§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody
I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 13, at the beginning to insert:'approval by any person or'.This Amendment would alter subsection (1,g) so as to expand the matters which may form the subject of a trade description to include indications as to the approval of goods by any person. The Bill as drafted covers indications as to the conformity of goods with a type approved by any person, and, although 439 the distinction between these two sorts of indication may appear a little subtle, we think that there is one and that the Clause could usefully be widened to cover both of them.
The sort of case which we have in mind is where a salesman of some sort of educational book falsely claims that it is approved by a reputable body—for instance, a local education authority. I am advised that this could scarcely be regarded as an indication that the book conforms with a type approved, but that it is rather an indication that the literary content of the book, and thus every book having that literary content, was approved.
Since we are seeking by paragraph (g) to deal as far as possible with false claims about approval of any goods, it seems sensible to make this extension to cover the special case of books.
§ Mr. Michael Shaw (Scarborough and Whitby)
We agree with the Amendment. It is pleasant that we should start our proceedings with an agreement.
I must draw attention to the change on the Government Front Bench since we last considered the Bill. Without wishing to interfere with the arrangements of the Government. I should like to say how much we regret parting with the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling), for whom we have very great regard and affection. We wish him well in his new position and express the hope that, since he is present today, he will give us the real "lowdown" on the Bill and will feel in no way inhibited from criticising whatever he may have said during earlier stages.
I have only one point to raise. Suppose that there is a description to the effect that Mr. X always uses "Blippo". I hope that there is no such product; I do not know of one. By inference, that may be taken to mean that Mr. X gives approval to "Blippo". It may mean that only that product is sold at his local village shop. Would such a description, improperly used, be caught by the Amendment? It would be misleading if it were, but does the fact that somebody is said always to use a certain product indicate approval?
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody
I join the hon. Gentleman in his remarks about our sadness at losing my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) as Minister of State. His great efficiency and wide knowledge of this subject was not only of great help to the House, but a great asset to me. I pay tribute to him for the kindness and warmth which he showed to me personally.
The Amendment is specifically intended to cover a particular case, namely, books. The sort of case to which the hon. Gentleman referred would not be caught in this instance.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Tony Gardner (Rushcliffe)
I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 18, at end insert:(k) former or usual price.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are taking at the same time Amendment No. 33, in page 6, line 26, leave out Clause 11.
§ Mr. Gardner
The effect of the Amendment would be to include the question of price within the general definitions of "trade description" in this Clause. The purpose is obvious—to apply the general provisions in the Bill to false or misleading statements about price and thus obviate the need for Clause 11.
When I came to the House this morning, and picked up the Amendments from the Vote Office, I was surprised, if not overwhelmed, to see the support which it had gained from the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) and his colleagues. I assure them and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary whom I am very pleased to see leading for us on the Front Bench, that the purpose of the Amendment is to give the Government and all of us one more chance to reconsider the very difficult issues which we discussed at great length in Committee.
There is no doubt that price and statements about price constitute the one issue which disturbs consumers most. Every day consumers are confronted with advertisements and blandishments to buy articles which they may think are a good buy. They may be told that there is 2d. off, that an article is cheaper than elsewhere or cheaper than it was yesterday. In this age of hustle and bustle, the consumer is subject to one-shop shopping in 441 a supermarket as distinct from shopping around.
I wish that more consumers had time to shop around. If they did so, they would get much better bargains. The housewife tends to do most of her shopping perhaps on a Friday, or some other late shopping night, and rushes round the supermarket counters and picks up what she thinks is the best bargain. This is impulse buying. She has no means of telling whether she is getting a bargain, or what the normal price is, because, following the abolition of resale price maintenance, "normal price" is virtually a meaningless phrase. Therefore, she has to take the word of the advertiser, manufacturer or retailer.
I do not wish to rehearse the long arguments which we had in Committee. One thing we are all clear about is that it is very difficult to draw up any legislation to cover effectively this problem of misleading descriptions as to price. None of us in this House can claim that he has found the solution. I am sure that my hon. Friend will admit that the solution which the Government have now found—and I welcome the Amendment which has been put down to Clause 11—is still not the best possible solution, because we are dealing with very difficult matters. So when we come to look at this problem following the abolition of resale price maintenance we have to face the fact that it will be very difficult to enforce any solution.
My personal view is that Clause 11 will be very difficult to enforce and will give grounds for considerable legal argument. That is the last thing we want in an Act of Parliament which is protecting the consumer by setting standards of trading which are obvious and simple. We should ask ourselves whom we want to catch. We are not concerned here with a trader who makes a mistake about price. We are not concerned at all with that kind of action. What we are concerned about is the trader, advertiser or manufacturer who blatantly sets out to deceive by making a false statement about what the price usually or formerly was.
We cannot really employ the words "usually was" for the reasons I suggested earlier, but we can compare the 442 price offered today with the price offered yesterday or some time ago. I do not think that it is our intention that there should be a great deal of prosecution. We have said many times on Second Reading and in Committee that our intention is to establish a code which the vast majority of people will readily honour, and to back it up with the necessary sanctions.
I believe that if we could amend Clause 2 in the way suggested in this Amendment what would happen would be that if there were one or two manufacturers, advertisers or traders who blatantly set out to deceive the consumer in matters of price they would be prosecuted, and that would be the end of the matter. The general provisions of the Bill would be there as a safety net, as it were, but the warning would have been given and the standard set, and most people would accept it.
It is extremely difficult. One thinks of the trader, manufacturer or advertiser suggesting that the previous price was 2s. 6d. and the present price 2s. 1d. and that, therefore, the housewife is getting a bargain; or of the case referred to earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Haseldine), of the parcel, hamper or special offer coming in a bundle advertised at the unusual price of 36s. and when one prices the individual articles one finds they can be bought today for 30s. These are the kinds of cases, for they are blatant, which I think would be subject to prosecution. Therefore, I believe that this can be achieved by this simple Amendment to Clause 2 of the Bill.
I do not know what the intention of the hon. and learned Member for Darwen and his hon. Friends is. I can only say that our intention was to give the Government this little extra opportunity for us all to get together in considering what the final solution might be. I certainly do not intend, on a Bill which I support wholeheartedly, to oppose the Minister, but I hope that after the dicussion we are having this afternoon she will find it possible to take the matter back again and use the opportunities in another place to consider whether Clause 11 or Clause 2 would be the best way of tackling this problem.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner), who contributed greatly to our discussions upstairs. We are discussing with Amendment 3, which, in practice, does what the Molony Committee recommended should be done in this difficult and complicated matter, Amendment 33, which seeks to delete the long, complicated and admittedly unsatisfactory Clause 11 and thus restore the Bill to what it should be.
I rather gathered from the hon. Member that he was not very much inclined to press his Amendment. We shall press it as hard as we are able, but without his assistance we doubt somehow that we shall be able to carry the day, alas. Therefore, I would ask that we might also have a Division on Amendment 33, because it is our view that it is better that the Bill should contain nothing about pricing and prices, than that it should contain something which we think will damage the chances of price reduction. We hope, therefore, that when the time comes for Amendment 33 to be put to the voice you will permit us a vote, also, Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and learned Gentleman had already made this request to me privately. I have given some consideration to the matter and although it is a starred Amendment I am willing to allow a Division on Amendment 33 when we come to it.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I am very much obliged, Sir. I think that we are all grateful for that opportunity.
I said that we were afraid that there was a great danger, if Clause 11 remained in the Bill, even in the amended form which the hon. Lady proposes, that price reductions that might have been made would not be made. I will summarise my reason for thinking this. Clause 11, which we seek to delete, makes it an offence and a false description for a retailer to claim that the price at which he is offering goods now is less than either the recommended price or the price at which the goods or goods of the same description were previously offered by him.
It is the interaction of these two bases which presents the danger because any retailer will be nervous about reducing 444 his own price—something which we all wish him to do and hope he will be encouraged to do—if by so doing he sets too low a base figure, so that when there is a manufacturer's reduction of price he dare not put it on the market because he will have to sell at a lower price still. I gave an instance of that in the Committee, which I will repeat. Supposing the normal price of an article, whether recommended or not, were 2s. and the retailer chose, nevertheless, to cut it—which we all encourage him to do—to 1s. 10d. Then the manufacturer came along with a production campaign or a sales campaign and produced a pack with the legend "Threepence off".
In those circumstances, the retailer would be in danger if he sold it at 1s. 9d. because that would be only 1d. off his previous cut price. He would have to sell it at 1s. 7d., unless he made it very clear in the form of a rather elaborate statement on the counter of the difference between his price and the manufacturer's or recommended price, and he might not be disposed to do that. That being so, he would be disinclined to knock the 2d. off the 2s., making it 1s. 10d., lest he establish too low a basis for future price reductions.
There are many alternative examples which I could give, and have given. Where there is an increase, in Purchase Tax the base may have been established too low, thus putting the ordinary retailer in some danger unless he goes into elaborate explanations of what he is doing—the sort of explanations which it would be too much to expect him to do.
We are happy to see the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) here, if only one the third row of benches. We hope that he will give us his mature considerations. In Committee, he said:We have tried to meet that problem, but I am not going to say at this stage that we have succeeded in doing so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 26th March, 1968; c. 231.]That has been the burden of the speeches of Government spokesmen both here and in another place. At every stage we have been promised something which recognises the difficulty to which I have referred as well as the other difficulties facing retailers and manufacturers, 445 but all that we have had are further elaborations of the Clause instead of a clean sweep of it.
The Government continue to adhere to the exploded phrase "a recommended price". Everybody knows that recommended prices are on their way out. The Government continue to pile complication upon complication, and although the latest example is not so bad, the piling of complication upon complication will so frighten the trade that reductions will not be made when they should be.
Furthermore, as was explained by one hon. Gentleman opposite in Committee, the provision on recommended prices will not hit the bogus recommended price when it is one which nobody adopts. The hon. Gentleman instanced the case of a well-known drill for use in the home. It is known that the recommended price is pitched far too high, and it is never sold at that price. It is always reduced.
The public get a completely false impression. Many people are deceived by that, yet the retailer will continue to get away with it, even after the various elaborations of Clause 11, whereas he will be caught if the Amendment is accepted, because, instead of the Bill trying to spell out in many Clauses and subsections the exact way in which deception may be practised, the decision will be left to the courts.
As so often happens, when one seeks perfection one grasps nothing. I fear that that is what has happened here. The case can be elaborated almost ad infinitum, but I do not wish to do that. It is a pity that, on reflection, the Government have not gone back to the Molony approach. That is what the hon. Member for Rushcliffe is seeking to do. That is what we wish to do, and I hope that that is what the House will do.
§ Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I am grateful to hon. Members for the kind references which they have made to me. I am pleased to acknowledge my share of the parentage of this excellent Bill. I am sorry that the need to lighten the load of my duties compels me to ask for some relief for the time being. However, I am happy to know that the Bill is in the very capable hands of my hon. Friend the Parliamen- 446 tary Secretary, who, I am sure, will prove to be an excellent foster parent.
I agree with a great deal of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner), and by the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), about the difficult problem of stopping traders and manufacturers from misleading the public on prices. It is suggested that because the Clause is so clear the reference to misleading statements on prices should appear in it. I invite hon. Member to consider the shape of the Bill as a whole.
Clause 1 says:Any person who, in the course of a trade or business,—(a) applies a false trade description to any goods…shall…be guilty of an offence.Clause 2 says:A trade description is an indication…of any of the following mattersand it then sets them out—quantity, method of manufacture, composition, fitness for purpose, and so on. I think that it would be inappropriate to include the difficult question of misleading statements on prices in this part of the Bill.
I agree that the way in which Clause 11 proposes to tackle the problem gives cause for some concern. The hon. and learned Member for Darwen quoted my remarks in Committee when I said that I was not sure whether, even with the Clause in its amended form, we had satisfactorily solved the problem. But whether we allow Clause 11 to go through, or whether we delete it—and I hope that it will go through in its present form—I still think that it would be inappropriate to tackle the problem under Clause 2.
The hon. and learned Member for Darwen said that we could confidently leave the matter to the courts. I shall not embarrass him by quoting what he said in Committee about magistrates' and other courts. He is not consistent. He was suggesting then—and I think rightly—that we must give guidance to the courts on the more difficult matters dealt with in the Bill. I can see all sorts of complications arising if we say to the courts that an aggrieved customer has suggested that he has been misled by a statement on prices, and leave it to them to decide the issue.
The hon. and learned Gentleman tabled an Amendment to try to assist the court 447 by suggesting that they should have regard to what would be a reasonable price. I shall not go over the arguments that were advanced. The hon. and learned Gentleman will recollect that the criticism of his approach was that it would be difficult for the courts to decide what was a reasonable price. They would have to investigate all kinds of arrangements that retailers make. I do not think that an action in respect of a misleading statement on prices will succeed in the courts if all that we do is make the Amendment suggested by my hon. Friend.
The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the example that he gave in Committee. He said that if the retail price of something was 2s. and the retailer was selling it at 1s. 10d., and the manufacturer, because he was running an advertising campaign, then printed on the packet "3d. off", the retailer would find himself in a difficult position because, to carry out the terms of the offer, he would have to reduce his price from 1s. 10d. to 1s. 7d. I think that we disposed of that argument in Committee.
We want the manufacturers to state the price on which the reduction is made. What is he reducing? We know very well how advertising campaigns are launched and how they are carried through, and unless there is some fixed retail price the 3d. off has nothing to do with the retail price except that there is the usual retailers margin. It is 3d. off the manufacturers' price, and there is no reason why the manufacturers of mass-produced articles who have used this feature for sales promotion should not tell the public it is 3d. off the manufacturers' price. Why not be honest and say so? Why do they give a rather misleading indication that this is 3d. off every retailer's price. As the hon. and learned Member says, it may not be 3d. off every retailer's price.
There would be nothing I suggest, if Clause 11 stands as it is and we do not accept the suggested addition to Clause 2, to stop the retailer selling goods marked 1s. 10d. at 1s. 9d. and it is still 3d. off the manufacturer's price. He has not committed an offence under the Bill. The arguments which have been put forward fall down unless—and this is what we 448 want to see happen—the manufacturer indicates that the 3d. off is 3d. off the manufacturer's price and not the retailer's price.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
Surely there is very considerable difficulty here. In the first place, the public do not know what the manufacturer's price is. Now that resale price maintenance has been abolished the manufacturer cannot instruct the retailer at what price to sell. If it is 3d. off the manufacturer's price how are the public to know the original manufacturer's price? Unless they know that, or there is a fixed price for retail sale, there is no way of determining it.
§ Mr. Darling
If the manufacturer wants to see that the retailer is getting the product at 3d. less than the price he paid for it this is something the manufacturer can indicate. The retailer can sell at any price he likes. We have got rid of resale price maintenance.
The hon. and learned Member suggested that recommended prices are on the way out. I do not think they are. The Restrictive Practices Court is now coming to the last round of consideration of resale price maintenance and I think that we have a shrewd idea what the court will decide. Among the last range of goods to be considered by the court we will probably find, if the court's action is what we contemplate, that these goods will have recommended prices attached to them. This means that retailers can sell at any price they like, but for the purpose of national advertising I am convinced that recommended prices will continue.
The practice may grow, but at any rate we have to look at the situation as it is. There are recommended prices for a vast range of goods. If we are to have traders misleading the public about price reductions, and going in for "phoney" price reductions, we have to take note of the fact that there are recommended prices. If the retailer is suggesting that his goods are being sold below a recommended price, and that price is a phoney recommended price, this is something that has to be covered in our legislation.
I do not know whether we are discussing Clause 11 in detail. I assume that we are not, so I will not go into detail, as my hon. Friend will deal with the arguments on Clause 11. I repeat that 449 the addition my hon. Friend proposes to Clause 2 is quite inappropriate and I do not think that we should try to tackle this problem of misleading prices in Clause 2.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
I am privileged to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) in this brief discussion. For more years than I care to remember he has been the party spokesman on consumer protection and has put his party's case with clarity and courtesy, but I find myself in some disagreement with him this afternoon, particularly on the question of 3d. off.
Like the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner), I find this a particular irritant as a consumer. My own toothpaste for some time has appeared in a little box stamped "3d. off", although it is plain that the toothpaste manufacturer has no idea at what price it is being sold by the chemist. As a protest, although I like the taste, I have given up using this particular toothpaste and shall do so as long as this highly irrelevant information is stamped on the package.
But it seems to me there are a number of weaknesses and defects in Clause 11 as it stands. For instance, it fails to deal with such things as "worth" and "value" which may increase in number unless the Board of Trade uses its powers to define these terms. It is alarming, after the years of discussion that have gone on about this particular Clause, to find the Retail Trading Standards Association, which is, after all, a leading legal watchdog in this field, saying that the inclusion in this Clause, which deals with recommended price, will, in fact, encourage the "wide boys" to make even wider use of "phoney" recommended prices so that at the end of the discussion these people, who have as much experience of bringing prosecutions in this field as any, advise that the whole Clause should be left out. I hope that the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Rushcliffe will be accepted by the Government.
§ Mr. A. G. F. Hall-Davis (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
I want to address myself to the omission of Clause 11 and to the question of recommended prices, together with one other matter, which I raised in 450 Committee and which, in all humility, seems no less valid now than then. In Committee, the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling)—and I echo the personal tributes paid to him—said that this was a rather difficult Clause. He said that the Government would take into consideration any doubts expressed and, if need be, would bring in Amendments on Report.
It is, therefore, disappointing, in view of the doubts expressed on both sides of the Committee, that, after a fairly lengthy period of reflection, the Board of Trade has put down only two minor Amendments to Clause 11. That is not a proof that the Clause was adequately drafted and will serve the purpose for which it was introduced. It is not a vote of confidence in the Clause but an indication of the failure of the Government to grasp the fundamental points with which the Clause was intended to deal. It would be a bold decision by the Government if they would delete the Clause and reintroduce it in a thoroughly amended form in another place.
We must be clear that the "so much off" offer can be and often is of great assistance to shoppers and to efficient manufacture and marketing. Because we are trying to safeguard the consumers against abuse of this practice is no reason for blurring the fact that these offers are of great help to many housewives operating on a keen budget and that, by pursuing around the town the temporary reductions, they can make a sizeable reduction in their housekeeping bills.
I think and hope that the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary would agree that these offers help to expand the market and enable productive plant to reach maximum efficiency and stocks to be cleared. They are a thoroughly useful element in what I described in Committee as sophisticated marketing practice. I believe that the Government have failed to take their courage in their hands by leaving "recommended price" in the vague form in which it is still embodied in the Bill as one of the criteria in judging whether a genuine reduction has been made.
In Committee, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) said that, in another 451 place, three factors were taken into consideration when the Bill was before it. The first was the recommended price, the second the price at which the retailer sold, and the third the price at which other people in the same street or town sold the goods. No doubt with the best of intentions, the Government have omitted the wrong one when reducing these three factors to two.
I am sure that what the consumer really wants to know is what price the goods were available at in her district in the recent past and whether she is being offered a reduction on that price. I do not believe that it is any satisfaction to a consumer to be told that there is 3d. or 6d. off a recommended price when no retailer in her district has been charging that recommended price for weeks or months. By failing to recognise this, the Government have lined themselves up with the doves rather than the hawks in this aspect of consumer protection.
We should have a clear statement that, if the retailer has been offering these goods at a higher price in the recent past and has now reduced it, or happens to have been making his own reductions within the normal practice of his trade and then the goods come into his shop marked with an across-the-board offer by the manufacturer, he will have the protection of being able to say, "This is the price in general use in the vicinity, as I can prove, and therefore I am making a reduction on the general price at which the goods are charged to the consumer in the district in the recent past."
By putting in the recommended price provision in these terms, the Government are perpetuating an out-of-date attitude towards consumer protection, marketing and retailing. This is a dinosaur in the Bill and does not reflect the facts of shopping life. The Government would be doing the consumer a service if they omitted the reference to the recommended price as being a reason for a shopkeeper to be able to defend a ticket which could mean something to the consumer but which would, in fact, mean nothing if the Bill goes through in its present form.
There is another small point which is of significance in retail operation and 452 which I am sure could be met by some ingenuity on the part of the Government. There appears to be no provision in the Bill to protect a retailer from prosecution if he continues to mark goods as having 3d. or 6d. off in the period immediately following a Budget in which there has been an increase in prices. The right hon. Gentleman, in Committee, gave me an assurance that he would look at this point and said that if he thought it was worth anything the Government would take some action. I believe that this point is worth consideration. Let us take a few practical examples. Let us consider the days immediately following the joyous Budget of last March.
In that Budget, whisky, gin and rum went up by 2s. 6d. a bottle, wines by 6d. or 1s. a bottle, petrol by 4d. a gallon, cigarettes by 2d. a packet and tobacco by 3d. or 4d. an ounce. In addition, the Purchase Tax on furniture, clothing and household utensils went up to 12½ per cent., while confectionery and soft drinks and other things so often subject to price offers went up from 16½ per cent. to 20 per cent. Purchase Tax. I will also quote the case of cosmetics, in deference to the hon. Lady—to use a corny expression, the ladies always have to take it on the chin. The Purchase Tax on cosmetics went up to 50 per cent.
As I read the Bill—and I should be happy to be told I am making an ado about nothing—it would be wrong for a retailer to put up a price by 2s. 6d. to what was perhaps the recommended price before the Budget still marked as a "2/6 off" offer. Yet, in all logic, to the consumer he is as much below the recommended price then as before the tax increase.
I hope that the Government will either give an explicit assurance that they will stamp on any prosecutions in these circumstances or will insert a proviso stating that, in the 28 days after the Budget, any price rises directly resulting from Exchequer decisions are to be disregarded. That would be a simple provision which the public would understand. It would be ridiculous if the "so much off" offers had to cease at the moment when the long-suffering public most need retailers to make some reductions in order to offset the ever-increasing appetite of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. Norman Haseldine (Bradford, West)
I support the Amendment, although I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) in his remarks. While I agree with a great deal of what he has to say about the problem of reduced prices, I felt that I was back in Committee on the Finance Bill, becoming involved in more detailed matters.
The tenor of the Committee on this Bill was one of unanimity, and not necessarily linked with the sort of discussions we had on the Finance Bill. I am in the difficult position of not being able to agree entirely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling), who has been my tutor and mentor for many years. Having to put down an Amendment to Clause 2 makes me a little sad.
We had hoped, and I can quote from the column in Committee, when my right hon. Friend was leading for the Government, to produce a sensible Clause 11. We want to see that the public have an opportunity to receive price reductions, and we do not think that it would do any harm to honest traders, but we are concerned to ensure that people are not being misled. In spite of all the attempts that have been made, there is no satisfaction whatever with Clause 11. In this dilemma one has to ask whether it would not be better to do without the Clause and achieve our objective in another way.
This is a difficult problem, going back even to Molony. Paragraph 636 of Molony says, about the possibility of legislating:We foresee difficulty in phrasing and the prohibition and in its enforcement. The practice is sufficiently widespread and deceptive to call for repression.This is what we want to do. It is well known that, quite apart from those of us discussing this here, we have had to take account of the many interests outside, particularly those of the Consumer Council which, along with other bodies such as R.T.S.A., carry a good deal of authority. The view of the Council, despite the view expressed by my right hon. Friend, is that Clause 11 will not achieve the desired result.
The Council says of the Clause:It does not take the definition of recommended prices any further.454It leaves untouched false reductions from a price alleged to have been charged by 'others' (as distinct from reductions from the seller's own previous price).It adds that its proposed Clause…presents the issue more concisely to the courts while the present Clause 11 tries to determine discretionary matters in advance (such as defining a recommended price), without in fact doing so.It confidently felt that its proposed Clause would catch blatant cases and went on:…we do not think that the complexities of Clause 11 could do any more than this.In this respect, I take the point of the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), when he said that he considered that it would be more effective in practice to leave the question of dishonesty to the judgment of the courts.
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, in whom we have a great deal of trust, and whom we have regarded with a great deal of affection in Committee, will realise the help that she can give if she will give us some assurance that, if we cannot settle things amicably here this afternoon, we shall be able to see some Amendments tabled in another place, making sense of this. We have seen a great deal of understanding on both sides. We are not concerned about politics, but getting things right by the consumer. I hope that she will find an opportunity to do this, so that we shall be able to give support to the Amendments, in the knowledge that we are to get what we want.
I look forward to hearing something that will be pleasing to us and that will preserve the general tone that existed in Committee.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)
I agree very much with the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Haseldine) and I must apologise to the House for not having contributed to the debate before, but I had not then returned to the House. I have been following the progress of the Bill, both in this House and another place, with a considerable amount of interest. I must declare a personal interest here, because I am connected with a large industrial concern very active in the consumer goods sphere.
Naturally, one has tended to pay a great deal of attention to the actual provisions of this Measure. In discussing these 455 Amendments, my association with the industry concerned with consumer goods has taught me, over the past two years, that the majority in commerce and industry is honest and honourable, seeking to do a good job in very competitive circumstances. As has been said, retailing and marketing is a very fine art, very well practised in this country. We would all agree that the idea behind the Bill is to catch dishonest traders, and it is a very good one.
I am also worried that it may discourage others, operating honourably. From outside the House, one has seen, during the progress of the Bill, that Clause 11 has always been a serious flaw. I believe that if it operates, it will lead to an upward trend in prices which is very undesirable. The Government should think again and accept the Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), and this Clause should be withdrawn.
I want to say a few words on the question of the "3d. or 6d. off" business. I do not think that it really does very much harm. If this Clause becomes operative, most manufacturers will practise this type of commercialism. Many people may say that it is misleading, that it will encourage prices to go up, and also create extra difficulties for people marketing in highly competitive circumstances. I am sure that genuine and honest shopkeepers will be frightened by these provisions and led into a state of hopeless confusion. This will curb their own natural marketing abilities, and they will not go in for promotion schemes, but instead take the line of least resistance each time. This means greater uniformity of prices—but prices which are going upwards.
The question of recommended prices is an important one. I listened with great interest and respect to the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling), and I read many of his valuable contributions in Committee. With great respect, I would suggest that he is wrong in saying that recommended prices will remain with us. They are on the way out, and we have to take due account of this. The form of promotion which the 3d. and 6d. off leads to does not do any real harm to anyone. It could be left alone without any harm being caused to the public.
456 Even at this late stage I would ask the hon. Lady whether she could not look at this again and smarten up Clause 11. I am possibly a little rusty on procedure, having been away for two years, but I feel—perhaps she could advise me—that it is impossible for the Government to make a suitable Amendment in another place unless we actually alter this Clause this afternoon. I would ask her to take Clause 11 back and bring forward another Amendment, so that the Bill can be far more workable than it will otherwise be.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Burden
The hon. Lady stated that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling), who accompanied her through the Committee stage of the Bill, on which I had the pleasure of sitting, has been her guide and mentor. If the hon. Lady refers to what he said in Committee, she will find that he was a little unhappy about the Clause.
I am also encouraged by the fact that this afternoon she apparently has two hawks behind her who have obviously given the matter very serious thought. I hope that she will take into account the careful and considered view that they have expressed. Indeed, there was a great degree of unanimity in Committee in general and about the problems that the Clause would create.
I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) and the hon. Member for Bradford. West (Mr. Haseldine) will be hawks when the time comes to go into the Lobby. It would appear, although they hold their views extremely strongly, that after having given the matter very serious consideration they will be a couple of fluttering doves that the hon. Lady will be able to lead through the Lobby in her support if she disagrees with the Amendment and the views that they have expressed.
I also draw attention to some of the comments made in Committee by the right hon. Member for Hillsborough. We all agree that we have one aim: that the public, wherever possible, shall be able to get lower prices and that there should be no restriction imposed by legislation on shopkeepers reducing their prices. In 457 Committee, the right hon. Gentleman said:…we must not stop genuine price reductions. We should encourage them. If, as the hon. and learned Member said, we do anything to spare traders and to make them fear that they will be in trouble with the law if they cut prices to sell old stock, or for some other good and honest purpose, we shall be making a grave mistake in the Bill.The right hon. Gentleman showed that in his view there was still cause for concern. Hon. Gentlemen opposite this afternoon also made this clear. It is essential that retailers should be able to sell goods at a lower price than they have offered them before and declare that that is so.
I put a hypothetical, but nevertheless realistic, case to the right hon. Gentleman in Committee. I gave the illustration of a retailer who might buy a whole stock of merchandise which he had not before sold and offer it for sale at 50 per cent. below the price at which it had been sold in the general market. The right hon. Gentleman made it clear that if a retailer did that, because he had not sold that article before he could not publicise the fact that it was being sold at 50 per cent. lower than its proper price.
§ Mr. Burden
I will quote what the right hon. Gentleman said, because this is the implication. This concerns garments sold at £7 10s. whereas the original price was 15s. The right hon. Gentleman said:However, there is nothing to stop him from saying that the garments are genuine bargains. Obviously, he is going to be in trouble if he starts making misleading price comparisons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 26th March, 1968; c. 231–4.]The implication is clear. I will be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could make it clear to the Parliamentary Secretary that this reading of what he said is incorrect. I am happy to give way.
§ Mr. Darling
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. The point I was trying to make—and I thought at the time it was a satisfactory answer to the question raised—was that if the garments had not been sold by that person before he could not say, "This is a price reduction from my previous price", because it obviously was not as he had not sold them before.
458 If he said, "These garments are 50 per cent. below the price for the same kind of things in other shops", and that is taken as true, there is no reason why he should not make that statement. He could not be prosecuted if he made a statement in that way.
§ Mr. Burden
I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman make that clear, but this was not what he said in Committee.
§ Mr. Burden
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman nodding. It is here in HANSARD. He said:However, there is nothing to stop him from saying that the garments are genuine bargains.The right hon. Gentleman certainly did not refer in Committee to the fact that that person would be in order in declaring that the garments were 50 per cent. lower than the price at which they had regularly been sold to the public. He made no mention of it then. The fact that he did not merely illustrates the problems that are created. It emphasises the force of the logic of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe and the hon. Member for Bradford, West and of my hon. Friends. In persuading those two hon. Gentlemen to be hawks this afternoon and not doves, what has emerged in the debate should help to encourage them.
The hon. Lady was very generous in Committee in listening to all points of view—she has a little steel in her as well, if necessary—but I suggest that this is a time when she might give very serious consideration to what has been suggested not only from behind her, but from this side of the House. It is far better she does this, if she has the slightest doubt, than that she pushes through the Bill as it is and sees it run into considerable difficulties in application after it gets on to the Statute Book.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
The purpose of the debate today is no different from our purpose on Second Reading, namely, to make this a good Bill. There is agreement on both sides that this must be our aim.
We are pressing at some length two Amendments which must be and are being considered together. The hon. 459 Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) has spoken with a background of expertise and experience, and he has been ably supported by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Haseldine). I ask the hon. Lady not to ignore this heartfelt expertise from many years of experience in retail trade and marketing which has come from behind her. She has had similar expressions of authority and experience from this side, too. I hope that she will not be intractable in her approach to the problem.
We on this side want to see a good Bill to protect consumers and to protect vigorous and fair marketing and retailing. My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) said that we live in a sophisticated marketing period. Buying and selling is a sophisticated operation. Everyone has to be on his toes. If the Board of Trade insists on many provisos about prices and price reductions, as in Clause 11, it will emasculate the opportunity for fair, vigorous and responsible trading and for fair buying. The opportunity for the consumers to benefit from price reductions may be lost if the Clause is allowed through.
The general view has been expressed that there is an irritant in products constantly being offered at reduced prices. This is so, but manufacturers and retailers are in competition and the irritation gives the housewife the opportunity of a lower price if she also shops with vigour. It is not to deceive her. We want to remove any element of deceit and to make a good Bill.
I draw the hon. Lady's attention to the remarks in another place of another Board of Trade Minister, Lord Brown, on the difficult question of how best the Clause could be phrased to catch unreliable retailers while still permitting fair marketing:We in the Board of Trade have not given up trying to tackle this matter.I hope that the hon. Lady will share that sentiment. He went on:All sorts of ideas have been put forward and discussed, and we do not see our way through it; but we have not yet stopped thinking."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 29th January, 1968; Vol. 288, c. 665]This is a salutary thought and I ask the hon. Lady to consider whether the 460 Amendments do not offer a solution. At least, there seems to be agreement across the House, and we are being constructive.
The speeches of the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) are always helpful, and are based on wide experience of legislation at the Board of Trade and the facts of life in the market place. But he did not accept today that we are trying to be constructive by dropping Clause 11 and strengthening Clause 2.
The Molony Committee was very careful in considering misleading price claims. In paragraph 588, it said:The next call for amendment related to claims that merchandise is on otter at bargain price It was submitted that there is widespread misrepresentation in this respect.…This is what we are debating. We are concerned to put right this misrepresentation, but by better drafting. Lord Brown expressed concern at the inadequacy of the drafting of Clause 11 some months ago.
In the same paragraph, Molony said:…in a competitive economy, the consumer might reasonably expect the normal price of goods to provide a fair indication of their quality, particularly if that quality could not be readily assessed by superficial examination or by reference to any description supplied with the goods; and therefore that a false or misleading statement of the original price or real value of the goods materially deceived the consumer as to the merits of the merchandise on offer.This is why Clause 2 defines a trade description, so why do we leave out reference to price only to make a complicated and misleading provision in Clause 11?
The Amendments would add these price references to Clause 2 and would drop Clause 11. Although the latter recommendation comes only from this side it seemed to be agreed, judging from the nodding of hon. Members opposite. I have tried to persuade the hon. Lady to accept my point of view in Committee and I hope that I have succeeded today.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody.
The debate has ranged wide. It has been interesting to hear that I am surrounded by both doves and hawks. I have never regarded my hon. Friends the Members for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) or Bradford, West (Mr. Haseldine) as birds, but one learns something every day. Several hon. 461 Gentlemen have raised detailed points, but perhaps I may take a little time in explanation.
It is suggested that Amendment No. 3 would deal more satisfactorily with false price comparisons than does Clause 11 by providing that an indication of the former or usual price of any goods shall be a trade description. We are sure that this is not so. The effect of the Amendments would merely be that the offences stated in Clause 1—of applying a false trade description, or of supplying or offering to supply goods to which a false trade description is applied—would arise where someone applied to a particular article a false indication of the former or usual price of that particular article. I stress the words, "of that particular article".
That might cover the case of the trader who has formerly offered the particular article at £2, and now purports to offer it at a marked-down price. But that case is already clearly covered by Clause 11—and covered a great deal more satisfactorily, because we have there spelled out precisely for the benefit of the courts and of traders who have to comply with the law what an indication of former price is to be taken to mean.
But the Amendment would not deal with the many cases in which comparison is made with the price at which, not these particular goods, but goods of the same description have been offered. This is a very frequent type of comparison and, as long as it is truthful, a perfectly fair one. The trader says, in effect, "Previously, I have been selling goods just like this for £2; now I am going to offer the same line at 35s.". If he makes such a comparison falsely he is caught, as he should be, by Clause 11 because we there refer to "the goods or goods of the same description". But he could not possibly be caught for a false trade description offence by this Amendment of Clause 2.
The answer to that is not simply a further Amendment to Clause 2 to relate it to indications "with respect to any goods or to goods of the same description". That would completely distort the whole carefully designed effect of Clause 2 with regard to the various other kinds of indications about goods it now covers, and distort it in so far-reaching a manner that I doubt whether any of us could foresee all the remarkable and undesirable consequences.
462 It is, of course, true that the Molony Committee suggested that the "former or usual price" of any goods should be included in the definition of a trade description. The Committee did not discuss this concept in any detail; but it noted that such a provision would be difficult both to draft and to enforce. This was in paragraph 636. When we came to examine this suggestion, we found that the difficulties of that approach were very great.
This is a point on which the Clause has been exhaustively examined. I know that my noble Friend in another place said that he still had an open mind, but the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) will realise that, since that date, there has been a great deal of discussion and consultation. This Clause has been backwards and forwards not only between the Opposition and the Government and between hon. Members opposite and the Board of Trade, but also between this House and another place, like a pea in a baby's rattle.
The stated Molony objective of dealing withfalse comparative price claims meant to convey that goods have been genuinely marked down in the particular retail establishmentcould be achieved far more satisfactorily by a separate Clause 11. Price claims are, in general, of so different a character from descriptions directly related to particular goods that the provisions needed to deal with them are just not congruous with the scheme of the first six Clauses of the Bill——
§ Mr. Burden
The hon. Lady said that considerable discussion and examination of the Clause has taken place since the Committee stage. Considerable discussion took place in another place and up to the Committee and in Committee What further discussion has made her more certain today than she was after those considerable discussions?
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
The hon. Gentleman will realise that the Clause has been amended—perhaps not so widely as some hon. Gentlemen would want, but where we disagree is that he thinks that, because we cannot do absolutely everything, we should do nothing at all. Perhaps he will allow me to develop the argument on the points raised.
463 The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) raised the question of leaving decisions like this to the courts. We cannot agree that it would be right to leave it to the courts to decide what amounts to a false indication of comparative price. It has emerged very clearly from the lengthy debates on this question that it is a very complicated matter. In resolving the tangle, there must be two main objectives. One is that the consumer should know what meaning to attach to a trader's claim to have reduced his price. The second is that honest traders should know what claims they can properly and safely make, and that those who have to enforce the law—whether the courts or the local weights and measures authorities—should know as clearly as possible what constitutes an offence.
To leave the issue to the mercy of this vague and unelaborated Amendment would be merely to create doubts and conflicting decisions all round, whereas the carefully worked out approach of Clause 11 offers as clear and sound a basis for shoppers, shopkeepers, and enforcers as we think can be devised.
The Amendment would certainly not catch false comparisons with other people's prices. Even if other people's prices were regarded as a "former or usual price"—and it is not the happiest way of referring to them—they would not be the price of the goods to which the shopkeeper was applying the indication, but the price of goods of the same description, which, as I have already explained, would not be covered by the Amendment.
The other Amendment would delete Clause 11 and would also mean that there would be no prohibition of false comparisons with recommended prices. I know that some people think, for varying reasons, that this would be a change for the better, but I do not agree. The proposal seems to disregard the fact that there are two separate and distinct kinds of malpractice in relation to such prices. The first is practised by the trader who deliberately over-states the amount by which his price is lower than a genuine recommended price or, with the same object of claiming a false price cut, quotes a recommended price when none exists. Clause 11 would prohibit these false 464 claims and I see no reason why it should not. There are still plenty of recommended prices—despite the remarks of some hon. Gentlemen opposite—which are genuine in the sense that they are observed by a proportion of retailers.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
Would not the hon. Lady agree that the trend is towards the abolition of recommended prices?
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
There was enormous strength in the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) that there is some indication that that is not necessarily so.
As I was saying, there are still plenty of recommended prices which are genuine, in the sense that they are observed by at least some proportion of retailers. It is perfectly legitimate for those who are selling at less than the recommended figure to draw attention to the fact, and it is quite wrong that unscrupulous traders should be free to misrepresent the recommended price and so deceive the public as to the amount of the bargain they purport to offer.
We know only too well that it is not practicable to deal with all the forms of misrepresentation which occur in comparative pricing. But this malpractice is one which is quite easily controllable—it presents no serious problem of enforcement—and it seems only sensible that the Bill should prohibit it.
The second kind of malpractice—the quotation of "phoney" recommended prices—is another matter. We are told that there are two main forms of these misleading recommendations. The price may be recommended by a manufacturer to all retailers, but at a level which he knows is higher than the price at which any of them are likely to retail the goods. This he does so that every seller may claim to be offering a bargain at less than the "recommended price". This, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough said in Committee, is something which we see no way of preventing in the present legislation.
The other type of "phoney" recommended price is the one which is not generally promulgated but which is made to a limited range of retailers. It may even be recommended by a wholesaler to a retailer at the retailer's request, at a 465 quite ridiculous figure so that the retailer can pretend to be offering an enormous bargain when his price is, in fact, normal—or above normal—for such goods. The comparison made is utterly meaningless, and serves only to deceive. This abuse would to some extent be curbed by the provisions of Clause 11(3,b), which would ensure that an indication of a recommended price, unless expressly qualified, is treated as a price generally recommended by the manufacturer or producer of the goods.
I do not pretend that this is anything like a complete answer to the problem of "phoney" recommendations—this will give some comfort to the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden)—but it is as far as we think it reasonable and practicable to go in the Bill.
The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) was worried about the question of fiscal changes, although I thought that his argument was a little transmuted. He suggested that retailers should be entitled to disregard price increases due to tax changes when making claims of the so much "off" variety. He was worried lest they be caught it there had been a fiscal change overnight. I do not feel that this is a practical problem that would arise. I cannot imagine that there would be an immediate series of prosecutions of retailers who had not changed their prices immediately after a tax change.
I appreciate, however, in regard to the question of whether or not they should be allowed to disregard price increases and keep their prices unchanged after allowing for tax increases, that that is another matter. We feel that there are various ways open to a retailer to draw attention to the fact without making the false suggestion that he has reduced his price below its former level.
Other considerations have concerned hon. Members, such as the whole question of promotional interference—this business of "2d. off". We have reviewed the provisions of Clause 11 in the light of the points raised in Committee about its effect on certain existing promotional practices. We are clear that, with the further Amendments which we propose to subsection 3(a,ii), it would contain nothing to prevent manufacturers and retailers 466 from continuing to make price cuts whenever they wish.
The consequence of the provisions dealing with previous prices is that when a supplier claims to have reduced his price, any previous price to which he refers must—unless he expressly qualifies the claim—be a price at which he has, in fact, offered the goods recently and for long enough to make it a genuine price. This is, we think, the natural inference for customers to draw an indication such as "6d. off", and a retailer who offers goods marked in this way when he has not taken 6d. off his previous price is giving a false impression.
It has been said that these provisions will entail some changes in the ways in which manuacturers and distributors at present handle such special offers. If so, it will only be because, under the present system, the customer has not always received the benefit of the reduction implied by the marking on the packet.
§ Mr. Burden
The question is whether the Clause would catch the person who, for example, produced a packaged article and the price of the package was reduced by 3d. but not the contents because the contents were fewer than had previously been advertised at the higher price.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
I do not think that that would be caught under the Clause, but it would probably be caught under Clause 2.
At the risk of mortally offending some of my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have addressed gentle remarks to me—they have urged me not to be intransigent and difficult—I must be considerably hawk-like and resist the Amendment. I am having rather a traumatic week. Yesterday, I was referred to as a well-built yacht. At the risk of offending hon. Members, I must urge them not to press the Amendment.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin (Wanstead and Woodford)
I hesitate to intervene, because so far I have taken no part in the proceedings on the Bill. I rise only because my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) would have wished to be here to intervene at this stage. I assure the hon. Lady that I do not intend to call her anything. I have great respect for her and it is because I believe that she is a fair-minded person, with an open mind, 467 that I make a final plea on behalf of not only my hon. Friends but a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I urge the hon. Lady to take the Clause back and make one further attempt to put it into the sort of shape which will achieve what we want to see. All hon. Members appreciate who we want to catch and the evils we wish to prevent. I do not see how anybody who has listened to today's debate and has read the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings, as I have, can feel that we can send the Bill back to another place with the Clause in its present state. If it is sent back unchanged the provision will create many difficulties and do the harm which hon. Members have mentioned. Grave difficulties will be caused to retailers in many walks of life.
The right hon. Member Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling), who was then speaking for the Government, said in Committee:If…we do anything to spare"—I believe that a misprint occurred at that point—traders and to make them fear that they will be in trouble with the law if they cut prices to sell old stock, or for some other good and honest purpose, we shall be making a grave mistake in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 26th March, 1968; c. 231.]Considering the good will that has gone into the efforts of hon. Members generally in trying to find a solution to this problem, I do not feel that anybody who has listened to the debates on the subject can say that a solution has been found. For this reason, I urge the hon. Lady to take the Clause back for further consideration.
I remind her that although she is only the Parliamentary Secretary—I use the word "only" not in a disparaging way—she is in charge of the Bill. It behoves her, having listened to the debate, to appreciate the strength of the case that has been made. If she accepts Amendment No. 33 it will be open to the Government at a later stage to reverse that decision. I appreciate the difficulties inherent in the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner), but that should not prevent the hon. Lady from withdrawing the Clause for further consideration.
468 I am sure that a solution can be found if the Government give further thought to the matter. We would be making a grave mistake if we sent the Bill back to another place with the Clause remaining as it stands. I urge the hon. Lady to have an open mind on the issue. The Bill has had the broad agreement of both sides on many of its aspects. It would be a pity if, at this late stage, we disagreed on such a vital matter.
§ Mr. Darling
I intervene to put the record straight. Hon. Members have rightly quoted the remarks I made in Committee, but I must point out that the remarks quoted by the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) in the reference to scaring traders—it was a misprint, of course—and making them fear that if they made price reductions they would be caught by the law, were introductory remarks to Amendments which were then accepted by the Committee.
It is only fair to point out to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch), who quoted what was said by my noble Friend Lord Brown in another place, that this is not the same Clause as that to which my noble Friend referred. The Bill has been amended in the way in which my noble Friend wanted it to be amended and he now supports this Clause in the Bill. It is necessary to make that perfectly clear. My remarks were introductory to improvements which have been made and the amendment Clause is not the Clause to which my noble Friend referred.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
I emphasise that the remarks, although they were quoted at the stage in the speech to which the right hon. Gentleman as referred, were equally relevant after the debate in which points were made by hon. Members from both sides of the House about the difficulties which this Clause will get us into.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody
The hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) has been most beguiling this afternoon and my heart would be delighted to give into those gentle words were it not that my head tells me that that would be wrong. I do not know whether it is possible to be immersed in a Clause, but as Parliamentary Secretary I 469 have been living with this Clause for some time. It has been very carefully examined many times and it has been amended. We are now convinced that this is the final form in which we should like to see it in the Bill. Therefore, at the risk of losing the affection of the hon. Member, I must say quite firmly
§ that we shall resist both these Amendments as we do not think they would contribute to the Bill in any constructive form.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 185.471
|Division No. 132.]||AYES||[5.42 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Gresham Cooke, R.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Gurden, Harold||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Astor, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Balniel, Lord||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Percival, Ian|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hawkins, Paul||Peyton, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Higgins, Terence L.||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Hiley, Joseph||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Biffen, John||Hill, J. E. B.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pym, Francis|
|Blaker, Peter||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Boardman, Tom||Holland, Philip||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hooson, Emlyn||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hordern, Peter||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hornby, Richard||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hunt, John||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Silvester, Frederick|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Jopling, Michael||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Burden, F. A.||Kershaw, Anthony||Stainton, Keith|
|Campbell, Gordon||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Kitson, Timothy||Stodart, Anthony|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Clegg, Walter||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Costain, A. P.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Crouch, David||Loveys, W. H.||Temple, John M.|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Lubbock, Eric||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||MacArthur, Ian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Eden, Sir John||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Maddan, Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maginnis, John E.||Walters, Dennis|
|Eyre, Reginald||Maude, Angus||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Farr, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Webster, David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Foster, Sir John||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G.||Miscampbell, Norman||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Monro, Hector||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||More, Jasper||Wright, Esmond|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Younger, Hn. George|
|Goodhew, Victor||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Gower, Raymond||Murton, Oscar||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grant, Anthony||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Mr. Anthony Royle and|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Neave, Airey||Mr. Humphrey Atkins.|
|Alldritt, Walter||Blackburn, F.||Cant, R. B.|
|Allen, Scholefield||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Carmichael, Neil|
|Anderson, Donald||Booth, Albert||Coe, Denis|
|Archer, Peter||Boyden, James||Concannon, J. D.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Bradley, Tom||Dalyell, Tam|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Darling, Rt. Hn. George|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)|
|Barnett, Joel||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Baxter, William||Buchan, Norman||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Binns, John||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Dempsey, James|
|Bishop, E. S.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dewar, Donald|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Dickens, James||Judd, Frank||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Dobson, Ray||Kelley, Richard||Palmer, Arthur|
|Doig, Peter||Kenyon, Clifford||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Dunnett, Jack||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth Central)||Park, Trevor|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Leadbitter, Ted||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Ellis, John||Lomas, Kenneth||Pentland, Norman|
|English, Michael||Loughlin, Charles||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||McBride, Neil||Randall, Harry|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||MacColl, James||Rees, Merlyn|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacDermot, Niall||Richard, Ivor|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Macdonald, A. H.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Ford, Ben||McGuire, Michael||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Forrester, John||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackintosh, John P.||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Maclennan, Robert||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Slater, Joseph|
|Gregory, Arnold||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Small, William|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Manuel, Archie||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mapp, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hamling, William||Marquand, David||Tomney, Frank|
|Hannan, William||Mendelson, J. J.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Millan, Bruce||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Moonman, Eric||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hoy, James||Moyle, Roland||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Neal, Harold||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Newens, Stan||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hunter, Adam||Oakes, Gordon||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Hynd, John||Ogden, Eric||Woof, Robert|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Sp'nb'gh)||O'Malley, Brian||Yates, Victor|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Orbach, Maurice|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Orme, Stanley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oswald, Thomas||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Mr. Ernest G. Perry.|