HC Deb 27 July 1977 vol 936 cc845-61

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1. line 17, at end insert— (4) This Act shall come into force at the expiration of the period of six months beginning with the day on which it is passed.

1.52 a.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)

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

First we should consider the practical effect of the amendment. The Government intend to appoint the members of the new board as soon as possible after the arrangements have been ratified by the unions and they have provided the Secretary of State with appropriate nominations. This amendment would simply delay the procedure. If the experiment is to run for the two-year period envisaged—and this is necessary if the new board is to have reasonable time to test the working of the experiment—the effect of the amendment will be simply to shorten the period for review. The allowance of reasonable time for review, of course, originated in an amendment made in this House when hon. Members were concerned to ensure that the experiment would be subject to full and thorough examination before its future was decided upon. This amendment would cut into the time allotted for the review and, if only for this reason, I would argue that it should be reconsidered by another place.

Since the Bill left this House the Carter Report has been published, and hon. Members may like to look at what the Carter Report has to say about the experiment.

The House is of course aware that the Post Office management and unions were considering an experiment in industrial democracy before the Carter Committee was even appointed by the Government. From an early stage it was clear that the prospects of management and unions reaching agreed proposals were excellent, and these were presented to the Government in February of this year. The Government saw the degree of commitment which lay behind these proposals. We were convinced that it was a worthwhile experiment and we felt that we could not risk losing momentum by delaying its start. If we had waited for the Carter Report, there could of course have been no Bill this Session. We decided that the opportunity for this early experiment in industrial democracy in a major nationalised industry was not to be missed and that we should therefore proceed with the Bill.

Now that the Carter Report is available, we are aware of its views on industrial democracy in the Post Office. The Committee takes the view that industrial democracy should not only be a matter of employee seats on the board but should consist of a democratic structure throughout the organisation, starting at the level of the head post office or telephone area. The Government fully accept that this experiment must not be restricted to the board-level arrangements. As I said at the first union-management-Government tripartite meeting last July, Representation on the Board does not of itself create industrial democracy—it must be much wider and extend to all levels of enterprise". The joint study group within the Post Office has been discussing this for some time and its report, available in the Library of the House—and this is available—drew attention to the fact that, while priority was given to board-level proposals requiring legislation, consideration was also being given to the scope for extending industrial democracy at regional and local levels.

Since it presented its report, the joint study group has devoted much more attention to the arrangements for industrial democracy below board level. I understand that agreement has now been reached on all but the final details of arrangements to operate at local level—that is, the work unit controlled overall by a head postmaster or general manager. Here joint area policy committees will be established to enable staff to participate in the formative stage of decision-making on policy and planning matters of local concern. This is, of course, exactly what the Carter Committee has recommended.

Consideration of arrangements for industrial democracy at regional level is also well advanced, and I understand that management and unions hope soon to finalise and agree the participation structure covering all levels of the Post Office.

I am sure that the House will agree that the arrangements for the experiment coincide on many points with the sort of structure which the Carter Committee has in mind. I should add that the arrangements devised by the Post Office management and unions have a distinct and overwhelming advantage. They are what those most closely concerned believe is the appropriate structure for their industry. Because of this, they have the best possible chance of success. For these reasons, the Government are convinced that the experiment should go ahead as soon as possible.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huck-field), said in Committee that there should be an opportunity for the fullest consideration by Parliament of what has been achieved".—[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 21st June 1977; c. 30.] That is the Government's view, and we would not like to see the period for review shortened, as it would be by this unnecessary amendment.

Mr. Norman Lamont (Kingston upon Thames)

I shall not detain the House for more than a few minutes.

When their Lordships carried their amendment, they made it clear that their purpose was to afford the House the chance to have a further discussion in case other developments gave us reason to have second thoughts. They had in mind the Carter Report, and I want to refer specifically to what it said about worker-directors.

There is another matter about which I should like to ask the Minister. This matter has been brought to my attention since the previous debates. I refer to the position of some of the smaller unions in the Post Office, particularly the Society of Civil and Public Servants. It is not entirely happy with the scheme as it has so far been worked out. As the Minister knows, the Society is one of eight members of COPOU. Indeed, it is one of the six constituent members. It is not an associate member. Given that the Union of Post Office Workers and the Post Office Engineering Union are to have four out of the seven seats between them, that leaves three seats for the other four unions. They are understandably fearful that there will be not Corporation-wide elections but elections within particular unions which have been allocated seats on the board.

One could make a case for saying that the Society of Civil and Public Servants is an important union. It is represented in all four branches of the Corporation. It is particularly strong on the telecommunications side, but, that being capital-intensive, it is in a rather weak position in having the bulk of its membership there. The society is worried that, once the division of board representatives has been decided, it will never get a representative on the board. Will the Minister of State comment on that matter?

Another matter which arose in the debates in the other place concerned the procedures for electing the members. The question posed was whether there would be secret ballots for the election of directors. I know that the question of secret ballots in trade unions is a controversial subject—we know the arguments on both sides—but when dealing with the election of representatives to the boards of publicly-owned companies I think that there is something to be said for secret ballots.

When this point was raised in the House of Lords, Lord Winterbottom referred to "some" unions using their own established procedures that they already had for electing union officials. I do not know whether the word "some" was significant, but it was different from the word used by the Secretary of State on Second Reading. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that all unions would use their existing procedures for the election of officials. I wonder whether the Minister of State will clarify that point for us.

2.0 a.m.

When the Bill was introduced, we wished it well as an experiment. I see no reason not to wish it well again. There is only one point that concerns a matter of disagreement. We expressed some caution in that we doubted the wisdom of introducing the scheme before the Carter Committee had reported. The fact that the report is now presented means that the Government are in a bit of a muddle, especially bearing in mind what is in the report.

The report makes it clear that the committee was made aware of the Government's proposals only at a very late stage when the report was actually going to the printers. It makes clear that if the committee had been consulted it would have urged the Government to be more cautious. It emphasises that in its view it would be much better to develop participation at a local level than at a regional level and then afterwards to work upwards. The Minister said that this matter was under consideration before the Carter Committee was set up. In that case, why was the Carter Committee allowed to consider the question at all? There is a great danger now that it will be more difficult to separate the two businesses as recommended in the report.

The report specifically says that the Post Office Corporation should start now making preparations for splitting the Corporation. It also proposes boards totally different in scope and kind from those which exist now and from those proposed in the legislation. The key point, however, is that the Carter Committee puts forward specific proposals even for the interim. The committee recognises that there has to be a long period of discussion, that legislation will be complicated and that it will take time to get through the House.

For the interim, the report proposes that while consideration is taking place there should be an independent part-time chairman and two chairmen-designate for the two constituent parts, as it sees them, of the Corporation. I should like to hear from the Minister whether the Government are rejecting what the Carter Committee has recommended as interim proposals in advance of legislation. That is our only reservation about the legislation.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

Since the House last discussed the Bill, the Carter Report has been published. Before publication and during earlier discussion of the Bill, we on these Benches sought assurances from the Government that the conduct of this valuable experiment for a couple of years would in no way inhibit official reaction to the Carter recommendations, which are very weighty and would certainly not delay the preparation which the Government might have in mind. I should like to hear from the Minister that this assurance still holds now that the Government are fully aware of the Carter Report.

I turn to the appointment of directors. Is there anything more that the Minister can say about the method of appointment of consumer directors? Those of us in the House who played some part in proposing that the board should be enlarged to admit people appointed for their experience of consumer affairs have been accused in some quarters simply of adding to the Government's range of patronage. That was no part of our purpose. We on this Bench have always hoped that the appointments would be the subject of public advertising so that the Government would have the widest possible range of consumer experts from which to choose.

I hope for some assurance that these two appointments to the board are not simply to be used for well-known purposes of extending Government patronage.

Mr. Richard Page (Workington)

One of the advantages of speaking at this time is that many of the arguments have been made. I do not intend to canter over them again.

One of my original concerns was that we were obviously starting at the top and working through to the bottom. It reminded me of someone building a house by starting at the roof and filling in the foundations later.

I was reassured by the Secretary of State when he said: It is right that we should pay tribute to all those in the Post Office, management and workers' representatives alike, who have taken part in formulating the proposals. He went on to say: The proposals agreed between the Post Office and the unions have been submitted and have been accepted as being an experiment suitable to the particular circumstances of the Post Office."—[Official Report, 16th May 1977; Vol. 932, c. 108-111.] That gave the impression that all was sweetness and light. Since then, however, we have had the Carter Report. The amendment gives us the opportunity to consider that report. It gives us and the Post Office a little time so that adjustments might be made before the Bill passes from the word into the flesh. As has been said, there is a degree of concern and friction about the selection and nomination of new members. The extra time that we have will allow management and unions to evolve their traditional stances.

I hope that there will be a softening of the line which suggests that union nominees should not defend board decisions. I should like management and unions to work in harmony and produce a united report, rather than that the unions should remain silent on certain issues. I should prefer to see an evolution towards industrial democracy rather than the taking of a position which might not be 100 per cent. correct and then working backwards.

I should be assured if the Minister could say that the proposals for industrial democracy are working through the line. The Post Office Review Committee makes the same point in chapter 7, paragraph 10, under the heading: The development of true industrial democracy". I do not know what makes it think that that is the Holy Grail, but the report says that industrial democracy at the top level could mean even more autocracy at the work place rather than less. This will inhibit local initiative, and we do not want that. We want decision-making that goes not only down but up. Unions and management have a long tradition of decision-making at national level.

Chapter 9(1) of the report expresses misgivings about the centralised style of management in the Post Office with its parallel tendency towards a concentration of union activity at the national level. If the Bill is simply slapped into operation, it could enhance that tendency. A little time, afforded possibly by the amendment, would ensure a true flow of ideas from the board to the shop floor and, more vitally, back up again.

The Minister mentioned that steps are being taken on the regional boards. The Carter Report states that steps are to be taken to ensure that worker participation will be introduced here, on similar lines to that for the board, as a first step before the top board. I think that the regional boards should go in for this first.

Lastly, I hope that when the new board is operating it will continue to appreciate its monopoly position and the resultant dependence of telecommunications equipment manufacturers on the Post Office ordering procedure. As such, I hope that it will give extra help and a chance to change over on the installation of electronic switching gear, such as TX2 and TX4, by spending some of the very large profit from this investment. As we are aware, one makes a profit to make investment to plough back. I hope that the boards will make that decision when the time comes.

I have strayed slightly from the straight and narrow, but I now come straight back again and conclude by saying that, amendment or not, I wish the experiment, possibly topsy-turvy as it is, every success. Who knows? Out of it might emerge a united single Post office union.

Mr. Michael Marshall (Arundel)

We have had a number of useful contributions, but I cannot help but worry somewhat about the way in which the incidence of Carter and this experiment in industrial democracy have not meshed in perhaps as happily as we might have hoped. It is fair to say that the Minister himself bears special responsibility, because he has chaired the meetings and the consultations that have taken place between the UPW and the Post Office management. We recognise the hard work that has gone into all that, but because he himself has been involved in those consultations he must also recognise that it is singularly unfortunate that we now have Carter bringing forward what the hon. Member said was coincidence at many points. We shall therefore look to him to see how far these two elements can be reconciled. It is still unfortunate that some of them, perhaps, may be missed because of the timing getting a little out of kilter.

The Minister implied in his speech that if we carried the amendment it would foreshorten the experiment by six months. Surely the answer to that, if the Minister feels strongly about it, is to bring forward an amendment to extend the experiment by six months. The time that we are allowed to try to bring together the two elements is important. I say that also because we have now had the announcement of the move of the Post Office into a profitable period, which we welcome.

Mr. Tim Sainsbury (Hove)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the use of the word "profitable" in connection with the Post Office might be somewhat misleading? Does he not accept that profit, to be really meaningful, is an adequate return on capital employed, and that in that context the Post Office is not very profitable?

Mr. Marshall

My hon. Friend has touched on a very important theme, to which we would all do well to address our minds. Time and again we hear bandied about talk of high levels of profit. Return on capital should be the yardstick. I am glad to note that the Minister of State agrees about that. In these difficult days, we are all aware that a really meaningful criterion of that kind ought to be used more frequently.

However, the point I was making was that as the Post Office is moving into a profitable period, albeit not with as successful a return on capital as we might wish, we have a chance for reappraisal in various directions without some of the immediate short-term pressures on the composition of the board which would necessarily follow from a period of deficit operation. If one thinks for a moment about what Carter has had to say on the question of telecommunications and postal services, one can appreciate that the question of whether the board will now be suitable for the Post Office Corporation with the two services split up is very important. That is why the time lag suggested in the amendment would be very valuable.

I hope that the Minister will give us some assurances about the way in which he sees the Government's reaction and the Post Office's reaction to Carter working through into this experiment. We wish the experiment well, but I regret that we have got it out of kilter here.

2.15 a.m.

That, regretfully, reflects how time and time again we seem somehow not to have sufficient accountability between the nationalised corporations and this House. Although the Minister was aware of what was going on in the consultations, many of us were not aware of this until we were on the verge of being presented with a fait accompli in trying to make the best approach.

In those circumstances, it is the Minister who will have to make the best approach and we shall continue to ask him searching questions in the work that lies ahead.

Mr. Sainsbury

In recommending that we disagree with the Lords amendment, the Minister of State used the phrase that the arrangements were approved by those most closely concerned. I imagine that he had in mind the Post Office management and unions, subject to the reservations that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) has already pointed out about the unions involved. I put it to the Minister that they are not those most closely concerned, or exclusively concerned, because any arrangement which does not very much involve the consumer, who has suffered a great deal, is very inadequate.

Of course, the Liberals have referred to consumer directors, but these directors are a very small minority on the board. They can be out-voted on any issue upon which the management and the unions of this statutory monopoly choose to outvote the consumer interest.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that, in addition to the two directors appointed specifically for their expertise in consumer affairs, all the other members of the board will, by definition, be consumers of Post Office services as well?

Mr. Sainsbury

I would have thought that the use made of the Post Office services by the union and management directors would take up only a very small proportion of the salary and remuneration that they receive for holding that office.

I put it to the Minister that whether this operation be divided into two, as I hope it shortly will be, or whether it remains as inefficiently as one as it is now. this operation has to be run as efficiently as possible. If it is not run as efficiently as possible, it is the consumer who will suffer. I should like to hear what the Minister thinks will ensure that in the proposals which he is commending to the House there is no ganging up by unions and management—protected by a statutory monopoly from the competition that ensues in the private sector—against the consumer interest.

Those of us who are familiar with the effects of competition—[Interruption.] Some Labour Members are prone to pronounce upon this issue from a sedentary position, much more often from a sedentary position than on their feet. I shall be happy to give way. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to intervene, or do they wish to interrupt as usual from a sedentary position and show their usual lack of knowledge about what competition really does for the benefit of the consumer? I take it that hon. Gentlemen are admitting their lack of knowledge on this subject.

It is the consumer about whom we should be concerned. I put it to the Minister of State that the consumer is at present profoundly dissatisfied with the efficiency of the operation of the Post Office in his interests. In putting on to the Post Office Board nominee directors of the unions, what is it that will ensure the efficiency which in many cases will mean a lower utilisation of and need for manpower? I hope that this will be pursued as carefully and diligently as it should be.

These consumer directors—whom I welcome, as does the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright)—are powerless against the votes of the others. What is it that will ensure that the operation is being run efficiently, and what further contribution to efficiency is likely to be made by installing on a board people who will have a built-in interest in obstructing any reduction in manpower designed to promote efficiency? That is what the consumer wants to know, and I shall be interested to know how the Minister thinks that this proposal will serve the consumer interest in the light of the interesting report that we have had so recently from the Carter Committee.

Mr. Kaufman

l am sorry that we do not have the benefit of the presence here of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg). He would have pointed out to the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) that we have the Post Office Users National Council, which looks after the consumer interest of the Post Office, and that Lord Peddie, the Chairman of the POUNC, not only has written to me after consultations with me commending this experiment but, in the discussions in the House of Lords last Thursday, spoke in very strong terms in favour of the experi- ment proceeding and against this amendment being inserted in the Bill. The hon. Member for Hampstead, since he is a member of the POUNC, would have explained to the hon. Member for Hove that Lord Peddie was speaking for the council.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) pointed out that not only will the five independents be users, as well as the two with specific user experience, for whose presence the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues can accept a great deal of the responsibility, but the other members of the board will have that too.

Mr. Sainsbury rose—

Mr. Kaufman

No. I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. If he had read the Second Reading debate, he would have known that this had been covered. It is a little late in the day, when the Bill has been through both Houses and when these matters have been discussed privately and publicly, to say nothing of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) and his colleagues raising them in Committee, for the hon. Member for Hove suddenly to appear on a Lords amendment and take an interest in the experiment in a contentious way when his hon. Friends, though making points of substance, were able to preserve the good will towards this experiment that the House had shown.

Mr. Sainsbury

I do not know why the Minister assumes that an hon. Member who has not spoken before on these matters is for some reason debarred from intervening when we have before us a Lords amendment on an entirely novel issue, having had the benefit of a very substantial analysis of the position from the Carter Committee. That puts the matter on an altogether different footing.

Since the Minister is extolling the power of the Post Office Users National Council—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant God-man Irvine)

The hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) has already made one speech. The Minister is expecting an intervention.

Mr. Sainsbury

I make my intervention because, in reply to my arguments earlier, the Minister referred specifically to the existence of the POUNC to deal with the interest of the consumer. Since he is so impressed by the power of that council, can he say what its executive power is and how much influence it has had on matters such as Sunday collections?

Mr. Kaufman

I recall those ghastly days on the Rent Bill in 1974, and should have remembered never to give way to the mumbo-jumbo of the hon Member for Hove.

Mr. Sainsbury

Answer my question.

Mr. Kaufman

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Colne Valley for his reference to the basis upon which the profits of the Post Office should be assessed. I am a great champion of the profitability of the Post Office. I am delighted about the profits announced today. But I agree with the hon. Gentleman that those profits, though admirable, and creditable as they are to the Post Office, must be very much higher if they are to reflect the necessary return on capital. I know that workers in the Post Office who have contributed to those profits will agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I am grateful to him for setting those profits in perspective.

Mr. Michael Marshall

I think that this is common ground between us, but does the Minister recognise that at the same time it behoves the Post Office to think again about some of the services that it provides? It has caused a good deal of ill will in jacking up the profit. We must see each side of the equation, even though we share the same objective.

Mr. Kaufman

I shall not expand on that, but if the hon. Gentleman was obliquely referring to Sunday collections I must tell him that the profit on the postal services was, I think, 0.8 per cent. of turnover, and if one takes the £9 million cost of the Sunday service away from the £25 million there is not much left. The hon. Gentleman and I are clearly agreed in principle on this matter, so we need not go on debating it.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames spoke of the concern of the Society of Civil and Public Servants about its representation on the board. He sug- gested that a solution to this admittedly difficult problem would have been Corporation-wide elections.

Mr. Norman Lamont

indicated dissent.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman dissents and accept that members of the two major unions would inevitably have swamped the elections for the seven seats. That is why the present arrangement is more acceptable. But the society has seen me about the matter and has also discussed it with Liberal Members. I think that the best answer I can give is to quote from a letter I sent in May to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), who had raised the point with me. I said: It is certainly my understanding that the Council of Post Office Unions, in accordance with their assurance to the Post Office that all Post Office staff will be involved in the experiment, will do all they can to arrive at a situation in which the Society and its members will be able to participate fully in the process of electing worker-directors. I have placed myself at the disposal of either side if they believe that I can assist in achieving this. I had this morning a meeting with representatives of the Society at which I offered my good offices on this matter. … I know that you accept that the experiment is based on agreement by the participants and must not be imposed by the Government. I could not force through a solution which they did not find satisfactory and could not compel the Society to participiate if they did not wish to do so, however acceptable arrangements for participation by their members might seem to you or me. Nevertheless, I am confident that a solution can be found and assure you I will do all I can to help achieve one. Therefore, I assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter is very much in my mind. It must be one that the responsible unions resolve among themselves rather than by Government intervention, but I have made it clear that if I can assist I shall do so. I very much hope that a satisfactory solution will be found to what is admittedly a difficult problem. It is one of the problems that such an experiment will have to solve for other industries that may embark on similar ventures. The hon. Gentleman will accept that, even with these difficulties, we are fortunate in that we are dealing with a group of unions that are highly responsible and have highly democratic procedures.

The hon. Gentleman also asked me about methods of election. The Post Office Engineering Union has already made its selection, at its recent conference, through its delegate procedures. The selection was done by the normal method of voting by delegates from branches. The Union of Post Office Workers, the largest of the unions, with over 200,000 members, intends to make its selection by a postal ballot of all members after branches have been invited to nominate candidates. The smaller unions have not yet considered the matter in conference. They intend to hold special conferences in the autumn and have not yet decided how their nominees will be chosen.

2.30 a.m.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley asked me for an assurance that the fact that the experiment will now proceed will not prejudice consideration of the Carter Report. I give that assurance. It will not, and I come, indeed, to the question of how we deal with Carter. It has been announced that the Government are asking for observations from the public and will also consult interested bodies up to the end of November. After that, we shall consider those representations and consultations and will then issue a White Paper some time next spring.

Clearly, that will not prejudice proceeding with the experiment. I assure hon. Members that we have not taken up a position on Carter at this point. We have an open mind about the proposals and we want to consider them carefully. The experiment will not prejudice our consideration of the Carter proposals, because by the time any possible legislation comes, the experiment will be over.

The hon. Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall) asked if I thought that the experiment would be, not foreshortened, but extended in some way. I deliberately accepted a proposal that we should insert an amendment to limit it, so as to make sure that it did not go on beyond two years. To extend it would be to reverse what the Conservative and Liberal Parties asked for. I hope that the hon. Member will not press the point.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley raised again, as he did in Standing Committee, the appointment of consumers. I have looked carefully at the question of advertising to do this. Although I have no wish to dismiss it, and I said in Standing Committee that there would be merit in it, I have come to the conclusion that advertising would not be the appropriate procedure. I shall explain why. I asked for a paper to be prepared on the possibilty of advertising. I got that far. The problem was looking at the result. In another matter in which we advertised there has been a response of 1,500 replies, and with an organisation like the Post Office, on which we are all experts, we might have got many thousands of replies. If we were to do that, considering the curriculum vitae and so on of applicants would have taken many months in order to do them justice. It would have risked postponing the experiment a great deal. I should, however, like to consider areas in which we can seek a much wider possibility of consideration so that it is not what some people might call "the same old gang" who are considered.

That is not at all the way we wish to approach this. I have reluctantly decided that advertising is not appropriate, but I shall consider whether other proposals could be considered to draw more widely when appointing these people. We have a little time, so that MPs or any other interested person who would like to make proposals can do so in good faith, just as I did when considering that possibility, even though I came reluctantly to the conclusion that it was not possible.

I would say to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Page) that I have always thought—and I thought at the start of consideration of these matters a year ago—that membership of a board of itself would not be industrial democracy. Just as in the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act we inserted a duty for a strong organic forum, we want it also in the Post Office.

The reason why we are only discussing the board is that we need an Act for the board whereas we do not need an Act for the rest of it. That being so, I can assure the House that we shall go ahead on that basis. I hope that this will be approved and that the House will accept the principle.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment to the Bill: Mr. Kaufman, Mr. Les Huckfield, Mr. Norman Lamont, Mr. Jim Lester and Mr. Frank R. White; Three to be the quorum.—[Mr. Kaufman.

To withdraw immediately.

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

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