HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc914-5
Sir J. Eden

I beg to move Amendment No. 8, in page 4, line 8, leave out from beginning to 'in' in line 9 and insert: An order of the Secretary of State under the proviso to section 2(1) of the Act of 1949 (control of Board's activities outside Great Britain) shall not be required as authority for anything which the Board may do with consent under the foregoing subsection; but before giving any consent thereunder".

Mr. Speaker

It will be for the convenience of the House if we also discuss Amendment No. 20: page 7, line 3, at end insert: "'the Act of 1949' means the 'Coal Industry Act, 1949'."

Sir J. Eden

An Amendment similar to this was moved by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) during our proceedings in Committee. I said then that I felt that his Amendment was unnecessary but that I would have a further look at the matter and if I thought there was room for doubt I would move an Amendment on Report. I have had an opportunity of further study of the point which he originally made.

7.0 p.m.

The effect of Section 2 of the Coal Industry Act, 1949, is to enable the National Coal Board to carry on activities outside Great Britain provided they are authorised by order of the Secretary of State. Clause 5 empowers the Board to give technical assistance overseas, and it might be argued that the execution of this new power is an activity to which Section 2 of the 1949 Act applies. The fact that the Clause requires the consent of the Minister responsible for overseas aid and the Secretary of State to be obtained for the Board's proposals implies strongly that no order under Section 2 of the 1949 Act is needed. None the less, there is possibly some slight area of doubt here. It is conceivable that there could arise some misunderstanding. I agree with the view put forward by the hon. Member for Chesterfield in Committee that, if such doubt exists, it is desirable to remove it and make absolutely clear that the Board will not need an order from the Secretary of State under Section 2 of the 1949 Act for technical assistance activities under Clause 5. The Amendment makes the position perfectly clear.

Amendment No. 20 is consequential upon Amendment No. 8.

Mr. Varley

As the Minister said, we discussed this matter in Committee and he gave an assurance that he would look at it again. The Amendment will help to clear up difficulties within Clause 5 and improve the Bill, and I am grateful to the Minister.

Amendment agreed to.

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