HC Deb 20 July 1977 vol 935 cc1742-70

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 8, after "corporate" insert: ,up to 31st July 1978, except that Her Majesty may, by Order in Council, which shall not be made unless a draft of the Order has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament, continue the Price Commission in being as a body corporate for a period which begins with the date on which the Commission would otherwise cease and which is not longer than one year,".

10.20 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

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

I am sure that the House is in no mood for yet another Second Reading debate on the Price Commission Bill. Therefore, I shall say only three things about the amendment that their Lordships have found it proper to present to the House. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I suggest that the Minister should wait just one second until the Chamber clears.

Mr. Hattersley

Despite the lateness of the hour and what I suspect is the desire of the House to move to a vote, three things need to be said The first is that the Lords amendment is deficient in a number of particulars. It is ambiguous about the length of life for the Price Commission that the Lords propose. It also proposes the abolition of a statutory body without making any consequences for what remains after the technical abolition is moved. As an exercise in tidying up the work of the House of Commons, it is not very efficient and it is not one of their Lordships' finest hours.

I do not intend to deal with the inefficiency of the Opposition in the House of Lords but rather the principle that guided the other place in carrying this amendment. Those principles were debated for seven hours in this House at Report stage and were defeated by a substantial majority. They were defeated, I believe, for three reasons. Firstly, and I believe, most importantly, it is the Government's view that the powers in the present Bill—and certainly the central power to examine price increases against published criteria and occasionally to freeze proposed price increases when they do not conform to the criteria that have been approved by the House—should be permanent. It is only that power to which the Lords amendment refers, since a measure of control and dividend limitation are already within the Bill, matters for time limitation and annual renewals.

The Government believe that the power to investigate and freeze should be permanent, partly because in the short term it is necessary as part of our counter-inflation armoury, but it is more important in the long term that the power should be incorporated in the Government's competition policy. We have always insisted that unreasonable prices and a less-than-perfect market were two economic conditions that were directly related. We believe that a permanent power to investigate and freeze is necessary to deal with both situations I accept absolutely that the fundamental point that the Government's right and duty occasionally to intervene in the economy—and, in the national interest, to say that certain proposals by a company do not conform to what we believe to be the interests of the economy as a whole—is contested across the House as a matter of principle. I do not believe that we shall resolve the differences between us by a long debate, no matter how long and cogent the arguments on either side may be. The matter will be resolved only by a vote, and I hope that we can move to that vote and resolve it at the earliest opportunity.

Secondly, there is no doubt that one of the intentions of the Lords in putting down this amendment was to make sure that if a Conservative Government came to power they should be able to abolish all forms of price control easily and quickly. Lord Mansfield, who speaks in a remarkably injudicious tone for one who bears that name, actually said that one of the objectives of his amendment was that when the time came, as he believed it would, when the powers of the Price Commission should be abolished, by carrying this amendment it could be done without actually having recourse to legislation.

It is clearly the Opposition's right to abandon all form of price control if they ever came to Government. They made clear on the Report stage that they wanted to do that. They must not do it in a hole-in-corner way, having prepared the ground in the House of Lords. They must abolish the Bill in a constitutional fashion. For that reason the Lords amendment must be defeated.

I make two other points before recommending that the House do not allow the Lords to have their way. We shall, no doubt, hear a good deal from the hon. Lady the Member for Gloucester (Mrs. Oppenheim) about parliamentary control, about the virtues of annual review in terms of accountability and about uncertainty within industry because of the Bill.

First, on the question of parliamentary accountability, I have to say that I have looked at other Bills in which the Government sought powers to intervene in industry either selectively or in a general fashion, and I do not believe that there has been another Bill including so many items requiring the Government to come to Parliament for specific approval and so many items obliging them to have their decisions approved by Parliament as there are in this Bill.

I think it right that the parliamentary check should apply. That is why it is included in the Bill. I believe that it is a democratic necessity. But the very number and complexity of the requirements makes a farce of the argument that annual renewal is necessary to ensure that Parliament has a check on the powers. The checks are already there.

Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that his optimism is not shared by one of the country's leading food manufacturers, in my constituency, which regards it as an affront that the Secretary of State is able to freeze prices while an investigation takes place and there is no limitation on the powers which he is now seeking from Parliament? The right hon. Gentleman should recognise that in the food industry there is a perilously low margin of profit now, and if he imposes Draconian measures by this legislation, as he appears to wish to do, they could put in peril about 4,000 jobs.

Mr. Hattersley

I said at the outset that this was a late hour to begin to explain the content of the Bill to hon. Members who have taken no part in the proceedings on it this far. But let me tell the hon. Gentleman something which he can pass on to the food manufacturer in his constituency. The power to freeze contains what has come to be called safeguard levels approved by order of Parliament under which the Price Commission's power to freeze is limited according to profitability to and the margin of profit of an individual company. If the hon. Gentleman wants other examples of the limitations which, if the Bill is passed, Parliament will impose on the behaviour of the Price Commission, I can give him several more.

I said that I expected that we should hear—we have now heard it—the argument that the Bill is causing massive uncertainty within industry. That is far more a politician's point than it is an industrialist's point. It is a point made in the House of Commons, and it is made by industrialists when they move across the narrow borderline which divides political judgment and political prejudice. The most sensible companies accept absolutely that the Bill as it stands, with all its limitations, checks and balances, provides no threat to the socially conscious efficient company. I do not believe that such a power as is proposed in the Lords amendment would change any of that, and I am certain that the clear duty of the House is to reject the amendment and see the Bill as originally intended pass into law.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim (Gloucester)

I am not sure whether the Secretary of State is in a hurry to go on to another engagement, but I believe that that was the most rapid potted version of a defence against a Lords amendment that I have ever heard in the House. I think that it would be helpful to our consideration of the amendment if I were to remind the House of some of its antecedents.

When the Bill was in Standing Committee, the Opposition moved an amendment to limit the life of the Price Commission to one year. Subsequently, on Report, we moderated that amendment, proposing that the Price Commission should remain in being till the end of 1980, subject to annual review by Parliament. The Lords amendment, which is an important amendment deserving far closer attention than the right hon. Gentleman gave it, puts no final date on the life of the Price Comission. It merely makes its existence subject to an annual review by Parliament.

When we first raised this matter in Committee, the Government's arguments were feeble, and they have become progressively enfeebled as we have moved towards progressively ever more moderate versions of the original amendment.

All along, since the very beginning, the Secretary of State has made clear that it was not his intention to use the powers in the Bill for counter-inflation purposes in the longer term. All along, he has contended that in the longer term the powers vested in the Price Commission would be used entirely in relation to monopoly abuse and the erosion of competition. All along, he has agreed that the powers vested in the Price Commission under the Bill will be more appropriately vested eventually in other existing institutions. All along, he has agreed—I quote his words—that …there was a virtue in having an annual review of these matters."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B,10th May 1977; c. 30] 10.30 p.m.

Yet time and again the right hon. Gentleman refused to accept moderate, more moderate and even more moderate versions of our original amendment. In fact, many would say that this version was far too moderate. Rumour had it on Report that a higher authority had vetoed acceptance of our amendment. It was said that this so-called higher authority was none other than the General Secretary of the TUC. I would prefer not to believe that such a thing could happen even in the case of this Government. But I do know that the right hon. Gentleman had made up his mind from the beginning that he was not going to accept any amendment from us, whatever its virtues. Is that what he is saying now? Is that his attitude whatever the virtues of the amendment may be? We can see him both shaking and nodding his head at the same time. It is clear that that is still his attitude to this amendment.

However, then need for the amendment has strengthened considerably since we moved the original version in Committee. Then we said that we would accept a year of price control as a quid pro quo for a year of pay control. That view is no longer relevant. We do not know what we are to have in the coming year, but it is not going to be the pay control envisaged when that statement was originally made.

We warned, as did the noble Lord who moved this amendment in another place, that levels of profitability were so low that the continuance of price and profit controls for longer than a year would do great damage, would lead to higher unemployment and would lead to bankruptcies in not a few cases.

We maintained that there was no evidence in any case that excess profits had been made or that they were in any way responsible for the appalling levels of inflation from which the consumers have suffered under this Government over the past three and a half years. This is one of the areas of collective responsibility that no one opposite can slide out of, because the collective responsibility of every Labour Member for the inflation inflicted on our people in the last three and a half years is inescapable.

Anyway, the view that I have expressed about the levels of profitability, about the dangers, about the responsibility or otherwise of profitability for inflation, was endorsed by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury less than two weeks ago in an answer to the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers). He said: I know that my hon. Friend may find it hard to believe, but in fact, over the last two years profits have had a negative effect on prices generally, so I am afraid that, as pleasant as it might be to find one simple answer to our problems of inflation, by way of excessive profits, that is not the case."—[Official Report,7th July 1977; Vol. 934, c. 1399.] It is not surprising, nor is it discreditable, therefore, that we should seek to make the continuation of the institution of the Price Commission subject to annual review by Parliament in order that we may question the need for this vast and expensive institution outside its purely counter-inflation role, particularly when it is the consumers who will have to pay for it year after year through their taxes.

In any case, the right hon. Gentleman has boasted about the parliamentary accountability in the Bill. There is precious little of it, and that makes it all the more important that each year Parliament should be given an opportunity to review not only the role but the relevance of the Price Commission as an institution.

The argument that we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman on previous occasions, and that was advanced in another place on behalf of the Government in relation to the extension of the powers themselves, was that difficult and complicated legislation would be involved if the Commission were to be abolished and if the powers in the Commission were to be vested in the Monopolies Commission and the Office of Fair Trading for competition purposes. That argument does not stand up. I have had the fair trading and monopolies and mergers legislation closely studied, and I am told that amendments to Sections 2, 14, 17 and 38 of the Fair Trading Act providing a new and reinforced power would be all that is necessary.

Investigations regarding the consumer interest in relation to public sector monopolies are also provided for under Section 51 of the Fair Trading Act 1973, while the very comprehensive monopoly and competition powers which exist in Section 6(2) of the Act could be built on later if it proved necessary in the context of competition policy.

A small amending Bill, far less complicated and far smaller than the Price Commission Bill that we are now debating, is all that is needed to transfer the necessary powers to the Office of Fair Trading and the Monopolies Commission. It would not be difficult, and there would be no great stumbling block eventually to folding up the Price Commission and vesting similar powers and functions—not the same—where we believe they belong, in the Office of Fair Trading and in the Monopolies Commission.

One of the most parroted arguments we have had against the amendment, in all its various stages since we have discussed it, has come from the Minister of State, to the effect that the Price Corn-mission was set up by a Conservative Government on a permanent basis.

The Minister of State, Department of Prices and Consumer Protection (Mr-John Fraser)

Yes, it was.

Mrs. Oppenheim

The Minister of State reaffirms his earlier remarks. Of course it was set up under the Counter-Inflation Act 1973 on a permanent basis, but there was to be an annual review of its powers, and that was all-important. The Price Commission Bill, as it stands, provides neither for a review of its powers nor for a review of the institution.

We think that in the case of this Bill an annual review of the institution is more appropriate than an annual review of the powers, since, as I have said, we believe that similar powers should be vested eventually in the Office of Fair Trading and the Monopolies Commission.

We have heard a few new arguments today from the right hon. Gentleman. For the first time since a very similar amendment has been moved, first in Standing Committee and then on Report, he has suddenly found that it is technically imperfect. He has had the opportunity to look at it for months, but suddenly on this occasion he finds that it is technically imperfect. I think he is also being slightly disingenuous when he talks about the parliamentary accountability in the Bill, because most of the procedures which are subject to any form of parliamentary accountability are subject to the negative procedure under the Bill, and I do not accept that as being the kind of parliamentary accountability that this amendment is attempting to bring to the Bill.

This brings me to the rather bizarre arguments against the amendment which have emanated from the Liberal Party. In another place, Lady Seear confessed that the Liberal Party does not want to see the Price Commission instituted on a permanent basis either, and that it agrees with us on that. But—and here is the rub—the Liberals could not support the amendment, they said, because they want permanent investigatory powers vested elsewhere in order to intervene in monopoly abuses, where competition is lacking, and in the public sector.

I have already made it clear over and over again—as has Lord Mansfield, in another place, in moving the amendment—that that is what we wish to see. It is the permanence of the institution rather than the permanence of similar powers that we are against.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

Has it not dawned on the hon. Lady that not only do we entirely mistrust the intentions of her party, should it achieve power, but the great mass of the people could not believe that a Conservative Government would move sharply against monopolies?

Mrs. Oppenheim

The hon. Gentleman must answer for his own conscience and for the conscience of the Liberal Party in this matter, but once people have sold their soul they have no say over anything further that happens. Whatever decisions may be taken by the next Conservative Government in the not-too-distant future, I hope that the hon. Gentleman's party will not be able to claim any credit for them. He will not be here, so that it is really an academic question.

There is one point on which I agree with the hon. Gentleman's party and with certain things that the Secretary of State has said. That is that it is not sufficient to investigate only where a monopoly actually exists. Where a near-monopoly situation exists there may also be need for an investigation. I have said this over and over again. As we have seen from the Price Commission's report on intruder alarms, the lack of adequate competition can lead to far higher prices which have no relationship whatsoever with excess profits. It will be very interesting to see what the Government intend to do on the Price Commission's report on intruder alarms after the Bill is enacted.

However, I return to the difference between us and the Liberal Party with regard to the amendment. I have read the noble Lady's speech carefully, and the only difference which exists is clearly a manufactured difference—a sort of face-saving operation so that the Liberal Party can end up voting against something that it really wants.

The arguments of the Secretary of State tonight have been positively trivial. Throughout the proceedings on the Bill his attitude has been stiff-necked and obdurate. His attitude tonight, when he has turned his face against this reasonable amendment, can only be described as sheer cussedness on his part.

When the Government were defeated in another place we read in The Guardian the next day that the right hon. Gentleman, against the view of many of his colleagues, insisted that the Tory amendment would be severely damaging to the Bill. If that is correct, the right hon. Gentleman should have listened to the views expressed by his colleagues, because they were right and he was wrong.

His failure to concede that we are right, not only on the basis of our arguments but on the basis of his own arguments earlier, is patently absurd. It is an eminently reasonable and, we believe, necessary amendment. By rejecting it the Government will put themselves in the position of being wholly unreasonable.

The question is largely academic because by the time the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, and by the time it comes up for an annual review, it will not be the choice of this Government that determines the future of the Price Commission. Nor will it be the choice of the Liberal Party. It will be the choice of another Government.

I therefore urge my hon. Friends to support the amendment. It is the very least that should be done in the way of providing parliamentary accountability with regard to a Bill about which we have very great reservations.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

Liberal Members believe that this amendment from the other place should be done away with, but for rather more substantial reasons than the Secretary of State, in an unusually perfunctory way, put to the House.

Speaking purely for myself, the origin of the amendment should be sufficient to condemn it, because I happen to be one of those who cannot see why the impotence imposed on the other place in respect of Finance Bills should be confined only to Finance Bills. This measure will as much affect the pockets of the people as a clause in a Finance Bill.

I cannot for the life of me see why the other place should have any power in matters of this sort. I do not know whether I speak for all my colleagues. Some of them may conceivably covet a resting place among the cobwebs in due course. But my own view is quite clear.

But far more important than the source of the amendment is the exalted significance that is now attached to it. The Secretary of State now finds himself as the one hero left to defend the bridge of counter-inflation. Because of the regrettable attitude, the failure of nerve, of some of his colleagues he is now administering the one piece of legislation which can be used to enforce these matters. It is, therefore, extremely important that the British people should be left in no doubt about the permanence of these powers.

The whole House is virtually agreed that inflation is vitally concerned with the expectations of wage-earners and the unions which represent them. In that regard, what could be more depressing to the average wage earner considering what sort of claim he will support than the idea that price controls might be lifted almost at a stroke by some Government swept into power as a result of a snap General Election?

Therefore, because the expectations of people are so vital, Liberals believe it to be of central importance that the control of prices is a permanent feature of our system.

When we come, as I hope we shall at the beginning of the next parliamentary Session, to the machinery by which this is achieved, that is another matter. The fact, which we have often stated, that we want a more effective piece of machinery than the Government are now adopting in no way means that we ally ourselves with those who want to abolish the lot if they get the chance.

10.45 p.m.

We believe that the expectations of working people about the future of prices will be more confident and they will be less suspicious of being exploited if, instead of the intricacies of the Price Commission, which are usually badly reported in the media and are so intricate that the ordinary chap can be forgiven for not following them closely, there were to be a built-in confidence that all monopolies, all attempts at exploitation of the consumer, will be eradicated at the root. That means a much tougher Monopolies Commission.

In going along with the Government—in fact, going along rather faster than the Government in this matter—we wan t them to feel that they are being provided not with permanent powers on which to rest but with a solid base from which to advance. We hope that before many months are out we shall see a programme directed to creating a Monopolies Commission that will be not a lawyers' paradise endlessly dithering for weeks whether to investigate cat and dog food but armed with teeth and with a capacity to act quickly and fiercely against bodies such as the brewers, the millionaire Press and also certain trade unions which are exercising a monopoly in particular labour.

Until we can advance towards that which has been the goal of Liberals for many decades, we believe that it would be folly to give the public the impression—

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wainwright

I have just about finished. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt have his chance to speak. We suggest that it would be folly to give the public the impression that price investigation and control is a lame duck that can be shot off by any party that happens to seize power as the result of a snap electoral contest.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

I agree with the first part, but not the latter part. of the speech made by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright). I was interested in his remark about the Liberals calling on the Government to take some positive action on monopolies. I want the Minister to do something about prices before the housewife and the ordinary poorly paid person has to make a demand.

I read in tonight's evening papers—I do not know what Opposition Members are grinning for; this is a serious matter—that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, monopoly in this country, the sugar refining industry—I declare an interest because Tate & Lyle is in my constituency—is shared as to 90 per cent. Tate & Lyle and 10 per cent. British Sugar Corporation. My hon. Friend shakes his head. Which part have I got wrong?

Mr. John Fraser

The proportions are not of that dimension.

Mr. Lewis

I do not care whether they are 50–50. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Manbre & Garton?"] Manbre & Garton is Tate & Lyle. There are two of them. My hon. Friend may take whatever percentage he likes, but that, to my way of thinking, is a monopoly. However, I leave that aside.

Tonight it was announced that the British Sugar Corporation has made a fantastic profit. The Government have what percentage shareholding in the British Sugar Corporation?

Mr. John Fraser

I cannot say without notice.

Mr. Lewis

It is about 30 per cent. The BSC has apparently made such a fantastic profit that it has announced a 100 per cent. dividend increase—a 100 per cent. scrip issue. What are the Government doing? [HOn. Members: "Your Government".] They are our Government unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way one looks at it. Is the Minister going to wait as he did with the beer industry? Last week we heard a brewer's representative on the radio. The broadcast took place on Friday, the same day as the Chancellor made his announcements. The representative said that it was not true that the industry was putting up its prices by another penny because of the report. He said "We do this regularly every three months". What has the Minister been doing? It seems that he has been allowing it to happen every three months. Has he ever tried to stop the increases?

My complaint against the Government is not that the Bill or amendment should or should not be introduced but that they do not do anything. Does the Minister ever go shopping?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Order. The hon. Gentleman should relate his argument more closely to the amendment that is being discussed.

Mr. Lewis

I was taking up the argument of the hon. Member for Colne Valley about monopolies and the Government taking no action. I was following his words exactly. I suggest, with respect, that if I am out of order the hon. Member for Clone Valley was out of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is difficult to judge but in the view of the Chair the hon. Gentleman is out of order at present.

Mr. Lewis

I will refer to the Speaker. I will go straightaway and do it.

Mr. Michael Neubert (Romford)

Inevitably there is an air of dèj  vu about the debate, or perhaps, to be more precise, an air of dèj  entendu. However, I am happy to frolic around this field again despite the Secretary of State's lack of enthusiasm for advancing his own arguments. Despite repetition, our arguments are still as fresh as the proverbial daisy.

There are good reasons for our wishing to subject the Price Commission not only to the closest scrutiny but to review at intervals of not more than one year. I shall cite only three reasons.

The first reason lies with the constitution of the Commission. We know full well that the character of any institution is likely to be determined by its membership. We should review very carefully the membership of the Commission. So far it has been announced only in part.

I have impeccable precedents for thinking that this should be a very serious requirement of the House. When the House was debating the Counter-Inflation Bill in 1973 the then hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert), now the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, who was then on the Opposition Benches, said that he had no doubt that the Government of the day—the Tory Government of that time— would have little difficulty in constructing a rogues' gallery of appointments to these agencies, consisting of rows and rows of unsuccessful Tory candidates, bank chairmen, nominees of Aims of Industry and members of the executive Committee of the Primrose League. …The Opposition demand the right to vet these people."—[Official Report, Standing Committee H, 5th February 1973; cc. 98–99.] So do we demand the right to vet. We do so on the evidence that there are good grounds for doing so.

In the past three years two major appointments have been made as the respon- sibility of the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection. The first was the new Director of the Office of Fair Trading, Professor Gordon Borrie as he then was. He appeared to be a renowned activist in consumer affairs and a Labour lawyer. More than that, he fought Croydon, North-East in 1955 and Ilford, South in 1959. He is, therefore, an unsuccessful Labour candidate. Now we have the Chairman of the Price Commission appointed today. We find that as well as being a merchant banker—that, of course beguiled us as we thought anyone entrusted with other people's money must be suited for the job—he is an unsuccessful Labour candidate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have had to interrupt the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) for not speaking closely to the amendment. I shall be grateful if the hon. Gentleman will abide by the plea that I made to the hon. Member for Westham, North-West and relate his arguments closely to the amendment.

Mr. Neubert

I accept your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was endeavouring to do so because I think it proper that once a year we should review the current membership of the Commission. We have in Charles Williams a former Labour candidate at Colchester in 1964 who very recently unsuccessfully sought selection at Vauxhall. So we have a situation in which large numbers of unsuccessful Labour candidates are being appointed to statutory bodies. I am very concerned not about would-be Labour M.P.s but about has-been Labour M.P.s. Come the next General Election—there will be quite a number of them scurrying from here to there looking for seats on public bodies only to find that the market has been cornered. It will be an unedifying sight. If a film were to be made of it, I would suggest the title "Last Quango in London". This is one of the purposes we should have in mind.

The second purpose is to scrutinise the work of the Commission. It will be very vulnerable to political pressure. Far be it from me to suspect the Secretary of State of seeking to influence the work of the Commission for political ends. He has already relinquished his right to take initiatives. He did that after consultation with interested parties.

But one is obliged to re-think one's whole estimate of what happens in Labour Cabinets as a result of the Cross-man memoirs. In 1966, when the then Labour Government were faced with exactly the same dilemma of trying to control pay and prices through institutions such as the Price Commission, this is what was said on 1st October of that year: I was also concerned to make sure that when Part IV went into operation we should act as strongly against prices as against wages. On this one or two civil servants from Labour and D.E.A. who were in the room said that the prices front was going so well that there weren't any scandalous price increases to attack. I said rather angrily that they had damn well better find two good examples of unfair price increases. What these remarks show is that the price side of the prices and incomes policy is as much a fraud as the workers suspect. The trouble is that Government policy is the major cause of price increases. That is exactly the same point my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made in her blistering, splintering speech this afternoon.

The Government will be forced to resort to appearing to do something about prices for political ends. That is a reason why we should have the opportunity at least once a year to review the activities of the Price Commission.

Later in that very same year it appeared that Michael Stewart, as he then was, could not find a single case for a price increase which would have justified an Order in Council.

The action of the brewers has been referred to. All that the brewers are doing is making a price increase in conformity with the Price Code administered by the Price Commission. Later tonight right hon. and hon. Members opposite, while condemning the price increase being made by the brewers, will vote for the continuation of the Price Commission even though the present régime is allowing the brewers' price increase to which the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) takes such exception.

My third ground for thinking that we should have an opportunity for regular and frequent review of the activities of the Price Commission is doubts which I think are shared by my right hon. and hon. Friends about the usefulness of the Price Commission. Those who have been involved in the debates on the Bill throughout will know that I have looked at the specific inquiries made by the Commission on matters referred to it by the Secretary of State as evidence of what is likely to happen if the Price Commission Bill is enacted.

Since we last discussed this matter on the Floor of the House of Commons we have had two further reports. I commend them as necessary reading to my right lion. and hon. Friends. They make fascinating reading. No bedside bookshelf should be without them. The latest reports are on hearing aids and call-out charges.

On the question of the pricing of private hearing aids, which matter was referred to the Price Commission by the Secretary of State as an example of no doubt unwarranted price increases and extortionate demands on the consumer, the Price Commission came to this conclusion: In general, profits in the industry during the period studied (1973– l76) have been modest. How modest? Manufacturers' net profits were about 4 per cent to 5 per cent and are tending to fall. Importers' profits have been rising, but are still just under 5 per cent. The profits of large retailers have been slowly falling from about 3.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent. That is an example of a specific inquiry initiated by the Secretary of State. It discovered that the level of profitability was so small as to be derisory, almost invisible.

11 p.m.

Better was to come. The Commission had also to undertake an inquiry into call-out charges, a matter that was the subject of public concern. No doubt the Secretary of State thought that it was sufficiently outrageous to warrant the work of the Commission in studying it. The terms of reference are important. We read: The Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, pursuant to paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 1 to the Counter-Inflation Act 1973, hereby refers to the Price Commission for examination and report fixed minimum charges for domiciliary visits in connection with the repair of domestic appliances or installations and the relationship between such charges and the prices charged for the repairs in question. On this great social issue of the day the Price Commission made five recommendations: People should become more accustomed to doing minor repairs themselves.…. Customers should where practicable obtain estimates "—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is the hon. Gentleman pursuing his original argument, in which he was in order? The Chair feels that he is now going out of order.

Mr. Neubert

I was near the end of my speech, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The point that I am trying to make—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Provided it is in order.

Mr. Neubert

I think that it will be in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I am trying to say that the demonstrated ineffectiveness of the Price Commission should be called into question. We should not be required to give permanence to an institution that is so much in question

The third recommendation was: a fixed initial charge"— which was the major reason for the investigation—and we are promised 40 or 50 such investigations in a good year, with perhaps even more in a vintage year— with additional payment for work actually carried out, is justifiable in economic and commercial terms. In other words, there was no question of profiteering, of abusing the public, of exploiting the consumer.

The last two recommendations were: Residents in London who need an emergency plumbing service would be well advised to rely on a personal recommendation if at all possible. The Department of the Environment should devote attention to the problem of emergency plumbing in London and see how far the trade and the water authority could provide emergency services of the kind needed. I hope that I have quoted enough to demonstrate that such inquiries would be fruitless, certainly profitless, and engage the intellectual energies of many men who could be better employed in the national interest. On those grounds I support the Lords amendment and hope that it will be confirmed tonight.

Mr. Tim Smith (Ashfield)

Since the debate on a similar amendment on Report, some of the arguments that then supported permanence for the Price Commission have disappeared. The original political justification for the Bill was as a necessary quid pro quo for a further period of pay restraint. Paragraph 3 of the consultative document said: The Government have made it clear that the continuation of the margin controls discussed in this Consultative Document is conditional upon the approval by Parliament of a White Paper on pay policy after 31 July. Now we have that White Paper containing a pay policy—we debated it earlier today—which is a pay policy in name only.

Paragraph 21 of the consultative document also explains the relationship between the Bill and pay policy when it says: The new Code will contain a pay sanction which will apply through the margin controls on the same lines as in the present Code, and also, by virtue of Clause 15(3) of the Price Commission Bill, through the new investigatory powers in the Bill. In these new circumstances, it is wrong to use the code and Clause 15(3) to secure pay sanctions, because pay needs to be dealt with separately from prices and along the lines that the CBI suggests in its recent discussion document "The Future of Pay Determination".

The whole question of price control should be subjected to a much more comprehensive review by the Government than we have had up to now. In the Bill we have a rushed process that was introduced in a bit of a hurry to placate trade unions and woo voters at a time that was electorally difficult for the Government. It has done neither, and is positively misleading because it implies that it will have some effect on the general level of prices—though I understand that the Government have conceded that it will have no effect on the general level, though it might affect individual prices.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) said that the Liberal Party attached great importance to the Bill because of its importance in the general context of counter-inflation policy. That is misleading, because it will have no effect on the general level of prices.

In these circumstances, the Government should accept the amendment and, in the time that it would provide, have a general review of the relevant machinery for encouraging competition and small businesses. They are the key to longterm price stability, and, with them, we need measures to discourage more effectively monopolies and restrictive trade practices.

We have a piecemeal, patchwork approach that needs to be replaced with a more comprehensive strategy. Price rises were a major issue in the by-election that brought me here, and many of the electors wanted to make the strongest possible protest at the overall 79 per cent. rise in prices since February 1974. The Price Commission has been in existence for the whole of that period. It is clear that its effect has been nil.

I have never suggested that the solution to the problem of prices is control of the type proposed in the Bill. Prices can be controlled only by competition, the encouragement of small businesses, reductions in public expenditure and control of the money supply.

The Bill is largely irrelevant to price increases, and most people know it. For all these reasons, the life of the Commission should be curtailed and a thorough review of these policies should be undertaken in the meantime.

Mr. Giles Shaw (Pudsey)

There is a tendency at this time of night for those of us with the Price Commission Bill medal for long service at the Dispatch Box on other occasions to suggest that we should continue the debate for another three hours—and it would be easy to argue the case for the amendment for that length of time.

The points made by my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Smith), are of the greatest relevance to the fact that the Bill deals with the pay aspect of the Government's counter-inflation policy. If there were no other reason, hon. Members should recognise the importance of an annual review not only for the Commission and how it operates, but for its relevance to pay policy. Surely it must be agreed that a regular review of how this operates and the criteria under which pay policy is conducted is an important part of the Bill.

Mr. Hattersley

Having fought the same campaign as the hon. Gentleman, I know that he takes these matters seriously and would not want to mislead the House. The pay sanction exists for one year only. Trying to link that to a renewal of the Commission's mandate is irrelevant because the sanction will disappear after 1st August 1978.

Mr. Shaw

I only wish that that was the whole case. The pay sanctions in Clause 17 exist for only a year, but the Secretary of State would be misleading the House if he tried to suggest that the entire Government strategy on pay and prices was contained purely in the pay provisions of that clause. The price application, which will contain a wage component, is now required to be found acceptable against the Government's norm. The Chancellor said again today that he would expect all pay settlements to be made within the guidance that he has so far advocated. If price applications are to be made the wage component must comply with the guidelines.

In Committee the right hon. Gentleman said: As to the future, I have only two things to say. First, I accept entirely—I said it when the Bill was launched, and I think I said it when we announced the existence of the consultative document—that I do not believe it is possible to run a policy of overall prices control unless it is matched by some kind of wages policy. By that, I am implying that the sort of margin control that we envisaged for 1st August onwards would be impossible were there not another wage round. It would be a burden on industry which it could not reasonably be expected to bear."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B. 24th May 1977;c. 564.] We accept that statement. Since then, however, we have had the Chancellor's statement, and we make of it what we will. We now have a White Paper that contains the Chancellor's reference to wage settlements. It makes clear that the right hon. Gentleman expects to secure that the national earnings increase is not more than 10 per cent.

In so far as price control involves a major wage increase component we must assume, given the way in which the Price Commission will operate, that the guidance in the White Paper is the guidance that the Commission requires. If that is so the Lords have a crucial point to make on pay policy. It is that they want the Commission to be reviewed annually, not only as an institution but in its powers. This is a vital point, and I hope that the Secretary of State in replying to the debate will resolve the matter if he thinks that I am not describing it accurately. The Bill seeks to use powers to restrain prices, and, therefore, the wage component is a major matter for consideration.

My second point concerns the Minister of State's comments in the concluding debates on the Bill. The Government undertook that consideration would be given to allowable costs coming into price investigations. As I understand it, such discussions as have been held between the Department and interested parties have not yet resulted in any changes. The Minister of State suggested that no change would be made on allowable costs. This is another important matter which the Minister must deal with when he replies.

I turn now to the Lords amendment. For us there is the greatest possible difference between establishing a Price Commission in perpetuity and with powers that are incapable of regular review, and establishing a Commission which is flexible and responds to the various changes in the economy. In the other place the Liberal Party in its wisdom decided that it liked the idea of the powers but disliked the institution. That is a comment on the Lib-Lab pact in general, no doubt—the Liberals enjoy the power, but dislike the institution. Parliament should be able to alter the institution and the powers and ensure that the Commission performs its functions effectively as the economy progresses.

I suggest to the House that when we face an instrument as powerful as this one there should be not only a regular review but a regular statement from the Government as to the reasons why they wish to see it continued. For those reasons, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Division lobby.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Hattersley

With the leave of the House, may I answer the question that has been put to me on the relationship between pay and the so-called pay section

and the prices policy that we now urge on the House?

The Bill has two components. The first concerns margin control and the relationship between it and prices policy and pay sanctions. That area is already time-limited, and it is the only area in which we propose that pay sanctions should work.

If hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw) looks at the back page of the White Paper, at Annexe A, he will see that it is explicit: This statement"— that is, the TUC's endorsement of the 12-month rule— alone constitutes the pay limit in this White Paper for the purposes of Section 1 of the Remuneration Charges and Grants Act 1975". But the hon. Gentleman will say Ah, but what about the application of the permanent investigatory powers? Could they not be used to impose wages policy or to penalise companies which did not accept figures drawn up and proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer?"

The answer is clear. If and when this Bill passes into law, the legal duty imposed on the Price Commission and those of us who have a statutory relationship with it will be to apply policy according to the criteria embodied in Clause 2 of the Bill. Were Mr. Charles Williams, chairman-elect, or the Secretary of State, to say "Ignore those criteria about reasonable return on capital and about preserving the efficient operation of the company, and rely simply on the Chancellor's statement about what wages should be", the Price Commission would be behaving illegally and we should not need to review its functions after that, or we should need to prosecute the Price Commission.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 270, Noes 255.

Division No. 203] AYES [11.17 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Booth, Rt Hon Albert
Anderson, Donald Bates, Alf Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bean, R. E. Bnyden, James (Bish Auck)
Armstrong, Ernest Belth, A. J. Bradley, Tom
Ashton, Joe Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Bray, Dr Jeremy
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Atkinson, Norman Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)
Bagler, Gordon A. T. Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Boardman, H. Buchanan, Richard
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Horam, John Parry, Robert
Callaghart, Jim (Mlddleton & P) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Pavitt, Laurie
Campbell, Ian Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Pendry, Tom
Canavan, Dennis Huckfield, Les Penhaligon, David
Can), R. B. Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Perry, Ernest
Carmlchael, Neil Hughes, Mark (Durham) Phlpps, Dr Colin
Carter, Ray Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Prescott, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Roy (Newport) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Cartwright, John Hunter, Adam Radice, Giles
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Richardson, Miss Jo
Clemitson, Ivor Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cohen, Stanley Janner, Greville Robinson, Geoffrey
Coleman, Donald Jeger, Mrs Lena Roderick, Gaerwyn
Concannon, J. D. John, Brynmor Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Con Ian, Bernard Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rooker, J. W.
Corbett, Robin Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roper, John
Cowans, Harry Jones, Barry (East Flint) Rose, Paul B.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Judd, Frank Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cronin, John Kaufman, Gerald Rowlands, Ted
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Kelley, Richard Sandelson, Neville
Cryer, Bob Kerr, Russell Sedgemore, Brian
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Kllroy-Silk, Robert Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whlteh) Kinnock, Neil Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Oalyell, Tam Lambie, David Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Davidson, Arthur Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Davies, De-nzll (Llanelli) Lamond, James Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Davles, Ifor (Gower) Leadbitter, Ted Silverman, Julius
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Leslor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Skinner, Dennis
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Small, William
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Loyden, Eddie Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Luard, Evan Snape, Peter
Dempsey, James Lyon, Alexander (York) Stallard, A. W.
Doig, Peter Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Dormand, J D. Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Stoddart, David
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McCartney, Hugh Stott, Roger
Duffy, A. E. P. McDonald, Dr Oonagh Strang, Gavin
Dunn, James A. McElhone, Frank Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Dunnett, Jack MacFarquhar, Roderick Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Dimwoody, Mrs Gwyneth MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Swain, Thomas
Eadie, Alex Maclennan, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Edge, Geoff McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Madden, Max Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Magee, Bryan Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
English, Michael Mahon, Simon Tierney, Sydney
Ennals, David Mallalieu, J. P. W. Tinn, James
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Marks, Kenneth Tomlinson, John
Evans, John (Newton) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Torney, Tom
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Mason, Rt Hon Roy Urwin, T. W.
Faulds, Andrew Maynard, Miss Joan Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Meacher, Michael Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mendelson, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Flannery, Martin Mikardo, Ian Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mlllan, Rt Hon Bruce Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kllbrlde) Ward, Michael
Forrester, John Mitchell, Austin Vernon (Grimsby) Watkins, David
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Watkinson, John
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Molloy, William Weetch, Ken
Freeson, Reginald Moonman, Eric Weilbeloved, James
Freud, Clement Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Whitehead, Phillip
George, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Whitlock, William
Gilbert, Dr John Moyle, Roland Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ginsburg, David Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Golding, John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Gould, Bryan Newens, Stanley Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Gourlay, Harry Noble, Mike Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Oakes, Gordon Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Grant, John (Islington C) Ogden, Eric Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Grocott, Bruce O'Halloran, Michael Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orbach, Maurice Woodall, Alec
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Orme Rt 'Hon Stanley Woof, Robert
Hardy, Peter Ovenden, John Wrigglesworth, Ian
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Young, David (Bolton E)
Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Padley, Walter TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hatton, Frank Palmer, Arthur Mr Ted Graham and
Hayman, Mrs Helene Pardoe, John Mr Joseph Harper.
Heffer, Eric S. Park, George
Hooley, Frank Parker, John
Hooson, Emlyn
Adley, Robert Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Goodhew, Victor Morris, Micheal (Northampton S)
Arnold, Tom Goodlad, Alastair Morrison, Charies (Devizes)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Gorst, John Mudd, David
Bain, Mrs Margaret Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Neave, Airey
Baker, Kenneth Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Nelson Anthony
Banks, Robert Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Neubert, Micheal
Bell Ronald Grieve, Percy Newton, Tony
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Griffiths, Eldon Normanton, Tom
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Grylls, Michael Nott, John
Benyon W. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Onslow, Crantey
Berry, Hon Anthony Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Blffen, John Hampson, Dr Keith Osborn, John
Biggs-Davlson, John Hannam, John Page, John (Harrow West)
Blaker, Peter Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Body, Richard Haselhurst, Alan page, Richard (workington)
Boscawen Hon Robert Hastings, Stephen Parkinson, Cecil
Bottomley Peter Hawkins, Paul Pattie, Geoffrey
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hayhoe, Barney Percival, Ian
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Henderson, Douglas Peyton, Rt Hon John
Bradford, Rev Robert Heseltine, Micheal Pink, R. Bonner
Braine, Sir Bernard Hicks, Robert Powell, Rt Hon J. Eonch
Brittan, Leon Higgins, Terence L Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brooke, Peter Hodgson, Robin Prior, Rt Hon James
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Holland, Philip Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Bryan, Sir Paul Hordern, Peter Raison, Timothy
Buck, Antony Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Rathbone, Tim
Budgen Nick Howell, David (Guildford) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bulmer Esmond Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Burden, F. A. Hunt, David (Wirral) Reid, George
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hunt, John (Bromley) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Carlisie Mark Hutchison, Michael Clark Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Chalker, Mrs Lynda James, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Churchill, W. S. Jessel, Toby Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Clark, wi11iaim (Croydon S) Jones, Arthur(Daventry) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jopling, Michael Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Clegg, Waiter Kaberry, Sir Donald Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Cockcroft, John Kershaw, Anthony Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Kilfedder, James Royle, air Anthony
Cope, John Kimball, Marcus St. John-Stevas, Norman
Cordle, John H King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Scott, Nicholas
Cormack, Patrick King, Tom (Bridgwater) Scott-Hopkins, James
Corrie, john Kitson, Sir Timothy Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Costain, A. P. Knight, Mrs, Jill Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Knox, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Crawford, Douglas Lamont, Norman Shepherd, Colin
Crouch, David Latham, Michael (Melton) Shersby, Michael
Crowder, F. P. Lawson, Nigel Silvester, Fred
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Le Marchant, Spencer Sims, Roger
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sinclair, Sir George
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Skeet, T.H.H.
Drayson, Burnaby McAdden, Sir Stephen Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward MacCormick, Iain
Dunlop, John McCrindle, Robert Speed, Keith
Durant, Tony McCusker, H. Spence, John
Dykes, Hugh McCusker, H Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Macfarlane, Neil Sproat, Iain
Elliott, Sir william MacKay, Andrew James Stanbrook, Ivor
Emery, Peter Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stanley, John
Ewing, Mrs Winiferd (Moray) McNalr-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Madel, David Stokes, John
Fairgrieve, Russell Marshall, Micheal (Arundel) Stradling Thomas, J.
Farr, John Mates, Michael Tapsell, Peter
Fell, Anthony Mather, Carol Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fineberg, Geoffrey Maude Angus Tebbit, Norman
Fisher, Sir Nigel Mawby, Ray Temple-Morris, Peter
Fletcher, Alex (Edlnburgh N) Mayhew, Patrick Thomas Rt Hon P.(Hendon S)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Meyer, Sir Anthony Townsend, Cyril D.
Fookes, Miss Janet Millar Hal (Bromsgrove) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Forman, Nigel Miscampbell, Norman Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C 'f' d) Mitchell, David (Baslngstoke) Viggers, Peter
Fox, Marcus Moate, Roger Wakeham, John
Fry, Peter Molyneax, James Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Monro, Hector Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Gardiner, Georgo (Relgate) Montgomery, Fergus Walker-Smith Rt Hon Sir Derek
Gardiner, Edward (S Fylde) Moore, John (Croydon C) Wall, Patrick
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian (Chesham) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Warren, Kenneth
Glyn, Dr Alan Morgan, Geraint weatherill, Bernard
Wells, John Welson, Gordon (Dundee E) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Wood, Rt Hon Richard Sir George Young and
Wiggin, Jerry Younger, Hon George Mr. Peter Morrison

Lords Amendments Nos. 21 to 24 agreed to.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment to the Bill: Mr. John Fraser. Mr. Graham, Mr. Hattersley, Mrs. Sally Oppenheim and Mr. Giles Shaw; Three to be the quorum.—[Mr. Hattersley.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to the Lords amendment reported, and agreed to: to be communicated to the Lords.

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