HL Deb 22 July 1948 vol 157 cc1195-8

3.3 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Viscount Addison.)


My Lords, I desire to raise a point on the Third Reading with regard to the Title of the Bill. Like the point my noble friend Lord Simon has just raised, it is not one which need cause constitutional conflict between the two Houses. The Title of the Bill has undergone strange transformations. In the form in which it is now before your Lordships it is not, I believe, such as the House intended and desired. I must draw your Lordships' attention to the course of events in this matter. The Bill as originally introduced in the House of Commons was entitled "Monopoly (Inquiry and Control) Bill." In discussion there it was pointed out that that was not a very happy Title; and it did not truly represent the contents of the Bill, because the Bill dealt not only with monopolies but also with restrictive practices. The President of the Board of Trade, in one of the later stages of the Bill, said that, so far as he was concerned, he agreed, and would welcome a change in the Title; and, failing a better suggestion, he thought it might be termed "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Bill." When the Bill came to your Lordships' House I raised the same point on the Committee stage, and said that I agreed with the President of the Board of Trade that, failing any better suggestion, that ought to be the Title of the Bill. The Government said that they would give the matter consideration, and on the Committee stage put down an Amendment to omit the word "Monopoly," and insert the words "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices." That was done on July 13.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in moving that Amendment, recalled the history of the matter, and said that the Government themselves had put down this Amendment to include the words "Restrictive Practices." I then expressed appreciation of the action taken by the Government, and welcomed the Amendment, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, did the same on behalf of my noble friends sitting above the Gangway. When the Bill as amended in Committee was circulated, its Title on the front page was, "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Bill." And Clause 22 says: This Act may be cited as the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Act, 1948. That was quite satisfactory. Then, to my surprise, I found, when the Bill was reprinted after the Report stage, that the Title appeared as "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Bill." I inquired how it was that those words had slipped in. I was then told that it was because, instead of the Government moving an Amendment to omit the words "Monopoly (Inquiry and Control)," in order to insert "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices," they had moved only to omit the word "Monopoly" and to insert "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices"; and the words "Inquiry and Control," in parenthesis, thereby survived, unintentionally and contrary to everyone's expectation and desire.

It is a long and somewhat clumsy Title; and a Short Title ought to be a Short Title. I feel that the words "Inquiry and Control" are unnecessary. I therefore suggest that the Bill should be altered back to the form in which it appeared when it was circulated to this House after the Committee stage. If it had not been circulated with that Title, I and others interested in this matter would have drawn attention to it at an earlier time, and given notice of an Amendment on Third Reading. But, as the Bill was circulated in the form which we desired, I did not put down an Amendment on Third Reading. There is a Rule of the House that Amendments cannot be moved on Third Reading except with Notice. I do not know whether this would be regarded as a purely technical point that might be corrected in spite of that Rule. I express no opinion on that point. If not, I hope the Government will give the matter further consideration when the Bill goes back to the House of Commons, because there it will come up afresh on your Lordships' Amendment. If they so desire, when the Bill is in the other place and the Question is put whether they agree or disagree with this Amendment, they could agree, subject to a further Amendment to omit the words "Inquiry and Control." Those are the points. The matter is not one of profound national importance, but it is as well that the Bill should have the form which the House desired, and which, I feel sure, the House, including the Clerks at the Table, understood was to be the case.


My Lords, I have made inquiries into this matter, and the result of my inquiries has not confirmed what the noble Viscount has just said. The Amendment which the Government moved in Committee, as he correctly says, was to omit the word "Monopoly" and insert the words "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices." That Amendment did not cover, and was not intended to cover, the omission of the words "Inquiry and Control." They were left in. May I say that the Government Amendment was so designed, and that is why it did not mention them? There was a reprint of the Bill, and there was an error in the reprint. It had not been noticed that the Amendment simply inserted the words "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices" in place of the word "Monopoly" but had not disturbed the words "Inquiry and Control" which were intended to be left. That is why it now appears with what I agree is a rather clumsy and "long-winded" Title. That was in accordance with the decision of the Committee. Personally, I have no liking for "long-winded" Titles, and I will report the matter to the President of the Board of Trade.

I can assure the noble Viscount that, on the information given to me, the Amendment was deliberately moved in that form, and it was not intended to disturb the words "Inquiry and Control," which certainly do relate to the business of the Commission and do describe what the Bill is going to effect. Of course, as the noble Viscount has said, we have not had Notice of it in accordance with our Rules, so it is out of order at the moment. But I will report what he says and inquire further into the point, although I am quite confident that the statement I have made is correct.


My Lords, by leave of the House may I make this further point? If the Title that was desired was "The Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Bill"—those are the words used by the President of the Board of Trade and the words used by me—when the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, moved his Amendment he did not suggest that the words "Inquiry and Control" should still remain. He did not draw attention to the fact that he was retaining those words. It would have needed rather more acute and alert intelligence than we have brought to bear in order to follow that he had not accepted the Amendment proposed. So much so that, when the Bill was reprinted, the Title was printed in the form which had been desired and in the only form in which it had been discussed. No one had suggested, on either side, in. either House, that the Title was to be "Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Bill." If the Government thought that that was the right Title, I venture to say that they should have said so. However, I am quite prepared to leave the matter in the hands of the President of the Board of Trade.

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 3 [Meaning of "Conditions to which this Act applies" in relation to supply]:


My Lords, these three Amendments are purely drafting Amendments. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 7, after ("goods") insert ("other than the first of these references").—(Lord Lucas of Chilworth.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 8, leave out ("each") and insert ("any").—(Lord Lucas of Chilworth.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 9, after ("to") insert ("any of").—(Lord Lucas of Chilworth.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass—(Viscount Addison.)

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.