§ 6.41 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. I should like to say a word or two about the Bill before parting with it because we have spent quite a long time on it. May I begin by thanking all noble Lords who have contributed so effectively to the proceedings on the Bill and for giving your Lordships the benefit of their experience and their wisdom.
I suggest that the Bill has been much improved during the consideration which it has received in your Lordships' House. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, will agree that the Government have been very ready to take account of suggestions for its improvement so as to strengthen the provision which it makes for the protection of consumers. I should like to mention in particular the Amendment which your Lordships agreed to in Clause 124 following suggestions made in Committee by noble Lords opposite, which will place the Director General under a duty to encourage trade associations to prepare codes of practice with the object of promoting the interests of consumers. But many useful new technical improvements have been introduced. Your Lordships received this Bill from another place with 130 clauses and we shall return it with 140 clauses. This is not inflation. I am not sure that in itself this is a matter for congratulation, but in this particular case I am quite sure that the additions made to the Bill represent considerable improvements. Your Lordships have added to the Bill two clauses (Nos. 97 and 98) dealing with the position of wholesale co-operative societies under the restrictive practices legislation, and one clause (No. 106) dealing with industrial and provident societies. These changes were made in response to representations from the Cooperative Movement and were put forward on Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, and I was glad to note the welcome which they received from noble Lords opposite.
Your Lordships have also added Clause 99, on agreements relating to coal and steel. As my noble friend Lord Limerick explained when introducing it at the Report stage, this clause will ensure that producers in this country are at no competitive disadvantage as compared with 903 their European counterparts. But I suggest that the greatest improvement made to the Bill is its extension to cover the troublesome matter of pyramid selling, and I was very glad that it was possible, with the co-operation of the whole House to extend the Bill by the addition of six further clauses constituting an entirely new Part on this subject. It is our intention that the powers conferred by this new Part should be vigorously exercised, and I hope we can eliminate once and for all the trading practices which have caused so much hardship to unsuspecting people.
I should like once again to thank noble Lords in all parts of the House for the welcome that they have given this Bill, and for the co-operation that they have shown in getting it through so expeditiously. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ LORD JACQUES
My Lords, we on this side of the House would like to compliment the Ministers concerned on the way in which they have steered this Bill through the House. We believe that on the whole it is a good Bill. We are grateful for some of the Amendments which did get through, particularly the ones concerning codes of practice and the two which related to the Co-operative Movement.
Of course there are certain disappointments. Particularly are we disappointed that not even just a little initiative was given to the Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. We believe that to be a psychological error. However, we have been pleased to co-operate with the Government in getting this Bill through the House and we hope that it will in practice achieve as much as it promises in theory.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Admendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.