HL Deb 09 May 1972 vol 330 cc906-26

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Viscount Eccles.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 1 [Independent Television Authority to be renamed Independent Broadcasting Authority]:

BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 7, line 1, leave out paragraph 6.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in asking you to consider removing from the Bill the paragraph which disqualifies Members of another place under the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957, I have of course consulted the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, who as a former Secretary of State for Education will be in charge of this measure in the other place. But although our own Leader in the Lords and the Leader in the other place agree that it would be better that this paragraph should not be included, we are not raising this as a narrow Party issue. Obviously room exists for differences of opinion on both sides of the House. But many of us are disquieted by the thought that your Lordships' House should disqualify the elected representatives of the people of this country without very sound reasons indeed.

We are all in favour of the general principles of the Disqualification Act 1957, but of course in listing the organisations which fall under that Act the distinguished Members responsible for it would be the first to agree that mistakes are possible. We are not living in the reign of George III. We are all totally opposed to corruption in any form. We all respect the fact that, whether speaking in another place or in your Lordships' House, if we have interests to declare we declare those interests. Sometimes they are interests in business, or of trade union members who have expenses paid by the union—financial interests. Sometimes, as when the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, spoke on the British Museum he was not speaking because he has a large salary but because he thought it proper to declare that he was Chairman of the Trustees of the British Museum. We are all agreed that we want to be careful in the extreme when we are dealing with Members of another place and that disqualification should take place when that is proper. Nobody is going to argue about the chairmen of nationalised boards and so on. There are white areas and black areas where the issue is quite clear; on the other hand, there are in between grey areas where we have to look at the matter very carefully indeed.

I should like to see the British Library Bill pass both Houses with all flags flying, as a measure agreed to by everyone. It is a most exciting and important measure. But some of us are still deeply disquieted about two elements in it, one of which is this automatic disqualification of Members of another place. Put in the simplest terms, if this is to be done I think we might leave the decision to the other place. Part of my anxiety arises from the fact that I consider that a great national library falls within the same area of public activity as looking after our great museums and galleries, the same area as looking after our national theatre. These are fields where traditionally distinguished men and women have given their services, and some of these distinguished men and women have come from the other place. One of the most effective features in all my experience there, an experience I have shared with many other Members of your Lordships' House, was that some Members of the other place had spent a lifetime in the service of special interests, sometimes having great experience of docks and transport or of health and education, and it seems to me extremely arbitrary that we should say that although a Member of another place may have spent many years in education at any level of education, or in library service, he or she should automatically be disqualified.

May I take a parallel example, not from the world of education, including libraries, but, for instance, the medical service? I have the permission of one of my colleagues in the other place to instance his situation. The Member to whom I refer is Mr. Laurie Pavitt. The Medical Research Council, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Northumberland, wanted so much to have a Member of the other place serving on their com mittee, and so they invited him. He was not able to receive the honorarium something like £750 or £1,000, but they wanted him badly because of his special qualifications. He serves on this corn-mince. This same Member has had a lifetime of experience in working with aural aids. Again, as a member of the Hearing Aid Council he is not allowed to receive the same small fee as other members. I have deliberately selected an example not from the universities or the world of education but from the world of people who are concerned with health. I could give a number of other illustrations where Members, although excluded from accepting an office of profit under the Crown, are nevertheless considered so valuable that they are invited to participate. It does seem to me a little odd that when someone in the other place has this kind of experience he or she cannot serve on the Board on the same terms as everyone else.

I believe that when we last discussed this matter one Member of your Lordships' House said, "Members of the House of Commons are too busy to do anything else". I consider that the other place would be a much poorer place if it were not for the fact that some Members earn their living in the City, some have trade union contacts, some are barristers and some journalists. I am a passionate Parliamentarian. I think one of the most dangerous trends in our country at the present moment is to denigrate the elected representatives of the people of Great Britain. Far too many of the young ones are turning away from Parliament. There is a great deal of industrial unrest. A great many working class people are turning away from it, saying that it does not count. The most effective Members of the other place are those who bring into it their experience in other fields. Surely if there is someone in another place who has had a lifetime interest in education or in libraries it is utterly wrong that that Member should be disbarred.

I am particularly concerned about this world of libraries, because the library has been almost the Holy Grail for working class people throughout the centuries, when they had nothing to help them after a hard day's labour apart from our free libraries, lending libraries, research libraries and the rest. Some people are extremely experienced and well-informed in this field. Possibly Members of another place would be exactly the type to be part-time members of this Board. I do not want to belabour the point, and I have said that I am not at the moment raising the question of remuneration. My views on this are very clear. I do not believe that part-time members ought to be paid salaries; I think they ought to be paid expenses, by way of travel expenses and subsistence allowance. The Hearing Aid Council is a very good example. The members receive a fee of £10 when they meet. However, when we are asking people to serve as part-time members of the Library Board we have to realise that they may have other duties and responsibilities. With the best will in the world they may find that they have to go abroad for a period of months, or maybe longer. How we pay them is another issue, but a related issue.

We have no problem at all if we simply eliminate this paragraph. I think that would be a gracious thing to do and thus leave this matter to be reconsidered by the other place, as it so definitely affects their interests. If the problem is "offices of profit under the Crown", I think it is rather ridiculous that if Members of the other place are so valuable when they are asked to serve they have to do so under terms different from other people. I see no insuperable difficulty. I believe that it is honourable that if Members come along to serve they should not be out of pocket, and that they should have an honorarium is splendid.

I hope that no Member of your Lordships' House will consider that this issue is related to the present argument about whether or not local councillors should be paid. We know perfectly well that there are wage earners who cannot serve on local councils if to do so means that they have to sacrifice their day's wages. That argument is totally irrelevant to this paragraph. Obviously professional workers, if they are librarians, professors, or vice-chancellors, are not going to have their pay docked if they have to come to London for one or two days, a week or a month. This is a real issue for wage earners, but it is totally irrelevant to what we are now discussing.

I think it would be a matter of grace that we should leave this matter to another place where, I assure your Lordships, it will be considered at length. If I may call the Paymaster General's atten tion to this fact, he himself, speaking on March 28, said, perfectly properly: Much is going to happen which we cannot now foresee so we think it would be unwise, at the outset, to lay down a hard and fast pattern of the Board's composition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28/3/72, col. 957.] We have to press the Paymaster General to tell us how often the Board or the advisory committees of the Library would meet. We have stressed that we would rather have a larger than a smaller number of part-time members as there will be so much work and so many different aspects to be considered. We have not pressed any of those matters. There is much about which we are in agreement. But I think that it would be gracious that your Lordships' House should agree to an Amendment which eliminates the disqualification of Members of the other place so that this matter may be fully discussed there, and if some of the considerations which I consider relevant weigh with them then I think we would accept their judgment. I feel it desirable that this Amendment should be accepted and this paragraph eliminated from the Bill.

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, I have considerable sympathy for the views expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge. I do not know whether I understand the situation entirely correctly, but if I do not I have no doubt that the noble Viscount the Paymaster General will correct me. As I see it, paragraph 5 of the Schedule does not require the Secretary of State to pay non-executive members of the Board. It is only permissive. But read with paragraph 6 of the Schedule it creates a strong presumption that all the members should be paid. I believe that we should not throw away too hastily the principle of voluntary service. I certainly see no objection to Members of the other place being members of the Library Board. We have a most useful Member of the other place on the Board of the British Museum. I therefore think that we should not in this question close our options unnecessarily. I would add that this is not an example of the pernicious doctrine of equation of misery arising from the fact that I am myself an unpaid member of a comparable body. In general I support the views of the noble Baroness.


My Lords, as your Lordships will have recently noted, I am still a very inexperienced Member of this Chamber, learning my way with difficulty. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, has made out a powerful case for this Amendment, which I am happy to support. I have always wanted to see many of the disqualifications mentioned in the Act of 1957 reconsidered. For instance, the Act disqualifies: a soldier, a policeman, members of the I.T.A., the National Coal Board, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Directors of Remploy, the officials of Chelsea Hospital, town clerks, county council clerks, and a Schedule of over 100 officers and persons from becoming Members of Parliament. If this Amendment is not accepted we shall add yet another to the list of disqualifications.

I speak from long experience of being disqualified. During the quarter of a century that I was a teacher I was ineligible to hold one of the precious rights of a citizen, that of standing as a candidate for the town council, because I was employed by the town council. That was a disqualification that I shared with all municipal or local government workers.

There was a curious idea that this group of workers, if they had their full civic rights, might somehow be corrupted and use their position as elected members corruptly. I am proud to belong to the cleanest democracy in the world; incorrupt and incorruptible. I would never support anything which in any way led to the possibility of corruption coming into our public life, of which I am so proud. However, I refuse to believe that when the Minister is instructed to select for the Board persons, who appear to him to have knowledge and experience of library or university affairs, finance, industry or administration he should be compelled to reject automatically any such person with any one or some of those qualifications simply because he happens to be a Member of Parliament. To be a Member of Parliament ought not to be a disqualification for an office, unless it can be clearly shown that in such an office his being a Member of Parliament would lay him open to corruption, or to act corruptly.

I hope that the noble Viscount will accept this Amendment.


My Lords, may I add a footnote to the speeches which have been made, which I support 100 per cent.? The emphasis so far has been laid, quite properly, on the disadvantage of exclusion. I would rather emphasise the disadvantage of impoverishment. It surely is not beyond the reach of imagination that there may be in the other place people whose services would be more valuable than the alternatives. Automatically to debar availing ourselves of such services seems to me to be an unnecessary sacrifice. I choose my examples indiscriminately from the history of the past. Surely the noble Viscount will agree that a Board of this sort would have been embellished by the presence in its numbers of, let us say, the late Earl Balfour when he was still Mr. Balfour, an ornament of science and learning, the late Lord Morley, when Mr. Morley, one of the most celebrated literary men of the time, or the late Mr. Burns who himself was a great bibliophile. It seems to me that reflecting on possibilities of that sort lends a certain amount of support to the Amendment of the noble Baroness.


My Lords, I am sorry to disagree with my noble friend, and I can only repeat shortly what I think I said on the Committee stage when the noble Baroness moved a somewhat similar Amendment. The first duty of Members of the other place is to the other place, and as time goes on those duties become increasingly exacting. I do not think that references to distinguished men such as the noble Lord, Lord Morley, have great relevance now, since in his time Parliament was very much more a part-time occupation than it is to-day. There may be occasional exceptions, but my experience, serving on a number of departmental and inter-departmental committees, is that Members of Parliament nearly always have to give priority to their Parliamentary duties, and it is very difficult for them to be effective, regular attenders at the meetings. This is going to be a very important and specialised job which I think is going to call for continuous attention, and I believe the time has now come when we must recognise that Members of Parliament are not able to give that kind of attention to duties outside their Parliamentary duties.


My Lords, I have come to your Lordships' House this afternoon uninstructed in the issue which the noble Baroness was going to raise. I should like to make one point which I think is important from the point of view of Members of another place. It is true that with the increasing pressures of business in the other place on their energies a great deal of their time must necessarily be occupied with the business of the House of Commons, but one of the disadvantages which many of us who served in another place felt was the fact that we were disqualified from and unable to take part in many other branches of public life which were of particular interest to us. Those who are destined for high ministerial office naturally wish to give the whole or most of their time to the work of Parliament, but there are many Members with great experience who are not destined for high office and who have a personal contribution to make to many of the matters in which they have experience outside their political life.

I think it would not be to the disadvantage of another place if this disqualification were not applied in this case. I think it would be to the advantage of that House if Members were allowed to take part in the work of this body from the point of view of their membership of the House of Commons. Further, I believe that a Member of Parliament who has a fairly wide view of the various public issues which come before Parliament in the course of his Parliamentary career can make to the work of a highly specialised body of this sort a special contribution which is sometimes not available from others, however expert in the narrower field of the work of libraries. They cannot give the same sort of service in advice and guidance to a body of this importance.


My Lords, I think we are getting on to rather dangerous ground. We are pretending that we have the right to say what kind of people shall be elected to the other House. That is rather outside the scope of our privileges. I do not want to argue about offices of profit under the Crown. whether it is right that they should be accepted by Members of the other place or whether the present list of proscribed offices is too wide or too narrow. All I want to say is that we are here as a non-elected House attempting to dictate how Member of the elected House shall conduct themselves and whether they shall or shall not be able to accept one kind of post. If this Bill had come from the other place with this clause in it, thereby signifying that the other place had given it its approval, I should be inclined to say that we had every right to discuss it. But this Bill originated in this House and here are we, non-elected people, daring to say to the elected House of Parliament that its Members shall do this or shall not do that. The best thing would be to cross the provision out of the Bill and let the other place put it in if they want it; and we could then accept it with the graciousness which is a characteristic of your Lordships' House.

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, this is a very interesting point and I am grateful for the variety of views we have had, both this time and on the Committee stage. On the Committee stage, in addition to advice from the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, we had the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher. He reminded us that he took a prominent part when the House of Commons Disqualification Bill was going through Parliament. I must say that the sentiments which have been expressed to-day are very different from those which were expressed when Parliament agreed, I think without a Party Division—though I may be wrong on this—to the House of Commons Disqualification Act. The fact that the paragraph is in this Bill merely reflects the precedent that has been followed since the Act was passed when public bodies were set up which were of a management type supplying services to the nation, which is the case with the British Library.

I think we want to look at what sort of Board this is. In previous debates we looked, I think, at the two possible models. We could have nut all the executive emphasis into the full-time staff and had as the governing body a body of trustees which would have been, no doubt, a much larger body than that now proposed and which would have been representative of a number of interests. That your Lordships discarded in favour of the proposal in the Bill which is to set up a management Board. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with all the arguments I have made before, but I think the type of institution which we are now creating is one in which it is much better that the policy-making and the responsibility for the execution of that policy should rest on a number of full-time members of a comparatively small Board supported by a comparatively small number of part-time members who will none the less have a very real function to perform.

That being the case, we agreed on previous clauses in the Bill that the Secretary of State should have the power to pay a salary both to the full-time members and to the part-time members. That was no new precedent. That has been done in a large number of cases, some of which are very similar to the kind of institution we are setting up now. I quoted instances on the Committee stage and I will not do so again. But once we have done that and have settled for a management Board where the Secretary of State can pay every member, I think it becomes extremely difficult, in terms of the debates in another place on the House of Commons Disqualification Act, to make an exception of this Board.

Of course it is possible that some men and women who are invited to join as part-time members may say, "I do not wish to be paid." But I do not see that the principle of voluntary service is in any way affected, because when someone wishes—and I hope that there may be many with the appropriate experience—to serve part-time without being paid, all he or she has to do is to say to the Secretary of State, "I wish to do this as a voluntary service." On the other hand, as we have found out in many instances already, there will be men and women who perhaps do not wish to go on in their full-time jobs but wish to do some public service and who will say, "I should like to be a part-time member of this Board. How much work is there?" They will undoubtedly be told that there is a very considerable amount of work for them to do, and they will say, "I am afraid I cannot accept that, with my family responsibilities and so on, unless I have a small salary." That is nothing new; it is what is already done in the case of ten, twenty or thirty boards, and I am bound to say that I think we are right to follow that principle.

If the principle had not been well established, I could quite understand the force of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, that since this Bill has begun in the House of Lords and this is a paragraph affecting Members of another place we ought to leave it to them to put it in. But as the principle is so well established I do not think that that is a valid argument. Furthermore, in almost all of these cases there have to be two Members, one from each side, which makes the position very difficult with so small a Board. I do not think that this is the type of management Board, providing services to the public, where membership of another place is appropriate. Therefore, I must ask the House to reject the Amendment.

3.24 p.m.


My Lords, this has proved to be an extremely interesting debate, and different views have been expressed regardless of the nature of the Parties to which we belong. I must admit that when my noble friend discussed with me the possibility of putting down this Amendment I had a number of doubts very much along the lines of those which the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has expressed. But I am now bound to say that I think there is a case for letting the other place decide on this matter. To some extent, I am led to that view by the noble Viscount's own speech. I give him a great deal of credit in regard to the British Library, more so than I do in regard to museum charges, and therefore I do not start with a pre-justice in this matter. But if I may make my case in general terms, my criticism of the way this Board is formed is that it follows too closely the pattern of a nationalised industry; and it is quite normal for hard-worked civil servants to look for satisfactory precedents. Furthermore, I am not very wedded to the idea of the British Museum Trustee solution, which has in the past sometimes led to some excitement in your Lordships' House. In relation to this particular institution, I feel that we are really looking for something which is halfway between the board of a nationalised industry and the national museums.

The noble Viscount referred to Clause 2 and the composition of the Board. I see his point about a management board. I am sorry that there is no reference to representation of the Royal Society or the British Academy, but I shall not raise that issue now. But having heard the argument to-day, I do not see why we need specifically to exclude Members of another place. I should like to take up the point which my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger, and others of my noble friends, mentioned, of the ability of Members of Parliament to undertake a duty of this sort. I strongly agree with my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge that at this stage in our development—and as the Second Chamber we are entitled to discuss this matter—we do not wish to see Members of Parliament being employed full-time elsewhere. As the noble Lord, Lord Alport, pointed out, one of the problems which increasingly confronts Parliament with modern developments is its loss of contact with the difficulties which Governments and Members have to face. So I think there is a most powerful case for involving Members of Parliament, where possible, in public service.

On the question of offices of profit, I am bound to say that the views of a former Speaker of the House of Commons carry very great weight with me. Our concern to prevent corruption in public life dates from an earlier age and, in certain respects, I believe that we are seriously handicapping ourselves by the way in which the offices of profit constraint is applied. But, in any case, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, himself gave the answer to this, by saying that there is no obligation on anybody to receive remuneration. Indeed, this bar does not apply to members of advisory councils who are also entitled to receive fees which I should have assumed were technically honoraria of the kind to which my noble friend referred. Therefore, in the context of the Board as I conceive it to be, I should have thought there was a place for the widest possible choice. I was once asked to retire from a hoard because, although there was no pay attached to the job, it suddenly became a disqualified board.

Although this is very much a matter for another place, I think it is slightly absurd. In any case, I question whether the noble Viscount has accurately described this body as a small management board. A management board in industry generally refers to a board of full-time executives operating below board level, which usually contains a number of part-time directors. Since there is provision for such part-time members of the Board I am bound to conclude, unless the noble Viscount tells me that they will all be engaged in some sort of executive action on two or three days a week, that depending on their time and energy, their activities will be confined to something like one meeting a month or one meeting a fortnight, which service it is fully within the capacity of Members of another place to give if they wish.

I give full credit to the noble Viscount's energy and to the way in which he has come to his conclusions. But the value of a debate such as this is that it opens up new ideas, and I hope very much that he may see his way to accept my noble friend's Amendment and to let the matter go to another place. It will then be for the Government to consider further what is appropriate in this difficult matter. Personally, I should like to see this question of office of profit raised; and since we know that another place are extremely remiss in looking after their own interests, as we have seen in the way they have suffered under low pay and their opportunity for service, I think there is much to be said—and I have come to this view only on balance—for making this useful Amendment, which still leaves it open to another place to take a further look at the matter.


My Lords, I sincerely hope that the Minister will have second thoughts on this Amendment and will be prepared to accept it, because I should be most interested in the debate that would follow in the other place if such an Amendment went into that Chamber for debate and discussion. I followed the point of view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Alport, and there is quite a lot behind it. I well remember many years ago travelling with a Member from the other place on a delegation. The salary which was fixed at that time was running at £1,000 a year, and I remember his saying to me, "Joe, £1,000 a year is no use to me; I shall have to take another job". And what was he looking for? He was looking for a job as a director of a particular firm or firms, as the case may be. This sort of thing operates on both sides of the House, so far as the other place is concerned, just as it operates in your Lordships' House. Some people endeavoured to get me to take over a directorship, but I said, "I am an old-age pensioner, and I want nothing to do with it." Therefore, I am an old-age pensioner living just on my retirement pension and superannuation.

But I could not agree with one part of the sentiment expressed by my noble friend Lady Lee in regard to the part-time member. The part-time member of any board, whatever board it may be, can play a very useful part in debate and discussion on the running of the particular organisation. Many of them are there for consultation, and in their consultative capacity are able to give sound advice on the running of a particular industry, or whatever it may be. I am all on the side of the part-time member receiving a form of recognition, but not in the way cited by my noble friend, of a subsistence allowance for coming down to London from, say, the North-East, or from Scotland, or from wherever else it may be, spending two or three days here and then going away back, while other people may be sitting upon that particular board and, because they are full-time members of the executive, may be receiving a fabulous salary. I do not agree with that type of policy. I believe that the part-time member, if he is qualified to sit there and be recognised because of his abilities, ought to receive adequate remuneration for the services that he is rendering in the running of that particular organisation. I sincerely hope that the Minister, as he considers what has already been said by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, will let this matter go to the other place and will let the people along the corridor "have a go" at it, because I should be most interested to read some of

the speeches which would be delivered should such an Amendment go there for debate and discussion.


My Lords, I was hoping that this modest Amendment could be accepted by the entire House, but as there is obviously some disagreement I am afraid that, as we have not managed to convince the Paymaster General that it would be gracious to leave this paragraph out, in those circumstances I must press the Amendment to a vote.


My Lords, I feel I must say just one more word, because I think there is some misunderstanding here. The precedent is to put this paragraph in. If your Lordships were to take it out, it would be your Lordships who would be interfering with the precedent which has in recent years been established in another place. I have been told by several noble Lords that we ought to leave this paragraph in so that the other place may have an opportunity to debate it. What a suggestion to the other place! All they have to do in another place, if they care about it, as certain noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite have said they do, is to move to leave it out again there and to have their discussion. There is nothing that we can do to limit the discussion in another place. It sounds, listening to some of your Lordships, as though we were pre-empting the discussion on disqualification of Members of Parliament. We are doing nothing of the kind; and since the precedent is to have this in the Bill—and I am prepared to believe that precedents should sometimes be overruled—let the other place, whose business it is, move to leave this paragraph out and discuss that on their Amendment. I see no reason whatever, in consideration of the duties of another place, why we should move this paragraph out of the Bill.

3.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 59; Not-Contents, 105.

Alport, L. Birk, Bs. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Archibald, L. Blyton, L. Colyton, L.
Ardwick, L. Brockway, L. Crook, L.
Avebury, L. Brown, L. Davies of Leek, L.
Diamond, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Segal, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Jacques, L. Shackleton, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Leatherland, L. Shepherd, L.
Feversham, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Slater, L.
Fiske, L. McLeavy, L. Stamp, L.
Fulton, L. Maybray-King, L. Stocks, Bs.
Gardiner, L. Nunburnholme, L. Strabolgi, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Summerskill, Bs.
George-Brown, L. Platt, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L
Granville-West, L. Popplewell, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Reay, L. Trevelyan, L.
Gridlev, L. Robbins, L. Walston, L.
Hale, L. Rusholme, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hall, V. Sainsbury, L. White, Bs.
Henderson, L. St. Davids, V. Williamson, L.
Hoy, L. [Teller.] Samuel, V.
Aberdare, L. Elgin and Kincardine, E. Mansfield, E.
Albemarle, E. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Mar, E.
Amherst, E. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Amulree, L. Falkland, V. Milverton, L.
Ashbourne, L. Fortescue, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Atholl, D. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Moyne, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Goschen, V. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Balogh, L. Gowrie, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Beauchamp, E. Greenway, L. Oakshott, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Grenfell, L. Ogmore, L.
Belstead, L Grimston of Westbury, L. Penrhyn, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Guildford, L. Bp. Perth, E.
Bethell, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. L. (L. Chancellor.) Portsmouth, L. Bp.
Blackford, L. Rankeillour, L.
Bourne, L. Hankey, L. Redcliffe-Maud, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hawke, L. Redesdale, L.
Brooks of Cumnor, L. Henley, L. Reigate, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs Howard of Glossop, L. Ridley, V.
Camoys, L. Ilford, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Carrington, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Rowallan, L.
Clwyd, L. Killearn, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Coleraine, L. Kilmany, L. Sackville, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Kindersley, L. Sandford, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Kings Norton, L. Sempill, Ly.
Cowley, E. Latymer, L. Stonehaven, V.
Craigavon, V. Limerick, E. Strang, L.
Cranbrook, E Long, V. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Crathorne, L. Lothian, M. Strathcarron, L
Daventry, V. Loudoun, C. Sudeley, L.
de Clifford, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Thomas, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Luke. L. Vernon, L.
Derwent, L. Lyell, L. Vivian, L.
Digby, L. MacAndrew, L. Willingdon, M.
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, Bs. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Dulverton, L. Mancroft, L. Young, Bs. [Teller.]
Eccles, V.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Provision by Authority of local sound broadcasting services]:

3.45 p.m.

VISCOUNT ECCLES moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 7, line 37, leave out from ("collections") to end of line 45 and insert ("but subject to the following sub-paragraphs.

(4) The power of the Board to dispose of an article transferred to them by section 3(1)(a) of this Act shall be exercisable only if—

  1. (a) it is a duplicate of another article in the Board's collections (whether or not so transferred), or
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  3. (b) it appears to the Board to have been printed not earlier than the year 1850, and a copy of that article made by photography or a process akin to photography is held by the Board, or
  4. (c) in the opinion of the Board it is unfit to be retained in their collections and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students;
but the Board may transfer such an article to the trustees of the British Museum (Natural History) where they are satisfied that it would be more appropriately held with the collections of that Museum.

(5) Where any property in the hands of the Board (whether or not transferred to them under section 3(1)(a) of this Act) is subject to any trust or condition—

  1. (a) they shall not dispose of or deal with it in any manner inconsistent with the trust or condition; and
  2. (b) it shall be subject to the same trust or condition in the hands of any person acquiring it from the Board.")

The noble Viscount said: Your Lordships will remember that on Committee stage I accepted an Amendment which moved into the Bill words from the British Museum Act 1963, with the idea that the Board of the British Library should have precisely the same powers and obligations in respect of the disposal and the lending of objects as the present Museum Trustees. I find that that Amendment was defective in wording, and I am therefore asking your Lordships to replace it with the words which appear on the Order Paper. These make the necessary Amendments from the British Museum Act 1963 which are consistent with a board which is managing only the Library and not the antiquities as well. Further, my noble friend Lord Cranbrook, with his usual perspicacity, pointed out that there was another section in the 1963 Act, Section 9(1), under which the Trustees of the British Museum had power to transfer objects to the Natural History Museum. He asked us to bring those powers into this Bill so that the new Board would be in exactly the same position as had been the Trustees of the British Museum. That we do in subsection (5) of my Amendment. I hope that this meets the wishes of the House, and I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount for having with this Amendment met the points I raised. On the other hand, it does not go quite so far as Section 9 of the Act, in so far as the Trustees of the Natural History Museum will have no power (save to lend for research purposes) of transferring anything from their Library to the British Library. The Library in the Natural History Museum was originally intended, and is still intended, to provide the working tools of the scientists who work there. A great many of the books were printed before 1850 and are as important now as the day they were printed. But here I should say I am speaking of my own opinion and not necessarily that of my colleagues. There are a number of books there which would be far more appro priately held in the British Library, where they would be readily accessible to students other than biologists, but I think the Trustees at the Natural History Museum would not have the power to transfer them to the British Library; although they would still have the power to transfer them to the British Museum at Bloomsbury. Perhaps the noble Viscount can consider this point between now and the Third Reading. It could be important. There are books there of great interest to bibliophiles purely as bibliophiles, and also to people interested in the history of science, who would in future find them in the scientific part of the British Library, where they would be much more readily accessible. Perhaps the noble Viscount could consider this matter and slightly extend this Amendment to put the British Library in relation to the Natural History Museum on all fours with the present position of the British Museum at Bloomsbury.


My Lords, I confess that this is a new point to me. I did not know that the Library of the Natural History Museum contained books which perhaps would be better kept in the British Library. Certainly it is something we ought to look at, and I assure my noble friend that I will look at it between now and Third Reading.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words from the Opposition Bench in support of the Amendment. I think we are indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, who raised this matter on Second Reading and in Committee. He mentioned particularly the Banks Papers. I hope that this matter will soon be resolved and the question whether or not they should be part of the main collection will be decided. I agree with the noble Earl that the Government Amendment, which we welcome, does not go far enough. Section 9 of the British Museum Act 1963, to which the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, drew attention during the Committee stage, is much more flexible and fluid. It allows transfers not only to the Natural History Museum but also to all the institutions listed in the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act 1954. These include the Victoria and Albert Museum. I should have thought that here there was a case for certain transfers back. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a large holding of Dickens material. It was bequeathed to the Museum and has been looked after admirably. It made the nucleus of a most wonderful Dickens Exhibition a year or two ago. But there well may come a time, a few years hence, when it will be thought that this important holding of one of our greatest authors should be part of the main British Library reference section. That is just one of the problems with which we are faced.

There is also the question of duplicates. The Amendment says that the Board will have the right under sub-paragraph (4)(a) to dispose of any article if it is a duplicate. I hope that they will proceed with considerable caution. There is a fashion growing up of thinking that libraries should dispose of duplicates, and I think it very important to ensure that one does not dispose of items which are not duplicates but only variants. The Newberry Library in Chicago disposed of a great deal of its holding recently. It is, of course, a very fine library, but it is mainly a research library and not a complete reference library like the reference section of the British Library. I am sure that we may all have confidence in the Board not to dispose of anything not thought to be a duplicate.

On the other hand, one has no quarrel with the disposal of material not earlier than 1850. I remember very well the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, telling us during the passage of the British Museum Act that this will refer mainly to material printed after 1850 which is on wood pulp and not rag paper and deteriorates much more quickly, so it is better kept on microfilm. I am rather surprised that the last subsection of the British Museum Act, Section 5(3), has been left out. Under the British Museum Act, for any disposals of that kind the trustees can reclaim the money to acquire other items, and that seems to me a most laudable idea. In the present Bill this would go against the provision in Clause 5(2) requiring any moneys received by the Board in any financial year to be paid into the Consolidated Fund. There may be good reasons why the British Museum Act allowed the Trustees to keep money raised from disposals which do not apply to the Board of the British Library. I shall be interested to hear from the noble Viscount why that is so. Apart from that point, I should like to say that from this side of the House we support the Government Amendment.


My Lords, if I may have your Lordships' indulgence, I can perhaps answer the last point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I think it is that when the British Museum Trustees were building up their library they did not have these large acquisition grants every year, now more than £600,000. Therefore nowadays the retention of the money when they sell a few books does not mean very much. What they want all the time is larger sums granted to them for the purchase of books of all kinds that they do not receive by deposit. So probably the reason for that has been overcome by the great increase in their grants for acquisition. I will look at the other point raised by the noble Lord, but on the whole I think there will not be very much chance of a transfer between one institution and another.