§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL WALDEGRAVE)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do resolve itself into a Committee on this Bill, but before that Question is put, and before we consider the marshalled Amendments on the list, I think your Lordships will wish to know that Her Majesty's Government have given careful consideration to the Special Report of the Select Committee, which your Lordships will find on page 3 of that Select Committee's Report, the Report being that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food be given powers to issue general directions to the Covent Garden Market Authority. Naturally, Her Majesty's Government have given the most careful attention to that suggestion of a Select Committee of your Lordships, but they have, after careful consideration, come to the conclusion that such ministerial powers would be inappropriate in the case of an authority of this kind, and that the specific powers in the Bill are the correct and appropriate ones.
I should also like to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that, under 1195 a somewhat new procedure, I understand, the Select Committee's Amendments are now incorporated in the Bill. They are all acceptable to Her Majesty's Government; and their setting out again on an Order Paper does not mean that they have to be moved now. It is purely for the convenience of your Lordships.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee on the said Bill.—(Earl Waldegrave.)
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I think we should like to consider this matter, because we have had no opportunity of looking at it until to-day. The first time the Report came to my notice was today, and it was not ordered to be printed until June 22. It is a very long document, and if there are any Amendments in the amended copy we should like to study them.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, I do not think the Report of the Select Committee is what my noble friend is referring to; I think all he was referring to was the fact that the Amendments moved into the Bill by the Select Committee were printed separately. This is, I think, a relatively new procedure. Before that, they were simply printed in the Bill without any kind of special notice being drawn to them.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I am very appreciative of the fact that the Amendments decided on by the Select Committee have been separately printed for our guidance, but I think I did not hear correctly the first two or three sentences of the statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Waldegrave, because it seemed to me that Her Majesty's Government were disagreeing with a recommendation of the Select Committee. I should be glad to know if that is the case, and, if so, where the disagreement rests.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think it is a fairly plain situation which has arisen. A number of Amendments were proposed by the Select Committee. They are printed and have all been accepted. If your Lordships will look at the printed Report of the Select Committee, your Lordships will see a general recommendation that a power of general 1196 directions should be given to the Minister. What my noble friend was saying was that, for the reasons he gave, that recommendation had not been implemented, a fact which your Lordships could already have seen from the printed Order Paper; but, as a matter of courtesy both to the House and to the Committee, my noble friend thought it right to draw attention to it.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, there is something to be said for general directions, which is common in the case of public corporations, though I admit that this body is more analogous to the Port of London Authority than to public corporations. Still, these ideas of general directions came at a much later stage than the Port of London Act, which was passed early in this century. The other matter I should like to raise follows upon the point of my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, that if a statement of this kind is going to be made by the Parliamentary Secretary or any other Minister, for which we are much obliged, it would be more convenient if we had notice that that statement was going to be made. I should have thought that tactically, from the nature of the statement—I do not see anything in it from the Government's point of view—that should have been done. It is a bit thin to pick these things up on the spur of the moment, especially when the Report of the Select Committee has apparently only recently become available.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think that what has been done has been done in accordance with precedent. If my noble friend did wrong in drawing the attention of the House to that fact, I must accept all responsibility myself.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
Because I told him that it was a courtesy to the House that, in so far as the Government had not accepted the recommendation of Select Committee, the House should be aware of it.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am obliged, but I should have liked to know that it was going to be done; that is the point.