Notwithstanding the effect of any provision of this Act giving the Post Office the status of a public corporation, the Minister shall answer questions addressed to him on all matters concerning the Post Office other than those of day to day administration.—[Mr. Hugh Jenkins.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
I believe that this is a Clause which will commend itself to hon. Members on both sides of the House. If I am right in that supposition and there is a body of support which I confidently expect for this, it will be my duty to press the Clause to a Division. I trust that that course will not be necessary, because I rather hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to accept it. There is every reason to suppose that he will look upon it favourably, because it does something which he has, from time to time during the proceedings on the Bill, made fairly clear would be quite close to his heart.
The problem about the creation of a Corporation is that it removes to some degree the element of public accountability. I make no bones about saying that I am no great lover of the public corporation. In parenthesis, I welcome the disappearance of London Transport which is shortly to come under the control of the Greater London Council.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I was illustrating the point that this is a good Clause because it will retain the element of public control, which the public corporation does not. I was quoting the example of London Transport which will come under the elected body of the G.L.C. just as the new Clause enables my right hon. Friend still to answer Questions in the House.
On Second reading I said that I was not greatly enamoured of moving the Post Office away from the direct control of the Minister. From time to time in the long drawn out Committee proceedings hon. Members on both sides of 1279 the Committee made remarks which suggested clearly that they agreed largely with what I was saying, although those remarks were sometimes incidental. For example, the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) said this:Amendment 1 seeks to preserve the office of Postmaster-General, which must be to his advantage.I hardly think that the hon. Gentleman would seek to preserve the office unless he were also seeking to preserve the functions of the office, and one function of the office is answering Questions on what the Post Office is doing. He said later:I do not believe that it is acceptable if this is independent of the Minister.He was making it fairly clear that he viewed with some anxiety the separation of the Corporation from the effective control of this House.
The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) said this:We begin on this side of the House by saying that we would like the post, and indeed the title of the Postmaster-General retained. It is a great and a very historic post."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 26th November, 1968; c. 4–44.]I can hardly believe that the hon. Member for Acton was saying that he merely wanted the title to be retained, that he wished to strip the Postmaster-General of all his power but to leave him with his title. I therefore take it that the hon. Member for Acton shares my doubts that, in creating a separate Corporation, we are removing it from the effective control of this House, and removing the element of public accountability which has been an essential feature of the operation of the Post Office for so many years and which, compared with post offices which I have seen in other countries, for example, in the United States, has been a beneficent feature. It has been a feature which has enabled us to keep a close check on the efficiency of the Post Office.
In parenthesis, that efficiency has today broken down. I have not received a parcel which I was expecting to receive, but I hope that this is not indicative of general inefficiency—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman's parenthesis seems to be out 1280 of order. He will address himself to his new Clause.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I put the other bracket on the parenthesis a moment ago. That has closed it. I should like to pray in aid my right hon. Friend himself who said in Committee:The suggestion in this series of Amendments"—he is referring to a series of Amendments which was put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite—is that postal services should remain a Government Department, because it is said to be such a separate business from the telecommunications, and should be run separately by a Minister.What my right hon. Friend said is true. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ran away from the consequences of the whole proposition when they came face to face with it, having themselves advocated the Corporation which the Bill seeks to set up. I understand that when the present Government came into office in 1964, they found the whole idea of the creation of a public corporation to be fairly well advanced and took over proposals which had emanated from the previous Government. I believe that I am correct in that statement.
Certainly there has been no lack of inducement among hon. Members opposite for the general principle of the Bill. The general principle was supported by them on Second Reading.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We will debate the general principle of the Bill again when we come to Third Reading. The hon. Gentleman is moving an Amendment. He must keep to it.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I hope that I shall not stray again. I shall do my best not to do so. I was about to say that ever since they accepted the broad ideas set out in the Bill in the proceedings in Committee, hon. Gentlemen, realising what the consequences of that would be, have been endeavouring to run away from them in Amendment after Amendment. The general effect has been to try to recreate the missing element of public accountability which has been removed by the creation of the Bill itself.
The whole history of the Committee month after month, week after week, day after day, has been to try to find some 1281 means of recreating the element of public accountability between this House and the Post Office. The new Clause provides that step. It does what hon. Gentlemen opposite have been trying to do throughout the Committee stage. It provides that the Minister shall answer Questions addressed to him on all matters concerning the Post Office other than those of day-to-day administration. It is the half-way house which hon. Gentlemen have been seeking.
It removes from the Minister the necessity of saying what happened to Mr. So-and-So's past today, although on occasion it has been a good thing that he has been able to do that and some of us will be sorry to see that function go. But we must reconcile ourselves at this stage of the Bill to that loss. I am sure that when hon. Gentlemen opposite consider the consequences of this provision they will want to support it, and I hope that it will have the support of my hon. Friends.
To illustrate the point—I shall not take a great deal more time since I have established the general necessity for the new Clause—the hon. Member for Norfolk, Central (Mr. Ian Gilmour) saidThe Postmaster-General has not discharged the burden of proof to show why he wants to set up this Corporation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 28th November, 1968; c. 63–73.]He may have been right if he was referring to the matters which appear in this Amendment.
It is true that no adequate alternative means of public accountability has been suggested. There have been other suggestions, of course. Instead of what is proposed in the Amendment, such methods of accountability as councils of consultation, other local organisations and means of communication at various levels might be established. But nothing can replace the accountability which is found in this House by putting Questions to the Minister. That is the form of accountability that the Clause seeks to perpetuate. Time and time again it has been proved that there is no alternative for it. We have consumer councils, but I am sure that no one would say that they have replaced the system of putting Questions to the Minister. If one of our constituents finds himself in difficulty with a Government Department, he does not 1282 approach the consumer council. He comes to his Member of Parliament, who asks a Question of the Minister concerned.
Unless the Clause is carried, this procedure will no longer be open to us. Not only will Questions on day-to-day administration be excluded, but all others except those concerned with major financial policy. Anything lower than that level cannot be touched. The Clause seeks to bring into being a half-way house of administration and policy which otherwise is excluded from the examination of this House.
I will not weary the House with further examples. I could go through the proceedings in Committee and show that on practically every Clause hon. Members attempted to recreate the possibility of interrogating the Minister. This Clause seeks to re-establish it. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not make it necessary for us to go into the Division Lobby but will say that this is a method for which he has been searching and which he has decided to accept.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I agreed with a great many of the points made by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins). I am sure that we all agree that the consultative councils set up under previous nationalisation Acts have proved to be nugatory. No one has ever got anything out of them. They are a pure waste of time.
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman when he says that he wants to establish a halfway house. I have never been very keen on halfway houses. Surely the point is that it is precisely on matters concerned with details of administration that Members of Parliament can produce their maximum effect.
Supposing the hon. Gentleman strayed from his constituency, went into a post office in Penge and found that the nibs were crossed. If he wrote a letter to the Postmaster-General or asked a Question about it, he could be fairly certain that next time he went to Penge the nibs in the post office would not be crossed.
If the Bill is passed as it now stands, in similar circumstances the hon. Gentleman would be told by the Postmaster-General that this was a matter of day-to-day administration. If the hon. Gentleman then wrote to the head boy set 1283 up under the Bill, whatever he calls himself, he might get an answer, but he would be more likely to be told that it was a matter for the North, South, East, or West manager's department. Sooner or later a letter will come back from the North, South, East or West manager's Department, very likely in perfectly courteous terms, saying, "I am sorry that the nibs in the post office in Penge were crossed, but they will stay crossed."
§ Mr. Driberg
I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. But if the new Clause is passed and if its operation in the House is the same as in other cases, one can at least put down a question to the Minister asking him to issue a general direction to post offices that nibs should not be crossed.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Birch
That would be a powerful action, but if a general direction were issued that there should not be crossed nibs, I doubt whether it would penetrate as far as Penge. It is precisely in these detailed matters that we can do something. The principle of taking detailed administration away from the Floor of the House was the conception which the late Herbert Morrison had when he set up the nationalised industries. I do not think that it has worked very satisfactorily. The idea was that it would be too terrible if these great men were worried about details.
The Post Office is not so much a business as a service. I have been a service Minister in a service Ministry where thousands of people come under one's control. There were endless individual cases of letters and questions, but I was not utterly crushed by them.
We should think about what we are trying to do. I feel that this is a retro grade step. We have made mistakes previously in the nationalised industries. It was a mistake to take any kind of control away from this House. When I first came to the House we could ask why the 3.30 from Manchester was ten hours late, and we got some interesting answers.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that unless we carry the Clause not only shall we not be able to ask questions of detail, but we shall be unable to ask questions at all. The 1284 right hon. Gentleman is questioning the wisdom of the Bill, and I agree about that.
§ Mr. Birch
Under your guidance, Mr. Speaker, I trust that I shall be able to resist the temptation. I will not pursue that further.
We must record the fact that if the House loses all control our constituents will not be pleased. If they get bad service in the post office and their Member cannot ask about it and get a proper letter about it, they will be very cross, and quite right, too. I hope that the House will rise in its wrath and at any rate pass the Amendment, although I do not think that it goes far enough. If the Labour Party forces this Bill through it will be called the "crossed nib party" It means that it will have given way to the will of the Iron Mellish. I hope that hon. Members will not start doing this at this stage. If we pass the new Clause we will have struck some blow for good administration.
§ Mr. Driberg
The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) has raised some interesting historical parallels. I agreed when he mentioned the time when we were able to ask Questions why the 3.30 was ten minutes late arriving at St. Pancras—
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I was trying to be helpful to my hon. Friend and to the House by saying that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned ten hours late, referring to the time when transport was in the hands of private enterprise. I think that my hon. Friend misunderstood that.
§ Mr. Driberg
I am sorry my hon. Friend has not quite grasped the point I was trying to make, but I am grateful to 1285 him for trying to help me. I was referring to wartime when it was called, I think, the Ministry of War Transport, and the right lion. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) was one of the Ministers concerned, and one could ask him for detailed answers about the arrival of trains and that sort of thing.
The important point that has to be made here is that when the argument cropped up after the war about whether detailed questioning was inhibiting to the Departments concerned, whether it led to a lot of delay and bureaucratic nonsense, the Minister was always most emphatic that it did not, that on the contrary it kept the Department and the service concerned on their toes. I believe in this very strongly.
After the war—I hope Mr. Speaker, that you will allow me to indulge in these reminiscences—
§ Mr. Driberg
No, but I saw you tapping in that ominous way. The experience of this House after the war is strictly relevant to the Clause, because when the post-war Labour Government started to nationalise various industries, as they thought to take them effectively into public ownership, and so on, there was considerable dispute within the governing body about the extent of accountability, and Herbert Morrison, to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred, was on the whole in favour of not too much accountability, because he said that it would lead to those industries which were supposed to be expanding, virile, and dynamic industries—they used the same adjectives then as they do now—being too Civil Service minded, always looking over their shoulders in case a Question was coming up in the House, and so on.
The opposite view was taken by Aneurin Bevan, the greatest man, in my view, whom this party has produced in the last few decades, if not longer, who was in favour of total accountability, including accountability for details, and when he was appointed Minister of Health and had the fairly complicated job of setting up the National Health Service he insisted in the Cabinet on having total accountability in this House. He could be questioned on why only two bed sheets, 1286 or blankets, were provided in a particular hospital on a particular night, and so on. It never inhibited at all his administrative duties and responsibilities.
I think that the maximum accountability is desirable. In this Amendment, giving way to more moderate opinion, I agreed to the final words,other than those of day to day administration".I should have liked day-to-day administration raised at Question Time also, but, even so, I think that some hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, and some of my hon. Friends on this side, will agree that the Clause represents a considerable improvement on the situation which would exist if it were not carried. I think that it would be a tremendous mistake to remove this whole vast enterprise from Parliamentary scrutiny at Question Time, and that is what the Clause is entirely concerned with.
The trouble about some of the nationalised industries—not all of them—so far is that they have been run largely by people who do not believe in public ownership, and they have been run without fuller workers' participation—
§ Mr. Driberg
I just managed to get out the word "participation". In this case the Clause does not deal with that matter, as you, Mr. Speaker, have so kindly reminded me, but it deals with the question of accountability to this House. Failing full workers' participation in the running of an industry, which is another democratic safeguard, accountability to the Minister in this House seems to me to be of vital importance when we are considering the public ownership of any industry or service. I very much hope, therefore, that hon. Members on both sides of the House will support this new Clause, although I hope most of all that my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General will feel able to accept it, because unless he does so there will be a very difficult situation for this House and this party.
§ Captain Orr
I have enormous sympathy with the point of view put forward by those who have been advocating this particular new Clause. I have been alarmed once or twice by the number 1287 of times I have found myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins). Like myself, he does not like this Bill. I said on Second Reading that I thought it was a bad Bill, and he clearly agrees with me. I was surprised, however, that during the course of the Committee proceedings he failed to support one or two of the Amendments which I moved which would have restored Parliamentary accountability in many cases; and particularly when I sought to remove the monopoly powers from the new Corporation and keep them in the hands of the Minister as the trustee for Parliament, the hon. Member for Putney, while he spoke sympathetically, did not actually support me when it came to a Division.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
I did not speak sympathetically on the occasion when the hon. Gentleman was trying to hive off the profitable section from the Post Office and leave it with the unprofitable section.
§ Captain Orr
I think the hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding the point I am making. I remember that when I was talking about monopoly powers he made a very eloquent speech about the film industry, which he knows something about. He then spoke sympathetically on the case I was making but failed to support me in the Lobby. I—[Interruption.]
§ Captain Orr
I had got the word "I" and intended to follow it by "am". I am saying that on this particular Clause I am inclined to support the hon. Member and would be inclined to go into a Division with him—not that I think this is much of a Clause but it is a little better
§ than nothing. The hon. Gentleman defended it, as did the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), on the ground that while it would not allow the Minister to be questioned about day-to-day administration, it would allow the Minister to be questioned about what I believe he called the "grey areas". In other words, instead of the stereotyped Questions that one can put down—and perhaps some of the sponsors of the Amendment might tell me if I am wrong in the interpretation—the kind of Question which is probably the only one one can put down to any Minister, asking him to use his powers of giving a general direction, one could now put down Questions about such things as, for example, the misuse by the Corporation of its licensing powers.
§ If, for instance, the Corporation sought, wrongly, to extend its monopoly by refusing, say, the kind of licences that are already given to private mobile radio stations and one thought that the Corporation was misusing its power in order to extend its monopoly into a field in which it should not, under this provision one could presumably ask the Minister of the day a Question about it.
§ Captain Orr
The hon. Gentleman must have made some kind of guess on this, otherwise his Amendment is totally meaningless.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 176.1291
|Division No. 177.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Blackburn, F.||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Buchan, Norman|
|Alldritt, Walter||Booth, Albert||Cant, R. B.|
|Anderson, Donald||Boston, Terence||Carmichael, Neil|
|Ashley, Jack||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Boyden, James||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Bradley, Tom||Chapman, Donald|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Coleman, Donald|
|Barnett, Joel||Brooks, Edwin||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Bence Cyrll||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, provan)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bishop, E. S.||Brown, Bob (N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras, S.)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dewar, Donald||Judd, Frank||Pentland, Norman|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Kelley, Richard||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Dobson, Ray||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Doig, Peter||Lawson, George||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Driberg, Tom||Leadbitter, Ted||Prico, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Probert, Arthur|
|Eadie, Alex||Lee, John (Reading)||Rankin, John|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Rees, Merlyn|
|Ellis, John||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Richard, Ivor|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Ennals, David||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Ensor, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Luard, Evan||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Finch, Harold||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McBride, Neil||Rose, Paul|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McCann, John||Rowlands, E.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacColl, James||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacDermot, Niall||Sheldon, Robert|
|Ford, Ben||Macdonald, A. H.||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Forrester, John||McGuire, Michael||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c' tle-u-Tyne)|
|Fowler, Gerry||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackintosh, John P.||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Gardner, Tony||Maclennan, Robert||Silverman, Julius|
|Ginsburg, David||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Skeffiington, Arthur|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Slater, Joseph|
|Gregory, Arnold||MacPharson, Malcolm||Small, William|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Hamitton, James (Bothwell)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Taverne, Dick|
|Hamling, William||Manuel, Archie||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hannan, William||Mapp, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Harper, Joseph||Marks, Kenneth||Tinn, James|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Marquand, David||Tomney, Frank|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mayhew, Christopher||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Hazell, Bert||Mendelson, John||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Henig, Stanley||Mikardo, Ian||Wallace, George|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Millan, Bruce||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hobden, Dennis||Molloy, William||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Hooley, Frank||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Horner, John||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Moyle, Roland||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Murray, Albert||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Neal, Harold||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Newens, Stan||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phillip (Derby, S.)||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Oakes, Gordon||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Hunter, Adam||Ogden, Eric||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Hynd, John||O'Malley, Brian||Woof, Robert|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Oram, Albert E.|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Orbach, Maurice||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orme, Stanley||Mr. Charles Morris and|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Dr. M. S. Miller.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Body, Richard||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Dance, James|
|Astor, John||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Dean, Paul|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Bryan, Paul||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Balniel, Lord||Buck, Anthony (Colchester)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Batsford, Brian||Bullus, Sir Eric||Eden, Sir John|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Burden, F. A.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Bell, Ronald||Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Emery, Peter|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Erringron, Sir Eric|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Carlisle, Mark||Ewing, Mrs. Winifred|
|Biffen, John||Chichester-Clark, R.||Eyre, Reginald|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Clark, Henry||Farr, John|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Clegg, Walter||Fortescue, Tim|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Costain, A. P.||Foster, sir John|
|Blaker, Peter||Crouch, David||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, 8. W.)||Crowder, F. P.||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Goodhew, Victor||McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||Royle, Anthony|
|Gower, Raymond||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Grant, Anthony||Maddan, Martin||Scott, Nicholas|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Marten, Neil||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maude, Angus||Sharples, Richard|
|Gurden, Harold||Mawby, Ray||Silvester, Frederick|
|Hall, John (W ycombe)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Miscampbell, Norman||Speed, Keith|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Monro, Hector||Stainton, Keith|
|Hawkins, Paul||More, Jasper||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Hay, John||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Murton, Oscar||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Temple, John M.|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Neave, Airey||Tilney, John|
|Hornby, Richard||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Nott, John||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Onslow, Cranley||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wall, Patrick|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Walters, Dennis|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Pardoe, John||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Peel, John||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Percival, Ian||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Peyton, John||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pink, R. Bonner||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Lane, David||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Worsley, Marcus|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wright, Esmond|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Pym, Francis||Wylie, N. R.|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Younger, Hn. George|
|Longden, Gilbert||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Lubbock, Eric||Ridsdale, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
§ Question again proposed, That the Clause be read a Second time.
§ Captain Orr
As I was saying when I was interrupted, I want to find out exactly what value the new Clause has. We are forbidden by it to ask Questions of the new Minister about day-to-day administration. What kind of Questions will we be able to put down that would not be possible without it?
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
I think that I can help. At the moment, one can ask Questions only on general matters about which the Minister can give a directive to the Post Office. For example, one can ask the Minister to give a general directive that the Post Office shall introduce a 4d. or a 6d. post. But the whole range of what someone referred to as the "grey areas", between that general directive, which relates to matters of high policy only, and—
§ Mr. Jenkins
The whole area between those two, the very great and the very small, is the area of Questions which the Amendment will allow.
§ Captain Orr
I make no comments about the length of the intervention. I am trying to get at what the new Clause will do. I still do not understand what Questions which would not be the subject of general directions would not also be the subject of day-to-day administration. I hope that it would do what the hon. Member says, but I have grave doubts. I want to be able to ask the new Minister a variety of Questions.
For example, supposing that the Corporation were going to use the powers of manufacture which the Minister said were reserve powers to be used only in certain special circumstances. If, for example, one found that the Post Office was building a new factory in my constituency with the idea of manufacturing relay coils, would I, under the Clause, be entitled to ask the Minister Questions about it?
§ 10.15 p.m.