HL Deb 05 May 1932 vol 84 cc334-6

Constitution, and Proceedings of Wheat Commission.

8. No contract to which the Commission is a party shall be avoided by reason only that a member of the Commission is also a party thereto or is interested therein, and a member of the Commission who is a party to, or interested in, such a contract shall not, by reason only that he is a member of the Commission, be liable to account to the Commission for any profit realised by him by reason of the contract, but a member of the Commission must forthwith disclose to the Commission any interest which he has or acquires in any contract concluded or proposed to be concluded by the Commission, and shall not vote upon any question relating to the contract, and if he votes, his vote shall not be counted.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in paragraph 8, after the last "Commission" to insert "and shall take no part in any deliberation on." The noble Viscount said: My Lords, when I moved an Amendment the other day and quoted the Road Traffic Act the noble Earl poured some scorn on the Ministry of Transport and said they were out-of-date and that his Department was much more up-to-date. On this occasion I have the satisfaction of being able to produce a precedent which not only emanates from his Department, but comes from a Bill of which he was in charge. I refer to the provision in paragraph 3 of Part II of the First Schedule to the Land Drainage Act, 1930. I cannot see any reason why the members of this Commission should have any more facility for taking part in deliberations when they themselves are interested. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 31, line 21, after ("Commission") insert ("and shall take no part in any deliberation on").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


My Lords, I hope the noble Earl will accept this Amendment. It seems to me to be perfectly reasonable and is advocated by the fact that he himself apparently in another Bill put in the same sort of thing. Quite irrespective of that surely it is well known that if a man is a member of a Committee and has personal interest in a. subject coming before it he neither votes nor takes any part in the discussion. All my noble friend wishes to do is to assert that principle. It is already provided under the Bill, I understand, that he cannot vote, but apparently he can endeavour to influence votes. Surely that ought not to be. I hope the noble Earl will accept the Amendment and if he does not I think we ought to press it.


My Lords, may I associate myself with what Lord Banbury of Southam has said with reference to a practice which seems not only settled, but reasonable, that where a man is interested in the result of deliberations he should not influence a board's decision by making speeches on it? Evidently the draftsman of the Bill feels there is a difficulty, but strangely he has confined the prohibition to a provision not to vote. If it is right to prevent a man from voting surely he should be prevented from doing the next thing—namely, influencing others to vote. I therefore trust the noble Earl will accept this.


My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will not press this Amendment in spite of the reasons he has given to your Lordships, because it is already provided in paragraph 8 on page 31 that any member who has any interest shall not vote, and that he shall disclose the fact of his interest. This Amendment goes further and says a man shall not take part in the deliberations. The trouble is that this body is really one of interested people, for the reason that those who are interested are the people best qualified to know the trade. If we say that these men who are appointed in order that they can give the Commission the benefit of their knowledge of the trade are not to be allowed to take part in the deliberations we really stultify the work of the Commission, and for that reason I hope your Lordships will not ask me to insert this Amendment.


My Lords, after having been instigated by Lord Banbury of Southam and Lord Danesfort to press the Amendment I am somewhat in a quandary. If the noble Earl really thinks that this Bill should be differentiated from the Land Drainage Act on this point I would prefer, rather than withdraw the Amendment, to have it negatived.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Second Schedule: