HC Deb 09 June 1981 vol 6 cc272-93

  1. '(1) No levy in respect of any employee shall accrue due under a levy order made under section 4 of the Industrial Training Act 1964 over any period or part of a period during which that employee's employment is carried on at or from an establishment situated wholly or mainly within an area designated as an enterprise zone under Schedule 32 to the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980; and any levy paid to an industrial training board by a person in respect of a period or part of a period over which by virtue of this subsection it does not accrue due shall be repayable by the board to that person.
  2. (2) No requirement shall be imposed on any employer under section 6 of that Act (power to obtain information from employers) in respect of any employee in respect of whom he is exempt from levy by virtue of subsection (1) above or in respect of any such establishment as is mentioned in that subsection.
  3. (3) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument provide that this section shall not apply in relation to such employees or such establishments as he may specify in the order or shall apply to them with such modifications as he may so specify; but no such order shall be made unless the Secretary of State has first consulted the Manpower Services Commission or the Commission has submitted proposals to him for an order under this subsection.
  4. (4) An order made by virtue of subsection (3) above shall be subject to annulment by a resolution of either House of Parliament.'.—[Mr. Prior.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.49 pm
The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Prior)

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

I ask the House, with the new clause, to restore to the Bill a provision for employers with establishments inside enterprise zones to be relieved of the industrial training board levy and of requirements from industrial training boards for information in relation to those establishments. The provision was part of the Bill when the House gave it a Second Reading, but it was voted out in Standing Committee. We propose now to take a reserve power to restrict the provision in order to meet concerns expressed in Standing Committee, should they materialise.

I shall not speak at length to justify the concept of enterprise zones. That concept was debated fully last year when the House approved the Local Government, Planning and Land Act. It also had a fair run in Committee. The idea of enterprise zones is to stimulate economic activity in a number of small zones where economic life has decayed, by relieving companies in a variety of ways from financial and administrative burdens. Relieving companies from the industrial training board levy and the form filling involved is a small but important part of the package of aids and incentives. In itself it may not make or break the enterprise zone experiment, but since the venture is experimental we think it right to give it the maximum chance of success by restoring this provision.

I have read the speech made in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor). He takes a pretty dim view of both training boards and enterprise zones. He may like to reflect on the fact that if enterprise zones succeed, and if one of the reasons for their success is that form filling has been reduced, he might he able to make a stronger case against the statutory training boards now in existence.

In Committee my hon. Friend and others expressed hostility to the concept of enterprise zones, but the main point of concern was the possibility that the provision could be abused by companies that wanted to escape the levy without bringing substantial economic benefit to those zones. It was on that point that the clause foundered. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee saw dangers in fly-by-night companies setting up "brassplate" establishments in enterprise zones to avoid the levy. It was said that the provision was a poacher's charter.

Those possibilities may materialise, but they may not materialise to any great extent if companies find that the benefit that this provision confers does not outweigh the costs of moving. We certainly have no evidence to suggest that they will materialise, but we think it right to respond to the concerns expressed in Committee. One way of doing so might have been to modify the provision to confine the benefits to companies with employees working exclusively inside the zones.

We found it unsatisfactory to do that. It would have meant taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It would have required companies to give information about their establishments in enterprise zones to an extent that would have destroyed much of the purpose of the provision. It would have been complicated for companies to comply with and for industrial training boards to administer. It would have excluded from the benefits of the provision some activities that we want to encourage.

We think it better to take a reserve power to restrict the provision only if, and to the extent that, a problem emerges. The power that we propose is capable of general or precise application. It would enable us, if necessary, to remove the benefits conferred by the provision from some types of business or industries, should we find that they are tending to set up "brass plate" establishments in enterprise zones. It would enable us to confine relief to only some of the people working from establishments, or in other ways. In short, it would allow us to apply the remedy to the specific ailment that was identified. It would not, I emphasise, allow us to extend the provision in any way.

That seems to be a sensible way of tackling the potential problems of the provision, given that no problem may emerge, or given that it is only a limited problem. It seems consistent with the experimental nature of the concept of enterprise zones.

In addition to taking a power to restrict the provision, we are proposing another smaller change to the provision as first introduced. We propose to give the benefit of relief from the levy and from form filling to establishments that are mainly but not wholly inside enterprise zones. I would not pretend that this is an important step, since we are not aware of any establishments that are mainly but not wholly inside zones. In the main the boundaries of zones have been drawn so as to include premises completely or not at all, but a company might develop an establishment mainly in a zone, though with outlying premises outside. In those circumstances it would not be sensible to deny the company the benefits of this provision.

The new clause seeks to meet the most valid of the objections that Opposition Members raised in Committee. We think that we have relieved some of the anxiety expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West, but it is impossible to relieve all his anxiety. Therefore, we hope that the House will give a fair wind to the new clause.

Mr. Barry Jones (Flint, East)

On Second Reading in February right hon. and hon. Members—at least on the Opposition Benches—gave the then clause 4 a tardy reception. I recollect the powerful attack made by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) on the provision. He rode all over the arguments for exempting firms from the levy in enterprise zones.

In Committee the hon. Member for Croydon. North-West (Mr. Taylor) brought powerful and well-informed arguments to bear against the clause. As he so bluntly and brutally said, clause 4 is impractical and has not been thought through. I should like to remind the Secretary of State of the Minister's speech in Committee on 9 April, on the original clause 4. Essentially, he first said that perhaps the wording was insufficiently stringent. Secondly, he implied that the clause was open to exploitation by firms that would locate themselves in enterprise zones solely to obtain exemption from training obligations. Thirdly, he was uncertain about the situation if buildings in an enterprise zone extended literally across the zone's boundaries.

It was odd to hear the Government propose with such uncertainty and imprecision a clause that has major consequences for industrial training. I noted the Secretary of State's flattery of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the subject of the "poachers' charter", which had been raised in Committee. It would seem that he was gently ravishing his clause. In effect, he sought to establish his alibi in case things went wrong, as they might if he presses on in this direction. The right hon. Gentleman seeks to rescue the situation and to propose a new clause.

When the Minister lost his clause in Committee we thought that the Government would return on Report with a watertight and comprehensible —if objectionable —set of proposals, but that is not the case. There is more, not less, confusion. For example, we are perplexed at the ambiguous phrases in lines 3 and 4 of new clause 1(1): at or from an establishment situated wholly or mainly within an area designated as an enterprise zone". The wording appears to invite widespread and inevitable attempts to circumvent the right hon. Gentleman's professed good intentions. We strongly oppose the Government's proposal to widen the exemption to cover those firms that are situated mainly in enterprise zones. We think that that might result in firms that have three of their five establishments outside a zone being exempted from the training levy. That would result in reduced training opportunities for all employees so affected. Firms in enterprise zones will have every incentive to poach skilled labour from firms nearby and there will be unfair competition for those employers whose premises are outside, near to, or adjacent to an enterprise zone.

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The worrying thing is that the scope of the exemption proposed can be very wide indeed. It can apply where employment is carried on at or from an establishment". We can imagine, even if the Government cannot, some famous construction companies rubbing their hands with glee at the clause. We can imagine nation-wide haulage contractors doing the same. Perhaps we shall see some famous nameplates taken down and re-erected in enterprise zones. The options are there and the scope for manoeuvre is wide.

Those are some of the reasons why we should look with great caution at what is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. There are 11 enterprise zones in Wales, Scotland and England, but the House should not forget that the 11 zones range from 200 to 1,000-acre sites. It is possible that the Government will yet regret the nature of the clause, because the provisions as promulgated are more far-reaching than they appear to be at first sight.

The clause precludes firms in enterprise zones from paying levy on furnishing information, but it does not say that the industrial training boards are free from servicing them. We want the right hon. Gentleman to clarify that. If industrial training boards are to service firms in enterprise zones, is that fair to other employers when the Government are planning to return industrial training boards' operating costs to the industries?

In any event, small firms are excluded from the levy, so the introduction of the clause supports what both the TUC and the Association of Independent Businessmen have said about enterprise zones, namely, that they might be havens for property speculators and hypermarkets and could damage existing local small businesses.

The Secretary of State described an order-making power. He implied that it was an initiative of significance —a cut in the scope of the original clause. It has been proffered to us as a concession, though willingly proffered and courteously proposed, but it poses as many questions as the right hon. Gentleman tried to answer in his opening remarks.

Subsection (3) contains the reserve powers. On reflection, it seems to us that it is less of a concession than the right hon. Gentleman makes out. At first sight, his reference to the Manpower Services Commission appears to herald that quango's rehabilitation, on the basis that in clause 1 the commission sees its power and authority diminished by what might be the self-aggrandisement of the right hon. Gentleman in his accretion of extra powers on industrial training orders.

Subsection (3) makes only a hypothetical exclusion. The Secretary of State and the commission are here only contemplating which firm, if any, shall be denied the juicy plum of exclusion from the need to pay levy and provide information to a training board. The Secretary of State would have greater credit if he were to say that there would be a debate each time it was proposed that a specific company in an enterprise zone should not pay the levy.

The new clause is a fundamental breach of a basic principle for employers and employees, namely, that training should be provided and should be received. To legislate to exempt firms from their obligations to industrial training in the latter part of the twentieth century, in the midst of a serious economic depression, is irresponsible government. It is unfair to firms and employers in areas adjoining enterprise zones. They will have to undertake training and pay the levy, but their competitors in the enterprise zone will not.

The poaching of trained labour will be a certainty. There is no avoiding that if the Minister proceeds with the clause. On that basis, what he proposes is unjust. It is also inequitable, because the Government are effectively setting up a special status of company. It is pointless to say that the new clause affects but a few areas in the United Kingdom and that our opposition is much ado about nothing.

The CBI and the TUC each know now that the Government are not fully wedded to the concept of industrial training. The Government are making no attempt to try to propose that country-wide. That is what the new clause is signalling to British industry. Establishing the special category status will produce mischievous consequences.

Mr. Richard Needham (Chippenham)

I am slightly confused. If the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that enterprise zones will consist entirely of hypermarkets and property developers, how will anyone be poached to do jobs that will require little if any training?

Mr. Jones

That is not entirely true. I was quoting the TUC and the Association of Independent Businessmen, but I was not adducing that in support of the argument that I propound. I dare say that the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Needham) was not being mischievous or trying to prevent me from concluding my remarks.

The clause will bring forth only mischievous consequences. It is a retrograde proposal. The Government have overlooked the needs of the nation and the worker in the enterprise zone. The worker is entitled, wherever he is, to more, not less, training. Training should embody some of the principles of industrial safety and a worker in an enterprise zone should have good, comprehensive training from experts and professionals. We oppose the clause because under its provisions that will not be available. The clause should be wholeheartedly opposed. It is a miserable one and deserves to fall.

Mr. Ken Eastham (Manchester, Blackley)

I am surprised that the House is debating this subject once again, considering the time that was spent on it in Committee. Hon. Members who served on the Committee will recall that Conservative Members also opposed the sentiments expressed by the Under-Secretary. I thought that this subject had been shot down in flames, never again to be seen, but it has been presented in new clothing in a second attempt to give it respectability and the hope that it will be carried on Report.

As Labour Members study these enterprise zones more and more, they increasingly see them as gimmicks. Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented the concept of the enterprise zones in one of his early Budgets, we have listened to all kinds of methods and excuses to justify them as ways of trying to entice development into them.

We all know that the enterprise zones will not provide jobs or provide solutions to unemployment. In respect of jobs we may be robbing Peter to pay Paul. The House will realise that numerous local authorities have already cottoned on to some of the disadvantages of the enterprise zones and have made representations to the various Ministries.

There is a designated zone adjacent to the city of Manchester. There have already been numerous meetings not just with the local authority, but with the various chambers of trade, which are now beginning to recognise some of the disadvantages in the offing. As a consequence, they have made some loud protests.

It is fair to remind the Minister that there are inner city areas with acute problems. The strange thing is that no special help is to be afforded to inner cities, Yet Government spokesmen have said many times that their sympathies still lie with the inner city programmes and that they intend to continue supporting them. Had the Government really wanted to assist employment their help would have been concentrated in areas such as the inner cities, but instead we are deluded into thinking that if we support the enterprise zones all will be well and things will improve.

It is worth reminding the House that many parts of the country that do not have enterprise zones are designated development areas or intermediate areas. They all deserve special Government assistance and sympathy, yet the Government do not propose any special assistance for those areas. All the evidence points to the possibility of a complete dilution of assistance to the development areas, as a result of which companies will be enticed to look to the enterprise zones with their gimmicks, such as exemption from industrial training.

The more I think of enterprise zones, the more I become disturbed and alarmed. For example, I have already heard noises about land values suddenly increasing in these enterprise zones because of speculation that if the Government introduce these various benefits the estate agents ought to be on the gravy train to share in those benefits. That is completely contrary to the sentiments that the Government have previously expressed. However, one can understand why society's wheelers and dealers think that they must share in this preferential treatment by making deals for these developments.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

The idea that property speculators and others will cash in on these enterprise zones is in no way anathema to Conservative Members, because in 1973 they set in train the biggest racketeering and property speculation since the Second World War, and this proposal is on all fours with that.

Mr. Eastham

I do not argue with my hon. Friend's sentiments, with which I am in complete sympathy. He knows of numerous examples, and I am sure that many hon. Members could tap their experience to cite others. Nevertheless, it is proper at this stage for Labour Members to point out that things are not right. For those reasons, we are justified in opposing this continued preferential treatment to the detriment of other areas which must abide by the rules rind make a normal contribution to industrial training.

4.15 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones) mentioned several possibilities, such as the establishment of bogus headquarters addresses in these enterprise zones. Will the Minister give a guarantee that that will not take place? It would be extremely difficult to justify the establishment of companies that take the view that because their address is in the enterprise zone they should be exempt from facing their fair responsibilities in competition with other industrialists who are going through a difficult time.

We believe that the concept of the enterprise zone is a complete farce, especially at a time when ordinary companies are wrestling with Britain's devastated economy and trying to keep their end up. They are trying to produce future technologists and technicians and are facing their training obligations. Such companies will be confronted by some of the cheats in industry who will not pay a penny piece and who later will probably poach skilled people from adjacent areas.

I believe that that is a reasonable option which some companies will seriously consider. Not one clause in the Bill will help training. I defy any Conservative Member to put his hand on his heart, stand before the House and say that the Bill has been presented solely in the interests of improving training. Labour Members regard it as a poachers' charter, and the Government ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

When a similar clause to this was removed from the Bill, I thought that good sense had prevailed. In Committee the Under-Secretary of State made the astonishing admission that there were many loopholes in the clause as drafted and conceded the Opposition's point that there would be ways in which companies could get around the intention of the Bill.

I am astonished that the Government should now seek to widen the opportunities to find loopholes. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham), I am not surprised that they are trying to reintroduce the clause. I am just astonished that, having conceded in Committee that it did not constitute a watertight arrangement, they are now introducing an even more leaky clause.

The Under-Secretary of State smiles, but there were times in Committee when I thought that he had stepped out of a P. G. Wodehouse story. The hon. Gentleman acted like Bertie Wooster, but, unlike Bertie Wooster, he needed not one Jeeves but two to help him at times with his explanation of the Government's intentions on industrial training.

The main weakness is the abuses that are likely to take place when companies realise the advantage that is given when they are required only to be "mainly" sited within an enterprise zone. We have 11 Liechtensteins throughout the country. I thought in Committee that it might be enough to permit companies to have a name plate or a post box saying that its headquarters were located within an enterprise zone. I realise now that there are probably ample opportunities for enterprising business men to set up offices on a kind of "rent-a-room" headquarters basis. Companies will sense the opportunities available to them by siting their head offices within an enterprise zone in order to claim exemption from the levy for employees and the supplying of necessary information on their employment activities to the industrial training boards.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

If the hon. Gentleman is worried about abuses, does he agree that the greater the extent to which the Secretary of State exercises his discretion to wind up training boards and the fewer the number of training boards, the fewer the opportunities that will arise for the problems to which he refers?

Mr. Craigen

I know the mind of the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend). I worked closely with him on the Employment Select Committee. I know that the hon. Gentleman would like to abolish the industrial training boards altogether.

Mr. Townend

Not quite. Nearly.

Mr. Craigen

That is remarkable concession. The Government are intent on moving from a statutory to a voluntary arrangement within the industrial training system. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would agree that it would be more encouraging not to exclude companies that lie within enterprise zones. If the Government feel as deeply in favour of voluntarism for industrial training boards as hon. Members are led to believe, I should have thought that more encouragement would be provided to employers in particular industries if the Government stated that there were no special privileges for a company that happened to be located within an enterprise zone. The Government have adopted the approach that companies within an enterprise zone will be exempted from paying rates. Why should an extra privilege be provided in respect of their reponsibilities towards the training of their labour, thus enabling them to escape those responsibilities in this sphere of manpower?

The Secretary of State suggested that the drafting of the new clause might assuage the misgivings of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor). The hon. Gentleman is a hard man to please on industrial training matters. He was rightly concerned about the prospect of a large company within an enterprise zone, employing hundreds of people, escaping its responsibilities for training, while a small company just outside the enterprise zone would have to shoulder its responsibilities.

I hope that more Government Back Benchers will think carefully about the implications of the new clause and realise what is involved, not only in respect of the undesirable practice, but in respect of the unfair competition that will benefit companies that happen to be sited within an enterprise zone. I hope that enough Government Back Benchers will think deeply enough to reverse the Government's intention.

Mr. Hooley

I am not surprised that the Government have called in their heavyweight Secretary of State to present the new clause to the House. His reputation as a flabby wet within the Cabinet is possibly becoming a little embarrassing. He perhaps feels that he has to demonstrate that he is as desiccated as some of his colleagues and needs to flex his muscles to show that he is as ideologically committed to free enterprise as the rest of the gang. I am not surprised that the junior Minister, who was obviously embarrassed in coping with the rebellion from his own side —he is really a very amiable chap —should have preferred to bow out of the debate on the Floor of the House and to shelter behind the prestige of his senior colleague, allowing him to do the donkey work.

The new clause is worse than the original clause. The phrase "wholly or mainly" has been included. This implies a creeping extension of the concept of enterprise zones. The debate has been bedevilled on both sides by split minds among some of my colleagues and certainly among some Conservative Members about whether the enterprise zone is a good idea.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Bristol, North-West)

The drift of the hon. Gentleman's remarks is that the new clause may lead to a creeping extension of enterprise zones. The whole concept of the enterprise zone is surely to see whether the idea works. Would it not be better if the whole country were an enterprise zone, with no restrictions? Would the hon. Gentleman be opposed to such an approach?

Mr. Hooley

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and most of the Cabinet would be terrified to hear the proposition put forward by the hon. Gentleman. The rate revenue, the tax revenue and heaven knows what else would disappear if the enterprise zone concept were extended in the manner that he proposes.

I do not believe that legislation approved in the past in respect of enterprise zones has ever introduced the principle that benefits should accrue to an establishment that was "wholly or mainly" within the zone. I may be wrong. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman can call on his advisers for some exegesis of the 1980 Act to explain how the enterprise zones were defined. I do not recall even the Secretary of State for the Environment claiming that the various benefits that a private firm could gain by being situated in an enterprise zone would apply if the establishment concerned were "wholly or mainly" within the area.

The implications need to be examined. Let us suppose that the establishment is large and extends outside the zone. An extension might be built. Does that qualify? If another extension is added, does that qualify? How far can an establishment creep over the boundary? Does the number of people employed have to be defined? Is the square footage taken into account? Can a building go up to a height of 15 storeys and still claim the benefit? Does it depend on the definition of the ground floor area? The phrase "wholly or mainly" is the sort of sloppy wording that should not appear in a Bill of this kind. I am not aware that it has appeared hitherto in the enterprise zone concept.

4.30 pm

There have been split minds on both sides of the House on whether enterprise zones are a good thing. I have never hesitated in denouncing them as a cranky gimmick with no contribution to make to the economy or the creation of jobs. Bringing them into a Bill on industrial training, where they are wholly irrelevant and where the concept contributes nothing to the major argument about the nature and structure of industrial training, shows how dangerous a gimmick it is.

The phrase "wholly or mainly" is likely to cause immense complications and arguments between firms and the Civil Service on the question of who falls within the definition.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why he finds enterprise zones so objectionable when their purpose is to encourage firms to come to the area and create employment? Presumably he finds wholly praiseworthy regional policy that has exactly the same objective.

Mr. Hooley

If the hon. Gentleman seriously wants an answer to that he should read the excellent speech that I made on the Report stage of the Finance Bill last year, when I set out in considerable detail my objections to enterprise zones. My arguments were cogent, coherent and compelling, and still are. If the hon. Gentleman wants to study enterprise zones in general and reads my speech he will be enlightened.

In addition to the sloppy phrase "wholly or mainly", the clause contains the even more dangerous and alarming phrase in line 3: carried on at or from an establishment". Why could not the Government, if they mean this exemption to apply, honestly and straightforwardly say "in an establishment"? That is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. But no, the Government produce this vague and dangerous phrase "at or from". "At" could certainly be construed as meaning the same as "in", but "from" is a different matter.

If a firm sets up a regional or area office in an enterprise zone, and if most of its employees are employed on activities around the area outside the enterprise zone, or far from it, does it qualify for the exemptions set out in the clause? There are many firms in this category. Reference has been made to haulage firms, whose employees go all over the country. There are construction firms that carry out contracts throughout the kingdom. Many firms employ travellers and agents to gain business for them —double glazing firms, for instance. They may send hundreds of employees around the country seeking to gain business.

If a firm of that type sets up its regional office, area office or headquarters in an enterprise zone, can it claim exemption from the levy in respect of all its workers who are scattered about the kingdom? Let us suppose that that firm has a long-established competitor in another city, or in another place in the same city but not within the enterprise zone. Is the competitor to have to put up with the disadvantage that his rival can claim exemption in respect of training and that the staff that he has so carefully trained can be poached, borrowed, seized or stolen by the fly-by-night firm in the enterprise zone, which makes no contribution to training?

The Minister said that subsection (3) gave the Government draconian powers to clobber ruthlessly firms that sought to exploit this situation. I am surprised that a Conservative Government should see fit to take powers like this to direct the affairs of private firms. What is more curious is that they will put themselves in an invidious position. They will have to say to a firm that transgresses subsection (1) by setting up its office in an enterprise zone when most of its employees are working throughout the kingdom, "Sorry, we did not mean this to apply to you". The firm will then say that another firm in the enterprise zone is doing the same, but that is has not been told not to do it.

What kind of power is this, to pick and choose between private enterprise firms, telling one firm that it cannot do this, and another that it can? I am sure that there will be some snarls from the CBI, if from no one else, about subsection (3).

The answer comes from the Government "But we shall not use it, or we shall not use it very much". That is the truth of the matter. It has been put in as a sop in reply to complaints made by both sides of the Committee about this whole gimmick. To save face the Government are insisting on the enterprise zone provision but are shoving in a saving clause to make it clear that they will not tolerate large abuse.

Does anyone seriously believe that the Secretary of State will lay order after order in respect of individual firms that have set up in enterprise zones for the sake of avoiding training levies, to bring them to heel? Of course not. Subsection (3) is not seriously meant. It is put in as a form of words so that the Secretary of State can tell the CBI and the trade unions that no abuse can occur because the Government have legal powers to correct it.

The Government know full well that with all the mass of business that falls on the shoulders of the Secretary of State and the Department of Employment they will never bother about the clause. It is simply a cosmetic exercise, put in partly to reassure and partly to fudge the issue and pretend that the dangers that hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed out do not exist.

In Committee the Minister used a delightful phrase when he said: I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West will agree that, if we are able to exclude them from an added burden, that will be good for them."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 9 April 1981; c. 250.] He was talking about private firms. The Bill puts an extra burden of £50 million on industry. The Minister says that this silly little gimmick will save £500,000, or perhaps £1 million, or perhaps nothing. He has the gall to present to the House a Bill which deliberately shifts extra payments of £50 million on to industry. If ever there was evidence of the nonsense of the clause, that phrase is it.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

I am delighted to follow the powerful argument by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley). I was one of those perhaps naive members of the Committee who thought that, since we had defeated the clause there, that would be the last of it. I shall be interested to hear the contribution, if any, from the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor) if he has the opportunity of catching your eye on this issue, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

We are reconsidering a clause that was roundly defeated. The argument was won by Opposition Members, yet the Government are crawling back to stampede this new clause through the House by using the unthinking soldiers that they have at their disposal.

I was not in Committee and I still am not implacably opposed to the concept of enterprise zones. Anyone who has experienced the difficulty of trying to attract jobs into inner city areas recognises that it is difficult enough to attract them to green field sites in special development areas, especially now that the amount of footloose industry is seriously reduced and the competition for it has increased so much. I am one of those who look to a whole range of experimentation in inner city areas to help us to make some impact upon the fearful problem of attracting new jobs to those areas.

However, I am implacably opposed to the exemption of companies, large or small, in such enterprise zones from making a contribution towards training. If the enterprise zone is designed as a way of making a contribution towards reducing unemployment in inner city areas, one thing is being forgotten. Surely the Secretary of State would be the first to admit that the vast majority of the unemployed in inner city areas are unskilled.

In that situation, any company that is moving into an enterprise zone either neglects to employ the people in the neighbourhood of that zone because they have not the relevant skills for the enterprise or it goes about trying to train those people. I hope that all companies will do the latter. Then they would find that they would need to spend the money that is necessary to initiate proper training programmes.

Many of the companies that will move into enterprise zones will not do the training. Especially in the short term, they will do what many other companies have done for too long —that is, poach skilled labour from where they can get it. Some of my hon. Friends have rightly damned the clause and the whole Bill as a poachers' charter. We are convinced that there is nothing in it that will enable the Secretary of State to fulfil the laudable objectives that he enunciated to the House in his November statement, which many on this side of the House are fully agreed with and wish him well in seeking to attain.

Here the right hon. Gentleman is giving another exemption to companies irrespective of their size, of how long they have been established and of their commitment to training elsewhere. He is making an exception purely on the ground that they are operating. at or from an establishment situated wholly or mainly within an area designated as an enterprise zone". Surely small companies which some people wish to exempt from the burden of the levy are already sufficiently exempt within the training stuctures. I have not heard any hon. Member make a strong case that they are not. So a small company within an enterprise zone is hardly likely to find training a burden.

4.45 pm

What possible reason can there be for exempting a medium-sized or large company from its commitment to training? There can be no reason. If there is a valid reason for exempting such companies from the so-called burden of training, we should discuss the responsibility not only to train for their own needs but to contribute to the national needs of training —not the burden of training. If there is sufficient reason to exempt them if they are operating within an enterprise zone, what will prevent another Secretary of State, or even this Secretary of State, from coming to the House next year and saying that the exemption in enterprise zones has proved such a good idea that the Government want to extend it to most of the country?

I want from the Secretary of State a justification for any company in an enterprise zone having such exemption. Why should these companies be allowed to reduce their responsibility and contribution to the training commitment? Not only does the Secretary of State need to justify to the Opposition why any company should be exempt, but he needs to explain to Members on his own Back Benches why people who operate within spitting distance of an enterprise zone, or even within 20, 30 or 100 miles of one, should be so unfavourably placed. Why do people whom the Government want to attract to enterprise zones need to be given this additional incentive? Is the Secretary of State really saying that there are not sufficient incentives already?

How much additional incentive are we talking about? My guess is that it is peanuts and not sufficient to be taken seriously into consideration by a company among the other decisions that will influence it. If that is the case, why include it in the Bill? Why cause injustice to companies that operate in surrounding areas or elsewhere?

I remain highly sceptical of the success of enterprise zones. I, too, have the great fears, which some of my hon. Friends have expressed, about them being attractive only to property speculators and hypermarkets. I, too, am deeply concerned about the number of multinational companies that are considering shuffling their operations into enterprise zones. If that is the result at the end of the day it will prove a completely and expensively fruitless exercise. The burden of proof remains with the Secretary of State to justify to Labour Members why any company should be exempt and to Government Members why other companies should be put at such a disadvantage.

Mr. Robert Taylor (Croydon, North-West)

I am flattered and surprised that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should have found time to read my humble contribution in Committee. I am even more flattered that four of the five Opposition Members who have spoken in the debate so far have similarly referred to the few remarks that I made. In spite of that flattery I remain unconvinced by and dissatisfied with the revised clause that is before us.

My criticism is not the same as that made by some Labour Members. It shows a naivety and lack of knowledge of business to suggest that because firms in enterprise zones may be excused the payment of industrial training levies they are likely to go on the rampage and poach trained personnel from firms outside the enterprise zones. I agree with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster), who said that the levy was peanuts compared with the other inducements that were available to bring firms into enterprise zones.

I oppose the clause because it introduces an element of bureaucracy that is quite unnecessary, particularly at a time when we are trying to reduce bureaucracy. Moreover, it puts firms outside enterprise zones at a further disadvantage.

A letter in The Times today is extremely pertinent. It comes from the secretary of the National Chamber of Trade, who writes from Enterprise House, at Henley-on-Thames, saying The ironic part of the whole scheme —enterprise zones— is that the businesses on the outside of the zone boundaries not only lose out to completely unfair competition, but have to foot the bill for the £20 million capital allowances and £50 million rates lost by the end of the 10-year period. He omitted to say that in addition they would have to continue to fund the industrial training boards without the assistance of those firms that are operating from the enterprise zones.

The fact that it is necessary for my right hon. Friend to reintroduce the clause suggests that, as a result of the Bill, he will not disband the number of boards that I hoped on Second Reading would be disbanded. If, as a result of the Bill, he does away with many of the industrial training boards, surely the clause is superfluous. If he intends to continue the industrial training boards, with all the paraphernalia of levies, grants and form filling that those of us in industry know so well, the outlook is quite unsatisfactory.

My right hon. Friend is taking wide powers in the new clause. Subsection (3), which the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) quoted, says that the Secretary of State shall not apply the order in relation to such employees or such establishments as he may specify". That is a very wide power to grant to any Secretary of State. I am certain that while my right hon. Friend is Secretary of State he will excercise the power with discretion and common sense, but that may not always happen. The House is in danger of introducing far too much legislation which, by its nature, gives powers to Secretaries of State to take action that should not be taken without the consent of the House. It is a dangerous tendency. We should be careful about giving Secretaries of State such wide-ranging powers.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will tell us how he will exercise those powers. The issue has already been raised of companies that set up in enterprise zones and trade outside them. My right hon. Friend dealt with the matter to a certain extent when he referred to "brass-plate" companies. What about the multiple retail outlet that has a shop inside an enterprise zone? Will it be allowed to exempt all the employees who work in that shop from paying to the distributive industrial training boards? If so, how does my right hon. Friend and his Department know how many of the employees on the company's payroll work full time in that one multiple retail outlet that is centred in the enterprise zone?

Let us consider a building that is to be constructed in the enterprise zone. I assume that the registered office does not provide the qualification for exemption from levies. Therefore, the activity must be the exemption. If a construction company completes a contract inside an enterprise zone, presumably the employees working on that contract will be exempted from their levy. Who is to say how many people on that payroll will be working full time on that job? What about the directors? What about the contract managers? What about the site agents? What about all the employees? How will my right hon. Friend manage the scheme? In my view, it is unworkable. Therefore, I remain unconvinced by this revamped clause. I cannot support my right hon. Friend, and it is not my nature to sit on the fence.

Mr. Prior

I am disappointed by my hon. Friend's remarks, because I thought that we had gone a long way towards convincing him that what we were doing was sensible and wise. He made great play of the bureaucracy of British institutions. The new clause is an attempt —in my view a laudable attempt —to reduce bureaucracy in certain areas in order to encourage the growth of employment. It is a pilot scheme to see what else can be done to show that enterprise will flourish as a result of reducing bureaucracy, form filling, and so on. I had hoped that my hon. Friend would come that far with us. Any Secretary of State would use the powers sparingly, and the powers are, of course, subject to the negative procedure in the House. No doubt my hon. Friend will be vigilant in seeing that the powers used by Secretaries of State are kept to the minimum. If enterprise zones are to function as we hope they will, they should have as much freedom from form filling and bureaucracy as possible.

As we have strayed a little wide, I shall enumerate the benefits that are available to industry and commerce in an enterprise zone: exemption from general rates; exemption from development land tax; 100 per cent. capital allowances; simplified planning procedures; speedier handling of requests for Customs warehousing; exemption from IDCs; minimal requests for statistical information; and, subject to the passage of the Bill, exemption from ITB levy and information requirements.

I am sure that many people will want to set up businesses in enterprise zones.

Mr. Eastham

Why, then, do we not offer the same concessions to the designated inner city areas, which in major cities have all these acute problems? The right hon. Gentleman's ministerial colleagues are saying that they need all the support that they can get to create these inducements. Why do those areas not receive the same consideration?

Mr. Prior

For geographical reasons we decided that there must be separate zones for the purpose, other than inner city areas. That is why, on the whole, derelict areas have been chosen in certain places, so that they do not conflict with existing businesses. The idea is to attract new business.

5 pm

There is bound to be a degree of selectivity in any regional policy, whether it involves development areas, special development areas or any other status, when something special is given to one area that is denied to others that are made to pay for it. Certain advantages being conferred on people inside a zone that other people just outside the zone have to pay for is nothing new. That has always been one of the factors in designating an area. This is no exception.

Opposition Members had better make up their minds. Some of them think that the enterprise zone concept will fail. If that is so they have nothing to worry about. If only hypermarkets or property companies set up in enterprise zones the training establishment will not be affected. On the other hand, if, as some Opposition Members believe, enterprise zones turn out to be honey pots, to which many new firms will go, training is relevant, and so is new industry and new employment. The Opposition must decide which way they believe enterprise zones will work.

Sir Albert Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

When the Government's plan becomes successful, Opposition Members will argue that people are speculating and may make some money out of it.

Mr. Prior

That is another contradiction.

The hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones) asked whether the ITB was empowered to assist establishments in an enterprise zone. The ITB is empowered, but not required, to assist establishments in an enterprise zone. The clause applies only to establishments "wholly or mainly" in a zone. If an establishment is outside a zone the clause does not apply to it. However, workers controlled from an establishment in a zone are exempt under the clause. It will depend on the definition of the establishment whether it is held to be within a zone.

In the case of Lord Advocate v Babcock and Willcox (Operations) Ltd., concerning the firm's construction site at Didcot power station, it was held by the House of Lords that the site at the power station was an establishment because there was exclusive occupation of the premises, because it had some degree of permanence, and because organisational and administrative functions were performed there. It was also said that not all construction sites could be regarded as establishments.

It will be a question in each case whether a temporary headquarters or site in a zone is an establishment. Similarly, if a construction company sets up its headquarters in an enterprise zone it will have to establish whether construction sites throughout the country constitute establishments that fall outside the zone or whether they are included in the headquarters. One of the purposes of the clause, and particularly of subsection (3), is to meet that point. It gives the Secretary of State power, if he feels that it is necessary, to take action in regard to such an establishment.

Mr. Craigen

The Secretary of State is acknowledging that he expects companies to have the double advantage of establishing their headquarters in an enterprise zone and employing people outwith the zone.

Mr. Prior

In some cases that will be so. It is inevitable. If a haulage firm is set up in an enterprise zone drivers will travel outside that zone, but they will be assessed as if they worked from the zone, and therefore the employer will not be subject to the industrial training board levy.

Mr. Robert Taylor

What if a haulage firm sets up inside an enterprise zone and has a depot outside the zone?

Mr. Prior

That will depend on whether it is considered to be a major abuse and whether the depot outside the zone constitutes an establishment "mainly or wholly" within the zone. I should have thought that depots spread throughout the country would not qualify. However, that will be a matter to be decided at the time.

I hope that few such cases will arise. That is why the original clause did not include powers such as we are including in the new clause. That seems to be sensible. We think it right to introduce the new clause so that if "brass plate" abuse of the type discussed in Committee occurred, or poachers' charters or little Liechtensteins were set up, we could deal with the matter.

Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)

The Secretary of State has created a whole new area of uncertainty for many firms, particularly in the construction industry. The Construction Industry Training Board is responsible for skilled manpower —a crucial aspect of the economy. The Secretary of State said that it would be open to any major construction company building motorways or petrochemical plants, for example, to establish an office in an enterprise zone from which it could be said that men were working and thus obtain exemption from the levy. However, such a company will not know whether the Secretary of State will slap an order on it restrospectively.

Mr. Prior

We shall not restrospectively slap an order on a company. The right hon. Member is making a terrible meal out of the issue. We want to encourage people to set up in the enterprise zones. We want to put as few obstacles in their way as possible. However, outside interests and members of the Committee have said that the scheme could be subject to the abuse that firms could move into a zone with their headquarters and all their other activities throughout the country would be exempt from the training levy. If that happened, by statutory instrument the Secretary of State may provide that this section shall not apply in relation to such employees or such establishments as he may specify in the order or shall apply to them with such modifications as he may so specify; but no such order shall be made unless the Secretary of State has first consulted the Manpower Services Commission or the Commission has submitted proposals to him for an order under this subsection. That makes the position clear. I have no doubt that the construction industry understands what would be considered to be a proper establishment in the enterprise zone and what would be considered to be an establishment outside the zone. I do not believe that the problems are likely to arise. The Government believe that where there is reasonable doubt the benefit of that doubt should go to the firm in the enterprise zone. We wish to encourage firms to move into those areas of dereliction and high unemployment so that they can create new employment. That is the purpose of framing the new clause in this way.

Mr. Hooley

The Secretary of State can get away from the business of laying orders, giving directives and so on, if he will drop the phrase "at or from" and say "in". I thought that the objective was to create employment in the enterprise zones. If he drops the nonsense about "at or from" and simply says "in" he will not need all the other apparatus.

Mr. Prior

That is nonsense. If we use the phrase "in an enterprise zone", anyone who works outside it will be subject to the levy. There will be those who work outside the enterprise zones but whose firms are established in them. To go down the path suggested by the hon. Gentleman would make nonsense of the whole purpose of the clause, which is to try to prevent the growth of bureaucracy and give firms an advantage that they would not otherwise have. That is the whole purpose of the clause. It is wide ranging, and its definitions are also wide.

It is true that other benefits do not apply to an establishment wholly or mainly within a zone. To avoid bureaucracy we thought it desirable not to divide the establishment for the purposes of the clause and the training levy. Previously, the clause included the words "wholly inside the zone". That would mean that being even a few square feet outside the zone would disqualify the whole establishment. That is why we have used the phrase "wholly and mainly". The concept of "establishments" does not appear in existing legislation affecting enterprise zones, because "establishments" is primarily a concept of employment law. Other Acts, for example, refer to hereditaments and not to establishments.

I believe that the concept of the enterprise zone is something that we should support. The hon. Member of Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) recognised that in Committee, and again this afternoon. The general view is that enterprise zones will be popular and that the concessions in themselves will provide a number of opportunities that otherwise would not occur.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor) was disappointed that we had tabled the new clause. He suspects that the number of training boards that will be abolished will be rather less than would otherwise have been the case. No decisions have been reached on that subject. First, it will depend entirely on the advice that I am given by the Manpower Services Commission —which has not yet submitted proposals about any sectors of industry —and after that on the Government's view, taking account of the problems associated with the transfer of operating costs from Government finance to a training board.

Mr. Eric S. Heifer (Liverpool, Walton)

The right hon. Gentleman said that enterprise zones were popular. Undoubtedly they are popular in some quarters, but has the right hon. Gentleman seen the criticisms levelled at them by the Liverpool chamber of commerce, which has not shown great enthusiasm for them? Should he not take that view into consideration?

While I am on my feet, I must ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is really suggesting that an old-established construction firm in the city of Liverpool should be encouraged to move its headquarters into an enterprise zone so that it will not pay a levy —a levy that is vital if we are to obtain the training that is needed in the;construction industry?

Mr. Prior

I am not saying that. I have already said, before the hon. Gentleman came in—

Mr. Heller

I am sorry that I was late. I was at another meeting.

Mr. Prior

This is an important meeting.

Mr. Heffer

I am here now.

5.15 pm
Mr. Prior

I am well aware that the hon. Gentleman is here now. I accept his apology. I do not believe that there is any evidence that large construction companies will deliberately move their headquarters into enterprise zones. If they were to do that to attract the advantages of enterprise zones and to exempt themselves from the industrial training board levy, the provisions in the clause would prevent that happening. The hon. Gentleman need not worry too much on that score.

I confess that I have not read what the Liverpool chamber of commerce has said about enterprise zones. I am not surprised to hear that there is some criticism of them. I have reached the conclusion that in Britain it is almost impossible to do anything that does not at some time attract criticism from somebody. Whenever we try anything new in Britain thousands of people pour cold water on it. That has been done adequately by the Opposition this afternoon. I hope that on the basis of my remarks they will withdraw their opposition to the new clause.

Mr. Barry Jones

No, Sir. When the Secretary of State introduced his new clause he conceded that there was a possibility of abuse—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must seek the leave of the House to speak again.

Mr. Jones

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask the leave of the House to speak again. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman knew that the new clause could be a poachers' charter. He said that there would be complications. I suppose that the best description of his remarks is that he played both ends against the middle. The more that he tried to answer the questions posed by my hon. Friends, the more it became clear that the new clause had been ill thought out.

The Government obviously had difficulty in framing the new clause, for the second time, in as watertight a way as they wanted. We are facing the pressures of time in the debate. The right hon. Gentleman said that matters depended on the definition of the establishment. He perplexed us, specifically, with his citation of the precedent and the answers that flowed from that. It is rather late in the day for him to confront us with such an answer.

The right hon. Gentleman has failed to convince us. He has confirmed our worst anxieties and we shall vote against the new clause.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 249, Noes 193.

Division No. 211] [5.18pm
Adley, Robert Goodlad, Alastair
Alexander, Richard Gorst, John
Ancram, Michael Gow, Ian
Arnold, Tom Gower, Sir Raymond
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Greenway, Harry
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Grist, Ian
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Grylls, Michael
Bevan, David Gilroy Hamilton, Hon A.
Biggs-Davison, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Blackburn, John Hannam, John
Body, Richard Haselhurst, Alan
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bowden, Andrew Hawksley, Warren
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hayhoe, Barney
Braine, Sir Bernard Hicks, Robert
Bright, Graham Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Brittan, Leon Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Brooke, Hon Peter Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Hooson, Tom
Browne, John (Winchester) Hordern, Peter
Bruce-Gardyne, John Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldfd)
Bryan, Sir Paul Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hunt, David (Wirral)
Buck, Antony Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Bulmer, Esmond Hurd, Hon Douglas
Burden, Sir Frederick Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Butcher, John Jessel, Toby
Cadbury, Jocelyn Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Kershaw, Anthony
Chapman, Sydney King, Rt Hon Tom
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Kitson, Sir Timothy
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Knight, Mrs Jill
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Knox, David
Cockeram, Eric Lamont, Norman
Colvin, Michael Lang, Ian
Cope, John Langford-Holt, Sir John
Corrie, John Latham, Michael
Costain, Sir Albert Lawrence, Ivan
Cranborne, Viscount Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Critchley, Julian Lee, John
Crouch, David Le Marchant, Spencer
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dickens, Geoffrey Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Dorrell, Stephen Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dover, Denshore Loveridge, John
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lyell, Nicholas
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Macfarlane, Neil
Durant, Tony MacGregor, John
Dykes, Hugh MacKay, John (Argyll)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Eggar, Tim McNair-Wilson, M, (N'bury)
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fairbairn, Nicholas McQuarrie, Albert
Fairgrieve, Russell Madel, David
Faith, Mrs Sheila Major, John
Farr, John Marlow, Tony
Fell, Anthony Mates, Michael
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Mather, Carol
Fisher, Sir Nigel Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Mawby, Ray
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Mayhew, Patrick
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Mellor, David
Fry, Peter Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mills, lain (Meriden)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Moate, Roger
Glyn, Dr Alan Monro, Hector
Goodhart, Philip Moore, John
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Sims, Roger
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Skeet, T. H. H.
Mudd, David Speed, Keith
Murphy, Christopher Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Myles, David Sproat, lain
Neale, Gerrard Squire, Robin
Needham, Richard Stanbrook, Ivor
Nelson, Anthony Steen, Anthony
Neubert, Michael Stevens, Martin
Newton, Tony Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Normanton, Tom Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Onslow, Cranley Stokes, John
Osborn, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Page, John (Harrow, West) Tapsell, Peter
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Temple-Morris, Peter
Parkinson, Cecil Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Parris, Matthew Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Thompson, Donald
Pattle, Geoffrey Thorne, Neil (llford South)
Percival, Sir Ian Thornton, Malcolm
Pink, R. Bonner Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pollock, Alexander Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Porter, Barry Trippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg van Straubenzee, W. R.
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Viggers, Peter
Prior, Rt Hon James Waddington, David
Proctor, K. Harvey Wakeham, John
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Waldegrave, Hon William
Rathbone, Tim Walker, B. (Perth)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Renton, Tim Wall, Patrick
Rhodes James, Robert Waller, Gary
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Ward, John
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Warren, Kenneth
Rifkind, Malcolm Wells, John (Maidstone)
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Wells, Bowen
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wheeler, John
Rossi, Hugh Whitney, Raymond
Rost, Peter Wickenden, Keith
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wilkinson, John
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Scott, Nicholas Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Younger, Rt Hon George
Shelton, William (Streatham)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Tellers for the Ayes:
Shepherd, Richard Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Shersby, Michael Mr. Selwyn Gummer.
Silvester, Fred
Abse, Leo Craigen, J. M.
Adams, Allen Crowther, J. S.
Allaun, Frank Cryer, Bob
Anderson, Donald Cunliffe, Lawrence
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dalyell, Tam
Beith, A. J. Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Deakins, Eric
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Dempsey, James
Bradley, Tom Dewar, Donald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dixon, Donald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dobson, Frank
Buchan, Norman Dormand, Jack
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Dubs, Alfred
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Dunn, James A.
Campbell, Ian Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Campbell-Savours, Dale Eastham, Ken
Carmichael, Neil Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) English, Michael
Cohen, Stanley Ennals, Rt Hon David
Coleman, Donald Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Evans, John (Newton)
Conlan, Bernard Ewing, Harry
Cook, Robin F. Faulds, Andrew
Cowans, Harry Field, Frank
Fitch, Alan Morton, George
Flannery, Martin Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Newens, Stanley
Ford, Ben O'Halloran, Michael
Forrester, John O'Neill, Martin
Foster, Derek Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foulkes, George Palmer, Arthur
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Parry, Robert
George, Bruce Pendry, Tom
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Penhaligon, David
Golding, John Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Gourlay, Harry Prescott, John
Graham, Ted Radice, Giles
Grant, George (Morpeth) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Grant, John (Islington C) Richardson, Jo
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Robertson, George
Haynes, Frank Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Rooker, J. W.
Heffer, Eric S. Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Home Robertson, John Sheerman, Barry
Homewood, William Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hooley, Frank Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Howell, Rt Hon D. Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Howells, Geraint Silverman, Julius
Huckfield, Les Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Snape, Peter
Janner, Hon Greville Soley, Clive
John, Brynmor Spearing, Nigel
Johnson, James (Hull West) Spriggs, Leslie
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Stallard, A. W.
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Steel, Rt Hon David
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Stott, Roger
Kerr, Russell Strang, Gavin
Kilfedder, James A. Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Lamond, James Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Leighton, Ronald Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Lestor, Miss Joan Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)
Litherland, Robert Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Tilley, John
Lyon, Alexander (York) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Wainwright, R.(Colne V)
McElhone, Frank Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
McKelvey, William Wellbeloved, James
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Welsh, Michael
McTaggart, Robert White, Frank R.
Magee, Bryan White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton) Whitehead, Phillip
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Whitlock, William
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wigley, Dafydd
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)
Maxton, John Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Maynard, Miss Joan Winnick, David
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Woodall, Alec
Mikardo, Ian Woolmer, Kenneth
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Young, David (Bolton E)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Tellers for the Noes:
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Mr. James Hamilton and
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Mr. Hugh McCartney.
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

5.30 pm
Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise a matter that could cause some hon. Members to miss Divisions. The 24-hour clock on the right hand side of the annunciator seems to be working somewhat variably, and in many cases is completely missing from the screens. That means that hon. Members are not able to obtain information on how long a Division has been progressing. That could be crucial information for an hon. Member who is trying to reach the Chamber. I wonder whether you could arrange to have the matter investigated and corrected.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I shall arrange for that matter to be seen to.

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