to go a long way, if not the whole way, towards meeting this case.
Although I have tried to assess the extent of the coverage of trade covered by this Amendment that, nevertheless, the case which I have particularly in mind is one in which my own company is engaged, and, therefore, I have an interest there. It is an important contract for no fewer than 165 light aircraft in the American market where pricing is extremely keen. The total value over the years could be some£14 million. So it is no mean point in terms of export earnings. Like everybody else in our business, we have to take advantage of every kind of crumb of assistance like the export rebate, and naturally, it would make a severe difference to our prices if things went wrong.
Amendment No. 13 is reasonably simple, and it is presented as a straight additional condition, or superimposition on the conditions laid down in the Clause for acceptance by the Board of Trade for a certificate.
We now come to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment No. 21, which I feel sure is designed to go some way to meet the same point, but I have to tell him that although I had read it several times I have not come to any precise conclusion as to what it means, particularly subsections (2A) and (2B). I think the depth of suspicion in the mind of the Parliamentary draftsmen must be virtually diabolical in assessing what firms will get up to in this connection; by contrast Machiavelli would have blushed for his innocence. I had hoped that my own rather less ambitious draft would have met the case.
No doubt the Minister will enlighten us about subsection (2A). I turn to subsection (2B). This persuades me that we are on the same point, for it reads:.. that the price is not payable in sterling and the contract provided for the price to be 104 reduced on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with the currency in which the price is expressed.There is only one word on which I would take issue with the right hon. Gentleman. It is not within the context of the contract which I have in mind but is a more general point. With respect to those who work so hard to produce these drafts, it would be more appropriate if we used the word "adjusted" instead of "reduced". A reduction takes account only of a downward adjustment. But, for example, if the Germans upvalued the mark—and there has been talk of it—an upward adjustment would occur. Then it looks as though the Board of Trade considers it likely that exporters will write the export rebate into their contracts as a proportion of the price which they are quoting, but I cannot see how any exporter would be brought to do such a thing.
The case which I have mentioned is by no means uncommon. The dollar contract was at the distributor's wish. It frequently happens in those circumstances in which one is distributing through Americans to the American market. In view of the speed with which this Measure was introduced, it is not surprising that the point escaped the notice of those concerned. I submit that the firm involved in this contract—and I believe others in similar circumstances—would be harshly treated if they suffered simply because the currency selected was other than sterling. I beg to move.
§ Mr. Darling
I assure the hon. Member for Bedford, Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) that the Amendments which we have put down go much further than he thinks they do. I am willing to discuss our Amendments now and come to the other Amendments as we go along.
The Deputy Chairman
Order. There can be only one debate on this group of Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman may move the Government Amendments formally when we reach them, but there is only one opportunity to debate them.
§ Mr. Darling
I want to do what the Committee wishes me to do. I will deal now with the Government Amendments 20 and 21 if the Committee so wishes and will move those Amendments formally when we reach them. I will deal with 105 other issues which hon. Members wish to raise.
§ Mr. Higgins
It would be most convenient if the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the Government Amendments but, in particular, will he tell us the extent to which they are the same as the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) and the extent to which they are either broader or narrower?
I will not do it quite in that way
We are in close contact with British industrialists, large and small, and we are always willing quickly to respond to useful arguments and representations made to us. After the Bill had been published we received representations, such as those rightly put to us by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. I will no: discuss his Amendment in detail. He is suggesting an Amendment which would remove anomalies in the Clause and which would widen the concessions for pre-devaluation contracts. Although he is not clear whether the wording of the Government Amendments goes as far as he wishes, in fact 'they go much further, and his own Amendments are too narrow and do not widen the concessions enough. I will explain that when I speak about the Government's Amendments.
There are also some technical defects in the hon. Member's Amendment, as usually is the case when hon. Members, without the assistance of Parliamentary draftsmen, are trying to do a difficult operation. Any discussion of his Amendment would be unprofitable. I will, therefore, come to the Government's Amendments and explain what we hope, expect and believe they will achieve.
The object of these Amendments is to allow rebate on those pre-devaluation contracts whose terms deny the exporter any benefit from devaluation. Subsection (2,b) as drafted is both too narrow and too wide in imposing the condition, for this purpose, that the contract price must be payable in sterling. By itself, the condition denies rebate on a contract priced at£100 but payable in dollars, where before devaluation the exporter would have received 280 dollars but will now receive only 240 dollars and in terms of the sterling equivalent is no 106 better off by reason of devaluation. However, the existing condition allows rebate on a contract priced at 280 dollars but payable in sterling, where before devaluation the exporter would have received£100 but will now receive nearly£120. Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 remove that anomaly by catering for the various different combinations of the currencies of price and of payment, where no benefit accrues from the devaluation of sterling. I will explain, with some brief examples, how the Amendments will work in practice.
Take a contract priced at£100 in sterling. If provision exists in the contract to alter the price on a change in exchange rates or on withdrawal of rebate, then the supplier is protected against loss whether his contract is payable in sterling or, for example, in dollars. But if no such provisions exist and the price is payable in sterling, the supplier will receive only£100 and will suffer from withdrawal of the rebate. He accordingly, therefore, receives the concession which we propose—in order to get rid of this anomaly—under subsection (2A) of the Amendment. If the price is payable only in dollars, however, and there is provision for converting the sterling price into dollars at the pre-devaluation rate which would yield payment of 280 dollars, that would now be worth nearly£120. The supplier has thereby benefited from devaluation and will not suffer from withdrawal of the rebate. But if the sterling price under the contract was subject to conversion into dollars at the current rate, the supplier receives only 240 dollars, the present rate after devaluation, and would suffer on withdrawal of the rebate. He accordingly receives the concession proposed under subsection (2A) of the Amendment.
There are reverse sorts of combinations of currencies and prices payable. These are dealt with under subsection (2B). For example, a contract is priced not in sterling but at 280 dollars. If that price is payable in sterling and no provision exists to convert the price into sterling at the pre-devaluation rate the supplier will receive nearly£120 instead of the£100 that he would have received formerly. The withdrawal of the rebate will, therefore, not cause him any hardship 107 and he therefore receives no concession. But if this 280 dollars price has to be converted into sterling payment at the pre-devaluation rate, he will receive only£100 and will, therefore, suffer from the withdrawal of rebate in the absence of any contractual provision for it. He therefore receives the concession.
On the other hand, if a contract priced at 280 dollars is payable in dollars, this would normally reap the supplier a gain on devaluation in terms of the new sterling equivalent of the dollar payment, but it' such a contract priced and payable in dollars provides that the price payable is to be reduced on a change in the sterling exchange rate, the gain will be eliminated. The supplier gets no gain. If the contract does not also cater for the withdrawal of the rebate, the supplier would therefore suffer unless he receives the concession we provide for in subsection (2B).
The Government Amendments therefore represent an attempt to extend the concession so that it relieves cases of hardship which have arisen and are not embraced as the Clause stands at present. In this respect the Government Amendments go further than the case covered by the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire.
At the same time, the Government Amendments remove an anomaly that at present arises under the Clause—an anomaly which the hon. Member's Amendment would not remove—whereby some cases that benefit from devaluation would remain eligible for rebate.
I am told that this represents only a small area of activities, and we have put that right. Most important, we have covered the issue raised by th hon. Member and in putting down our own Amendments we have sought this opportunity to meet many cases which have been brought to our attention. We are, therefore, carrying the concession further than is proposed by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Higgins
The Committee is most grateful to the Minister for the extremely lucid way in which he has explained the Amendments. We also thank my hon. Friend for the great trouble he has taken in putting down his Amendment. In terms of comprehensibility, my hon. 108 Friend's Amendment seems preferable to those of the Government. Perhaps we may probe a little further in order to see whether that is the case. The Minister says that my hon. Friend's Amendment would widen the concessions for pre-devaluation contracts, and then says that the Government Amendments would widen them even more.
I want to run quickly over the ground that has been covered. The Minister identified four cases—first, the case where a firm does not gain from devaluation in terms of pounds, in which case people should still get the rebate; secondly, the case where a firm does gain from devaluation, in which case the firm should not gain; then, thirdly, there are the reversals of the release, so that if the gain is eliminated the firm gets the rebate and, fourthly, if the gain is not eliminated it does not get the rebate.
This raises a rather important point of principle. As I understand it, the question whether a company does or does not get a rebate is to be determined by the outcome in the post-devaluation period, not on the basis of when the contract was made—which is the criterion laid down in the rest of the Bill—but on the date the money was converted. That is a different principle and it is questionable whether it is a right one.
Should not we be concerned, as we are in other parts of the Bill, with the question when the contract was made, whether it was a firm one in writing, and so on—rather than the question whether, after the devaluation period, the company should or should not have a rebate, depending on what it got in pounds sterling? All these were contracts entered into in good faith before the date of devaluation as well as following it. Perhaps the Minister will comment on this point. It is a complicated matter, and I should be glad to be told what principles the Government are applying.
Secondly, my hon. Friend pointed out that there were two distinctions between the Government Amendments and his. The first was that the Government Amendments apply only in the case of a reduction in the amount payable in sterling, when the contract should be expressed in that way. We can understand, for the reason that we have been discussing, why the Government want to 109 do it that way, but is it not conceivable that a contract may not have been expressed in that way? It may have been expressed either in terms of gain or of loss. The Government say that everything is all right, but a contract may have given a two-way option, and if the contract was expressed in that way the Government Amendment will not cover the case.
Thirdly, as the right hon. Gentleman defined it, the Government Amendments refer to contracts stipulating that there is no prevision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on the withdrawal of the export rebate, whereas my hon. Friend's Amendment makes no reference to export rebates. We are not clear why the Government should specify that. I should be very surprised if any such contract existed. I would not have thought that anyone would have entered into such a contract, even with the greatest foresight. Has the Minister any experience of any such contracts having been made?
Finally, I want to raise a relatively simple question. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government Amendments go far wider than my hon. Friend's Amendment. Are there any respects in which my hon. Friend's Amendment goes wider than the Government Amendments?
§ Mr. Darling
On the last point, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's Amendment goes further than the Government Amendment in any respect. That is the best answer I can give, off the cuff, after some examination and discussion of the matter.
As for the date of conversion, that date governs whichever rate applies whether pre-devaluation or post-devaluation. This, in turn, governs the question whether the benefit accrues from devaluation. If it does the exporter does not need the rebate for his gain, more than to offset loss of such a rebate. Therefore, it depends on the terms of the contract whether the date of the conversion of the currencies is pre-devaluation or post-devaluation.
In the question of a contract providing for the two-way option the hon. Gentleman asked whether I knew from experience of any contracts that did not contain Provision for the elimination of the 110 rebate. Offhand, I cannot answer that question. I do not know of any contracts that would provide for the two-way option, but before the end of the debate I shall try to answer that question and the hon. Gentleman's reference to the export rebate.
§ Mr. Hastings
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his considerable exposition of a most complicated matter, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) for probing further, and bringing out one or two important and substantial points that I had not myself mentioned. I am inclined to accept the Minister's assurance that his Amendment covers the point I have in mind, which turns out to be only one of several aspects—and that his Amendment does in some respects go further than mine. Naturally, I also accept the fact that there may be defects of drafting in my Amendment which are not apparent.
Perhaps I should also add a certain apology that in my ignorance I had felt the first half of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment was due to suspicion in the Board of Trade about what exporters might be up to, instead of making constructive proposals for carrying my own Amendment further.
In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: No. 20, in page 3, line 19, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert:
§ (b) that the contract satisfies the conditions in subsection (2A) or as the case may be subsection (2e) below.—[Mr. Darling.]
§ Mr. lain Macleod
I beg to move Amendment No. 14, in page 3, line 25:Provided that subsection (1) above shall not apply if the Board of Trade are satisfied that the relevant transaction arises out of an irrevocable bid or tender submitted before 19th November 1967 and that the terms of such bid or tender could not be renegotiated.I regard this as the most important Amendment of those we are discussing. It deals with the question of irrevocable bids and tenders which, together with the question of oral contracts, was referred to by myself in the Second Reading debate on 8th February. The reply given by the Financial Secretary could scarcely have been more favourable. Part of it 111 has been quoted already, but at the end he said:We shall continue independently to seek such a solution. It is gratifying that the right hon. Gentleman will attempt such a solution. We shall certainly look on any Amendment put forward and will not turn them aside too lightly.The same point goes to irrevocable tenders as to oral agreements. The question of contracts which are in honour binding on a British firm will be looked at too because we are not anxious to quibble or make pedantic objections to exclude these contracts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 781.]Personally, I was delighted, and I think the House was, to hear those words and we expected that in regard both to the oral contract and the irrevocable bid and tender, suitable Government Amendments would be tabled.
In fact, neither of such Amendments has appeared. We have dealt with the question of an oral contract. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was very sympathetic, as he always is, but that the Government could not find a way of achieving what they wanted to achieve in the form of an Amendment, but that much of what we wanted could be done by the Bill as it is. I think that that is a fair summary of his argument.
We did not find it satisfactory, for the reasons given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertford-shire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), and we divided the Committee. We shall certainly do that again unless the Minister is prepared on the irrevocable bid or tender, not to give us some assurance that the administration will be sympathetic—I am sure that it will be—but to write into the Bill something that will bring some comfort to those who find themselves in a difficult position as a result of devaluation and the various actions that have stemmed from it.
If I may say so—and I do not in the slightest way intend to be patronising to the right hon. Gentleman—when a guarantee, as I regard it, is given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the right thing for the Minister to do is to write a short minute to his Department saying, "This is a good point and we must meet it. Tell me how." And that will always be done. But if one has an 112 elaborate argument for and against, all sorts of considerations—including pride of authorship in the Bill—come into play, and one is apt to land up with what I would call the sort of unhappy answer we had on the last point.
I say that by way of introduction: the point itself I can put fairly briefly. It arises out of the length of time that often occurs between a bid and the time that a contract comes to fruition. I take as my first example an extract from a letter sent to one of my colleagues from the Leeds Incorporated Chamber of Commerce. It states:…I have before me a tender of an approximate value of£750,000 to an overseas Government which was dated 7th June, 1966. It was accepted by cable dated 9th August, 1967, confirmed by letter dated 13th October, 1967. Further correspondence and cables followed to finalise details…and a letteroffered 'further help in drawing up the final Agreement to reflect this Contract.' This was sent on 10th November.It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will answer—and, of course, he can have details of the case if he wishes—that this case is one in which the President of the Board of Trade could accept, in spite of the strict wording of the Measure, the clear intention of the overseas client and the person putting the tender in this country, but there are a number of other possibilities which perhaps it would be as well to bring forward.
The second type of transaction is that which relates to a tender submitted before 19th November, 1967 but accepted after that date. The written contract of sale will come later and, indeed, may not yet have arrived. It is important to realise in this case that these difficulties often arise out of the tactics of the overseas purchaser, with which the bidder in this country, if he wants to get the order, simply has to comply. It is not a voluntary move on the part of the British exporter: if he wishes to obtain the order, he has very little alternative.
I give a third example. Let us suppose that a firm puts in a bid for an overseas order and that the period of the bid is, say, two months. Subsequently—and this happens very frequently—the prospective purchaser says that he needs a little longer—perhaps another month—to make up his mind and pays a sum—it may be quite small; say£100—to keep 113 the tender open. My understanding of the law is that if that sum is accepted it binds both parties to the terms of the tender and the British exporter's bid for it. He is therefore bound, not just in honour but by a contract that can be enforced, to a bid which has taken into account such matters as the export rebate which may well not be able to figure in his final calculations.
I am assured that in Scottish law all tenders could be held to be binding without any consideration whatever, but I do not invite the right hon. Gentleman to go into the complications of Scottish law. I do not understand it myself; I have enough to do trying to sort out what we think English law may be in relation to irrevocable bids and tenders. Frequently these matters arise from the tactics of the overseas purchaser. As we read the Bill, unless an Amendment of some sort—as usual, one is not wedded to the particular words on the Notice Paper—is inserted, there may well be considerable difficulty in a firm in this country obtaining the export rebate.
I have just been given an illustration of the firm of Stothert and Pitt, crane makers of Bath, who lodged a firm and bone fide tender with a Brazilian public authority for the supply of five cranes. The value of the tender was about£750,000. The firm holds a letter of intent issued by the Brazilian authority within the validity of the tender, although no formal contract has yet been signed, and the export rebate would have been about 2 per cent. of the f.o.b. value at the time of the shipment. I dare say hon. Members on both sides of the Committee could multiply examples of this kind, but I do not think that is necessary: I think I have said enough to show that a problem does exist. It is common ground between us that we want to find an answer, but so it was last time, and this time we must press the right hon. Gentleman to go a little further and to put something into the Bill. If he cannot do that now because there may not be a Report stage, it could be done in another place.
According to our reading of the law and of the Bill—the Financial Secretary did not dissent from this—irrevocable bids and tenders are not covered by Clause 2. Yet these bids are often for very large sums of money and the period 114 it takes to bring the contract to fruition is often measured in years rather than in months. This is a situation which both sides of the Committee want to improve. We feel strongly that it should be met by an Amendment to the Bill.
This is where I proceed to stumble through the jungle of the law of contract without the guidance of the Financial Secretary who is unable to be here today and whose presence I would wish to have. I have discussed the whole matter with our legal advisers and I hope that I can reply sensibly to the right hon. Gentleman. I say at once that the undertakings given by the Financial Secretary were carried out. We have tried to find a way out, as I think the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate when I pursue the arguments before me.
Let us be clear that we are discussing an Amendment which says that the conditions we have laid down to get the concessions and so on will apply—Provided that subsection (1) above shall not apply if the Board of Trade are satisfied that the relevant transaction arises out of an irrevocable bid or tender submitted before 19th November 1967 and that the terms of such bid or tender could not be renegotiated.The effect of the Amendment would be to allow rebate to be payable on exports made after 31st March under contracts entered into at any time after devaluation, as long as the contracts in question were the subject of irrevocable pre-devaluation bids or tenders in terms which could not be renegotiated. We have obviously to stick to the words of the Amendment. Such a widening of the scope of the concession would not only render rebate payable for an indeterminate period on an indeterminate number of transactions, depending when and how many of the bids and tenders in question resulted in firm business: it would also be extremely difficult—in fact impossible—to administer, since the onus of deciding whether the bids and tenders were irrevocable and whether they could not be renegotiated would fall on the Board of Trade.
I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) agrees that whether a bid or tender is irrevocable is a question of law, not of evident fact, and is only to be determined with certainty by the courts. By no means all irrevocable bids 115 and tenders are accompanied by a financial bond as a warranty of intent, so that could not be used as a distinguishing mark an irrevocable contract in all cases. In attempting to make a distinction, the Board of Trade would be drawn into a most complex field of contract law, where administrative decisions have no proper place.
If, in order to avoid this problem, the Bill were to be widened still further so that all bids and tenders were eligible without regard to whether they could be revoked or not, the door would be wide open to every sort of negotiation current at devaluation—and the provision would thereby be open to every sort of abuse, since evidence of negotiation would be as easy to manufacture as it would be impossible to refute.
We have given a great deal of serious consideration to the possibility of devising some provision to deal with the problem for which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to cater. The conclusion is inescapable, however, that it is impossible to devise a practical solution. In the half dozen or so cases of bids, tenders, offers, letters of intent and so forth which have so far come to light, the question of irrevocability has been far from clear-cut.
In the normal course, an offer or a tender with a specified time limit in which it may be accepted is not irrevocable; it may be withdrawn at any time during its currency. Even when the offer or tender has become the subject of a letter of intent by the buyer, it is far from certain whether, simply by that token a legally binding contract exists. Usually, the contract itself has still to be negotiated in detail—a process which often takes many months after a letter of intent has been issued. It is certainly not unknown, moreover, for a buyer who has issued a letter of intent to a bidder, to fail to conclude the subsequent contract. The buyer may simply not pursue the business at all, or he may place it with a supplier other than the one to whom he issued the letter of intent. If the buyer can withdraw in this way, so, too, can the supplier, whatever they may have said to each other in letters of intent and whatever tenders may have been submitted. 116 7.30 p.m.
Throughout the whole of this area of contract—I do not have sufficient practical experience to enable me to pretend that I am an expert—the legal nature, I am advised, of whatever commitment may have been entered into, short of a fully-fledged contract of sale, can be determined with finality only by a court of law. The Board of Trade can clearly not afford to apply the concession to anything less than a commitment which, in law, is a contract binding both parties without qualification. As I have said, if the concession were so applied in circumstances where the would-be supplier could in law withdraw, all firms with any sort of negotiation on hand before devaluation, would also be entitled to the benefit of rebate. It is, therefore, vital to draw the line at contracts of sale made before devaluation.
This in itself is already a substantial concession, since changes of policy in fiscal matters do not normally make exception for business currently in hand. Thus, for example, when the rebate was first introduced, firms with business on hand benefited from it immediately and will now also receive the benefits of the concession on eligible pre-devaluation contracts.
Under the subsection as drafted, where the goods are exported pursuant to a written contract the Board of Trade's function is confined to certifying the matters specified in the subsection—that is, that the contract was made before 19th November, 1967, that the price for the goods was payable in sterling, and that it was not subject to alteration on a change in the exchange rate of sterling. Admittedly, before the Board can certify those matters it must be reasonably satisfied that there is a contract, and for that purpose it will have to look at all the documents which the exporter produces with his application.
It will not always be an easy task to be absolutely certain that there is a contract and, where the contract is by correspondence, there may be doubtful cases, but these will be on the borderline. It should be reasonably practicable in the generality of cases to reach a broad conclusion as to the existence of a contract and to distinguish those cases 117 in which the basic elements of offer and acceptance of the essential terms are missing.
In those cases where the Board cannot accept that there is a contract, the exporter is entitled in the last resort to appeal to the courts, and if the courts take a different view the Board will have to look at the matter again and consider whether it can certify in accordance with the subsection.
The view that I am advised to give to the Committee is that to extend the subsection to take in irrevocable bids or tenders the terms of which could not be re negotiated would be impose upon the Board an impracticable function which is clearly one which can be properly discharged only by the courts. The Amendment does not seek to define what is an irrevocable bid or tender and it would leave the Board to determine in all the difficult circumstances of cases such as these whether on the known facts the bids or tenders could or could not be renegotiated. We believe that this is a task for an expert tribunal possessing all the necessary qualifications of skill and experience. Moreover, whereas in the case of contracts the difficulties of construction will arise only on the borderline and in relatively few cases, in the case of irrevocable bids and tenders the difficulties must in the nature of things arise in every case.
It is regrettable that in our endeavour to soften the blow to transactions in the pipeline on devaluation we cannot go beyond written contracts or the contracts we spoke about when we discussed oral contracts. If there are to be concessions, we have to accept that the machinery must be administrative and not judicial. For the reasons which I have already given, if we try to impose on the administrative machinery a task which can be discharged only by a judicial tribunal, that machinery must break down and make the operation of these concessions impracticable.
Far these reasons, I must advise the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman has made his case on the basis of the administrative difficulties and has suggested that, if the Amendment were incorporated into the Bill, the 118 Board of Trade would have to in effect discharge functions that properly rest with the courts. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that he hoped that I would agree that the interpretation of these matters was a matter of law. That is so. The construction of documents is a matter of law and is for the courts.
When the right hon. Gentleman developed his argument, he was obliged to concede that the Bill already puts upon the Board of Trade the duty of deciding whether certain agreements are in fact enforceable contracts in law. This is also a function for the courts, but it is one that the right hon. Gentleman has accepted for the Board of Trade in the context of the Bill. He seeks to get out of that dilemma by saying, "But in the case of contracts most of them would be fairly clear and it would not arise very often". That is a good classic defence of the housemaid's baby type brought into these contractual considerations.
Although I am not wedded to the wording of the Amendment, as my right hon. Friend is not, I still find difficulty in understanding why the principle should be unacceptable. If a tender is made without any qualification as to time, it is revocable at any time before there is a sufficient acceptance by the purchaser of the offer. As I understand it, the Amendment is directed to the case where there is included in the invitation to tender a condition that the tender, once made, shall be, as it were, left on the table and not be open to amendment for a given period. If such a condition is expressed in the invitation to tender, the tender is made subject to that condition and an acceptance can be made at any time within that defined time limit and such acceptance means that a contract is formally concluded between the parties. That is my understanding of what my right hon. Friend means by an irrevocable tender.
It is true that the purchaser is not bound to the individual tenderer during that period, because a condition is put by the purchaser into the invitation to tender to secure his own position. The fact that he is not bound does not mean that he is not able to bind the tenderer by an acceptance of his tender within the unconditional time limit which is contained in the invitation to tender. As 119 I understand it, that is the case which my right hon. Friend puts forward. It seems to be a valid case. I cannot see why there should be this great difficulty in construing the documents to see whether there is such a time limit making the tender irrevocable within that period. It may have to go to the courts for final determination by them, but so may the contracts which already figure in the Bill. Therefore, the principle of the Amendment is valid and not to be negatived by any argument so far put forward.
I am not very happy about the final words of the Amendment, "could not be renegotiated". Anything can be renegotiated subject to the agreement of the parties. Therefore, I think that the words as they stand are not apt to express what I imagine my right hon. Friend's meaning to be. What I understand to be intended here is that there can be no unilateral right to renegotiate, that is, to make an amendment of the tender by the tenderer without the agreement of the purchaser. But these are matters which, as my right hon. Friend fairly said, can always be taken care of by the undoubted skill of Parliamentary draftsmen.
I do not know whether the Minister of State has brought conviction to my right hon. Friend's mind. He has not done so to my mind. He has made the matter out to be more difficult and complex than it would need to be, and I hope, therefore, that his reply is not the Government's final view on the Amendment.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I very much agree with what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) has said. The righ thon. Gentleman has made this matter appear more difficult than it is, and I hope that he will think again. We shall vote in this House, but there is another place in which he can have second and, if I may say so, more courteous thoughts in relation to the House of Commons. I do not say that in any sense as a reflection on the speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered. As usual, he went out of his way to be extremely sympathetic, but I must remind him of 120 the origin of this Amendment and of our debate upon it.
It is common that a member of the Government says, "There can be no commitment, but we shall look at this at the next stage of the Bill". One realises that they will look at it, but we have very little chance, if any, of getting what we propose. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, however, went very much further. The hon. Gentleman said:So far as the Government are concerned, it is our earnest wish to include"—and so on—We shall continue independently to seek such a solution…We shall certainly look on any Amendment put forward and will not turn them aside too lightly…The question of contracts which are in honour binding on a British firm will be looked at too because we are not anxious to quibble or make pedantic objections to exclude these contracts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 781–2.]Any Parliamentarian listening to those words would unquestionably come to the conclusion that this point would be met. There is no other way in which the Financial Secretary's observations to the House of Commons could be honoured save by meeting the point.
It was not as though the Financial Secretary was responding off the cuff. I spoke at the beginning of the debate, and he made the final speech just before 10 o'clock. This was almost the last point he made at a minute or two before 10 o'clock. He had had the whole day, and I cannot believe that there was no consultation between the Treasury and the Board of Trade. Neither can I believe that those words of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury represent a view which the Board of Trade finds impossible to meet.
The Minister of State today spent a lot of his time—one always does this when one has a bad case—in criticising the drafting of the Amendment. This is absolutely irrelevant. The drafting of an Amendment put forward by the Opposition is a peg, an excuse, on which the House or its Committee debates these matters. This is well understood. It is understood also that, if the Government have the faintest intention of taking the point, they will apply their own incomprehensible words—all Governments do this—to what looks a comparatively simple matter. That is the way these 121 matters are dealt with. It has no relevance whatever to the important question of the irrevocable bid or tender to criticise or dogmatise about the actual wording proposed.
This is why my right hon. and learned Friend was entirely right in his general observations and in saying that the Government are making much too heavy weather of this. The right hon. Gentleman said that if my words were accepted—for the reasons I have given, the words themselves are not important—they would—I think that these were exactly his words—extend the Clause to put an impracticable function on the Board of Trade. Very well. If that is so as a matter of drafting, it becomes the right hon. Gentleman's business, in view of the undertaking—I can almost call it a promise—given by the Financial Secretary, to find words which would within the law put a practicable burden upon the Board of Trade. That is his job. It is what draftsmen and officials are there for and, above all, it is what Ministers are there for. This is why we find his answer so disappointing.
We shall certainly vote now, but there is another place in which the Minister can have second and wiser thoughts. There is—I put it bluntly to him—an obligation upon the Government, in view of the words used by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to meet this point by devising an ideal method of drafting or as near ideal as his legal advisers can contrive. I very much hope that we have not heard the last word on the subject, even if it be the last word in this House.
§ Mr. Darling
First, may I reply to the question which the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) raised? We know of many contracts with provisions for a change in terms on a change in exchange rates, but we have not yet encountered any with provision for the withdrawal of rebate. They may exist. They probably do. But it is our view that they should not attract the concession.
In reply to the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) I say at once that I have never from this side of the House attacked the drafting of Opposition Amendments. I have always 122 dealt with them as I dealt earlier today with the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), accepting that the drafting of Amendments, as I know from my own bitter experience on the Opposition side, is a difficult operation.
My comment about the drafting of this Amendment was that it was clear. It is a short and clear Amendment:Provided that subsection (1) above shall not apply if the Board of Trade are satisfied that the relevant transaction arises out of an irrevocable bid or tender submitted before 19th November 1967 and that the terms of such bid or tender could not be renegotiated.There is nothing wrong with the drafting. I take it to express the purposes and views of the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.
The right hon. Gentleman attacked my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary for, in his view, giving a specific assurance that Amendments would be put forward to cover this question of irrevocable bids which cannot he renegotiated. But the right hon. Gentleman did not quote the full passage. What my hon. Friend said was:The next question is, will we extend the benefit given to written contracts entered into before devaluation to irrevocable dates and tenders? I should like to make clear to the House that the only considerations we have had in dealing with this matter are the necessity for proof of the contract having been entered into before the devaluation date and practicability in administering public funds. That is to say, we have to have some means whereby we can check whether or not a contract qualifies.He said a little later:The question of contracts which are in honour binding on a British firm will be looked at too because we are not anxious to quibble or make pedantic objections to exclude these contracts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 718–2]They have been looked at. Just as the right hon. Gentleman asks us to be forthcoming in trying to carry out our apparent undertakings, I ask him to accept that when we give undertakings of that kind we try to carry them out. That undertaking has been carried out. We have examined the contracts and looked into the question very carefully and have come to the conclusion that, to quote right hon. Gentleman's own words, we cannot find words within the law which carry out these wishes; we have come to the conclusion that these 123 matters can be determined only in a court of law. They cannot be determined by administrative action by the Board of Trade.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir W. Walker-Smith) said that we are accepting the administrative responsibility, if I may put it in that way, for somewhat similar legal matters, which I say should be determined in a court of law. I think that the answer is that it is not quite like turning the baby out with the bath water because it is only a little one. The matters to which I referred before are matters where, with the facts before one, one can determine whether there is evidence of an undertaking that leads to a written contract. There will be very few borderline cases. Anybody who
§ disputes the Board of Trade's decision can go to law to decide whether the Board of Trade is right or wrong. We are not preventing them from doing that. But every single one of these cases would be in the category where, in our view, the determination of whether the tenders or bids are associated with a written contract must be decided in a court of law.
§ I repeat that we sincerely tried to meet the views which the right hon. Gentleman expressed on Second Reading. I think that we have faithfully carried out the undertaking which my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary gave.
§ Question put. That the Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 118, Noes 167.125
|Division No. 57.]||AYES||[7.55 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Hastings, Stephen||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Astor, John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Higgins, Terence L.||Peel, John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Hill, J. E. B.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Balniel, Lord||Holland, Philip||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hordern, Peter||Pounder, Rafton|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Howeil, David (Guildford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Hunt, John||Pym, Francis|
|Biffen, John||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Ramsden. Rt. Hn. James|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Kitson, Timothy||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Scott, Nicholas|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Silvester, Frederick|
|Bryan, Paul||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Burden, F. A.||Loveys, W. H.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Luard, Evan||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Lubbock, Eric||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Corfield, F. V.||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Costain, A. P.||Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Temple, John M.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||McMaster, Stanley||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. w. F. (Ashford)||Maddan, Martin||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Maginnis, John E.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Doughty, Charles||Mawby, Ray||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Walters, Dennis|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Eyre, Reginald||Miscampbell, Norman||Webster, David|
|Farr, John||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fortescue, Tim||Monro, Hector||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Montgomery, Fergus||Worsley, Marcus|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||More, Jasper||Wylie, N. R.|
|Gower, Raymond||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Grant, Anthony||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Murton, Oscar||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Noble. Rt. Hn. Michael||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Nott, John|
|Albu, Austen||Baxter, William||Brooks, Edwin|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bishop, E. S.||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Blackburn, F.||Brown,Bob(N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Booth, Albert||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Boyden, James||Buchan, Norman|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Barnett, Joel||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Henig, Stanley||Orme, Stanley|
|Coe, Denis||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Oswald, Thomas|
|Concannon J. D.||Horner, John||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Panneli, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hoy, James||Park, Trevor|
|Grossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dalyeli, Tam||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||pentland, Norman|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hunter, Adam||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hynd, John||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Dell, Edmund||Irvine, Sir Arthur||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Dempsey, James||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Dewar, Donald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dickens, James||Jones, Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W. Ham, S.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Dobson, Ray||Judd, Frank||Rhodes. Geoffrey|
|Doig, Peter||Kelley, Richard||Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lawson, George||Rose, Paul|
|Eadie, Alex||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Ellis, John||Lestor, Miss Joan||Sheldon, Robert|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Ensor, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Loughlin, Charles||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Slater, Joseph|
|Fernyhough, E.||McBride, Neil||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McCann, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||MacColi, James||Swingler, Stephen|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McGuire, Michael||Symonds, J. B.|
|Foley, Maurice||Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruttherglen)||Tomney, Frank|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Maclennan, Robert||Urwin, T. W.|
|Fowler, Gerry||MacPherson,, Malcolm||Varley, Eric G.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Wainwright, Edwin (Deame Valley)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Manuel, Archie||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mapp, Charles||Wallace, George|
|Gourlay, Harry||Marks, Kenneth||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Wellbeloved, James|
|Gregory, Arnold||Maxwell, Robert||Whitaker, Ben|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Millan, Bruce||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grifiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Molloy, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Grifliths, Will (Exchange)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Hamling, William||Moyle, Roland||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Harper, Joseph||Murray, Albert||Woof, Robert|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Oakes, Gordon||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hazell, Bert||Ogden, Eric||Mr. loan L. Evans and|
|Heffer, Eric S.||O'Malley, Brian||Mr. Ernest Armstrong.|
§ Amendment made: No. 21, in page 3, line 25, at end insert:
§ (2k) Where the price for the goods is expressed in sterling, the said conditions are that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with any other currency or medium of exchange, or on the withdrawal of export rebates, and—
- (a) either that the price for the goods is payable in sterling, or
- (b) where the price for the goods is not payable in sterling, that there is no provision for the conversion of the expressed sterling price into the currency in which the price is payable to be at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967.
§ (2B) Where the price for the goods is not expressed in sterling, the said conditions are—126
§ (a) either that the price is payable in sterling and the contract provided for the conversion of the expressed price into sterling at a rate of exchange which was the rate prevailing at some time before 19th November 1967, or
§ (b) that the price is not payable in sterling and the contract provided for the price to be reduced on a change in the exchange rate of sterling with the currency in which the price is expressed.
§ and in either case that there is no provision for the alteration of the terms of the contract on the withdrawal of export rebates.—[Mr. Darling.]
§ Question put, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 172, Noes 118.129
|Division No. 58.1||AYES||[8.4 p.m.|
|Albu, Auisten||Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Booth, Albert|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Barnett, Joel||Boyden, James|
|Alldritl, Walter||Baxter, William||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bishop, E. S.||Bray, Dr. Jeremy|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Blackburn, F.||Brooks, Edwin|
|Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Hazell, Bert||Ogden, Eric|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Heffer, Eric S.||O'Malley, Brian|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Henig, Stanley||Orme, Stanley|
|Buchan, Norman||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Oswald, Thomas|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Homer, John||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hoy, James||Park, Trevor|
|Coe, Denis||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pentland, Norman|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hunter, Adam||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hynd, John||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Irvine, Sir Arthur||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, w.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rhodes. Geoffrey|
|Dell, Edmund||Jones, Rt. Hn. SirElwyn(W. Ham. S.)||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Rose, Paul|
|Dewar, Donald||Judd, Frank||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Dickens, James||Kelley, Richard||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Dobson, Ray||Lawson, George||Sheldon, Robert|
|Doig, Peter||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lee, John (Reading)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lomas, Kenneth||Slater, Joseph|
|Ellis, John||Loughlin, Charles||Spriggs, Leslie|
|English, Michael||Luard, Evan||Swain, Thomas|
|Ensor, David||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McBride, Neil||Symonds, J. B.|
|Faulds, Andrew||McCann, John||Tomney, Frank|
|Fernyhough, E.||MacColl, James||Urwin, T. W.|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McGuire, Michael||Varley, Eric G.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley|
|Foley, Maurice||Maclennan, Robert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Wallace, George|
|Fowler, Gerry||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mal1alieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Garrett, W. E.||Manuel, Archie||Whitaker, Ben|
|Ginsburg, David||Mapp, Charles||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Gourlay, Harry||Marks, Kenneth||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mason, Roy||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Gregory, Arnold||Maxwell, Robert||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Millan, Bruce||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Te$t)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Molloy, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Woof, Robert|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Hamling, William||Moyfe, Roland||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harper, Joseph||Murray, Albert||Mr. Alan Fitch and|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)||Mr. loan L. Evans.|
|Haseldine, Norman||Oakes, Gordon|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kitson, Timothy|
|Allason, James (Hemnel Hempstead)||Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Astor, John||Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Awdry, Daniel||Farr, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Fortescue, Tim||Loveys, W. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Foster, Sir John||Lubbock, Eric|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Glover, Sir Douglas||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Glyn, Sir Richard||Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)|
|Biffen, John||Gower, Raymond||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grant, Anthony||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Lain|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maddan, Martin|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mawby, Ray|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hastings, Stephen||Maxweil-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bryan, Paul||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Burden, F. A.||Higgins, Terence L.||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hiley, Joseph||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hill, J. E. B.||Monro, Hector|
|Corfietd, F. V.||Holland, Philip||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Costain, A. P.||Hordern, Peter||More, Jacper|
|Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.)||Howell, David (Guildford)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hunt, John||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Murton, Oscar|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Iremonger, T. U.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Nott, John|
|Doughty, Charles||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Russell, Sir Ronald||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Scott, Nicholas||Walters, Dennis|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Peel, John||Silvester, Frederick||Webster, David|
|Percival, Ian||Sinclair, Sir George||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Pike, Mite Mervyn||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Pounder, Rsfton||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Pym, Francis||Temple, John M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ramsden. Rt. Hn. James||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Mr. Bernard Weatherill and|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Mr. Humphrey Atkins.|
|Rossi, Hugh (Homsey)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
§ Clause as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.