HC Deb 24 October 1973 vol 861 cc1392-408

Lords amendments further considered.

Mr. Nott

As I was saying, conversely, it is possible for the Government to change the policy of such organisations if they so wish without applying the Bill to them. Nevertheless, as hon. Members will be aware, when the Bill was considered in this House on Report, and in the other place, concern was expressed about the effect on the organisations of the change in the way in which they were financed, and their being held to account for the management of their assets. This concern was particularly directed to the case of the Ordnance Survey, the policy on which the House will be considering later tonight on the Adjournment.

The Government, therefore, thought it right to accept the spirit of the amendments tabled in the name of my noble Friend Lord Balerao and the noble Lord Lord Shackleton. The first amendment deletes the Ordnance Survey from the list of organisations named in the Bill. I should make clear, as Lord Shackle-ton did when orginally moving the amendment in another place, that this does not rule out a trading fund for the Ordnance Survey. It means only that, if the Government decided that a trading fund was right for the Ordnance Survey, it would have to be introduced by virtue of Clause 1(3)(g) of the Bill and in that case the requirements for consultation would have to go on as spelled out in the second and third amendments.

The second amendment provides for consultation when a Minister proposes to transfer a trading operation falling within Clause 1(3)(g) to trading fund finance, if that operation consists substantially of the provision of goods and services in the United Kingdom otherwise than to Government Departments. This would clearly apply to the Ordnance Survey if the Government should decide in a few years' time that trading fund financing was appropriate for it. But the requirement to consult does not apply to a trading activity which is primarily within Government, or one where the outside interest is in supplies overseas.

The third amendment complements the second amendment to Clause 1, providing for the laying of the results of consultations before both Houses. This means that, although the affirmative resolution is properly a matter for the House of Commons alone—the order deals with changes in the method of financing, and that is why it would apply only to this House—the other House will have an opportunity to debate the consultative document before the order is made, if it so wishes, because, say, the report of the consultation shows that the proposal raises wider non-financial issues about the nature of the service.

It was implicit in the argument for these amendments that a switch to trading fund finance could have wider non-financial implications which might emerge during the process of consultation. It would be reasonable for the other House to debate any such wider implications of the Government's proposals, although it would leave to the Commons alone the central financial points, dealt with in the draft affirmative order.

I hope the House will feel that these amendments are acceptable, since they were tabled in the Lords by the Government with the intention of meeting the concern about consultation which had been expressed.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

As you, Mr. Speaker, will know, this has been a troubled Bill mainly because of factors outside the control of the hon. Gentleman, beginning with the lack of publication of certain proceedings, for which amends were subsequently made.

But since the Bill was first published, interest has centred around the working of the Ordnance Survey. We know that the Ordnance Survey has had certain net losses amounting to over £5 million in 1969–70, rising to over £6 million in 1971–72. Although these may be book losses, there is a very important element of subsidy here for those people whom we all wish to encourage in one way or another in the pursuit of their activities, whether scientific activities or whether as ramblers or people from the Youth Hostels Association. A large range of people make great use of the Ordnance Survey maps in a way which hardly any other country in the world does, and this fact has probably contributed a great deal to our love of the outdoor life, the benefit of which is very difficult to measure.

Although under any system which the Government may introduce, this element of subsidy can obviously still remain, nevertheless there is an obvious danger that when a new system is introduced so that the element of subsidy becomes more apparent—that means that it is paid by one body to another body rather than within the same Department—the element of subsidy comes under rather more rigorous questioning than it does at present.

It may be that faced with a situation like this, a Government Department, being very pressed at some stage for certain economies, would find it very difficult to refuse such economies of a kind that would seriously impede the availability of maps to people who derive benefit from them. Even though no decision would be made now, it may be that devising a scheme for the Ordnance Survey to become part of a Government trading fund would almost pre-empt such a decision because of the way in which our economic control operates.

Therefore, we on this side of the House will certainly want considerable safeguards before we let this matter pass. We fully welcome the removal of the Ordnance Survey from the list of those candidates for inclusion. At the same time we allow the Government to put into a Government trading fund any other service managed by a Minister of the Crown", which could include the Ordnance Survey.

I understand from the debates which took place in another place that there is to be a review of the working of the Ordnance Survey and of the Government's policies relating to it. May I request confirmation from the Minister that this review will be as wide as he can make it, that it will be as informative to us in this House and to the public generally as can be arranged, that consultations, which I understand have been promised to the Royal Society, will also take place with as many bodies as are interested, and that publication of such discussions will be made available to all interested parties.

At the end of this, there will be a need for a full debate in Parliament setting out fully the Government's intentions concerning the provision of maps and other facilities so that we can be in no doubt about what the change will imply. Until we get specific assurances of this kind we shall be very suspicious about this matter.

Mr. Spearing

I am sure the House is grateful for the array of talent on the Government Front Bench. There is a Minister from the Treasury, there are two Ministers from the Department of the Environment, and there is one hon. Gentleman who is responsible for Her Majesty's Stationery Office which features in this Bill. But for my predeliction for the Ordnance Survey, I would dearly love to debate that in this context.

Not only do we in this House rely upon the publications of Her Majesty's Stationery Office but I fancy that the implications of the Bill for that very important Department of State are probably far greater than hon. Members have yet realised. The Parliamentary Secretary will know that I wish to further sales of these publications although so far he has not acceded to my request for the opening of a Stationery Office branch on the corner of Bridge Street, which would be excellent and in accordance with the principles of the Bill.

The Minister of State has been very frank. He said that the amendment of the other place resulting in the Ordnance Survey not appearing did not matter because at any time by Order in Council the Government could put it back in under Clause 1(3)(g). Such frankness has not been a feature of the way in which this matter has been handled throughout.

As has been said already, there will be two debates on the Ordnance Survey tonight. I shall confine my remarks in this intervention to matters which are the responsibility of the Treasury. Those matters which are the responsibility of the Department of the Environment I hope to deal with in my Adjournment debate. It was not until yesterday that there was any guarantee that the Lords amendments would be carried. If they had not been my Adjournment debate would have been the only longstop available.

The amendments are more apparent than real in relation to the Ordnance Survey. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton under Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) referred to the letter sent by the Secretary of State to the Royal Society on 2nd November. Again that so-called concession on the 2½-inch map and the tertiary levelling is more apparent than real. It does not alter the statement of the Secretary of State on 19th February of this year. In its reply the Royal Society admits that it is not competent and not suited to deal with all users of the Ordnance Survey.

The Ordnance Survey has already an organisation of users and holds a users' conference which in November 1972 was cancelled because a review was taking place. It was called only to be told the results of the review. As for the Government's desire for consultation, I cannot feel that their actions so far have lent colour to their sincerity. The statement of 19th February still stands, and I shall return to it later.

The important point is that the statement stemmed from a confidential report. That report has not been made public, although the repercussions on the service, on the employees and on the public at large in terms of its effect on the quality, price and nature of the Ordnance Survey is fundamental. The concessions on the 2½-inch map and the tertiary levelling therefore are only symptoms of an objective review of which we know very little.

I said that I should be asking the Minister of State to reply to questions on one or two matters which were his responsibility because they have been debated in another place. As an example of what I like to think is the unconscious way in which Ministers have not been entirely explicit, in the debate in another place the noble Lord, Lord Lauderdale, asked for an assurance that the geological survey would not be affected by this Bill. He was assured that the Institute of Geological Sciences and the Ordnance Survey were things apart. So they are. It just happens that the geological maps are printed on black and white outlines provided by the Ordnance Survey.

So often Government Ministers say something which in itself is a correct statement but then seek to imply something which is not correct. I do not go so far as to say that Ministers have been prepared with such defences or wished them to be put into their hands. But there has been a tendency, not only in this Bill but in others, for that to happen more and more. I believe that it has happened in an even more serious way in respect of one of these amendments.

10.15 p.m.

My noble Friend, Lord Shackleton, who is a Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society, tabled the amendments in another place which have been translated into Nos. 2 and 3 before us. He moved an amendment calling for a report of the consultations and of the Minister's conclusions in respect of each service to be laid before Parliament, which would be included in the Bill under the terms of Clause 1(3)(g). The noble Lord, Lord Gowrie, said that this was a reasonable request and that the Government favoured such an amendment but that Lord Shackleton's amendment was technically defective. He did not say in what way it was defective and my noble Friend, believing entirely what he had been told, gracefully withdrew his amendment on the assurance that the Government would table their own to take account of the matter.

So they did. That amendment is No. 3, to Clause 6. But there is a great difference, not just in the technical jargon of the Government amendment but in the words themselves, from that suggested by Lord Shackleton. My noble Friend had suggested—the Government, for all practical purposes, accepted the wording—that the Secretary of State … shall lay a report of the consultations, and of his conclusions in respect of each service before Parliament". But three words have been inserted into the last three lines of Amendment No. 3, which says that the Secretary of State shall lay a report … of the results of those consultations, and of his conclusions, before Parliament. I gave warning to the Department concerned that I should like in writing an explanation of the technical defects of my noble Friend's amendment. I have received no reply to that inquiry.

There is a difference between laying a report of consultations and laying a report "of the results" of the consultations. The report was supposed to be the basis of a debate in the House. How can we debate something when we do not know what actually happened in the consultations or what the views of the applicant bodies were. As the Government amendment stands, we would hear only the results—in other words, the Minister's version. Under my noble Friend's original amendment, we should have been entitled to a summary of the consultations themselves, and, no doubt, in an appendix or actually quoted verbatim, the views of those concerned.

These three words have been inserted on the pretence of a technical defect in the original amendment. I should like the Minister to tell us what those technical defects were and why these three words were inserted. This insertion was not mentioned in another place when these amendments were accepted. All that was mentioned was that the amendment was defective because its wording came from the Maplin Development Bill and was not appropriate.

This is why time and again we have had to press the Government on matters such as this. The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), will know what I mean. Essentially it is a matter of good faith. I put it as high as that. The Government have been trying to get away with as much as they can, unless it is noticed.

I noticed this particular technical difference only about half-an-hour before this debate. Earlier today it would have been possible to table a manuscript amendment. The whole of this business came on the Order Paper only today. But for the intervention of myself and one or two of my hon. Friends we should have had to debate this matter at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. today.

It would have been possible to table manuscript amendments until 10 o'clock tonight. I sent to Mr. Speaker an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 3, to delete "the results of" because those were the words written in in another place. But Mr. Speaker, in his wisdom, did not select that amendment. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there was no way in which I could raise this matter or tell Mr. Speaker why I wished to make the amendment. I fancy that if Mr. Speaker reads this debate he will wish that he had accepted it, because that is surely what manuscript amendments are for. That is one of the safeguards of the House.

I hope that the Minister will give an explanation which will avoid the inevitable conclusion of sharp practice on the part of the Government. The Bill is a sharp practice Bill in at least two respects—unless the Minister can prove otherwise. First, there is the King Henry Clause 1(3)(g) which makes the list from which the Ordnance Survey is deleted not a genuine list, because the Government can use it as a decree and can put anything in by Order in Council. Furthermore, unless the Minister has good reason to the contrary, he has deceived my noble Friend by not accepting the original amendment on some technical pretext. We shall hear whether there is a reason. Secondly, the Minister has taken the opportunity to write in three words, which make a very different amendment from that originally accepted.

I await with interest the Minister's reply.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

As the House will know, hundreds of Ordnance Survey workers happen to live in my constituency in Southampton. Since 19th February of this year many of them have been extremely worried as to their future. It was on 19th February that, in a Written Answer in HANSARD, the Minister enunciated what seemed to be a completely new policy for the future of the Ordnance Survey. The implication of the answer was that the Minister intended to try to turn the Ordnance Survey into virtually a purely commercial under- taking—something which it has never been and cannot be.

Pressure from all sorts of sources over the last six months has persuaded the Government at least to modify to some extent the original proposal. The acceptance of the amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, to delete the Ordnance Survey from the listed organisations to which the Bill applies will be welcomed as a first step.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) said, and as the Minister said, there is nothing to stop the Minister re-inserting the Ordnance Survey in Clause 1(3)(g) which gives him power to bring in other organisations. The Minister seemed to indicate that he intended to do that.

The whole basis of the argument and of the Minister's original statement in February arose from, I presume, an inter-departmental report—but a report which has remained secret and of which we know nothing, apart from little bits which various Ministers have told us on different occasions. But we do not know what was in that report and upon what basis the Government came to their original decision, announced in February, to change the whole basis of the Ordnance Survey. That is what it amounted to, apart from the technical details of discontinuing certain maps and so on. There was an implication throughout the statement that the whole basis was to be changed.

I hope that the Minister will assure us tonight that he has had second thoughts on this matter and that at least until such time as a full and independent inquiry has been conducted and the results published he will not proceed with the general theme of his original statement in February.

I welcome the amendments that the Government have accepted as a first step, but we need further assurance from the Minister tonight.

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) in paying tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his work in another place and the results of which he has achieved in terms of amendment of the Bill. I also endorse something else that my hon. Friends said. That is that in effect this is a deceptive Bill; but, like so much of what the present Government do, it is a transparently deceptive Bill. The contradictions between the list of Departments to be covered by the legislation and the permissive clause which follows which enables Ministers to add anything else which seems appropriate is a facade which will not fool many people. While I rejoice that the Ordnance Survey has now been deleted from the list, notwithstanding our misgivings about what could happen in future, its deletion serves only to illustrate the contradictions and inadequacies of this legislation.

If the Ordnance Survey has been regarded as something which cannot be expected to be run commercially and on profitable lines and which must be deleted from the list of Departments in the Bill, presumably the same principles apply to the other Departments. We have heard nothing from the Government about how the principles of a trading fund will operate. For example, the Royal Dockyards employ many thousands of industrial and non-industrial civil servants. We have not heard how they will be given a lease of life which will enable them to run their affairs in a way that would make sense under the general principles of a trading fund.

We have heard no news from the Government about a new opening for the Royal Naval Dockyards in terms of attracting contracts from civil industry. Until we hear much more full thinking from the Government on what they plan for the Departments which are to be covered immediately by the Bill, we are faced with an unsatisfactory situation which must leave a great deal of doubt and misgiving in the minds of countless people directly employed by the Government. For that reason, the House should be left in no doubt about the anxiety and opposition to the Bill which still exists among many people.

Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I apologise to the Front Bench spokesmen for not being here when they made their original remarks. I am entitled to say that the business of the House has been so messed about in the last 48 hours that I thought this matter was to come up late last night. It was only a short time ago that I found it was to come up at some time after the main business of the House.

The hon. Members for Acton (Mr. Spearing), for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) and for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) put a rather unfair interpretation upon what my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has done. I support Lords Amendment No. 1 that Clause 1(3)(e) should be deleted. The Ordnance Survey is a special institution which has served the country well for many years. It is an institution which cannot be equated in financial terms. One only has to know about the wonderful Ordnance Survey tertiary bench mark system to realise that it would be a sad thing if it were to proceed on purely commercial grounds. That I accept, and I am delighted with Lords Amendment No 1

10.30 p.m.

In fairness to the Secretary of State it must be said that when he had the intention to put the Ordnance Survey Department on a more commercial footing he said at the outset that he was anxious to have the reactions of and to consult the interested parties. Every professional institute in any way concerned with using the Ordnance Survey raised every possible protest against the abolition of the 2½-inch scale map and the tertiary bench mark system. Strong pressure was brought by many local authorities and the local authority associations, and many of the amenity societies also totally opposed the Secretary of State's intention.

It is to the credit of the Secretary of State that, seeing the opposition to what he thought might be the right way for the Ordnance Survey Department to go, he withdrew the idea of abolishing publication of the 2½-inch scale map and undertook to keep the tertiary bench mark system, which is of considerable importance to engineers, architects and surveyors, among others. It is, therefore, unfair to say of the Secretary of State that he did not act in what he thought to be the public interest.

Mr. Spearing

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but does not he agree that although these matters have been put right, there might be something else equally as bad next time round, such as map availability?

Mr. Chapman

I agree. The hon. Gentleman has the Adjournment debate in which, doubtless, he will expand on that. I am trying to confine my remarks to the Lords amendment. I hope the hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I do not follow his remarks, although I have a great deal of sympathy with him.

It is incumbent on the Government, whether or not the Ordnance Survey Department is run on a completely commercial footing—and I do not think that it should be—to run it on sound commercial principles. The Government have the right to say that many people who benefit from reproducing or reprinting Ordnance Survey maps should pay a much greater contribution towards the cost of the Ordnance Survey than they do at present.

To give one example, it is obligatory on all people who put in town planning applications to submit a location plan to identify the area of land. That is not essential. If a local authority does not know the location of the land to which the application refers it is obviously not up to its job. I do not think that there should be a severe copyright fee for location plans submitted to local planning authorities for planning permission, but it is perfectly right and feasible that people who use tracings of Ordnance Survey maps for site plans should pay a considerably higher fee than they do at present. That is delving into the technicalities of the position, but it would be fair for people in that way to pay more for the services provided by the Ordnance Survey Department and so help to minimise the loss on that aspect of the Department's work.

I am grateful that the Ordnance Survey has been removed from Clause 1(3). Whether or not the Ordnance Survey is removed, paragraph (g) was included in the Bill before it went to the other place. Many of the complaints made of that paragraph, whether valid or invalid, should have been made at the appropriate time and we should not be discussing them now.

Mr. Nott

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne said that of course there is an element of subsidy in the existing activities of the Ordnance Survey. He went on to say, correctly, that if the Ordnance Survey were to become a trading fund in future—he appreciates that no decision has been taken and, as I have made clear, none will be taken for several years—the subsidy would be more explicity shown in the accounts than it may be at present. But I think that probably both sides of the House would welcome that. Indeed, there is nothing in the proposals for a trading fund which would prevent a particular map or service or product continuing to be subsidised.

As we made clear, the 2½-inch map, for example, could under a trading fund arrangement, continue to be subsidised by means of Vote finance. But, as the hon. Gentleman said, it would be explicit and everyone would know where the funds were coming from and what they were for. Surely that is a desirable objective favoured by both sides of the House, anxious to ensure that parliamentary accountability is strengthened.

The hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the review. The Government have agreed to publish in the coming months a review document which will show the background to the statement of aims of the Ordnance Survey announced last February, the outcome of the three studies of 2½-inch maps, tertiary levelling and large-scale maps and also details of future consultation arrangements.

This review has been very wide. My right hon. Friend will be answering the Adjournment debate tonight and these matters to a large extent come within the responsibilities of the Department of the Environment. He will no doubt touch on some of the points which concern him more than the Treasury. But certainly the inquiry has been wide ranging.

More than 2,900 bodies have been invited to send in their comments upon the Ordnance Survey and in due course the review will be published. But I make it clear that the consultations referred to in these Lords amendments would precede the introduction of an affirmative order and are quite different from the review to which I think the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne was referring.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Why is it that the Government has not yet published the results of the inquiry although, as long ago as last February, they made a statement of policy based on the results of the inquiry? Why is there this long delay in publication?

Mr. Nott

It is best if I leave matters which are concerned with statements made by the Department of the Environment to my right hon. Friend who is to reply to the Adjournment. But the review is to be published shortly and it will then be before the House. This will give several years before there is any possibility of a decision being made on whether the Ordnance Survey might be a trading fund or not. No one can say that there will not be plenty of time to consider what the review says.

The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) said that the Government had not been frank throughout. I am sure he was referring to the question of the Ordnance Survey. I remind him that it was our desire to be thoroughly frank with the House which led us to include the Ordnance Survey in Clause 1(3). I do not quite understand how we could have been franker than to have listed it among the bodies which could one day become a trading fund.

It was not the Government who struck out "Ordnance Survey" but the right hon. and noble Friend of the hon. Member for Acton, who did so in the other place. It is not therefore quite fair for the hon. Gentleman to blame the Government for now allowing it to be brought in by Clause 1(3)(g). As I explained, the 2½ inch map will, if necessary, be financed on the Vote of the Department. I do not wish to cover that ground again.

The other major point raised by the hon. Gentleman concerns the difference between the amendments moved by his noble Friend and those produced by the Government. Had I been given notice that the hon. Member intended to move a manuscript amendment I should have ensured that the parliamentary draftsman was consulted about the meaning of the words "results of". As a layman in these matters, I can say only that I do not think that the actual drafting would make much sense without the words and I can see nothing sinister in them. They say merely that the results of the consultation will be published.

The best thing I can do is to quote the right hon. and noble Lord Shackleton who moved the amendments. We are accepting virtually the same amendment as he moved. He said: I should like to express my appreciation to him"— meaning Lord Gowrie— for the way in which he actually listened to the arguments outside the House—". Then he went on: Although we made it clear that in principle we were not opposed to the Ordnance Survey in due course being financed by trading funds, we were very much opposed to an agreement in principle that it should be so financed until a great deal more investigation had taken place and a report of the consultations was laid before Parliament. The Government's acceptance of my first amendment last week"— that is the one we are accepting tonight— and now their tabling of this amendment"— he was referring to the Government amendment we are discussing here this evening— gives complete satisfaction and meets the objectives that I wish to achieve in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. House of Lords. 23rd October 1973: Vol. 345, c. 514–5.] I appreciate that the hon. Member for Acton wishes to support his noble Friend Lord Shackleton, but Lord Shackleton has expressed himself as being entirely satisfied with what we are doing.

Mr. Spearing

I agree that those are my right hon. and noble Friend's words but after he has read the debate he might not be quite so sure. As for giving the Minister notice, had I noticed the point in time I would gladly have given him notice. Unfortunately I did not notice it in time. Will the Minister tell us why the technical amendment could not be accepted earlier?

Mr. Nott

It is principally for the reason referred to by the hon. Member. The difference in the structure of the amendments was that the original amendment tabled by Lord Shackleton was geared to the belief that the Bill was concerned with a negative resolution procedure whereas the Ordnance Survey can be introduced only by means of the affirmative resolution procedure of this House. Therefore, we have to alter the wording of the amendment to ensure that we have the relevant resolution.

That is the principal reason for the difference between the noble Lord's amendment and the Government amendment. We merely had to get the right resolution.

I turn briefly—and I emphasise that there will be a further debate on this subject later—to the remarks of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell). I know that he has the Ordnance Survey in his constituency and is concerned about its future but, as I said on Report, the staff would remain civil servants even if the Ordnance Survey were to become a trading fund. In any event, no decision is to be taken on this matter for a good number of years and there will be a great deal of opportunity to discuss these matters in other places. For example, the Comptroller and Auditor General will be auditing the accounts of the Ordnance Survey year by year and he will publish his report; the Public Accounts Committee will consider this matter and there will be plenty of opportunity over the period between now and 1976–77, which is the earliest possible date when we can have a trading fund, for the House to consider the accounts, to discuss the matter in the Public Accounts Committee and to monitor any move towards a different form of accounting as we go along.

In reply to the points made by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd), I cannot be drawn into a debate on the Royal Dockyards since I would be ruled out of order. These are amendments connected specifically with the Ordnance Survey or the organisation of a similar type to the Ordnance Survey.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) expressed fears which I fully understand. He said that in the last resort, subject to the need on occasion for the Government to be able to subsidise particular activities by means of vote finance, people should pay a reasonable price for what they purchase. I agree with my hon. Friend. I do not see any reason in equity why the general body of taxpayers should indefinitely subsidise the products of any organisation, especially when those products are bought by people who can well afford to pay a reasonable price for them. I see nothing wrong in that and I agree with what he said.

I turn to pricing policy in connection with the Ordnance Survey. There is no difference between what the pricing policy of the Ordnance Survey might be as at present constituted and what it would be under a trading fund. The vast majority of things which the hon. Member for Acton fears could come about as the Ordnance Survey is now constituted. Therefore, a move to a trading fund for the Ordnance Survey would not make the position very different from the present position.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.