HC Deb 13 December 1972 vol 848 cc577-82

Queen's Recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to provide for the appointment of a Director General of Fair Trading and of a Consumer Protection Advisory Committee, and to confer on the Director General and the Committee so appointed, on the Secretary of State and on the Restrictive Practices Court new functions for the protection of consumers; to make provision, in substitution for the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act 1948 and the Monopolies and Mergers Act 1965, for the matters dealt with in those Acts and related matters, including restrictive labour practices; to amend the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1956 and the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1968, to make provision for extending the said Act of 1956 to agreements relating to services and to transfer to the Director General of Fair Trading the functions of the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements; and to make new provision in place of section 30(2) to (4) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. (1) all expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in consequence of the provisions of the said Act of the present Session;
  2. (2) any expenses incurred in consequence of those provisions by any other Minister of the Crown or Government department, not being a Minister or department of the Government of Northern Ireland;
  3. (3) the remuneration of, and any travelling or other allowances payable under that Act to, the Director General of Fair Trading and any officers or servants of the Director, any other sums payable under that Act to or in respect of the Director, and any expenses duly incurred by the Director or any such officer or servant in consequence of the provisions of that Act;
  4. (4) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable out of moneys provided by Parliament under the Superannuation Act 1972;
  5. (5) any increase in the sums payable out of moneys so provided which is attributable to any provision of the said Act of the present Session whereby, for the purposes of the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971, official pensions will include any superannuation allowance payable under the Monopolies and Mergers Act 1965 to a person appointed before the commencement of the said Act of the present Session to be chairman or deputy chairman of the Commission at present known as the Monopolies Commission.—[Mr. Emery.]

10.9 p.m.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

I have two questions. During the day there has been discussion of the possibility of giving more money to the Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. Will the Minister say whether that would be possible out of the global sums being voted by this Money Resolution or whether we shall be precluded, by passing this motion, from moving amendments to that end?

The second question is one of interest to my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself. We note that in Schedule 3(8) there is a reference to pensions for members of the commission and the reference is to a pension to "any member", whereas in Clause 5 the term used is "regular members". Does that mean that there is an innovation? I understand that in the past it has not been practice to pay pensions to part-time members. Is this an innovation enabling pensions to be paid to part-time members? Is this a new principle being introduced?

10.10 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)

I think I can clear up those two points quickly. As to the second, this is not an innovation. Recent legislation has allowed this sort of provision in case it should ever be wanted. If it were not here, pensions would be excluded. They have not been paid in this way, but, as the hon. Gentleman may recall, under the recent Gas Bill the same sort of thing was done as is done here. This global sum, under which the Director General and the CPAC will come, will be a major new item of expenditure. The total expenses of the Director General and his staff will be about £600,000 a year, including about £200,000 a year in respect of functions to be taken over from the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements. Potentially, there will be payment of salaries to the members of the Consumer Protection Advisory Committee and to its staff. It is intended that members of the Committee will be appointed from among persons actively engaged in other affairs, but in all probability they will not be salaried but will employ their own staff. The Committee will be serviced as necessary by the DTI. The expenditure will come from the DTI Vote. The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum estimates it at around £10,000 a year.

The question being asked is, could this be extended? Because this is a global sum out of the DTI Vote I believe it would be possible. If there is any doubt about that I will clear it up with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John Roper (Farnworth)

The Minister said that the CPAC will have its own staff and be serviced by the DTI. There seems to be some internal contradiction there. If the committee is to be serviced by the DTI it seems to me that the staff will be the DTI staff. It would be different if it were to have its own staff.

Mr. Bruce Milian (Glasgow, Craigton)

What we are anxious to be assured about is that we shall not find that amendments we might wish to put down will be ruled out of order because the Money Resolution will exclude them. Obviously the Minister will look into this point. In the nature of things we would not want to have a great wrangle in Committee about the advisory committee in a party sense, but we should like to feel that if we were to want to put down amendments they would not be ruled out of order because of this Money Resolution. If the Minister can say that they will not be, or that, if it turns that they could be, he will see that the Government will bring the necessary amended Money Resolution to allow us to move amendments, that will satisfy us this evening.

Mr. Emery

I refer first of all to the point made by the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper). I am sorry if what I said was misleading. Yes, there will be staff for the CPAC. The staff will be civil servants. They will come from and be nominated by the DTI. They will inherently be doing work for the CPAC. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about this.

As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), obviously the Government will want to make certain that the CPAC is able to succeed and has the necessary money to be able to succeed. I think I can give the hon. Member that assurance. That, I think, is the way in which the Money Resolution is worded.

Question put and agreed to.

  2. c581
  4. cc581-2
  5. PUBLIC PETITIONS 235 words