§ 3.23 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Dundee.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Purpose for which Part I powers exercisable, and duration of powers]:
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON moved to leave out subsection (6). The noble Lord said: I beg to move the first Amendment on the Order Paper standing in my name and the name of my noble friend Lord Shepherd. It seems to me that this Bill, in its construction, falls a good deal short of achieving the purpose which it desires to achieve, and that nothing is more dangerous and unproductive in the structure of the Bill than subsection (6) of Clause 1, which limits the operation of the Bill to seven years. If it is desirable to make a new Act to take the place of those which have been operating during the last seven years or so to give powers to take special action when pockets and areas of especially acute unemployment develop, as they almost inevitably must develop with the changes in industry and trade, then it is essential that there should be a long-term remedy. Merely to pass a new Act wiping out the old and with a limit of seven years seems to me destructive of the purpose of the Bill. No really valuable machinery can be established in time if this sort of limit is put in. We are getting rid of what has been a valuable contribution to this problem—the existing Distribution of Industry Acts, 1945 to 1958—and I would suggest to your Lordships that it is very desirable that this limit should be removed.
Page 2, line 31, leave out subsection (6).—(Lord Wilmot of Selmeston.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
This Amendment was one which was moved, in another place and discussed at some considerable length. In the end it was negatived without a Division. One 506 difficulty about answering it is that it seems to raise so many opportunities for irrelevance and arguing in circles, and the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, has said very little indeed in its support. He mentioned one of the arguments which have been put forward—namely, that this is not a very good Bill. The reply to that is, of course, that if you think it is not a very good Bill why do you object to its term being limited to seven years? Another argument in support of the Amendment is that Parliament at any time can revise legislation if it wishes to do so. The answer is, of course, that in the same way if Parliament does not want to revise this Measure in seven years' time, it will be a simple procedure to bring in a one-clause Bill continuing the Act, as it then will be, exactly as it is now.
The reason for putting this term to the life of the Bill is not that we think it a bad Bill which ought not to live for very long; it is not that we are confident that the problem will be solved in seven years; and it is not that we think that, if the problem should not be solved in seven years, we ought to throw in our hand. The reason simply is that this problem of the redistribution of industry is one which is continually changing in relation to our industrial pattern. Industrial conditions in the twentieth century in Britain are not static they are extremely flexible; and we want to make sure that our legislation on the subject is sufficiently flexible to keep up with them.
I think that the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, was a good Act, but I believe that it would have been an even better one if it had contained some proviso of this kind, so that Parliament would have been compelled at the end of a certain term of years either to continue it, if so desired, or at least to review it and to reconsider it. Because, in spite of the efforts of noble Lords opposite, in public life there is still a great deal of conservatism, still a great deal of inertia, not only on the part of the Government and perhaps on the part of the Civil Service, but also on the part of Parliament, which is always faced with a heavily congested programme of business. There is always the temptation to say, "We have a perfectly good 507 Act on the Statute Book, and we have so many other things to which we want to give priority, so why not leave it alone?" It would have been far better if Parliament had been compelled to review the Act of 1945 by the fact of that Act coming to an end before now. Had that been the case, I think our legislation would have been more up to date.
The only reason for putting in this provision is, that we want to make absolutely sure that, whatever Party may be in power, Parliament, despite pressure of other business, despite innate conservatism or inertia, will be obliged, before the expiry of seven years, to take another look at the progress of our legislation.
The reason why the particular number of years has been chosen is simply that we think it is a reasonable time. It takes three or four years from the time a factory is first approved to the time when it is built, has its machinery installed and is in full production, giving full employment to the maximum number of people it is expected to employ. Therefore it would be clearly undesirable to insist that this legislation should be reviewed again before three or four years; and perhaps double that time is a reasonable period to elapse before we should insist that Parliament look again at what it is doing now.
There is nothing particularly sacred about the number seven as compared with eight or six, but there are some respectable precedents for a septennial review of matters of this kind. When Jacob married Leah, the daughter of Laban, he anticipated that his domestic happiness in the course of time might be greatly improved if he could marry her sister Rachael as well. He therefore made a bargain with his father-in-law, Laban, that after a lapse of a period of seven years the matter should be reviewed and he would be able to have two wives instead of one. I have no doubt that if in the interval Jacob had changed his mind he would have found a way of getting out of it; but the point is that Laban was legally bound at the end of seven years to review the position, which was in fact eventually reviewed.
The sole reason why we want this position to be reviewed is that we want 508 to make quite sure that Parliament will not, through any kind of inertia, neglect the obviously desirable duty of making sure that our legislation on this subject is kept up to date. As I said on Second Reading, we are not presumptuous enough to say that the problem will be solved in seven years. We very much hope that by that time new standards of industrial prosperity will be spreading through all the development areas in every part of Great Britain; and if that should happen, I think it will be necessary that this problem should be looked at and reviewed in a new light.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
I am a little puzzled by the noble Earl's literary simile. Am Ito understand that he is giving notice to the many partners in this long-term enterprise he is inviting that he proposes to take divorce proceedings in seven years?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not think such proceedings would be valid, because the contracts made under this Bill will not be terminated by the limitation in the life of the Bill.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I am sure your Lordships will be grateful for the speech that has just been made by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. My noble friend asked the Minister why the period should be seven years, and I am sure he will remember that on Second Reading I made a speech in which I dwelt for some time on this very point. I drew the Minister's attention to the fact that, whilst this Bill had a limit of years, previous measures, such as the Rent Act, and others to which we strongly objected, had had no particular life given to them. I should like to put this point to the Minister. What is seven years? I suppose to a schoolboy seven years is eternity, and to an elderly man it may be a span of life. But to industry seven years is nothing. We see in many industries the long periods of time before development can take place. We on this side of the Committee feel strongly that it is quite wrong, in spite of what the noble Earl has said, to give this Bill, which in the Government's view is a genuine effort to deal with unemployment, any particular duration. I believe that it is psychologically wrong, particularly to the people who will have to administer the various provisions in the Bill.
509 I suppose that the Bill, which is entitled "Local Employment Bill", deals specifically with hard-core areas of unemployment. But we see the pattern of industry changing, and I think the Committee will agree that we are living in a form of industrial revolution. We feel that we should not wait until unemployment is imminent, or has arisen, before action is taken. We believe that there should be legislation whereby the Government can anticipate the trends and changes of industry, and by anticipating them—and there are very good methods of anticipating trends of trade and industry—it is possible to start moving in, by inducement and encouragement, a new type of industry. The noble Earl spoke on Second Reading about the need for diversification of industry. If you can anticipate possible unemployment, then you can have the means of preventing what I think was once described as "the dark and hungry years between the wars".
I feel that this Amendment is fundamental and that it is for the good of the Bill. I hope that the Government will change their mind. My noble friend just asked a question of the Minister, and I should like to take him a little further on that. We have the case (I understand that it is not quite within this Bill) of the Ford Motor Company going to Liverpool. It will receive Government assistance. According to this Bill, this aid can be granted if unemployment is at a high level. We have a list about which I will speak later. This list can be added to and taken from. What happens in the case of Liverpool if, after Ford's are established there, the rate of unemployment falls below what the Government regard as a high level and Ford's wish to expand? Is it possible that Ford's will be refused a licence to expand the factory they will be building in Liverpool at the request of the Government? As I see it, these provisions will cease in seven years' time. If the particular provisions that protect industry and help them when they go to these areas will cease seven years hence, I believe these concerns will think again very seriously. I would ask the noble Earl whether he can give me a reply to that point, because I believe it is most important. Coming back to what I said in the earlier part, I believe the Government should, for the good of this Bill, 510 agree to the deletion of this seven years' limit.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
If there are no other of your Lordships who want to speak, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, would like me to say a brief word in reply to the additional points which he has raised. I do not agree at all that this would be a psychological mistake. The noble Lord said that industry in this country was undergoing a revolution and was subject to widespread and continuous change. If that is so, surely it is not a good thing that we should tie ourselves down for ever to the static conditions of one Bill. Surely that makes it all the more necessary that Parliament should review the situation.
The noble Lord said that seven years was an eternity in the life of a schoolboy and a very short time in the life of a man who was nearing the end of his days. But we must consider it neither from the point of the schoolboy nor from the point of the old man, but from the point of view of British industry. If British industry is expanding at the rate which the noble Lord himself emphasised, then, surely, it is necessary that we should plan our legislation and that it should be continually kept up to date. The noble Lord asked what would happen if Ford's agree—as I hope they will; I do not yet know whether they will—to go to Liverpool and what would happen there. Of course, under this Bill the list of development districts is subject to alteration from time to time. It is conceivable that if one development area achieved the condition of full employment it might be omitted from the list. But that does not mean that an industrial development certificate would be refused for further development in that area; it means only that you would not get inducements to develop there.
Suppose the noble Lord had gone a little further. Suppose that most of the development areas in seven years' time were to achieve a condition of full or nearly full employment. Then, perhaps, we might want to give, say, depopulation priority over unemployment, a course which we are not taking at present because we think that unemployment should have priority. The noble Lord said that we ought to look a long way ahead and have foresight. Of course we ought. But in view of the changes which 511 are taking place in British industry every month, if the noble Lord's foresight can look all that way ahead beyond seven years then I think it is a miraculous thing. It is not the Government's belief that the foresight of any planner would enable him to foresee circumstances so far ahead.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The noble Earl spoke a few moments ago about the rigidity of this Bill, and said that for that reason we should limit the life of the Bill to seven years. I understood the Government's case for this new Bill was to repeal the old Act, which the House and Parliament have accepted was a good Act. They have asked us to agree to this new Bill because it is flexible.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Then why is the noble Earl making the case that we must limit it because of its rigidity?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Priorities may have to be altered, as well as the flexible list of the development districts.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The priorities have still to be assessed by the Board of Trade. I thought that that was the reason why each development area and each town should be on the list.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The priorities are defined under Clause 1, and as a result of months of debate the definition of Clause 1 has been continuously reviewed, and in some respects amended, in another place.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I should like to say a few words before the Lord Chairman of Committees put this clause to the vote. As the noble Earl will remember, I said on Second Reading that I thought—and my friends agreed with me—that this was a bad Bill. I am sure the noble Earl was aware that, whatever support he may have received, it was lukewarm. It is quite clear that the Bill that has been received by the House and Parliament is certainly not the type that the electors at the last General Election were led to expect. My 512 noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor quoted the speech made by Sir David Eccles. He said that there was to be a revolutionary Tory plan for tackling unemployment and that the Bill was already drafted. He said that it would bring a totally new approach to the problem.
I am not going to be guilty of making a Second Reading speech, but I am going to ask my friends to divide on this clause because we believe that we should at least protest at the type of Bill which has been placed before Parliament. I would ask the Minister again why this Bill was necessary. We had a perfectly good Act in being, namely, the 1945 Act. It was followed by a series of other Acts, the last one being the 1958 Act. Those two Acts, I understand, covered approximately 23 to 24 per cent. of the insured population. We now understand that only 12 per cent. of the insured population are going to be covered by the list that has been issued by the Minister in respect of this Bill. This is a very serious matter. When one looks at the list of towns one becomes conscious of the irony of the former President of the Board of Trade when he was issuing his good news to the unemployed in Lancashire, and yet in this list there is not one Lancashire cotton town. The Minister said that this Bill was drafted before the General Election. He must have known then—he must have had some idea—what type of town or area would be in this Bill, and yet he made that speech in Lancashire. I feel it is very close to what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, referred to as a fraudulent prospectus.
I want to ask a question in regard to D.A.T.A.C. Under these regulations the Government were able to give assistance to firms who were willing to go into the development areas. By this Bill they will cease to have the financial help and otherwise of the Government. I want to ask the Minister whether the application of a firm which has already lodged an application for assistance to go into these areas, will, because of the passing of the Bill, become null and void. I believe that this is a serious matter, because there are many towns throughout the country which have gone out of their way to attract firms to come to their particular areas. They have had their offer of assistance by the Government, 513 and now they find that this Bill will possibly prevent—I will use these words—these firms from coming to this area.
I am not going to be guilty of a Second Reading speech. My views, I think, are well understood. There is no urgency in this Bill; there is no long-term planning; there is no anticipation of the change in industry with resulting unemployment. It is limited in scope
§ Resolved in the Affirmative, and Clause 1 agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON moved, after Clause 1 to insert the following new clause:
§ ".—(1) For the purposes of this Part of this Act the Board shall have power to issue, by statutory instrument, a direction to the proprietors or managers of any undertaking which, in the opinion of the Board, is likely within two years to require new premises, and any such direction may prohibit the said proprietors or managers from acquiring new premises otherwise than in any development district specified in the direction.
§ (2) Any statutory instrument made under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."
§ The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment can be explained only if I have your Lordships' toleration to deal with it in conjunction with Amendment No. 12 which seeks to insert a new clause after Clause 19. May I ask your Lordships' indulgence to consider the two clauses together, and ask your for- 514 and it is limited in its purpose in time. Therefore I would ask my friends to join me in opposing this clause in the Committee stage.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 46: Not-Contents, 16.513
|Aberdare, L.||Derwent, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Dundee, E.||Meston, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Ebbisham, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Ferrers, E.||Newall, L.|
|Baden-Powell, L.||Grantchester, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Grenfell, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Bathurst, E. [Teller.]||Hampton, L.||Onslow, E. [Teller.]|
|Birdwood, L.||Hastings, L.||Rugby, L.|
|Bossom, L.||Hawke, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Home, E. (L. President.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Horsbrugh, B.||Simon, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Soulbury, V.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Howe, E.||Spens, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Swaythling, L.|
|Conesford, L.||MacAndrew, L.||Torrington, V.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Lawson, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Uvedale of North End, L.|
|Crook, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.||Williams, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Shepherd, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Stonham, L.||Wise, L.|
§ giveness if this is a rather clumsy way of going about the business? The purpose of Amendments Nos. 2 and 12 is to seek to bring into this Bill in desirable circumstances powers to limit the continuous growth of huge office buildings in the centre of London and other large overcrowded towns. It seeks to do it by these means: that where the Government, through the Board of Trade, have knowledge that a particular industrial enterprise is contemplating seeking, under this Bill, specially favourable treatment if they go into one of the specified areas, it should be competent for the Government to say, "We will help you here only if you will do something to help us. What we want you to do is to cease expanding the office buildings in the centre of London."
§ We have a most interesting case of this immediately around us. On the banks of the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, there are being built and are about to be built three or four huge skyscraper office buildings. There is the great Shell building by the 515 Festival Hall, there is the new building for, I believe, Vickers, which is to rise on the site of the old Millbank prison just past the I.C.I. buildings on the North bank, and there is the further development at the old Vauxhall Gas Works site—a huge site. I understand that it is possible that between these three buildings somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 clerical workers of various kinds may be employed. This will tip into the streets around the normal office closing time an enormous number of people to overburden the already burdened transport and traffic system around the bridges and the banks of the Thames. There are other methods of dealing with the matter, some of them rather lone-distance and tardy, which are open to public authorities of various kinds but which seem to me to be inadequately used.
§ I hope that in surveying the frightful problem which is being created here the Government will, if it is not too late, seek by any means in their power to interfere and to stop it. So far as we are concerned to-day, we can say no more than that if industrial firms are seeking the advantages of this Bill they should be required to have regard to town planning and traffic needs in the centre of London, and the Government should seek to induce them to take their office buildings with their industrial undertakings into the development areas. That is the purpose, perhaps rather clumsily put in the Amendments themselves, of Amendments Nos. 2 and 12. I beg to move.
After Clause 1 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Wilmot of Selmeston.)
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am grateful for what the noble Lord has said. To be quite frank, I had no idea that Amendments Nos. 2 and 12 were proposed to be taken together because they are quite different in their effect. Amendment No. 2, which is the Amendment in the noble Lord's name proposing a new clause, is a very drastic proposal indeed and goes far beyond anything that has been suggested in another place. What I had intended to do was to thank the noble Lord for what I felt was a genuine effort to help our intentions to push on more vigorously with the process 516 of steering industry into the development areas; but to say at greater length than I shall now do (because it appears no longer to be necessary), that to accept Amendment No. 2 would, in our view, not have the effect which it is desired to have, because we think that the amount of irritation and resentment which it would create would hinder the co-operation of industry in carrying out our purpose. It must be remembered that you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. It seems to me that the proposed new clause after Clause 1 was based on the assumption that horses are much more thirsty than they really are.
But I am surprised and relieved to find that the noble Lord is really talking about Amendment No. 12, which is another Amendment which was proposed in another place and, after some discussion, negatived without a Division—that is, to apply the procedure of industrial development certificates to offices as well as to factory buildings and extensions. I feel a little mean as I had just asked my noble friend Lord St. Oswald to deal with this Amendment at the end of the debate, but now I find that it would obviously be more convenient if I dealt with it myself.
Of course we all agree that the problem of congested offices is most serious, but I think it is a matter for town planning, rather than for employment. It may be a good and desirable thing that offices should not be permitted to congregate in the centre of London but that they should be required to go somewhere, perhaps like Kew, instead. That is most important from a planning point of view, but it is not important from an employment point of view because employment at Kew is just as full as it is in London; and if you insisted on the issue of an industrial development certificate for every office in the hope of persuading some offices to go to development areas, the times when you would strike lucky would be so rare that it really would not be worth the immense increase in administrative labour and staff which would be involved. After all, offices are not usually built like a factory, for some particular purpose, to make some particular product; they are usually built in huge blocks, for letting to whoever will take them.
517 I know that there are some cases such as one that was mentioned in another place—the offices of the Egg Marketing Board, where it was admitted by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary in another place that it probably would have been better had we been able to persuade those concerned to build that particular block of offices in some development area. But we do not think that this is really relevant to the purpose of this Bill; we think that it is a town planning matter and that it would not be right to give the Board of Trade the enormous bureaucratic power to inquire into the purpose of every block of offices built in the country, not for the purpose of town planning, which is the duty of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and local authorities, but from the point of view of the distribution of industry and local employment.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
I om sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, as he has been so kind to my amateur status in the drafting of this Amendment, but the three cases I have cited are not just offices to let. They are offices constructed by a particular industry, in each case likely to require development facilities under the Bill; and this is an attempt to get them to house their staffs in proximity to their establishments in the development areas, rather than in the centre of the City of Westminster.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The noble Earl has said that these two proposed clauses were not exactly relevant to the Bill, but in my judgment they are.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I believe that the first is; and I was not objecting to the second on the grounds of irrelevance but was merely saying that it was more a matter for town planning consideration than for the pursuance of our local employment policy.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I accept that, but I feel that it is particularly relevant. As I see it, we in this country ought to aim at a proper distribution of industry and labour. There is now a tendency, I think a regrettable one, for administrative control of industry to become centred more and more in London, with the machinery and the factories on the outskirts or in other parts of the country. 518 Let us recognise that Scotland and Wales and places like Yorkshire can produce just as good office staff material as does London; and I feel that we should try to provide employment of that type for suitable people in the development areas. Frankly, I have always wondered why these large companies who put up these colossal buildings, and companies who occupy them on rent, do so, when they must consider the cost of a typist sitting operating a typewriter. I believe it is a point that this country and industry should really consider, because all this tremendous cost of administration in London is on the back of industry. It affects even our export prices, let alone our home market prices.
I feel that we should endeavour, as my noble friend and myself have sought, to bring into this Bill a provision whereby office work should be distributed around the country and not be localised in London. We have a very great social problem. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge has referred to strap-hanging and its effect on the nervous system. Any noble Lord who travels on suburban trains and realises the misery and lack of dignity involved will know that it is a very great social problem. Her Majesty's Government can administer the Town and Country Planning Act but in the judgment of many of us they have not done so. We have created and are creating now a situation where there is and will be no joy and no dignity in either working or living in London.
§ LORD STONHAM
I endorse what both my noble friends have said on this matter. If I understood the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, aright when he said that this was important from the planning point of view but not from the employment point of view, he was, in my opinion, wholly "off the beam".
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I was referring to Amendment No. 12 which was actually spoken to by the noble Lord. Had he spoken to Amendment No. 2, as I thought he was doing, I would not have said it was at all irrelevant.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It is an entirely new idea to-day that we should do so, but I am delighted to save time by discussing the two Amendments together.
§ LORD STONHAM
When I say I believe that the noble Earl is very much "off the beam" in making his statement, I mean that I consider he is wrong in thinking this is not an important issue from the employment point of view; because it is extremely important from that viewpoint. If, as my noble friend Lord Wilmot of Selmeston has said, within one mile of this House office blocks are being put up which will employ from ten to twenty thousand people, it is very much a matter of employment. I myself have noticed office workers coming into London. I travel from Surrey, and I see office workers coming from as far as Guildford every day and then going home again at night, travelling the same distance—something like thirty miles each day; and in each direction out of London the same thing happens. Many come still greater distances We tap an enormous area to bring people into London, in my view quite unnecessarily. A number of firms, such as insurance companies, have seen the light in this matter and established their headquarters some way out in the Home Counties.
I believe that we ought to be considering this question. Whether the office blocks are in connection with a manufacturing or production firm, or whether they are not, we should be planning not merely from the town planning aspect but from the employment aspect also, so that there can be greater diversity of employment in other areas, not only in development areas. There are other districts where, within my own knowledge, there are employment problems. I have four small factories in different areas, fairly widely spread apart, and it is a curious fact that different employment problems exist in the different areas. In some cases it is fairly simple to get one type of labour whereas in other cases that type of labour is short. One often finds, particularly in areas of heavy industry, that opportunities for the employment of women are lacking. This is, therefore, important from the planning point of view.
To touch for a moment on the social consequences of this extraordinary concentration 520 in cities like London, they are appalling and can lead to break down in time of crisis. The firm mentioned by my noble friend Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, the Shell Company, like many others when there was the threat of a railway strike recently, made plans for getting staff into London. They did so very efficiently, as one might expect, arranging for parking for those coming in with cars; and for those who could not come by car there were arrangements for sleeping. All that was done in theory, but when that company found out just how many people they had to cater for they decided that only the senior people and those immediately next in importance could be provided for. Juniors, typists and secretaries were told that they would have the time off. They were told, "You will have to stay home; we cannot possibly cater for you here." In other words, business, though it certainly would not have been brought to a standstill, would have been very greatly reduced so far as numbers of staff were concerned. It is really fantastic nonsense that we should go on providing these facilities without making an attempt to get at least some sense into the situation. There are people available in other areas to staff these firms. The firms would be able to build their offices more cheaply and to staff them at less cost. And indirectly they would be able to make an important contribution to what has become a very great social and economic problem—this draining into and out of London, with many people spending perhaps fifteen years of their working life getting to and from work.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am most grateful for what the noble Lord has said. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about the question of irrelevance, and I certainly would not make any point about the drafting of this clause. I am sure I could not have drafted it nearly so well myself as the noble Lord has done. I want only to point out, for the sake of the Record, that this clause, as drafted, would severely limit the opportunities which private owners enjoy of selling their premises. For example, the owner of a factory in Plymouth who wanted for some good reason to sell his factory might find that prospective purchasers were pre- 521 vented by this clause from buying, and he would therefore be deprived of much of the value of his property. That is the kind of thing that would create resentment and opposition in industry and would make it less likely that industry would co-operate in our purpose. If the Board operated the clause vigorously, they might have to issue many hundreds of statutory instruments in every part of the country, and every industrialist and business would be the potential subject of one; and with each change in the list of development districts, every statutory instrument might have to be revoked and replaced with a new one.
The clause as it stands presupposes that the Board will be capable of forming an opinion that a particular undertaking is likely to require new premises within two years, and I find it difficult to see how the Board could obtain sufficient information about a particular undertaking on which to base such an opinion. It would be possible for the Board to form the opinion that a particular kind of industry—say, machine-tool making as a whole—was on the upgrade and was going to expand a lot within two years; but it would hardly be possible to anticipate that a firm, ABC Limited, machine tool makers, would require new premises within that period.
All your Lordships who have spoken have spoken not about factories but only about offices. I agree with a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said. All I would suggest to him is this. How many of these new factories he is talking about as being built in London and employing 20,000 people, could we get to go to Scotland or Tyneside?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Really, my Lords! How could we possibly say that a huge office building, employing 20,000 people engaged in all kinds of businesses over London, should go to Lanarkshire or Tyneside? Of course it would be absurd. There are cases—I mentioned the Egg Marketing Board—of which it could be said they ought to go to the periphery 30 miles away; but that is a question of town planning and not of distribution of industry for the development areas.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
If I may be permitted a few more words, they would be to ask the noble Earl whether he will seek to persuade the Minister to see whether he can find a way to do what we have been urging should be done. I am extremely sorry that I have failed to get the noble Earl to understand the point here. The reason why I asked your Lordships to consider these two clauses together was Ito try to avoid the charges which the noble Earl has made: that this power of direction could be applied to everybody and would be oppressive and foolish. Of course it would be if it were so used. The whole intention is to get the clerical staff to move with the productive undertaking that is going to the development area. These offices are not offices of miscellaneous firms together in one big office building; these are office buildings which are built for one particular firm.
There is no reason that I can see why Vickers should need a huge skyscraper on Millbank. Their main business is in industrial centres in various parts of England. Our own experience of industry has shown that we do not need a vast staff in the centre of London. I happen to be chairman of a group of companies employing in Yorkshire and thereabouts some 30,000 people. All the clerical work is done adjacent to the factories, and in London there is only a small group of directors and their immediate staff—not more than a dozen people—who are quite able by this means to administer the business. I am certain that the staffs in these great prestige-making skyscrapers, which will cause such enormous upheaval and trouble in the years to come, and traffic dislocation far worse than the existing dislocation and traffic problem of this City, could m most cases be housed elsewhere and could very profitably be adjacent to their industrial buildings.
The purpose of these rather clumsy Amendments was to get into this Bill powers so that the Board of Trade, knowing that a company was contemplating using the facilities provided to go into an industrial area, could seek to persuade them, and if necessary insist, that the clerical staffs associated with them should not be housed in the centre of London. I ask the noble Earl to put this point to the Minister and to find out whether something cannot be done in 523 that direction. It is not true that the Board of Trade do not know. I am assured, by those who know from the inside how these things work, that they get to know about two years before a development actually takes place, because there are all sorts of preliminary negotiations and inquiries before a firm will contemplate a new development in a different area. It is when the Board of Trade begin to learn about these things that they should start to use their influence and persuasion, reinforced by the statutory powers, to try to bring about this situation. I hope that the noble Earl will at any rate be able to do that.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Of course, we do our best—and shall continue to do so—to persuade the office staff to move with the factory into the development areas. All I have said is that the procedure of an industrial development certificate is not a very good method for doing this, simply because the pattern of office building—huge buildings containing the offices of hundreds of firms—is not the same as the pattern of industry; and the application of industrial development certificates to offices would not be the most appropriate method of trying to force them to go. Certainly we do all we can to encourage the erection of more office buildings in development areas.
§ LORD CROOK
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Earl, but one thing he said earlier worries me; that was, his reference to this being entirely a planning matter, or mainly a planning matter. Surely that is going back on the whole concept which the Government had immediately following the war in respect of its own staffs, for instance. It was not a planning matter that the Ministry of National Insurance was put in Newcastle. It was put there because it got buildings out of London. It got a limited number out of London; it enabled a reservoir of 8,000 temporary workers to be employed in a given period where a reservoir of workers existed. The same thing applied when the Ministry of Food was placed at Guildford (another Ministry has now taken over there), and when the Ministry of Aviation and others were taken to Chessington, on the Kingston by-pass. They were not planning proposals. That 524 was done for the dispersal of His Majesty's Civil Service (as it then was) and was part of a deliberate plan. If necessary, there was planning consent for housing the reservoirs of labour and to try to ensure that there was a greater spread of it. I am worried about the suggestion that we are going back after this number of years to the idea that this is a planning matter and not an employment matter.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
So far as the location of Government offices is concerned, I think I should be prepared to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Crook, and to say that we shall certainly bear in mind the need for locating as many new Government offices and Government staffs as may be practicable in the development areas: but that is not quite the same thing as controlling all privately built offices throughout the country by means of industrial development certificates. However, we appreciate the noble Lord's point, and I can assure him that there is certainly no change of attitude on that. We do intend, and hope, to have more Government staffs located in areas of higher unemployment.
§ LORD CROOK
While thanking the noble Earl, I was not suggesting that more Government staffs should be moved out. What I was pointing out was that the Government themselves started to embark upon this policy in respect of the Civil Service at the end of the war. I understood that they were going to do the same in respect of industry, but what we are doing to-day is not applying the same kind of thing to industry. What I am suggesting is not so much that we should do more about the Civil Service, which had to face a good deal of dislocation as a result of the Government's policy, but that we should try to see that industry follows the Government's example.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clauses 2 to 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8 [The Industrial Estates Management Corporations]:
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON moved to leave out Clause 8. The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to seek to prevent the abolition of the existing industrial development 525 corporations which are set out in the Second Schedule. They are the North Eastern Trading Estates Limited, the Wales and Monmouthshire Industrial Estates Limited, The West Cumberland Industrial Development Company Limited, the Scottish Industrial Estates Limited and the North Western Industrial Estates Limited. That group of corporate bodies is the group that has been operating the Distribution of Industry Acts of 1945 to 1958 up till now.
§ Now, most surprisingly, in spite of the splendid work that these development corporations have done and in spite of the remarkable value of their accumulated experience, this Bill—and this is one of the major objections to it, in my view—sweeps them away and sets up in their stead management bodies which are just estate managers: bodies which exercise an entirely different function from that of the corporations which are being abolished. I found that I agreed entirely with the very interesting and informed speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bilsland, on the last occasion when he described the abolition of these bodies and the setting up of these Management Corporations as "a major blunder". He said this in the light of his long experience and splendid service to Scotland as chairman (as I believe he is still) of one of the bodies which is being abolished—the Scottish Industrial Estates Limited. He described the work which they had done over the last ten or fifteen years, and he pointed out, as I do again, that a group of people in the Board of Trade expert on property management and estate management will perform an entirely different function from that which has hitherto been performed by these industrial development companies in the development areas.
§ Their major function has been to attract industry to these areas. They have consisted of people who themselves are industrialists in the areas; who know the nature of the population, its skills and its character; who know the natural facilities of the areas; who are respected as successful people in the areas; and who have been able, by their influence and their prestige, to attract other industries into those areas. I have personal knowledge of The West Cumberland Industrial Development Company Limited, because I am concerned with an 526 industry that went into one of these areas; and through that corporation we have had enormous help in every way. In Scotland, the body which the noble Lord, Lord Bilsland, has directed with such distinction is even more important to the industries; and there is no hope of getting anything like such a service from this group of special civil servants who will run the estate as an estate from the Board of Trade.
§ The purpose of the Amendment is to delete the clause in this Bill which replaces these valuable and established bodies with this bureaucratic control. Here, I think—at least, I hope—the drafting is not at fault: and with this Amendment, if it is successful, go a large number of the other Amendments in my name. They are purely consequential, because many things that arise out of this great change will not be necessary if we leave the conduct of this business in the hands of those who have so ably performed it in the past. I beg to move.
Leave out Clause 8.—(Lord Wilmot of Selmeston.)
§ LORD LAWSON
I am glad my noble friend has drawn attention to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bilsland, in the Second Reading debate. I should have thought the Government would have treated that opinion so seriously that they would have had second thoughts on the action they proposed to take. So far as I am concerned, it is very difficult to understand the abandonment of these estate committees, as they are generally called. I live close to one of these estates. Everybody knows what the County of Durham was like during the time of the depression. It was one of the most lamentable experiences that any man could go through during his lifetime. When you talk about a depressed area, there are people who think that it was a matter of the third-rate, or maybe the second-rate, unemployed; but I daresay that in the early stages there were very good men who thought that they were absolutely indispensable. But I am sorry to say that I lived to see the best craftsmen in a whole area made idle—so long idle that clothes were sent from all parts of the kingdom. They came my way to a house which eventually was practically packed with clothes—and a good deal of it was due to the kindness to the people of this great city.
527 I cannot understand why the Government have done this thing. There was a swamp close to where I lived which was a real eyesore. Stage by stage the workers' representatives came together. I was present at some very turbulent meetings in Newcastle once or twice when Lord Ridley was present; but by and by we got the thing into shape. The ablest amongst the workers' leaders in the various crafts and industries came together, with the result that, with State help, this great swamp was drained, and factories were built on the site where now thousands of men, women and youngsters go to work. Now the Government have taken the chief of this trading estate, Mr. Sadler Forster, and made him head of the national organisation. Mr. Forster is an able man (he and I are good friends), but he has been thought worthy of selection not only because of his ability but also because of the help he got from the workers' leaders on that committee. It would be invidious to mention any of them; they all gave themselves to this work and have given proof of their good citizenship.
It is a strange thing that, though the Conservatives are always asking the workers to co-operate with them, when leaders among the workers in a great area like this have helped to build up a great estate, then they are bidden goodbye, as though the work they have done is of no account. I should have thought that the Government would have wished to co-operate with these men. I cannot understand why the Government have done this. The statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Bilsland, which was mentioned by my noble friend, was a devastating statement. So far as I know, no one has attempted to answer it. Will the noble Earl please give an answer, if not to my noble friend, then at least to Lord Bilsland's statement, that this is a major blunder? That is a very serious statement for a supporter of the Government to make.
Before I sit down, perhaps I shall be allowed to reflect a little. This is an age in which great changes come, due to people about whom we know nothing. In the first Industrial Revolution, men like Stephenson and the people who financed great industries, the men who took advantage of this new social development, were known characters. 528 Sometimes we said rude words about them, but they were great characters and in many respects they did a fine work. But in this new era great changes are taking place which are being made by men whose names we do not know. Yet here, when there is an opportunity for men who are known and who have given great service in their day, the Government are turning their backs upon them.
I think that this is the centre of our case. The Government are moving the seat of government away from the workers on these estates, a serious matter in this day and generation. There has been hardly a whisper of trouble in these industrial estates. I know that in my own Team Valley Estate, for which Mr. Forster is Secretary, there has been no trouble at all. I think that this is due mainly to the fact that the mass of workers know that this workers' leader, that employer or other outstanding citizen has given himself to the task and has earned their respect. Yet now the Government are turning their backs on people of this description and moving the government of these trading estates into the blue so far as the mass of workers are concerned. The noble Earl has to answer a very difficult case. I hope that, if he does not answer my noble friend and myself he will at least answer the noble Lord, Lord Bilsland.
§ LORD STONHAM
This seems to be a case of the Government insisting on returning to London office workers who are working a long way from the city. There must be very compelling reasons, far greater than the idea of administrative tidiness on paper, for destroying (because that is what it means) all that has been done in these industrial estates over the last fourteen or fifteen years. I notice that one of them is the Wales and Monmouthshire Industrial Estates Limited and that in the Bill the Government have taken the tremendous risk of printing these words:For the purpose of this subsection Monmouthshire shall be deemed to be part of Wales.The area is precisely the same. Similarly, the area to be administered by the Scottish Management Corporation must be the same as that managed by the Scottish Industrial Estates Limited. The three English estates are going to be administered by one Management Corporation.
529 Unlike my noble friend Lord Lawson, I do not claim to have intimate and continuous association with these estates, but I have some knowledge of the Wales and Monmouthshire estates. I can recall, in 1946 and 1947, visiting the estates at Bridgend, Glamorgan, and other places. Bridgend, if I remember correctly, was a former shell-filling factory, and during my visit of from two to three days I was astonished and pleased to see the great enthusiasm of officials in trying to get industries suited to the building to go there. They had a great assortment of them, not merely large-scale industries but smaller businesses as well. And not all of them, in fact, succeeded: they had to get other people, and premises changed hands. All this requires not only enthusiasm but an intimate knowledge of the circumstances on the spot and a knowledge of the kind of people to approach to come and take the premises.
It requires a relationship, for example, with the local Press. I happen to be a director of two small newspapers in South Wales, and that is the kind of problem, of employment and getting light industries into the place, that is cropping up the whole time. In other words, it is an intimate and immediate local problem. For example, they criticise in one area the still nationalised steel company of Richard Thomas and Baldwins for having their new factory at Newport instead of at Swansea or at some other place in the valleys. Those are the kind of problems which are meat and drink and the very life of those areas; and they are the kind of problems with which the people in the industrial estate companies have been dealing for many years and which they understand.
No Government, of whatever political colour, would introduce a Bill of this kind and bring to an end these five trading estates, which it must be recognised have a splendid record, without reasons which they think are good and sufficient. But I think we should be told what those reasons are and that, in particular, we should have answers to the questions: Is the staff going to be less? Is the cost going to be less? Is the work going to be carried on more effectively? Does it mean that with the three Management Corporations instead of the five industrial estates we shall get empty 530 premises filled more quickly? Does it mean that it will be easier, through the central administration, to get factories built more quickly in the areas where we want them? To that extent, are the powers of these industrial estates insufficient? We should have answers to all these questions, and, in particular, we should have a complete answer on the question of Wales and Monmouthshire, where the same area is dealt with and the Bill merely puts in another body with a different name, and also in the case of the Scottish Industrial Estates. We should be told all those facts and, in addition, how matters are going to be better under the new régime than under the old.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and to the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, for the well justified tributes which they have paid to the work which has been done by the industrial estates companies. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, will remember no doubt that three of these were set up by the Special Areas (Amendment) Act, 1937. I remember the Scottish company only last year celebrating its coming of age. Indeed, I think there was a fourth, one of the English companies besides the Teme Valley, before the war, and only one of the five which is later in origin. The Government are grateful to the chairmen and staff of these companies for the admirable work they have done.
I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, mentioned the Team Valley Estate—to which I think he was referring in his area—and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned a similar one in South Wales. However, I do not know that either of them quite come up to the excellence of the very fine estate in Dundee, which is perhaps the best in the country. I certainly do not anticipate any change in the management there, and I hope, too, that there will not be any change in the other cases. In Scotland and Wales, the area will still be the same, and I should like to assure the noble Lords, Lord Lawson and Lord Stonham, that the headquarters of the English Management Corporation will be at Newcastle, on Tyneside. It is not a question of moving the offices to London, but, on the contrary, of moving them to Newcastle. We have the deepest 531 gratitude for the work that has been done by all these estate companies, and, I should like to emphasise that it is not a replacement of the companies by the corporations but rather a transformation.
In view of the importance which your Lordships attach to this matter I am sure you will forgive me if I try to make not, I hope, a long, but a careful statement of the reasons why we think that in modern circumstances the Act will work better if this is done. We feel that the abolition of the concept of development areas and the substitution of development districts under this Bill requires a change in the nature of the bodies which are to carry out the Board's policy. The estate companies have been a valuable administrative instrument of the distribution of industry policy and they have also performed a valuable missionary function on behalf of their respective areas. But we feel that, with flexibility in the list of places to which the Government's powers will now apply, with the inclusion of a number of relatively small and scattered places, and with the need to try to steer industry to those districts where it is most needed—places which may change from year to year—the structure and functions of the estate companies are no longer so appropriate as that of the corporations into which we propose to transform them, because essentially what is required is a national rather than a regional basis. As I have already said, it is the same thing in Scotland and Wales, but in England it means transforming three into one.
An organisation is therefore proposed in the Bill which will ensure that the existing estates continue to be properly managed. Whilst it will also be able to undertake the management of new and possibly scattered industrial property, it will have no concern with the administration of the policy of local employment which will be the responsibility of the Government—that is, of the Board of Trade. What is proposed in establishing these three statutory Management Corporations in England, Scotland and Wales is that each one will have five members, including an industrialist, a trade unionist and an expert in accountancy, building or estate management.
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, mentioned the chairman of the Tyneside Corporation, who is now to 532 become the chairman of the English Management Corporation; and in the same way Sir Robert Maclean, the chairman of the former Scottish Estate Company, will carry on as chairman of the Scottish Management Corporation
§ LORD LAWSON
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Earl, but will he tell us why it is necessary to have a new Bill to do this?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I think that this particular change would require legislation because the industrial estate companies were set up by Act of Parliament. But this is part of a Bill whose purpose is to bring up to date the whole of our development areas' and distribution of industries' legislation The two functions of managing the Government's industrial property and administering the Government's policy on local employment should, we think, now be kept separate.
As my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade explained in another place, the development councils will continue to do their proper job of "selling" their respective areas—as my noble friend Lord Polwarth expressed it the other day, "getting up a tree and hollering". They cap do this by whatever means their constitution allows, including spending money on advertising. But we think it would be inappropriate for Government agents to advertise particular parts of Great Britain—still more to spend money on doing so. We want, so far as the Government and its agents are concerned, to be completely impartial as between one development district and another. The estate companies are, and the Corporations will be, concerned only with one of the inducements offered by the Bill, namely, factory building. They will have no concern with building grants or financial assistance, which is administered by the Board of Trade, and they are therefore not the most suitable bodies, in our view, to support the Government's policy as a whole, but only to concern themselves with the management and building of the Government's property.
The Amendment involves certain minor difficulties. It is usual for the Government to operate through statutory corporations, whose functions are 533 defined in the Statute creating them, and not through limited companies whose power depends on their memorandum and articles, like, for instance, B.E.A. and B.O.A.C., or the Film Corporation. In any case, although it would be possible in this Bill to leave the Scottish and Welsh estate companies unchanged, some change would have to be made for England, because there you have three companies, each operating in certain regions only—the North-Eeast, West Cumberland and Merseyside. Now that you are going to have development districts scattered round the whole country, and while it would no doubt be possible to alter the memoranda and articles of the three companies so that between them they covered the whole country, this would be a very clumsy procedure—to say, for instance, that the Tyneside Estate Company shall look after all development districts in one part of England—and it is better to have a single Management Corporation.
In the Second Reading debate I did my best to reply to this matter which was raised by a number of noble Lords. I quoted at some length what had been said by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade in another place in Committee. I do not want to repeat what I have already quoted, but I think I made it clear that my right honourable friend is grateful, as indeed are the Government as a whole, to the industrial estate companies. He does not want to displace them. He wants to continue those elements in them which are appropriate to the developing and changing industrial situation. I do not think it ought to be considered by anybody that this proposed change will be a deterioration, either from the point of view of management or from the point of view of advertisement, and certainly not in the Government's appreciation of the excellent work which has been done by the estate companies in the past, and which I am glad has been referred to in such deservedly high terms by those of your Lordships who have spoken.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I am sure the Committee are grateful to the noble Earl for his full and careful statement in reply to the powerful speeches which were made by my noble friends Lord 534 Lawson, Lord Stonham and Lord Wilmot of Selmeston. In the Second Reading, the noble Earl made the point that no change of policy was represented in this Bill. In this Committee stage we have tried to show that there is a change of policy in regard to timing. In regard to the Management Corporations there is, in our view, a change of policy. The noble Lord, Lord Bilsland, was most emphatic about the change. The old authorities were missionaries. They went out to attract industry to the development areas, but now that is to be stopped. In future it is to be left to the Board of Trade. I have no reason to be critical of civil servants, but they must always work by rule of thumb. One can also say that they are limited so far as entertainment is concerned. We all know that entertainment plays a big part in trying to sell a project. I am sure the Committee will realise that if you are to get firms to go to these development areas the whole project has to be "sold," and I do not believe that the Civil Service or the Board of Trade are capable of carrying out that function. I think it is quite a wrong action to destroy all the experience that has been gained during the last fourteen years. For that reason I hope my noble friend will press this Amendment to a Division.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
I think we must. In spite of the careful statement made by the noble Earl, he failed to convince me, and I think many other noble Lords, as to any advantage which comes from making this change. He tried to repel charges that there were disadvantages, but he showed us no advantages at all. If your Lordships will forgive me, I should like to say that I have three times, in three different capacities, had experience of intimate relations with the old West Cumberland Development Corporation: first, in steering industry into their area before the war; afterwards, as Minister of Supply, in dealing with the extremely difficult problem of the dismantling of the Shell factories on the West Coast of Cumberland, when they were no longer wanted for the war; and, finally, in all the intricate arrangements for siting the first atomic energy plants on the Cumberland coast. Enormous help was given to the Government by the West Cumberland Development Corporation, and it could 535 not have been done by a body such as is now being set up.
The value of its guidance, its advice and its counsel, was that it consisted of men who had spent their lives in the area, who had the knowledge and commanded the confidence of the workers who were being displaced by the fundamental changes which came about in that area at the end of the war. That area has been completely transformed, largely under the skilled direction of the West Cumberland Development Corporation. One of its enormous advantages was that it was independent of the Board of Trade. Therefore it was able to act as an intermediary between the Ministry of Supply, the local interests and the Board of Trade, who all had different and sometimes conflicting interests which had to be harmonised in order to bring about the revolution which the end of the war meant for this area. I cannot see that a Board of Trade department, even though it is located in Newcastle, can ever supply the sort of thing that was done on that occasion.
This area is now a most prosperous one. I remember well that, in the old days of the Distressed Areas Commission, unemployment in the town of
§ Clause 8 agreed to.536
§ Maryport was 80 per cent., and there was hardly a man under the age of 30 who had ever done a day's work. That is a thing almost of the forgotten past, due to the unselfish and self-sacrificing devotion of industrialists and workers' leaders in that area. The Board of Trade is bound to operate on a much narrower field. It is bound to have uniform application of its rules to all parts, and all the flexibility, all the human contacts and all the special knowledge of the people who have worked there all their lives is going to be lost. The development councils are not the same thing. They are the sort of body that seaside towns have to persuade people to go on the pier. It has not the kind of fundamental understanding of the industry of the area which we are deliberately throwing away, for reasons which I still fail to understand. So, at this last minute, I would ask the noble Earl if he cannot see his way to try to bridge the gap which still exists between the value of what has been and the problematical value of the organisation they now insist on setting up.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 18; Not-Contents, 41.535
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Crook, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Grantchester, L.||Rea, L.||Uvedale of North End, L.|
|Latham, L.||Shepherd, L.||Williams, L.|
|Lawson, L.||Simon, V.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Stansgate, V.||Wise, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Crookshank, V.||Merrivale, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Derwent, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Arran, E.||Dundee, E.||Newall, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Northesk, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Ferrers, E.||Onslow, E. [Teller.]|
|Birdwood, L.||Grenfell, L.||Robins, L.|
|Bossom, L.||Hampton, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Bridgeman, V.||Hastings, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Hawke, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Home, E. (L. President.)||Soulbury, V.|
|Colyton, L.||Horsbrugh, B.||Spens, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Jellicoe, E.||Torrington, V.|
|Cottesloe, L.||MacAndrew, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Lord said: I do not propose to move this Amendment. This one, and those that follow, are consequential. Having failed to persuade you to delete Clause 8, I do not propose to move the following Amendments.
§ Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.537
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD BURDEN moved, after Clause 12 to insert the following new clause:
§ Compensation of employees of industrial estate companies
§ ".—(1) Every existing officer who suffers loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments (including pension and superannuation rights) which is attributable to the vesting in a Management Corporation of the property rights and liabilities of a company to which section twelve of this Act applies shall be entitled to have his case considered for the payment of compensation by that Management Corporation.
§ (2) The compensation to which an existing officer is entitled under this section shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Schedule to the Local Government (Compensation) Regulations, 1948, and subject to the provisions of this section those regulations shall apply accordingly with any modifications Mach the Minister of Housing and Local Government may by order consider it necessary or expedient to make for the purpose of the application of those regulations to compensation under this Act.
§ (3) If after the passing of this Act regulations relating to compensation payable to officers and servants of local authorities come into operation the Minister of Housing and Local Government may by order amend the provisions of this section by substituting such regulations for the Local Government (Compensation) Regulations, 1948, and by making such consequential amendments to this section as he may consider necessary.
§ (4) An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument and shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution by either House of Parliament.
§ (5) For the purposes of this section and of the Local Government (Compensation) Regulations, 1948, as applied by this section "existing officer" means the holder of any place situation or employment in the service of a company to which section twelve of this Act applies on such elate or dates as the Minister of Housing and Local Government may by order specify."
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Marshalled List. The purpose of this Amendment is clearly defined in its first subsection. I would stress the fact that compensation is asked for only when the employee suffers loss attributable to the vesting in a Management Corporation of the property, rights and liabilities of a company to which Clause 12 applies. My Amendment does not in any other manner alter the normal relationship of employer and employed. It does not seek to establish a new condition of employment. It simply means that the new Management Corporations, on the transfer to them of the industrial estate companies, should continue to employ the staff of the estate 538 companies or, if any of them are redundant, should compensate them for loss of office.
§ With all respect, I submit that this is a reasonable and a just claim. I am seeking nothing new by way of legislation. You will remember that it is quite a common practice for provision to be made for the compensation of officers and servants of a public body or organisation when it is being wound up, or the functions of which are going to be transferred elsewhere. My personal experience of compensation goes back to the Railways Act, 1921, which, as your Lordships will be aware, amalgamated some 112 separate railway companies into four groups, and compensation provisions for loss of office were accepted then by the group of companies—in other words, by private enterprise.
§ Passing to another field, that of local government, I would say that the most recent example of the provision of compensation in the conditions which I have already indicated, is in Section 60 of the Local Government Act, 1958. Again, passing to a field of mixed and public employment, I would point out that almost every order made under the Water Act, 1945, dealing with the transfer of a water undertaking, also includes provision for such compensation. Under the Bill which your Lordships are now considering, the assets and liabilities of the companies listed in the Second Schedule to the Bill are to vest in the appropriate Management Corporation. These assets and liabilities would include such rights and obligations of the companies in relation to their employees as are comprised in a service agreement with those employees.
§ Clearly, however, this would not necessarily afford the employees satisfactory compensation rights. Compensation would not be paid by an estate company in the normal course of business; it is only when there is the problem of a transfer of functions from the estate company, or from one body to another public body, by Act of Parliament, that the question of compensation can arise. Further, of course, there are cases where no service agreements exist—not all salaried employees have the advantage of a service agreement. Then there are cases where perhaps it was understood that the person concerned would be 539 taken on for a limited period or on a terminal basis. But again I would submit that, even if there are a few cases of that kind, this Bill, if and when it becomes an Act, will alter materially the position of those employees because, save for misconduct or incompetence, most, if not all, of them would have continued in the service for a considerable time.
§ I am aware that the Bill provides for the new Corporations to accept existing liabilities as to superannuation and pension rights. So far as it goes, that is satisfactory; but I would beg your Lordships to note that in another place the President of the Board of Trade expressed the hope—only expressed the hope—that the new Corporations will do all that they can to employ the existing staffs of the estate companies. But expressing a hope like that implies that there is a possibility that when these new Management Corporations are set up, some of the existing staffs will be found redundant. Are we then, therefore, to expect that a Bill designed to bring employment to an area will have the paradoxical result, as the first fruits of its coming into operation, that it will throw men and women already in employment out of employment? Should these fears be groundless, then I submit, with all respect, that the Amendment can do no harm. On the other hand, if Mr. Maudling, is right, by implication at any rate, and some of the staff are not required then, if they are not taken over in the first transitional stage (and I know it has been argued that they will all go over), or even if they are taken over and then dispensed with, I submit that they are entitled to the protection which I am asking your Lordships to provide for them.
§ What I am asking is based on precedent, and the precedents of compensation in the instances which I have indicated—and I could give scores of others—are based on justice, humanity and fair play. These precedents therefore compel me to press the Minister most strongly to accept my Amendment, which is put forward at the instance of the largest organisation of clerical officers in this country, if not the world—the National Association of Local Government Officers—who are gravely concerned in regard to the future of some of their members. I sincerely trust that the 540 noble Earl will be able to accept this Amendment or give me some assurance that something will be done adequately to protect the staff concerned. I beg to move.
After Clause 12, insert the said new clause. —(Lord Burden.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The point of principle raised by this Amendment is whether the Board of Trade through its agents, the Management Corporations, should undertake liability to compensate any servant of the estate companies who may suffer loss of employment, or diminution or loss of emoluments attributable to the vesting in the Corporations of the property rights and liabilities of the companies. As the noble Lord, Lord Burden, has mentioned, this matter was raised in another place, where my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade was specifically asked to give an assurance that in the event of any officers becoming redundant he would see that they got adequate compensation. My right honourable friend replied [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 615 (No. 36), col. 686]:I do not think I have any power to do that. I do not think that one could give an undertaking of that kind. I am sure that the new corporations will do all they can to employ all the staff of the existing companies. I do not think I can go so far as to make statutory provision for compensation.The statutory provision in Clause 12 (2) of the Bill is that all property rights and liabilities of each of the companies vest into the appropriate Management Corporation. That means that the rights of each employee of an estate company under his contract of service survive against the Management Corporation. But these rights, of course, are to have a certain salary, title and other conditions of service, including so many months' notice of termination. If, therefore, a Corporation take over a man entitled to six months' notice their only liability would be to give him that length of notice. There are also other provisions regarding pension and superannuation rights.
The Bill does not preserve the prospects of each employee of the companies. I believe that in practice very little change, either in personnel or in functions, is likely as a result of this Bill. In particular, the Scottish and Welsh 541 Corporations will be continuing to do the same work as the companies now do and they will presumably require the same staff. In England, some changes of functions may be inevitable because three companies are being merged in one Corporation; but again, much the same amount of work will have to be done and no doubt in addition to head office at Newcastle there will have to be branch offices in other parts of the country where the Corporation have, or will have, estates to manage. It is to be expected, therefore, that the Corporations will be glad to make use of the experience of the great majority of those who are now employed by the three English estate companies.
While Her Majesty's Government cannot accept an Amendment which would either bind the Corporations in a field in which they must have discretion—that is, of engaging and dismissing staff—or commit the Government to pay compensation in circumstances which would not be at all easy to define legally, this transfer is not likely to involve any serious personal hardship. I can give an assurance to the noble Lord that the attention of the chairmen of the Corporations will be drawn to the representations which he has just made to your Lordships that so far as possible men who had good prospects under the existing arrangements should not find themselves subject to any diminution of their prospects as a result of this Bill.
§ LORD BURDEN
I cannot say that I am profoundly impressed by the reply, much of which was known to me, both from correspondence and from debate; but I am grateful for the assurance which has been given that the right honourable gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will call the attention of the Chairman of each of the various Corporations to this matter. But I would submit that the noble Earl has not really effectively answered the point that I have made, that these people may have their positions worsened by this transfer. In normal circumstances when that arises as a result of direct legislative changes—and I have cited instances—provision for compensation is made. We are not asking Her Majesty's Government to provide this compensation. We are asking that the new Corporations 542 shall do so—and why should they not accept that responsibility for the staff?
I hope that I shall not be accused of being cynical, but the noble Earl, quite rightly, paid tribute to the excellent work of the Chairmen and officers and others of the estate companies. He has done so more than once in the course of this debate, and yet over the heads of a number of them (whether it is likely to materialise or not) hangs the prospect of unemployment after they had devoted their years to doing the work to which the noble Earl has paid tribute. It is no good my pressing this Amendment to a Division, but in the name of common fairness and consideration. I would ask that it shall be the first concern of the noble Earl and the right honourable gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to see that no injustice is done to these people. Will the noble Earl say that?
The noble Earl has said that these people are his agents. I cannot for the life of me see why the noble Earl cannot consider this point against all the precedents I have set before the Committee. The noble Earl said these are the Minister's agents. In the event of any cases arising in which the officers' organisation think injustice has been done, will the Minister undertake to receive representations from the National and Local Government Officers' Association on behalf of the officer concerned?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not think it would be right to put into this Bill any statutory provision to this effect, but I will most certainly represent what the noble Lord has said to my right honourable friend and to the Chairmen of the Management Corporations; and I am sure they will always be ready to receive representations from the union to which he has referred.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 13 [Provisions as to compulsory acquisition of land]:
§ 5.41 p.m.
VISCOUNT SIMON moved, after subsection (2) to insert:
() Notwithstanding anything in this Part of this Act, the Board shall not be authorised to acquire compulsorily from undertakers authorised by statute to carry on a dock or harbour undertaking land which is held by the undertakers for the purposes of or for the future development of their dock or harbour undertaking
The noble Viscount said: The purpose of this Amendment is, I think, quite plain. It is to protect from compulsory purchase land acquired by dock and harbour authorities for the purpose of their undertaking, even though currently it is not in use. I must declare an interest as vice-president of the Dock and Harbour Authorities' Association whose members take a considerable interest in this matter.
§ I would readily concede that it is not usually desirable in a Bill of this kind to insert provisions which apply only to particular categories of undertaking, but I hope I may be able to persuade the Committee that this is a case which calls for that treatment. Any forward-looking harbour undertaking must envisage the need at some time, as trade grows, to expand its facilities; and the fact is that the shape of such future development is largely conditioned by engineering and geographical considerations, so that before any question of development arises the undertaking knows the land that it will require for that purpose. If it is wise it will take the opportunity, as opportunity occurs, to acquire that land for further development, even though at the time it has no idea when that development will need to be undertaken. In fact a great many harbour authorities have done that very thing: they have acquired land suitable for future development.
§ Such land is very often, naturally, adjacent to existing ports or other installations. When the authorities are engaged in trying to encourage employment in the development districts it might well be said, "Well, here is some vacant land lying right alongside a dock or close to a harbour installation. Is that not a good place in which to erect a factory?" But I submit that that would be a very short-sighted view, for this reason. Supposing the land were compulsorily acquired, a factory was erected and fresh employment was found in the district, we should all hope that the fresh employment would be followed by an increase in output and an increase in trade, until the time came when the port facilities proved insufficient for the purposes of the trade and required to be extended. It might then be found that the very land required to 544 expand the port facilities was no longer available.
§ It could be argued that the provisions for compulsory purchase are only permissive; and that, of course, is true. It could be said that objections on the sort of grounds I have outlined can very well be made when a proposal for compulsory purchase is put forward, and if the arguments are valid they would be taken account of. But I confess I do not feel quite so sure that all administrative decisions in matters of this kind are always wise. Particularly where it might appear that there was some conflict between a short-term interest—finding employment for people in the locality—and the long-term interest—the future development of the port—I should be rather afraid that the short-term interest might have an undue influence on an administrative decision.
§ It is true (the noble Earl may point out to me) that harbour undertakings, along with other statutory undertakings, have some measure of special protection under the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act, 1946, and under the corresponding Act that operates in Scotland. Those are the two Acts which as the Committee are aware, govern the procedure in this Bill. I do not think the Committee would wish me to refer to the safeguards in detail. They are set out in paragraph 10 of Part III of the First Schedule to the respective Acts, and they provide for the right of the undertakers to represent the matter to the Minister—that is, not in this case to the Board of Trade, but to the particular Minister who takes care, if I may put it that way, of their affairs. In the case of harbour undertakings, it would be to the Minister of Transport. In certain circumstances, provided the Minister is satisfied with this and that, he can certify and the compulsory purchase order will not be allowed.
§ But, in any case, that again places a decision on Ministers, and it seems to me that in a case of this kind there is no reason to add to the burden of worry which falls upon Ministers, and it would be much better for Parliament here and now to decide on this issue what they want done. It is not as though to accept this Amendment would frustrate the aims and objects of this Bill. It is hardly likely that in any development district there will be a shortage of land suitable 545 for industrial development; and to sterilise (if I may put it that way) the relatively small amount of land which dock and harbour authorities have bought for possible future development cannot, I feel, really seriously affect the conditions in those development districts.
§ I realise that this Amendment has been put down rather late, and I apologise to the Committee and to the noble Earl. I think it is perhaps too much to expect that he can accept the Amendment here and now. But I would ask him to discuss this matter with his right honourable friend and to allow me to raise it again on Report. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 25, at end insert the said subsection.—(Viscount Simon.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It is, of course, quite unnecessary for me to allow my noble friend to raise a matter again on Report. If he thinks it right to do so we shall be delighted to hear what he has to say, and I will naturally discuss the matter, as he has asked me to, with my right honourable friend. But although this is, I think the first time that an Amendment of this kind has been moved, it is not a point which has not already been considered. Representations have been made previously to my right honourable friend in this matter: that land held for port development should be excluded from the compulsory purchase provisions in the Bill. I am afraid that my right honourable friend cannot agree to this suggestion. Should there ever be a case where land held for port development in the indefinite future was judged to fall within the terms of this clause—that is to say, was neglected or unsightly to an extent which was prejudicial to the prospects of increasing employment in an unemployment area—then it would be quite wrong not to have the power to deal with it, subject to the usual statutory safeguards. It is very unlikely, I think, that in trying to develop an area we should ever find it desirable to take over land which would probably be necessary for port facilities as the prosperity of the area increased. The situation could arise, however, and my right honourable friend does not feel that he should deprive himself of the power which, in the last resort, might be found essential for the purposes of this Bill.
546 My noble friend has himself already referred to the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation of Procedure) Act, 1946. As my noble friend was kind enough to write to me two days ago intimating that he was going to move this Amendment, I brought a copy of that Act with me. I think he has already referred to the passage to which I wanted to draw your Lordships' attention—I refer to Part III of the First Schedule to the Act, paragraph 9, which states:A compulsory purchase order shall, in so far as it authorises the compulsory purchase of land which is the property of a local authority, or has been acquired by statutory undertakers, not being a local authority, for the purposes of their undertaking, or of land belonging to the National Trust … be subject to special parliamentary procedure in any case where an objection to the order has been duly made by the local authority or statutory undertakers or the National Trust, as the case may be, and has not been withdrawn.As my noble friend said, in the last resort the decision would lie with the Minister, but nothing of this kind could happen without public attention being drawn to it and without the most careful consideration. I am sorry that I cannot go further to meet the purpose of my noble friend, which I thoroughly appreciate. I will, of course, represent what he has said to the President of the Board of Trade; but in view of the consideration which he has already given to it, I cannot, I am afraid, anticipate the likelihood of his making any change in his attitude to this question.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am very grateful to the noble Earl for saying that he will refer the matter again to his right honourable friend. I think he has applied his mind particularly to the acquisition of land under Clause 5, though I think the same considerations apply to the acquisition of land under Clause 2. As to Clause 5, the clause which relates to derelict or unsightly land, it is true, I suppose, that land alongside a dock which has been acquired by a port authority is very likely to appear rather derelict and unsightly. I have been wondering whether (I do not know whether the noble Earl would put this to his right honourable friend), in a case of that kind, the situation could not be got over in this sort of way: that if the port authority had no obvious likelihood of using the land for quite a long period, they could perhaps effect a lease on favourable terms to the local authority. Because, as I understand 547 it, part of the object of Clause 5 is the direct employment of people in the area in cleaning up and turning this land into an amenity. In so far as that is possible, I suppose it could be done, perhaps, on the basis of a 20-year lease, or something like that, if the port could look as far ahead as that. I do not know whether the noble Earl would think of mentioning, that to his right honourable friend. But, having regard to what he has said, I see that it would be no use my pressing this matter further, and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 13 agreed to.
§ Clauses 14 to 18 agreed to.
§ Clause 19:
§ Minor amendments as to industrial development certificates
§ (2) Paragraph (a) of the proviso to the principal enactment (under which an industrial development certificate is not required for a building or extension not exceeding a specified size) shall cease to have effect, but such a certificate shall not be required if the industrial floor space to be created by the development in question together with any other industrial floor space created or to be created by any other development relating to the same building or another building in the same group—
- (a) which has been carried out, or
- (b) for which permission under Part III of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, has been given,
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD, moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Lord said: My purpose in moving this Amendment is to find out what this subsection means. Frankly, I do not know. After reading it several times and working quite hard, I have no confidence whatever that I understand it. The puzzle is not made easier by the fact that the subsection contains 18 lines and about 170 words of not very limpid prose, but no full stop. There is a humorous marginal note which describes this and 548 the other subsections as "Minor amendments as to industrial development certificates." I think it was because they were misled by this optimistic marginal note that there appears to have been no investigation at all of this clause by Members of another place. Of course, there is an alternative, possible explanation, and this is that all the Members of another place understood what it meant.
§ What I think it means is this: an I.D.C. is not required if X plus Y minus Z does not exceed 5,000 square feet. In that formula, X is the industrial floor space to be created by the development in question; Y is the area of any other industrial floor space described in the passage beginning at line 38 on page 12 and ending with the word "Act" in line 3 of page 13: and Z is the area of floor space described in the last four lines of the subsection. I think, though I am not completely confident, that I understand X and Y. Will the Minister, perhaps, be good enough to explain Z? Z arises only where an industrial development certificate has been issued in respect of any such other development as has been described in the passage which I have detailed under Y. But where Z does arise, it can mean, I think, any of the following things: the space created by that development; the space to be created by that development; the space created by a development carried out before the issue of the certificate; and, fourthly, the space created by a development for which planning permission has been given before the issue of the certificate. Now what I should like the Minister to tell us is this: are those four possibilities mutually exclusive, or could they overlap? And, for the benefit of noble Lords, will he kindly give an example of each?
§ Finally, let me say this. It may be that the very clever fellows on the Government Front Bench understand the subsection: but, my Lords, so they ought to, because they have an unfair advantage over the rest of us. They have before them a document called "Notes on clauses", which has been prepared by the Parliamentary draftsman, and which in fact tells them what it means. But the rest of us have not that advantage. When this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, the clause is intended to make clear to business men whether they need or need not apply 549 for an industrial development certificate. The language ought to be clear, not only to Ministers, but to plain, blunt, ordinary chaps like me. The words are not so clear. I beg to move.
Page 12, line 33, leave out subsection (2).—(Lord Conesford.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I have often regretted that the language of Parliamentary Statutes does not invariably attain so high a standard of literary excellence as we might wish. As for its clarity to "ordinary chaps", I think one might observe that legal difficulty in defining or interpreting a Statute might sometimes arise from too much simplicity in the wording as well as from too great circumlocution. Being an "ordinary chap", I never try to interpret a Statute myself. I always depend on the advice of a lawyer, a fact which I hope my noble friend will appreciate.
I think that I may venture to claim for this Bill that the other parts of it are on the whole more simple and more easily intelligible than a great many Statutes. The reason for that is that this Bill repeals the Act of 1945. It is intended to continue the powers in that Act and to amplify and extend them in various ways, but to do so by the method of repealing the Act and starting all over again. This avoids the necessity of legislation by reference, which so often necessitates involved circumlocution in Parliamentary legislation.
When we come to Part III, we find that the authority for these industrial development certificates is not contained in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, but in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and it would be going a little too far if we were to repeal the Town and Country Planning Act for the sake of not having to indulge in legislation by reference when we want to alter the terms relating to industrial development certificates. So here we have to have legislation by reference. I have here the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. The proviso referred to is in Section 14 (4), in Part III of the Act:Provided that—(a) no such certificate as aforesaid shall be required in respect of the erection of any industrial building which will have an aggregate floor space not exceeding five thousand square feet.550 The reason why we want to alter this is that people may evade the necessity of applying for a certificate by building on bit by bit—by building, for example, an extension of 4,000 square feet every year, or even at shorter intervals. One example has already come to our knowledge in which extensions of up to 65,000 square feet have been built in this way without any industrial development certificate. The Government want to stop this loophole. And we have to do it by legislation by reference to the Town and Country Planning Act.
After what my noble friend has said, I am almost ashamed to confess that I think I understand what this subsection means, but perhaps I may plead in extenuation that I have had the advantage not only of looking at the notes on clauses but also of discussing its meaning with those who drafted it. I am sure that they would be equally glad to discuss it with my noble friend, if he would do them the honour of paying them a visit for the purpose. Subsection (2) saysParagraph (a) of the proviso to the principal enactment"—the one I have just read out to your Lordships from the 1947 Act—shall cease to have effect, but such a certificate shall not be required if the industrial floor space to be created by the development …"—and perhaps I may now go on to the predicate, which comes on the next page—… does not exceed five thousand square feet, …In blocking up this loophole, we do not want to make it necessary for everybody to apply for an industrial development certificate whenever they build an extension of a few hundred feet. We want to make it necessary for them to do so only when the aggregate of their extension since the last certificate was received exceeds 5,000 square feet.
As for the final six lines or so of subsection (2), beginning with the word "excluding"—my noble friend referred to it as "Z"—as I understand it, all four qualifications are intended to be different and probably complementary; they may all be true at once, or may be alternatives. May I try to show my noble friend what happens? Suppose that there is an extension of 4,000 square feet, the first extension after the Act is passed. 551 It would not require an industrial certificate. Suppose it was done in October and there was another extension of 2,000 square feet six months later. That would require an industrial development certificate, because the total is now over 5,000 square feet. There has been an extension of 6,000 square feet. We do not want the extra 1,000 square feet over the 5,000 square feet limit to be debited to the firm when it wants to make its next extension, and the wording is designed to ensure that it will not be possible to do so after this certificate has been granted. Suppose there is another extension of 4,000 square feet. If it were not for these words, the 1,000 and 4,000 square feet would make it necessary for a new application to be made, but owing to this wonderfully elusive permission contained in the clause, that will not be so. This will only count as 4,000 square feet and the previous 1,000 square feet will not be added on. When the next 4,000 square feet comes along, again bringing it to over 5,000 square feet, then a new certificate will be required. I have done my best to try to make the effect, if not the grammar and syntax, plain to your Lordships.
§ LORD LAWSON
May I ask if we can get a picture of the pyramids that the noble Earl has just made for the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow? I think that they are much more elucidating than his explanation.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not know whether there is any precedent for a diagrammatic Hansard. I have never known one in my experience. But I hope that if what I have said is correctly reported, as I am sure it will be, it may do something to elucidate the matter.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
I am sure that we are all very grateful to the noble Earl for his demonstration. I feel that I almost understand the clause, but not quite. We are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, for raising this, because it has always struck me as a very important matter. Here we are, legislators making Statutes that will bind everybody, and I must say that very few of us really know what we are doing. At one time it was my duty to sign many statutory orders, and but for the 552 fact that it was war time I should not have signed them, because I did not understand them at all. I assumed that those who instigated them were acting in good faith and that they could do more good than harm. But we, as legislators, ought not in peace time to pass clauses in a Bill which frankly we do not understand. I understand it better perhaps—and if I were brighter I might understand it fully—after the explanation that has been given. But would it not be better to embody in the Bill the words which the noble Earl has used, instead of the jargon here employed, which can mean nothing to anybody?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said. I would just mention that the words I have used have not been vetted by the Government's legal advisers, whereas those contained in the clause have been, and I am assured that, in their opinion, they do mean what I have tried to explain to your Lordships I think they mean.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am grateful to my noble friend for his answer. I did not, in fact, complain that this subsection contained words of reference to an Act with which at one time I was very familiar, and I agree that some reference is necessary. I shall observe with interest in Hansard to-morrow whether his explanation of the subsection or my attack on it is the more comprehensible to the ordinary lay reader: I think it may, perhaps, be about 50–50. I shall certainly avail myself of the offer to discuss this matter with the Parliamentary draftsman, because, although he will have a hard task, I think he may ultimately make it clear to my mind. I think that what my noble friend may not have appreciated is that what I have called "Y"—the development that is to be added to the development in question—may not, as I understand it, have been the subject of an industrial development certificate at all. If it has been the subject of an industrial development certificate, I am not quite clear what is the difference between what you deduct under Z from what you are asked to add under Y. However, I shall not pursue the matter further.
I may say, in excuse, that I did not put my Amendment down until I had tried 553 to see whether some of the most eminent legal members of this House could explain the matter to me, and when I found that they could not, I thought the Amendment was worth putting down. But on the assurance of my noble friend that the subsection is of limpid clarity to the ordinary businessman, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19 agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses and Schedules agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past six o'clock.