HL Deb 01 April 1954 vol 186 cc944-5

4.43 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.


My Lords, in moving that the House do resolve itself into Committee on the Bill, I should like to take the opportunity of correcting a slip which I made in the course of my winding-up remarks on the occasion of the Second Reading of this Bill. I was answering some questions which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, put to me in regard to the financial control which Parliament would have over the expenditure of money incurred by the British Industries Fair Limited. Briefly, the financial position is this. The grants made to the B.I.F. Limited by the Board of Trade, under Clause 2 of the Bill, will be included in the Estimates of the Board of Trade, and will, therefore, be subject to normal Parliamentary scrutiny. As to the guarantees, the position is this. Under the Bill, Parliament is asked to approve the giving of guarantees up to a limit of £100,000. The guarantees will be given by the Treasury only in such manner and on such terms as they think fit, and the Treasury are required to lay before both Houses of Parliament a statement of any such guarantees immediately after they have been given. Such Statements can. of course. be debated in both Houses of Parliament.

That procedure follows the precedent set in several previous Bills, now Acts of Parliament, such as the Borrowing (Control and Guarantees) Act, 1946. the Colonial Loans Act, 1949, and the Overseas Resources Development Act. 1948. Unfortunately, I had not those precedents with me when I was answering, the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, and I inadvertently told him that not only could Parliament debate the statements that I have just mentioned but that Parliament could also, if it thought fit, reject them. That, as I think I have now shown to your Lordships, is a wholly inaccurate statement of the law. I must, therefore, in view of the nice regard for the proprieties which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has just displayed, ask his pardon for having misinformed him On that point, and I hope that the House will allow me to withdraw that misstatement of the law. With those words, I beg to move that the House do resolve itself into Committee on the Bill.

Moved, That the House do resolve itself into Committee on the said Bill. —(Lord Mancroft.)


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for coming and asking absolution for his "grave error." I am surprised that the noble Lord should have committed it. So great is it, that we do not intern: to take any action, and it does not alter the opinion of noble Lords on this side of the House which I expressed when the noble Lord made that error. We shall not further the point we had in mind by moving any Amendment at this stage. I thought I had better say that at this stage, because we all wish the Bill a speedy passage and that controversy shall be completely absent from it.

On Question, Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly.

Bill reported without amendment.