HC Deb 11 November 1975 vol 899 cc1149-65

Lords Amendment: No. 3, in page 3, leave out lines 27 to 29.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Oakes

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The amendment, which is an old friend of ours from Committee and the Report stage, would remove the power for an Order setting up a joint board to modify legislation. We discussed the matter at length upstairs and on Report. The other place has chosen to delete the provision entirely. I can only assume that their Lordships did not understand what they were doing, for the power to amend legislation is essential in order to ensure the proper functioning of the joint board, for reasons explained when the Government amendments were discussed here on Report.

Moreover, the power may also be needed to protect the position of the constituent authorities. Let us suppose that a joint board was set up. The order might then transfer the functions of the constituent authorities under the Bill to the joint board and the constituent authorities would be left with no powers at all under the Bill. Therefore, they could not even use the powers under the Bill to acquire land for their own use. This is certainly not what the Government would wish to achieve.

I have demonstrated that this is a necessary power and I believe that all hon. Members have accepted that, as amended on Report, the power is now a limited and reasonable one. Therefore, I can think of no reason why this House should accept the Lords amendment.

Mr. Graham Page

I do not put much weight on precedent when discussing this matter. I dare say that there are precedents for some such wording as the Government wish to retain in the Bill. However, we are dealing with exceptional circumstances and entirely new powers.

The powers to be given to the joint boards and to the Minister in setting up the joint boards go far beyond what is necessary and, indeed, what is necessary compared with what the Minister will have if this paragraph is removed.

Clause 2 sets up the joint boards: as an authority for all or any of the purposes of Part III, Part V or Part VI of this Act The index of the Bill indicates what the various parts are concerned with. Part III deals with the acquisition of land, the duties of the local authorities in acquiring land, and land compensation. Part V deals with the acquisition of land by the Crown, and the acquisition from statutory undertakers. Part VI deals with supplemental matters and in particular the important clauses about reserve powers whereby the Minister can set up a new body altogether or take over the powers in the Bill himself.

Therefore, the purposes are fairly wide. Whether they are to be all the purposes of Part III, Part V or Part VI of the Bill depends on the contents of the Order because Clause 29(1)(b) says that the Secretary of State may: constitute a joint board as the authority to act in that district for those purposes", which I take to be all or part of the purposes of Part III, Part V and Part VI which are specified in the Order. Therefore, quite an extensive power will be given to the joint boards.

Clause 2(4) defines what can be put in the Order and it mentions Section 241 of the Local Government Act 1972. That section gives power to modify existing statutes but it is drawn narrowly. It says: Where any enactment, whether passed before or after 1st April 1974, authorises the formation by a provisional or other order of a joint board —this is what we are talking about in this Lords amendment— or joint committee, the constituent members of which are local authorities, for the discharge of any of the functions of those authorities, the provisional order or order may apply to the joint board or joint committee, subject to any necessary modifications, any of the provisions of this Act. It is true that the Local Government Act 1972 gives powers by Order to the Secretary of State to modify existing statutes. Sections 252 and 254 give that power. However, they go into great detail and set out exactly what the Secretary of State can do by Order. The Act deals with joint boards in local government and the duties and functions of local government, but it does not go anywhere near as wide as paragraph (b) of Clause 2(5) of the Bill. Clause 2(5)(b) gives the Secretary of State, if he thinks it expedient, the power to make an Order to: adapt or modify any of the provisions of this Act or of any other enactment concerning the acquisition of land. It may be argued that the first few lines of subsection (5) qualify paragraph (b). Subsection (5) says: An order under this section may make such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision as appears to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient. I am not sure whether the Minister will say that the Acts concerning acquisition of land under this subsection can be modified or adapted only to the extent that such adaptation or modification is incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary. I submit that it is not qualified by those words because they are followed—and this is what the Secretary of State can do in addition to the transactional matters—by: and, in particular— (b) may adapt or modify any of the provisions of this Act or of any other enactment concerning the acquisition of land. As this clause reads, it is not qualified by the words "transitional", "consequential "or" incidental". It is a complete power to the Secretary of State by Order—although it is true that he will have to bring the Order before the House—to adapt any statute relating to the acquisition of land. That means the amount of compensation which is to be paid and the procedure for acquisition. That is substantive law.

Why do the Government want to alter the law in favour of a joint board and to give it those powers? The Bill gives no such power to the Secretary of State to alter the law in favour of local authorities. Thank heavens it does not! However, there would be quite an outcry if we found a clause in the Bill which stated that the Secretary of State could alter the law about the acquisition of land, compensation, procedure for acquisition, compulsory purchase, and so on, in favour of any local authority. However, as the clause was originally drafted for amendment by the other place it gave the Secretary of State that power.

Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

How will the general public realise that this modification has or could have taken place?

Mr. Page

I presume that publicity can be given to this point only through our debates in this House. If an Order is introduced which modifies the law of acquisition of land in favour of joint boards—and all hon. Members know how Orders go through this House late at night—and if it is only consequential on the Bill and only a matter of procedure, I shall have no objection. However, as drafted it is not a matter of procedure. It is a matter of substantive law and it gives the Secretary of State the power to modify the law relating to the acquisition of land. Their Lordships were perfectly right in taking paragraph (b) out of subsection (5).

Mr. Walter Clegg (North Fylde)

I should like to support what was said about this matter by my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). The Under-Secretary led off by saying that it is a matter that we have discussed at length in Committee and again on Report. That we should have done so indicates the importance of the issue.

One of the distinguishing features of the Bill is the powers that it gives to the Secretary of State, and this is a typical example of them. When we have argued this previously we have often been met by the argument, "But of course, the Secretary of State is a reasonable man, and his Under-Secretary of State is, if anything, an even more reasonable man." We are not to be persuaded by those arguments because, while they are reasonable men, I can think of quite a few hon. Members on the Government side of the House, and perhaps one or two right hon. Members on that side, with whom I would not trust any powers whatsoever. Therefore, the House should not rely on the reasonableness of Government in carrying out the powers which the House bequeathes to them by its legislation. The House ought to be very careful about delegating its powers in any way.

As my right hon. Friend has said, the Order concerned comes on late at night. The biggest sin about delegated legislation, however, is that we have no procedure by which such Orders can be modified. We have either to accept them or to reject them in toto. With an Order of this kind, one may want merely to alter part of the powers which the Secretary of State was using, but we would be unable to do that without rejecting the whole of the Order. If the House had the means whereby it could amend delegated legislation, I might take a different view of the powers being sought by the Secretary of State under these provisions, but until that time comes I must support the arguments that my right hon. Friend has used.

Mr. Michael Morris (Northampton, South)

I think that in our deliberations on this particular aspect we came to the conclusion that the key word was the word "incidental". It is true, certainly for myself, that I was influenced by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister and by the Under-Secretary that that was the key word. However, when one discusses this matter in the country one realises that the key word is not "incidental", and that the key factor is the word "incidental" within the context of joint boards. One has to draw on one's experience of joint board activities and, within a joint board, what happens to consequential items, incidental items and supplementary items.

From my own experience of joint boards between the London boroughs and the Greater London Council, and more recently from the evidence which has come to light in relation to a district council and a development corporation, I am led to believe that when a joint board is operating the key factors are not so much the elected representatives of the people. They are not, on the whole, very much in control of the actions of joint boards. On the whole, the joint boards are run very much by the officials and officers concerned. There is a great degree of difference between what an officer may consider to be consequential or, indeed, supplementary—because it may, instead of affecting 5,000 people, affect only 10 or 15 people—and what an elected member may consider to be incidental. There is a great area of concern here that elected representatives will not have proper control over what is going through.

Therefore, although we listened to the proposition that was put on the last occasion on which this matter came before this House, I must say that I now share the worries that their Lordships have raised. Having talked to my own people and bearing in mind their experience in the field, I now feel on balance that the powers listed in the Bill under this clause are worrying. They are still too wide, and I do not think that the reservations and assurances that we received last time are adequate in terms of protection for individual people and, indeed, in terms of protection for councillors and elected representatives in relation to looking after the interests of those they seek to represent.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Michael Latham

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg), I am not only uneasy about the suggestion that we should disagree with the Lords amendment—indeed, I absolutely disagree with the idea that we should disagree with the Lords; I think that they are quite right—but I am also uneasy about the whole of Clause 2. I shall not go into that matter because I should soon be ruled out of order.

However, during our hours and hours of deliberations on this matter many of us have felt a sense of unease about the whole possibilities under the clause, by which, even after a public inquiry, it might be possible for local authorities which did not wish to take part in a joint board to be forced into one. Therefore, it is all the more likely that we shall look carefully at amendments to restrict the power of the Secretary of State. We on the Opposition side of the House will look carefully at the reasons why they should be resisted, rather than the contrary, because we feel that the Secretary of State's power is much too wide.

One of the dangers with a Bill which has been going on for as long as this one, with the enormous complications of it, is that those of us who have had the privilege of being closely concerned with it over the last six months have reached the stage of talking to ourselves. We know more or less what it is all about. The Minister and the Under-Secretary probably know more about it than we do, because they have very thick briefs and we have to think as we go along. We know more or less what it is about, but millions of people outside the House have no idea what it is about.

It needs to be stated clearly that in the form in which it went to the House of Lords for Second Reading, the Bill gave power to the Secretary of State, provided that he could get an Order through this House without it being annulled, to make such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision as appears to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient. In particular, it gave him power to adapt or modify any of the provisions of this Act or of any other enactment concerning the acquisition of land. I shall not follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby in his textual criticism of the use of the word "and", because he is a lawyer and I am not. The Under-Secretary is a lawyer, and so is my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde, and I am not. They are all much better qualified than I am. I simply take note of my right hon. Friend's doubt as to whether the use of the conjunction in that position is sufficiently clear to make it clear that any Order under paragraph (b) must be only incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary.

I am, however, concerned about the use of the word "transitional". In what circumstances would such a transitional Order be made? "Incidental" I can understand. "Consequential" and "supplementary" I can understand. But I hope that the Minister will tell us something more about the use of the word "transitional". That seems to be a particularly important matter.

When I looked for guidance to their Lordships' House to see what exactly was meant and why the Government were resisting the amendment, I looked at the speech of the Minister in the other place, Lord Melchett—the only person in that place whom, I think, I am allowed to quote directly, because he is a Minister. On 21st October he said, first, that Any joint board would need power to manage and dispose of land, and it might therefore be necessary to modify the 1972 Act"— that is, the Local Government Act. I am very surprised that, if that is so, it is not in the Bill. I should have thought that this was such an obvious contingency that if a joint board of local authorities was to be set up—and let us remember that we are talking about the possibility of local authorities either coming together voluntarily or in certain circumstances being brought together involuntarily in order to work this Bill by buying up land, and so on—it seems fairly likely that it would need to be in a position to manage and dispose of land.

In that case, I wonder why the right hon. Gentleman has not put this in the Bill in the first place, and why he has restricted this matter to Orders, unless it be the fact that many of us have said all along that there is far too much in the Bill at the discretion of the right hon. Gentleman and far too little in the form of statute law or the law of the land.

The noble Lord went on to say, Beyond this general point, the extent to which the power…would need to be used would depend on the precise functions and the rôle of a joint board. In some areas the local authorities might want a board to take on the whole function of making land available for private development. In another area the local authorities might want to continue to operate their Housing and Planning Act powers while leaving the major job of handling land for private development to the joint board. He then went on to say: It was to provide this sort of flexibility that Clause 2(1) was drafted in terms of 'all or any' for the purposes of the Bill."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 21st October 1975; Vol. 364, c. 1310–11.] It must be said again that distinctions of the sort which the noble Lord drew in the passage I have just quoted raise wide possibilities for differences in the powers of joint boards. They should, therefore, be covered in the Bill and not be the subject of an Order which contains such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions as the Secretary of State may determine. Parliament itself ought always to look most closely at matters of this kind.

No doubt the Minister will say that there is full parliamentary scrutiny, with the possibility of annulment and so on. That is so, but I remind him of what has to be done by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby is Chairman of that Joint Committee, in which I have had the honour to support him now for some 12 months. My right hon. Friend knows better than anyone else how many instruments are made by Ministers—of both parties—which then come before the Joint Committee, giving us an enormous task in sifting through them. Second, he knows how long these instruments are, and how difficult they are to understand in many cases.

There will be all sorts of complicated distinctions regarding what should be the powers of joint boards. Although my right hon. Friend is second to none in his defence of the citizen and in his careful scrutiny of Orders, a great burden will be put on the Joint Committee if it has carefully to scrutinise all these Orders and see whether they cover matters only incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary as the Secretary of State may consider expedient.

If any Order goes beyond that, it is at once the job of my right hon. Friend and the Joint Committee to tell the House that the Minister has exceeded his powers. Although we discharge that duty to the best of our ability, it is a duty which we would sooner not have, because we should prefer to have these things clearly stated in the Bill.

As I said earlier, the reason why we are so concerned about Clause 2 is that it has so many worrying aspects. We are concerned at the possibility that local authorities might be forced into joint boards against their will as a result of a public inquiry of which the Secretary of State himself is the ultimate arbiter. We are concerned that this might be done for political or gerrymandering reasons having nothing whatever to do with land use planning or the benefit of the citizen.

That is why we are examining these provisions most carefully and why, in our view, the other place was right to delete paragraph (b) from the Bill.

Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)

The truth is that the whole concept of joint boards under the Bill has not been thoroughly worked out, and the Government are uncertain about what changes would be required in the Bill and any other land acquisition enactments if joint boards came into being. We have been told that changes might be necessary to preserve the position of local authorities acting in their own right in the area of a joint board and to ensure that the joint board was in the same position as that of its constituent authorities. If that be right, I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham). Why cannot such changes be spelt out in the Bill?

Without doubt, paragraph (b) gives the Secretary of State a sweeping power—power to change the provisions of the Bill and of any other enactment dealing with land acquisition. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) said, it is an open-ended power since it is not limited by the words "consequential, transitional or supplementary" occurring earlier in the subsection.

Thus, the net result might well be that the powerful joint boards would be set up for specific ad hoc purposes. Moreover, the power given to the Secretary of State is an enormous personal power, and the House of Commons does not like allocating personal power as freely as it would be allocated under this subsection.

Mr. Raison

This has been a significant debate on a clause which is itself of great significance, and I hope that the Minister will reply seriously to the points which my right hon. and hon. Friends have raised.

We on this side acknowledge that at earlier stages of the passage of the Bill the Government modified the original clause by introducing words which made clear that the Order would refer only to matters, which were incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions. I acknowledge also that my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) expressed his satisfaction about that. However, the points made by my right hon. and hon. Friends today have special importance since they reflect the fact that we have had rather more time to consider the matter than we had at earlier stages.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page)—I refer to him first—made several strong points against the clause as it stands. I pay special tribute to him. He seems to me to be a one-man Opposition in himself. [Hon. Members: "No."] Obviously, I have said something wrong about my right hon. Friend, since he certainly acts not on his own but always with our party. However, his mastery is superb and he has a wealth of learning, skill and subtlety which commands the admiration of the whole House.

Several of my hon. Friends made serious comments on the nature of delegated legislation. In our view, even if an Order establishing a joint board requires a public inquiry and the negative resolution procedure, it remains nevertheless an extraordinarily wide-ranging instrument. That has been made only too clear in our debates. We are bound to be concerned at any provision of this width which depends on delegated legislation.

At this stage, however, it is wise to bear in mind that the clause covers essential provisions in the Bill, apart from those which concern Wales. In particular it covers Part III, the part of the Bill which deals with the acquisition and disposal of development land. In other words, the clause gives to authorities and to the joint boards which we are here discussing the power, and eventually the duty, to acquire development land on a massive scale, and compulsorily if need be.

Subsection 5(b), if it is not amended, will be part of the wholly fearsome apparatus brought into being by the Bill, and I wish to make clear our attitude to this entire apparatus. We are absolutely pledged to repeal the Bill. I shall not go into that at length now, but the reasons are manifold. First, it confers on local authorities and joint boards, or whatever other bodies the Government choose to employ, powers and duties which, first, are wholly irrelevant and unnecessary for good planning. Second, they are unnecessary for the recoupment of development gain. Third, they are odious in their attack on the liberty of the individual, on his right to own property and on his protection against the power of public bodies. This is especially obvious when one see the excessive use of delegated legislation here proposed. Fourth, the Bill is calculated to promote both bureaucracy and public expenditure. At the end of it all, therefore, the Bill is purely and simply a Socialist measure about land ownership, and the clause now before us is a good illustration of that.

4.30 p.m.

The fact is that local authorities already have enormous powers to acquire land compulsorily for planning purposes. There is no question about that. This measure does not give them something that they do not have already. It is a measure which they do not need except to satisfy their political lust.

The crucial phrase in the Bill comes in Clause 17, where reference is made to the desirability of bringing development land into public ownership". That we cannot accept. That is why we shall repeal this measure if it becomes an Act of Parliament. At the same time, we shall ask all those concerned—for example, local authorities, builders, professional associations, developers and planners—whether they feel that there are any serious limitations in the present system which prevent them from doing their job. We shall consider such representations carefully and fairly. We shall retain some means of taxing development gains.

Let me make it clear that we find this measure unacceptable. It is the worst of all the Labour Party's efforts to approach the problem. My hon. Friends have put forward a number of highly pertinent points on the amendment, and we shall listen carefully to what the Minister has to say before we make up our minds how we shall respond.

Mr. Oakes

If I were to reply fully to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) I would be replying to his third or fourth Second Reading speech. However, I shall deal with the points he has raised before dealing specifically with the amendment.

The hon. Gentleman says that this is a piece of purely Socialist land legislation. It is Socialist legislation and I am proud of it. I think that the hon. Gentleman would find that his party would meet severe opposition from many Conservative-controlled local authorities—they will benefit under this measure in the same way as Labour-controlled local authorities—if it were to attempt to repeal this measure. The hon. Gentleman would find many difficulties within his own ranks if he were to seek to repeal it.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West) rose

Mr. Oakes

No, I shall not give way. The hon. Member for Aylesbury has tempted me to go outside the bounds of order, and I shall not presume upon you, Mr. Deputy Speaker—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

Order. I think that there have now been equal bites of the cherry. Perhaps the Minister will get on to the amendment.

Mr. Oakes

Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That is why I did not intend to be tempted to stray further by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen).

As the hon. Member for Aylesbury has said, we introduced amendments on Report and made it clear that the powers we sought for joint boards were subsidiary powers. As he rightly said, his hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) withdrew his own amendments in favour of the Government amendments. In my view it was quite right for the hon. Gentleman to withdraw them.

Mr. Rossi

It has been stated that I expressed satisfaction at the way in which the matter was dealt with on Report. However, I was teased by name in another place for having taken a different view from that taken by some of their Lordships. The Minister is now doing very much the same thing. If he looks at the record carefully, he will see that the words I used in relation to his amendment were that in so far as the amendment proposed by the Government appeared to meet the concessions we had asked for in Committee, I was content. I went no further than that.

The hon. Gentleman will recall that on Report we had many amendments thrown at us as we have had today, and we had little time to give them consideration. Throughout these proceedings I shall be entering the same caveat. Amendments may be thrown at us which appear to be all right, but we have had no time to study them. The explanations that are offered may sound facile and acceptable, but on studying the amendments we may find that we disagree. That is what has happened to this amendment. On further consideration we find that the concession was not given to the extent we requested. Even though I may have expressed qualified satisfaction on an earlier occasion, I shall have to support my right hon. and hon. Friends on this occasion if they decide to declare their dissatisfaction.

Mr. Oakes

I was not trying to tease the hon. Gentleman. There are times when friendly teasing takes place between us, but on this occasion that was not my intention. I thought the House felt that as a result of the amendments we introduced on Report there was a general acceptance, on both sides of the House, that there were limitations on the power of the Secretary of State in introducing modifications for a purely subsidiary rôle. The subsidiary rôle was spelt out in the amendments that were dealt with on Report.

I believe that their Lordships have totally misinterpreted the situation. Had they followed on from the debate that took place in this House and introduced specific amendments, I could have followed their reasoning. Of course, we may have disagreed with their Amendments. I believe that they have misdirected themselves and failed to understand the position that the House had reached on Report.

The hon. Member for Hornsey has said that the Opposition has never had the opportunity to consider the amendments. From an Opposition that cannot consider the amendments we have had some very good speeches. For hon. Members who cannot understand the amendments and who have had no opportunity to study them, they have made good speeches.

I repeat that the powers of the Secretary of State in the narrow sphere of joint boards are subsidiary powers. If I may tease the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), by way of contrast the Local Government Act 1972 in Section 254(2) gives the Secretary of State power by order for applying…or amending, repealing, or revoking…any provision of an Act passed…before 1st April 1974". The drafting in that Act was somewhat similar except that the powers given to the Secretary of State, on the face of it, would be far more Draconian. I am not saying that the right hon. Gentleman was trying to give Draconian powers to a Secretary of State. Similarly, that is not our intention. I repeat that we have made it clear in the House that these are subsidiary powers.

Mr. Graham Page

Section 254(2) of the 1972 Act sets out about a dozen paragraphs of exact explanation. However, none of those paragraphs includes the phraseology that is found in paragraph (b).

Mr. Oakes

I would say that the paragraphs in the 1972 Act go much wider. The definition that we are considering severely limits such powers.

I continue with the reason for our needing the clause in its present form. The hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) asked about the meaning of "transitional". Perhaps an example provides the best explanation. Transitional provision may be necessary where authorities are currently considering whether to serve a notice of intention to acquire following a planning application. It may be appropriate in those circumstances to allow the authorities to continue dealing with the case, notwithstanding the formation of a joint board. No sinister interpretation should be given to "transitional".

The hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) made an interesting intervention because there are similar powers in regard to Wales. If the paragraph were to be removed, there would be no way of enabling the constituent authorities to retain power under the Bill. We need the provision to enable constituent authorities to have some powers under the Bill, in the same way as local authorities in Wales have power to make land available for development despite the fact that the land authority there will be the Land Authority for Wales. There is a parallel here between the constituent local authority and the powers of a joint board. I thought that we were in accord on these matters when we dealt with them in this House on Report. Therefore, I hope that with this further explanation I have now fully satisfied the Opposition.

Mr. Michael Latham

Will the Minister comment on a point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and, indeed, by me—namely, whether he is satisfied with the wording in line 21 and with the fact that the phrase "and in particular" is sufficiently precise to make sure that subsection (5) and modifications flowing from it can be only incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary'? I should not like to set up my drafting expertise against the Minister's, but if my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby is worried about the provision, I am too.

Mr. Oakes

It is right that Oppositions should delve suspiciously into any provision, because that is what Oppositions are for, but it appears that sinister hidden meanings are being seen in every word in the provision. It is a narrow provision dealing with the appointment of joint boards and also with the restricted powers of the Secretary of State to modify legislation in relation to joint boards.

The hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris) spoke of development corporations and joint boards. In subsection (2) we are dealing with elected members of boards. In regard to planning matters dealt with in the Local Government Act 1972, one-third of such members are to be appointed by the Secretary of State. At least within the provisions of subsection (2) we are dealing with democratically-elected members.

I hope I have dealt with all the points that arise on this provision. It contains nothing sinister, despite what appears to have been implied by their Lordships, who seek to delete these words. I emphasise that the situation is exactly as it was when the Bill was dealt with in this House on Report, and that at that time hon. Members found the situation satisfactory. I hope that the House, having heard a full explanation of the situation, will agree to disagree with the Lords amendment.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.

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