HC Deb 03 August 1976 vol 916 cc1597-8

Lords Amendment: No. 38, in page 36, line 18, leave out "or printing equipment".

Mr. Guy Barnett

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take the following Lords Amendments: No. 39, in page 36, line 22, leave out "or equipment".

No. 40, in page 36, line 28, leave out "or equipment".

No. 41, in page 36, leave out line 29.

No. 43, in page 36, line 34, leave out from "information" to end of line 35.

Mr. Barnett

The main purpose of the clause, which was added on Report in this House, is to provide for the sale of spare time on computers. Printing was included because the rôle of spare printing capacity seemed to be on all fours with the role of spare computing capacity. But there is not the same need among local authorities for a power to sell spare printing capacity, and its inclusion proved to be a most controversial matter. It therefore seemed right for these amendments to be accepted, deleting printing from the clause.

Mr. Speed

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. It would have been wrong for us to agree to the amendments without it, because it may well be that not all interested parties followed exactly what went on in another place. We are grateful that the Government responded to a widespread and understandable campaign. Many companies, large and small, were very worried about the matter.

The new clause came at short notice. When we discussed it on Report I put to the Minister certain questions, which he answered. We hoped that fears were set at rest, but that was not the case in many parts of the country. We had to have a balance between trying to be sensible to local authorities which might have spare capacity, for which their ratepayers would be paying, and the fears of not only printing companies but many members of the printing trade unions who made representations to me and to the Minister.

I think that the amendments put the situation right. I hope that they will receive wider publicity than they did when they were made in another place and that all connected with the printing industry will realise that their fears were groundless. I am much obliged to the Minister and to his noble Friends in another place for responding as they did.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

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