HC Deb 26 June 1968 vol 767 cc593-648


Mr. John Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 28, in page 3, line 24, after 'charges', insert: and if the Board recommends that there should be a reduction in all or any of the prices or charges, the Board shall consider also whether there should be a reduction in the resale prices of the goods concerned, and if the Board thinks fit, include in the Board's report recommendations for the reductions of such prices'.

Mr. Speaker

With Amendment No. 28 I propose that we take Amendment No. 38, in page 3, line 24, after 'charges', insert: 'except that where there is no recommended retail selling price or charge the manufacturer's price or charge only shall be referred to the Board'. and Amendment No. 39, in line 24, after 'charges', insert: 'except in so far that they shall apply only to retail margins of goods which are covered by resale price maintenance arrangements'. I understand that the Opposition would prefer to vote on Amendment No. 38 rather than Amendment No. 28. That will be possible.

Mr. Page

This Clause again refers to the part of the Bill requiring the reduction of prices and charges. It gives the Minister power to require that, when the National Board for Prices and Incomes has a price or charge referred to it, it will be able include a recommendation in its report that the price might be reduced.

Amendment No. 28 is of an exploratory nature, because in Committee we had a number of divergent and semi-contradictory statements by members of the Government about how retail and resale prices would be treated under the Bill. The object of this Amendment, therefore, is to allow us to discuss on the Floor of the House, and hear from the Minister, what machinery she would use to influence or order the reduction of wholesale or retail prices.

The Under Secretary has said on a number of occasions that competition is not enough to keep resale prices low. By "resale" I mean wholesale prices, dealers' prices and shop prices. The belief of many of my hon. Friends is that if members of the Government had recently had to earn their living in competitive industry and understand the pressures which compettiion produces to keep prices down they would not shrug off so easily the dramatic effect which competition can have on all prices, particularly retail prices, unless there is a monopoly position. If there is a monopoly position, or if an undertaking—which I think almost of necessity must be a manufacturer or an importer—has a dominating influence on a particular section of the market, that should be dealt with by other means. But in the ordinary way we feel that competition should be given a greater opportunity to act and react on prices. We believe that competition has a much greater effect than is produced by any statement or declaration by the Ministry or the Board.

The right hon. Lady and her junior Ministers have constantly said that they are determined to declare war on excessive prices and retail margins. We must, therefore, consider what they can do to achieve their objective. Under the Clause the power to require reductions in prices or charges can be used only after the Board has recommended that such reductions should be made.

The White Paper on Productivity Prices and Incomes Policy in 1968 and 1969, sets out the criteria to be used by the Board in recommending price reductions, and if the significance of these Amendments is to be appreciated it is essential to consider those criteria. I I should like the Minister to confirm that no Order for a price reduction can be made until such a reduction has been recommended by the Board.

Paragraph 18 of the White Paper says that reductions are required (i) if output per employee is increasing faster than the rate of increase in wages and salaries which is consistent with the criteria for incomes, and there are no offsetting and unavoidable increases in non-labour costs per unit of output. In the distributive trades it is not easy to work out the output per employee. It is not measurable in the way that it is possible to measure the output of an employee in manufacturing industry. It may be possible to do it in large retailing organisations, but in an ordinary wholesale or retail business it is difficult to say that the sales potential, or the distribution potential, of an employee can increase by so much and therefore a price reduction is warranted. Except in exceptional circumstances, therefore, subparagraph (i) which I have quoted will not apply.

Then we take the second criterion, and this has a touch of sick humour about it, because it says: if the costs of materials, fuel or services per unit of output are falling … Well, it has not been the experience of businessmen recently that the cost of materials, fuel or services is falling. It is unnecessary to underline how great the increases in the cost of materials, fuel and services are likely to be following the recent Budget. Therefore, so far as the retail side of business is concerned, I do not think that the second criterion is likely to operate. The third criterion is: if capital costs per unit of output are falling and there arc no offsetting and unavoidable increases in non-capital costs per unit of output; and when we talk about unit of output it is unit of work completed. Again, it is likely in the wholesale business that capital costs per unit of work done are likely to fall? Rates are going up, services are going up, maintenance is going up, and I do not see that this is possible. Is one going to see the capital cost per unit of output falling in the ordinary shop? Again, I do not think we shall.

We come to the fourth criterion: if profits are based on excessive market power. This one, I would have thought, was the Government's best bet if the retailer is either a manufacturer or a direct importer. But it would be interesting to hear from the Minister whether he can enumerate where excessive market power is likely to be found in the retail end of the business.

We can imagine that Marks and Spencer, with a large range of branded goods which they manufacture themselves, or have manufactured for them, could have excessive market power. But that would only refer to the actual goods they sell which are exclusively made for sale by them. If the similar goods are sold elsewhere, the ordinary market forces of competition will operate.

Therefore—and this is really the object of Amendment No. 28—we have examined the only reasons open to the Prices and Incomes Board for recommending a reduction in retail prices, and it would look as though these criteria are very seldom likely to be applicable.

If any retail shop puts on a very large margin of 300 or 400 per cent., but does not come under any of the four criteria because the large margin would not be based on excessive market power or any of the other criteria, I submit that it would not be possible for the Prices and Incomes Board to rule that a price reduction should be made.

If these contentions are right it is quite ridiculous for the Under-Secretary and his right hon. Friend to say that they are proposing to reduce retail prices. It is false. It is part of the sinister and dangerous window dressing which appears constantly in the Bill. We have too much sinister window dressing in the House. [Interruption.] It is the way in which the window is dressed, with black curtains, and a clip joint atmosphere—where one finds that something very different is offered inside from what one had been led to expect outside. This is a clip joint Government, and they produce a lot of clip joint legislation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is a clip joint?"] I have been asked what a clip joint is. I remember the debates that took place on the question of clip joints. If I went into the question 1 could make a much more interesting speech than I am making now, but I should be out of order if I went into the question whether a man who goes into a night club and is given certain promises is cheated if those promises are not fulfilled. That is what a clip joint is.

Sir G. Nabarro

Refer them to the Board.

Mr. Page

I should like my hon. Friend to suggest that to the Minister and see what he says about it; the reference of a night club has not yet been tried, and it would be good fun.

In Committee on 11th June the Undersecretary said that the question of the specific reduction required, or which may be required, on wholesale or retail price will generally be the subject of a separate reference to the Board, and it will be the Board which will make its recommendations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 11th June, 1968, c. 539.] If the Board can find an exceptional case where a retail price reduction can be demanded, how will it be implemented, assuming that the organisation is not a group organisation? How will the Minister produce an Order for a reduction in the price of cigarettes, for example? Will he make an Order against every different retail and wholesale outlet? If so it will make a mockery of the system laid down in the Bill for making Orders for price reductions.

We want to hear that the Minister has virtually no powers for the reduction of retail prices. We take the opportunity, in Amendments Nos. 38 and 39, of expressing our confidence about the effect of competition where resale price maintenance has been abandoned at the instigation of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in the teeth of the strongest opposition from hon. Members opposite. If it were not for the abolition of resale price maintenance the policy would be in an even more ridiculous and sorry state than it now is.

Mr. Biffen

This series of Amendments is of real significance, particularly Amendment No. 38, on which, I understand, my hon. Friends intend to divide the House. One of the most significant aspects of the development of the Government's prices and incomes policy in recent months—with its added ambitions, particularly about prices—is the amount of work which is being loaded on the N.B.P.I.

Hon. Members who have always had a somewhat modest conception of the virtues of the Board, its staff, executives and whoever it contracts to carry out its tasks must of necessity have had that view reinforced by the additional work which the Board is now being expected to carry. Amendment No. 38 seeks to limit that work, since it says: except that where there is no recommended retail selling price or charge the manufacturer's price or charge only shall be referred to the Board. Of all the reports produced by the Board, the one on distributors' margins was perhaps the most superficial. It would be interesting to know how much was paid to the consultants who carried out that superficial job.

Sir G. Nabarro rose

Mr. Biffen

I will not give way. I wish to be brief, so that my hon. Friend will have ample time to make his own distinctive contribution to the discussion.

One is almost left with the impression that whatever the Jones family might experience at Fortnum and Mason, for the rest of mankind, shopping in the High Street means price-cut competition by Sainsbury's, the Co-op and other, less politically motivated, retailers. We should do our best to obtain at least the limitation on the Board's tasks proposed by the Amendment, since it strikes a blow for common sense in a world of increasing economic nonsense which flows from the Government's policy. On this basis, I commend the Amendment to the House.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Tom Boardman

The Amendment is prompted by the completely unworkable nature of the Clause, which gives power to reduce manufacturers' prices. It applies solely to manufacturers' prices and it is not designed to apply to retail margins. Nor does the criteria apply to retail margins. In Committee, the Undersecretary made it clear that the Government were concerned with manufacturers' prices and that there was no power in the Clause to reduce retailers' margins. This shows the Government's complete lack of appreciation of the practicalities of trading. When a price is frozen, everything stays put and there is hardship across the board. But when a price is reduced, there must be a cut-back somewhere along the chain and somebody must take less.

Instead of getting the margin which they had before—which, whether it is adequate or inadequate they had agreed —as soon as there is a cut someone will take less. This may be all right if the raw materials are processed by one firm or one person, but that does not happen. Up to the point of sale the goods pass through many hands, from the import of the raw material to the processor, the assembler, and so on. When there are 90 or 100 units, at whom is the Order aimed? To do anything of this sort one would have to go through the whole cost analysis, to look at each process, to do a complete costing exercise and eventually find where in the opinion of the Prices and Incomes Board the margin is excessive and a cut should be made.

The Clause is unworkable. The Amendments, in the first place, are of a probing nature. Secondly, they are designed to produce some semblance of fairness and sense where a resale price, or a recommended price, has been fixed. In Committee, the Under-Secretary said that there is no power under the Clause to look at a retail margin. I hope that he accepts that retailers' margins are effectively controlled by something about which we feel strongly—a competitive society and competition brought about by the Resale Prices Act. A Ministerial decree saying that a price will be cut can result only in gross unfairness.

What is to happen to goods in the pipeline? What about orders and supplies of components on hand? In the footwear trade, the motor trade and many others, to a large extent the manufacturer is an assembler of components which are made elsewhere. By cutting the price paid to the manufacturer, is the Minister to apply cuts right down the pipeline? Will they be applied in the motor trade back to the tyre manufacturer and to the maker of steering wheel assemblies? Where will he make the cuts?

The Clause shows, and the Amendments expose, the complete lack of any positive, constructive or knowledgeable thinking by the Government. It is included for one purpose only, as my hon. Friends have said: purely as window dressing, so that the Government can say, "We will freeze your wages, but, on the other hand, we will bring the prices down and stop all rises in price." It is impracticable nonsense, and I believe that the Under-Secretary knows it. I hope that if he cannot accept the Amendments literally, he will accept their spirit and give us a concession which will enable the Clause to be a little less objectionable.

Sir G. Nabarro

"Impracticable nonsense" was my hon. Friend's description of the Clause, and I heartily endorse what he has said. I have recently had experience of the charges for batteries for hearing aids. I asked a supplementary question a couple of days ago, drawing the attention of the responsible Minister to the fact that I started chasing this hare nine months ago because my constituents and others alleged that the increases in prices of batteries for hearing aids were quite exorbitant.

I then received from the Minister of Technology a stalling reply to the effect that the matter would be referred to the Prices and Incomes Board and asking me to apply to the Chairman thereof. So I wrote one of my customary letters, starting "My dear Aubrey" and finishing "Yours ever": Pray examine this exorbitant price increase. Pray tell me the reasons for the steep advances. Put your horde of clerks to work to justify these increases in prices. Six months later a Report was published by the Minister which said that the price advances were exorbitant. I am still pressing the Minister to know what action will be taken. [Interruption]. If the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) wishes to intervene, I happily give way. I must say at once, however, that it is so nice to hear a Socialist intervening in these debates.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I was merely about to ask the hon. Member whether "Dear Aubrey" did not write to "Dear Gerald".

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member has got it all wrong. "My dear Gerald" is the term. Aubrey characteristically writes me in that vein. We are old friends. We entered this place as long ago as 1950. We have a healthy regard for one another, but not for him in his present capacity. I referred to him as a bureaucratic jellyfish when he was appointed on 13th March, 1965, and I did not like it at all, but that does not detract in any way from the man's personal qualities, of course.

The point that I am endeavouring to make is that the whole of the bureaucratic process of reference of prices to the Prices and Incomes Board is a farce. Rarely, or never, is any price reduction achieved. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) had it exactly right: impracticable nonsense. It is never intended that the Board should reduce any prices. It is merely an exercise to wave the flag before militant trade unionists and say, "No wage advances for organised labour, but look how we are striking at the roots of capitalism by denying them the market price for their products." That is all that Clause 4 amounts to.

We are moving Amendment No. 28 and voting on Amendment No. 38. [Laughter.] I do not know what has caused the mirth behind me.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. The hon. Gentleman will address the Chair.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is my characteristic habit to gyrate when talking.

Impracticable nonsense it all is. I want to take the argument further afield into areas not dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page), in his splendid speech. He had no word to say of the nationalised industries. What is to happen about prices in the nationalised industries? Bisecting my constituency of Worcestershire, South are the Rivers Severn and Avon. There are many locks and they are habitually used by pleasure craft. [Laughter.] I am sorry if I have caused my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) some mirth. The River Severn is a matter of great importance to him, too. Many pleasure craft use these locks. The charges for using the locks have been increased recently by many hundreds percentum. When I make representations to the appropriate Minister and the appropriate nationalised board, I am told that it is justifiable for a nationalised board to increase its prices by many hundreds per cent. without reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes, because there is a statutory responsibility on the nationalised board to pay its way, taking year with year.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

Taking one year with another.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am delighted to have my hon. and learned Friend's intervention and support.

It is a very important waterway. Thousands of industrial workers from Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and elsewhere spend their holidays on it. They have to pay these exorbitant lock charges which have been increased by hundreds percentum. Are these to be the subject of a direction for a price reduction by the Government under this Clause, or are nationalised industries to be allowed to opt out? Are they ultra vires the terms of the Clause?

I am delighted to see the Minister of Transport here. The right hon. Gentleman knows, as Ministerial parent in this matter, that lock charges are a very important matter to those operating pleasure craft on this waterway. That is only one minor example of the operations of these charges by nationalised industries. I will mention a much larger and more significant example. I take the National Coal Board. The Board is always in trouble. In this instance the producer of the coal is a nationalised board. The coal is sold at pithead, in the instance of domestic and house coal, to merchants. The merchants decide what their margin shall be.

Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

Tell us something we do not know.

11.45 p.m.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member for Carlisle has intervened for the first time in our debates. I hope that he is voicing the opinions of the co-operative societies. He ought to be, for they are the largest distributors of house coal in Britain. Are they satisfied with the existing margins? Are they satisfied that their margins might be deemed excessive by the Prices and Incomes Board, or by a complainant anywhere buying coal from them and, therefore, subject to a reference under the Clause?

Is it intended that the Clause should apply to nationalised industries? We have had no answer yet. Would it apply to the National Coal Board, the electricity boards, the gas boards, the waterways and their lock charges, and the remainder right through the whole gamut of nationalised industry charges? We have had no answer from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hattersley

Lock charges have never been the subject of resale price maintenance, so it is hardly likely that I shall discuss them under this heading.

Sir G. Nabarro

But they ought to be. There would be a better deal if they were subject to resale price maintenance instead of the authoritarian regimé of the right hon. Gentleman who decides what the charges shall be, impresses them upon reluctant users, and allows no appeal against exorbitant increases in the tariffs. The Under-Secretary sits for a metropolitan and urban industrial seat in Birmingham. He knows nothing of lush pastures in Worcestershire, of waterways, of pleasure craft, or of lock charges.

Mr. Grant-Ferris (Nantwich)

To protect the Minister, I ought to say that there are more miles of canal in Birmingham than in any other city in the world.

Sir G. Nabarro

My hon. Friend has failed to distinguish between the user of canals in the City of Birmingham, which is almost entirely industrial, and the user of canals in rural Worcestershire, which is almost entirely for pleasure purposes. People taking pleasure craft through the locks in Worcestershire are at present aggrieved by the steep increase in the tariffs.

With those few words, I appeal to the Minister about the retail and distributive charges of nationalised industries. He must deal with the matter when he replies. [AN. HON. MEMBER: "Why?".] Because the Clause does not exclude nationalised industries, and our Amendment would deal with nationalised industries and their tariffs. I remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are moving Amendment No. 28 and we are voting on Amendment No. 38, and it is important that the two be treated one with the other.

I hope that the Under-Secretary will deal with the valid points I have put to him, and with the most apposite phrase coined by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West. The Clause is impractical nonsense. I heartily endorse what my hon. Friend said.

Mr. Peyton

I am sure that the whole House admired and respected the coyness with which my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) came, at the end of his speech, to mention the Amendments with which we are concerned. We must admire and respect his techniques.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) rendered a great service in the way in which he exposed the folly of the Clause, although it was not quite clear to me by what labyrinthine oratorical path he somehow ambled into a clip joint in the middle.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman), who made it quite clear that the Clause is sheer window dressing. It is put here at the behest of the right hon. Lady, presumably as one of the cards with which she attempts to trump the trick of her right hon. Friend the Chancellor. She is always saying that prices are coming down and he is always saying that they will go up. It would be interesting if the Opposition retired and allowed the Chancellor and the right hon. Lady to argue this out. We should be very interested to hear the conclusion. [Interruption.] It is noteworthy that tonight we also have a debate below the Gangway.

Last night the hearts of some hon. Gentlemen opposite were aflame with indignation against this wicked Bill, but today not one of them has been able to raise any enthusiasm. Instead, we have absolute silence from them—save for sedentary muttering. It contrasts very ill with the performance yesterday, when hon. Gentlemen opposite were burning with fervour to see the Bill in its proper place—right in the fire. Today they are silent; they are letting this lamentably bad and beastly legislation through unscathed. Presumably they have been brought to heel by the party Whip, and the Patronage Secretary can relax.

I hope that my interrupting myself in that way will be pardoned. I was provoked by the sedentary remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but we welcome their presence.

To return to the debate, I want to express my very warm agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), who, as I do, always tries to be polite. Tonight, he fell over himself to achieve that end. Referring to the Prices and Incomes Board and our feelings towards it, he said that those of us who have a modest conception— [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) wish to interrupt?

Mr. Arthur Lewis

No. I am only trying to get clear whether the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) was or was not dealing with the nationalised industries.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Gentleman would do well to listen to the words of wisdom that fall from my hon. Friend's lips instead of talking to his neighbour. He can always improve his education by reading HANSARD tomorrow. He will benefit from it immensely.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry referred to the modest conception of the virtues of the Board. My hon. Friend must be congratulated on his civility. I suspect that, like myself, he regards the Board as something of a nuisance and an excuse—[Interruption.] I do not want to go on calling attention to undesirable things, but the hon. Member for West Ham, North is constantly obtruding himsel—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that hon. Members will not interrupt and that the hon. Gentleman will come to the Amendment.

Mr. Peyton

We are witnessing a parliamentary performance by the hon. Member for West Ham, North and his neighbour which is in strange contrast with that of last night—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will come to the Amendment.

Mr. Peyton

I shall be delighted to do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It would be easier to do so if the constant buzz of conversation for which the hon. Member for West Ham, North is responsible were to be abated.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry, I see some merit in the second of these Amendments. I am slightly doubtful about the merits of the first and third Amendments. I accept the wisdom of the simple, straightforward argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South. Let us keep as far away from the Prices and Incomes Board as possible. [Interruption.] This is atrocious: legislation, and Ministers are content, apparently, to desert the Front Bench. I do not know whether you can advise us on what remedies we have, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I cannot help the hon. Gentleman. I hope that he will continue to speak to the Amendment.

Mr. Peyton

I am endeavouring to do so. There is a concentrated effort below the Gangway to which I have drawn attention—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I respect the hon. Gentleman's wish for attention, but I hope that he will not dwell on this matter too much.

Mr. Peyton

I am much obliged for your assistance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am even more obliged to the Undersecretary for his return to the Front Bench. I know that the Government are absolutely satisfied about the merits of this legislation, but the hon. Gentleman must realise that others are not and that it is offensive and anathema to many people.

We regard these references to the Board as being largely vain exercises done in the hope of making a thoroughly unrealistic policy practical. We also regard them as being flattering in the extreme to a Board which is not competent to carry out—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going much too wide of the Amendment, which is concerned with matters the subject of resale price maintenance.

Mr. Peyton

We regard the references to such a Board of resale prices as fatuous in the extreme. The complexity of such matters is well beyond the digestive capacity of the Board, and I believe that the Under-Secretary and his colleagues know full well that nothing will be achieved. The Clause is shown by the Amendment to be sheer window dressing of a dishonest kind.

12 m.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

I intervene because of the amusement shown by the Under-Secretary of State at the description of this provision as sinister window dressing. The Government know that, now that we have got rid of resale price maintenance, there is no need to have power to refer the retail trade to the Board because the keen competition which has to go on if the retail trade is to remain in existence is sufficient. I took offence at the hon. Gentleman's amusement because recently we had an example of sinister window dressing. The Government referred paint, wallpaper and paint brushes to the Board. That was only done by the right hon. Lady because she wanted an excuse for the restraint the Government are putting on wages. But there is the keenest possible competition in the sale of paint and wallpaper. There is no village shop where these things are not on sale; every High Street has several shops competing in the sale of these goods.

I believe the right hon. Lady's reason was because, at the time, there were Press headlines about possible paint industry takeovers. It had nothing to do with retailing. The trade is already under strain because of the extra expenses, such as the S.E.T., which have been imposed by the Government. If, then, to give effect to a wrong decision on wages, the Government are to put the trade to this sort of extra expense and trouble, this move deserves to be called sinister. It is sinister window dressing. These things will never be referred to the Board on any great scale, because it would mean brining every retail shop in the trade before the Board which would be impractical.

Why do the Government want to cheat the country in this way? If they feel there has to be a certain level of wages, let them produce arguments for it; if they feel that certain manufacturers have taken advantage of a monopoly market to charge too high prices, let them deal with that. But trying to curry general favour so as to cover up the weaknesses in both these arguments by suggesting that people are being cheated by the retail trade, when keen competition makes that virtually impossible, is not doing right by the nation.

This is why it is sinister window dressing and impractical nonsense. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at the Amendment again and tell us that the Government will deal properly with this matter at the right level and that he will not drag red herrings across the path. I ask him to make a clean breast of it and confess that the Government indulged in a manoeuvre which has served its purpose while they tried to win general approval in attempting to make the prices and incomes policy palatable. I hope that he will admit that they are being unfair to the retail trade, that this provision is impractical, and that they will withdraw it.

Mr. Speed

I agree with those of my hon. Friends who have said that this provision is sinister and window dressing, but in discussing Amendment No. 38, which is the relevant Amendment, we have to refer to paragraph 25 of the White Paper, which says: The criteria and considerations set out above are intended to be applied by all concerned, including wholesalers and retailers, in the determination of prices for the sale of goods, and charges for the performance of services … When this general matter was debated in Committee, the Under-Secretary made great play with the fourth criterion— profits based on excessive market power. I would have thought that this criterion was weakest in retail marketing. The only place where a shop would have excessive market power would be in a remote village where it was the village shop-cum-post office-cum-everything else. If and when the village was cut off by bad weather, I suppose that it could be argued that the village shop had excessive market power because customers could not go anywhere else to do their essential shopping.

This would also be so on vast housing estates, council or otherwise, where there were co-operatives or large multiple grocers, and where it might be argued that the large multiple grocers or the cooperatives had excessive market power at certain times. But, to be realistic, it could not be argued that there was excessive market power in the average High Street, in the average town, or in the average village.

In Committee, the Under-Secretary agreed that it was extremely difficult to have any form of criteria for margins. If I am correct, and I am sure that he will correct me if I am wrong, we have to go back to the 1966 Act. This is one of the problems of this legislation. Discussing this subject in the Chamber we have to tackle innumerable Acts, but let us think of the effect on shopkeepers and others who will have to have the 1966 Act, the 1967 Act, presumably eventually the 1968 Act, plus the White Paper, plus the Minister's Statement of Intent and, presumably, a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee, because so much is left to the discretion of the Government that we will finish up with a small library in every shop in the country for shopkeepers to be able to understand this legislation.

Section 7(4) of the 1966 Act says: An order under subsection (1) above may frame a description of prices or charges "— and I assume that Clause 4 would have the same application— to which this section applies in any way, and in particular in framing a description of prices of goods of a specified class—

  1. (a) may make distinctions by reference to the undertakings or persons selling the goods,
  2. (b) may make distinctions by reference to the terms and conditions on which the goods are sold …".
I interpret that as to mean in theory that any individual shop or person selling goods from a market stall, or anywhere else, could be specified.

Having established that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to set criteria for retail margins, and knowing the very wide variations in retail margins, if the Prices and Incomes Board is to make any sense of this provision, and I doubt whether it will, it is essential that we try, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) said, to lighten the load wherever possible. The only way in which we could lighten the load would be by exempting the goods outlined in Amendment No. 38, in other words, goods with no recommended selling prices, when purely the manufacturer's price would be referred to the Board.

I have my suspicions about how the Board could cope with this in present circumstances. We heard my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire. South (Sir G. Nabarro) speaking of his experience in trying to get the price of batteries referred to the Board and how he waited for many months. I am surprised that, with his customary ingenuity and enterprise, instead of writing futile letters to futile bodies, he did not set up his own factory to manufacture batteries at a cut price. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will ensure that an industrial development certificate is forthcoming if my hon. Friend decides to manufacture batteries in my constituency.

While I am referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South may I say that I am distressed, as a native of the Vale of Evesham, to hear that the Lower Avon Navigation Trust has been nationalised.

I know of a firm, which I will not name, one of whose products was referred to the Prices and Incomes Board, because the firm had increased the price. Because it manufactured a range of products and because Purchase Tax and other things went up, and the firm wished to stabilise the prices of certain products and had to carry a margin somewhere, it pushed up one price by a reasonable amount, to cover the whole range.

This was referred to the Prices and Incomes Board by a shopkeeper or somebody and the firm had a letter from the Board querying the price. The sales manager, who considered it his business to fix the price over the whole retail pattern, wrote to the Board in reply. Nothing more was heard for two months and then came a further letter asking for detailed information on costings and the internal financial set-up of the company.

The sales manager got the firm's internal cost accountant to write a letter to the Board, full of meaningless figures to justify the rise in price. I saw the letter and it meant nothing to me, would have meant nothing to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and meant nothing to the sales manager who authorised it. He got a reply, in the fullness of time, that the matter was closed.

If this is happening now, and we are talking of dealing with price reductions, I must echo the fear of many of my hon. Friends that this really is window dressing—

Sir G. Nabarro

A co-op?

Mr. Speed

It was not a co-operative society, although—

Sir G. Nabarro

Does my hon. Friend realise that there are 18 Labour and Cooperative Members in the Government party; that these Amendments deal with retail distribution margins and that not a single Co-operative voice has been heard this evening? Dereliction of duty on the part of the co-ops.

Mr. Speed

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because there is an important point of substance here.

We are dealing with retail margins. The Co-ops are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstrings, and have a modern, 20th century marketing policy. No doubt, hon. Members will have seen the cheerful jingles on television aimed at selling Co-op tea, and the new Co-op symbol. Presumably the Co-op fixes margins where there are no recommended retail prices, as part of its policy. Provided that it does not enjoy a monopoly position, I have no objection to that. More power to its elbow.

The Prices and Incomes Board has a somewhat dubious record with regard to the specific problems which are sent to it. If it is being asked to carry a much greater workload—and it can be very considerable under Section 4(7) of the 1966 Act—the Government are placing a lot of faith in a piece of window dressing. It will add further to the discredit in which the policies of all parties are held by the public when they are led to believe certain things and they are not delivered, in the end.

12.15 a.m.

It is no good the right hon. Lady or anybody else expecting Clause 4, particularly with reference to profit margins and the prices of goods in shops, to bring about fantastic price reductions when we all know—and the Chancellor was honest enough to say so—that there are staggering rises in prices at the moment. Therefore, I do not believe that this policy will work because of the extreme difficulty of establishing any criteria on margins, of the wide range of margins within retail shops and the fact that more goods are no longer subject to resale price maintenance.

The Under-Secretary, in Committee, was good enough to say that he welcomed increased competition leading not only to the stabilising but to the reduction of prices of goods like whisky, on the one hand, and considerable numbers of food items, on the other. Certain things, like lard and sugar, are sold at or below cost as loss leaders. The grocery trade is now working on a profit margin of between 12 and 15 per cent. gross. Most of its products are not sold subject to any form of resale price maintenance. I believe that we should give these people some form of stability, but we should also seek to stop the National Board for Prices and Incomes making an even bigger fool of itself. I hope therefore that hon. Members will support the Amendment.

Mr. Hattersley

What seems now a long time ago, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) drew the attention of the House to the powers which the Government seek under Clause 4 and the criteria by which those powers must be operated. I must refer the House to what the hon. Gentleman said to make a crucial addition to his analysis of the position. The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that Section 4(1) of the parent Act establishes the principle that consideration must be given by the Board, and Section 4(2) of the parent Act explains what criteria the Board must use when making an examination of a reference by the Government.

That criteria is the White Paper which outlines the Government's prices and incomes policy. Certainly, Section 4(2) of the parent Act does not require the Board to limit its consideration to any one part of that White Paper. If the hon. Member for Harrow, West looks at paragraph 7 of the White Paper presently forming a Schedule to the Act, he will see that that makes a general reference to the need to reduce prices where practicable and to prevent unjustifiable price increases. Any Prices and Incomes Board operating criteria which include that paragraph would have the widest powers to examine every unjustifiable price increase and to reduce prices where practicable.

It is against that criteria that the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) should and must judge the Government's prices policy. It is no good the hon. Gentleman, who I sincerely expect to make serious speeches, talking as if there is some conflict between my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the First Secretary in terms of the kind of prices policy which each wants to mount. I have said on many occasions that the Chancellor is absolutely right to say that, as a result of devaluation and other direct Government measures, prices will rise during the next year. That is an established fact, and that is my right hon. Friend's statement.

I have also said that the present Chancellor is the first Chancellor to even assay an analysis of how much his budgetary measures will contribute to rising prices. There is no dispute about that fact between my right hon. Friend the First Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. They both say that the background of generally rising prices is not a reason why we should not prevent unnecessary price increases. It is a reason why we should prevent them with greater determination than was otherwise the case.

Mr. Biffen

This is a point of real interest. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recall that last night the First Secretary, when seeking to defend the evolution of the prices and incomes policy, pointed out that every year since it had operated under this Government incomes had risen more than had prices. If that be the criteria of success, is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that that is the expected experience this year, or will it, as we are now being led to believe by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, be exactly the opposite?

Mr. Hattersley

I do not agree that anyone has suggested that that is the criteria of success for the policy. I agree with his statement—if that was the statement he made—that since records were kept there has been only one year in which real incomes have not risen faster than prices, but what happens during the next year does not depend on a simple analysis of the increase in wages versus the increase in prices. In no small measure it depends on how ready industry is to negotiate wage increases of a new sort. As the Prime Minister said in the House three weeks ago, if industry on a large scale chooses to take advantage of the productivity criteria and negotiate wage increases according to that formula, the position can be very different indeed.

I turn, now, to the Amendments. As the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) said several times, Amendment No. 28 has been moved, but the emphasis and interest is on Amendment No. 38. The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) said that the object of Amendment No. 28 was to probe retail distribution and our attitude to costs in that sector of the economy.

I remind the House, and particularly the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South, that Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 seek to exclude from the provisions of the Bill those areas of price which are subject neither to resale price maintenance nor to recommended prices. That being so, if the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South wants to include charges on British waterways, he must vote against these Amendments, for they would make it impossible for waterways charges, by which he sets great store, to be included within our purview since they have never been subject to either of those disciplines.

Amendment No. 38 establishes clearly and precisely the Opposition's belief that competition is enough, that if there is genuine competition one does not need intervention, that if there is competition that is all that is necessary. I said in Committee, and I say again tonight, that in many ways I wish that were so. That is the easy economic answer. That answers all our industrial questions before we need to ask them. If, somehow, the hidden hand of competition was so ruthless that firms which charged too much either went out of business, or were immediately faced with competition from new, thrusting entrepreneurs who were willing to work for rather less and establish new factories, all our price problems would be answered. But, as the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) said, it is not like that.

The hon. Gentleman made a most telling point when he referred to the Mallory battery case and said, "Look at the firms' enormous profits. Look how well it is doing". What a pity that a thrusting entrepreneur—I am sure he does not mind the description—like the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South did not immediately come into the market and produce equally good batteries at a slightly lower price because he was prepared to take a smaller profit margin. No thrusting entrepreneur, determined to work on a basic margin of profit, determined to live very near the profitable margin and, therefore, compete with this company which tried to take an unwarrantable degree of profit, entered into the market in the Mallory battery case.

Sir G. Nabarro

Mallorys are the manufacturers of batteries. They are not entrepreneurs. Does not the hon. Gentleman know the difference between a manufacturer and an entrepreneur?

Mr. Hattersley

I am sure that the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) will explain to his hon. Friend the point that I am making.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am asking the hon. Gentleman to explain.

Mr. Tom Boardman

May I remind the hon. Gentleman of the section of the Prices and Incomes Board report on the Mallory battery case which states that Mallorys have had no direct competition in this country?

Mr. Hattersley

Exactly. Competition would bring it down in the theoretical world about which we have heard from hon. Members opposite this evening, but competition did not bring it down in the real world.

What I find the most astounding feature of these debates is that Opposition members who claim that we live in a world of economic unreality go on to establish their theoretical case of perfect competition which does not exist, has not existed and cannot be created.

The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. David Howell) says, "But the Mallory battery price is still up." Yes, it is, and until the Bill becomes law we have no power to reduce prices. Hon. Members opposite who are complaining that, despite the expose by the Prices and Incomes Board and the hard work of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South, Mallory battery prices remain high, cannot in all consistency vote against these proposals, which give the Government the power and the opportunity to reduce prices. To my mind, that would be inconsistency of a very high order indeed.

I said in Committee, and I say again, that there are many areas and many occasions when competition exists in something approaching a complete form, and will in itself keep the price down. I said in Committee that as a contribution to that attitude I regarded the Resale Prices Act as a very important step forward, but, clearly, competition would not always be enough.

I take again the Mallory battery case, which is surely the most extraordinary example of how the only way a price reduction in an important and sensitive area of production can and should be effected by Government intervention.

Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)

But does the hon. Gentleman agree with the Board of Trade, which sent a circular to the needle trade, which is represented in my constituency, saying that the trade itself must get in touch with its retailers and tell them to keep their profit margins down? Surely this is a matter for the Government. It is important for manufacturers to keep good relations with their retailers, and this is exactly what the Government is trying to stop.

Mr. Hattersley

If the hon. Gentleman wants me to make a general statement about that, I am strongly in favour of manufacturers keeping on good terms with their retailers, but I am also strongly in favour of retailers not taking excessive profits and exploiting people. I am not making an estimate of how often this happens. I am saying that the Government must have power to act against it when it does happen.

I am not subscribing to the more absurd examples given by hon. Members opposite of how this might happen in unlikely situations. All I am saying is that the policy enables us to examine prices of all sorts, retail prices and manufacturer's prices. Sometimes that will produce a situation in which we discover that retailers' margins are higher than they can reasonably be expected to be, and when that situation comes about the Government must, and does, reserve the right to take action under the Bill to see that these margins, and eventually these prices, are reduced.

Of course, the Amendments imply that this is unnecessary because of what I believe is an unwarrantable and unwarranted faith in competition. If it was like that it would be a help and a comfort, but since it is not the Government are taking power to make prices policy gradually more realistic and more reasonable than it would be without Government intervention.

12.30 a.m.

Sir J. Foster

The hon. Member started by saying that the criteria for price reductions were not only the ones in the White Paper which will be debated and will then be a Schedule to the Bill, but that paragraph 7 of the Schedule to the 1966 Act also applies. I think that he is wrong about that, because in Cmnd. 3590 the criteria for price reductions are stated exhaustively. That is the point of difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself. I shall not read out the details; they were read out and argued fully by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hattersley

It is in paragraph 7 of the White Paper in the hon. and learned Gentleman's hand.

Sir J. Foster

Paragraph 7 says: There will be unavoidable increases in price … but it is essential that there should be continuing efforts to contain cost increases … to prevent unjustifiable price increases … He will admit that he is wrong about paragraph 7. It does not seem to apply to price reductions.

The more important economic point arose out of the hon. Gentleman's attack on competition, when he prayed in aid the case of Mallory batteries. We have said that the Mallory batteries case was one for reference to the Monopolies Commission, because if the company had made excessive profits it was due to the fact that it had an excesisve market power, and that it was not right to give the Government power to reduce prices just because the firm had excessive market power. We said that it should have been referred to the Monopolies Commission. If the Minister reduces the prices of Mallory batteries he removes any opportunity of competition coming in, because if the margin is reduced right down the opportunities for competition are eliminated.

The Mallory batteries case stands by itself. The general argument remains that the ordinary market forces will reduce prices and that the Government, by taking on the burden of trying to reduce the prices by specific orders after a recommendation by the Board, will not succeed. This argument has been developed adequately by my hon. Friend. It is no

good saying that the Mallory batteries case shows that there is a need for a prices and incomes policy to reduce prices throughout industry.

Sufficient powers are contained in the Monopolies Commission. It would be impossible to imagine that the Government can succeed by referring certain prices to the Board and then having a recommendation from the Board, because it is working on criteria which do not take account of the way in which commerce and industry work.

The party opposite does not believe in competition. We can see the result of this in the failure of the nationalised industries. We can also see the result of its failure to appreciate the way in which the market policy works, in that it is always creating new Ministries, commissions and committees, which have the effect of reducing the interplay of market forces. We believe that the interplay of market prices is the right way to get the economy on its feet. Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that their prices and incomes policy will do this. But the test, after four years of Labour Government, must be based on which ideology has succeeded.

The voluntary policy which the right hon. Lady claims has succeeded has, in fact, only succeeded in bring the country to the brink of ruin. This has been due entirely to the Government's belief that if one regulates matters, one will secure the right economic climate for productivity to flourish, but their belief is misconceived. We wish, by the Amendment, to cut down the power of the Government to investigate possible price reductions in at least those cases where there is no retail price maintenance and no recommended prices.

Mr. Brian O'Malley (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put: —

The House divided: Ayes 269. Noes 219.

Division No. 247.] AYES [12.35 a.m.
Abse, Leo Anderson, Donald Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Albu, Austen Archer, Peter Barnes, Michael
Alldritt, Walter Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Barnett, Joel
Allen, Scholefield Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Bence, Cyril
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hannan, William Molloy, William
Bidwell, Sydney Harper, Joseph Moonman, Eric
Binns, John Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Bishop, E. S. Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Blackburn, F. Haseldine, Norman Morris, Charles R. (Openahaw)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hattersley, Roy Morris, John (Aberavon)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Moyle, Roland
Booth, Albert Heffer, Eric S. Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Boston, Terence Henig, Stanley Murray, Albert
Boyden, James Harbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Bradley, Tom Hilton, W. S. Norwood, Christopher
Brooks, Edwin Horner, John Oakes, Cordon
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ogden, Eric
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) O'Malley, Brian
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Oram, Albert E.
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Orme, Stanley
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Howie, W. Oswald, Thomas
Buchan, Norman Hoy, James Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Huckfield, Leslie Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Park, Trevor
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Roy (Newport) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hunter, Adam Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hynd, John Pavitt, Laurence
Coe, Denis Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Coleman, Donald Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Pentland, Norman
Conlan, Bernard Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, C.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Crawshaw, Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Cronin, John Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Price, William (Rugby)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Probert, Arthur
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Randall, Harry
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Dan (Burnley) Dees, Merlyn
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham, S.) Richard, Ivor
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Judd, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kenyon, Clifford Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.Pc'as)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lawson, George Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Dell, Edmund Ledger, Ron Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dempsey, James Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Roebuck, Roy
Dewar, Donald Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Dobson, Ray Lee, John (Reading) Rose, Paul
Doig, Peter Lestor, Miss Joan Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Driberg, Tom Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Dunn, James A. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ryan, John
Dunnett, Jack Lomas, Kenneth Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Loughlin, Charles Sheldon, Robert
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Luard, Evan Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Eadie, Alex Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Short, Mrs.Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Edelman, Maurice Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McBride, Neil Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Ellis, John McCann, John Skeffington, Arthur
English, Michael MacColl, James Slater, Joseph
Ennals, David MacDermot, Niall Small, William
Ensor, David Macdonald, A. H. Snow, Julian
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McGuire, Michael Spriggs, Leslie
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Faulds, Andrew Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Fernyhough, E. Mackie, John Strauss, Rt. Hn, G. R.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackintosh, John P. Swingler, Stephen
Foley, Maurice Maclennan, Robert Taverne, Dick
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McNamara, J. Kevin Tinn, James
Ford, Ben Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Urwin, T. W.
Forrester, John Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Varley, Eric G.
Fowler, Gerry Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Manuel, Archie Wallace, George
Freeson, Reginald Marks, Kenneth Watkins, David (Consett)
Gardner, Tony Marquand, David Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Garrett, W E. Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Wellbeloved, James
Ginsburg, David Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Maxwell, Robert White, Mrs. Eirene
Gourlay, Harry Mayhew, Christopher Whitlock, William
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mendelson, J. J. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mikardo, Ian Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Millan, Bruce Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Miller. Dr. M. S. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hamling, William Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton) Woof, Robert TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wilson, William (Coventry, S.) Yates, Victor Mr. Ernest Armstrong
Winnick, David Mr. Alan Fitch
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Goodhew, Victor Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gower, Raymond Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Astor, John Grant, Anthony Nott, John
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Grant-Ferris, R. Onslow, Cranley
Awdry, Daniel Gresham Cooke, R. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Grieve, Percy Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Balniel, Lord Gurden, Harold Page, Graham (Crosby)
Batsford, Brian Hall, John (Wycombe) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hall-Davis, A. C. F. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Bell, Ronald Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Peel, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Percival, Ian
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Peyton, John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) PiKe, Miss Mervyn
Biffen, John Hastings, Stephen Pink, R. Bonner
Biggs-Davison, John Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Pounder, Rafton
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Heseltine, Michael Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Black, Sir Cyril Higgins, Terence L. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Blaker, Peter Hiley, Joseph Prior, J. M. L.
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hill, J. E. B. Pym, Francis
Body, Richard Holland, Philip Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bossom, Sir Clive Hooson, Emlyn Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hordern, Peter Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Braine, Bernard Hornby, Richard Rees-Davies, W. R.
Brewis, John Howell, David (Guildford) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hunt, John Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hutchison, Michael Clark Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Bruce-Gartlyne, J. Iremonger, T. L. Ridsdale, Julian
Bryan, Paul Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Bullus, Sir Eric Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Burden, F. A. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Royle, Anthony
Campbell, Bruce (Oldham, W ) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Campbell, Gordon Jopling, Michael Scott, Nicholas
Cass, Rt. Hn. Robert Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Scott-Hopkins, James
Cary, Sir Robert Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Channon, H. P. G. Kerby, Capt. Henry Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Chichester-Clark, R. Kimball, Marcus Silvester, Frederick
Clark, Henry Kirk, Peter Smith, Dudley (W'wick&L'mington)
Clegg, Walter Kitson, Timothy Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Cooke, Robert Knight, Mrs. Jill Speed, Keith
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Lancaster, col. C. G. Stainton, Keith
Cordle, John Lane, David Stodart, Anthony
Corfield, F. V. Langford-Holt, Sir John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Costain, A. P. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Summers, Sir Spencer
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Tapsell, Peter
Crouch, David Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Crowder, F. P. Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cunningham, sir Knox Lubbock, Eric Temple, John M.
Dalkeith, Earl of MacArthur, Ian Tilney, John
Dance, James Mackenzie, Alasdalr(Ross&Crom'ty) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir H. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N ) Macleod Rt. Hn. Iain Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Deedee, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) McMaster, Stanley Vickers, Dame Joan
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Doughty, Charles Maddan, Martin Wall, Patrick
Drayson, G. B. Maginnis, John E. Walters, Dennis
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Marten, Neil Weatherill, Bernard
Eden, Sir John Maude, Angus Webster, David
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Wells, John (Maidstone)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c't1e-upon-Tyne, N.) Mawby, Ray Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Emery, Peter Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Errington, Sir Eric Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Farr, John Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fisher, Nigel Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Miscampbell, Norman Woodnutt, Mark
Fortescue, Tim Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Worsley, Marcus
Foster, Sir John Monro, Hector Wylie, N. R.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Montgomery, Fergus Younger, Hn. George
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Gibson-Watt, David Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Mr. Jasper More and
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Murton, Oscar Mr. Reginald Eyre.
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Goodhart, Philip Neave, Airey

Question put accordingly, That the Amendment be made: —

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 38, in page 3, line 24, after 'charges' insert: 'except that where there is no recom-

mended retail selling price or charge the manufacturer's price or charge only shall be referred to the Board'.—[Mr. John Page.]

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 220, Noes 273.

Division No. 248.] AYES [12.49 a.m
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Gibson-Watt, David Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Allaeon, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Monro, Hector
Astor, John Gilmour, Sir John (Fife E.) Montgomery, Fergus
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. More, Jasper
Awdry, Daniel Goodhart, Philip Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Goodhew, Victor Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Gower, Raymond Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Balniel, Lord Grant, Anthony Murton, Oscar
Batsford, Brian Grant-Ferris, R. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gresham Cooke, R. Neave, Airey
Bell, Ronald Grieve, Percy Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Curden, Harcid Nott, John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hall, John (Wycombe) Onslow, Cranley
Biffen, John Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Orr, Capt. L.P.S.
Biggs-Davison, John Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Black, Sir Cyril Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Page Graham (Crosby)
Blaker, Peter Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Page, John (Farrow, W.)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hastings, Stephen Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Body, Richard Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Peel, John
Bossom, Sir Clive Heseltine, Michael Percival, Ian
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Higgins, Terence L. Peyton, John
Brains, Bernard Hilley, Joseph Pike, Miss Mervyn
Brewis, John Hill, J.E.B. Pink, R. Bonner
Brinton, Sir Tatton Holland, Philip Pounder, Rafton
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hooson, Emlyn Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Bruce-Cardyne, J. Hordern, Peter Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bryan, Paul Hornby, Richard Prior, J.M.L.
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Howell, David (Guildford) Pym, Francis
Bullus, Sir Eric Hunt, John Quennell, Miss J. M.
Burden, F. A. Hutchison, Michael Clark Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Iremonger, T. L. Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sit Peter
Campbell, Gordon Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Cary, Sir Robert Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Channon, H. P. G. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Chichester-Clark, R. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Ridsdale, Julian
Clark, Henry Jopling, Michael Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Clegg, Walter Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Cooke, Robert Kaberry, Sir Donald Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Kerby, Capt. Henry Royle, Anthony
Cordle, John Kimball, Marcus Russell, Sir Ronald
Corfield, F. V. Kirk, Peter Scott, Nicholas
Costain, A. P. Kitson, Timothy Scott-Hopkins, James
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Knight, Mrs. Jill Sharples, Richard
Crouch, David Lancaster, Col. C. G. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Crowder, F. P. Lane, David Silvester, Frederick
Cunningham, Sir Knox Langford-Holt, Sir John Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Dalkeith, Earl of Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Dance, James Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Speed, Keith
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lioyd, lan (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Stainton, Keith
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Longden, Gilbert Stodart, Anthony
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Lubbock, Eric Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Digby, Simon Wingfield MacArthur, Ian Summers, Sir Spencer
Doggd-Parker, Douglas Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Tapsell, Peter
Doughty, Charles Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Drayson, G. B. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward McMaster, Stanley Temple, John M.
Eden, Sir John Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Tilney, John
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maddan, Martin Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maginnis, John E. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Emery, Peter Marten, Neil Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Errington, Sir Eric Maude, Angus Vickers, Dame Joan
Farr, John Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Fisher, Nigel Mawby, Ray Wall, Patrick
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Walters, Dennis
Fortescue, Tim Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Webster, David
Foster, Sir John Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Miscampbell, Norman Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Wills, Sir Cerald (Bridgwater) Worsley, Marcus TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro) Wylie, N. R. Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Wood, Ht. Hn. Richard Younger, Hn. George Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Woodnutt, Mark
Abse, Leo Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) MacDermot, Niall
Albu, Austen Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Macdonald, A. H.
Alldritt, Walter Ford, Ben McGuire, Michael
Allen, Scholefiels Forrester, John McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Anderson, Donald Fowler, Gerry Mackenzie, Grogor (Rutherglen)
Archer, Peter Fraser, John (Norwood) Mackie, John
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Frecson, Reginald Mackintosh, John P.
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Gardner, Tony Maclennan, Robert
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Garrett, W. E. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Barnes, Michael Ginsburg, David McNamara, J. Kevin
Barnett, Joel Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. MacPherson, Malcolm
Bence, Cyril Gourlay, Harry Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Bidwell, Sydney Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mallialieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Binns, John Grey, Charles (Durham) Manuel, Archie
Bishop, E. S. Griffiths, David (Rolher Valley) Marks, Kenneth
Blackburn, F. Griffiths, E. (Brightside) Marquand, David
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Hamling, William Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Booth, Albert Hannan, William Maxwell, Robert
Boston, Terence Harper, Joseph Mayhew, Christopher
Boyden, James Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Bradley, Tom Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mendelson, J. J.
Brooks, Edwin Haseldine, Norman Mikardo, Ian
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hattersley, Roy Millan, Bruce
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Miller. Dr. M. S.
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Heffer, Eric S. Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Henig, Stanley Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Molloy, William
Buchan, Norman Hilton, W. S. Moonman, Eric
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Horner, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cant, R. B. Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Carmichael, Neil Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Morris, John (Aberavon)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Moyle, Roland
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Howie, W. Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Coe, Denis Hoy, James Murray, Albert
Coleman, Donald Huckfield, Leslie Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Norwood, Christopher
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oakes, Gordon
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ogden, Eric
Crawshaw, Richard Hunter, Adam O'Malley, Brian
Cronin, John Hynd, John Oram, Albert E.
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Orme, Stanley
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Oswald, Thomas
Dalyell, Tam Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Palmer, Arthur
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Park, Trevor
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
de Fretas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pavitt, Laurence
Dell, Edmund Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Dempsey, James Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Dewar, Donald Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Pentland, Norman
Dobson, Ray Judd, Frank Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Doig, Peter Kenyon, Clifford Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Driberg, Tom Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Dunn, James A. Lawson, George Price, William (Rugby)
Dunnett, Jack Ledger, Ron Probert, Arthur
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Randall, Harry
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Rees, Merlyn
Eadie, Alex Lee, John (Reading) Richard, Ivor
Edelman, Maurice Lestor, Miss Joan Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Ellis, John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Robertson, John (Paisley)
English, Michael Lomas, Kenneth Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Ennals, David Loughlin, Charles Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Ensor, David Luard, Evan Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Roebuck, Roy
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Faulds, Andrew Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rose, Paul
Fernyhough, E. McBride, Neil Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Fletcher, Ted m (Darlington) McCann, John Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Foley, Maurice MacColl, James Ryan, John
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Swingler, Stephen Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Sheldon, Robert Taverne, Dick Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff,W.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.) Tinn, James Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Urwin, T. W. Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Varley, Eric G. Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Skeffington, Arthur Wallace, George Winnick, David
Slater, Joseph Watkins, David (Consett) Woof, Robert
Small, William Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor) Yates, Victor
Snow, Julian Wellbeloved, James
Spriggs, Leslie Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.) White, Mrs. Eirene
Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Whitlock, William Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick Mr. Alan Fitch.
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Harold Walker

I beg to move Amendment No. 41, in page 3, line 31, leave out 'a later date)' and insert: 'within three months thereof)'. The Amendment deals with the interval between the making of a price reduction Order and its coming into force. From the Government's point of view such an Order should ideally come into force as soon as it is made. The provision for an interval between the date of the Order and its coming into force is included in the Bill purely in the interests of the manufacturers or traders concerned, so as to allow time for them to make the necessary arrangements to observe the provisions of the Order, for example, by amending price lists.

The time needed would vary from Order to Order depending on the nature of the goods or services concerned and, for example, on whether one or two undertakings or an industry or trade as a whole was affected. It would in most cases be a delay of days or, at the most, weeks, as stated by me in Committee. There might, however, be contingencies in which a rather longer delay was needed for the purposes of the orderly introduction of the price change.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

Order. Because of the noise I am having some difficulty in hearing the Minister.

An Hon. Member: The Minister should speak up.

Mr. Walker

If hon. Members opposite would speak down a little they might be able to hear more without having to strain their ears.

I was pointing out that we are dealing with an Amendment concerning the interval between the making of an Order and its coming into force. Hon. Mem- bers opposite in Committee expressed considerable concern at the open-ended-ness of the phrase "a later date". I am glad to be able to say that we have responded exactly to their representations. After careful scrutiny of the Amendment they moved in Committee we are prepared to accept it, and I am glad to be able to commend it to the House.

Mr. R. Carr

We are grateful to the Government for moving the Amendment. It does not meet our case entirely, because we do not like the whole Clause, but we appreciate the Government's acceptance of the point we made in Committee that the phrase "a later date" was very vague and needed to be made more precise, and we are glad to accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Hattersley

I beg to move Amendment No. 42, in page 3, line 32, to leave out from 'order' to end of line 33.

We seek by this Amendment to remove an Amendment carried in Committee. Rt. hon. and hon. Members opposite who were in the Committee will agree that, whatever the merits of their Amendment, it was not the strength of their argument which resulted in its being carried but the unfortunate juxtaposition of a division and the dinner interval. However, I do not minimise the strength of the argument which preceded the dinner interval.

The Amendment carried in Committee reduced one specific area of power which the Government seek to have. If that Amendment remained part of the Bill, the Government's powers to reduce prices would come to a sudden and, in our view, arbitrary end in the middle of 1969. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am sure that my hon. Friends will note with interest the enthusiasm of hon. Members opposite for reducing this specific power and will feel that, whatever else in the Bill has some marginal disadvantages, our intention that price reductions should be a central theme of our policy in the hard 18 months ahead should not be minimised by our power to make reductions coming to a sudden and arbitrary end in August, 1969.

If the Bill were to stand in the form in which it came from Committee, the maximum power we might hope for would be a price reduction power lasting six or eight months. Manifestly it would not be right to maintain powers to limit wage increases and price increases and relinquish a substantial part of the power directed to the right, duty and obligation which the Government seek to bring about occasional selective and vitally important price reductions.

Mr. R. Carr

This is a shabby trick. The Parliamentary Secretary says that the Amendment was not passed in Committee because of the strength of our arguments. Our arguments applied to the terminal dates for the powers in all parts of the Bill, not just to prices. They were supported by hon. Members opposite, and the fact that we wore the Government down and won this point due due to the strength of our argument, which was accepted and supported by hon. Members opposite, and to the massive abstention of Government members, including that of the First Secretary.

The Division in Committee was carried by 12 votes to 11. But for the absence of the right hon. Lady, there would have been a tie, and no doubt, if it had been the Government's will, the Chairman would have had to use his casting vote to maintain the position. When a decision is taken by a Committee with the concurrence of the Minister, it might be allowed to stand.

It is noticeable that the right hon. Lady evidently does not feel very strongly about this matter, or presumably she would have been here to move the Amendment and explain why she has changed her mind. She was so infrequently present at our debates in Committee that perhaps she never quite knew where we had got to.

The hon. Gentleman argues that it would be unfair to reduce the period in this part of the Bill. That argument is both unfair and false. We argued strongly that, if there had to be statutory power to delay, it should be the same for each element in the Bill. There is more than one way of getting the uniformity the hon. Gentleman seeks. Instead of reversing the Committee's Amendment, he could amend the other parts of the Bill to bring in 11th August, 1969 as the terminal date for all the powers. That was the outspoken wish of a number of hon. Members opposite and I am sure it is the outspoken wish of the majority. The two previous Acts each lasted a year. Why does this Bill have to last 18 months? That point has never been answered.

Mr. Tom Boardman

The Undersecretary of State referred to our enthusiasm for reducing the powers in this part of the Bill. That was unfair of him. We have shown equal enthusiasm for shorter time limits for the other parts. The only distinction in Committee was that the Government showed less enthusiasm in opposing our time limit in this case. Perhaps it was accidental, but I like to think that it was also on the merit of the case.

There is a distinction between limiting the powers in this part of the Bill and limiting the powers in other parts. The distinction arises because this Clause provides for price reductions at a time when prices are rising as a deliberate act of Government policy. It would be inconsistent to allow these powers for price reductions to continue for a period extending beyond 11th August, 1969. The hon. Gentleman says the Amendment in Committee was carried by accident. I ask the House to accept that the accident was combined with merit.

Mr. Mawby

In Committee, we were interested in imposing shorter time limits in all parts of the Bill but were only successful in doing so in this part. The Government have always claimed that these are temporary powers. Even if the terminal date of 11th August, 1969, is retained, we shall by then have had prices and incomes legislation for almost five years. The question is: how temporary is temporary? I look forward, not with any enthusiasm, to the 1969 Prices and Incomes Bill which, again, will seek to extend these "temporary" measures which the Government have been foisting upon us for so long. I see no reason why this provision should be deleted when we voted in Standing Committee to add it to the Bill, and I join with my right hon. and hon. Friends in hoping that at later stages of the Bill the Government will change other provisions to make them conform with this terminal date.

1.15 a.m.

Mr. Ridley

This is the only power in the Bill to reduce anything. Other provisions give power to order a standstill on prices, wages or dividends, but this Clause gives power to make unspecified reductions, and enormous reductions in the prices of some commodities could be enforced by Order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Those reductions could be disastrous for some sections of the economy, a fact which hon. Members opposite below the Gangway are cheering in a most extraordinary way. These reductions might cause serious unemployment in their constituencies, and no doubt they would cheer slightly less loudly if that were to happen.

We are in rapidly changing economic circumstances. Prices are going up all the time. As the Under-Secretary has just said, we have a background of generally rising prices. The latest indices show an enormous rise of 2.2 per cent. We have another Budget ahead of us in April and perhaps more before and after that. The uncertain international situation may lead to all sorts of difficulties with prices, and in these circumstances it would be inappropriate for the Government to have powers to make Orders to reduce prices right through to the end of 1969 and beyond. I hope that the power to order a standstill will also end much earlier, but to take power to make enforced and arbitrary reductions in prices purely for window dressing reasons for up to two years from now, at a time when there is a totally uncertain economic situation, when there are

rapidly rising prices and when there are nasty effects from international monetary goings-on, is absolutely unwarrantable.

I hope that the Government will make the Amendments which are necessary to bring other parts of the Bill into line with this and that they will at least make an honest start by leaving the Bill as it is, letting the decision of the Standing Committee stand, and so make some sense of the Clause.

Mr. Emery

I should like to show the Government the illogicality of their argument. Earlier today, the Under-Secretary argued that the Opposition were keen on having a proper phasing out of certain powers. These Amendments are positive proof that that is not the case. We want all these powers to come to an absolute and early halt. It is wrong to suggest that it is only the power to make price reductions which we want to cease early. We want all the powers, across the board, to cease. Whether by good sense or ineptitude, the Government allowed this change to be made in Standing Committee and they should now seek to make other Amendments to bring other parts of the Bill into line with this. Ending the power to make price reductions at an earlier date would not upset the Government's planned timing of the Bill.

As was pointed out in Committee, this was particularly different from the other Amendments dealing with reduction in time. Because this is dealing with price reduction, which most of us believe should not be in the Bill, I see no reason why the Government should bring this into line with the other dates. I hope that my hon. Friends will resist the Government's blandishments as much as possible.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 260, Noes 212.

Division No. 249.] AYES [1.20 a.m.
Abse, Leo Bence, Cyril Bray, Dr. Jeremy
Albu, Austen Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Brooks, Edwin
Alldritt, Walter Bidwell, Sydney Broughton, Dr. A, D. D.
Allen, Scholefield Binns, John Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)
Anderson, Donald Bishop, E. S. Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)
Archer, Peter Blackburn, F. Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Armstrong, Ernest Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Boardman, H. (Leigh) Buchan, Norman
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Booth, Albert Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Boston, Terence Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Barnes, Michael Boyden, James Cant, R. B.
Barnett, Joel Bradley, Tom Carmichael, Neil
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) O'Malley, Brian
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hughes, Roy (Newport) Oram, Albert E.
Coe, Denis Hunter, Adam Orme, Stanley
Coleman, Donald Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Oswald, Thomas
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Conlan, Bernard Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jeger,Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras, S.) Palmer, Arthur
Crawshaw, Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Park, Trevor
Grossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Dalyell, Tam Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pavitt, Laurence
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W. Ham, S.) Perry, Ernest C. (Battersea, s.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Judd, Frank Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kenyon, Clifford Price, William (Rugby)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Probert, Arthur
Dell, Edmund Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Randall, Harry
Dempsey, James Lawson, George Rees, Merlyn
Dewar, Donald Ledger, Ron Richard, Ivor
Dobson, Ray Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Doig, Peter Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Driberg, Tom Lee, John (Reading) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Dunn, James, A. Lestor, Miss Joan Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dunnett, Jack Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Cwyneth (Exeter) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Eadie, Alex Lomas, Kenneth Roebuck, Roy
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Loughlin, Charles Rose, Paul
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Luard, Evan Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Ellis, John Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
English, Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Ennals, David Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Sheldon, Robert
Ensor, David McCann, John Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) MacColl, James Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Fernyhough, E. MacDermot, Niall Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Macdonald, A. H. Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Foley, Maurice McGuire, Michael Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Skeffington, Arthur
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Slater, Joseph
Ford, Ben Mackie, John Small, William
Forrester, John Mackintosh, John P. Snow, Julian
Fowler, Gerry Maclennan, Robert Spriggs, Leslie
Fraser, John (Norwood) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Freeson, Reginald McNamara, J. Kevin Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Gardner, Tony MacPherson, Malcolm Swingler, Stephen
Carrett, W. E. Matron, Peter (Preston, S.) Taverne, Dick
Ginsburg, David Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P.C. Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Tinn, James
Goulary, Harry Manuel, Archie Urwin, T.W.
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Marks, Kenneth Varley, Eric G.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Marquand, David Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richrd Wallace, George
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Manson, Rt. Hn. Roy Watkins, David (Consett)
Griffiths, Eddie Watkins, tudor (Brecon &Radnor)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Maxwell, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Hamling, William Mayhew, Christopher Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hannan, William Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert White, Mrs. Eirene
Harper, Joseph Mendelson, J.J. Whitlock, William
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Milkardo, Ian Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Milne, Edward (Blyth) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Haseldine, Norman Miller, Dr. M.S. Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Hattersley, Roy Milne, Edwars (Blyth) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mitcheil, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Heffer, Eric S. Molloy, William Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Henig, Stanley Moonman, Eric Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hilton, W. S. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Horner, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Winnick, David
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, John (Aberavon) Woof Robert
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Moyle, Roland Yates, Victor
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Murray, Albert TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Howie, W. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Hoy, James Norwood, Christopher Mr. Alan Fitch and
Huckfield, Leslie Oakes, Gordon Mr. Neil McBride.
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Ogden, Eric
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Bell, Ronald
Astor, John Balniel, Lord Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)
Awdry, Daniel Batsford, Brian Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Biffen, John Gurden, Harold Osborn, John (Hallam)
Biggs-Davison, John Hall, John (Wycombe) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Black, Sir Cyril Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Blaker, Peter Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Pee|, John
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Percival, Ian
Body, Richard Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Peyton, John
Bossom, Sir Clive Hastings, Stephen Pike, Miss Mervyn
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Heseltine, Michael Pink, R. Bonner
Braine, Bernard Higgins, Terence L. Pounder, Rafton
Brewis, John Hiley, Joseph Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hill, J. E. B. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Holland, Philip Prior, J.M. L.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hordern, Peter Pym, Francis
Bryan, Paul Hornby, Richard Quennell, Miss J. M.
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Howell, David (Guildford) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bullus, Sir Eric Hunt,John Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Pater
Burden, F. A. Iremonger, T. L. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Campbell, Gordon Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Cary, Sir Robert Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ridsdale, Julian
Channon, H. P. G. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Chichester-Clark, R. Jopling, Michael Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Clark, Henry Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Clegg, Walter Kaberry, Sir Donald Royle, Anthony
Cooke, Robert Kerby, Capt. Henry Russell, Sir Ronald
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Kimball, Marcus Scott, Nicholas
Cordle, John Kirk, Peter Scott-Hopkins, James
Corfield, F. V. Kitson, Timothy Sharples, Richard
Costain, A. P. Knight, Mrs. Jill Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Lane, David Silvester, Frederick
Crouch, David Langtord-Holt, Sir John Smith, Dudley (Wwick&L'mington)
Crowder, F. P. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Smith, John (Lonndon & W'minster)
Cunningham, Sir Knox Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) speed, Keith
Dalkeith, Earl of Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Stainton, Keith
Dance, James Longden, Gilbert Stodart, Anthony
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lubbock, Eric Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) MacArthur, Ian Summers, Sir Specer
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross& Crom'ty) Tapsell, Pete
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Macleod Rt. Hn. Iain Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas McMaster, Stanley Temple, John M.
Doughty, Charles Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Tilney, John
Drayson, G.B. Maddan, Martin Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Maginnis, John E. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Eden, Sir John Marten, Neil Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maude, Angus Vickers, Dame Joan
Elliott,P.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Emery, Peter Mawby, Ray Wall, Patrick
Errington, Sir Eric Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Walters, Dennis
Eyre, Reginald Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Weatherill, Bernard
Farr, John Mills, Peter (Torrington) Webster, David
Fisher, Nigel Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Wells, John (Maidstons)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Misoampbell, Norman Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Fortescue, Tim Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Foster, Sir John
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Monro, Hector Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Gibson-Watt, David Montgomery, Fergus Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Glimour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) More, Jasper Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Glimour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Woodnutt, Mark
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Worsley, Marcus
Goodhart, Philip Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wylie, N. R.
Goodhew, Victor Murton, Oscar Younger, Hn. George
Gower, Raymond Neave, Airey
Grant-Ferris, R. Nott, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gresham Cooke, R. Onslow, Cranley Mr. Anthony Grant and
Grieve, Percy Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Mr. Humphrey Atkins
Mr. Hattcrsley

I beg to move Amendment No. 148, in page 4, line 15, at end insert: 'Any written consent given under this subsection shall be notified in the Gazette'. I concede that the Amendment has been put down as a result of the strength of the argument put forward in Committee, most of it coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Amendment requires my right hon. Friend, when she gives consent for the variation of an Order under the Clause, to publish the notification of that consent in the appropriate Gazette. The House will know that consents simply reduce the severity of an Order, and on no occasion do they intensify it, but there is clearly a strong argument that when my right hon. Friend decides that a price reduction Order should in some way be lifted or alleviated potential customers and those subject to the Order should have a way of knowing about it.

The common way of knowing about it, and the way which brings it to the attention of other people and to the attention of the newspapers, is for the notice to be published in the Gazette. That is what I promised to do, and that is what we do by the submission to the House of the Amendment.

Mr. R. Carr

Once again, we are grateful to the Government for having taken note of the points raised by us in Committee and bringing forward this Amendment.

There is one minor point on which I hope the hon. Gentleman can enlighten us. Our Amendment No. 46, which we tabled before we were certain that the Government would bring forward their own, mentions the London, Edinburgh, and Belfast Gazettes. We took this from other legislation in the belief that that was the standard form. The Government Amendment refers grandly to the Gazette. We were merely copying what the Government have done in another place, but provided this gives the necessary publicity, which is what we want, we are grateful to the Government.

Mr. Hattersley

The Amendment does not copy the Gazette from other legislation. It copies the Gazette from this legislation. It is defined in precise terms in Section 34(4) of the 1966 Act. There the Gazette means the London Gazette, and, in addition, if I might use the term with the greatest respect, whichever regional Gazette is most appropriate.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Emery

I beg to move Amendment No. 44, in page 4, line 15 at end insert: (5) An order made by the Secretary of State under this part of this Act—

  1. (a) may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order so made;
  2. (b) shall be contained in a statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament;
    • Provided that notice of such variation or revocation shall be published in the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes not less than seven days before the making of the order.
This might be considered to be a fairly small point, but it is one of considerable constitutional and legal significance. We are considering here Orders which are made for price reductions. Such Orders, as is made clear in Clause 4(4), shall prescribe the prices and charges which can legally be charged on a price reduction Order.

But it then goes on to say: but where anything is done with the written consent of a Minister making or joining in making an order under this section, it shall not by reason of that order be unlawful under this section. That is a lot of words, but what it really means is that by the written consent of the Minister that Minister can alter what is lawful. It means that an Order which is made on an individual firm to reduce its prices could be altered by the written consent of the Minister, or that an Order made on an industry could be altered by the written consent of the Minister for one or for a number of firms.

We think that this is wrong. We consider that it should be made quite clear that if there are to be alterations the House should be properly notified of this, and that it should not just be left to the flexibility of Ministers to be able to alter any Order that has been approved by this House at their will.

I realise that the Government will argue that it could well be to the advantage of the firm not to have to comply with the Order made, and, therefore, that immediate flexibility should be given to the Minister to allow this alleviation to a specific firm. There is, of course, some sense in that argument, but it is only a very limited sense because first of all, it still gives the power to the Minister, merely by his signature, to alter a Statutory Instrument or an Order of this House.

Secondly, if this was an industrial Order, and an exception was being made for certain firms, it would mean that other firms might not have the full knowledge or cognisance of it. We think it very much better that this should be done in the normal manner or an Order or Statutory Instrument.

I use as an example the industrial side. Let us take a firm such as G.K.N., in the Midlands, which manufactures fasteners. It would be quite possible for the Government to make an Order, after a recommendation by the Board, that the price of fasteners should be reduced. This would be over the whole of the industry but perhaps for reasons of profitability, or something else, the Minister would make an exemption for certain firms. This, under the procedure in the Bill, would be done purely by the letter of the Minister.

We believe that because this is an alteration of a Statutory Instrument it ought to be made by another Statutory Instrument, and that it is of the greatest importance that extra power should not be given to Ministers in this way, because it is open to misuse. It would be quite possible, unless the Amendment is carried, for the Government to use their powers in a rather roundabout fashion to apply pressure on specific industries. If the Prices and Incomes Board recommended that a specific price reduction should be made, it would be possible for the order to follow out that price reduction but for the Government, by a side letter, to say to that company or industry, "You do not have to reduce to the full amount of the Order, you need reduce only by a half. However, we would like you to do these things." It is all very well to say that sort of moral suasion would not be used, but it must be a temptation, and it would be possible under the present authority for the alteration of Statutory Instruments which exists in the Bill.

It would be quite wrong to allow the Minister, on his own signature, to alter a Statutory Instrument for one person or one company, or even a group of companies. It might be in the interests of the company or companies concerned, but not in the interests of the industry generally.

We suggest that the relevant Gazettes should be used for publication. Our Amendment was put down before the Amendment which we have just agreed to, and if the Government would accept the Amendment I should be happy to ensure that the reference to the Gazette should apply as required by the Minister. That is a minor point.

Sir Knox Cunningham (Antrim, South)

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this is the kind of dispensing power that the House has always set its face against in the past?

Mr. Emery

It is. It is not only a dispensing power; it is a power for the alteration of a Statutory Instrument, which we do not think should be allowed merely on the signature of a Minister.

Mr. Harold Walker

Having listened to the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) I can only assume that he has tabled and moved the wrong Amendment. Nothing in it would delete subsection (4), to which he is taking exception, because it would allow the Minister to make written variations in a Statutory Instrument already made. The powers that the Amendment seeks to write into the Clause are already in it. The reference is to Section 20 of the 1966 Act, which contains, with the exception of the final sentence, exactly the provisions that the hon. Member seeks to introduce by his Amendment.

Any variation that may be made to an existing Order by written consent by one Minister—who, incidentally, shall be one of the Ministers who were party to making the Order in the first place—must be seen against the limited provisions of subsection (3), which provides that No order made for the purposes of this Section shall impose … a restriction more stringent than those recommended by the Board.

So any variations, anyhow, will be relaxing variations, which I assume would be welcomed by the hon. Member and his hon. Friends.

In any case, they would be made only after representations by the commercial interests affected, and the provision for the making of alterations by written consent is not unique. It is inserted so that on marginal issues the Minister or Ministers shall be able to take speedy action instead of having to go through the statutory provisions involved in making an Order.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 214, Noes 260.

Division No. 250.] AYES [1.45 a.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Nott, John
Astor, John Goodhart, Philip Onslow, Cranley
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n& M'd'n) Goodhew, Victor Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Awdry, Daniel Gower, Raymond Orr-Ewtng, Sir Ian
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Grant-Ferris, R. Osborn, John (Hallam)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Gresham Cooke, R. Page, Graham (Crosby)
Balniel, Lord Grieve, Percy Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Batsford, Brian Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gurden, Harold Peel, John
Bell, Ronald Hall, John (Wycombe) Percival, Ian
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Peyton, John
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Pink R. Bonner
Biffen, John Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Pounder, Rafton
Biggs-Davison, John Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Birch, Rt, Hit. Nigel Hastings, Stephen Price, David (Eastleigh)
Black, Sir Cyril Heseltine, Michael Prior,J. M. L.
Blaker, Peter Higgins, Terence L. Pym, Francis
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hiley, Joseph Quennell, Miss J. M.
Body, Richard Hill, J. E. B. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bossom, Sir Clive Holland, Philip Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hordern, Peter Rees-Davies, W. R.
Braine, Bernard Hornby, Richard Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Brewis, John Howell, David (Guildford) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hunt, John Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Iremonger, T. L. Ridsdale, Julian
Bruce-Gartlyne, J. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffry
Bryan, Paul Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bullus, Sir Eric Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Royle, Anthony
Burden, F. A. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Jopling, Michael Scott, Nicholas
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Joseph, Bt. Hn. Sir Keith Scott-Hopkins, James
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Cary, Sir Robert Kerby, Capt. Henry Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Channon, H. P. G. Kimball, Marcus Silvester, Frederick
Chichester-Clark, R. Kirk, Peter Smith, Dudley (W'wick&L'mington)
Clark, Henry Kitson, Timothy Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Clegg, Walter Knight, Mrs. Jill Speed, Keith
Cooke, Robert Lancaster, Col. C. G. Stainton, Keith
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Lane, David Stodart, Anthony
Cordle, John Langford-Holt, Sir John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Corfield, F. V. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Summers, Sir Spencer
Costain, A. P. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Tapsell, Peter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Lloyd, Ian (P' tsm' th, Langstone) Taylor, sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Crouch, David Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Crowder, F. P. Lubbock, Erick Temple, John M.
Cunningham, Sir Knox MacArthur, Ian Tilney, John
Dalkeitn, Eral of Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Dance, James Maclean, Sir Fitzroy van Straubenzee, W. R.
d'Avigdor-Coldsmid, Sir Henry Macleod Rt. Hn. Iain Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) McMaster, Stanley Vickers, Dame Joan
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Macmillan, Maurice (Farham) walker, Peter (Worcester)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Maddan, Martin Wall, Patrick
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Maginnis, John E. Walters, Dennis
Doughty, Charles Marten, Neil Weatherlll, Bernard
Drayson, G. B. Maude, Angus Webster, David
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Wells, John(Maidstone)
Eden, Sir John Mawby, Ray Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Elliott,R.W.(NVtle-upon-Tyne,N.) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Emery, Peter Mille, Peter (Torrington) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Errington, Sir Eric Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Eyre, Reginald Miscampbell, Norman Woodnutt, Mark
Farr, John MitcheM, David (Basingstoke) Worsley, Marcus
Fisher, Nigel Monro, Hector Wylie, N. R.
Flelcher-Cooke, Charles Montgomery, Fergus Younger, Hn. George
Fortescue, Tim Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Foster, Sir John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Mr. Anthony Grant and
Gibson-Watt, David Murton, Oscar Mr.Jasper More.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Neave, Airey
Abse, Leo Armstrong, Ernest Bence, Cyril
Albu, Austen Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)
Alldritt, Walter Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Bidwell, Sydney
Allen, Scholefield Bagier, Gordon A. T. Binns, John
Anderson, Donald Barnes, Michael Bishop, E. S.
Archer, Peter Barnett, Joel Blackburn, F.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Henig, Stanley Moyle, Roland
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Herbison,Rt.Hn. Margaret Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Booth, Albert Hilton, W.S. Murray, Albert
Boston, Terence Horner, John Norwood, Christopher
Boyden, James Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oakes, Gordon
Bradley, Tom Howarth Harry (Wellingborough) O'Malley, Brian
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Oram, Albert E.
Brooks, Edwin Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Orme, Stanley
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Howie, W. Oswald, Thomas
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyr.e,W.) Hoy, James Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Huckfield, Leslie Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow,Provan) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Brown, B. W. (Shoreditch & F bury) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Park, Trevor
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Roy (Newport) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Spbum) Hunter, Adam Pavitt, Laurence
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Irvine, Sir Arthure (Edge Hill) Pearson, Arthure (Ponthypridd)
Cant, R. B. Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Carmichael, Neil Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Pentland, Norman
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Coe, Denis Jenkins Rt Hn. Roy (Stechford) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Coleman, Donald Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Price, William (Rugby)
Conlan, Bernard Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Probert, Arthur
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, Dan (Burnley) Randall, Harry
Crawshaw, Richard Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,s.) Rees, Merlyn
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Richard, Ivor
Dalyell, Tam Judd, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kenyon, Clifford Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Kerr, Dr. David (W' worth, Central) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lawson Georgo Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St P'c'as)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Ledger Ron Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'slow, E.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Roebuck, Roy
Dell, Edmund Lee, John (Reading) Rose, Paul
Dempsey, James Lestor, Miss Joan Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dewar, Donald Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Dobson, Ray Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Ryan, John
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Driberg, Tom Lomas, Kenneth Sheldon, Robert
Driberg, Tom Loughlin, Charles Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dunn, James A. Luard, Evan Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)
Dunnett, Jack Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Eadie, Alex McBride, Neil Skeffington, Arthur
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McCann, John Slater, Joseph
Edwards, William (Merioneth) MacColl, James Small, William
Ellis, John MacDermot, Niall Snow, Julian
English, Michael Macdonald, A. H. Spriggs, Leslie
Ennals, David McGuire, Michael Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Ensor, David McKay, Mrs. Margaret Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fernyhough, E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruthergien) Swingler, Stephen
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mackie, John Taverne, Dick
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackintosh, John P. Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff,w.)
Foley, Maurice Maclennan, Robert Tinn, James
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Urwin, T.W.
Ford, Ben McNamara, J. Kevin Varley, Eric G.
Forrester, John MacPherson, Malcolm Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fowler, Gerry Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Wallace,George
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Watkins, David (Consett)
Freeson, Reginald Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Watkins Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Gardener, Tony Manuel, Archie Wellbeloved, James
Garrett, W. E. Marks, Kenneth Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Ginsburg, David Marquand, David White, Mrs. Eirene
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P.G. Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Whitlock, William
Gourlay, Harry Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Maxwell, Robert Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Greenwood Rt.Hn.Anthony Mayhew, Christopher Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mellish, Rt. Hn.Robert William, Mrs, Shirley (Hitchin)
Griffths,David (Rother Valley) Mendelson, J.J. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths,Eddie Mikardo, Ian Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Millan, Bruce Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hamling, William Miller. Dr. M. S. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hannnan, William Milne, Edward (Blyth) Winnick, David
Harper, Joseph Mitchell, R.C. (S'th pton, Test) Woof, Robert
Harrison, Walter (Wakfield) Molloy, William Yates, Victor
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Moonman, Eric
Haseldine, Norman Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hattersley, Roy Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Mr. Ioan L. Evans
Healey Rt. Hn. Denis Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Mr. J. D. Concannon
Heffer, Eric S. Morris, John (Aberavon)
Sir J. Foster

I beg to move Amendment No. 48, in page 4, line 33, at end insert— (7) Any person, company or partnership affected by an order made under this section may, during the time that the order is in force, make representations in writing to the Minister that the order should be varied or revoked if, since the date when the order came into force, changes have taken place in the circumstances of the person, company or partnership that are relevant to the price to which the order relates, and the Minister shall consider such representations. (8) (a) An order made by the Secretary of State under this part of this Act—

  1. (i) may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order so made;
  2. (ii) shall be contained in a statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament;
(b) the variation or revocation of an order made under this section shall not affect liability for any offence committed before the variation or revocation takes effect. I draw attention to the wording of the Amendment to show that its rejection, as I anticipate, by the Government would be an example of their being unfair. I know that there are many hon. Members opposite who, if they are persuaded that they are being unfair, will be troubled by their conscience and they may accede to the Amendment.

I will explain the unfairness of rejecting the Amendment. It suggests a mild appeal procedure in the case of price reductions. I describe it as mild because we propose that when an Order is contemplated anybody affected could make a representation in writing to the Minister, who would have to consider it. That is a very mild appeal procedure, merely to get the Minister to consider something which he may have overlooked.

In Committee, a good deal of ridicule was poured on this suggested appeal procedure because it involves the possibility that any person affected by a price reduction could make representations in writing. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) spent several minutes saying how idiotic the Opposition were, and how little they had done their homework, to introduce an Amendment which might allow thousands of people to make representations in writing.

The Under-Secretary did not fall into that trap, because he knew that we were merely copying the appeal procedure which applies to restraint of wages and of increases in price. Therefore, if the hon. Member for Darlington was right in saying that we were idiotic, he was saying that the Government were idiotic in having introduced this appeal procedure for other things.

Mr. Ted Fletcher (Darlington)

The hon. and learned Member is getting confused, perhaps because we are in the small hours of the morning. The observations to which he has referred were made on an Amendment dealing with the procedure to be applied by individuals and trade unions. It had nothing to do with the Clause, which relates to prices.

Sir J. Foster

The gravamen of the hon. Member's charge was that it was idiotic for the Conservative Opposition to introduce an Amendment which would allow individuals to protest, because that would enable thousands of people to do so. It did not suit him to listen to the point that the Government themselves had provided that every member of a trade union could make representations in writing. He did not know about the Schedule to the 1967 Act, which provides that in the case of a proposal relating to an award or settlement, by or on behalf of … employees anybody can make a representation in writing.

2.0 a.m.

I expect a similar criticism to be advanced of this proposed appeal procedure for price reductions. The Under-Secretary might say that this is equally absurd because all those affected by a price reduction might appeal in writing. The unfairness of rejecting the Amendment is this. The Schedule to the 1967 Act provides that, if there is a wages standstill or restraint, those affected can make a representation in writing and the Secretary of State shall consider it. We propose the same for price reductions. Yet the Government refuse. I assume that the Amendment will not be accepted.

The Government apparently think that it is fair to have representations in writing when it is a question of price increases, wage standstills, awards or settlements, but when it is a question of price reductions there cannot be representations. The Government say, "Why should persons who are affected by price reductions be entitled to make representa- tions in writing?" If it is fair in the case of wage restraint or price increases, it is fair in the case of price reductions. For these reasons, I commend the Amendment to the sense of fairness of the House.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. and learned Gentleman puts me in some difficulty, because, if he is advocating what he seemed to be advocating, we have it already. If he is advocating what he advocated in Committee, I suggest that it is unnecessary. I must confine myself to what the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to be advocating, which were powers similar in the field of price reductions to those obtaining for other forms of prices and incomes policy. Under subsection (2)(a), my right hon. Friend or other Ministers shall … publish in the Gazette notice of the proposal to make it"— that is, the Order— which shall invite representations about the proposal to be made in writing within a stated period … That paragraph goes on to require other things of my right hon. Friend. Subsection (2)(b) requires my right hon. Friend or other Ministers to take into consideration any representations so made. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is simply asking that, as in other fields, there should be the opportunity for those affected, first, to know that the Order is to be made, secondly, to appeal against the Order, or at least to make representations against it, and, thirdly, to know that the Minister involved is statutorily obliged to take their appeals and references into account, that certainly exists in the Bill.

If, as on a previous occasion, the hon. and learned Gentleman wants such power to be extended to after the Order is made, I say that he knows full well that subsection (4) deals with written consents which empower my right hon. Friend or any other Minister to vary an Order once it has been made. That fact that power exists is in itself a very clear indication that there is the possibility of varying—and, indeed, there often is the intention to vary—an Order; and always it has to be from the point of view of the complainant a variation for the better. Since that purpose exists, and since that intention exists, clearly my right hon. Friend is open to receive representations from those who think that the Order should be varied.

In Case 1, the power exists firmly and is written into the Bill. In Case 2, the power exists by implication. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will feel content with that.

Amendment negatived.

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