§ 'The Minister shall by order provide that any person engaged in the sale of goods or the performance of services in the course of business must display to the public a complete list of all prices and charges both current and on the date when this part of this Act came into force'.—[Mr. Pardoe.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
We shall take at the same time Amendment No. 56, standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and the names of her right hon. and hon. Friends, in Clause 6, page 5, line 21, at end insert—'(6) The Prices Commission may by order instruct retail establishments to display prominently a notice giving details of the address to which customers may refer complaints of price increases for investigation'.
§ Mr. Pardoe
I do not claim that new Clause 5 is necessarily in perfect form, but I hope that the Government will take note of the idea enshrined in it and will be prepared to accept that idea. To my way of thinking, if a prices and incomes policy is to work it has to do so at two levels—by means of direct intervention by the Government through control, and by means of a psychological impact, particularly working on people's expectations of inflation. New Clause 5 is designed to help along the whole process of stopping those expectations rising and also to keep the people informed how the policy is working.
It is a simple idea, which the American policy had from an early date. Basically, the idea is that every store of any size should have displayed for the benefit of 1356 the public a list of current prices and those which were current when this part of the Bill came into force. Thereby, throughout phase 2 the housewife could see exactly what effect the controls introduced by the Government were having on the goods she wished to buy. She would be able to see by how much they had increased in price, if they had increased, and whether there had been any decreases.
This was an essential part of the American prices and incomes policy, because it was seen early on in the planning of the policy that unless one could enlist the support of ordinary shoppers on behalf of the policy one had not a hope of stopping prices from rising. Indeed, at an early stage the American boards directed that the ceiling prices which had been set at the beginning should be available for public inspection at the point of sale. That had to be done from 1st November 1971. It was stated that they did not necessarily have to be on display, although it was recommended that they should be. The basic point was that price lists were there and that a person who wanted to see what had happened to the price of a product between the time the policy came into force and when he wanted to buy it was able to do so.
Later on, it was stipulated that retail stores with an annual turnover of 200,000 dollars or more would be required to display base period prices. That was from 17th January 1972, so the American Government confirmed and toughened the requirement by stipulating that stores must display these price lists and not merely have them ready for inspection.
This is a simple idea. It does not seem to me to impose a great burden on the larger shops. Admittedly, new Clause 5 would apply to all stores, and the Government may feel that they should exempt some of the smaller stores in the same 1357 way as the American Government did. That is up to them. But I see no reason why the Government should not be prepared to accept the idea enshrined in the new clause and I hope that they will do so. Unless we can conscript the housewife—the ordinary shopper—on behalf of the whole idea of prices and incomes control through this sort of measure in the shops at the point of sale, I do not believe that we have any hope of getting a price control policy at all.
§ Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)
The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has raised an interesting point. My first reaction is that although his suggestion may have been relevant and valid in the United States there is a fundamental difference in this country. New Clause 5 misses the point. One of the most fundamental changes in the prices of goods and services will be through the introduction, in five weeks' time, of value add tax, replacing selective employment tax and purchase tax. There will be quite a movement in prices. Many will stay the same, many will go up and many will come down.
I am disappointed that the Government have not seen fit to accept a suggestion which I, and no doubt many others, have made—that where there is going to be a price change in goods or services on 1st April the extent of that change which has come about through the new tax system should be clearly marked. That would be of much greater help to the consumers—the housewives in particular—than the proposal in new Clause 5.
The consumer has never been so discerning. There are two main reasons for this—an unhappy one, and another. The unhappy one is that we have been living through almost rampant inflation for five years. The fact that prices have risen relatively by so much has made the housewife that much more careful and that much more knowledgeable, for strict economic reasons, about the prices of goods and services.
The second reason is that it is true to say that housewives have been bombarded by the mass media in recent weeks. It is almost as if each housewife has acquired her own built-in consumer council kit. They know much better than 1358 some hon. Members in this House the day-to-day movements in prices. My point is simply that no matter how discerning, how intelligent, not even the most academically distinguished person could possibly have at his finger tips a knowledge of the complex movement in prices there will be as a result of the introduction of VAT.
For example, I am told that if a person buys a refrigerator of under 12 cubic feet capacity on 1st April the price is likely to be reduced by 10 per cent. If it is over 12 cubic feet capacity it is likely to increase by 10 per cent. What I ask is that such an article at present on the market at, say £50, should after the introduction of VAT have the price "£50" crossed out and there should be written the words "less £4 VAT—price for sale £46". The same should apply to prices which have increased.
In striking a blow at the problems of pollution and population the Government are ensuring that the cost of cots and prams rise as a result of VAT. Whatever the change in price may be—it is a matter of little concern to me as a batchelor—the increase ought to be clearly marked so that the consumer, the expectant mother or the successful housewife or whatever will know that she has not been diddled by the manufacturer or retailer. If a 20p tube of toothpaste decreases in price by 1p that should be clearly marked on the price ticket. I do not believe that the Government's answer to this holds water.
Of course there will be this famous shoppers' guide which the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced in reply to a Question of mine in the House yesterday. Of course the Government will continue to monitor price increases. The sort of proposal I am putting forward will be such more beneficial and I hope that even though there is less than five weeks to go before the introduction of VAT the Government will have second thoughts.
Amendment No. 56 deals with the address to which complaints should be sent. I have no particular views about this. Most people will know where to make a complaint. From a public relations point of view I would have thought that it was in the interests of retailers to display these notices, but I 1359 do not think it should be a statutory requirement.
§ Mr. Benn
I hope that the Chief Secretary will not be misled, by the relatively thin attendance or the fact that few hon. Members have spoken, into believing that this is not an important amendment. It is an amendment which, somewhat surprisingly, brings together the three parties in the House represented by possibly the only three speakers who will be taking part in this debate before the Minister replies. It is often my impression, listening to debates on economic matters, and notably to some erudite speeches math on rates of interest, profit ratios and profit margins, that we sometimes forget that for the shoppers—and I do not mean only the housewife, because men shop too—these considerations pass entirely over their heads.
Shoppers want to know whether prices have risen, and if so, why and where. We often forget that it is upon their confidence in any policy that a great deal depends. The housewife is being beseiged by a great deal of conflicting information given by the media and the Government. The Government's argument is that there is a freeze in operation. That is the information the housewife gets from Ministers. Her experience when she goes into the shops is that there is not a freeze on at all.
Let me take the increase in food prices from November to mid-January: they rose by 3½ per cent. If we go back over the last two years we see that they have increased by 27 per cent. Increases in fresh food prices since 6th November amount to l4.7 per cent. Frozen food prices have increased by 5.8 per cent. and all food prices by 7.3 per cent. On the one hand the housewife is told, "We are going through a period of freeze", yet on the other hand she is paying higher prices.
She is often also told by the shopkeeper to buy before VAT comes in, yet we do not know at what rate VAT will be levied and we cannot know what effect phase 2 will have on prices in the shops because under phase 2 the Price Commission, not yet set up, will have the power to consider applications for price increase, to approve them and to make orders to keep prices down. The Minister has the power at some stage to 1360 overturn the Prices Commission. In the midst of all this confusion all that the shopper wants to know is what is the price and what it was before the changes occurred.
On Monday the Minister said that the Government would be producing a handy guide, which presumably one can carry about in a pocket. It is to give a broad indication of what might or should be happening to detergents or washing machines, or whatever else people buy. To suppose that it will be a help to the shopper is an illusion. In practice, when a shopper enters a shop there is such an enormous range of products that it will be impossible to pull out this guide and refer to an average expected increase. What is required is that the relevant information should be on the label.
If this is done the shopkeeper is under some pressure from the shopper who is armed with some information which will enable him to know whether he is being overcharged. This is of special importance because the Chief Secretary, in our debates in Standing Committee H, was candid with the Committee in explaining how the price control worked. He said:I entirely agree with those who have asked how on earth a Price Commission, comprising no more than 400 or 450 people, could possibly control one-and-a-half million traders. It will not even try to do so. What it will do is effectively to police the big firms, monitor the medium-sized firms and let the forces of competition, which are very real among small firms, ensure that price stability is effective."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 8th February 1973; c. 422.]That was a candid answer, such as the Chief Secretary always gives to the House and Committee.
Let me underline the key words. The hon. Gentleman said that the Price Commission would not even try to police prices; that it could not try to do so. Unless we can harness the knowledge and self-interest of the person who goes to buy products from the shops to some form of policing, this will be ineffective. It is no good saying that competition will solve the problem, because without the new price on the label the shopper will not know why the price has increased and whether the shopkeeper is taking advantage of VAT.
I hope that in considering their attitude to the amendment the Government 1361 will give serious consideration to the benefits it would bring to the people whose confidence has to be won by this policy on the prices side if there is to be any measure of co-operation, as the Government are supposed to want, with other aspects of their policy.
With the new clause we are discussing Amendment No. 56, which would enable people who go into the shops to know to whom they can make their complaints.
I do not take the view that this process is very easy for people. Theoretically, they should know the address of the Department of Trade and Industry, and they should know about the weights and measures officials, but in practice they do not. When people go into a shop and think that a price has increased unduly, they should at that moment be able to see to whom they should make their complaint.
The Government have made it clear in the drafting of the Bill that they do not believe they can police price increases unless they have access to a mass of information, which they propose to extract from firms by law.
Clause 12—which we debated in Committee and shall debate again with the Government amendment some time today or tomorrow—makes it clear that the Government regard the supply of accurate detailed up-to-date information as an essential ingredient for their own policing of price increases.
That being so, how can the shoppers know anything at all unless they are given the basic information, "What did it cost before; what does it cost today?".
Given that we have had three speeches only, but that they have represented the three parties, I hope the Minister will give serious consideration to the amendment, which I commend to the House.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Amendment No. 56 is so simple in purpose and administratively that I am confident the Government will accept it.
Everybody knows that the operation of effective price controls can be difficult and complicated. To rely on the weights and measures inspectors is to pin hopes on already overworked men. In the British housewife the Government have to hand perhaps the most impassioned policeman of all when she goes into a 1362 shop, as she does today, and finds that mysteriously, inexplicably, and apparently in contradiction with the Government's policy, the price of an article has risen in a matter of days. The present mood of housewives when they go through this experience is one of bitter frustration, of which the Government would be well advised to take note.
At this time, when there is supposed to be a freeze, prices are rising. A few days ago I had an opportunity to talk to a number of housewives in the shopping precinct in Lincoln. Every one of them had some example to give me of an article the price of which had increased in a matter of days in the major chain stores of the town. When I spoke to them, they just said, "But what can we do?" I replied, "Well, why don't you complain?" and they said, "Where?" Even Members of Parliament are sometimes at a loss to tell a person in a particular area just where he or she should complain.
My experience in Lincoln inspired me to support, and add my name to, the amendment. Indeed, I suggested it to my hon. and right hon. Friends who are associated with it. I cannot imagine anything that would do more to inspire the housewife's confidence that she could do something about rising prices than this very simple proposition that I support today.
Imagine the housewife going into Tesco's, Woolworths or Mothercare and finding, in contradiction to everything the Government may say, that within a matter of a week she is faced with a mysterious price increase. If in those premises there were a notice giving her a name, address and telephone number to which she could apply immediately with her complaint, she would at least feel that she could try to do something. What is more, I suggest to the Government that this is a very good way of making some manufacturers and retailers stop and think. At present they are getting away with unjustified increases, despite the freeze, because they know that they alone have the key to the complicated mystery of what is authorised and what is unauthorised, what the Government may have allowed because of raw material price increases, or what may be the complicated elements 1363 of tax deducted or tax added to a particular price. The manufacturers and retailers are the masters of the situation, because they are the masters of the mystery. Naturally they will abuse the situation when faced with a housewife who feels totally helpless and incapable of influencing what she is expected to accept.
The Government must recognise that at present they can offer the country no simple price formula. There are qualifications here, and things allowed there and not allowed somewhere else. The housewife will feel that she can act only if she can at the very least get at somebody quickly with a demand that her complaint be investigated. That having been done, if the agency—whether it be a weights and measures inspector or someone else—does not at least produce an explanation to which the housewife is entitled she has something she can take up in a wider sphere—something about which she can write to the local newspapers or to her Member of Parliament.
Members of Parliament are inundated at present with complaints about price changes that nobody can justify or understand, but by the time the complaints come to us it may be too late. The housewife may not have the invoice; she may have forgotten the exact day she made the purchase; she may have forgotten the exact pennies and halfpennies that were added to the previous price. But if she can act quickly and register a complaint, then something is on the record that everybody anxious to fight these unauthorised price increases can follow up.
I hope that by this means we may see forged that kind of highly effective partnership between Press and Parliament that has helped to alleviate so many injustices; such as gave us the breakthrough, for instance, on the scandal of the thalidomide children. Give us this weapon to forge that partnership of Press and Parliament to fight the price exploiters and those who are evading the Government's policy.
Nothing could be simpler than the proposition contained in Amendment No. 56. It does no more than authorise the Price Commission to insist on the prominent display of a notice. Who could 1364 possibly object to that except those who do not want an attack on the price scandals that we all know are taking place?
I believe the credibility and good intentions of the Government are at stake in their reaction to Amendment No. 56. If they turn it down or refuse to include a similar provision in a different clause in the Bill, perhaps in a different form, then we shall be sure of what some of us suspect; that they do not really care about arming the housewife against those who are exploiting the Government's policy.
I await the comments of the Front Bench with interest, and so do the housewives of Britain. If the amendment is not accepted they will know that the Government are not their champion.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
I support the amendment and all that my hon. Friends have said about it. This is an opportunity to put right one or two misconceptions of hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative benches about Labour Party policy. The Prime Minister seems to be suffering most from delusions about what we are saying. At Question time today he said that he thought that the Labour Party's policy on prices was not a viable alternative. He did not see how the Labour movement could advocate free wage bargaining within a system of regulated prices. He thought that was not a viable proposition. The Prime Minister and his hon. Friends never go on to tell us why a particular proposition is not viable.
In a debate of this kind we have to spell out the ideas that the Labour Party has been talking about for some time. I do not suggest that now is the moment to do that, but there are one or two aspects of the structure and method of price regulation that should be put right.
If we are serious in advocating that the whole nation should participate in an attempt to regulate prices, we must equip shoppers with the necessary means of participation. The public are not equipped effectively to pursue the policies projected by hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative benches. It is meaningless to talk about a shoppers' guide unless the price is exhibited on the product. I hope that those who advocate a shoppers' guide will advocate also the exhibition on all goods of the retail price of the product.
1365 We have long advocated that people who have something to sell or who provide a service should display the price. With the present method of retailing, with all the supermarket techniques that are used, it is necessary for the price to be marked on the product not necessarily to equip the shopper with the information but to equip the staff who are selling the product with the information so that they can check out the purchasers quickly. The technique is now so sophisticated that retailers are dealing with an enormous throughput. When the price is stamped on all the articles the staff at the exits are quickly able to reckon up the total bill on a machine. Only in the smallest establishments is the price not stamped on each article.
We have not far to go. If the Minister decides that maximum prices must be exhibited on all products, we are already nearly there. It is necessary to link that with a shoppers' guide or the exhibition on the premises of a list giving differences in prices over the period of price regulation to ensure that shoppers participate and make the policy effective.
We advocate price regulation not only of essential foodstuffs but of a wide range of goods. Once a Labour Government is returned a method of price control will be introduced. I predict that we shall contest the next election on a policy of providing permanent, flexible price control not only of manufactured and primary foodstuffs but right across the board. Such a system will be devised in time for a future Labour Government. I regard this as essential if we are to pursue the policies that are already outlined for a future Labour Government.
We are moving into a managerial capitalism completely different from anything we have known in the past. We have got rid of all the traditional means of regulating the economy. Employment is no longer relevant as a means of regulation. Tax is no longer relevant to the business of managing the economy. The cost of money, the money flow, the control of monetary policy and most of the fiscal instruments available to Governments of the past are no longer relevant. Therefore, a new means has to be found of managing the economy. With those old regulators no longer there, the argument is between the control of wages on the one hand and the control of prices 1366 on the other. It depends to which side of the House hon. Members belong whether they support capital or labour, and that is the argument which we are presenting, in the sense that I hope that all hon. Members on this side of the House, with the exception of hon. Members on that peculiar row—when they are there—
§ Mr. Pardoe
The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) is aware that not only members of the Liberal Party but also members of the two main parties are elsewhere today. There is no question of there being no party in this House that stands for both capital and labour. There is a party that stands for both. It is perfectly possible to believe in an equal partnership of capital and labour and not to take up a stance on one side or the other. The tragedy of these debates is that one party derives its income from one side and the other party derives its income from the other side.
§ Mr. Atkinson
I am grateful for that intervention because it leads me to my next analysis. In my view it is a question of which side of the argument one supports whether one argues for price regulation or regulation of wages. Therefore, from a Labour Party point of view it is absolutely logical to advocate free wage bargaining within a system of price regulation.
If we add that to this whole business of equipping housewives and shoppers generally with the necessary instruments to make this policy effective, then we have to argue closely the whole question of price regulation in relation to various authorities to whom a person should complain, and about permanent, flexible price regulation as a built-in feature of our policy.
I can see an end completely to free competitive pricing and to the existing price mechanism. I do not think that that is very far away, anyway. I know many hon. Members opposite would agree that they, too, can see the end of the free price mechanism. But if we are talking about permanent price controls in this new form of capitalist society we would want, from the Labour Party point of view, either to 1367 have negative VAT or negative purchase tax. In other words, as well as the ability to put a tax upon products for sale we would want perhaps to offer a subsidy, that is, to offer a purchase tax in reverse. Therefore, we would have negative purchase tax and negative VAT as part of the equipment.
Again one cannot present that argument in a sophisticated way in the absence of some understanding of how all this is conveyed to the participants, the housewives. We have to find the instruments and means whereby we can do this. In regard to flexible price regulation there are already, of necessity, a number of marketing boards which must be involved, and just as there are now marketing boards for certain basic food products, obviously a future Labour Government must increase the number of regulating authorities to whom people will no doubt wish to complain if there should be a variation from the guidelines set down by the central authority. Thus, even in engineering or manufacturing industry generally, there would be a need for participation, because the price regulating authority would be a different group. Therefore, there would be a need to exhibit some notice stating to whom any complaint should be addressed and who should be called on to investigate such infringement and whether retailer or manufacturer had strayed beyond the guideline.
All this is part of something which I envisage as a means of permanent price regulation in this country, for no other reason than that I do not believe that modern Western capitalism is any longer capable of self-regulation. Those days have gone. It cannot have a means of protecting itself from inflationary trends because the very nature of the system itself produces an inflationary situation. Therefore, if we are to overcome and to regulate that situation, new methods must be devised.
It is no accident that this trend is to be seen in capitalist society in Western Europe and in the Western world, in the United States and some of the South American societies, in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. These are notable examples of this kind of trend which is developing at the moment throughout the EEC. All these countries have had 1368 at some time to have some kind of price regulation. If that is so, I should think there is overwhelming evidence in the capitalist world that that kind of society, an ex-entrepreneurial society, is no longer capable of preventing the kind of inflationary drift that is now taking place.
Having once got rid of the traditional regulators and of all the controls of money supply, once having lost control of the price mechanism because of its monopolistic tendencies and so on—because all the kinds of change we can see taking place, incidentally, are contradictory to the traditional methods—we have to spell out very clearly what we mean when we talk about price regulation of this kind. But even more than that, even in this situation—which the Government believe to be a temporary situation, but obviously it is not—the Government themselves have to come forward with their own ideas of how they think such a system can be best policed and organised and how means of communication can be established between the point of sale and the authority laying down the guidelines, and what kinds of communications the Government require.
Therefore, in exactly the same way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) set out the argument, I believe there are very good reasons for the Government telling us how they themselves see the situation and how they hope to get maximum use out of a shoppers' guide, or whether it is just another gimmick from hon. Members opposite.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I want briefly to support my right hon. Friend's amendment to which I am a signatory. I do not want to take issue with my hon. Friend in a detailed analysis of the price mechanism and how it might effectively be controlled because as Members of the Standing Committee will know I have some criticism of how this can operate within the market forces now before us. But if the Government are serious they can at least adopt this very simple Amendment No. 56 because it says only that there should be displayed in any shop or establishment information on where a complaint can be made.
In the best-regulated circles in industry, as in a reputable hotel or public 1369 house, prices are displayed and customers are told that if they are not charged the correct price they can raise objection. The best manufacturers have some form of real consultation with customers in the sense that they tell customers what the prices are and that complaint can be made. This amendment takes that a stage further by providing in retail establishments information on exactly where a complaint can be made. I do not believe that this is any form of "snooping". It is giving the shopper the right to ascertain how prices have moved.
Let us be under no illusion. When VAT comes in and taxes that now operate are ended, few will be able to understand how prices are to go up or down and whether they have been correctly charged. We know that the Government said in Standing Committee that they are to issue a shoppers' guide. The great difficulty here is that that is like telling women to shop around. Many of my constituents are working in a full-time job and have a family to look after and they cannot have the luxury of shopping around. They go into a shop and they may feel that something is not right when they find, as they probably do, that prices have increased over the previous week. If they knew immediately to whom they could complain, they could channel that complaint and something could be done about it.
I feel, as I felt in listening to the earlier debate this afternoon on the consultative document, that this is a complete load of nonsense. It will not operate. It is highly complicated. It has no legal status, even when it becomes the code itself. Only when the Government make an order will it be able to roll back, and we know from experience how difficult it is. Therefore, why not give the right to the housewife not to telephone the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food but to lodge a complaint knowing that it will be followed up and that some action will be taken?
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) described this as an extremely modest amendment. It does not try to close all the loopholes. However it states clearly to the dissatisfied shopper where a complaint can be made. It is as simple as that. We want to know from the Government why they will not accept it.
§ Mr. Carter
I support the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Mr. Sydney Chapman). I agree with all that he said about the need to ensure that the prices of a whole range of consumer durables and of certain other items are made clear to the purchaser in the transitional period once VAT is introduced. The hon. Gentleman's arguments were put forward by me and by other hon. Members in Committee and examples were given of how already, long before VAT is upon us, various retailers, manufacturers and distributors are conducting a pre-VAT campaign which is doing nothing to enlighten the public but instead is creating ignorance, which is an appalling state of affairs when one considers that the introduction of VAT will be the biggest tax change that we have experienced for many years.
The Government listened to these arguments. They said that they were concerned and that they disapproved of this, that and the other. They said that they did not like what certain people were doing. At times they sounded quite annoyed. It was then that the Minister told us that the Government intended to issue instructions to industry, commerce and the retail trade, and finally we got a promise of a shoppers' guide.
The Government's counter-inflationary package has been criticised by a number of hon. Members who have said that they regard the various aspects of the policy as window dressing. I believe that the Government's attempts here are another example of their window dressing. If they had any intention of ensuring that a massixe tax change of the kind that we have not seen in living memory was brought about with justice for the consumer, they would have started an educational campaign many months ago to inform the housewife of the precise effect that the introduction of VAT will have not only on her cost of living, but on the individual items that she would be buying.
Apart from the examples given to the Minister in Committee, we see other illustrations on our television screens of the way that one group after another is "conning" the public already. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) told the House how in Lincoln she heard of the efforts of Mothercare to ensure that when VAT 1371 is introduced it will make exorbitant profits. A few evenings ago I was watching television. A complete programme was devoted to the way in which Mothercare, as VAT comes in and presumably for a year or so afterwards, will make exorbitant profits at the expense of those who probably most of all in our community, with the exception of old-age pensioners, are least able to bear its exorbitant prices. I refer, of course, to those with young families. Viewers saw label after label ripped off packages exposing old prices which bore no relation to the supposed 10 per cent. rate, which may be 7½ per cent. and may even be 5 per cent. If it proves to be 5 per cent. I doubt very much whether Mother-care will ask its retailers to reduce their prices. It seems to me that the company has made up its mind to charge a certain price after the introduction of VAT whether the final rate is 10 per cent., 7½ per cent. or 5 per cent.
I put one other point to the Minister on this subject of labelling. It concerns the free offer and the twopence and three-pence off offer. Supermarkets contain a range of items from television sets and electric cookers right through to a tube of toothpaste where customers are told that there is £10 or £5 off in the case of an electric cooker or twopence or threepence off in the case of a tube of toothpaste. If the Minister responds favourably and says that he will advise retailers to label their goods correctly with the pre- and post-VAT prices, I hope that he will also ask retailers to suspend all free and introductory offers for a period while VAT is being introduced, because I think that it will be impossible for a housewife looking at a label bearing the pre- and post-VAT prices and a twopence or threepence off offer to decide precisely what is the accurate price. The free and introductory offer is a major part of commercial practice and I should have thought from every point of view, especially that of the housewife, that for a period after the introduction of VAT the practice ought to be suspended. I hope on that score that we shall obtain a favourable response from the Minister.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
I assure the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. 1372 Benn) that I regard these as important amendments. In my remarks I shall treat them with the importance that they deserve.
I agree very much with the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who said that there was no simple price formula. We have had a variety of recipes offered us during the debate. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) urged that we should have compulsory price posting, by which I understood him to mean lists of goods displayed in shops indicating their prices at the beginning of stage 2. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman), echoed by the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, urged that in some way there should be "before" and "after" prices on labels. Here I think that my hon. Friend was referring more to the VAT changeover than to the continuing stage 2. The right hon. Member for Blackburn and the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) laid emphasis on providing shoppers with information telling them where to address their complaints. I shall come back to that in a moment. The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) treated us to a dissertation on the economic structure that he hoped to see under some future Government. I mean no disrespect when I say that I hope that he will forgive me if I do not pursue that too far. However I take note of what he said in supporting the right hon. Member for Blackburn.
I deal first with the main point made by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North in arguing for price posting. This is an amendment which has certain attractions. But I believe that they are superficial and do not survive a fairly close examination of what the implications would be.
Since we introduced the standstill last November several suggestions have been made that price posting should be mandatory. The Government have given careful thought to this idea. We have particularly looked at experience in America, to which I shall come later. We have come to the conclusion that mandatory price posting would not serve the purpose as usefully as some hon. Members have supposed. We do not have any law requiring prices to be posted. 1373 Despite that, I think that the majority of shops now display prices. Where this is not done, it may be because it is not always practicable to do so. For example, displaying a list of current and base date prices would hardly be practicable for food retailers where the number of items is so large and where special offers are customary. I question whether it would be meaningful in such cases.
§ Mr. Jenkin
They display prices, but not the base date prices. The argument of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North was that there should be a starting point and that all the prices in force at that time should be permanently displayed so that shoppers may compare current prices, perhaps two, three or even six months ahead, with the price at the starting date.
In the United States, where there were mandatory requirements for the price posting of significant items and for the keeping of records of base date prices, it was found that the benefits to the consumer were not so marked as the burdens that it imposed on the shops. Price posting was not successful in America—this is the opinion of a number of observers there—because it did not fit in with the control based on gross percentage margins which was the same there as we are proposing for the distribution trade here. It confused and tended to irritate consumers because it appeared to provide a means whereby the housewife could compare current prices with those at an earlier stage while not providing real information to enable her to check whether the increases shown—increasingly as we move away from the base date there are bound to be increases as allowable costs are passed through—were justified.
Price posting might have some purpose and might be useful if we had a system of price control based on increases within a norm, but we have rejected such a system because, as I think the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East might agree, a norm tends to become a minimum. Therefore, it is not as effective a system of price control as that which we are seeking to introduce—and have outlined in the Green Paper—for the distribution trade based on gross percentage margins.
§ Mr. Benn
The purpose of posting base and current prices is not to permit the shopper to reproduce in her own mind the Government's control of profit margins; it is to allow her to exercise her judgment in determining whether to buy a product that has increased in price, to go to another shop and bring some competition to bear, or to complain. The Chief Secretary should not confuse the arguments that have been put forward. We are not saying that the housewife could monitor whether the increase was legitimate, but that she would know what was going on. If the shopper does not know what is going on, the Government are denying themselves a powerful monitoring operation in support of their policy.
§ Mr. Jenkin
I take the right hon. Gentleman's point. But that was not how the argument was put by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North. It does not answer the point that I made that the American experience showed that this system tended to confuse and irritate the shopper. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about the purpose of the exercise being to provide her with information, in fact it tended to suggest that this was somehow a legitimation of the price increases which were taking place. Her complaint was that she did not know whether the increases shown by the difference between the base and the current price were legitimate.
One report which I have seen states,The Price Commission took considerable pains to try to devise a visibly effective method of control of retail prices and to enlist the consumer as a 'watchdog'. The results, however, cannot be said to have been convincing to the average shopper, although the controls may none the less have had the effect on prices for which they were designed.That is the overall control.Retailers are supposed to sell at the 'base' prices (usually the ceiling price allowed for a given item during the freeze) except that (a) if the price paid by the retailer has risen in accordance with Price Commission rules, the retailer may pass through the increase to the consumer, provided that (b) the overall margin of pre-income tax profits as a percentage of sales in the store, or chain of stores, does not exceed the base period margin.The fact that allowable costs can be passed through makes the list of 'base' prices obligatorily posted in the store virtually useless to all but the most analytical customer"—I think that this is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman's point—and the programme is controlled only by the retailer's honesty and the watchdog 1375 operations of the AFLO-CIO and the Internal Revenue Service.In this country that function will be performed by officers of the Price Commission and, during the VAT changeover period, by the weights and measures inspectors.
Therefore, American experience is not encouraging. It appeared to them, as it appeared to many here, to be a good idea when started, but experience from a number of reports that we have seen and from some of the Press comment has shown that this system does not have the advantages that were claimed for it. Therefore, I could not advise the House to accept the new clause.
§ Mr. Atkinson
May I take the hon. Gentleman back to the beginning of that argument? He said that the Government had rejected the idea of using norms because they tended to become minima. Why is it that the Green Paper spells out a 50 per cent. norm for retailers passing on the cost of wage increases? The technique of using the norm is set out there in some detail. Why the two?
§ Mr. Jenkin
I do not wish to be led too far away. The hon. Gentleman is referring to what has become known as the productivity offset. This is a restriction of the right of the retailer to pass on what would otherwise be allowable costs and assumes that part of that will be absorbed by an increase in productivity. It is aimed at industry and commerce generally, not merely at the distribution trades.
§ Mr. Atkinson rose—
§ Mr. Jenkin
I must get on. This is not within the terms of the new clause or the amendment that we are discussing.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. We cannot have two hon. Members on their feet at the same time.
§ Mr. Atkinson
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If there are not two hon. Members on their feet at the same time, how does one indicate to the other that he wants to make an intervention in the debate?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
That is a good point, but the hon. Gentleman knows what I mean. We cannot have two hon. Members persistently on their feet at the same time.
§ Mr. Jenkin
I have no desire, as it were, to choke the hon. Gentleman off, but he is moving wider than the new clause and the amendment and is getting involved in the 50 per cent. productivity offset. We are primarily concerned with the provision of information to the shopper, and she will not be concerned with that.
§ Mr. Atkinson
This is an important point. If the Minister is talking about norms becoming minima, I accept that and will refer to it when we get on to the wages question later. But his comment about the 50 per cent. is that it is likely to become the minimum.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Jenkin
With respect, I think that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the 50 per cent. It is a productivity offset. It is the limitation of a firm's right to pass on a cost increase the existence of which cannot be denied.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth suggested the use of double pricing on labels during the changeover from purchase tax and SET to VAT. He will perhaps have read the report of our Committee proceedings, when I explained that it would be open to customers who thought that a trader had not repriced his goods properly to take the matter up with the local weights and measures inspector. It will then be for the inspector to carry out the necessary investigation. Provision has therefore been made in the Bill for this critical and important changeover which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield said is perhaps the biggest tax change for many decades in this country, to enable consumer complaints arising from the changeover to be handled and investigated thoroughly.
My hon. Friend may then ask how the customer is to have any idea whether the changeover has been fairly done. Here, I must return to the major campaign of information which it is the Government's intention to launch as soon as the details are settled—Press and television advertisements, and the shoppers' 1377 booklet which will be available to guide the shopper on a wide range of consumer products and to give her some idea of what she may expect.
On the basis of the example of the slippers which the right hon. Lady literally produced in the House last Thursday, it would be difficult for a shopper who became aware of those facts not to become suspicious and to have enough information to take the matter up with the weights and measures inspector. I did not see the programme that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield described, but if it were anything like his description it cannot have done the firm concerned much good.
In the Government's information campaign, we shall be providing shoppers with the material on which they can judge whether the change is being operated fairly. The weights and measures inspectors will be carrying out their own policing. We have made certain that the price standstill will go on until 28th April, so that, during that period, the only price changes which should take place are those attributable to the change in tax. So far as possible, it is the intention of the DTI and the Ministry of Agriculture to keep other price changes to an absolute minimum.
The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East also pursued the idea of two prices on the label, but he pursued it through into the whole of phase 2. That is impracticable. It would be a much more cumbersome method even than compulsory price posting, which would impose a massive burden on retailers and which, as I have indicated, judging from the American experience, would bring little real help to the consumer. So that is not the most helpful way in which to deal with what is undoubtedly a difficult problem.
One can adopt a much more sympathetic approach towards Amendment No. 56. While agreeing with the objectives, however, one does not necessarily agree that this provision is needed in the Bill. After the VAT changeover period, during which the weights and measures inspectors will be active and their existence known, we shall be entering the second stage of the operations on the prices front, the beginning of stage 2 for prices. Administration of the controls during this 1378 period will be the responsibility of the Price Commission, which will then be in operation. It will have a staff of local officers, based on the centres in which the DTI already has regional offices. It is to these centres and these local officers that customers will be invited to direct their complaints.
The important thing is that they should know about this. The Government envisage that the Price Commission would make, as a major part of its publicity activities, use of a wide variety of media to make shoppers aware of the existence and the location of these regional price officers.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn asked us to go one stage further and give the power to the Price Commission to order shops to display this information. This would mean taking a sldegehammer to crack a nut. It would be a very swingeing power indeed to impose this duty on presumably all retailers, or all those above a certain size, in an area, to achieve the same objective which can be achieved through the media—the local Press, posters and so on—
§ Mrs. Castle indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Jenkin
The right hon. Lady disagrees with me. I am trying to express sympathy with her objectives, while casting some doubt on the means she suggests.
§ Mrs. Castle
My objective is very simple. It is to specify that there shall be a notice in the retail establishment. Has the Chief Secretary sympathy with that objective or not? If he has, it is no answer to say that the Price Commission, through its local offices, can stick posters somewhere else. He must take it from me that it is at this point that the reaction comes for a woman shopper. It is in the retail establishment, at the point at which she makes her purchase, that she becomes indignant and wants to see the address to which she can express her indignation. This should happen in the retail establishment. It is no good having sympathy and then saying that one can do nothing about it.
§ Mr. Jenkin
We must agree to differ on this. I can see the force of what the right hon. Lady says and the attractions for the case that she is making of 1379 imagining that, in every shop, a notice giving this address should appear behind the counter. But this is taking a substantial power to bring to the attention of shoppers that which will be brought to their attention by other means—
§ Mr. Jenkin
It would be a power to insist on the display in every shop—not just licensed premises, which already have to display certain notices—the name and address to which complaints can be sent.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman is implying that it would be a substantial new power to say that, for Government purposes, notices must be displayed in every shop. Does he not know that, under the Shops Acts, notices are displayed giving the entitlement of employees to certain time off? What is so different about having a notice to give the rights of the customers?
§ Mr. Jenkin
I cannot take this any further. I appreciate that the right hon. Lady feels strongly, but I believe that this would be an excessive power, given the publicity campaign which will be deployed to make these things known. These arrangements should prove adequate for stage 2. Should there be any need to modify them in the light of
§ experience, the Government will do so, and Schedule 4 provides sufficient flexibility in this respect. In the light of what I have said, I hope that the right hon. Lady will not seek a Division on her amendment.
§ The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield described the price control powers as sheer window dressing. I do not believe that he is reflecting the view throughout the national Press this morning when they were confronted with the powers which we propose to write into the code and which have been disclosed in the consultative document.
§ The general weight of opinion on the matter has seemed to express surprise that the powers are as severe as they are and there has been some recognition that what the Government propose goes a long way to meeting the objections of trade unions and others who have been complaining that the prices side of the policy would lack teeth. The prices side will be every bit as effective as any of the rest of the policy and the powers that the Bill confers upon the agencies will see that this is so.
§ Question put, That the clause be read. a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 283.1383
|Division No. 69.]||AYES||[8.11 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Concannon, J. D.||Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Ashley, Jack||Crawshaw, Richard||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Cronin, John||Ford, Ben|
|Barnes, Michael||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Forrester, John|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Baxter, William||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Beaney, Alan||Davidson, Arthur||Gilbert, Dr. John|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Golding, John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)|
|Booth, Albert||Deakins, Eric||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||de Freilas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Delargy, Hugh||Hamilton, William (File, W.)|
|Bradley, Tom||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Dempsey, James||Hardy, Peter|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Buchan, Norman||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Driberg, Tom||Hattersley, Roy|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Duffy, A. E. P.||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Cant, R. B.||Dunn, James A.||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Carmichael, Neil||Eadie, Alex||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Edelman, Maurice||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Ellis, Tom||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||English, Michael||Hunter, Adam|
|Cohen, Stanley||Evans, Fred||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)|
|Coleman, Donald||Faulds, Andrew||Janner, Greville|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mikardo, Ian||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Millan, Bruce||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Milne, Edward||Sillars, James|
|John, Brynmor||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Molloy, William||Small, William|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham, S.)||Murray, Ronald King||Stallard, A. W.|
|Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Oakes, Gordon||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, w.)||O'Halloran, Michael||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Judd, Frank||O'Malley, Brian||Strang, Gavin|
|Kaufman, Gerald||Oram, Bert||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Kelley, Richard||Orbach, Maurice||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Kinnock, Neil||Orme, Stanley||Swain, Thomas|
|Lambie, David||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Lamborn, Harry||Padley, Walter||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Lawson, George||Palmer, Arthur||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Tomney, Frank|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Torney, Tom|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Pavitt, Laurie||Tuck, Raphael|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Varley, Eric G.|
|Lipton, Marcus||Pendry, Tom||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Perry, Ernest G.||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Prescott, John||Wallace, George|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Probert, Arthur||Weitzman, David|
|McBride, Neil||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Wellbeloved, James|
|McCartney, Hugh||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|McGuire, Michael||Richard, Ivor||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Whitlock, William|
|Mackie, John||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roper, John||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Marquand, David||Rose, Paul B.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Rowlands, Ted||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Sandelson, Neville|
|Meacher, Michael||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Mr. John Pardoe and|
|Mendelson, John||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Mr. David Steel.|
|Adley, Robert||Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Fidler, Michael|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Carlisle, Mark||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Chapman, Sydney||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Astor, John||Churchill, W. S.||Fortescue, Tim|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Foster, Sir John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fowler, Norman|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Clegg, Walter||Fox, Marcus|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Cockeram, Eric||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Cooke, Robert||Fry, Peter|
|Batsford, Brian||Coombs, Derek||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cooper, A. E.||Gardner, Edward|
|Bell, Ronald||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Cormack, Patrick||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Costain, A. P.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Benyon, W.||Critchley, Julian||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Crouch, David||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Biffen, John||Crowder, F. P.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Goodhew, Victor|
|Blaker, Peter||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Gorst, John|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen.Jack||Gower, Raymond|
|Body, Richard||Dean, Paul||Gray, Hamish|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Green, Alan|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Grieve, Percy|
|Bowden, Andrew||Dixon, Piers||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas||Grylls, Michael|
|Bray, Ronald||Drayson, G. B.||Gummer, J. Selwyn|
|Brewis, John||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Gurden, Harold|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Dykes, Hugh||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Brockiebank-Fowler, Christopher||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Emery, Peter||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Buck, Antony||Eyre, Reginald||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Farr, John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Burden, F. A.||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Hastings, Stephen|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Mawby, Ray||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Miscampbell, Norman||Simeons, Charles|
|Hicks, Robert||Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Moate, Roger||Soref, Harold|
|Hill, S. James A.(Southampton, Test)||Molyneaux, James||Speed, Keith|
|Holland, Philip||Money, Ernie||Spence, John|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Sproat, Iain|
|Hordern, Peter||Montgomery, Fergus||Stainton, Keith|
|Hornby, Richard||More, Jasper||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Hunt, John||Morrison, Charles||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Mudd, David||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Stokes, John|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Neave, Airey||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|James, David||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Sutcliffe, John|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Tapsell, Peter|
|Jessel, Toby||Normanton, Tom||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Nott, John||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Jopling, Michael||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Tebbit, Norman|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Temple, John M.|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Osborn, John||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Kilfedder, James||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Parkinson, Cecil||Tilney, John|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Peel, Sir John||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Percival, Ian||Trew, Peter|
|Kirk, Peter||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pink, R. Bonner||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Pounder, Rafton||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Knox, David||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Lambton, Lord||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Lamont, Norman||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Waddington, David|
|Lane, David||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Raison, Timothy||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Wall, Patrick|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Walters, Dennis|
|Longden, Sir Gilbert||Redmond, Robert||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Loveridge, John||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Luce, R. N.||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rees-Davies, W. R.||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|MacArthur, Ian||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wiggin, Jerry|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wilkinson, John|
|McLaren, Martin||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Ridsdale, Julian||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|McMaster, Stanley||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Macmillan.Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Worsley, Marcus|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Maddan, Martin||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Madel, David||Rost, Peter|
|Maginnis, John E.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||St. John-Stevas, Norman||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mather, Carol||Scott, Nicholas||Mr. Paul Hawkins and|
|Maude, Angus||Scott-Hopkins, James||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.