HC Deb 27 June 1968 vol 767 cc910-26


Mr. Dell

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 3, line 14, at end insert: (6) This section applies to agreements made before as well as after the commencement of this Act. This Amendment makes it clear that the exempting powers of Clause 2 can be used in relation to agreements made before the enactment of the Bill as well as in relation to agreements made after its enactment. One might reasonably argue that the Clause as drafted allows this to be done. But I think it desirable that the subsection set out in the Amendment should be added and that the House should be given an explanation as to why it is thought that there may be occasion to exempt agreements which have already been made.

The Government's prices and incomes policy has been in operation for more than two years. Industry has voluntarily assisted in its implementation throughout this period and Ministers and officials have made a number of agreements and arrangements with industrial undertakings and with trade associations in connection with its implementation, particularly in relation to the early warning system. Many of these agreements and arrangements clearly fell outside the 1956 Act. For example, an agreement between a Minister and a single supplier about prices can never fall within Section 6 of the 1956 Act because it would not involve two or more suppliers. But the question whether or not particular agreements fell within the 1956 Act was not closely examined because we were advised that the doctrine of Crown immunity applied in relation to the 1956 Act.

Those Members of the House who are members of the legal profession will be aware of the decision on which this advice was mainly based—that of the Court of Appeal in the Telephone Apparatus Manufacturers' Agreement case. The doctrine of Crown immunity is, I am advised, a rule for construing Acts of Parliament. Its effect is that no Act is to be construed as prejudicing the prerogative, rights or interests of the Crown unless there is clear evidence of an intention that they should be affected. In the Telephone Manufacturers' case the court held that immunity extended to an agreement to which the Crown was not a party but which was necessary in order that the parties could carry out an agreement they had made with the Crown, acting through the Postmaster-General.

Because of this view, no general power was taken in the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966, to exempt from the 1956 Act agreements implementing the prices and incomes policy. The very limited provisions of Section 24 of that Act for exempting agreements was designed to deal with cases where it was thought Crown immunity was not available, because the Crown would not be a party to the relevant agreement.

We have since been advised that for the doctrine to apply, the interest of the Crown in an agreement must be a commercial one and that the Government's interest in the implementation of the prices and incomes policy is not sufficient to attract Crown immunity.

Since we received this advice, no agreements have, of course, been made in reliance on the doctrine of Crown immunity. We have also carried out some inquiries designed to discover whether there are in existence agreements made before that time in reliance upon the doctrine of Crown immunity. We think that there are some and that it would be unfair to expect the commercial interests who entered into these agreements in the belief that they were not registrable now to register them and be faced with a possible choice of defending them before the court or not defending them and thus letting them be condemned.

I think it would be rather absurd not to take powers to exempt any existing agreements. If they could not be exempted and were registered, there would be nothing to stop the parties abandoning them, and, when the Bill comes into operation, being requested to make and making identical agreements which could be immediately exempted under the Clause as now drafted. The Registrar would not, of course, be under any obligation to refer the abandoned agreements to the court because of the provisions of Clause 9(1) of the Bill.

I would make it clear that there is no question of our exempting Government Departments from any obligation to register. They are not subject to the compulsory registration procedures of the 1956 Act. Indeed, in those cases where Departments asked trade associations to agree that they would make recommendations there is no question of the Crown even being a party to a registrable agreement. What is registrable is the constitution of the trade association and the recommendation by it to its members in implementation of its agreement with a Government Department.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

The Minister of State referred to the Court of Appeal case concerning the telephone apparatus manufacturers in which the argument about Crown immunity was rejected. Since that time, when it was realised that Crown immunity did not apply, have they continued to operate this, knowing that Crown immunity was not applicable? I can understand that they would want to take action to cover agreements so affected between 1956 and then.

Mr. Dell

The hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. It was on the basis of the Telephone Apparatus Manufacturers' Agreement that we were advised that these agreements were subject to Crown immunity. The advice which we have received since is to the effect that if the Government are to benefit from Crown immunity they must have a commercial interest in the agreement and not a policy interest.

Mr. Emery

Obviously I did misunderstand, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has cleared up the point.

On being advised that Crown immunity no longer existed, have the Government contracted any other orders or taken any other action which has to be covered? This immediately introduces an aspect of retrospection which would be wrong. I can agree with the Government, on thinking that they were acting in good faith, in taking action to cover their good faith.

Mr. Hall-Davis

This is not just a small technical Amendment, because it touches on some basic attitudes to the question which we are discussing.

At the commencement of our discussion in Committee on Clause 2, I said that the Minister of State was defending the indefensible. I am sure that since he has found it necessary to move this Amendment he will be even less enamoured of the Clause than I suspect he was when he originally found it in the Bill. Under the Amendment, the Minister of State finds himself obliged to rectify an extraordinary omission which, for all the deep legal considerations which he has put before us, amounts to a most extraordinary oversight—I put it no stronger in view of our discussions on the Bill—by the Government.

What are we to make of a Government who introduce a Bill with a provision in it which makes liable to an action for civil damages parties to an agreement which is registrable and which the parties have failed to register and who then discover that their own Ministers and greatest Departments of State have been entering into agreements which have been, by non-registration on the part of the other parties, in default of the 1956 Act and that this situation has arisen from the implementation of Government policy in not only a major but a highly controversial field?

I am moved to ask the Minister what the Government would have done if the Bill had not been conveniently passing through the House and presented the opportunity for the Amendment to be introduced without any prior indication by the Government that they were aware of the need for it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) asked whether the Government have been entering into agreements when they knew that they were, as it were, in default or that the other party was in default. I take the point that it is not the Government who are in default, but the other party. I will say a word about that later. My hon. Friend asked over how long these agreements had been entered into since this knowledge dawned on the Government. The Minister of State cleared that up. Apparently the Government have only recently realised the situation.

As far as I can see, for some two years the various Departments of State have been actively securing the agreement of parties to a course of action which should have been registered and which has not been registered. We are entitled to ask, when considering this Amendment for a retrospective piece of legislation, what is the moral, the significance, of this sudden discovery, which comes at a time when pressure is being brought on private citizens to observe the terms of the 1956 Restrictive Trade Practices Act by another Clause in the Bill, that the Government have not been carrying out or seeing that the people with whom they are in close contact carried out the terms of the 1956 Act which the Bill seeks to secure will now be carried out by all other parties.

The moral is clear. It is that the Government and Ministers do not understand that the obscurantist policy, which they have labelled "prices and incomes policy", has led them into a gigantic conspiracy in restraint and suppression of competition. This is why these agreements were registerable and should have been registered. It is no minor technical Amendment.

That it has been necessary to introduce this Amendment throws into vivid relief the fact that prices and incomes restraint on industry, on employers and employees, is as much a restriction of the free play of competition as any restrictive agreement designed to secure a sheltered and profitable existence for the parties to it.

I have asked if the Minister will make clear for how long any of these agreements, which have not been registered and should have been registered under the 1956 Act, have been in existence.

But there is another question on which the Minister touched, I thought with a pleasant ingenuousness, which will, alas, be tested in time by developments, so perhaps I may ask him to be more explicit before we leave this point. I refer to the question of how many of these agreements the Board of Trade consider exist or have existed. The Minister made it clear that this Amendment does not seek to deal with the situation where only one party, besides the Government Department, was involved in an agreement. But, as was made clear by the President of the Board of Trade during discussion of the Clause on Second Reading, and as was made clear in Committee, this Clause, and the Amendment we are now considering, arises from the operation of the early warning system. I think that it is ingenuous for the Minister of State, although perhaps the Board of Trade is spared to some extent deep involvement with the early warning system, to suggest that some other Departments should shoulder the burden of it. It is ingenuous for him to suggest that most early warning agreements are operated in any other way than by trade associations. I suggest that the Minister may find on examination that the majority of early warning systems are certainly not operated directly with an individual party.

I refer here to Command 3590, "Productivity, Prices and Incomes Policy in 1968 and 1969", where, in Appendix 1, are listed the industries and the various sponsoring Departments concerned with the operation of the early warning system. It is headed, Appendix 1. Part A. Goods and Services Subject to Early Warning Arrangements. Right hon. and hon. Members of this House have not been exactly idle and footloose in the last week, so I will not weary the House by mentioning them in detail, but there are in fact 98 industries in that Appendix. I suggest that it is conceivable that in every industry listed there there have been one or more agreements which will need the protection of this Clause, because the early warning system consists of secret pressures secretly applied. It is the modern version of the medieval thumbscrew in economic terms.

The Minister of State said: … I can see that there is an argument here for greater publicity for what the Government are doing. I agree that it is sufficiently known how much the Government are doing in bringing prices under control."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th May, 1968, Standing Committee H; c. 32.] I do not think he suspected that perhaps the way that that publicity would be created would be by a need for Orders to be made to exempt agreements already in existence to operate the early warning system. But he at least gave us a firm commitment that they would be available at the Office of the Registrar of Restrictive Trade Practices.

So, when these retrospective Orders are made under the powers which the Board of Trade is seeking in the Clause, we shall have an opportunity of testing the Minister of State's somewhat ingenuous introduction of the Amendment against the true situation as to how many agreements exist.

I suggest to the Minister that verbal agreements are registerable; not just those that are committed to writing. Therefore, the Departments of Whitehall, if they are to play fair with their victims, or partners, whichever expression one likes according to one's attitude to the early warning system, must search their memories as well as their files. I think that there will be a scurrying in Government offices to see that all agreements operated through trade associations in connection with prices and incomes policy are covered by Orders. It is not only in Whitehall that there should be a scurrying. Now that this situation has been revealed by the Government, one must bear in mind that if there are agreements not operated on a bilateral basis with a single company which have not been registered and are not rapidly given an exemption Order or registered, the firms who are holding down prices will be in default, under Clause 7(2), and I suspect, although I am no lawyer, will be exposed to the possibility of civil proceedings for damages.

I cannot say now who is likely to take that action, but it is not inconceivable that it could be the shareholders or the employees because the matter is full of uncertainties as the Government have shown by their very inability to grasp the significance of this early warning or price fixing agreement.

8.30 p.m.

I should like the Minister to give a categorical assurance, again following the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton. It seems almost beyond the bounds of credibility that not one Government Department realised that it was leading parties into a situation in which they were in default under the 1956 Act. It is very dangerous to hold oneself up in this House as a prophet, as someone who has seen something which other people have not seen, because I suspect that if one does that and then drives out of the gates of the Palace of Westminster one can find oneself driving the wrong way up a one-way street, having tempted Providence too far.

The Government were apparently misled on this point for about two years, but in Committee apparently we were not unaware of the possibilities, even during the duration of a brief Committee sitting. I said on one occasion: If he wants the power to run for more than the one year that we want,"— that was referring to the power to make Orders under this Clause— is it because he thinks, and is advised, that an agreement to enter into the 'early warning' system at all—the acceptance by an industry, a trade association"— I was fairly close to the mark there— or an individual concern"— I was wrong there— of an obligation to give 'early warning' notice—constitutes a registrable agreement? Having listened to him, this is the only basis I can see for having more than one year. Earlier on I had said: What this Clause is needed for is to make legal undertakings involving price regulation administered by a trade association"— I was specifically on the point there— secure under the 'early warning' system, and that is what the Amendments seek to stop the Clause doing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 23rd May, 1968; c. 180 and 160] It seems extraordinary that if a layman puts that point to the Minister of State no comment comes from him in Committee, and we now find that every Government Department and every Minister had overlooked this vital point. I hope we can have a direct answer from the hon. Gentleman that it was overlooked right up to this late hour, because one cannot help feeling that there must have been a strong temptation for the Government, if they had realised this sooner, not to put it in the original Bill where it would attract publicity and show that they had failed to understand the implications of the policy they were operating, but to put it in the Bill by way of an Amendment on Report. We wish to be certain that we can exonerate the Minister of State from any such deep-laid plot, and I should welcome an assurance that it was literally at the eleventh hour that they were able to introduce the Amendment because it was then that the true situation in which the parties to these agreements were placed came to their notice, that the light penetrated after the first Government Amendments on Report were tabled.

It is true to say that bad policies soon make themselves look foolish. The Amendment and the oversight that it shows, and the lack of appreciation which existed, make even more ludicrous the Government's handling of their prices and incomes policy.

Mr. Dell

I admire the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) in wishing to continue to debate the prices and incomes policy even after the last two or three days. He repeated the graphic words he used in Committee about secret pressures, secretly applied. I then pointed out to him—and I do not intend now to go into this in great detail—that, on the contrary, secrecy is avoided by the wording of the Clause because subsection (5) makes it clear that any exempted agreement will be available for public inspection. The hon. Gentleman will therefore be able to have full information, and to rejoice in it.

The hon. Gentleman said that all these agreements were registerable, and should have been registered. I can only humbly compliment him on his legal knowledge. We were given contrary advice, and we acted on it in good faith. When that advice was changed, when we were advised that these agreements would not benefit from Crown immunity, as I said when I moved the Amendment, we immediately stopped making such agreements. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) asked me when we were given that advice. We were given that advice last November, and since then no such agreements have been made. The word "retrospective" has been used—

Mr. Hall-Davis

Would the Minister of State explain why the matter was not in the Bill as originally drafted?

Mr. Dell

I am coming to that. I have noted all the hon. Gentleman's questions and I am sure if I do not answer all of them he will tell me so.

The hon. Gentleman used the word "retrospective", which is an emotive word. I do not think this provision is retrospective. It only permits Departments to exempt from registration in future agreements which have not yet been registered. It does not give them power to exonerate any past failure to register. No exoneration is necessary because a failure to register does not at present involve any sanction. This Amendment will allow Departments to protect parties to an agreement from the sanctions against failure to register imposed by Clause 7 of the Bill. It is not in any sense retrospective because the pro-vision is in favour of the subject. It does not impose any duty or penalty retrospectively.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale asked me how many agreements had been made in reliance on the doctrine of Crown immunity, and he expected to see a flood of exempted agreements choking the doors of the registrar's office. I would caution him to this extent. Many trade associations which were asked to assist in the implementation of the prices and incomes policy merely acted as post offices, passing on Government statements and exhortations, and where trade associations so acted there will be nothing to register because the association will not have made a recommendation.

As to how many there were, I can give him no figure. A considerable number of agreements and arrangements have obviously been made by industry and trade associations in connection with the prices and incomes policy. Few, if any, will have been made very formally. Some may have been made orally. It will be necessary, as the hon. Member suggested, to make a considerable study of departmental records. An examination of the files of one major branch of the Board of Trade with responsibilities for a number of industries produced four possible cases. Only in one case, however, is it thought that there could be obligation to register because Crown immunity is not applicable. This case involves a recommendation by a trade association to its members which was made in fulfilment of an agreement with the Board of Trade.

The hon. Gentleman also asked me, and has just repeated the question, why the new subsection was not included in the original Bill. The answer is that it was thought that Departments should start de novo and not simply frank existing agreements. This view has now been altered, because it is thought that it would be undesirable to leave the present agreements and recommendations still liable to be registered.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Emery

I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 3, line 19, at end insert: (7) No order under this section shall be made after 31st December 1969. Since I have been in the House for about 21 hours out of the last 28 hours dealing with the Prices and Incomes Bill, it may be thought that it is purely coincidental or, on the other hand, that it is only my just reward, that the Amendment I move is one dealing entirely with prices and incomes. The Clause allows exemption from registration of agreements which hold down price, and allows the Government to arrange a voluntary scheme to secure acceptance by an industry of price restraint. Were an industry to be involved, it would obviously be possible for such an agreement to be registrable under the present law.

Powers are given in the Clause to exempt from registration agreements on price reductions made at the Government's request. Accordingly, they would be exempted from the normal legal position. The exemption lasts for a period of two years plus two years. On Second Reading, the President of the Board of Trade said on 30th April that the Clause is purely to follow out the pricing policy which the Government wish to pursue in their overall prices and incomes policy. That being the case, we say that, as the Government have decided that their prices and incomes policy will come to an end in December, 1969, then, logically and reasonably, the powers in this Bill should terminate. It is to do that that I move this Amendment.

I have never believed that the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill was the right place in which to follow out further action in pursuance of the prices and incomes policy. Legally, it is both misleading and wrong. It should not be encouraged. We attempted to do something about it in Committee, without success. Therefore, as the Government are determined to retain this specific Clause, it is right and proper that the powers should be limited.

One of the basic reasons for ensuring that the powers are not held for ever is that it is possible for this sort of power to be used to restrict the normal free movement in the competition of prices, contrary to what the Bill is trying to allow. To have these exemptions left in the Bill after the policy for which it is meant to work has come to an end seems not only an anachronism but a specific danger. It allows the Government to have extra powers and, as I have said frequently, I believe that I am returned to Parliament not to make more and more laws but to codify existing ones and make them better understood.

One of the dangers is that before long, maximum prices turn out to be minimum prices. That is exactly what the Bill wishes to discourage and what we on this side of the House wish to discourage. Accordingly, if these powers are not to be terminated, they may be extended. I can understand the Government saying that they will follow my argument for a while but that it is just possible that they will need to extend the present prices and incomes policy. There is a direct deviation of opinion in the Cabinet. The present Home Secretary, for example, thinks that it would be wrong, that we have had a third one, and that no more must be allowed. The Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity—I almost said"Labour and Productivity ", but the two do not go together under the Labour Party—is willing to extend the Bill if necessary, so the Minister might say that, if it were necessary to extend the Bill, these integral powers would, under the Amendment, have to come to an end. I spent over 70 hours in Committee on the Prices and Incomes Bill and I do not know how many this week on Report and Third Reading and not once was this aspect of the policy of limiting prices ever mentioned. It does not seem to be a very important part—[An HON. MEMBER: "Humbug."] As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) says, it is humbug; it is control for control's sake. It would therefore be no loss to the Government.

8.45 p.m.

Let us give them the benefit of the doubt. They say that they want to end the Bill at the end of 1969. Let us help them. If we had had our way, we would have ended it in the Division an hour and a quarter ago. Three different terminologies have been used about controls. The right hon. Lady referred to the extra powers and the three different Bills in the now classic phrase as "the evolution of policy". The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), who came in for a fleeting visit in this debate to get his papers and then walked out, referred to the escalation of powers. He was talking of wage control, but the argument is just as true over price reductions. I have called it geometric progression, because once powers are taken for specific jobs general powers have to be taken to close the loopholes which they create.

We are going a little far and I accept that this is only a small part, but it is a part, unless the President of the Board of Trade misled the House on Second Reading. We claim that, as we have not been able to get rid of this in Committee, we are doing the Government a service by allowing them to show their good faith to the country by assuring it that they will work to see that the prices and incomes policy and Bill come to an end by the end of December, 1969. By accepting the Amendment, they will show this faith to the country on the same day as the Third Reading of the Prices and Incomes Bill.

Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)

I am glad that we have returned to this subject because, having re-read the discussion in Committee, I find the Minister's reasons for objecting to a similar Amendment completely unconvincing.

I have two reasons for supporting the Amendment. The first is that we should keep in line with the time-scope of the prices and incomes legislation, since this provision is linked with the early warning arrangements. The arguments adduced by the Minister in Committee against our arguments were not compelling, since I understood him to say that to accept our proposal would discourage people from making agreements for holding down prices.

That should not carry much weight in view of my second reason in favour of the Amendment, which is that we should put this Measure on the Statute Book with the minimum possible exceptions to the full rigour of the 1956 Act. Competition should be the general principle and the fewer untidy loose ends we leave hanging round that general principle the better. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will have second thoughts and accept the Amendment.

Mr. Dell

I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General listened with rapt attention when the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) said that his one ambition was to make laws which could be better understood. That is also my ambition and I am sure that it is the ambition of my hon. and learned Friend. However, it is not an ambition that we frequently fulfil.

The hon. Gentleman speculated on the argument that I might use. In fact, he mistook the argument because I fear that I must merely repeat what I said in Committee, although I appreciate that it is likely to be considered by hon. Gentlemen opposite to be just as unpalatable now. I assure the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) that it is compelling to me, if it is not to him.

There are time limits within the prices and incomes policy and they refer to the compulsory elements of the policy. Those compulsory elements terminate under the Bill, which we have recently been considering at length, at the end of 1969. That, apparently, has led hon. Gentlemen opposite to make the end of 1969 the date of termination of this power in this Measure. There are, however, voluntary aspects to the prices and incomes policy and these are permanent. We hope that we will continue to have a voluntary policy and that the legislation which we have introduced will be the basis of a continuing voluntary policy.

The Clause is essentially part of a voluntary prices and incomes policy and it can operate only by voluntary agreement. It enables the Government to exempt agreements which are designed either to prevent or restrict increases or to secure reductions in prices from registration. These agreements must be voluntarily entered into. There is no more reason for a termination date in respect of this power than there is a reason for a termination date on, for example, the life of the N.B.P.I. These are all parts of the voluntary and continuing prices and incomes policy which we are trying to develop.

Mr. Emery

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he is only partially correct and that he is misleading the House in one respect? Is he aware that Clause 2 refers to securing reductions in prices and that the action of price reductions, if carried through by Clause 4 of the Prices and Incomes Bill, terminates in 1969? In that respect the Minister is not correct.

Mr. Dell

The hon. Member is mistaken in thinking that I am even unintentionally misleading the House. These are agreements to secure reductions in price. That is what we are exempting. These are not powers to secure reductions in price. The power is to exempt from registration agreements to secure reductions in price.

The hon. Member argued that this is the wrong Bill. I have explained in Committee why it is not the wrong Bill. This is a Bill which gives an administrative power to exempt from certain elements in the 1956 Trade Practices Act. This is the right Bill to contain this power and I think it a valuable power which the Government should continue to possess indefinitely. For this reason I recommend the House to reject this Amendment. I confess that I used the same arguments in Committee. If the hon. Member found them lacking in compulsion, I regret it. To me they are compelling because in this country we need a continuing voluntary prices and incomes policy.

Mr. Hall-Davis

At least we secure revelation if not agreement or conviction in our discussions on this Clause. It has been made quite clear that it is no accident or oversight that this particular question of timelessness is in the hands of the Board of Trade which may consider itself a Department with a more settled long-term prospect than other Departments.

The Minister of State has been frank and told us that the voluntary policy is to continue and this is to be just a more interesting statement, a continuing element. By "this" I mean the operation of the early warning system. I think the hon. Gentleman did less than justice to the question of securing stability in the British economy when he suggested that the early warning system should necessarily be equated with the continued existence of the Prices and Incomes Board. Most people would not think that exactly the link for this Government's or any other Government's, form of prices and incomes policy.

We have concluded that the early warning system is intended to become a permanent feature of this Government's policy for managing the economy. I thought that the hon. Gentleman would tell us that the economic crisis would be a continuing element of this Government's policy and that is why these powers should be timeless. I believe time will prove that the early warning system has disadvantages and objectionable features which outweigh any advantages it may have. This is another reason for accepting the Amendment.

The early warning system involves pressures applied in private. Not only are they applied in private, but they are shielded from examination by this House and from comment by the Press. The Government do not disclose what has transpired at these discussions and industry or individual firms are most reluctant to do so because they fear that they may prejudice their relations with the sponsoring Government Department, which under the present prices and incomes legislation has a great control over the profitability of those undertakings.

The prices and incomes early warning system can be justified only if at all by dire economic emergency. I hope that by the end of 1969, if that is still a continuing situation in the British economy, we shall have a new Government. This Amendment should be accepted. It would be in line with the rest of Government policy. The arguments which my hon. Friend the Member for Hbniton (Mr. Emery) advanced are of overwhelming weight in any dispassionate survey whether the Amendment is viewed by a supporter or an opponent of the Government's prices and incomes policy.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Emery

I did the Minister of State an injustice. I thought that in answering the debate he would not revert to his old hackneyed arguments. As he is a man of intelligence and some ingenuity, I thought that he would find some new arguments. That is why I tried to deal with some of them before he raised them. I am disappointed. This only shows that the Government are at sixes and sevens with themselves. They do not know what the position is on an incomes policy. I do not feel justified, on that reply, in withdrawing the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Back to
Forward to