HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc539-40 12.15 pm
Mr. Henderson

I beg to move amendment No. 55, in page 42, line 21, leave out 'conclusive evidence' and insert 'evidence (and, in Scotland, sufficient evidence)'. This is one of a pair of amendments that were moved in Committee. The twin of this amendment was written into the Bill as paragraph 51(4) of schedule 3.

The purpose of the amendment is to prevent the situation occurring in which a certificate of the corporation could be conclusive evidence as to the rate at which a charge might be levied by an authority outside the British Isles and to that extent could not be challenged in a court. The object of the amendment, therefore, is to provide that whilst a certificate of the corporation in these circumstances would be valid evidence it would not be the end of the story and it could be challenged in a court.

Mr. Mikardo

This amendment arises out of an initiative that the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) and I took independently of each other and unbeknown to each other in the course of the proceedings in the Standing Committee—an excellent example of great minds thinking alike. I am much indebted to him for the way in which he moved the amendment. I have nothing to add to what he said, except to express the hope that the Government will look with a benign countenance upon it.

Mr. Marshall

I have to say straight away that in view of the persuasiveness of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) when he moved the amendment in Committee we undertook to consult the Post Office on the implications of accepting it. As we told the Committee then, when accepting a similar amendment in relation to the Post Office, the Post Office sees no significant difficulty in a British Telecommunications certificate of rates abroad being evidence, or sufficient evidence in Scotland, instead of conclusive evidence.

Therefore, in view of the renewed persuasiveness of my hon. Friend and the apparently intuitive skill o' the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), I am happy to accept the amendment, which will effect a small but worthwhile improvement in the rights of BT's customers.

Amendment agreed to.

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