§ Further considered on Report (according to order).
§ Clause 99:
§ Provisions as to pension rights.
§ (3) Regulations made under this section shall not be invalid by reason that in fact they do not secure that persons having pension rights are not placed in any worse position by reason of any such amendment, repeal, revocation, transfer, extinguishment or winding up as is mentioned in the last preceding subsection, but if the Minister is satisfied or it is determined as hereinafter mentioned that any such regulations have failed to secure that result, the Minister shall as soon as may be make the necessary amending regulations.
§ Any dispute arising between the Minister and any person as to whether or not the said result has been secured by any regulations made under this section shall be referred to a referee or board of referees appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service for his or their determination thereon.
§ (4) Without prejudice to the generality of the preceding provisions of this section, regulations made under this section may contain provisions authorising any person who, being a participant in any pension scheme to which the regulations relate, becomes a member of the Commission or of an Executive being treated as if his service as a member of the Commission or of an Executive, as the case may be, were service in the employment of the Commission, and the pension rights of any such persons resulting from the operation of any such provision shall not be affected by any provision of this Act which requires that the pensions, if any, which are to be paid in the case of members of the Commission or an Executive are to be determined by the Minister with the approval of the Treasury or by the Commission with the approval of the Minister and the Treasury.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON moved, in subsection (3), to omit the last five words "his or their determination thereon," and insert "determination, and such reference shall be deemed to be an arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934, and the provisions of those Acts relating to statutory arbitrations shall apply to such reference and determination."
§ The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I rise to move the Amendment, the first on to-day's Marshalled List, which stands in the name of my noble friends the Earl of Dudley, Viscount Ridley and Lord Balfour of Burleigh, as well as myself. I may point out, in order to save time, that Amendments in these terms are also down in connexion with 400 Clause 100 and Clause 102. If I may say what is in my mind, I dare say this will cover consideration of all three, though we are now dealing only with the Amendment called by the Lord Chancellor. Clause 99 deals with the provision as to pension rights; Clause 100 with the special provisions as to pension funds, and Clause 102, when we come to it, with the very important question of compensation to officers and servants in connexion with the transfer. All these three topics raise this question and those who are at all familiar with the process of the consolidation of public undertakings know it very well.
§ What is the fair and proper way in which to decide what is to be the pension position of a man who necessarily changes his employer when he ceases to serve the railway company and becomes a servant of the Transport Commission? And, again, what is the fair and proper way in which his case will be decided if there is a dispute as to the compensation he ought to receive, supposing as a result of this change there is loss of office or he is prejudiced in any other way? I go at once to the illustration which those who know our railway law will have thought of, but which is in the most remarkable manner departed from in the drafting of this Bill. In 1921 there was a great previous amalgamation of railway companies. There were hundreds of them and they were reduced to four, I think, on the whole, to the great advantage of everybody. I am glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, here because he will be very familiar with this matter. It is a matter of the greatest importance to railway servants and officers when there is a transfer to a new organization. In the Act of 1921, in the Third Schedule, there is a provision which I have every reason to believe worked very well, and indeed it is sometimes called into operation even to-day. It is headed "Existing officers and servants." For the convenience of your Lordships I will summarize it in a few sentences. The provision is that where there is a question of pension rights or compensation there is to be appointed a standing arbitrator or board of arbitration by the Lord Chancellor, and if there is a dispute between a claimant and the new body—at that time it was one or other of the four companies, to-day it is the Transport Commission—that dispute 401 should be settled by this arbitrator. There was an appeal to the abitrator so that the matter might be finally resolved.
§ I can speak with my own knowledge here; as it happens, I have had a little to do with this in the Law Courts in time past, and I think it has operated excellently. I am sure the great trade unions embracing railway servants will certainly say it has been a great shield to their rights. Because there is another way in which these things may be done: by saying, "You shall not have any arbitration; there will be no provision by Act of Parliament." In the one case, the men are to see every document supplied by the referee; in the other, there will be nothing approaching that kind of what I call fair play. There will simply be a decision by the referee. He will be nominated by the Minister and that is the end of it.
The question raised by my Amendment is, which of those two methods is right? If I may direct your Lordships' attention to the words of the Bill, you will see in how striking a way it departs from the principle and precedent and method which has always been employed and was especially introduced in the Railways Act of 1921. Clause 99 says, first of all, the Minister may make regulations for
(a) for providing pensions to or in respect of—
§ Of course, many of your Lordships know this great pension organization, this system set up in every great railway company by arrangement between themselves and those who serve the company, involving contributions from employer and men. The administration of this great pension organization is very necessary to the fair working and good working of the whole concern, and when it is transferred to a new undertaking, it is absolutely essential to have proper provision as to how, in the case of dispute, the men's rights to pension or compensation shall be fixed.
The way it was done in the Act of 1921 was to say that there must be a standing arbitrator or board of arbitration and the Arbitration Act applied. The way it is done here is this. If your Lordships look
again at Clause 99, in the middle of page 112, you will see that the last paragraph in subsection (3) begins:
Any dispute arising between the Minister and any person as to whether or not the said result has been secured….
And if your Lordships look a little higher on the page, you will see that the result to be secured is that the man in the new position shall not be placed in any worse position than he was in the old position, and he shall still have his equivalent rights, and not something else. Subsection (3) goes on, after "secured," to say:
by any regulations made under this section shall be referred to"—
to what shall he be referred?—
a referee or board of referees appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service for his or their determination thereon.
§ I do not doubt that the Minister of Labour would discharge his duty here as carefully as he could but the point is that the decision of that referee may be a decision within the Department—it is final. The method can be that the papers of a particular case are selected, and are sent along to the referee with the comments of the Minister of Transport and his officials. There is nothing whatever to secure what in other actions we call "a man's rights''; that is to say, that he should know what is being said against him, and, that if there is a real dispute, the facts should be tried out fairly between the two sides. There is nothing whatever in this position which would cover that at all. If, indeed, there does arise—as there might arise, for instance, on these regulations that are going to be made—a question as to what a regulation means, there is nothing whatever in this to secure that he can have any arbitration which the Arbitration Act will give him, or the right to have a question of law decided by a High Court Judge.
Exactly the same thing is true of Clause 100. I am not seeking to argue all three cases at once; I merely use it as an illustration. A particularly remarkable one is in connexion with compensation. I only use it as an analogy. If your Lordships will look at subsection (3) of Clause 102, you will see there:
Regulations made under subsection (1) of this section—
There is no magic or mystery about using the word "referee"; it merely means a person to whom the matter is referred. He is not necessarily especially qualified for the purpose, although I assume that every effort will be made to get a proper person.
But is it really right that, because we have now passed from days like 1921, and we have in power a different Government with different principles, to say, in reference to the dispossessed railwayman, or in reference to the man who fears that his pension rights are not being fairly provided for: "If you dispute it the matter shall go to a referee, and that is the end of it." I would respectfully suggest to your Lordships quite without any idea of appealing to one Party—though I appeal most definitely to the noble Lords opposite about this—Is it not right in such cases, where a man's whole position depends upon getting fair justice, to do what we seek to do in this clause, and following clauses, by this Amendment? I do not really care very much about the word "referee"; a man is neither more nor less qualified because you call him that. Even in such matters as popular athletics there are good referees and bad referees, though I understand if he is bad enough he may receive rough treatment either from the crowd or from the players. Nothing of that sort can happen here of course. Let us keep the word "referee" if it is any good to anybody. But we seek to add to subsection (3) a short paragraph which I will read, without actually removing the word "referee":
and such reference shall be deemed to be an arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934, and the provisions of those Acts relating to statutory arbitrations shall apply to such reference and determination.
§ The effect of that would be that when this referee has before him a dispute between a man and this new Commission, and he finds that the man is saying: "I 404 am not getting my equivalent rights," the referee would not be able to decide the matter in his office. If there were a real dispute, he would have to do what is done to this day by an arbitrator under the Railways Act, 1921—he would have to hear it. I do not mean to say he would have to hear it with all the trappings and wigs, and that sort of thing. As a matter of fact, arbitrators, and those who appear before them, do not wear wigs. There is many a leader of labour industry who knows perfectly well how such an arbitration is conducted. A great point is that it is conducted perfectly fairly, and each side has got to know everything which the other side seeks to put before the arbitrator. If there is a dispute about a fact, the fact is decided by having the necessary people before the arbitrator, and proper questions are put to those people; and if there is a real dispute as to the meaning of, say, a regulation—and there are going to be heaps of regulations here, with the odd position that they are all going to be made after the measure is passed, and we do not know what they are at the present time—that is something which ought to be decided by a High Court Judge.
§ Let me give the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, if he will allow me, one analogy with which I am sure he is familiar. It so happens that I had a good deal to do with this in a former Government. At the beginning of the last war questions arose as to what was the proper war pension to award to a man who had received an injury in the war. At first, that was decided in the Ministry of Pensions, entirely as an administrative act, and the Minister of Pensions did his best. But some of your Lordships will recall the outcry that arose. It was said: "This is not fair. The Ministry of Pensions are deciding that this man cannot have a pension, when he ought to have a pension according to the law." When I was Lord Chancellor one of my duties was to devise a scheme of Pensions Tribunals, which should be Pensions Appeal Tribunals, at the top of each of which we put somebody who was qualified by being a barrister or solicitor, or something of the kind, and there were other members, too. Vast numbers of cases which had been decided against the applicant in the Ministry were, on appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal, decided in favour of the applicant. To that 405 extent, everybody thought things were going very well. The Ministry of Pensions—an excellent Ministry—contributed all they could in the way of information, but the fact was that in a number of cases people had not got their rights. But it has not stopped there.
§ Now the demand has arisen—some of your Lordships have taken part in sustaining it—that if the War Pensions Tribunal goes wrong on a point of law, it ought to be the case that it should be decided by a High Court Judge. There is a very distinguished and accomplished High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Denning, who has delivered quite a number of decisions, in which he has tried to put this thing right, and I am sure has given great satisfaction to those concerned. It cannot always be decided one way or the other way, but, at least, we can try to get it right. All that I am asking, together with those who are associated with me, is that we should have something of that sort in connexion with the claims of these railwaymen or railway officials who are losing their jobs because they are not wanted any more and are therefore redundant. I imagine there cannot be as many officials wanted in many Departments—let us say, for instance, the Legal Department—if you have only one organization, as were wanted when there were a great many. There are certainly vast numbers of people employed in this industry of transport who are acutely anxious to know whether they are going to get under the new dispensation rights which are equivalent to their old rights.
§ I address myself particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Walkden, who is so persuasive and emphatic and understands this subject so very well. Does anybody really deny that it will be a great hardship on these people if they have simply to take the decision of a person who is nominated by a Minister and called a referee and then be told to go away? It is plainly the case that we should follow the method which was followed to the general satisfaction of everybody—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Walkden, will agree—when the railways were amalgamated after the 1914–1918 war, when it was expressly provided by Act of Parliament that these claims in case of dispute should ultimately be decided by a standing arbitrator or body of arbitrators, with the result that it has been essen- 406 tial to the decision reached that both sides should be properly heard and that there should be no question of the matter being finally and for ever determined by a single referee who may be anybody you like. On the other hand, if the case needed it, it should be decided according to what is commonly called justice in this country, which means hearing both sides, if necessary on oath, reaching the facts without any private communication to the Judge and if need be—which does not very often happen but which sometimes happens—if there is a point of construction or law involved, having that matter determined on appeal.
§ That is my case. I hope I have made it in clear terms. I meant to put it in firm terms but at the same time I hope in moderate terms, because, if I may for a moment speak of my personal feelings, I do feel most deeply and sincerely that it is not right that we should put this great mass of people finally at the disposal of a gentleman, however eminent, who is called a referee. They ought to have what they had under the Act of 1921, the ordinary right of securing that their compensation or their pension in cases of dispute is really determined by a better process. I will not say more, and I hope very much that, however deeply the framers of this Bill may have thought, "This is no doubt the system; a referee will do," your Lordships' House will say it will not do, because we are bound to see that decent justice is done to people who have these serious claims. I beg to move.
Page 112, line 27, leave out from ("for") to end of line 28, and insert ("determination, and such reference shall be deemed to be an arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934, and the provisions of those Acts relating to statutory arbitrations shall apply to such reference and determination").—(Viscount Simon.)
§ 3.5 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, may I add a word or two to what the noble and learned Viscount has said upon this really important point? It does seem to me to be yet another illustration of the present-day tendency to prefer what I may call the more surreptitious forms of justice to the more normal forms to which we have been accustomed in the past. I think that tendency is one greatly, to be deplored. When lawyers, or those 407 who have passed their lives in the law, intervene in this type of argument it is sometimes apt to be thought that they are only seeking to perpetuate the more elaborate aspects of the law. The last thing that I want is that every application under this particular procedure should be a State trial, but at the same time I am somewhat suspicious of the kind of fireside justice which it is more commonly sought to administer to-day.
All that is asked for in this Amendment is that the normal procedure should be observed. That normal procedure has grown up by a process of trial and error over a great many generations, and it is the one to which the applicant himself has grown acustomed, to which he looks forward to receiving, and which he expects to receive, when he presents his case before any tribunal charged with the administration of justice in this country. The illustration the noble and learned Viscount gave—of which from more than one angle I have a certain amount of secondhand experience—is a matter which very strongly confirms, in my submission, the argument now being addressed to your Lordships. It may be said that the procedure devised in this Bill is speedy and inexpensive. It may even be said that it has been used in other walks and that it has not proved too unsatisfactory. But in my view, I am afraid the fact that the administration of justice may be cheap and rapid is not satisfactory if it fails at the same time to be just. If this procedure may have been adopted in other fields without too audible complaint, the reason for that may be that the procedure itself, by providing no form of appeal and making the decision final, succeeds in strangling the normal method of complaint against that procedure. I very much hope that His Majesty's Government, on consideration, will find themselves in a position to accept this very vital Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY
My Lords, this is primarily a legal point, and it is with a good deal of trepidation that I follow the noble Viscount and the noble Marquess who have just spoken so strongly and so ably. I only want to tell your Lordships that this is a point of principle which is most important to the railway officers and servants upon which they feel very strongly indeed. As a railway 408 director I support their point of view, but I would remind your Lordships that it covers not only railway officers and servants but all employees transferred under this Bill. In the absence of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, on the Committee stage of the Bill, I had the misfortune to move this Amendment in this place, and I am afraid I did not cover the ground nearly so adequately as he has been able to do to-day. But I did extract from the noble Lord, Lord Charley, the promise that this matter would be looked into very carefully by the Government between the Committee stage and the Report stage. I hope very much—in fact I feel certain—that in view of the strength of our arguments the Government will accept these Amendments.
All we are asking for is that the decision of the Ministry of Labour referee should be reviewable in the courts by way of case stated—that is to say, that there should be some appeal from the decision of the referee. Really, that is not an unreasonable thing for which to ask. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on the Committee stage of the Bill said:The situation under this Bill, and other Bills of a similar nature which are being introduced for the purpose of nationalizing certain of the basic industries of the country is on quite a different basis from that under the Railways Act of 1921, which was a measure purely for the purpose of co-ordinating a number of privately owned railway companies.I cannot see what is the difference, and I hope that whoever is going to answer this afternoon will elaborate that point. What can be the difference between the one and the other? It is a question of fairness. If I were the Ministry of Labour referee I would far sooner know that there was a further court of appeal from my decision. No man is perfect in his judgment, and there will be some very difficult decisions to be made. It is surely only fair to the referee himself, as well as fair on these officers and servants, that these cases should be reviewable in the court of law. I think this is an Amendment that the Government should accept.
There is one more point I would like to make, which I do not think the noble Viscount made. There is a difference, as I am advised, between Clause 102 which deals with compensation, and Clauses 99 and 100, which deal with pensions. 409 Whereas Clauses 99 and 100 provide for the determination of disputes by a claimant under the Pensions Regulations to be settled by a Ministry of Labour referee, Clause 102 permits the Minister in dealing with claimants under the compensation regulations to appoint, without any qualification at all, any person he determines. It may be one of the Ministry officials. Listen to what the subsection says:(3) Regulations made under subsection (I) of this section—The Minister is able, under that subsection, to appoint anybody he likes, one of his own officials, as referee, and the officer or servant has got to abide by the decision without any reference whatever to a court of appeal. I think the claim we make is a very reasonable one, and I hope noble Lords will support it to the full.
- (a) may prescribe the procedure to be followed in making claims for compensation, and the manner in which and the persons by whom, the question whether any or what compensation is payable is to be determined."
My Lords, I would like to support this Amendment. Like the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, I would not attempt to follow the noble and learned Viscount who moved, in view of the legal aspects of the question; but again, like the noble Earl, I feel strongly that it is very important for us to see that all these cases are properly dealt with. We had a lot of discussion on the Committee stage on these three clauses. We had an Amendment on Clause 100 which was thought to put the railway employees in a rather better position than others brought in under this Bill; but as the Amendments now are, they cover all the employees of every industry which comes in. One cannot but feel anxious to know that there is a possibility of appeal. The existing system shows very carefully how this is to be done. I think it is common knowledge that it still is being done in a number of cases. Appeals are still being made as a result of the 1921 Act, and no doubt there will be quite a number following on this Act.
I would like to refer to Clause 102 dealing with compensation. There was a debate on that also on Second Reading. It was then said on behalf of the Government that discussions had been held 410 between the Government and some of the trade unions who were interested in this matter on behalf of their members—very properly, I have no doubt. But this goes a little further in that it covers the whole range of employees, and officials of all kinds who are not members of trade unions. Their interests had not been covered by such a discussion, and it is perfectly proper to make the point that the whole thing has not been adequately or completely dealt with. This is rather a different point, because we then asked to widen the regulations made under Clause 102. We wanted to put into the Bill some of the detailed wording which comes out of the Third Schedule of the 1921 Act. That is proposed to be done in the further Amendment proposed by the noble Viscount. I hope the Government will be able to meet us on these Amendments.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I regret that we are not able to accept this series of Amendments. I promised at the Committee stage in answer to an appeal by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, that we would, in fact, in the light of the discussion and of very urgent representations which were made by noble Lords opposite on this matter, look into it very carefully. The Ministers have now done so, and discussed it. As a result of this careful deliberation they have come to the conclusion that the method provided by the Bill is the most satisfactory for dealing with this type of case.
§ LORD CHORLEY
Satisfactory from the point of view of everybody concerned —except possibly the legal profession.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I hope the noble Lord will not make that kind of comment. It is a rather cheap insinuation. I think we made it quite clear that we were supporting this Amendment from a very real conviction and not for any other reason at all.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I certainly withdraw anything that noble Lords may regard as insinuations. I was not intending to say any such thing. Quite obviously, the arguments put forward by 411 noble Lords this afternoon are very important arguments. They propose to carry the argument rather further than it was taken at the Committee stage, in particular the argument of the noble and learned Viscount, who dealt with matters which were not then put forward. But as I have said, taking this matter by and large, the arrangements suggested in the Bill are the most satisfactory for handling this problem. The noble and learned Viscount based his case first on the arrangements made under the Railways Act of 1921, which, he said, had worked very satisfactorily, and I have no doubt that that is true; but that Act dealt with a rather different situation from that which now exists. That was an amalgamation of a number of private companies.
§ LORD CHORLEY
This is one of a series of measures dealing with a range of basic industries; and it does seem to the Government that the two situations are not the same. The noble and learned Viscount also suggested that this system of referees was, as he called it, a new system—some sort of a hole-and-corner method of dealing with a perfectly genuine grievance of an employee under one of the companies concerned. With respect, that is not really so, because this is a system which, in one way or another, has been given a pretty careful trial over a number of years. It is quite true that the trade unions, who do represent the bulk of the people concerned with those businesses, have been consulted in relation to this matter and they take no exception to the method which is laid down in this Bill.
After all the Electricity Supply Acts, and the great problem of unemployment insurance—a matter which has been dealt with very successfully under umpires from whose decisions there is no appeal—have been administered not only without complaint, but with real satisfaction to the men, and indeed the women concerned, over a period of very difficult times, as your Lordships know before the war. If that system could be administered so successfully and with such satisfaction to the people who were acutely concerned with it, then 412 surely there is no ground for saying that under this Bill, and under all the other Bills which are equally well administered a similar success will not be possible. This hearing before a referee is not a hole-and-corner method.
Then, of course, there is the question of the appeals, which was very closely argued during the Committee stage by the noble Earl, Lord Dudley. The reply to that was that it seemed better to secure a quick decision—a quick and inexpensive decision—rather than to have protracted litigation going backwards and forwards to the Courts, with the whole thing kept in the melting pot for a substantial period of time. It is obvious that the sort of arrangements will be made which have been made by my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour and National Service under the Electricity Supply Acts. Under these arrangements a referee with not only considerable legal experience but also—which, I submit, is more important —with experience of industry and the industrial background against which this administration will take place should be appointed.
In those circumstances, I do suggest to your Lordships that the arrangements made in the Bill are, on the whole, the most satisfactory. I cannot really draw any distinction between different clauses. The noble Earl, Lord Dudley, did draw a distinction under Clause 102, subsection (3), but he omitted to refer to sub-paragraph (b), under which the referee who will take appeals will be appointed not by the Minister under this Bill, but by the Minister of Labour and National Service.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, if I may say one word, I have been in conference with my right honourable friend and his officers concerned, and perhaps I might offer a suggestion which would provide a way out of this matter. The case has been stated by the noble Lord as to the view of the Ministry on the matter, but we are greatly impressed by the case which the noble and learned Viscount has put. He, with myself, would regret that this matter should be settled by Division if that can be avoided, but, at the same time, it is desirable, I think, that further opportunity for consideration of the matter should be made available. If we can agree that the Amendment should be accepted on the understanding that we may, in another place or in some other 413 way, have to suggest perhaps some modification, I would suggest that we should accept the Amendment now and cut short the discussion on this and other Amendments accordingly.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure we are all very grateful to the Leader of the House for the suggestion that he has put forward. We do think that the case for this Amendment is extremely strong, and we welcome his proposal that the Amendment should be inserted in the Bill. We fully realize that the matter will have to be considered in another place.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 112, line 42, leave out ("the Minister and").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
VSCOUNT ADDISON moved, after subsection (4), to insert:
(5) Nothing in this section shall authorise the making of regulations relating to an existing pension scheme which provide for the payment by any person carrying on an undertaking or part of an undertaking in which persons to whom that scheme relates are employed, being an undertaking which, or such part of an undertaking as, has not vested in or been transferred to the Commission or any body by or under this Act or any scheme or order made thereunder—
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment is in consequence of an undertaking given to the Earl of Selkirk in Committee. He proposed an Amendment on these lines, to make sure that the obligation did not extend to persons to whom it ought not properly to extend, and my right honourable friend promised that he would give further consideration to meet the point. I think it is effectively met by this Amendment, and I beg to move.
Page 112, line 43, at end insert the said new subsection.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount for making this Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ Clause 100 [Special provisions as to railway and canal pension funds, etc.]:
Page 113, line 28, after ("referred") insert ("for determination").—(The Earl of Dudley,)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 113, line 30, leave out from ("Service ") to ("and") in line 31 and insert ("and such reference shall be deemed to be an arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934, and the provisions of those Acts relating to statutory arbitrations shall apply to such reference and determination").—(The Earl of Dudley.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 113, line 31, leave out ("that decision") and insert ("such determination"). —(The Earl of Dudley.)
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, I am very grateful for the way in which the suggested course has been adopted, but I hope it will be made clear that the putting in of these Amendments for the time being is the act of the whole House, and not merely the act of the Opposition. It seems to me that in that form, when the Amendments come to be considered in another place, there may be some aspects which fall to be considered generally on their merits without risk of controversy.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 114, line 7, leave out ("the Minister and").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.415
§ Clause 102 [Compensation to officers and servants in connexion with transfers]:
§ Amendment moved—
Page 115, line 37, at end insert—
("(3) Any dispute between the Commission and an officer or servant as to whether any or what compensation is payable under this section or any regulation made thereunder shall be referred to a referee or board of referees appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service for determination and such reference shall be deemed to be an arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934, and the provisions of those Acts relating to statutory arbitrations shall apply to such reference and determination").—(The Earl of Dudley.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 115, line 40, leave out from ("compensation") to end of subsection (3)— (The Earl of Dudley.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 3.19 p.m.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved, after subsection(3) to insert:
(4) No regulations shall be made under this section unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and has been approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a rather different matter, but I venture to hope very sincerely that we may arrive at the same unanimous conclusion about putting this Amendment into the Bill, as we have been fortunately able to do in regard to the last Amendments. This proposed new subsection arises out of the suggestion made by the noble Lord opposite, Viscount Swinton, which was made in response to the Amendment I moved on the Committee stage, seeking to put in a new clause, which would have preserved for the railwaymen something similar to the rights they have under the Third Schedule of the 1921 Act. The noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, was unable to accede to that but he was good enough to make a response to the suggestion of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, that draft regulations to be laid in advance might be a way out.
I have some ground for hoping that this will be acceptable to the Government, particularly on looking through once
again the proceedings of the Committee stage, because the noble Lord, Lord Walkden, in refusing to accept my new clause used these words:
In the national health service, which is coming into operation soon, any person adversely affected will be eligible for consideration on regulations issued by the Minister. The same applies to the national insurance service, and also in regard to the mines nationalization. That kind of structure, to provide compensation, protection, safeguards, pension rights, and so on, by regulations, has become a common form. That has all been agreed and settled, and I think properly settled.''
§ And I am happy to tell your Lordships that in the National Insurance Act, 1946, there is precisely this provision for laying regulations in draft, so that the noble Lord, Lord Walkden, in resisting my former Amendment was in fact conceding the whole case for this one. In those circumstances, I do not think I need labour the matter very much, although it has been rather disappointing to us that this Amendment had to come from our side and not from the noble Lord's side. However, provided we get the Amendment and it is all settled that we can put it into the Bill, I need not waste your Lordships' time. If necessary, I could give your Lordships other very apt analogies for doing this, but, in the earnest hope that the Amendment will be accepted, I beg to move.
Page 116, line 7, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, we have discussed this, as my noble friend said we promised we would, and the Government have agreed to a scheme similar to the one under the National Health Service Act, that regulations shall be laid in draft, but I should make a little reservation as to whether the procedure should be the positive or negative procedure. There are some points which have arisen with respect to that which I should not like to be regarded as completely definite; but, for the time being, and subject to that qualification, I am glad to accept the Amendment and give the opportunity for which noble Lords contended that the regulations should be seen in draft before they assume their final form.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, this would be a convenient form and I am very glad the Government have accepted 417 it. I believe we shall find that this is greatly to the advantage of everybody concerned and that actually it will mean a saving of time. One is always in the difficulty that even if one is not greatly concerned whether it is a positive or a negative Resolution, under our rather archaic procedure the order and regulations are made and they cannot be amended even if the slightest mistake is found either by the critics or by the Government Department themselves. I know from experience that, in going through a regulation again, one suddenly finds that one has lost sight of something; one has to withdraw the whole of the regulation and go through the whole procedure once more. Even if it is only the tiniest alteration that is required it cannot be made. The order has to be withdrawn and again presented, and again the statutory period has to run. I think it would be a very interesting experiment to see how this works. I have always taken the view that you could not put everything you wanted to about this into an Act of Parliament, and that you would have to deal with it by regulation.
It one lays regulations in draft, then there is the chance of going through them all and any points can be taken on which criticism arises. The Minister himself also has the chance of setting right any oversight that there may have been on his side. Then nobody divides about it; there is no question of the Government being defeated, or anything of that sort. The draft regulations are fully discussed and then taken away. The Department is given them, and the very next day the regulations can be laid with the time to run. I think it is a very practicable solution. I know it has greatly appealed to the Leader of the. House from the very start, and I am glad we are able to agree to it; I believe it will be to everybody's convenience.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 103:
§ Compensation to officers and servants in other cases.
§ 103.—(1) The Minister shall not regard as satisfactory for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 1 of the Eighth Schedule to this Act any scheme which provides for the transfer of the whole or any part of any undertaking, and shall not give his approval to any agreement providing for the transfer of the whole or any part of an undertaking which, 418 under any provision of this Act, requires his approval, unless he is satisfied that appropriate provision has been or will be made by the scheme or agreement for the payment by the transferee in the appropriate cases and to the appropriate extent of compensation to officers and servants who suffer loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments or pension rights or whose position worsened in consequence of the transfer in question.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ LORD GIFFORD moved in subsection (1), to leave out "officers and servants"and insert "persons." The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 103 deals with compensation to officers and servants, and the purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that all people who come under this definition of officers and servants do in fact receive the compensation to which they would be justly entitled. I would like to say at once—because I feel there has been a little misunderstanding with the noble Lords opposite; I am reinforced in that view by the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on the Committee stage—that this Amendment is not intended in any way to try to obtain compensation for a part-time director.
§ I must just very shortly give the structure of the passenger road transport industry. As probably most noble Lords know it consists very largely of groups of operating companies controlled by holding companies and those operating companies are quite independent companies but, in order to save expense, the holding companies have certain departments which serve the group as a whole. That is to say, there is a department, for instance, dealing with insurance; there is another department, the Chief Engineer's department, dealing with engineering problems for the group as a whole; there is another department which does the bulk buying for all the operating companies.
§ Let us visualize what would happen when these schemes come into being and the road passenger transport industry is gradually taken over. For instance, supposing the scheme was made whereby the Northern General Omnibus Company was taken over: that would, of course, take away part of the employment of the Chief Engineer's Department and also the insurance department. Probably, when one operating company was taken away, they would go on but gradually, of course, 419 it would become uneconomic to continue to run those departments, and eventually they would cease to exist. The people employed in those departments on full-time employment would cease to have jobs, or, at any rate, their jobs would become so small that their salaries would have to be reduced. Even when the whole of the road passenger transport industry was taken over, obviously the holding companies would still exist—B.E.T. and companies of that sort would still exist—which would never be taken over as such by the Commission.
§ But these particular people to whom I have been referring would, in fact, lose their employment and would be entitled to, and should have, compensation. The difficulty is that none of them is employed by any particular operating company that is in fact taken over. I, therefore, consider that the Amendment standing in my name is necessary in order to ensure that the class of people to which I have just referred get a proper pension. I do not know, but possibly the noble Lord opposite might like to put the wording in a slightly different way. He will, however, I think agree that it is only fair that those people should receive compensation on exactly the same terms as the direct servants of the operating road transport company. I beg to move.
Page 116, line 37, leave out ("officers and servants") and insert ("persons").—(Lord Gifford.)
§ LORD WALKDEN
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Gifford raised this matter in Committee, and it has since been considered; but I have to inform the House that in the view of the Ministry it would be a great mistake to substitute the word "persons" for the words "officers and servants" which are now in the Bill. "Officers and servants" is a specific kind of expression, and when you use it you know to whom you are referring. "Persons" may be any individuals, who may be performing any duty, no duty or very little duty. It has a very wide and peculiar definition, and we certainly do not think it is to be preferred to such a precise legal term as "officers and servants." We have every sympathy with the persons whom the noble Lord has in mind (I am calling them "persons" now, being slightly inconsistent) and if they are em- 420 ployed by any subsidiary company which is wholly owned by concerns we are taking over, they would, I am advised, qualify for compensation if they were injured by the transaction. But they must not be partly this and partly that. We have reason to fear that the term "persons" might be held to apply also to directors.
My Lords, may I be allowed to interrupt the noble Lord for a moment. It appears to me that he has got the whole thing in reverse, if I may so put it. What the noble Lord has said is that a company would be taken over and the people to whom I have been referring would be the people employed by the subsidiary. That is not the case I have in mind at all. The case I visualize is that in which the Commission would take over a subsidiary. That subsidiary might be, say, "The Midland Red, "the "Northern General" or the "Southdown." Now, the people of whom I speak are not employed by the subsidiary, but by the holding company, the big company controlling all those concerns. They are the type of people who deal with insurance, engineering problems for the whole group, and so on. The holding company —such as B.E.T. or Tillings—surely would continue to exist, but the subsidiary company would be taken over. In no sense are any of the people I have mentioned employed by the subsidiary company.
§ LORD WALKDEN
Whether it is a subsidiary company or a holding company, or whatever company it may be, that is taken over, seems immaterial in this connexion. If the persons whom the noble Lord has in mind are employed in undertakings that are wholly controlled by the concerns we are taking over, then those people, in the circumstances which he described, would be eligible to be compensated for injury which they might suffer. I beg him to accept my assurances that every fair and proper case would be properly covered. But we cannot undertake to have loose words inserted that might be stretched to cover people who have no real claim to compensation but who might thereby be encouraged to come along and seek to claim public money.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I entirely agree with what the noble Lord opposite has said to the effect that the term "officers and servants" covers the 421 kind of people whom we mean better than the word "persons." They are the words used in many Acts of Parliament and they are the right words. But although my noble friend, Lord Gifford, has drafted his Amendment wrongly, I think he is on to a good point, and I want to be quite sure that it is covered. It will be recalled that we had some discussion on this matter both in debate and outside. We do not wish to bring in anyone who is not entitled to compensation, and I quite agree that "persons" could mean all sorts of people. On the other hand you might find someone who is purely an officer or servant, who is completely employed, full-time, in the business which is taken over, but technically and legally he is not an officer or servant of an undertaking which is, in terms, taken over. He may be an officer or servant of some entity which is created and owned by half a dozen units which, under the Bill, are going to be taken over, and there may be variants of that kind of employment. We want to be assured that that person, if he loses his employment (I am speaking of the man who has been a whole-time officer or servant in the structure of this industry), will be fairly compensated for injury. If he had been directly an officer or servant of one of the companies which is being taken over, of course he would get his compensation. Though the Amendment does not seem to me to be well designed to carry it out, what is desired to be achieved is what I have indicated. I shall be very grateful if between now and the Third Reading this could be looked at in order to make sure that the people whom the Government, as well as we, want to see covered, are, in fact, covered.
§ LORD WALKDEN
We are most anxious to be fair to everyone. If there is a person who is, so to speak, collectively employed by a group of companies, it seems to me there is a case for consideration. We will look into this to see what we can do to make sure that the operation of this clause is fair to all.
I am very grateful for that undertaking. I feel sure that there is no difference between us on this point. We all want to see that the people who are entitled to compensation shall get it. I would like just to make this final 422 point. It may be that some of these people will not lose their entire employment, but only half or three-quarters of it, because of part of the group being taken over. I think that the question of partial compensation ought to be considered in relation to such cases. In view of the assurance which the noble Lord has given me, I am happy to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD GIFFORD moved at the end of subsection (1) to insert:
and is satisfied that such compensation is not less favourable to the recipient than that payable in a comparable case under the preceding section of this Act relating to undertakings transferred to the Commission under Part II of this Act.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think that this Amendment is self-explanatory. Its sole purpose is to make sure that the employees of the road transport industry, and other employees it the transport industry, are treated on at least the same basis as the railway employees are treated under the previous Part of this Bill. It is undoubtedly true to say that people employed in the road passenger transport industry are as secure in their employment as are those employed in the railway industry. They are employed for long periods whether by municipalities or by private operators, and it is only fair that when it comes to compensation they should be treated on a footing of equality with the railway men. I beg to move.
Page 116, line 40, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Gifford.)
My Lords, I am sorry to say that we cannot accept this Amendment. Really, there is not a proper and adequate comparison to be made between road motor transport employees and the regular railway people. The railway people have had their position stabilized over 120 years. It has been regularized and it has been codified under one or two Acts of Parliament. In their case everything is pretty clear. In the case of the road transport workers matters are altogether different. Among the transport concerns which the Government will be taking over there will, undoubtedly, be some substantial ones, but there will also be small ones which run perhaps only 423 two or three vehicles. It may be that in some cases the businesses taken over will be those of small men who have not been running them for very long, and in such cases employees often have no great stability or security of tenure. The cases are altogether different. Different considerations arise, and different regulations will have to be drafted for each group of people. In the case of the dock people, for example, there are very different conditions to be taken into consideration from those which apply in the case of the railway people.
I think that your Lordships will follow the point more easily if I say that the railway people are comparable to established civil servants, postmen, clerical workers and others, who are recognized and established. The road transport industry is something which is comparatively new; it is different in very many ways from the railway industry and the position of its employees will have to be considered separately. I do not know whether there will be much difference, but we cannot guarantee that they will be treated on the same lines as the regular railway workers. I ask the noble Lord not to press this Amendment, and I assure him that everything will be done to give fair play and every possible consideration to these people, from every point of view, when regulations are drafted.
THE EARL OF ROTHES
My Lords, I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Walkden, has said to the effect that there is clearly a difference between these two branches of the transport industry. During the Committee stage we said that some precedent was wanted to be taken as a basis of compensation and suggested the Local Government Act, 1933. On Committee stage it was said that an undertaking will be given for road transport as well as railways and I ask the noble Lord if that undertaking still stands. I do ask him in considering this to bear in mind that a very large proportion of the road transport industry, although comparatively new as compared with the railways, has offered very steady employment for a very large and growing number of people, many of whom have been employed for twenty and thirty and some for forty years. People who have served a very important modern industry for that length of time well and faithfully 424 deserve most careful consideration on the question of any compensation for loss of office that might arise.
My noble friend Lord Rothes has put it very clearly. It is not fair to say the road passenger transport industry is a new industry. It is old enough for many of its officers and servants to have been employed for a whole lifetime, and I feel that every consideration should be given to them. I hope the noble Lord will look into it again and see if we can get some definite basis for compensation. If he does that, I shall be very happy to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 106 [Procedure and enforcement of orders of arbitration tribunal]:
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment, for the purpose of bringing Scottish procedure into line with English procedure in relation to proceedings which under this Part of the Bill are to be treated as Scottish proceedings.
Page 119, line 34, leave out from ("unless") to the end of line 37 and insert ("the Court of Session or the House of Lords give leave to appeal to the House of Lords, which leave may be given on such terms as to expenses or otherwise as the Court of Session or the House of Lords may determine").—(Lord Morrison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD AMMON
My Lords, in accordance with the arrangement that has been made, may I suggest the House should now adjourn until six o'clock. We shall then proceed with our business without adjourning for dinner.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at five minutes before four o'clock and resumed at six o'clock.]
§ Clause 114:
§ Additional compensation to local authorities.
§ (2) The undertakings to which this section applies are—
- (a) any undertaking of a local authority which falls to be transferred under Part II of this Act;
- (b) any undertaking which, at the passing of this Act, is being carried on by a local authority, being an undertaking which could be transferred to the Commission or to some other body as aforesaid under a scheme under Part IV of this Act;
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved, in subsection (2), to substitute "orders" for "regulations" ["regulations made by the Minister"] The noble Earl said: My Lords, Clause 114 deals with the compensation payable to local authorities. I would like to say that I think the local authorities have, by and large, come rather poorly out of this Bill altogether. I asked a question yesterday in regard to Clause 25, and the noble Lord who replied did not appear to be aware that that was the main clause under which the municipal authorities were to be transferred. I was endeavouring to get some information in regard to the nature of that transfer. This is the additional clause to that, in which certain sums are payable for special reasons. There is a global sum fixed of£2,500,000. What I am asking His Majesty's Government is that either they will accept some means of representation in regard to the way in which this sum is to be allocated or, alternatively, will accept this Amendment, which means to say that presentation of the case can be made by special Parliamentary procedure, in special cases, before a Select Committee of both Houses, or of one House.
§ When I raised this point in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, said that he imagined the calculation was based on 1¼ per cent. of the gross takings. I submit that that is manifestly unfair in certain cases, because one municipal undertaking may have a much higher value than another municipal undertaking—they may, in other words, have similar gross takings for in fact two quite different qualities of service—and there is no consideration here for prudent management, which could be given. I think it must be clear that local authorities in different parts of the country have very different circumstances, which should be taken into consideration when this sum comes to be divided. It is no good expecting local authorities to agree, because 426 the sum is, in fact, grossly inadequate compared with the value of the assets which the Transport Commission are taking over. For instance, I think in this House it would be difficult to get an agreement on a division of one pint of beer, because it is quite inadequate for the consumption of all the parties immediately concerned. I do not think we could expect complete agreement among the local authorities, but there ought to be proper provision for presentation and hearing of the argument, because there are a number of special considerations.
§ I did ask the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, if he could tell me something about the considerations which applied to Glasgow. There the situation is unique. The case has been presented and, so far as I know, no recognition has been made. The transport undertaking belongs entirely to the Common Good of the City of Glasgow. It does not belong to the ratepayers as such. It is, in fact, a trust which is held for all the citizens of Glasgow, and must be used, under certain rules, for their benefit. The moneys which are in fact invested in the transport undertaking could have been used for any purpose. They could have been invested in Government securities, or could have been used for any purpose whatsoever. What it amounts to is that this trust money, which is being used for the benefit of all the citizens of Glasgow, is in fact being taken over by the Transport Commission, or may be taken over by the Transport Commission, to the extent of £10,000,000. That is a very considerable sum. What I am submitting in this case is that there should be laid down in this Bill a proper and orthodox procedure by which the special circumstances of this and possibly other cases can properly be presented for consideration when compensation is being dealt with.
§ The local authorities have not come very well out of this bargain. I do not know whether or not they are satisfied, but I do know that there is only one manner of agreement between His Majesty's Government and the local authority, and that is that there should be compensation. As to the global sum of compensation, there was no agreement. His Majesty's Government say there were negotiations. I submit that the negotiations in this sense were very similar to the word "consultation," in another 427 sense in which it was used in this House not very long ago. That is to say, they were told to come, and were asked their views, and then they were given the answer without any form of agreement. In these terms, I beg to move the Amendment.
Page 123, line 35, leave out ("regulations")and insert ("orders").—(The Earl of Selkirk.)
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I must say at the outset that I am a little surprised that the noble Earl should at this late stage of the proceedings in this Bill have raised the question of the adequacy or inadequacy of the global sum. I do not think the Amendment directly raises that question. What I thought he was concerned about in the Amendment was as to the inadequate and improper method of the proposed distribution of the sum. It is to that point that I want to direct my remarks. The noble Earl, as he well remembers, and I well remember, raised this question before and, as he has rightly said, I then pointed out that, as I understood, the amount was based on 1¼ per cent. of the gross revenues of municipal transport and dock undertakings in Great Britain, on a five years basis. I can only say to the noble Earl, as I said before, that the Minister has given a most explicit undertaking to the Association of Municipal Corporations and the Association of Counties and Cities in Scotland that he will consult with those Associations with a view to arranging an equitable distribution of the global sums among the individual authorities. When a global sum of this character is involved, it seems to me that the principles of distribution must be agreed, and there is no one who can agree them better than the Associations of the local authorities concerned. If at some subsequent date some individual local authority were to seek, through special Parliamentary procedure, for a bigger share for itself, obviously this could only be at the expense of other local authorities. A share-out of this character is clearly a matter for agreement between the representatives of the local authorities, with the Minister holding the ring administratively, and is quite inappropriate for special Parliamentary procedure.
During the discussion in Committee on similar Amendments, the noble Earl asked 428 how the sum of £2,500,000 had been arrived at. I have already explained upon what basis it was proposed to allocate it amongst the local authorities concerned. I said in reply, if I may repeat it, that the global sum was arrived at after negotiation, and the Minister had given an explicit undertaking to the Association of Municipal Corporations and to the Association of Counties and Cities in Scotland that he would consult with those associations with a view to arranging an equitable distribution of the global sums.
With regard to the question of the Common Good fund of the City of Glasgow, which the noble Earl raised on a previous occasion and has now raised again, the only explanation I can give as to that is that the position is that if any item of the nature intended to be reflected in the £2,500,000 to compensation has hitherto been met out of the Common Good, a proportionate part of the Glasgow Corporation's share of such compensation will be available for allocation to that account.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I would like to thank the noble Lord for what he has said, but I must say that it is not very satisfactory. I am astonished to hear that he should have any doubt that the sum allocated to local authorities is inadequate. If I may make the point I made before, it is that the amount of assets in the Common Good of Glasgow alone is £10,000,000, and the total for the whole of the United Kingdom is £2,500,000. It is palpably obvious that the sum is totally inadequate to cover what would be called normally repayment for the undertakings taken over, but if the noble Lord is unable to give further information I can only regret it and beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON moved, after Clause 115, to insert the following new clause:
Treatment of Travel Agencies.
The Commission shall secure that, in the treatment, in like circumstances, of travel agencies, no discriminatory practices are introduced after the date of transfer as between travel agencies which are directly or indirectly controlled by the Commission and other travel agencies existing at the date of the passing of this Act, or as between such other travel agencies.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, moved an 429 Amendment which was discussed on June 12 and was withdrawn on the understanding that the Government would put down a new clause. The difficulty seen about the clause which the noble Viscount proposed is that any travel agency, whatever its size or date of inception, could claim precisely similar treatment to that afforded to any established agency. This might mean, for example, that whatever the credit facilities allowed to Thomas Cook & Son or any other reputable and established concern, these would have to be equally extended to anyone who in future cared to set up a travel agency run from a back room. The present Government Amendment is designed to secure that so far as existing travel agencies are concerned, the Commission shall not discriminate in like circumstances either between those agencies or between agencies which they control and other agencies. "In like circumstances" is taken from a corresponding provision in subsection (3) of Section 1 of the Air Navigation Act, 1947, which relates to the operation of chartered aircraft. The clause, as drawn, does not discriminate between British and foreign travel agencies, and this meets the point of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne. I beg to move.
After Clause 115 insert the said new clause. —(Lord Morrison.)
§ LORD GIFFORD moved to amend the proposed Amendment by inserting after "introduced," the words "or permitted." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sure we are most grateful to the noble Lord for this new clause. I did mention this point when we were discussing an Amendment to Clause 13 which was subsequently withdrawn, and the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, kindly gave me permission to put down a small Amendment. The Commission will have everything the travel agent requires—that is to say, sleeping berths, reserved seats and, through Thomas Cook & Son, wagon-lits on Continental trains. It is only human nature that the ordinary officials of the company will try to keep these things inside the concern, and I think it is necessary, in order that the travel agency should get a fair deal, that the Commission should appoint an agency manager, or whatever it is, who will actually ginger up people inside the organization and see that the 430 organizations do get their fair share of sleeping berths. Therefore, I have moved that the words "or permitted" should be added after the word "introduced" in the third line, in order to ensure that the staff of the Commission give the travel agencies a fair share of all the things which I have just mentioned. I beg to move.
Amendment to the proposed Amendment moved—
In line 3, after ("introduced") insert ("or permitted").—(Lord Gifford.)
§ LORD WALKDEN
My Lords, the Government Amendment itself, as your Lordships know, was the result of discussions between Second Reading and the Report stage, and the words were agreed. The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, thought they needed strengthening somewhat and has put down this Amendment. I do not agree with what he said about human nature, and I assure him that there will not be any tendency to be unfair to anybody. The purpose of everybody in a responsible position is to see that the right thing is done, and if they do not live up to that they will soon be caught out. We have given consideration to the words which it is suggested we should insert to strengthen the clause. With great respect to the noble Lord the Amendment is really quite unnecessary. It is the Commission which shall secure that, in the treatment, in like circumstances, of travel agencies, no discriminatory practices are introduced. The business is the Commission's and to say "introduced or permitted" is quite unnecessary. The Commission would not permit themselves to do anything wrong; they are inhibited from introducing anything wrong and, therefore, the wording is quite all right. I hope the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, I should reveal the fact that I am interested in this question because I am a director of the Wagon-lits Company, and its interest is to see that its services are dealt with fairly in this country. I am not entirely satisfied by the argument produced by the noble Lord, Lord Walkden. It is perfectly true, of course, that the Commission are not to be suspected of discriminatory practices of any kind—no one would dream of that—but, after all, it is taking over an established commercial organization, accustomed to the method of 431 competition and accustomed to keeping as much as they can in their own hands. In those circumstances, when the Commission are taking over existing organizations of a competing character, I do not see that the words which the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, wants to insert would be by any means superfluous. They are not a reflection upon the Commission, but are merely to ensure that practices which have certainly gone on in the past are not continued in the future under the cover of the Commission, which may not be fully conscious of them. I think that this Amendment to the Amendment requires a little more favourable consideration.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, for his remarks. I do not want to criticize, but certain organizations have the control of the bulk of sleepers and do not like disgorging them to the small travel agent. I feel that that may easily happen with the Commission. If the Commission really intend—as I am sure they do—to give the outside travel agents a fair deal, in order to do that they will have to appoint some official like an agency manager or department to carry that out. The Government have met us quite a long way on this matter, but I do not know whether they could give it further consideration. However, I shall not press my Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, may I say one word? I think it is perhaps difficult to formulate the right words for what we all want to do. Frankly, I do not think it is possible, and I have been through this same thing in regard to civil aviation. I did there manage to arrive at an understanding with all the travel agencies in the country, whether they were big or small, which I was assured gave them complete satisfaction. The clause was drafted really on the lines of the letters written at that time, and I know that is still being carried out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. But one is in this difficult position. If you frame your words very widely and in effect say, "I am going to treat every single travel agency exactly alike," that means that you have to give exactly the same facilities to everybody whether they are large or small.
432 There are in this country a number of well-recognized travel agencies who make travel their main business; it is their business. There are also (and it is proper that there should be for the convenience of the public) an almost innumerable number of people who conduct other businesses—some are bootmakers, some are grocers, some are co-operative societies, believe—who, as a little side-line, issue bus tickets or railway tickets, and so forth. It is quite convenient for people to be able to go in and get tickets at these places. But it would be impossible to say to people of that sort, "You are to have the same facilities for allotting sleepers (of which there are all too few) as the railway companies or Cook's." You say there is to be absolutely equal treatment, but it could surely not mean that.
What we want to be sure about, however, is that the Commission shall not favour their own creatures—that is the real point. I do not think you can really do more than say that the Commission shall do nothing which will prejudice the status quo of existing travel agencies. That, I understand, is the object of these words, and it carries with it the clear understanding that they will not give a preference to the agency which they own as against an agency which they do not own. That is what we need. I know the draftsmen have had a great many shots in getting this into the right form, and the words are about as good for the purpose as one can get.
In view of what the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has said I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, original Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 119 [Other provisions as to orders and regulations]:
My Lords, this Amendment is consequential on the series moved by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, this afternoon. I beg to move.
Page 126, line 48, after ("department") insert ("other than those made under section one hundred and two of this Act").—(Lord Ridley.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 120:
§ (3) Where any offence against this Act or any regulation or order made thereunder has been committed by a body corporate, every person who at the time of the commission of the offence was a director, general manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or was purporting to act in any such capacity, shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence unless he proves that the offence was committed without his consent or connivance, and that he exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and in all the circumstances.
§ 6.25 p.m.
VISCOUNT SIMON moved, at the end of subsection (3), to insert:
Provided that no such person shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment if he shows that he had reasonable ground to believe, and did believe, that a competent and reliable person was charged with the duty of seeing that the provisions were complied with, and was in a position to discharge that duty.
The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I should be grateful if a few minutes consideration might be given to this proposal. If one looks at the clause, which deals with penalties, one will see that, as drawn, the penalties are severe and that they cover a wide range of persons. Subsection (3) says:
Where any offence against this Act or any regulation or order made thereunder has been committed by a body corporate, every person who at the time of the commission of the offence was a director, general manager, secretary, or other similar officer of the body corporate, or was purporting to act in any such capacity, shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence unless he proves that the offence was committed without his consent or connivance, and that he exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and in all the circumstances.
§ Your Lordships will see that the subsection provides that, generally speaking, the bodies that are to be dealt with for offences against the Act are bodies corporate. There are a great many things you cannot do to a body corporate. You cannot inflict corporal punishment; you cannot send to prison. Here we are dealing with very large bodies corporate and the net is drawn very wide. Having regard to the organization of these very 434 large bodies, is it really right to impose the penalty upon an individual because he is in one of these positions, if he had every ground for believing that there was a competent and reliable person charged with the duty of seeing that this particular provision was complied with, who was in a position to comply with it? That is a wider exemption than the one in the Bill; but is it not a right exemption?
§ You cannot have everybody in a great organization, every director, every general manager, every secretary, held responsible for every single thing that might be done by the corporation against the law. My suggestion is that we really ought to provide that no such person shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment if he shows that he had reason to believe that a competent and reliable person was charged with the duty of applying the provision to be applied, and was discharging that duty. Most corporations do keep one individual for the sole purpose of complying with the various Governmental forms and requirements. It would be undesirable to say that everybody who was a director, or general manager, or secretary of such an undertaking was to be treated as a criminal and imprisoned, or, at any rate, fined, when he has himself seen to it that there is a suitable person who is dealing with these things and who is able to deal with them competently. I should like to know what the Government have to say about this. As the matter stands at present it provides for penalties to be imposed on individuals who, fairly considered, cannot be regarded as personally responsible for what has gone wrong, in view of the fact that they have got a competent and reliable person who has been appointed for the very purpose of seeing that all requirements are carried out.
Page 527, line 46, at end insert the said proviso.—(Viscount Simon.)
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I gather from what the noble and learned Viscount has said that his objection is not so much to this clause as to the fact that the clause is printed in its present form, which is a form common in most legislation. A similar provision appears in the Borrowing (Control of Guarantees) Act, 1946, the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, the Civil Aviation Act, 1946, the Exchange Control Act, 1947, 435 and a number of Bills before Parliament at the present time. Indeed, I understand that the noble Viscount, Lord Maugham, only the other day stated on a similar clause: "I am really quite content with the clause as it stands, and express gratitude to the Government for having put it down." That was Clause 18.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT JOWITT)
My Lords, perhaps I might say a word. I personally take the view that the words of the proviso are narrower than the words of the clause. I think it might quite well be that you had an accounts department, and that the department was working very well, and you had come across nothing wrong at all. You would then, I think, comply with the words of the clause. You would be able to say that you knew nothing about it, and that you had exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as you ought to have exercised. That is to say, if you are a director of a company and you have had an accounts department working perfectly well for years, you would assume that everything was all right if you had some individual charged with the particular duty of seeing that the particular thing was going right. The Amendment is narrow, and I think it would be inadvisable to accept it.
I originated this clause in this form. I agreed it with my noble friend Viscount Maugham in one of the earlier Bills. I wanted to give a full and adequate protection, and I thought I had done it. I confess that I am inclined to think that the protection I have given is better than the protection the noble and learned Viscount gives. I keep in mind that it might have the opposite effect.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I dare say the Lord Chancellor is right about that, and I will only observe that one of the noble Lords whose name is down as supporting my proposal is the Viscount Maugham.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 124:
§ "local authority" means the council of a county, the Common Council of the City of London, or the council of a county borough; "meat" means carcases of animals, parts of carcases of animals, or offals of animals, being carcases, parts of carcases or offals suit- 436 able for human consumption, whether fresh, chilled or frozen, but not being carcases, parts of carcases or offals which have been cooked or subjected to any process other than skinning, trimming or cleaning;
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ LORD ADDINGTON moved to add the words "or the council of a county district the population of which at the last census exceeded 20,000" to the definition of "local authority." The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a modified form of an Amendment which was moved in Committee on this definition of "local authority." It is an attempt to see that the councils of county districts preserve some of their functions and duties, which are rather apt to be diminished owing to this and other Bills before Parliament. Their functions under this Bill seem to me very largely to concern local matters, and the views of the people concerned are much more easily asserted and put forward by the councils of county districts than by the council of a county, whose members and officers are apt to be somewhat remote from the outlying parts of the county. In the Bill as originally worded the councils of non-county boroughs and metropolitan boroughs were included in this definition of "local authority." They were omitted at a comparatively late stage in another place, and that omission was extreme, I think. If this Amendment is accepted, as I hope it may be, it will only increase the number of councils concerned by sixty-nine above that which was in the Bill as originally introduced. I beg to move.
Page 130, line 3, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Addington.)
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, but I must congratulate him on his pertinacity. I think we have made quite a number of Amendments to the Bill in response to his proposals, but we cannot accept this one. The county councils, the county borough councils and the Common Council of the City of London are included, and a county council can, and will, consult the representatives of the district councils on any matters which are of common concern. They are on the Consultative Committees and, in fact, they are scattered practically all over the Bill. There are representatives of local 437 authorities on various bodies, and I must ask the noble Lord not to ask us to split this up any further.
§ LORD ADDINGTON
I thank the noble Viscount for what he has said, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment. There is nothing like trying.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD TEYNHAM moved, in the definition of "meat," after "frozen," to insert "or which, though subjected to processing, remain of a perishable character." The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps it would be convenient if I also took the next Amendment standing in my name, to add lo the definition the words "which substantially reduces the perishability thereof." During the Committee stage an Amendment was moved which set out the definition of "meat." It appears that this definition really only covers fresh, chilled or frozen meat, and does not include what is known in the trade as, I believe, open packed meat products. This Amendment is merely designed to cover this point. I am sure that open packed meat products, although they are processed, are not in any way cured, or pickled, and are quite as perishable as fresh meat. I hope, for that reason, His Majesty's Government may be able to accept this very simple Amendment.
Page 130, line 7, after ("frozen") insert ("or which, though subjected to processing, remain of a perishable character.")—(Lord Teynham.)
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, this is a simple Amendment, and it is attractive by reason of its simplicity, but I am afraid I cannot accept it. I understand that "meat" is well understood, defined and provided for in the special class of vehicles which are designed for its conveyance. But this definition, I understand, would embrace in the term sausages, black puddings and all manner of contrivances of a like nature. I cannot accept a definition of that vague character. I am sorry.
In view of what the noble Viscount says, I do not propose to press this Amendment, and I do not move the other Amendment to which I referred.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.438
§ CLAUSE 125 [Application to Scotland]:
Page 134, line 14, leave out subsection (12). —(Viscount Addison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.