HC Deb 21 June 1977 vol 933 cc1589-90

Order for Second Reading read.

8.58 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As Al Jolson once said, "You ain't seen nothing yet." [An HON. MEMBER: "Black your face."] In my constituency that would not be a problem.

The Restrictive Trade Practices (Services) Order was made in 1976 and came into operation in March of that year. It applied, among others, to banks and other financial institutions, since the lending of money is regarded as the supply of a service for these purposes. Restrictive agreements between banks about the terms on which they would lend money thus became registerable under the legislation.

The 1976 Order had a quite unintended and generally unknown effect. It was never intended that normal agreements for the provision of loan finance, credit facilities, and so on, with no anti-competitive purpose, should be subject to the legislation, but it appears that they are. The fact is not generally known, and it was certainly never intended and would have far-reaching and deleterious effects if the anomaly were not cured.

That is the reason for the Bill. It contains some retrospective provisions, which cure the unintended defect under agreements which might have been created by the 1976 order. I believe that it has the support of financial institutions and of all parties.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. John Nott (St. Ives)

As the Minister has explained the Bill, I think that we might allow it to pass in record time. I hope that we may proceed with all stages immediately, so that we can go about our lawful business.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Coleman.]

Bill immediately considered in Committee; reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 56 {Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.