§ 7.46 p.m.
§ House again in Committee.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6 [The common agricultural policy]:
BARONESS PHILLIPS moved Amendment No. 50:
Page 9, line 22, after ("with") insert ("bodies representing the interests of consumers, the interests of farmers, and the interests of agricultural workers, and with").
The noble Baroness said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friends and myself. Probably of all the Amendments on the Order Paper this is the most straightforward, and if I argue in a very uncomplicated way I apologise to your Lordships who, by this time in the Bill, have become used to very highly complicated arguments. This does not mean that I am any the less hopeful that Her Majesty's Government might accept this and incorporate it in the Bill. Clause 6 tells us:
There shall be a Board in charge of a government department, which shall be appointed by and responsible to the Ministers, and shall be by the name of the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce …
and so on. I turned for some information on the Common Agricultural Policy, and indeed the intervention price, to the original White Paper and there I learned that
Under the common agricultural policy the level of market prices for the main agricultural commodities is maintained in two ways. The price of imports is kept up to a minimum or threshold price by means of variable import levies; and the internal market is supported at an intervention price, slightly below the threshold price, at which any surpluses are bought by the Community's agricultural fund.
§ I am sure this is very straightforward and very simple but I do feel that to the 1370 average consumer it would be practically unintelligible. What she does know, however, is that the cost of agricultural produce is going to increase very substantially.
§ I turned for current prices to a survey undertaken by the Sunday Times where they took a certain number of items which one would have to purchase week by week. They made all allowances for the fact that there was a movement of prices and that sizes were different, but nevertheless the figures were quite electrifying. The total of the products purchased in the United Kingdom cost £2.55; in France a comparable number of items would cost £5.08; in Belgium £4.18; in Italy £4.28; in West Germany, of which we have heard so much to-day, £6.44; and the Netherlands, which comes nearest to us, £3.89.
§ I see from the White Paper that it is estimated that membership will affect food prices gradually over a period of about six years, with an increase of about 2½ per cent. each year in retail prices; and even the White Paper admits that food accounts for about a quarter of total consumer expenditure. I would have said that it was very much higher than that. The final statement which seems alarming to the consumer is that there is no harmonisation of retail prices in the Community; the consumer, therefore, is very much at the mercy of forces which she is unable to control. But, nevertheless, the agricultural policy will probably be the thing which will lean most heavily upon her.
We see here that the Minister can set up
after consultation with any body created by a statutory provision and concerned with agriculture or agricultural produce …
§ Left in this way, it appears to me that this body will most certainly be one of producers, and I should like to make a straight plea to Her Majesty's Government to recognise that in this instance particularly there are certain interests to be considered: the interests of the agricultural worker—who will be very much influenced by the effect of the Common Agricultural Policy—and the consumer, who, as I have said, will rely very heavily upon agricultural produce for her everyday shopping. I listened a little while ago to the Chairman of the National Farmers' Union speaking at a big meeting 1371 of the Women's Institutes. He indicated very clearly that prices would rise.
§ I notice that one compensation we are offered in the White Paper as consumers for entering the Common Market is that other consumer goods will, of course, be lower in price. I would suggest that to the retirement pensioner who wants to buy a piece of cheese it is very poor return if he is going to be given the opportunity to buy a refrigerator, which he cannot afford in any case. I understand from a little leak—I hope that it is a leak—in the Sunday papers that we are going to be given a Ministry of Consumer Affairs. I am delighted to know this. I am taking advantage of the flexible rules of the House, but it is relevant to this Amendment. If we are to have some protection at Ministry level which will enable consumers to get education, to get representation, it becomes doubly important that they should be part of a board of this kind. Consultation is good with a body concerned with agricultural produce. Consultation with a body made up of the three prongs totally concerned with the use of the agricultural produce, I would suggest, would be even better.
§ I feel that we have been offered on each Amendment reasons why they cannot be accepted, under the four headings which the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, gave us. I can hardly think that my simple Amendment is too technical. I do not think it interferes with a point of principle. I cannot believe that it is written already into the Treaty, because I looked and I could find nothing which appeared even to resemble this. And I do not think it would in any other way impinge on the terms of the Treaty. I await with great interest to see whether I may have the great record of having the first Amendment accepted by Her Majesty's Government. I beg to move.
§ LORD BESWICK
Before the noble Lord replies, may I call attention to the fact that when my noble friend started to give the reasons behind this Amendment there was one Back-Bencher present; there were later two Government Back-Benchers. I think there are now three. It may well be said that we have not any more on our Back Benches. On the other hand, it is also true, before the noble Earl grins so much, that when 1372 the matter is put to a Divison we do not bring up from down below something like 100 or 150 peers to vote for the Government. I have not seen anything so undemocratic, anything quite so frustrating or anything quite so shameful as the way in which this business has been carried on in this House.
§ 7.55 p.m.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness for explaining the purpose of her Amendment, and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said he did not think there were many noble Lords behind us. As he knows, they are having their dinner. I think the reason why the noble Lord is there is because he had his dinner first and did not hear the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, whom others were hearing while the noble Lord was at dinner.
§ LORD BESWICK
I do not mind noble Lords' having dinner; I wish them well. What I do mind is their coming up and registering a vote before they have even heard the argument.
Well, I think we will leave it there, as the noble Lord has made his point.
The noble Baroness said this was a simple Amendment, and she explained that her concern was for consumer and other interests which ought to be concerned with the particular clause with which we are dealing. Of course, in the Community there are organisations which can represent consumer interests and matters upon which consumer interests may give their views. The agricultural and consumer interests are in close touch, in fact, with the Agricultural Departments, both in this country and in the European Community, which will be responsible under their respective Ministers for policy in relation to E.E.C. agricultural regulations. There was a Contact Committee for consumers which represented consumer organisations at the E.E.C. level in the member States. It was set up in 1962 and has been the main body consulted by the Commission on consumer interests. The Committee published, in collaboration with the Commission's specialised service, a periodical review. It was the Contact Committee which nominated the consumer representatives, who number anything from two to four, depending, on 1373 the sector, or the commodity advisory committees which the Commission set up to advise it in the agricultural sector. We have no information about the extent to which consumer problems are discussed at meetings of the advisory committees. Our latest information is that the Contact Committee has just been dissolved, and in future the Commission wil consult the five organisations which were members of the committee on all consumer matters.
With regard to inserting this particular Amendment in the Bill at this juncture, I think it would be easiest if I explained exactly what this clause does and how in fact the inclusion of this Amendment would not fit. Clause 6(1) sets up the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce, which is to carry out, under the direction of Ministers, the detailed operation of the Common Agricultural Policy. For the sake of economy and efficiency provision is made for the Board to use other agricultural bodies as its agents for particular purposes. The noble Baroness will see this spelled out in subsection (2)(a), which says:after consultation with any body created by a statutory provision".The Home Grown Cereals Authority and the Meat and Livestock Commission will in fact carry out certain functions which relate to the support buying of cereals and meat. Your Lordships will realise, therefore, that statutory bodies like the two which I have mentioned will not necessarily have the powers to enable them to act for the Board, and it is for that reason that this particular subsection has been incorporated, because, by this clause, it will empower Ministers to resolve any difficulties which these bodies at the moment may have in view of their new roles.
Your Lordships will readily see the force of the requirement that Ministers should consult with the body concerned, for example, with the Home Grown Cereals Authority, but there is no reason why the Minister should consult consumers, farmers or workers in relation to the jobs which will be carried out by those bodies which will be undertaking work done by the Intervention Board. What will be discussed by the Minister with these bodies is the powers they will have to carry out the work they will be given. The purpose of consultation is 1374 to ensure that a statutory body has the legal capacity to carry out properly any function it may be called upon to undertake, and to ensure that such a body's activities do not prejudice the activities of the Intervention Board. In other words, the question will not be what should be done but how the Community obligations can best be fulfilled. These will be matters which will concern the bodies in question but they will not engage the interests of consumers, or the producers or workers. It is for that reason that this Amendment would be improper in this place. I would stress that the process of consultation in the Community on developments in the Common Agricultural Policy is very extensive, arid I have explained to the noble Baroness what arrangements there are at the moment for this. In fact, this kind of consultation will be done with the Commission before it makes its regulations. Once it has made the regulations it will be up to the Intervention Board to see that all these other statutory bodies carry out the regulations which the Commission will have made.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
When I saw the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, rise to speak on this Amendment I thought we might get something of a new approach of course it was foolish of me to be at all optimistic. It seems to me that what the noble Earl has given was a pretty carefully prepared brief; before my noble friend had said one word, every word of reply had been written. I think it is reasonable to expect that from time to time (and I should have thought this would have been an ideal example) some noble Lord will rise from the Front Bench opposite and say: "My Lords, we will give further consideration to this matter; we will have another look at it." One wonders exactly what we are engaged in. Noble Lords from the Front Bench on this side and the Back Benches behind me get up and make speeches, but absolutely no impression is made on the Front Bench opposite. One appreciates that they must, as it were, be acting under instructions, but it would be extremely helpful if some indication could be given that this matter would be further considered. The case made by my noble friend deserves much more examination than it has been given, and 1375 it would be helpful if we could be told it would be looked at between now and the Report stage.
I know the point that the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, is making, but if he will read the Amendment which his noble friend has put down he will see that it says:… and the Ministers may, after consultation with bodies representing the interests of consumers, the interests of farmers, and the interests of agricultural workers, and with any body created by a statutory provision …".The noble Baroness put down that Amendment and I have tried to explain why it will not work: the reason is that there are already discussions. I accept that it is important that consumer interests should be considered. At the moment, consumer interests, trade interests, the interest of producers and co-operatives all have discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture. There is a constant flow of people in and out of the Ministry discussing their problems. These discussions will take place with the Commission in Brussels as they do now with those who are already members of the European Economic Community. That kind of discussion is always continuing. Once the Commission makes its regulations they will have to be carried out by the Intervention Board. Under this Bill the Intervention Board will be able to depute some of that work to such statutory bodies as the Meat and Livestock Commission and the Home Grown Cereals Authority, as I have described. What I was trying to say to the noble Baroness, and indeed to the noble Lord, was that while I accept the fact that the consumer interests are important, it would be inappropriate to insert this Amendment here because the Home Grown Cereals Authority or the Meat and Livestock Commission would only be carrying out work deputed to them by the Intervention Board, and it would be wrong for those bodies concerned with the interests of consumers to be involved over a matter of mechanics. I quite agree that consumers' views should be considered, but this is done, with respect, by the Commission before the regulations are made.
§ BARONESS SEROTA
May I just ask the noble Earl to whom consumer interests 1376 in this country will make representations in future, under the arrangements he has just outlined?
I have explained in my first answer to the noble Baroness that there is a Contact Committee for consumers which is represented at E.E.C. level, and these people have discussions and make their representations to the Commission.
§ LORD BESWICK
What my noble friend was asking is: who is the consumer body and what is the sort of consultation that is made with the consumer body in this country? We happen to be interested in this country, and we are asking questions about this country. We want to know what the effect of all this is going to be on the people of this country. We are not satisfied there should be central consultation in Brussels. The noble Earl was saying that all these discussions take place and then the decisions are taken, but it is the implementation of those decisions that we are dealing with in this subsection. What we would suggest to the noble Earl is that when it comes to the question of the implementation of the levy system there is good reason for injecting the consumer interest and the interest of the agricultural workers. If they have a right to know how things are working out, if they can get some sort of idea as to why the thing is being done in this way rather than in that way, and if they are dissatisfied, then their experience can be fed back into political channels here and would eventually find its way into the decision-making centre at Brussels. But there is absolutely no provision in the Bill, that I can see, for consideration of consumer interests at any point. The noble Earl by the time he had finished was back on excuse three—it is not needed because it is being done. Well, if it is being done there is no reason why it should not be written into the Bill. I hope we may have some indication that, if not at this point at some point, the word "consumer" will be in the Bill.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
The last point is rather a different one. What my noble friend has been saying is that it is not appropriate that the consumer should be brought in at this point. If noble Lords 1377 will look at the clause they will see that it says:… the Ministers—may, after consultation with any body created by a statutory provision and concerned with agriculture or agricultural produce "—and, as my noble friend said, this might be the Livestock Commission,by regulations modify or add to the constitution or powers of the body … or by written directions given to the body"—and, on construction, that must be with the body which has been consulted in this case. Therefore, this particular clause does not require this function. It does not make sense in this particular case for consultation to take place in the way that it does over whether the Intervention Board should devolve its functions to these particular bodies.
It might be useful just to give one or two instances of the kind of function the Intervention Board will have. It is going to be concerned with support buying; that is the general function of buying, storing, and re-selling various products, and the payment of subsidies for private storage and payment of producer groups. It is concerned with denaturing and similar subsidies, and the payment of these subsidies. It is concerned with production subsidies—the payment of subsidies to producers. It is concerned with the mechanics of exports and imports. None of these has any bearing whatsoever on the consumer. None at all.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
They are purely mechanical functions. The policy, as my noble friend was saying, is decided by the Commission. These are purely executive functions, very similar to the functions of the Commission for Customs and Excise. They are the same kind of functions. They are not done by producer boards, they are done by existing regulatory boards. This is what the proposal is, that the deputing of functions should be to these existing regulatory hoards, not to producer boards. I can assure the noble Lord that this Amendment is not one which really commends itself in any way at all, because there is really no point in the consultation of consumers and workers in a matter of this kind, which relates purely to the carrying out of executive functions that 1378 do not directly touch the consumer or the agricultural worker at all—certainly not the consumer.
§ LORD ROBBINS
May I say that I obey no Whip, and that I had had my dinner before the noble Baroness moved her Amendment. May I also say that I have no use at all for the agricultural policy of the E.E.C., and that I have swallowed it with intense reluctance in the interests, as I think, of superior objectives; but I must confess that I am completely convinced by the administrative case that has been made from the Government Front Bench.
§ 8.12 p.m.
LORD DAVIES or LEEK
I apologise for intervening, because I consider it discourteous not to have been here when the Amendment was moved. Therefore, I assure the Committee I will not be long. The little I have heard of the noble Lord who has just spoken did not convince me completely, because whatever argument is used from the other side—I do not want to go through it, because it is known quite well—the fact is that we have agreed that in the year 1973 we shall pay 10 to 15 per cent. of our levies, in 1974 12.5 to 17.5 per cent. (I will miss the next years), and in 1977 we will be paying 25 per cent. All these levies have to be found by that queer system of taxation, value added tax, et cetera. I am convinced that this has something to do with the weight on the consumers and on the agricultural workers.
The main problem of the Community's agricultural policy is the cost of the market support. They agree with that. That was known at Brussels. I have been to Brussels and listened to the debates with Mansholt and others, and it has been acknowledged that one of the big problems confronting Europe is the problem of the Six themselves and the cost of market support. The average farm size in the Community is 27 acres. The average farm size in Britain is 67 acres. We are told here (and I know this coming myself from miners and farmers) that a small farm of that size to-day is not considered viable in the hills in Wales, or Derbyshire, or the Peak District. Our own small farmers certainly need some kind of representation.
1379 I do not want to expand on this aspect, or to annoy the Committee to-night, but in view of the fact that no notice is taken of our efforts, I think that this is what the Americans aptly call "boon doggling"—and "boon doggling" is to make yourself a busybody with nothing resulting from it. Here we are sitting night and day without altering one word. I repeat that no concessions are made towards the constructive points of view that are, in nine cases out of ten, put very sincerely and in a kindly and thoughtful manner to the Committee. In the circumstances. I think it would be useless to carry this discussion any further.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I would not for one instant deny that. I thought the noble Baroness put the case very well. When I was in Opposition, I used to be told by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that my Amendments were "misconceived". The noble Baroness, I do not think, ever told me that, or perhaps she put it in other words. Unfortunately, this Amendment does happen to be misconceived.
§ LORD BESWICK
Would the noble Lord cast his mind back a little further? On what percentage of occasions did I say that his Amendments were misconceived, and what percentage of them did I accept? I will guarantee that it was not 100 per cent. misconceptions in his case.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I do not think that I should like to make any comparisons; I certainly did not keep a tally or notch a stick. The noble Lord will recall that in the recent Housing Finance Bill we accepted quite a number of Amendments.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
Before I say anything about the Amendment—it seems to be relevant to be talking about " misconceptions in relation to agriculture—may I ask the noble Lord, if, as we have had explained to us, this is the wrong place, whether he can suggest to me somewhere in the Bill where we can have some reference to the consumer? Earlier to-day we were talking about the interests of the worker. We have talked about the interests of industry; we have talked about the relevance of the company; we have talked about the legal 1380 rights of the individual. But here is a Bill which is going to make the staple commodities of the ordinary people far more expensive than they have ever been. I was interested in the retirement pensioner who wants it "good for his grandchildren". Well, it is lucky that he is taking that view on social security, because it is not going to be very good for him.
We have to be absolutely practical about this. No one has ever questioned—and I have heard as many speeches as almost anyone in the Committee—that agricultural produce will be more expensive; and agricultural produce is the main shopping item. I take all the points that have been made about administration, about this being the wrong place in the Bill. Before I go any further, can the noble Lord tell me whether there is a place in the Bill where we could insert some reference to consumer representation, either in direct relation to the agricultural policy or in relation to some of the other areas where the consumer will be affected? Could he tell me this before I go any further?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
If it were appropriate I am sure that there would be a reference already. Of course there is a reference to the consumer in the Treaty of Rome itself. If it had been necessary to reproduce this in any way, if the effect of adhering to the Treaty of Rome had needed a mention in this regard in the Bill, no doubt it would be included. The fact that it is not there is a pretty clear indication that it is not needed in the Bill. We do not give honourable mentions of people in Bills, we put them in where it is necessary.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
I quite take that point. But the Government do not even give them mention, let alone honourable mention. We are back to one of the excuses. I do not think the noble Lord meant to confuse me, and perhaps I am not one of the fertile brains on this side of the Committee to which the noble and learned Lord referred, but the noble Lord referred to consumer committees within the Treaty and, as I understand this clause, we are talking about a Board in charge of a Government Department. This is not a Treaty. This is not part of the Community, which is distinct from a Government Department.
1381 When we come to the threshold price, we see that the White Paper states:We shall adopt this Community system of support—buying—though not Community prices—in the first year of membership. We shall introduce threshold and intervention prices of our own.In other words, we are working out something which is peculiarly ours. I suggest, with all due respect, that perhaps the
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amend ment disagreed to accordingly1382
§ Meat and Livestock Commission might have been better had it had a consumer representative on it. I recognise that the Amendment may be in the wrong place but I still feel, on a point of principle, that I should like to carry it to the Division Lobby.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 50) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 21; Not-Contents, 118.1381
|Arwyn, L.||Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.]||Serota, Bs.|
|Bernstein, L.||Granville of Eye, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Hale, L.||Slater, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Heycock, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Brockway, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Champion, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||White, Bs.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Phillips, Bs.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Northchurch, Bs.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Goschen, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Amory, V.||Gowrie, E.||Orr-Ewing. L.|
|Balfour, E.||Greenway, L.||Perth, E.|
|Barnby, L.||Gridley, L.||Platt, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Hailes, L.||Reay, L.|
|Berkeley, Bs.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor)||Redmayne, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Hankey, L.||Ridley, V.|
|Brecon, L.||Hanworth, V.||Robbins, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Hastings, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Hawke, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Hemingford, L.||St. Just, L.|
|Burnham, L.||Hives, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hylton, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Chelmer, L.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Seear, Bs.|
|Chesham, L.||Kemsley, V.||Selborne, E.|
|Coleraine, L.||Kinnoull, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Latymer, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Limerick, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Cottesloe. L.||Lothian, M.||Sherfield, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Simon, V.|
|Cranbrooke, E.||Luke, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Lyell, L.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Croft, L.||Macleod of Borve, Bs.||Stradbrooke, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Mancroft, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Massereene and Ferrrard, V.||Suffield, L.|
|Drumalbyn. L.||May, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Merrivale, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Milverton, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Monck, V.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Elles, Bs.||Monk Bretton, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Mottistone, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Ferrers, E.||Vernon, L.|
|Foot, L.||Moyne. L.||Vivian, L.|
|Gage. V.||Netherthorpe, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Newall, L.||Windlesham, L.|
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 53:Page 11, line 4, leave out ("either") and insert ("each").
§ The noble Lord said: I am sure that on reflection noble Lords opposite will wish to accept this Amendment, but I want to give further time for reflection and I shall return to it on Report. In the meantime, I do not move this Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD BESWICK
I simply want to call attention to, and have on the record, the fact that although there were 118 against the last Amendment on which we voted, when the case for the Amendment was being made there was only one person present on the Back Benches on the Government side.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Before the Committee agrees that this clause shall stand part of the Bill I wonder if I may ask the Government whether they would care to comment on the rather curious and quaint drafting of the first four lines of this clause. The words were read by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, but perhaps I should read them again. The clause says:There shall be a Board in charge of a government department, which shall be appointed by and responsible to the Ministers, and shall be by the name of the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce …When I first read the clause I thought that it must he a literal translation from some foreign language with which I was not familiar. It seems a most quaint way to express an intention. If it were only quaint I would not waste the time of the Committee, but I point out that the first line is completely ambiguous in sayinga Board in charge of a government department".I might say—if it were true, but it is not true—that my child is in charge of a nurse or that a nurse is in charge of my child and it would mean precisely the same thing. I do not know whether a Board in charge of a Government department means that the Board is responsible for the Government department or that the Government department is responsible for 1384 the Board. It might mean either. I thought that that ambiguity must somehow be removed.
Then there is a reference to a Government department. I cannot recall any Statute where reference is made to a Government department. Statutes refer to Ministers. If it means, as has been hinted to me, that it is in fact the Board which is responsible for the Government department perhaps it means the department's staff, and the department is the staff of the Board. It seems that any statutory board must have some staff. It seems curious to say that a board is in charge of a Government department. The Board no doubt has staff to assist it in carrying out its duties.
Then we come to the reference to the Ministers. When I first thought of raising this matter I thought that probably this is an expression contained in Part I of the Agriculture Act 1957 and that it probably came from Section 8. Perhaps it would mean the Minister of Agriculture or the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Secretary of State for Wales. Finally, there is this rather curious wording:and shall be by the name of the Intervention Board for agricultural produce.I suppose it may be said that we know what it means, but I do not think it is very good English. If we could say, "known by the name of Intervention Board" or "shall be called the Intervention Board" that would be better, but it seems that these words are at least rather unusual. The first thing to which I called attention was a clear ambiguity. I should hope that before Report stage the Government might introduce an Amendment to clear up the ambiguity and perhaps at the same time think of putting more usual words in the other places where "Intervention" is referred to.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I think I can reassure the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, on the points he has raised. In the first place he is right in saying that it is a Board in charge of a Government department, just as a person is drunk in charge of a car. There is no reflection contained in that. The point is that this is a Board which will be set up under the Bill and, like the Forestry Commission, is to have 1385 a Government department under its control. The Board will be appointed by and be responsible to Ministers.
The second point the noble Viscount raised was on the subject of the department. I think I have made this clear because the Government department is similar to the Forestry Commission, which is also a Government department. There are similar cases. For example, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, which is also a Government department. On the third point, the noble Viscount is right about the definition of Ministers. That is contained in the 1957 Agriculture Act, which says:The Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland acting jointly …Since then the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland and Wales have been added by a Transfer of Functions Order.
As to the noble Viscount's last point, I think he has slightly misread this passage. To make the meaning clear we should put in the words "there shall be" before "a body corporate". The words have been incorporated no doubt because of the brackets which follow with the parenthesis. I think the meaning is perfectly clear. It is a Board to deal with agricultural produce. I should have thought it was quite clear, although it might need reading twice as so many Acts of Parliament need to be read twice.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, but I say to him that "drunk in charge" is quite a different case because no one would assume that the car was in charge of the drunk. Here it is quite conceivable that people might wonder whether the Government department is in charge of the Board or the Board is in charge of the Government department. This needs clarification at the next stage.
The noble Lord said that it is like the Forestry Commission, but we do not say that the Forestry Commission is in charge of a Government department. The Forestry Commission has its staff, but surely a Board is not in charge of a Government department. Obviously we are not going to object to this clause but I should be grateful if it could be cleared up.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.1386
§ Clause 7 [Sugar]:
LORD BESWICK had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 54:
Page 11, line 18, at beginning insert
(".—( ) Subject to the acceptance by the Community of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement of 2nd and 3rd June 1971")
§ The noble Lord said: Here again we feel that a matter ought to he considered at greater length than has been allotted for Committee and we shall refer to it on Report. In the meantime I ask leave not to move the Amendment.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8 [Cinematograph films]:
§ 8.40 p.m.
THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE moved Amendment No. 59:
Page 12, line 45, after ("show") insert ("that")
§ The noble Earl said: I am sorry to disappoint the Committee after such a string of successes in getting Amendments not moved, but this is one which I believe has more significance than perhaps meets the eye. Since the Government have pinned their colours to the mast and have pledged your Lordships more than once that genuine improvements would be accepted, I seek to advance two arguments for this Amendment. It is, of course, intended to correct a not unimportant drafting error which obviously went unnoticed in the hurlyburly of another place. My first argument is directed to the particular. The word "that" is essential to make sense in contemporary English. The word is essential to prevent misunderstanding. Omission of this conjunction is, I am advised, without precedent in a Bill: Acts of Parliament do not omit "that" when introducing a subordinate clause after such verbs as "say", "declare", and so on. Nobody would call the present Bill a trivial piece of legislation. It is not in the same class, for example, as the Harbours (Scotland) Bill, that went through your Lordships' House virtually "on the nod" and will quickly be superseded and forgotten. Here we are dealing with one of the constitutional documents of our age; and this Bill is presented as the charter of our accession to this great new concourse of States. If this Bill 1387 deserves anything at all for such an occasion, then it deserves the best. So I ask the Government these questions: What steps do they propose to take to make good the mistake? What precedent for such drafting have they found, even in a minor Bill? And have they found a precedent in a major Bill?
My second argument is directed to the general. About the precincts of Westminster Hall, so much older than our tongue that they watched our speech unfold, I plead for proper English. When it is their first language for 280 million people; when, for another 120 million, it is their second; when half the papers and reviews in the world are printed in it; when three-quarters of the world's mail is sent in it; when three-fifths of the world's radio is done in it; and when, above all, we are to bear this gift of our tongue into the European company, surely here in Parliament we should hold our language in honour and in no wise help its further debasement. In the early forenoon of our tongue Chaucer did, of course, sometimes miss out the "that". But settled, mature, correct use is clear: "that" should be in as the proper link when the burden of a clause is joined, by the verb "to be", to nouns like view ", "opinion" and "declaration". So writes H. W. Fowler; thus wrote Dr. Johnson. Though the mistake of omission is common in America, it is not made by good writers. It is unpleasant. As Fowler wrote:
Perhaps the illiterates will beat idiom; perhaps idiom will beat the illiterates: our grandsons will know ".
But never let it be said that your Lordships' noble House abetted the illiterates against their mother tongue or accepted what was less than worthy. I beg to move.
§ LORD ROBBINS
I wonder whether I may ask the noble Earl if he would be prepared to give his oath that the word in question, "that", is never admitted in a context of this sort by Shakespeare.
§ LORD FOOT
Before the Minister replies, may I intervene in this debate because, curiously enough, although it 1388 would appear to be a very small matter, in my view it is fundamental to the processes that we are going through in the discussion of this Bill. I am sorry that I missed the first two minutes of the noble Earl's speech because I did not foresee that these other Amendments were going to fall to the ground, but the first question that arises, it seems to me, is whether the noble Earl is right in saying that this is indeed a solecism and this is a grammatical error. As to that, I, like the noble Earl, have consulted Fowler on the issue, and the situation as it is described by Fowler is this: that there are certain verbs in the English language which idiomatically and by ordinary usage require the imposition of the word that "; the second category is clause. There are three categories: the first category demands the insertion of the word "that", the second category is of other cases where either construction is permissible, where you can use "that" or not use "that"; and the third category is of cases where you can omit the word that " only if you are speaking colloquially. If I were continuing this discussion with the noble Leader of the House outside this Chamber and we were talking together colloquially, it would be proper for me to say, "I will show you are wrong"; but in the grammatical solemnity of this Committee I should be obliged to say, "I will show that you are wrong".
Whether this is right and this is a colloquial use of English which is inappropriate to a Statute of this kind may be a matter of discussion, but it does not lie in the mouth of the Leader of this House or the authors of this Bill to contend that the omission of "that" is a proper construction. I say that for this reason: that if the Members of the Committee will turn on from page 12, which we are talking about at the present moment, to page 15 of the Bill, at line 9 it will be seen that we have exactly the same word used—that is the verb shown "—followed by a substantival clause, and in that case the word that" has been used. I do not know whether the noble Earl the Leader of the House is following me in this.
In order that I may acquaint the House with the words, it says:If it is shown that the person concerned …1389 That is the construction that has been used in that case. Therefore the authors of the Bill cannot have it both ways. Either the construction on page 12 is wrong or the construction on page 15 is wrong. Therefore, whoever else may argue that this is all right, it does not lie in the mouth of the Government or the authors of this Bill to argue that this is right.
May I go on to ask another question? If it is wrong idiomatically or according to ordinary usage or according to grammar, then does it matter? I tried to foresee what sort of argument the noble Earl, if it is the Leader of the Government who is going to reply, is going to advance. He points to his side, but may I say that I am going to put some questions to him which I hope he will be prepared to answer because of the assurances he has given me hitherto. Does it matter if we allow a solecism to be introduced into this Bill? The first thing I would say about that is this. The insertion of the word "that", which would obviously make the matter clearer and would be valuable for the sake of clarity, does no harm to the Bill at all; it can only be an improvement.
The second point is the one I understand the noble Earl was making as I came in; that is, that we are now writing a Statute of the greatest possible importance, possibly the most important Statute that will have been put on the Statute Book in the life-time of anybody here. Is it not essential in those circumstances that we should get it gramatically and idiomatically right? The next point I would make about that is that it is the essential constitutional duty and function of this House to make Amendments of this kind. In the majestic speech which the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, made on the Second Reading of this Bill, he reminded the House and reminded his colleagues on the Tory Benches—and I wish there had been more of them to hear it and to hear the argument now—that one of the basic constitutional functions of this House is to revise the legislation that comes up to us from below, and this is a test case as to whether we are going to perform that constitutional function.
The fourth point is this. If you omit the word "that" and you engage in a colloquialism in a great Statute of this 1390 kind—a Statute which will have to be translated into the language of all the members of the Community, and indeed later on will have to be construed very possibly in the courts or by the people in control of the various countries of the Community—what are they going to make of the fact that there is a difference of construction between page 12 and page 15? When they come to construe this Bill when it becomes an Act and what it means, are they going to say that there was some significance in omitting the word "that"? Are they going to be bewildered and confused by the fact that a different construction is used on different occasions?
The last reason why I say that this is a matter of the utmost concern to this House is because of the assurances which I have been given, and the House has been given by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, as to how the Bill was going to be dealt with in this House. I hesitate to remind the Committee of the words which I used at the beginning of this debate. As it is possibly the briefest way in which I can put my point, may I quote from what I said at the very beginning when we were again considering a point of grammatical construction? I said this:The first Amendment is one which simply goes to the wording of the Bill, and is an attempt to improve and make more precise its meaning. It is a test case. It is a test of whether the Government are prepared to listen to argument and decide these matters on merit, or whether a decision has already been made that the Bill is going to be driven through this House without Amendment of any kind, as it was driven through the other place. This is a basic question which clouds the whole of the discussions we are to have. I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, whether this small Amendment is being resisted on its merits or because the Government have already decided that they are not going to accept any Amendment of any kind. I think we are entitled to be told this. We are entitled to be told whether a decision has been made. If it has been made, then all the time we are going to give to this Bill, supposedly talking about various Amendments on their merits, is a pure waste of time and the constitutional function, the revising function of this Chamber, to which the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, was speaking on Second Reading, is going to be thwarted throughout the long deliberations, and the deliberations are going to be a prolonged farce.I did not receive any reply to that question in the first instance but at a later stage on that night I repeated the request and the noble Earl the Leader of the 1391 House was good enough to give me a reply and to give me a categorical assurance. What I said on the second occassion was this:If the Government have really decided to reject every Amendment, whatever its merits, it is nonsense to talk of discussing things on their merits. It should like the Leader of the House to tell us directly whether the Government have already decided that no Amendment will be allowed to pass.The noble Earl was good enough to give me an assurance in the clearest and most positive terms. He said this:Turning from the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, to the noble Lord, Lord Foot, all I wish to say, quite categorically,and these were his words—is that I made my position absolutely clear on Second Reading. No such decision as the noble Lord is crediting me and the Government with has been taken. I said on Second Reading that we wished to look at Amendments which might be moved on their merits. Quite frankly, we do not think a great deal of the merits of the Amendments that we have had so far. But we will wait and see.Later on the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, added that and endorsed it by saying:I wish that I could persuade some people who are putting down Amendments—and I say this particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Foot—that it is not sheer bloody mindedness which leads some people on this side of the Committee to resist these Amendments "—and I draw particular attention to the words:It is not due to some decision to accept nothing.That categorical assurance was given to us without any qualification. Neither the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, nor the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, "Oh well, if it is only a minor matter we shall not be prepared to accept an Amendment." The assurance he gave us on that occasion was quite unqualified: that if any Amendment had merit on its side the Government would be prepared to accept it.
The situation with which we are now faced is whether that assurance is going to be upheld to-night. May I say as a matter of general comment that I myself am in favour of going into the Common Market. I am in favour of my country going into the Common Market, but I am not in favour of my country being railroaded or hijacked into the Common 1392 Market. There are many of us I believe—and I am one of them—who have had the gravest misgivings since the Bill started on its journey in the other place and when we saw that the Government were not prepared to accept a single Amendment, because they had to conform with a timetable and because they had to avoid a Report stage. There are many of us whose misgivings have been emphasised and underlined, as this Bill has gone through this place, by the thought that the Government have indeed made up their mind not to accept any Amendment, whatever its merits may be. If the Government are not prepared to give way on this Amendment, if the noble Earl is going to get up to tell us that this is a very minor matter and that it does not really count, then what is going to happen? When we come to divide the Committee, what is going to happen is that all the cohorts of the noble Earl, his noble friends who have not listened to a word of the debate and who know nothing of what it is about, will come trooping in to endorse a solecism, to confirm a grammatical error. Is that the function of this House? Is it not denigrating this House to behave in that fashion?
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
Has it not occurred to the noble Lord that there are more noble Lords on this side of the House who have listened to his long speech than there are on the other side of the House?
§ LORD FOOT
I am not complaining. The vast majority of the Members of this House are automatically on that side. I am not complaining that people are not here on this side; I am complaining lest the noble Earl the Leader of the House should get up in a minute (if this is his intention) and say: "This is a very small thing and it does not matter very much. I am going to invite my noble friends and to advise my noble friends who are scattered around outside to come and vote this Amendment down—not on its merits but because I do not think it matters very much."
§ LORD FOOT
No, to vote the Amendment down. I appeal to the noble Earl the Leader of the House to consider this matter seriously, because the bona fides of the Government are in question. Did the assurances that we were given so categorically by the noble Earl and by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor mean what they said, or not? If the noble Lord is to get up and advise us that he is going to resist this Amendment, then I am afraid that it will be difficult for some of us not to come to the conclusion that the assurances given earlier in this debate were not well-founded.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
I cannot agree with the last speaker. He is trying to hang the whole argument of going into the E.E.C. on a very small peg. The fact is that if you read this sentence, it is perfectly good English. There is no point in putting in "that". When I was at Oxford many years ago I had a very good tutor. He sent one of my essays home saying that it was slovenly work and that I was to take out every unnecessary word and bring it back the following week. I was a conscientious person and my essay, instead of being four pages long, was four sentences long and my tutor kindly said, "This makes very good sense and is good English". There is no point in putting in an unnecessary word if it is not necessary. "That" is not necessary. To hang the whole argument about the European Economic Community on the insertion of a word which is entirely superfluous is quite absurd. I do not think that the noble Lord—nor my noble friend on the Back Benches, though I am not sure about my noble friend on the Back Benches—has sat as long as I have to-day, listening to all the speeches. that I have listened to. If he wanted to hang his argument about opposing the E.E.C. on a good Amendment, then all I can say is that he has chosen a bad one.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
I have not studied this point. It has only just been raised by the noble Lord. I will look at it. If it is good idea that "that" should be in, I should leave it in.
§ LORD HALE
The noble Baroness said that she thought the phrase was perfectly good English. Does she think the word "accompanied" is good English? I can accompany noble Lords opposite if they will give me their company. I can accompany something which has a volition of its own, but I cannot accompany my walking stick; I cannot accompany the clothes I wear. Does she think that "show" is good English? To show a film is to display a film. It is misleading and ill-chosen. The noble Lord, Lord Foot, has made a completely conclusive case on the question of the grave error——
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
The noble Lord will forgive my intervening, but I thought that we were talking about a word "that".
§ LORD HALE
I was referring to what the noble Baroness had said. She said, "I think this phrase is perfectly good English." She then talked about the English that she learned at Oxford. If she read the clause carefully and came to the conclusion that she did, then her English training was not as good ac Oxford usually gives.
§ LORD ROBBINS
I must come to the support of the noble Baroness. I must confess that I am deeply shocked at what has been said in the last ten minutes. The noble Earl, whom we all respect, was aesthetically offended by the cadence of a certain phrase used in the drafting of the Bill. His reaction is legitimate and it is legitimate for him to voice it in this Chamber. But the utterances of the noble Lord, Lord Foot, seem to fall in quite a different category. He is attempting to fasten on your Lordships' House canons of what is and what is not good English which certainly would not be unanimously accepted by people who have some claim to know something about the subject. He produces Fowler, whom many of us regard as being rather stuffy in the matter of prose style, as the authority which should govern your Lordships' House in a matter of this sort. I must confess that, discussing 1395 as we are matters of tremendous historical moment, this seems to me to be an extremely frivolous intervention.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
I must say I rather wish "that" the highly important question of principle which is troubling my noble friend Lord Foot had not arisen on an allegedly grammatical solecism. For it may be that the noble Lord who is to reply will say, in the first place de minimis non curet lex, and in the second place, I suppose, it would be rather unfortunate, if this is the only Amendment passed, to have to re-summon Parliament in order to insert the word "that". You can say all that, but when it comes to "that" it is not really the point. The point is, as my noble friend Lord Foot suggests, that the intention of the Government is to reject all Amendments, however reasonable.
On the face of it, this is not unreasonable. If it were not that this is an occasion when the Government are obviously convinced that no Amendment should be accepted they would probably have said, "That is quite all right, let's put in the word ' that '". It is indeed obvious that it should go in; it is better to have "that" in than not to have it in, as is shown by the later example given by the noble Lord, Lord Foot. That being so, and since it does apparently raise a question of principle, however unfortunate it is that it is raised on this particular issue, in accordance with the principles of the Liberal Party that I enunciated at the beginning of this debate—that if we consider an Amendment is inherently reasonable and improves the text we ought to vote for it—we shall vote for it.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
If the noble Lord thinks it is reasonable, and if he thinks that it improves the text, he is entirely entitled to vote for it. But what we are really concerned with here is the meaning that is to be conveyed. The object of words, after all, is to convey a meaning, and the meaning is perfectly clear. The noble Lord, Lord Foot, asked the question "Is it a solecism?" He went on to say that if it is a solecism—and he made a long speech of great moment on the basis of that particular assumption. He also—and so did my noble friend—appeal to Fowler. I have 1396 been reinforced with Fowler, despite Lord Robbins's friendly remark about it. Let me read this, because I think it is important, so that we can put the matter in perspective:Substantival clauses with that—I know that my Redeemer liveth'. 'I know I can trust you '. These are equally good English"
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
To continue quoting:If ' that' were shifted from the first to the second both would still be grammatically correct
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
but each less idiomatic than it is.The page concludes by saying:It should be added that the tendency is to omit ' that ' and some of the words in the first list—he has given three lists, where "that" is usual; where "that" is unusual and where "that" is used or omitted:It should be added that the tendency is to omit ' that ' and some of the words in the first list may be thought to have become eligible for transfer to the third. Perhaps this is due to the United States influence where that' is omitted much more freely than it is here. It seems clear from some of the examples given above that this is having an effect—dare I say it—on British journalists.This is really not a matter which need engage the attention of the Government, or of Parliament. It appears that it is not a solecism. Whether it is an improvement is purely a matter of taste, and whether it is a matter of euphony or not is again a matter of taste. Therefore I suggest that we need not pursue the matter.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I did say that both were right. It depends on the context and it depends on euphony to some extent.
§ LORD GARDINER
I have not voted against the Government to-day and, as noble Lords will know, I am in favour 1397 of this Bill. But it is perfectly obvious to everybody that if it were not this Bill, the Government would, of course, have accepted this Amendment. It is an obvious mistake. They have got it right in another place in the same context in the Bill. Any Government would have accepted the Amendment. I am afraid it has become only too obvious that the Government have decided, for reasons which we understand, that they will not allow any Amendments to this Bill. My reason for finding that so regrettable is that it does a good deal to destroy the reputation of this House. We are supposed to be the great revising Chamber. The day was when the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and the Leaders in both Houses of all three political Parties agreed that if the Government of the day had a small majority in this House over the other two political Parties, but not over them together with the Cross-Benchers, we should be a very much stronger House. This is precisely the sort of conduct which I think does so much to damage the reputation of your Lordships' House.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
There is very little for me to add to what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and by the noble Lord, Lord Foot. Perhaps I may be allowed to answer one or two of the points which have been made. First, my old and personal friend Lord Drumalbyn has shown us why it has been so hard to get hold of Fowler in the last 48 hours: everybody has been after it. My noble friend has answered in the fashion that we enjoy so much when we hear him, but he did not reply to a question which I put to him: what precedent in a major Act can the Government cite for this appalling performance in the use of the English language? Like the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, to whom we always listen with benefit, my noble friend made light of Fowler (or of Dr. Johnson, since I quoted him).
I was rather disappointed that my old friend and Parliamentary colleague, Lady Emmet, thought I was trying to hang some anti-Common Market argument on this matter. This is not a pro- or anti-Common Market affair; we are talking about good legislation and about the issue to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, drew attention so effec 1398 tively; namely, the function of this House. That is why I do not think this is a trivial matter at all, still less a frivolous one.
The real reason for the Government's rejection of this Amendment has been disclosed from the Liberal Benches. Although I am glad to have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, he also let the cat out of the bag when he said that the real reason for resisting Amendments is that acceptance of them would mean recalling another place. Such arguments are utterly, wholly and eternally irrelevant to the functions of this House. It is because that issue is so implicit in this Amendment that I feel so strongly about it.
Notwithstanding the unfailing courtesy and kindness which I have received from Members of the Front Bench—whether the Leader of the House, the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, or others—I am afraid that rejection of this Amendment, which would clearly improve the Bill and which is supported in another passage of the measure, puts the Government's good faith to the test. That is not an easy thing for me to say. I am afraid I must press the Amendment.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I really do not know what course would best suit the dignity of this House, and we are not aided by the shrieks of laughter from the Government Front Bench. This is not a very major matter and it is quite obvious that in other circumstances the Government would have accepted the Amendment in two minutes. I am very much in two minds. This is obviously good enough English albeit it is not very good English. I should prefer to see it the other way round but I am very doubtful whether it is worth voting upon. I hate to repeat the language of my noble friend Lord Foot, with regard to the Leader of the House, but it is quite obvious that in many ways we are wasting our time. I really mean it when I say that I think this is a rather sad incident. In many ways it would be better almost to forget the whole thing; but if the noble Earl wishes to divide it will be interesting to see whether any other noble Lords feel that the situation is getting more and more unsatisfactory. 1399 I can understand the reasons for the Government's policy during proceedings in another place, but this does not apply now. It is not a matter for us to concern ourselves with whether the other place has to be recalled or not. The only advantage I can see if we were to carry this Amendment is that we might then be justified, and the Government might then accept a number of other Amendments which I am sure they would like to accept if they were allowed to. However, it is up to the noble Earl, and if he wants to divide the Committee I will probably go with him.
§ 9.20 p.m.
Before my noble friend takes his decision I should like to say something with particular reference to what the noble Lord, Lord Foot, has said. As to the substance of this, I have no reason to believe that this is a solecism, as the noble Lord was seeking to argue. I do not accept that the Amendment is an improvement. I accept, though, the noble Lord's statement that it is our constitutional duty to put right in a Bill something that is clearly wrong. I believe that it is perfectly right as it stands; and, what is more, there is no question of translating it into the language of the Community because this happens to be a domestic Statute.
But the noble Lord asked me certain specific things. He referred to our debate on the first day in Committee and my expressed willingness to listen to arguments. I reaffirm that willingness. He asked me whether the Government were going to resist all Amendments at all costs, and I said "No". I reaffirm that. He asked whether there was any such decision, and I said that there was not. And I reaffirm that. What I should like to say is that, if it can be proved to my satisfaction and the satisfaction of my colleagues that this Bill, as it stands, is defective in any material sense, or if it
§ is incompatible with the serious obligations that we are assuming, then any proposed Amendment will be looked at on its merits. I affirmed that on Second Reading in a carefully considered statement, and I reaffirmed it in Committee.
§ I do not wish to elevate this particular debate to a height which it perhaps does not deserve, but I must say in all sincerity that I rather resent the assumption made by the noble Lord that I was not meaning what I said. If it was clear to me that this or that Amendment to the Bill was necessary or desirable I should have no compunction in advising my noble friends to look at it again, or in saying that I should be prepared to consider it between now and the Report stage. I am certainly not so convinced so far as this particular Amendment is concerned; and if I were open to doubt, the way in which some of your Lordships have supported this Amendment would allay any doubts that I might have.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
May I ask my noble friend one question before he sits down? In the light of what he has said would he be willing to look at this again and reconsider it on Report?
If the noble Eari reads carefully what I said, he will know that I am not in a position to do that, because I am entirely unpersuaded that this is in any sense an improvement to the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
Then I am afraid, with the greatest regret and with a heavy heart, that I must press this Amendment to a Division.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 59) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 36; Not-Contents, 120.1401
|Arwyn, L.||Gardiner, L.||Lauderdale, E. [Teller.]|
|Bernstein, L.||Garnsworthy, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Beswick, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Granville of Eye, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Brockway, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Phillips, Bs.|
|Champion, L.||Hale, L.||Platt, L.|
|Collison, L.||Heycock, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Hirshfield, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Foot, L. [Teller.]||Hylton, L.||Sempill. Ly.|
|Shackleton, L.||Swaythling, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Simon, V.||Tanlaw, L.||White, Bs.|
|Strabolgi, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Ferrers, E.||Moyne, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Gage, V.||Newall, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Gainford, L.||Northchurch, Bs.|
|Amory, V.||Goodman, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Goschen, V.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Beaumont, L,||Gowrie, E.||Pender, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Greenway, L.||Perth, E.|
|Berkeley, Bs.||Gridley, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Reay, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Hailes, L.||Redmayne, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Reigate, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Rhyl, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Hankey, L.||Ridley, V.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Hanworth, V.||Robbins, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Hastings, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hawke, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Chelmer, L.||Hemingford, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hewlett, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hives, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hood, V.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Sherfield, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Kemsley, V.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Kinnoull, E.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Lansdowne, M.||Stradbroke, E.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Latymer, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Limerick, E.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Lothian, M.||Suffield, L.|
|Croft, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Luke, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Davidson. V.||Lyell, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Macleod of Borve, Bs.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Digby, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Mancroft, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Dundee, E.||May, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Merrivale, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Milverton, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Elles, Bs.||Monk Bretton, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Mottistone, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Young, Bs.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ 9.32 p.m.
Page 13, line 34, at end insert ("and, for the avoidance of doubt, does not include a film in which the dialogue is mainly in Welsh.")—(Lord Berwick.)
§ BARONESS WHITE
I should like to support my noble friend Lord Beswick in this Amendment by way of inquiring what the precise position of the Welsh language is in the Community. A great deal of time has been spent on one word of the English language, but I want to ask about the status of the Welsh language as a whole. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, knows—although at the 1402 moment he seems not to be with us, and possibly the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, might not be conversant with this point—by Statute the Welsh language is of equal validity with English, but I am not at all clear from the wording of the Bill whether Welsh is recognised in the Community as being the equivalent of English, and whether, therefore, we can be quite certain that there will be no dubiety whatever as to the status of the Welsh language in respect to the clause under discussion, where foreign languages are referred to in relation to categories of films. I hope that the Welsh language is a recognised language in the Community. If it is, then presumably we shall be in no difficulty. We are seeking an assurance from the Government, and a clear explanation as to the precise standing of the Welsh 1403 language in the Community in relation to films. It might be helpful if we knew the status in general of the Welsh language in relation to the Bill as a whole.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I readily respond to the noble Baroness. There are two pieces of news that I can give her. Let me give her the slightly less acceptable piece first. The noble Baroness asked about the general status of the Welsh language in the Community. As she probably knows, like Flemish it is not a Community language. Flemish is also a statutory language in Belgium but it is not a Community language, each country having one Community language.
The second point is a little more complicated and perhaps I should explain it. The principal objective of Community policy relating to films so far has been to ensure that films having the nationality of a member State are treated equally for screen quota purposes in other member States. To do this it is necessary to define what is meant by a film having the nationality of a member State. Article 3 of the first films directive issued by the Council of the Community on October 15, 1967, includes this:A film shall be regarded as having the nationality of a member State … if it is made in the following manner"—I am quoting the relevant paragraph, (c)—or where the original version is recorded in the language or one of the languages of the Member State in question …It follows that a British film made in Welsh, or in Gaelic for that matter, will be a film of a member State; that is to say, a film of the United Kingdom for the purposes of this directive. Perhaps the noble Baroness would allow me to add that the insertion of these words would not be appropriate in any case, because this clause is dealing with an entirely different question: the question of special cinemas—that is, cinemas intended exclusively for the exhibition of foreign films in the language of the country of origin. Welsh is not a foreign language. It is one of the languages of Great Britain so far as mutual advantage in the different countries is concerned.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I do not want to delay the Committee because we shall reach the end of our tether. 1404 That is a categorical understanding that a film in Welsh, as in the case of a Walloon film, would be regarded as being in a language of a Community State; probably a film in Erse or Gaelic would too. That is all right so long as it is clear.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
That is so. I would simply add that an Irish film would be in a special position under the Films Act anyway.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
May I ask the Minister to clarify a point in subsection (1) about Community films? Community films will be quota films, but am I correct in assuming that they will not be British films? This question is in direct relation to the Eady levy. Those concerned want to know. If the Minister cannot tell me now, I shall be happy to have a reply in writing.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
There are two requirements for the Eady levy. One is that a film should be a British film, registered as a British film. Secondly, it should be made in a British studio. A film might be registered as a British film but it might not be made in a British studio. I need not talk about the other quota films. The main point is that a film must be made in a British studio and has to be a British film in order that it should get the Eady levy.
§ LORD BESWICK
May I ask about the sentence towards the end of the clause which says:In this subsection ' foreign language film' means a film in which the dialogue is mainly in a foreign language.Does this cover a film made abroad but dubbed in English?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I think I am right in saying that it must actually be made in the foreign language. Perhaps I should put it the other way. In order to qualify as a film of a member State it must be in the language of a member State. I hope I have made myself clear. 1405 This covers co-production films as well. To be simply "dubbed" is not to be "made".
§ LORD BERNSTEIN
May I ask a follow-up question? A new technology is developing in films and has been a great success in Italy. Many films are dubbed in the language of the country. In Italy, they dub all their own films in Italian after production. Would a foreign film from the Community dubbed in English be available for quota? If this is so, it could seriously affect the quota position. There is a great deal of unemployment in the film industry, as all your Lordships know. These figures were given to me. In 1971, 90 films were registered for quota. About 10 were of some value; the rest were rather indifferent. If, say, 30 of the foreign films that come into this country were dubbed into English they could affect the whole quota position in this country. Perhaps the noble Lord can tell me what effect that would have, and whether that would be permissible under this arrangement?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
Part of the object of this particular clause is to ensure the mutuality of privilege so far as quota is concerned, so that whether or not it was dubbed in English a film made in a member State would be eligible for the British quota; and, vice versa, a film made in this country would be eligible for the quotas that exist in France and Italy and other countries as well. This is part of the Common Market conception of the equality of treatment of films.
§ BARONESS WHITE
The question is not as frivolous as it may sound. After all, our real rivals in films are the Americans with their version of the English language, and it is rather important to know about this. There are a great many American firms who have film interests in Europe as well as in this country. We ought to know the position about American films.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
The question of who finances a film is of course not relevant here. Many British films are 1406 financed by the Americans. It might well be that the Americans have financed a film to be made in France. That having been done and if it were dubbed in America, it would still be a French film in that case if it were registered in France. And it would be capable of being shown in this country, American dubbing and all.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.
§ Schedule 1 [Definitions Relating to Communities]:
§ On Question, Whether Schedule 1 shall be a Schedule to the Bill?
§ LORD BESWICK
I say again that the reason why the Amendments to this Schedule are not being moved is, first, that we have not any time, and secondly, even if they are moved it appears to be an absolutely useless exercise because there is absolutely no intention by the Government to listen to the arguments.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
If I may say something very briefly, I perfectly frankly confess that I think I misled the Committee last Thursday when answering the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, on a very involved series of questions he asked me on Clause 1(3). I think this is the appropriate moment to make my apologies and to try to put the matter right. What happened at that stage was that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, gave me a collection of his questions to answer, and I did so in a context which suggested that the Treaties which would be dealt with under Clause 1(3) would be mainly concerned with directly applicable law. I think I fell into the trap of doing this because of the sort of context with which we were dealing in his questions, but I think it ought to be made plain that the future Treaties which will be dealt with by way of Order in Council under the second part of Clause 1(3) will be Treaties signed by the United Kingdom.
For the most part—or at any rate so far as the subject is concerned—they will be Treaties which contain something which requires this Government to act in such a way as not to affect our domestic law but to lay some governmental 1407 requirement upon us, that is to say an international obligation, such as to take part in a meeting or to join in some governmental activity. Secondly, they will be Treaties that lay on us an international law obligation to change our own domestic law so that we should be morally bound to legislate either by Bill under our existing powers or under Clause 2(2), and that would be a much more common way of doing it. Thirdly, and I think much more rarely, the Treaty would directly import some directly applicable law which would come into the Bill under Clause 2(1).
I went on to say, in an exchange with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that the Treaties that were being referred to at the end of Clause 1 would include the regulations, and in this I am sorry to tell the noble Lord that I was wrong. They will not. The Treaties are defined as at the end of Clause 1; they will not include the regulations. If I misled the noble Lord I am extremely sorry. It was a misunderstanding on my part; the point had slipped my attention. I can only say that I did mislead the Committee and I am very sorry to have done so.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
If I may say so, it is quite intolerable that the noble Viscount should stand up and apologise so gracefully. I must say that at the time I thought I was right and that he was wrong, but now I have got to read what it was. It has really upset the whole of our thinking on this side of the Committee. We shall have to study it very carefully and begin all over again at the Report stage.
§ LORD STOW HILL
I should like to thank the noble Viscount very much indeed for the correction he has made. I quite understand. This is a very difficult Bill and I should like to consider the Amendments and what he said originally, in the light of the statement he has just made. I am very much obliged to him.
§ Schedule 1 agreed to.1408
§ Schedule 2 [Provisions as to subordinate legislation]:
§ 9.49 p.m.
LORD SHACKLETON moved Amendment No. 66:
Page 20, line 32, at end insert: ("or
(e) to make any provision for the purpose of implementing any Community obligation of the United Kingdom, or enabling any such obligation to be implemented under section 2(2)(a) of this Act unless before such obligation arose any proposal by virtue of which such obligation arises has been laid before Parliament.").
§ The noble Lord said: I shall move this Amendment very briefly. It is again a major Amendment, designed to make provision that before Orders in Council are made under Clause 2(2) it will be necessary for Parliament to have been informed in advance of any obligations. Otherwise the provisions under this Schedule which allows Orders to be moved will not apply—or rather under the main clause—and it will be necessary to proceed by main legislation.
§ Within the last 48 hours we have had a very important Report from the Select Committee on Procedure concerning the methods by which Parliament should consider these issues. As noble Lords will note, I have removed from the original Amendment any proposal to set up Select Committees because I was convinced by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that it would be inappropriate to do so in legislation. However, it is not inappropriate, despite what the noble Earl the Leader of the House said, to lay an obligation on the Government to keep Parliament informed.
§ I am not proposing to press the Amendment very hard at this stage because we intend to return to this matter on Report. I merely ask the Government to consider the subject very carefully. When speaking to the last Amendment the Minister said that he would not resist any Amendment which he thought was essential, and then he added the words "or desirable". I seriously put it to your Lordships that an obligation of this kind could be placed on Governments, for we are referring not only to the present Government but to any future Labour, Conservative or even conceivably Liberal Government, though the latter may be stretching the imagination rather far. I mean no respect to 1409 the noble Lord who is representing his fellow Liberals——
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, of course I mean no disrespect to him; he has supported me on this matter and I have supported him more recently. These slips of the tongue suggest that the sooner we come to the end of this Committee stage the better. I seriously ask the Government to think about this matter again. I accept that they mean business in the matter of informing Parliament, but it is not enough on an issue of such importance to leave it to the goodwill of a particular Government and I am sure that those who have concerned themselves with this matter in the past have always been anxious to be vigilant in ensuring that obligations of this kind are laid on Governments.
After all, we see the failure, admittedly in countries where the Parliamentary tradition is not as strong as it is here, to bring their Assemblies into the picture. Consider, for example, France. I prefer the statutory requirements which are laid in the Treaty of Accession on the German Government to keep the Bundestag and Bundesrat informed. The Report of the Select Committee on Procedure stresses the importance of this and adds:The House will have to rely on the Government if they are to obtain adequate information.I prefer not just to rely on the Government; I should like to make it an obligation on them. We will therefore return to this matter on Report. It is a test, and whatever may have been the reasons which deterred the Government from allowing Amendments to be made in the Commons, it is not sufficient, if we are to do our duty, to refrain from passing an Amendment even if doing so will mean bringing the Commons back for a day to deal with the matter.
In view of the terms in which the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition has moved this Amendment, I should like to say three or four things very briefly. The first is that I have read the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure in another place with 1410 very great interest. I should like to recall to your Lordships its final words:Your Committee conclude that the entry of Britain into the Community presents a profound challenge to many of the established procedures of Parliament which, if not adequately dealt with, could leave Parliament substantially weaker vis-à-vis the Executive.I should like to say that I endorse that paragraph in the Select Committee's Report. I believe, as I have said on more than one occasion, and the Government believe that this whole question of Parliamentary scrutiny and control in the new situation into which we are moving is one which should seriously engage our attention. We are all at one on that. We are not at one at present on the question of whether it is right to import these detailed procedures—I know there is an area of doubt between us as to whether this question of conveying information to Parliament is a procedural matter—into Statute. But I understand it is the noble Lord's intention to return to this matter at Report stage. It is an important matter and I should be very content, if he is content, to leave the matter there for the time being, assuring him that this whole area is one which is engaging the Government's very close attention and it is our earnest hope and expectation that it will engage the joint attention of all major Parties in the very near future.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I would only say that I am not concerned with detailed procedure; I am concerned with an obligation to be placed on British Governments to keep Parliament informed. The detailed procedures cannot be worked out in legislation. I want to stress that, not in order to argue on the procedure side but to emphasise that this is one of the fundamental duties of a vigilant Parliament. If no noble Lord wishes to pursue the matter further now, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD BESWICK moved Amendment No. 66D:
Page 21, line 6, leave out from first ("regulations") to end of line 12 and insert ("no Order in Council and no regulations made in the exercise of that power shall come into force unless a draft statutory instrument has been approved by resolution of each House of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.")
§ The noble Lord said: I am going to move this Amendment formally in order to give the Government an opportunity of saying what is the position of Northern Ireland. Reference here is made to the Government of Northern Ireland, to the Orders in Council made by the Governor of Northern Ireland. Since as I understand it at the moment the Secretary of State is responsible and not the Governor of Northern Ireland, I think it would be of value if we could be told what would be the effect of this Bill if it comes into force before there has been any change in the present arrangements in Ulster. I beg to move.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
The procedure that will apply to Northern Ireland is the same as the procedure that will apply at Westminster. For those matters which do require legislative change in Northern Ireland, the changes will be made by way of subordinate legislation. This will be subject either to the Affirmative or to the Negative Resolution procedure at Stormont—in other words, it would be entirely on all fours with the position at Westminster. What one has to consider, and what we did consider in the present exceptional situation, with the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act, is whether this procedure was the appropriate one or whether it should be altered in some way. But as we have discussed on a whole host of Orders concerning Northern Ireland, the present situation is one that lasts until March. If the law was altered, either in this Bill or any other Bill, in such a way that it was a permanent change, we should then have a very difficult situation from next Easter onwards. Either Stormont returns, in which case the normal procedures apply, or there is something else, in which case the whole corpus of Statute Law referring to the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland going back 50 years would have to he altered; so there is a great case for making sure that all legislation in this interim period is consistent with what would have been the position had the Parliament of Northern Ireland been continued in the normal way. There, as a very brief description, is the situation as it will be under this particular Bill where matters concerning Northern Ireland are con 1412 cerned. I could give the noble Lord, if he wished, a list of the Instruments and the matters which they are likely to cover which will be needed in Northern Ireland to make the necessary changes. It is a fair list, but if he wanted that information I am in a position to give it to him.
§ LORD BESWICK
I am very grateful to the noble Lord; I will read what he has had to say. Can I ask the question again more simply: Is this Bill as now drafted applicable to the present situation in Northern Ireland?
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
The answer is yes, by way of Orders in Council, which is the device that has been used, as the noble Lord knows—he has taken part in a number of these debates—for all the matters which would normally have been within the legislative competence, either by substantive legislation or delegated legislation, of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
Can the noble Lord tell us what will happen if the plebiscite to be taken, as I understand it, on the boundary position in Northern Ireland were to result in Northern Ireland wishing to become part of Eire? Would that then mean that the whole of this legislation would be of no effect at all? What would happen in those circumstances?
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
It would result in a new situation which would require a great deal of thought and work.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
This is surely the whole sort of problem that we are up against in dealing with the type of Bill with which we are presented. We are presented with a strange sort of portmanteau Bill which pretends to cover all conditions, all circumstances, but in actual fact it covers nothing at all which is of any significance for the future.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
The situation which the noble Lord envisages is one that is hypothetical. If that were to be the case, legislation would, of course, be required at Westminster, and many Acts of Parliament already on the Statute Book would be affected; and if Parliament decides to give approval to this Bill, and it was then on the Statute Book at that time, it would be included in that number.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
I think it is most improbable that that would be the case; and the noble Lord will also be aware that the Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Economic Community, so presumably some form of legislation would be necessary to bring all 32 counties of Ireland into line. But this, I repeat, is a wholly hypothetical proposition before the House.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
The noble Lord and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor know full well—and I quoted Gladstone the other day—that this is a mighty legal innovation for Britain. Will not the situation be (and this is rather sad) that we have not been able to do anything in this Chamber? After two million words in the other House and our efforts here, we might as well have walked out. I used the word "boondoggling", an American expression: busybodies busy doing nothing. This is an insult to Britain as we reach this sad position. I am a European; it is this system I am worried about. The constitutional innovation for Britain would mean now that future Community legislation would automatically become part of British law directly applicable to British subjects. Such Community law would not be laid before Parliament, and the Community institutions issuing from it would not, as such, be answerable to this Parliament. However, such Community legislation would derive its force in the United Kingdom law from the original enactments, the farce of which we are going through to-day. It would introduce completely to Britain the Community system of law. Furthermore, Britain would participate as a major member in all the Community legislative institutions but the British individual who wanted to make a case, as he can now under the Queen's law against Parliament, could not make a case; neither could companies nor businessmen who may be interested in this make a case in the same way as they could in Britain against Community law. That is how I see it. I shall not use another word.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
The Lord Chancellor may say "Good" and he may be insulting to those who disagree with him, but with his background and the high position which he himself is supposed to exalt it would be wiser, despite his ability and cleverness, if he would show a little more wisdom. I consequently say that we in this Committee are to-night, in a way, betraying the rights of the British people. I have counted 50 Acts of Parliament in these Schedules that have been wiped aside without discussion. I will not name them. Informed noble Lords on both sides of the Committee know them, but the public know nothing about them.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
Would not the noble Lord agree that it is just possible that all the Amendments that have been put down, which might even be thought of as a charade, did not really warrant being passed and that therefore that is why the Committee has not passed them? Is it not therefore rather damaging to the Committee—which I am sure the noble Lord holds in as much regard as I do myself—rather ungenerously to say that because none of the Opposition Amendments has been passed this Committee has not done its duty? I suggest to the noble Lord that this particular Bill, apart from other points, is a highly technical Bill, which was highly skilfully written and, in point of fact, did not require Amendment. This might be a point of view worthy of consideration.
LORD DAVIES or LEEK
I am very grateful to the noble Lord—I believe the question was addressed to me—for the kindly way in which the noble Lord put the point. But would not the noble Lord think that it is almost miraculous that for the first time since the Magna Charta a Bill has gone through the two Houses, has gone through all stages, has gone through Report, with 2 million words spoken in another place, and we spend days here——
I hesitate to intervene in this interesting debate between my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord 1415 Davies of Leek, but I think I should remind your Lordships' House that we are discussing Amendment 66D which is concerned with Northern Ireland.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I will not follow it up any more, but I think some of our other Amendments, if not all, were as constructive as any that could be drawn by thoughtful constructors.
§ LORD HYLTON
Many problems have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, but it is for him and others to start to make the European Parliament an effective and democratic body.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 2 agreed to.1417
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Schedule 3 [Repeals]:
THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE moved Amendment No. 67:
Page 24, line 3, at end insert—
|("6 Anne c.11.||The Union with Scotland Act 1706||Article XVIII, so far as it conflicts, or may conflict, with this Act.")|
§ The noble Earl said: We were given to understand, one way or another, that the House was prepared to sit very late. It is now only ten minutes past ten, so another couple of hours would not do us any harm. Therefore it may come as some consolation to my noble friends on this side and noble Lords on the other to know that the principal—not the only—purpose of my Amendment in this case is interrogative. Schedule 3 deals with repeals, customs tariff, sugar, seeds and miscellaneous, and these last begin with the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, which is a pretty recent Act, 1946, then a series of Acts about farming and iron and steel, and the Finance Act 1970. My Amendment relates, I submit, to something more important than any of those items listed at present in this Schedule. When it is a British operation to seek admission to the Community, surely it is time to recall that the United Kingdom is a Union of Kingdoms, founded on more than one great constitutional Act. Since we are much preoccupied in this Chamber, and have been increasingly in the last four days of debate on this Bill, with problems of procedure, with the Government's attitude to Amendments and the like, perhaps it is worth recalling that we, of the Northern Kingdom, are very conscious that it was a procedural Motion in the Scottish Parliament which led to the critical choice of Commissioners to negotiate the Union, and therefore in fact eventually brought about the Treaty of Union.
§ It may be worth recalling that that procedural trick, as many people at the time thought it was, has not yet from the heart been altogether forgiven, and despite a sharp rise in living standards in Scotland after the Union, such as indeed we are led to expect in Britain after our entry into the Community, none 1418 the less there was a nasty taste, a sour taste, of resentment at having been tricked, which issued in the bloody deeds of the '15 and '45 and then the penal laws against freedom of religion and freedom to wear the tartan. Even two-and-a-half centuries later those things are certainly not forgotten, though here and there it may be that they are forgiven.
My Amendment has three objects. The first is to call attention to the Treaty of Union and the Guarantee in Article 18 that:
No alteration be made in laws that concern private right except for the utility of the subjects within Scotland.
My second purpose is to inquire whether these may not possibly, even probably, be in conflict, or whether there may not be a conflict here between Scottish law and the effects of accession to the Community. My third purpose is to inquire whether, and how, this Treaty and this Bill do, and will, affect the Treaty of Union. My fourth purpose is to propose for prudence in future and the avoidance of doubt, that the position be made clear at any rate, as the Spanish peasants say, "in case". The possibility of doubt or conflict should be expressly recorded. Surely Scots are entitled to that much.
§ My noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack told the Committee on Monday that in case of conflict E.E.C. law prevails. If that is the case, why list any repeals at all? If you list some at the end of a great constitutional Bill, surely the list should be complete. Surely it should include its last great constitutional predecessor, the Act of Union, or else it should be made fully clear that the Act of Union is in no way affected. I beg to move.
§ 10.15 p.m.
THE EARL OF BALFOUR
I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Lauderdale for raising this interesting point; not that this is an Amendment which I feel should be accepted by the Government as I am confident that Article 18 will not conflict with anything that is in this Bill. But the wording of Article 18 of the Act of Union of the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1706 is so beautifully worded and, I feel, so ideally covers the sort of negotiations that are covered by this Bill, that I think 1419 it is well worth while reading it to your Lordships in full. It is not long, and it reads:That the Laws concerning Regulation of Trade, Customs and such Excises to which Scotland is, by virtue of this Treaty, to be liable, be the same in Scotland, from and after the Union, as in England; and that all other Laws in Use within the Kingdom of Scotland, do after the Union, and notwithstanding thereof, remain in the same Force as before, (except such as are contrary to or inconsistent with this Treaty) but alterable by the Parliament of Great Britain; with this Difference betwixt the Laws concerning publick Right, Policy and Civil Government, and those which concern private Right, that the Laws which concern publick Right, Policy and Civil Government, may be made the same throughout the whole United Kingdom; but that no Alteration be made in Laws which concern private Right, except for evident Utility of the Subjects within Scotland.If our accession to the European Economic Community Treaty goes ahead, and the wording is as brief as this Article written 266 years ago, it will have covered all the requirements of entry and, at the same time, preserved our rights and Government as well as this Bill does now. I feel that apart from substituting the words "United Kingdom where Scotland" appeared, or "Europe" where "England" appeared, the wording could be exactly the same. I felt it was worth while taking up a few minutes of your Lordships' time to record something which I so admire in our Union of the Parliaments of England and Scotland.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am sure the Committee is extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Balfour for reminding us of both the beautiful language and the extraordinarily—in the context of the times—apt drafting of the Article to which this Amendment relates. My noble friend Lord Lauderdale has proposed Amendment No. 67, which would include this beautiful Article contained in the Union with Scotland Act 1706 in the Repeals in this Bill. I must say I think that both the English and the Scots would be sorry to see it repealed. My noble friend Lord Lauderdale put this qualification in the right hand column:… so far as it conflicts, or may conflict, with this Act.The Committee has now heard the actual terms of Article 18 and, I doubt not, will agree with my noble friend Lord Bal- 1420 four that it does not, may not and cannot conflict with what we are now doing. Ex abundanti cautela—in order to achieve greater certainty the Government have consulted the Scottish Law Officers upon this important point because, of course, the original Article was a Treaty between England and Scotland before it became embodied in Statute Law and the opinion of the Law Officers is that it does not and cannot conflict. That is also my opinion.
My noble friend Lord Lauderdale asks why if Statute law conflicts with Community law if it is directly applicable, do we need a Schedule of repeals? The answer to that is two-fold. First, where it does conflict and is seen to conflict with Community law the sooner it is off the Statute Book and ceases to create confusion the better. Secondly, some of the Community law is indirectly applicable and puts legislative burdens upon us. I thought that we had made that plain. I should hope that now we have made this clear and now that my noble friend the Earl of Balfour has read out Article 18, my noble friend Lord Lauderdale will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment to a Division.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
I am greatly obliged to my noble friend for what he has said. I shall read it closely when we get the printed text of Hansard. Of course at the end of a Committee stage like this we are all—I speak for myself, but I think I also speak for others—a little bemused and confused. I wonder whether the phrase "on its merits" will not go down in history "at a stroke". Sometimes as a Conservative I wonder where I am in what used to be a constitutional Party. I find it very hard to state what principles we follow; the old are mostly out of date and the new too much to swallow. However, whether that is true or not, I am grateful to my noble and learned friend for what he has said. I should like to read it closely, consult with others on the import of what he has said and perhaps return to the matter on Report, if necessary. In the light of what has been said I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 3 agreed to.1421
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Schedule 4 [Enactments Amended]:
LORD BESWICK moved Amendment No. 69:
Page 33, line 35, after ("satisfied") insert ("provided that no animals shall be so prescribed if they have been at any time vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease; ")
§ The noble Lord said: I believe a number of noble Lords opposite wish to know the position over animals vaccinated in circumstances as detailed in this Amendment which I move for the purpose of obtaining information.
This was one of the very important matters which had to be raised in recent negotiations. Our whole purpose was to ensure the continuation of our present policy of confining imports of livestock to those animals which have not been vaccinated against this disease. We were successful in securing agreement on this point, and Article 104 records that we and other acceding States may continue the present import policy in regard to all diseases and animals for the period of five years during which a joint review will be conducted to decide policy to be adopted thereafter.
The noble Lord may ask, "What is to happen after the next five years?" Article 106 of the Treaty provides that before the five years are up there should be—and I quote the words:a review of the situation in the Community as a whole and in its various parts … in the light of developments in the veterinary field.It will be for the Council of Ministers to consider what to do in the light of those developments. If the animal health situation should be unchanged, then our attitude will be unchanged. The Community accepted, when we were applicants, that we could not take the risk of importing vaccinated animals, and we can expect that our partners will be at least as reasonable when we are full members as they were when we were applicants. Incidentally, other members, such as Ireland and Norway, will also have interests similar to our own. I can give the categorical assurance that there never has been, and there will not be, any question of levelling down the standards of animal health. The object of the whole Community is that these should be levelled up.
1422 I should also like to make one other point emphatically clear since there could be a doubt; that is, that the agreement on animal health is not just a transitional agreement. As the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will know, in the case of Community prices there is a transitional period for five years, after which we become part of the Community régime. This is not so with regard to animal health. Our position is fully safeguarded, and we are not committed—nor would other members wish to commit us—to any longer-term arrangements which might prejudice our animal health arrangements. There is no requirement for us to forfeit our quarantine arrangements; we have a perfectly free hand to maintain such regulations as we think fit to protect and preserve our own animal health situation.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
The Northumberland Committee and the Guard Committee both came to the view that the slaughter policy in force in this country is by far the best. They also came out against vaccination, which they regarded as suitable only for countries where the disease was endemic. Vaccination also presents a problem of marketing and of administrative difficulties which outweigh any advantages that may arise from it. Article 104 of the Treaty of Accession provides derogation from these policies of vaccination and slaughter for foot-and-mouth, and of vaccination and recognition for brucellosis. Can the Government give us an assurance that our policies for slaughter in the event of foot-and-mouth cannot be watered down? This is especially important in view of the export of pedigree livestock to places like Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where the stock has to come from non-endemic countries. Can the Government give us an assurance that these slaughter policies will be maintained, and that it will be possible to maintain them in spite of any other policy on the Continent?
The other, very small, point that I should like to raise is whether rabies is covered by quarantine regulations. As all noble Lords will know, rabies is a horrifying disease, and we have managed to eradicate it in this country. We have also—and this is even more important—managed to keep it out of the wildlife in 1423 this country; and consequently it can be well controlled. I sincerely hope that the E.E.C. Commission will not force us to alter regulations on either slaughter policies or rabies and quarantine.
I thought that I had given as watertight an assurance as I could give to my noble friend, but I will certainly repeat it and, if I can, expand slightly on it. We as a country are entitled to continue to maintain those standards of animal health and animal hygiene which at the moment we operate. Where we export to another country, then of course, when the Community régime gets into full swing. we shall have to subject our animals to such tests or regulations as the countries to which these animals are exported require. But so far as this country is concerned, if we wish to continue a slaughter policy then we are entitled to do so, and we shall continue to do so. With regard to rabies, I can again give my noble friend the most categorical assurance that we can and will take any measures that are needed to safeguard both animal and public health from this disease.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Earl's explanation and his assurance that the sort of policy we should like to see pursued is in fact going to be pursued. For myself, so far as I am in a position to judge these matters, I think that what he has said is entirely satisfactory. That being the case, I find myself quite unable to understand why the noble Earl does not accept the words, why he does not write this into the Bill. Here again we have the situation where the Government say that they agree with what we seek, but that it is not necessary to put it in the Bill. This is the last Amendment on the Order Paper, and I am going to give the House an opportunity of saying that in this particular case they would like to see the assurances that have been given actually written into the Bill.
I wonder whether before the noble Lord does that, he would cast his mind back a few days. We recently had the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, and he will remember that Clause 1 of that Bill depicted a 1424 scheme for the eradication of brucellosis. When it was put into the Bill and went through your Lordships' House it was agreed that this was an excellent scheme to have because we wanted to eradicate brucellosis. But it so happened that while the Bill was passing through Parliament it was found that a better scheme was possible; and therefore when the Commons Amendments came back to your Lordships at the beginning of the week we had to remove the clause which, for very good reasons, we had inserted. I think it would be a pity if we were possibly to repeat the exercise and write into this Bill something which in fact is not necessary and which at a later date one might wish had not been written in.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I find the argument which the noble Earl now advances extremely convincing, and in the ordinary way I would accept it. But this surely would be an admirable opportunity for the Government to show that they have listened to what has been said, and that the assurances which the noble Earl gave a few moments ago, about their readiness to amend when there was a real need to amend, did mean something. I am not saying that the need is as real as all that but I am saying it would be an opportunity to wipe out all the frustration felt up to now by noble Lords on both sides of the House.
We are coming right up to the end of the Committee stage of this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said a little earlier that it was possible—and he asked us to believe that it was possible—that none of the Amendments which we had advanced had any merit, and that the House had been right to dismiss them all. That is what the noble Lord said. He may well be right: that is just conceivable. What I cannot accept is that the noble Lord is in a position to say whether any of our Amendments had any merit; for the simple fact is that he never heard the arguments put forward for many of them. A short while ago the Committee rejected an Amendment. There were 118 votes in the Government Lobby, yet only one noble Lord had sat on the Back Benches and heard my noble friend Lady Phillips advance the case on behalf of the Amendment. One noble Lord on the Back Benches, and 118 noble Lords trooped through the Division Lobby: 118 voted for the Government!
§ VISCOUNT DAVENTRY
How many noble Lords behind the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, are listening to what he is saying now?
§ LORD BESWICK
Very few—and when the laughter subsides I will tell the noble Lord why. The reason is that if all my noble friends came along—those who are sick and those who for other good reasons are not here—we could not possibly muster 118. We just do not have 118: we do not have a hundred. They say that that makes a mockery of this House and therefore decide not to interrupt their other affairs to come along here. I think that certain conclusions will be drawn by a good many people from the behaviour of the Government during the course of this Committee stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Remaining Schedule agreed to.
§ 10.36 p.m.
At the conclusion of our Committee stage I should like to thank my noble friends on the Front Bench who have been handling this Bill, and also my colleagues. Secondly, I should like to say that I myself rather regret the last words which fell from the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. But let that pass: I recognise the strength and sincerity of his feelings on this subject. I should like also, at the conclusion of the Committee stage, to thank the noble Lord for the way in which he helped through the usual channels to see that the business on this Bill, a very difficult one for all of us was conducted.
Having said that, I should like also to congratulate the Liberal Party on the notable new recruit they have just acquired.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I should like to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House, and particularly for his remarks to my noble friend the Opposition Chief Whip. This is a matter on which a number of people feel passionately, some more passionately than others. I will not repeat the criticisms that have been made with regard to the possibility of carrying Amendments against the Government. It is certainly unique in my experience that such a Bill has passed with 1426 out amendment. None the less, I think there is something to be said for the fact that for most of the time we have maintained our dignity; and it has not been easy for any of us. We shall return refreshed after an all-too-short holiday. As I have said before, we shall be working when the other place will not. We will see whether we can do something for our country then.
§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn—(Lord Denham.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, before putting the Question, may I remind my noble friend the Leader of the House that the Lord Chancellor by-Statute has a scat upon the head of the Earls' Bench?