HL Deb 24 June 1930 vol 78 cc82-4

Clause 5, page 14 line 5, at end insert the following new subsection: ("(10) Any person aggrieved—

  1. (a) by the neglect or refusal of a committee of investigation to report to the Board of Trade that any provision of a scheme is contrary to the public interests, or is unfair or inequitable in its operation, or where such a report has been made is aggrieved by any act or omission of the Board of Trade in relation thereto; or
  2. (b) by the neglect or refusal of a committee of investigation to refer a complaint to arbitration under subsection (8) of this section;
may, with the leave of the Railway and Canal Commission, appeal to that Commission who shall have power to make such order as they think fit.")

The Commons disagree to the above Amendment for the following Reason:Because the Amendment would defeat the purpose for which committees of investigation are constituted.


My Lords, once more I have to ask your Lordships to insist upon your Amendment. I can explain quite shortly what its effect is. Under the clause as it stands, any consumer who is aggrieved can apply to the committee of investigation and, if the committee thinks that the point is made out, it refers the matter in the one case to the Board of Trade, or, in the other case, makes a representation that ultimately brings the matter to arbitration. Obviously it is quite right that there should not be let loose upon the framers of these schemes an unlimited flood of litigation, and accordingly the committee of investigation is set up in order to provide prima facie protection; but it might very easily happen that in certain cases—where, for instance, the actual committee of investigation consisted of persons who were in competition or even trade hostility with those whose complaint was being investigated—a complaint might be made which had great weight in it and which the committee failed to appreciate and failed to report.

In such a case the Amendment which your Lordships saw fit to introduce at any rate gave to the individual a right to go to arbitration. As I have said, it prevents a flood of litigation being let loose, but it does give to the individual who is aggrieved and who thinks his complaint has not been appreciated or his grievance met, the right to apply to the Railway and Canal Commission, which is the body which is charged under this Bill with the duty of investigating matters of complaint. He has a right to ask that the Commission, if they think that he has I made out a prima facie case, should allow the matter to be investigated. That does not seem to me to be an unfair provision to make. It is the only protection that the individual consumer is afforded, and for that reason I hope that your Lordships will insist upon this Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth insist upon the said Amendment.—(Viscount Hailsham.)


My Lords, the Government are unable to accept this Motion, because they think it would open the door to appeals too wide. With regard to the noble and learned Viscount's point regarding competition in connection with committees of investiga- tion, we think that, if a prima facie case is not made out before a practical body, the matter ought to rest there. I think the tendency of modern times—I certainly hope so—is to restrict the right of appeal and not to enlarge it. I quite agree with what my noble and learned friend has said. These people have to go to the Railway and Canal Commission in order to obtain leave to appeal under the circumstances, but we think that it is a pity that even this temptation should be offered, since this would lead to additional litigation by a litigant whose case has been turned down by a practical body. Accordingly I trust that your Lordships will not insist upon the Amendment.