HC Deb 11 November 1976 vol 919 cc753-4

Lords amendment: No. 48, in page 48, line 24, at end insert: or, if on application by the stockholders' representative or the Secretary of State, the arbitration tribunal consider that, having regard to all the circumstances, that amount does not represent fair compensation, such amount as the tribunal shall determine to be fair compensation in respect of those securities.

Mr. Les Huckfield

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may also take Lords Amendment No. 51.

Mr. Huckfield

I put it to the House that we should reject these amendments because they fundamentally alter the compensation terms, which we believe to be fair. The reasons for believing them to be fair have been rehearsed in Committee and in the House. They are fair because they are based upon stock market independent and objective valuations. They are also fair because provision is made for independent arbitration.

Lords Amendment No. 48 would destroy all of this, apart from which it would be a breach of faith to change the arrangement for companies that have been operating on that basis. If an opportunity were provided in the amendment for a fresh set of negotiations within different parameters, it would provide the opportunity for compensation to be increased, leading to an increased burden upon the taxpayer, and that would be unacceptable to the Government.

Lords Amendment No. 51 provides that a tribunal should take into account all relevant factors. That is already provided for, however. I therefore urge my hon. Friends to reject the two Lords amendments.

Mr. Heseltine

These arguments have been well rehearsed. We believe that the compensation terms are basically unfair and are therefore a major deterrent to investment in the private sector. It is difficult to choose which of the amendments we should insist upon, but on balance I think that Lords Amendment No. 51, which gives flexibility to the arbitration tribunal, is the better, and I therefore recommend that my hon. Friends press it to a Division.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 49 disagreed to.

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