HL Deb 13 June 1975 vol 361 cc605-53
The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Earl of LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [The Welsh Development Agency.]


Before the noble Lord moves Amendment No. 14 may I make one correction to the Hansard report of yesterday's proceedings, in which it is stated that I referred to the Vale of Clwyd, which appears in Hansard as the "Vale of Clewedd". I shall not be permitted to return to Wales if that error rests upon the record unamended.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 2, line 43, at end insert— ("Provided that nothing in this section shall authorise the Agency to acquire any securities, land, premises, plant, machinery or equipment otherwise than with the consent of the person entitled thereto.")

The noble Lord said: I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord for having put us right, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, will be equally glad to hear of the correction.

I beg to move Amendment No. 14, but merely in order to explain why I shall withdraw the Amendment and why I shall not be moving some other Amendments. This is because various Amend- ments appear on the Marshalled List today for which we had very full explanations during the course of consideration of the Scottish Development Agency (No. 2) Bill yesterday. One of them was the point covered by Amendment No. 14, in respect of which a very acceptable explanation was given by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, as to why this was not a satisfactory Amendment.

I also wish to give notice that I shall not be moving the highly technical Amendments on Clauses 16 and 17, that is, Amendments Nos. 27 to 35, all of which were gone into in very great detail in the Committee stage on the Scottish Bill and in relation to which full answers were given by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, which we can perfectly well study in Hansard without the need to go through all those points again. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment since I am quite happy with the explanation already given in relation to the Scottish Bill.


On behalf of the Government Benches I wish to thank the noble Lord for that most generous and helpful intervention early in our proceedings, which will have the happy result of expediting them considerably.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord LLOYD of KILGERRAN had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 15: Page 3, line 1, after ("Secretary of State") insert ("or, when it is set up, the Welsh Assembly")

The noble Lord said: In view of what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said on Amendment No. 3, I propose not to move Amendment No. 15.

11.10 a.m.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 16: Page 3, line 8. leave out ("or specific").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 16. Under subsection (7), the Secretary of State may give the Agency directions of a general or specific character as to the exercise of their functions. … It seems to us that the Secretary of State should perhaps be in a position to give directions of a general character, but not necessarily of a specific character. We nope that when the Agency come into being they will be people of high standing. We come later in the Bill to some of the qualifications that they are to possess, and I am sure that the appointments that are made will be of people of high responsibility. Therefore it seems rather unnecessary that the Secretary of State should be given powers to give them specific directions about the exercise of their functions.

I notice that in another Bill, which has not yet started on its progress in another place—the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill—there is a similar provision in Clause 4(2) which states: The Secretary of State may give directions of a general character as to the exercise and performance by either Corporation of its functions … I should have thought that this was right—that the Secretary of State should have powers to give general directions; but I am not happy that he should be in a position to give specific directions. Therefore this Amendment seeks to remove the word "specific". I beg to move.


It is a very difficult matter to draw a distinction between the word "general" and the word "specific". It is a matter which arose in Committee in another place and my honourable friend, the Member for Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green and Bow, quoted Lord Evershed on the matter of the distinction between "general" and "specific" where direction ceases to be general and becomes specific.

The Welsh Development Agency will have very wide terms of reference with a diverse range of functions and a pioneering role. The Agency will have considerable amounts of public money at its disposal and will, in the course of its work, be involved in sensitive matters affecting industry and employment. The Agency's impact on the economy of Wales will be substantial. It is desirable, therefore, that my right honourable friend, as the Minister responsible for economic planning in Wales, should be able in the last resort to exercise both general and specific control.

The powers of general direction alone have in the past proved unsatisfactory. General directions have often been found to be specific in nature and, therefore, ultra vires. Given all the different circumstances that might arise, it would be extremely difficult to try to provide for all occasions when control may be desirable. The power of specific direction will provide a flexible means of control and there is a statutory obligation in subsection (8) on my right honourable friend to consult the Agency before he issues a direction. All such directions will be published in the Agency's annual report. My right honourable friend will be accountable to Parliament for the issue—or, indeed, the failure to issue—such directions, just as he would be in relation to the exercise of any other administrative functions. Directions will not concern the day-to-day running of the Agency; they will be designed to ensure that the Agency implements the strategic decisions taken by the Secretary of State. It has been said that the directions may not be known until 18 months or so after the event. This is to ignore the fact that without provision for specific directions clearly in the Bill any such directions dealt with unofficially, as it were behind the scenes, would not come to Parliament's attention at all. I understand the reasons of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for putting this forward, and I hope that he will accept this explanation. A similar explanation was put forward by my noble friend Lord Hughes in the Committee stage of the Scottish Development Agency (No. 2) Bill.


May I interrupt for a moment or two? Having looked carefully in the Oxford English Dictionary for he word "specific" and also for the word "function", I find that anything specific has a special or determining quality; and before the Minister could have a determining quality, being an intelligent Minister (as all Welshmen are), he would take advice from all those in his office. The word "function" can have a meaning in physics or mechanics and also in the beautiful language of any tongue in the world. "Function" means action proper to anything. Consequently, there are limitations on the word "function". It does not become specific if it is improper to a function. In other words, there are safeguards on the Minister. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who is such a congenial Welshman, will not press this Amendment.


I scarcely dare try to add to what my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek has said so clearly and so well, but one would have thought the word "specific" in this sense was meant to be either "general specific" or "specific general". Clearly it is not meant to be detailed. One would have thought that the word "specific" was quite diffferent from the word "detailed".

It reminds me a little of what many of your Lordships must remember: that is, the contract reached between the Webbs when they got married. Sydney Webb was to be responsible for all major decisions and Beatrice for all minor decisions; but the decision was left to Beatrice as to which was major and which was minor. I think we are always in this difficulty when discussing such words as "general" and "specific". But as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has rightly made the point, I should have thought that it would be regarded as clear from what my noble friend Lord Lovell-Davis has said that this is not meant to deal with the day-to-day and minor affairs.


I scarcely dare open my mouth in a Welsh debate, but I must say that it seems to me to be going very far when we have to get the opinion of a learned judge to define the simple words "specific" and "general". Surely it cannot be left to him to do that. I sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on this.


I hardly dare enter into a battle of semantics; but surely the word "specific" means something that the Secretary of State specifies. Is that not good enough?


I am also a little bewildered at the way this debate has gone. I am grateful for some English assistance from the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, but I accept what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis, in his reply. However, I should like to go a little further into what he said about the accountability of the Secretary of State to Parliament; and this arises on the next Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.19 a.m.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 17.

Page 3, line 12, at end insert— ("( ) No direction shall be given to the Agency in pursuance of subsection (7) above unless a draft of the document containing it has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.")

The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment which seeks to ensure that any directions that may be given by the Secretary of State, whether they be general or specific in character, will be drawn to the attention of Parliament. We have been critical throughout the Bill of the lack of Parliamentary accountability by the Secretary of State or the Agency which is his agent. Therefore, I have sought in this clause to insert a new subsection, which reads: No direction shall be given to the Agency in pursuance of subsection (7) above unless a draft of the document containing it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

I also have a precedent for this. I hope that noble Lords opposite will not be able to say anything about the wording of the clause because it is based on the Policyholders Protection Bill of Clause 2(2), which reads: No guidance shall be given to the Board in pursuance of subsection (1) above unless a draft of the document containing it has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament. In that case it is a question of the Secretary of State giving guidance to that Board. So I think the suggestion I am making is fully precedented and is the kind of provision which, if it is reasonable in the case of the Policyholders Protection Bill, should also be considered reasonable in the Welsh Development Agency (No. 2) Bill. I beg to move.


The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that before the Secretary of State gives any direction to the Agency a draft of the document containing the direction has to be approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament. The Committee will appreciate that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will, of course, at all times be directly accountable to Parliament for any direction which he may give to the Agency. The Agency's annual report will continue details of the direction so nothing is being hidden, there will be nothing up his sleeve. With the exception of the provision we have just discussed for powers specific in addition to general directions, there will be no more Ministerial control over the Agency in the Bill than is normal in any Bill setting up a public corporation.

To provide for every power to require Parliamentary approval in its exercise, and for every direction to have to receive Parliamentary approval, could overburden Parliament—which is already substantially overburdened—and could also unnecessarily frustrate Executive action which may be needed. There could well be a situation where urgent action was required and Parliament was in Recess. I respectfully submit that it is not practicable to accept this Amendment. The inevitable delay caused by the mechanics of getting Parliamentary consent would excessively limit the use of the power.

In conclusion, may I say that as my noble friend Lord Hughes indicated in the debate on Tuesday on the Scottish Bill, we are considering whether a satisfactory formula can be found to make it clear that the Secretary of State will inform Parliament promptly except where to do so would clearly be damaging in the national interest. I hope that what I have said will reassure the noble Lord and indeed the Committee.


That was my second barrel—to refer to the undertakings which have been given by the noble Lord. Lord Hughes, in the Scottish Bill. I realise that to require the Affirmative procedure could well be cumbersome, and on the assurance which the noble and learned Lord has given I am satisfied and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


May I ask one point on the Question, whether the clause shall stand part of the Bill? In the course of Second Reading, we were told that there were to he working guidelines drawn up, and indeed published, on the relationship between the Welsh Development Agency and the National Enterprise Board. May I ask whether these guidelines have yet been drawn up and when they are likely to be published?


To some extent, I can satisfy the noble Lord. He referred specifically to the operation of the Development Agency guidelines in regard to the NED. The noble Lord will recall that in the Committee stage of the Scottish Development Agency (No. 2) Bill, my noble friend Lord Hughes offered to make a statement on this matter on Third Reading. No doubt that will clarify the matter and I hope it will provide the information which the noble Lord seeks. As to the guidelines on the operation of the various Agencies, work is going ahead on this and the Government will undertake to make them clear in due course.

Baroness WHITE

Before we part with this clause, I should be most grateful if my noble and learned friend could give publicly the assurances that were given privately to the local authorities in Wales, about the way in which this clause could affect their activities in the industrial field. In the spring they had consultation with Mr. Rowlands, who is no longer at the Welsh office and has gone to the Foreign Office, and I understand that he then gave certain assurances. I am asked by the Welsh Counties Committee and by the Council for the Principality and the Association of District Councils whether these assurances could be repeated publicly in the House.

Noble Lords will appreciate that some local authorities in Wales have been very active indeed in promoting industry in their areas, particularly by the purchase and preparation of industrial sites. These matters are referred to in subsections (3) and (5) of the clause, particularly in paragraphs (h), (j) and (k) of subsection (5). There will be further reference in Clause 19 to the power to acquire land for industrial purposes. In Clause 19 there is no obligation on the part of the Agency to consult with local authorities. They have to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State, and one would naturally assume that consultations would take place. There has been certain apprehension, and those local authorities which have been particularly active would not wish that their knowledge and expertise, and their wishes for the development of industry in their area, should be in any way detrimentally affected by this Bill. It would be very helpful if we could have some such assurance.


I am happy to give those assurances for which my noble friend has asked. I confess that I was not present at the confidential discussions which took place between my noble friend, the Secretary of State and the authorities, to which my noble friend has referred, but I am quite sure that the kind of assurances she has mentioned will gladly be given. If there is any need to refer to specific assurances I will return to it at a later stage of the Bill. On the general question of the commitment to consult local authorities on all aspects of the work of the Agency affecting them, I can certainly give that assurance now at this stage of the Bill.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Constitution and status]:

11.29 a.m.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 18: Page 3, line 29, leave out ("four") and insert ("six ").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps we could discuss Amendment No. 19 with No. 18 as they cover much the same point. The purpose of these two Amendments is to make possible a rather larger membership of the Agency than is suggested in the Bill.

The Bill suggests that: The Agency shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chairman and not less than four nor more than six other members. The two Amendments which I put down would suggest that the range of four to six should be altered to six to 12. It seems to me that the Agency has very wide powers and functions and that an Agency so small as to contain four members would be quite inadequate. It not only has important economic functions—


Would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? Surely it cannot be fewer than six because there will be the chairman, the deputy chairman and a minimum of four members.


Yes, but I was talking about the members. As the noble Lord said, there could be six, but the maximum number of members proposed is four. Still, with the Agency's extremely important powers, I should have thought this was a fairly small number of people. It has all the powers it needs to stimulate the Welsh economy, it takes over the Welsh Industrial Estates Corporation and the Derelict Land Unit as well as assuming responsibility for environmental matters in Wales. By comparison, the National Enterprise Board has from six to 15 members and the Scottish Agency have the same as I have suggested for the Welsh Agency: namely, from six to 12 members.

I am well aware that Wales is not as big as Scotland, but I should have thought in this instance it is not a matter of the size of the country so much as the weight of responsibility and the amount of work falling upon the Agency. The range of responsibility in Scotland is the same as it is in Wales. I should therefore think that a larger membership would be an advantage. Even with six members, as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, pointed out—the chairman, the deputy chairman and four members—if there is illness or if for any reason members cannot attend meetings, it is a small number to play with. Moreover, subsection (3) lists the kind of experience that the Agency members will be expected to have, and if one is to get proper representation of these various skills on the Agency, I again suggest that a minimum of four members is liable to be too small. There are nine different types of experience listed in the subsection, and the Scots actually added an additional requirement to their original ones which was "rural land management". I do not know whether the Welsh Ministers are thinking of following this precedent which has been set by Scotland, but if so that would merely add another quality that would be needed by one or other members of the Agency. I certainly do not think that there is anything to be said for having an unwieldy Agency—they should be compact and efficient—but my purpose in suggesting this Amendment is simply to allow a slightly larger membership than is suggested in the Bill.


On this occasion I do not know whether my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will make some concession, but I think that the argument that has just been put forward from the Opposition Benches by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, is one of substance, because if there is a small organisation and if there are difficulties of transport, for example—I know they will draw up their own standing orders, but what will the quorum be? Secondly, I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, cited the qualifications needed to get a gamut of people. There will be 10 kinds of expertise required if the Scottish example is followed. It would be a magnificent job if it had to be done with only six. Perhaps there might be room for a reasonable compromise in this respect and then we could see what the other place does with our suggestion when they receive it.

Baroness WHITE

I very much hope that my noble and learned friend will think about this again. I also hope that he will explain precisely what is in mind here. Are these members, whether the chairman, the deputy chairman or the other members, to be part-time or fulltime?—because that makes some difference. Also, I am interested in what the position of the chief executive will be, who is to be a member of the Agency. Is he to be an additional member, ex officio, or is he included among the "not less than four nor more than six"?—because plainly if he is to be included the membership will be even smaller and there would be only three ordinary members if the minimum were to be appointed.

Furthermore, in view of the attitude yesterday of the Government to Amendments that I proposed on the environmental duties of the Agency, it seems to me that one must ensure that if the Development Agency is to undertake matters of substance regarding the environment, there must be some member or members with some real acquaintance with what is needed. I need hardly tell my noble and learned friend that we have geographical difficulties in Wales which in some ways are more difficult to overcome than they are in Scotland. I speak with considerable experience of administration in Wales, and the difficulty of going from Bangor to Cardiff, for example, can be considerable. There is also a very big difference in attitudes on many matters between the North and the South, and there is in fact a vacuum in Mid-Wales. For all these reasons, one must have geographical representation as well as representation covering the various interests listed in subsection (3). It seems to me therefore that the first Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, is one that we should press the Government very strongly indeed to accept. I am not quite so sure about the second suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. It seems to me that 12 may be going too far and there could be further argument on that; but I certainly think that the noble Lord's first suggestion should be accepted and I very much hope that it will be.


May I just put in a small word here? I was wrong when I said there would be a minimum of six. If one reads the Bill in any intelligent sort of way it must mean that the chief executive is an additional member and does not come out of the four, so that means the minimum number of Agency members will be seven. If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor tells me I am wrong this time but was right the first time, I should be worried, but I am sure the obvious meaning of the Bill is that there is to be a chairman, a deputy chairman and a minimum of four members and then you have a chief executive, who may not be either the chairman or the deputy chairman, but shall be appointed. Once he has been appointed then he will become a member. I think that is the way the Bill must be read, and the members could be seven in number. I rather agree with what the noble Baroness has just said.

There is no reason to fight over the difference between four and six, but perhaps I might put in my "pennysworth" here, because in the 1964/65/66 period I had the experience of appointing Agencies with not altogether dissimilar powers. It became apparent to me that the wider one made the membership of the body, as distinct from the responsible members of the staff directed by the body, the more one had a debating chamber and the less did one have decisions taken. Without wanting to seem unduly dogmatic, doctrinaire or whatever the word might be, the purpose of the Agency is to get things done. One sees so many development corporations, even, where the membership has been appointed on a fairly wide basis; and they are the poorest of them all. So I would urge some of my colleagues and friends to take into account that you do not want a body that directs spending its time arguing all its sectional interests. Once you do that you just get paralysis all the way down. If the noble Baroness and my other Welsh colleagues will forgive me, there is no better place than Wales—


Except Scotland!


Of course, except Scotland—for ensuring that debates take the place of action. I met it in the Welsh Forestry Commission and in various other places. I urge that we keep the number as small as we can.

On the point mentioned just now about the 10 different qualities that are set out, I would say, knowing Wales, that it would not be very difficult to find six or seven people who share all those 10 qualities between them. The late Billy Vaughan from Port Talbot was a great little man who was on most of the Welsh agencies in his time, and he combined quite a number of them himself. If the idea is to have one man for each quality, then, good gracious me! it would be stultifying. If it is seven, I am absolutely content with that. If it saves a lot of difficulty to say the number could be nine, I do not think that matters. But from my own experience as a Minister responsible for agencies such as this I should be very much against putting the number any higher than that.


Before my noble friend replies to the debate, may I explain that my intervention was directed to the absence of taciturnity in Scotland, as in Wales. I was not extending any criticism further than that.


I do not think I am betraying political principles of a lifetime if I say that I felt there was something in what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, had said. I think that the very small Agency Board which is suggested in the Bill might develop into a kind of dictatorial caucus which would put forward its own views and take little regard of the views of the community outside. On the other hand, I feel that if, as Lord Aberdare suggested, the number is increased to 12 every meeting will become something in the nature of a public meeting. I feel there is an acceptable figure somewhere between the two that have been suggested.

I do not like the idea of the qualifications of specialisation suggested in the original clause. It is said that various members of the Board shall have experience of industry, commerce, banking, accountancy, finance, and so on. What about some ordinary people on the Board? The absence of ordinary people from boards has been one of the real catastrophes of our industrial system. We have been far too fond of appointing boards of directors consisting mainly of people with executive authority within a company, and not having people from outside who can express the normal, ordinary views of the community. Therefore, I do not like the idea of having too many specialists on the Board. It would lead to interminable debates. A Board member representing industry would rise and put an industrial point of view; a Board member representing local government would rise and put a local government point of view. With all the arguments of these specialists we should not have expressed the view of the ordinary person. Therefore something between the six and the 12 suggested in the Bill and in the Amendments might be acceptable. I do not like the idea of the Board's being comprised absolutely and completely of specialists in one specialisation or another.

11.44 a.m.


In this case a small Board, as my noble friend Lord George-Brown pointed out, and as I am sure many noble Lords not only in their political lives but in their business lives will know, can often be more effective operationally than a large one because there is the danger of a large Board turning into a talking shop or forum for discussion. The Agency will have a Board consisting of a chairman, a deputy chair-many and up to six other members of proven experience and ability. I refer to the numbers quoted by my noble friend Lord George-Brown. He was right the first time and wrong the second. In fact, the minimum number would be six: the chairman, the deputy chairman and not less than four members.


Including the chief executive?


Including the chief executive. My noble friend Lady White brought up this point. The chief executive is not an ex officio member; he is included. Having mentioned Lady White, I would also point out that she referred to the question of a part-time or a full-time chairman. This is something which will have to be drawn up in due course by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

There is another point in regard to the Agency which I should like to bring out. I hope that to some extent this will satisfy the fears expressed by Lady White. She raised the matter of the environment, geographical differences and different geographical interests, knowledge et cetera, which is very important. I refer to Clause 5. The Bill specifically enables the Agency to establish committees to advise them in the exercise of their functions so that they can in fact call in a wide range of experience through the use of committees. At the same time—and this is a matter which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, raised—although these types of experience are listed, there is no restriction at all on the Secretary of State's appointing members from other non-specified fields—no restriction whatsoever. In regard to what my noble friend Lord Leatherland said, I do not accept that experts are only people who are dignitaries and established leaders of society. Many ordinary people are experts. More and more today committees are appointing people who would be classified as ordinary people but are seen to be experts in specific fields.

We are very keen indeed that this Amendment should not be carried, but I recognise the strength of opinion that has been expressed by certain Members of the Committee. I would therefore hope that the noble Lord would not press this Amendment. I will give him the undertaking that I will certainly bring the matter to the notice of my right honourable friend as it is a matter directly within his responsibility.

Baroness WHITE

I hope that in making representations to his right honourable friend my noble friend will indicate that, so far as setting up committees is concerned, it is not the same thing. I am all for having committees if they are going to be of use, but we all know that if one wants to influence policy and decision-making it is necessary to have a voice on the Board. I am speaking again for the environmental interests. It is because of the attitude of the Government yesterday that I again emphasise this point. If this Agency are going to be active in a substantial way in environmental matters, having an advisory committee is not good enough. One is not then in the earlier area of discussion. If there are to be satisfactory results one has to be in at the beginning, and not have just an advisory role, very often after substantive decisions have been taken.


Clause 3 refers specifically to "matters relating to the environment". It is quite within the Secretary of State's ability, as laid down here, to appoint to the Board someone who is very much concerned.


The noble Lord refers, I take it, to subsection (3), not Clause 3?


Yes. I apologise.


Before the noble Lord decides whether or not to withdraw the first of his two Amendments may I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis, that if I am wrong on the second point, which he says I am, then I, too, am very worried. I then change my position about the six. There will then be three members of the Agency appointed by the Government—the chairman, the deputy chairman and the chief executive; the Agency will then be subject, as we have decided, which I am not against, to both general and specific directions from the Minister—and three non-official members of the Board. This is getting to the situation where the non-officials will feel that it is no longer their Agency, and they will tend to take much less interest in it. If the chief executive has to be appointed out of the other four, in making his representations to his right honourable friend I think that the Minister ought to take into account that even a fellow like me, who wants the smallest board that it is possible to work with, feels that the membership must be extended.


I am very grateful to noble Lords who have lent their support to the first Amendment. Very substantial points have been made by the noble Baroness. Lady White, and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. I hope that the Government will consider this matter very carefully, and at the next stage of the Bill perhaps we shall be able to see what the result of their consideration is. Perhaps they should also consider what the quorum would be for a meeting of this Agency; with so few people possibly sitting upon it, it may be a very small quorum. With regard to my second Amendment which we are discussing at the same time, I have no strong view upon it. Quite clearly, the view of the Committee was that probably this was enlarging the Agency too far. Certainly, therefore, I shall not move Amendment No. 19 and I will seek leave to withdraw Amendment No. 18 on the assurance given by the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.52 a.m.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 3, line 39, leave out subsection (4) and insert— ("( ) The Agency with the approval of the Secretary of State shall appoint a chief executive of the Agency.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 20 and also to speak to Amendment No. 47 which is consequential to it. I feel much more strongly about this Amendment than about the last one. I do not understand why it is necessary for the Secretary of State to appoint the chief executive of the Agency. I should have thought that the Agency were a sufficiently responsible body to appoint their own chief executive. They will be a body of people with high qualifications of one kind or another, and I should have thought that it was very important that the chief executive should feel that his loyalty lay with the Agency rather than with the Secretary of State.

Also, when I compare what is happening in England and in Scotland, I feel that Wales is being treated rather roughly in this subsection, because in the Industry Bill the relevant clause reads: The Board with the approval of the Secretary of State may appoint a chief executive. If the National Enterprise Board can appoint its own chief executive with the approval of the Secretary of State, I should have thought that the Welsh Agency could do so, too. In the case of Scotland, the relevant clause reads: The Secretary of State after consultation with the Chairman of the Agency shall make the first appointment of chief executive of the Agency and thereafter the Agency may will the approval of the Secretary of State make subsequent appointments to that office". So in their case the Secretary of State will only make the first appointment; thereafter the Agency will make their own appointment of chief executive.

But for my money I think even that is rather unfortunate. Granted that they have to have the Secretary of State's approval for the appointment, I do not see why the Agency should not advertise for their own chief executive and interview and appoint him. Again you would get a slightly different situation on the Board. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, talked about several official members. However, you would have a chief executive who was a member of the Board but who owed his loyalty to the Agency and not to the Secretary of State. I beg to move.


I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on this Amendment. I think that great embarrassment would be caused in the Agency if the chief executive has to be appointed by the Secretary of State. For six years I was a member of a statutory board, and I know that there can always be some tension, to put it mildly, between the members of a board and the Government Department which is its sponsor. In the case of the board of which I was a member there was not only tension between the board and our parent Ministry but a good deal more tension between the board and the Treasury. Sometimes we were hardly on speaking terms, and one has to take this into account. Personal points of view and behaviour come into the matter.

Let us imagine what would happen if the chief executive of this quite small body were to be appointed not by that body but by the Minister to whom they are responsible. I guarantee that in the back of their minds there would always be the thought: "This man, or woman, is playing in with the Minister and will be afraid to say anything to his parent Department, the Ministry for Wales; and behind the Ministry for Wales will be looming in the background, as always in Government matters, the Treasury". Even if I were to be asked, it is doubtful whether I should accept membership of a board of this kind. Especially with such a small board, it is entirely wrong to have the chief executive appointed in this way.

This is one of the most important Amendments to this Bill. There are many Amendments which are to be moved which sound very grand, but they have no effect at all. This one will have a daily effect, and if the Amendment stands it will affect the work of the Agency a great deal. Why is Wales being treated as some kind of second-class banana colony? We are nothing of the kind. We are an ancient people—far more ancient than the English and, in many ways, far more ancient than the Scots. I cannot understand why the Anglo-Saxon race always wants to put us down. This is not in the English, or in the Scottish Bill. It appears only in the Welsh Bill, and I for one must register my protest that it is even in the Bill—let alone if it is decided that the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, should not be agreed to.


I have considerable sympathy with the Amendment which has been moved. It is important that the chief executive and the Board should have a mutual degree of confidence in each other. The question of appointment from outside is always difficult, since it may be felt that the appointment has been foisted on to that body; even though this may not be true, it creates a psychological impression. What I am concerned about is the wording of the proposed new subsection. It says: The Agency with the approval of the Secretary of State shall appoint a chief executive of the Agency. In other words, the Secretary of State gives power to the Agency to appoint the chief executive. An Amendment which is worded in this form means that the Agency would proceed to appoint the chief executive, and it seems that there is no check beyond that. I think that the Secretary of State ought to have the right to approve the person whom it is proposed to appoint. I am not at all sure that, as the Amendment is drawn at the present time, the subsection would do that. However, subject to that being the intention of the Amendment, I should be inclined to support it.

The Earl of HALSBURY

I support strongly this Amendment. During the last 25 years I have had experience of being a chief executive appointed by the Minister to a public board and of being a part-time member of a public board, having as a colleague a chief executive appointed by the Minister. There is a third situation of being a part-time member with a chief executive appointed by the Board itself, and I have no hesitation in saying that the third of these alternatives is to be preferred. There can be no true collective responsibility, such as the collective responsibility of the Cabinet, or collective responsibility to the shareholders of a commercial board of directors by a group of members, directors, or whatever they may be, unless they have the power to appoint and remove their chief executive. If a company is not doing very well, it is up to the directors to remove the managing director or the executive chairman, or whoever it is, and appoint someone who will do better. There is no sense of collective responsibility if you are working with a chief executive appointed by someone else.

Worse than that, because the appointment lies in the hands of another man, the relationship between the chief executive and his colleagues is undefined. Nobody quite knows to whom he is responsible to; he is responsible to them as one of them, but also responsible to the Minister as the man who appointed him. From my own personal experience of all the three patterns—and there are precedents for all, even in public service; the BBC has a chief executive and a director-general appointed by the members of the Corporation—I have no hesitation in supporting the Amendment.


The fact that my right honourable friend will make the appointment of chief executive to the Agency is in keeping with the importance of the post, and the fact that the chief executive will also be a member of the Agency. We think it is desirable that my right honourable friend, who will be directly accountable to Parliament for the activities of the Agency, should be able to make the appointment to this key post. There is no question here of the Agency having a chief executive imposed on them. There is no need for me to say that the Secretary of State will consult the chairman of the Agency before making an appointment. I think it goes without saying that he would do so.

In any case, in the setting up of the Agency, it would be necessary to appoint a chairman and a chief executive very quickly, so in the first instance the Secretary of State would have to make this appointment. We feel that this is the right course to adopt, quite frankly. With regard to the views of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, about the power of the group, and taking the analogy of the Board of a company, I have never been in a situation where a company board has failed to make clear its dissatisfaction and in a fairly short time get rid of a member of the board whom it felt was not fulfilling his duties adequately. I would ask the noble Lord whether he would again consider this Amendment.


I hope my noble friend will take a little more account of what is felt by the Committee. I should have thought it was fairly clear that the Committee feel it an important matter that the Agency should be entitled to appoint its own chief executive. Arguments have been put forward which have been very convincing. Those people who have had experience of other bodies feel very strongly that the chief executive should be appointed by the Board. Of course, there may be a case—I cannot argue that—for an initial appointment being made in order to start everything going. I would not dispute that. But to write it into the Bill that the chief executive has always to be appointed by the Minister seems to me to be quite wrong.

It is all very well to say that the Minister is responsible to Parliament, but I think we tend to read into such words a meaning which is not appropriate. The actual fact is that the Agency will be running affairs, and whether or not the Agency succeed depends upon how they function. It does not depend on whether or not the Minister is answerable to Parliament. That is a different issue. If the whole Agency is a positive disaster, then, naturally, the Minister may intervene, and Parliament will expect him to do that. But when it comes to the ordinary working of the Agency, surely this is a matter for which they are responsible. Therefore, they ought to have the right to appoint their own chief executive.


I really am left with no alternative but to bow to the very experienced and authoritative voices which have been raised on this matter. I will agree to reconsider this particular subsection, possibly in the terms of the formula adopted by the Scottish Development Agency. I hope that that satisfies the noble Lord.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis. I was not too happy with his first reply. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, put his finger aptly on it. There is very strong feeling in the Committee that the Agency should appoint their own chief executive. But if it is administratively important that the first appointment should be made by the Secretary of State, I am sure we would fall in line with Scotland. With the assurance that the noble Lord and the Government will look again at this matter, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


I support the noble Lord, Lord Peddie. What is wrong with this Amendment is the grammar. I am very much for it in principle, as must be anyone with this kind of experience. But the approval is not to do with the fact that they have the power to appoint a chief executive; surely it is the name of the chief executive. That is the purpose of the Amendment, that the Minister might reasonably say, "Oh well, I can't take this man". It would not happen often, but that is surely what we want to say; we do not want just a general blanket idea that they can go ahead and appoint someone.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Power to form committees]:

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness WHITE

I should like to raise a point which concerns the degree of independence which this Agency is to enjoy. In the second part of Clause 5, apparently the Agency may set up committees. Not only must the committees they set up be approved by the Secretary of State, but the actual membership of the committees must also be approved by the Secretary of State. Surely this is carrying things rather too far. These committees, I would suppose, obviously would be subject to the directions of the Agency. It seems to me that one is making the Agency very much a creature of the Secretary of State, as they are not allowed even to appoint members to their own committee.

I do not want to labour the point. If the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis, wishes to take advice he can choose some later stage in the Bill to say something about it, but if I were a member of the Agency and had to refer to the Secretary of State every time we wanted to add some new member to a committee, and seek his approval, and not be able to appoint that member without having the specific approbation of the Secretary of State, I would feel that I was not being treated in a way in which someone appointed to this Agency should be treated.


I see the force of what my noble friend Lady White has said, and will look at the point between now and Report.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Provision of sites and premises for industry]:

12.9 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 21: Page 5. line 9, leave out ("with the approval of the Secretary of State")

The noble Lord said: In subsection (1) of Clause 7 we have all the arrangements for providing or managing industrial sites placed beneath the all-seeing eye of the Secretary of State, for his approval, which brings us on to ground upon which the noble Baroness, Lady White, has just been treading. What specifically does this mean? If we take the present wording of subsection (2), it appears that the Secretary of State is the sole arbiter and the fount of all authority down to any level of decision he may choose to interest himself in. Admittedly, it is quite possible that a reasonable Secretary of State may act in an exceedingly reasonable manner. He may allot areas of responsibility; he may delegate specific sorts of authority; he may direct certain sources of finance; and he could leave it at that and from that point delegate his authority.

But there is nothing in this clause to prevent him from inquiring into and effectively regulating every last detail that may catch his fancy. Let us suppose the Secretary of State had set up some organisation such as I have outlined, that he had approved the ground plan of the operation, as it were, and then, very properly, stepped back to allow the Development Agency to carry on with its job on that particular project, either when it was planned or under construction or operative. There might come to his notice a new aspect. Let us suppose that the Agency, although operating under the arrangements he had approved, operated in a manner which irritated him. Whatever the grounds for his disapproval, he would merely have to say, "Stop. You will submit to me detailed arrangements for this project for my approval forthwith", for the operation to be brought to a halt, whether it be for the rerouting of an access road or a change in the method of auditing the canteen Christmas club.

I know that in administration we always hope to be working with and for entirely reasonable and moderate men. I also know that in legislating we have to provide for those who do not measure up to that expectation. This Bill gives the Minister power, under Clause 2(2), to appoint all the people who will wield, on his behalf, the powers entrusted to him by the Bill. It gives him implicitly, by the power not to reappoint them, a considerable and perhaps regrettable influence over their policies and judgment; and now, in this clause, it gives him the power also to withhold approval for, and thus to render null and void, their arrangements for any activity comprised in Clause 7. Specifically, this applies to the modernisation, adaptation and reconstruction of buildings. The clause goes out of its way to require the Agency to secure the approval of the Secretary of State when they propose to modernise, adapt or reconstruct a building. But the level of decision is not specified. The Secretary of State can easily dictate the size of the windows of an office—as easily do that as authorise the rebuilding of an entire power station. The only possible benefit this could bring would be if some Party, some day, would place into some Ministry, and particularly this one, a Minister who would stop the evisceration of fine Georgian buildings and filling them with green modernistic cubicles. But I digress.

The Minister under Clause 7(2) has power to meddle with minutiae. It is given to him in the first sentence, and then, with a jolt, we get a semi-colon at the start of the third line. The syntax of this paragraph makes it plain to me that the power to acquire land to house undertakings dislodged by the renovating activities of the Agency shall not be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. On this land the Agency may erect entire and numerous buildings without the approval of the Secretary of State. So here we have both an unnecessary Ministerial power and an anomaly in its application. In the same subsection the Secretary of State is required to approve and therefore concern himself with the modernisation, adaptation of existing buildings, and specifically not required to approve of or concern himself with the erection of new buildings, or even the choice of sites on which they are to be erected. It would be quite possible for a sort of A. P. Herbert situation to arise in which the Secretary of State was so busy signing mountains of authorisations for the extension of bicycle sheds, enlarging of windows, replacement of door frames, and the modernisation of rest rooms that the Agency could, without his knowledge, fling up a vast new factory complex to rehouse displaced undertakings within full view of the Snowdonia National Park on land the purchase of which may have been authorised but the use of which had not been specified. I do not suggest that such a situation would actually arise, but I think it is ludicrous that we should draft the Bill so that it could arise.

We believe that the Secretary of State should appoint an Agency capable of taking valid and correct decisions at an executive level—and this has been the tenor of everything said so far—within an agreed strategic plan. We think that the interference of the Minister within that strategy should be limited to cases of crucial importance to the Welsh people, or matters upon which the Agency is itself in a difficulty. We do not like this Bill appointing the Secretary of State as a sort of intendent of the ancien réginte who can intervene at every level of administration and planning decision. We think that the Agency would be strengthened, and the Bill improved, by the incorporation of Amendment No. 21, which I beg to move.


I am rather flabbergasted at the idea that we should have such a full-blooded Socialist speech from the Conservative Front Bench. What the noble Lord is suggesting is that the Agency should set themselves up as a kind of local soviet and nationalise any factory buildings or manage any sites or premises that might happen to be in the locality. I think that to give the Agency powers of a local soviet would be going much further than this Bill really suggests. The noble Lord has spoken about window frames and door frames; but that is irrelevant, that is trivia. What the clause actually deals with is the provision or managing of industrial sites or premises. That can be interpreted in words like "nationalisation". The Agency shall have full power. It is suggested here that as a regulating authority the Secretary of State shall be able to say whether the Agency are to provide or manage industrial sites or premises. I think that is quite proper. This Bill is an instrument of the Government. The Agency are the instrument of the Government. The finance is to be provided by the Government. Therefore, where a major decision is taken to take over or nationalise, if we use the pejorative term, any industrial concern in the Agency's area, surely the Secretary of State, representing the Government, should have his voice. I think that this Amendment, while probably well-intentioned, is like many other things that are well-intentioned and would lead us into considerable trouble. If the Agencies are to take over and manage local factories and industrial organisations, then the Secretary of State should certainly be the man who says "Yes" or "No" to any such proposal.


I do not know whether the noble Lord, who moved his Amendment quite eloquently but a little bewilderingly, would agree with this. If this Agency were to come along to take away the pigsties at the end of my farm in order to build a new motor road to allow noble Lords' motor cars to reach some destination in Wales, what powers have I to protest unless the rule of Parliament comes in? Without wanting to give too much power to Secretaries of State, I think the liberty of the individual may be limited if my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor were to accept this Amendment. But I stand subject to correction and I have made my point.


I should like to support my noble friends in resisting this Amendment. I do not think there is much in it. Even if you give Secretaries of State powers of caprice they cannot exercise them. What do noble Lords think civil servants would be doing if a Minister was trying to intervene in the size of windows? I make one gentle comment. We all like listening to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who says many good things in this House, but it really is not a good practice to read a long speech in moving an Amendment; I think we ought to resist this. Otherwise we shall have people moving Amendments from great screeds, and some of us will feel fatigued.


In spite of the rather terrifying possibilities the noble Lord, Lord Elton, set out at such breathtaking speed, and the rather frightful picture he drew of the sort of Secretary of State that the Principality may acquire at some time in the future—maybe it will if the Party opposite should return to power at some time—the wording of this subsection follows closely that in Section 13(2) of the 1972 Local Employment Act which states: the Secretary of State may modernise, adapt or reconstruct any buildings et cetera." It is the Government's wish that there should be the minimum disruption of the work being carried out at present in the provision of industrial sites, premises, services, et cetera. We feel that this is important for industrialists. The fewer changes of policy that are brought about—unless there is a very good reason—the better.

In this area the power is at present vested in the Secretary of State and it is better to retain the status quo. As the Agency gain in experience and confidence, so it will prove possible to let them have a greater degree of delegated authority. This will come in time. It is certainly not the intention that they should be hamstrung at every turn. I should point out that the power of the Secretary of State to give approval here is already the situation so far as the work of industrial estate corporations is concerned, and none of the horrendous situations produced by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has so far arisen.


I must apologise unreservedly to the Committee for taking up a lot of its time in a manner which some of your Lordships have found displeasing. I must plead in mitigation that the complexity of some of the points which I have to raise later will require me none the less to refer rather more to the written page than I think your Lordships or I myself altogether welcome. I am sorry if I made a mountain out of a molehill, but I should like clarification before we leave this point of the drafting.

The noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, did not take my point, but it appears to me that the subsection as drafted applies the approval of the Secretary of State only to the power to modernise, adapt or reconstruct. Where the execution of the works will interrupt the use of the buildings or works being undertaken et cetera—since we are the other side of the semicolon—the approval of the Secretary of State is not required. Therefore, it seems to me that the Agency is specifically encouraged to act, as he phrased it, as a soviet; that is to say, to be free to purchase what it likes under these circumstances without the supervision of the Secretary of State. He has, in a sense, stood my argument, albeit confused and lengthy and rather too rapid, upon its insubstantial head. I should like clarification on that.


I do not think there is that division; I do not think that exists. It certainly is not the intention that it should, if I have followed the noble Lord.


I shall be quite happy if the noble Lord will undertake to let me know by letter and, if I am right, to do something about it.


If the noble Lord would accept that, I should be glad to let him know in writing.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Application of Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to Agency premises]:

On Question, Whether Clause 9 shall stand part of the Bill?

12.23 p.m.


I shall try to condense what I had to say because I find this is confusing, and maybe it will suffice if I outline the grounds of what I find difficult and perhaps the noble Lord would like to take it up at Report stage. I see that the clause provides that if a certificate from the Secretary of State states that it is necessary or merely expedient for the provision of employment appropriate to the needs of the area that the use or occupation of a property be changed, it will have in essential respects the same force as a certificate from a Minister or a Government board that it is necessary for reasons of national security that this should be so.

We then come to a treatment of the rights of landlords, and of tenants therefore by implication, which is different from what it otherwise would be. It seems to me that the nub of the matter is that where a tenant undertakes a tenancy knowing that he is undertaking a tenancy subject to this provision, then it is perfectly fair if these options are exercised by the Agency who become his landlord. But I think it is not fair if the tenant is the tenant of a property which does not belong to the Agency, or to any other Government board, at the time when he takes up that tenancy and becomes their tenant and subsequently becomes exposed to this procedure for acquisition by the State in one of its forms, with the disadvantage in regard to security, and possibly compensation, that arises therefrom. I hope that that is a sufficiently slow and perhaps over-concise exposition of what I have in mind.


I should be glad to examine this point, which I do not feel happy about endeavouring to deal with now, at the next stage of the Bill.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Selective financial assistance]:

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 6, line 28, at end insert— ("( ) Any direction given under this section shall be reported immediately to the House of Commons in terms agreed with the directors of the company seeking assistance.")

The noble Lord said: One of the characteristics of this Bill which gives many of us cause for concern and even alarm is the sweeping powers which it gives to the Secretary of State, and the lack of Parliamentary supervision which noble Lords opposite have now themselves said they are keen to provide, which is some encouragement to me. Clause 10 empowers the Secretary of State to direct the Agency to exercise on his behalf the powers given to him under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972. I ought to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the parallel section in the Industry Act 1972—that is to say, the section which empowers the Minister to act—is being amended in another place. Therefore, we are being asked to give to the Minister powers which will not, all other factors remaining equal, be the same as we now suppose them to be by the time that this Bill is enacted, or at least by the time the Industry Bill is enacted.

It is of interest that the parts of that section which they are seeking to repeal, and which they are no doubt determined to succeed in repealing, and may by now have succeeded in repealing, are those parts which prevent the Secretary of State from buying stock in a company if there is another practicable way of giving assistance, and which require him to dispose of such stock as soon as it becomes practicable to do so. Clause 10 seeks to invest the Secretary of State with powers which are already considerable and which it is intended should become larger still after the Bill has left your Lordships' House. It seems to us prudent that the Secretary of State should not be left to exercise those powers free of all Parliamentary supervision, and Amendment No. 22 seeks to place upon him the duty of reporting all directions made under this clause—that is to say, all directions activating the machinery set up under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972—to the other place, where they can be properly scrutinised and commented upon.

It is generally accepted—in fact, I think Her Majesty's Government would agree that it is generally accepted—that the form in which such reports are made can on some occasions be of crucial importance to the concerns which are involved in the proposals or directions. If the terms of a loan or an agreement are dependent on the achievement of a volume of production by a certain date or by the making of a contract with another concern in a certain form, then the publication of those caveats would be of considerable interest to those competing with the firm we are concerned with in this notional case, and since it is subject to such a direction that firm would already presumably de facto be in difficulties, then to increase its difficulties by releasing information about its means of getting out of those difficulties, within or, worse still, without the Principality of Wales, seems to us to be placing upon it an unnecessary burden and one contrary to the intentions of the Bill. I hope Her Majesty's Government will look kindly on this attempt to get round that difficulty. I beg to move.


The effect of this Amendment would be to require any direction to the Authority under Clause 10 to act as a channel for financial assistance to be given under Section 7 to be reported to the House of Commons as soon as it was given in terms to he agreed by the directors of the company concerned. The problem here is to strike a balance between the demands of commercial confidence and the proper demands of public accountability. It is clearly not always desirable on commercial grounds to give immediate publicity to all the details of financial assistance which may have been given. If a firm is in difficulties, the immediate publication of the details of financial assistance could be very damaging to it and make its position worse, and further premature disclosure of assistance for new projects could give away secrets to competitors. Accordingly, the Government do not feel that it would be desirable to require the Secretary of State to disclose immediately to the House or to Parliament the full details of every direction to the Authority to act as a channel for assistance. Nevertheless we see the importance of seeing that these acts of financial assistance should become publicly known as soon as practicable. If the Amendment is withdrawn, I can give an assurance to the Committee that further consideration can be given and will be given to the method and time of publication and the degree of detail to be published.

I sympathise with the motivation of the noble Lord in moving this Amendment, but if he is content to leave it for further consideration so that we may revert to it at Report stage, if I may so with respect, I think that may be the most convenient course. In saying that, I am certainly not undertaking that we will accept the stipulation that the information has to be in terms agreed with the directors of the company involved, but we will certainly look sympathetically at the major point which the Amendment has in mind.


In the light of those very helpful and generous undertakings, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.33 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 7, line 6, at end insert— ("(14) The giving of any direction under this section by the Secretary of State shall not affect his obligation under section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 to secure the consent of a company before acquiring any shares or stock therein.")

The noble Lord said: I do not wish to speak too long on this Amendment although it is rather complicated and I have a sheaf of notes. The principal reason, apart from wishing to press on, for my saying this, is that I understand a similar Amendment has been looked on favourably in the Scottish Bill and therefore I hope I am right in expecting a degree of sympathy from Her Majesty's Government on these points.

The clause gives the Agency the direction to wield the powers conferred upon the Secretary of State by the Industry Act of 1972, and the Act specifically lays upon the Secretary of State the duty of obtaining Treasury consent to directions given under Section 7. The present Bill, while requiring the Agency to wield the powers given to the Secretary of State in Section 7, specifically absolves him from the performance of the duty of obtaining Treasury consent before doing so. It follows therefore that under this clause the powers and the duties enumerated in Section 7 of the 1972 Act are not given equal standing. This is what gave rise to the initial anxiety.

If I interpret correctly the expression of the noble and learned Lord opposite, it would perhaps be proper for me to listen to what he has to say before I adduce detailed arguments in favour of the Amendment. If, after all, I am not satisfied by what he says, it is open to me to return to the charge; if, on the other hand, we can have his answer without, as it were, the specific question being asked, it will save time and I hope I shall make some amends for my earlier prolixity. I beg to move.


May I at once say that I thought the earlier chatisement of the noble Lord somewhat surprising because his contributions to the proceedings are always marked with admirable lucidity and normally with admirable brevity also, so perhaps I may assuage any hurt feelings he may have about the earlier reproach. If it is any comfort to him I do not share them.

I do not know whether what I am about to say will satisfy him. The Government agree in principle with the Amendments and we propose to give effect to that agreement with Amendments at a later stage. I do not know whether I need go any further than that, but that assurance I certainly give.


May I thank the noble and learned Lord both for his assuagement of my earlier hurt, which I accept with gratitude, and also for his extremely helpful reply in the light of which I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Transfer of publicly-owned property to Agency]:

On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?


Perhaps I may make a brief intervention here. This is a small and seemingly innocuous clause permitting the transfer of publicly-owned securities or other publicly-owned properties to the Agency. The transfer is subject to the consent of the Secretary of State, but once again the consent of the Secretary of State is not subject to Parliamentary supervision, and his powers in this respect, be it also noted, are entirely without delimitation. As I read the Bill, the Secretary of State might feel displeasure at any function or cupidity towards any function, or a genuine feeling that the function of a nationalised industry would be better discharged under his aegis than under the aegis of a particular Minister or Secretary of State under which it has hitherto functioned. I do not suppose he is likely to subsume the powers of those who now direct the steel industry or the mining industry, but it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility that he might feel, for instance, that those particles which form the National Bus Company which operate within the Principality and over the borders beyond Grimsdyke would be better operating under a uniformly Welsh direction under his hat. Therefore I should like to know how exactly the Secretary of State under this Bill stands vis-à-vis the Ministers of nationalised industries, and what are his powers exactly in this respect.


May I be permitted to give further consideration to this question and either communicate the information that I receive to the noble Lord or perhaps revert to the matter at the Report stage?


I am grateful for that reply. I think probably the latter course would be preferable because quite a number of people are interested in the answer which the noble and learned Lord will then give.


Most certainly then I shall deal with the matter at Report stage.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Derelict land]:

12.40 a.m.

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 25: Page 8, line 38, after ("Agency") insert ("shall sell or lease it or").

The noble Lord said: This is probably a misconceived Amendment which arises out of drafting which is not clear. It was considered on a rather different Amendment on the Scottish Bill. The trouble is that this subsection makes it clear that the Agency, once they have restored derelict land to use, may then only dispose of it free of charge to a local authority or to the development corporation of a New Town, whereas I am sure this is not what is meant by the Bill. I think the Agency should be free to sell or lease the land for any other purpose—for providing an open space, for providing an industrial site, for recreational purposes, or any other purposes that they have in mind. I hope that the noble and learned Lord, when he replies to this Amendment, will be able to give me the same assurance that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, gave in Hansard at column 236 on 10th June when he said: The Government accept the spirit of this Amendment which attempts to deal with an ambiguity which has arisen from the drafting …". I beg to move.


I certainly can give that assurance to the Committee. It is not the Government's intention that the Agency should be able to dispose of derelict land after treatment only when they were disposing of it free of charge to a local authority or a New Town for use as public open space. Nor is the Bill so drafted. The Agency's general powers to dispose of land in Clause 1(5)(h)—explained further in Clause 19(3)—extend to land acquired under Clause 14(3)(b). There is nothing, therefore, to prevent the Agency from selling or leasing such land. The purpose of Clause 14(4) is to ensure that local authorities are no worse off financially under the new provision than under the present grant arrangements under Section 8 of the Local Employment Act 1972.


I am very grateful. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Financial duties of the Agency]:

Lord ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 9, line 14, at end insert— ("(3) No determination shall be made by the Secretary of State under subsection (1) above unless a draft of the document containing it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is designed to bring out into the open some of the determinations which the Secretary of State shall give the Agency. Clause 15 is important because it relates to the whole financial basis on which the Agency shall operate, and there are many vital matters at the root of the Agency's operations about which we are not really very well informed at present. We do not know what their financial duties will be; we do not know what return they will be expected to earn on their capital. These determinations, as they are made, may well appear in the annual report of the Agency, but that could be 12 months or more after the determination is made. The object of the Amendment is to try to ensure that as soon as possible there is rather more information made available to Parliament on these very important matters.

I quote again the assurance given by the noble Lord. Lord Hughes, on the Scottish Bill, at columns 261 and 262 of Hansard on 10th June, when he said: The Government accept that there must be arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of the performance of the Agency and that particular interest will naturally focus upon its industrial activities. The Government would like to make as much information available to Parliament for this purpose as can reasonably be justified without prejudicing the interests of the activities concerned or raising other problems of commercial sensitivity. If that assurance can be given on this Bill, I will happily withdraw the Amendment.


I am happy to give that assurance to the Committee, and perhaps that will suffice for the purpose of the discussion.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clauses 16 to 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 [Acquisition, disposal and appropriation of land]:

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 36: Page 11, line 17, after ("10") insert ("and").

The noble Lord said: The effect of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965, Section 31, which this Amendment seeks to reinstate, is to see that money spent on buying ecclesiastical property is paid to the Church Commissioners. My reason for putting down the Amendment is that a substantial part of the diocese of Hereford lies in the Principality of Wales. I did not think the Church Commissioners wished to lose this source of finance, and on conferring with them I found that I was right. I hope, therefore, that the noble and learned Lord will see fit to reinstate this section.


This Amendment leads us into the fascinating fields of Welsh disestablishment into which, at this hour, even on this day—


May I ask whether the noble and learned Lord is implying that the diocese of Hereford has been disestablished?


Certainly not! I should be in great trouble if I put forward any such suggestion which may be considered heretical. There is force in what has been expressed by the noble Lord on this matter. It may well be that we shall have to examine it again. It am not satisfied about the appropriateness of the reference to Section 31 in the circumstances, and perhaps we can revert to this on some other occasion. I am not saying that I am objecting to the Amendment, but I should like to consider it further.


In view of the remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about the somewhat involved ecclesiastical problems which arise, would it not be better if lands owned in the Principality, where, after all, the Church of England writ does not run, should be exchanged for land within the boundaries of England, thereby relieving the Principality of the awkward situation of having to deal with lands which belong to a foreign Church?


I do not think that the question is addressed to me, but I should not think that the proposition is addressed to this Bill.


I do not think that it is addressed to the Bill; nor do I think that my noble friend seriously intended that dangerous revolutionary proposal to be examined with excessive seriousness.


In the light of what the noble and learned Lord has said, that he will take a view of this matter—and I take it that he will be in touch with the Church Commissioners themselves—I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.51 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 38:

Page 11, line 24, at end insert— ("( ) In any case in which the Agency intend to dispose of land acquired compulsorily under this section they shall first offer the land for sale to the person from whom the land was acquired or to his heirs as the case may be.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is very nearly self-explanatory. It might be sufficient for me to say the words "Crichel Down" and sit down. What is contained in the Amendment approaches natural justice: that what is taken away from one for the greater good, if it is no longer required for the greater good, should be returned to one on terms analogous with those on which it was originally taken. Of course, the property may have increased or decreased in value in the interim period and this would have to be taken into consideration. But where a person is, as it were, disinherited or dispossessed of something, he should be allowed to say whether, at the end of its use by a public body, he wishes to have it back on suitable terms.


Perhaps in view of anxiety that may be felt in Wales about this matter I ought to deal with it in slightly more detail than has been the case in some of the previous discussions. This Amendment obliges the Agency to offer back to the original owner of the land, or his heirs, land acquired compulsorily if the land is subsequently disposed of by the Agency. There was a parallel Amendment to the Scottish Bill and I adopt what was said by my noble friend in that debate.

The Amendment proposes an extended version of the Crichel Down procedure so far as it would be applied to the Agency. The Crichel Down procedure is of course administrative; it has never been the subject of statutory provisions. It entails agricultural land acquired by a Government Department under compulsory purchase powers, or by agreement under the threat of compulsory acquisition, where no longer required for Government purposes, and provided that it remains usable for agriculture, being offered back to the former owner at the market value at the time of the disposal.

As Clause 2(7) of the Bill makes clear, the Agency are not a Crown body. Local authorities and statutory undertakings, and indeed other bodies—such as the Highlands and Islands Development Board, as far as Scotland is concerned—are not bound by this procedure, although they follow the spirit of it whenever possible. Therefore it would be both unprecedented and, I submit, wrong for this procedure to be applied by Statute to the Agency. The proposal, if accepted, would be even more restrictive than usual, since the Amendment as drafted is intended to apply to all land acquired by the Agency, whether formerly agricultural land or otherwise. If such an obligation were introduced into the Bill, it would limit unduly the practical activities of the Agency, who would become unable, for example, to sell to an industrial firm a factory, erected by the Agency on land which they acquired compulsorily for factory building, without first offering the land back to the original owner.

For these reasons I submit there is no place in the Bill for obliging the Agency to offer back land to former owners. But I want to assure the Committee with regard to the arrangements which we have in mind as appropriate for the Agency in this connection. They are as follows. First, the Agency must be able to dispose of land free of restriction for the purpose of furthering their work. This will cover the situation that I mentioned, regarding the disposal of a factory built by the Agency on land acquired under the Bill. Secondly, the Agency should be able to offer land to Government Departments, local authorities, New Town corporations and other public bodies where that appears desirable. This could well be the case where derelict land has been improved by the Agency and made suitable for open space or some other use.

But subject to those considerations, it is the Government's intention that in all cases involving former agricultural land acquired by the Agency, and which has become surplus to their or other public requirements, the land will be offered back to the previous owner or his heirs at current market value before being advertised for sale. Therefore the offer back procedure will apply in those circumstances that I have indicated. I hope that that assurance as to "Crichel Down" will in practice be applied and will be honoured in its observance in the activities of the Agency.


I am grateful for that reply. I shall wish to read it in detail because it was rather complex, but at first sight it appears to be perfectly satisfactory. This is one of the occasions where previous cases have been so celebrated that a Parliamentary undertaking is almost as effective as a legislative inclusion, and with that proviso I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Crown land]:

12.56 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 39: Page 11, line 25, leave out ("subsections (1) to (6) of section 19 above") and insert ("this Act").

The noble and learned Lord said: It may be convenient to the Committee if I deal with Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 together. Amendment No. 39 is designed to make all the powers in the Act—not simply those relating to the acquisition of land—exercisable in relation to Crown land. The drafting of the clause as it is was thought to be too restrictive; for example, the Agency's powers of entry should also be exercisable in relation to land. The consent of the appropriate authority is required before the powers can be exercised.

As a consequence of the widening of the scope of the clause it is also appropriate to change its position in the Bill, and so it is being transposed to appear after the present Clause 23. That is a purely drafting point. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 40 formally.

Amendment moved— Transpose Clause 20, to after Clause 23.—[The Lord Chancellor.]

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Powers of entry.]:

12.58 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 41: Page 12, line 27, leave out ("forty-eight hours") and insert ("seven days").

The noble Lord said: I should be grateful if, with this Amendment, the Committee would also consider Amendment No. 42. I shall speak to both Amendments together. The object of these Amendments is simply to have a little humane consideration for people who may be invaded by machines, as well as by people, in the survey of their land. I particularly have in mind the extraordinary provision in the Bill as it came to us—on page 12, line 27—that such an invasion could take place at 48 hours' notice. I have been a farmer for many years and therefore it was the farmer of whom I first thought. If someone were to turn up as I was setting off for market—which farmers still do regularly—and said that the day after tomorrow he required to come in, perhaps only himself with a theodolite, that would not matter. But perhaps he would also wish to bring in a borer to see whether there was gravel, water, coal, or anything else under the surface. Perhaps it would also be desired to bring in larger equipment, possibly accompanied—as the Bill provides—by a number of helpers not necessarily familiar with agricultural practice. In such circumstances I might be considerably alarmed.

A situation could arise that one had a flock of ewes whch we about to lamb down. There may be only one field on the farm which was clean and suitable, and it is quite an operation to move them anywhere. If you have to move them on to the land of an obliging and possibly not very close neighbour, it takes more than 48 hours. On the other hand, if strange people with noisy machines—or without noisy machines behaving in a seemly way—walk through the flock you can finish up with a lot of aborted lambs. I could adduce many examples. It seems to me that 48 hours' notice upon which an official, or a representative of an official, may come upon your land as of right is something I would not care for as a householder and which, as a farmer, I could find damaging to the processes in which I was taking part.


I should hate to have aborted lambs on my conscience. In the light of the practical matters raised by the noble Lord we shall certainly give consideration to lengthening the period laid down in the Bill.


I am most grateful. Since I scarcely spoke to Amendment No. 42, may I ask whether this undertaking will apply to that also since it covers an analogous but not identical point?


That is so.


Then I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 43: Page 12, line 38, leave out from ("if") to ("to") in line 39 and insert ("the owner objects").

The noble Lord said: We come back to practical common sense and apparent natural justice. The Bill in this clause seems to give rights of objection to corporate and public bodies only and not to private individuals. We feel that the substitution of this phrase would cover both the cases outlined in the Bill as it stands and those which we feel have been omitted from the Bill. I beg to move.


I am instructed that the provision as it stands in the Bill is in common form and puts the Agency on a par with, for example, local authorities in Section 281(6) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The provision is also in comparable terms to provisions in the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965. If it were a question of prospecting on any scale, that would require planning permission for which the Agency would have to apply in the normal way. In view of these precedents it may be that the noble Lord may not wish to press this matter further.


The noble and learned Lord is very helpful and I do not wish to make difficulties. I should like to read what he has said and to think about it. I am never absolutely happy with the argument that because it has been done before, no matter how numerous the occasions, it is necessarily right. I feel that we should not forget that one of the principal functions of Parliament is to defend the little man. Obviously the private individual counts as a little man compared with the bodies referred to in the Bill. Therefore, I cannot undertake not to come back on this at Report stage, but will read what the noble and learned Lord has said. If he has anything to strengthen his case and to tell us why it is that the private individual is better cared for than is apparent from the Bill, perhaps he would be kind enough to write to me so as to save time on the Report stage.


Gladly. The noble Lord will be aware that my noble friend Lady White expressed her concern about this. That is an added reason for my being willing to do what he has suggested.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

1.6 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 44: Page 13, line 6, at end insert ("and while entering upon, surveying or leaving, agricultural land or premises shall take reasonable care to avoid causing unnecessary harm or disturbance to livestock, crops or enclosures.").

The noble Lord said: We are here back on agricultural land. The phrase that caught my eye in the Bill on page 13, line 6, was "leaving things affectively secured." Naturally, having agricultural experience, I was thinking of gates; but I found it was factory gates and not farm gates. Then I looked at it more closely and it struck me that if it is necessary—and your Lordships may not have felt that it was—to have subsection (6) at all, if it is necessary to give directions to the agents of the Board in this detail about their conduct on private property, then it is probably more necessary that they should be asked to observe the Country Code than that they should be asked to lock the factory doors behind them.

While the subsection envisages them going into an empty hangar, the owner of which cannot be found, if they are going on to land there is a lot that they can do to the disadvantage of the farmer, his crops, stocks and enclosures, without realising it. I do not suppose that they would disregard a foot and mouth order for they would be aware of it; but it is possible to alarm stock and cattle and for them to damage crops which have been sown without their knowledge, and it is particularly possible for them to leave gates open. In my experience, this usually happens when you are alone on the farm, are setting out to dinner with friends 10 miles away and you see your sheep halfway down the village street. This is done in all innocence, perhaps, but it is many miles and many gallons of sweat later that this is realised and forgiveness then comes even harder than at the outset. If we are to have directions, we should have directions analogous to these. I accept that the phraseology of my Amendment may be loose; but if we are to do this for factories then, a fortiori, we should do it for farmers.


In the light of the various potential catastrophes and misfortunes which are liable to befall the noble Lord, I am begining to feel that farming is not all beer and skittles. I feel that this Amendment is not necessary. I should have thought that it goes without saying that the Secretary of State and the Agency will expect any person authorised by them to enter agricultural land to take the utmost care to avoid harm or disturbance. This is true of any land; not only agricultural land.

If they do cause any damage in the exercise of a power of entry then subsection (4) of Clause 21 provides for the payment of compensation in respect of that damage which is recoverable by any person interested in the land from the Secretary of State or the Agency. As has been pointed out, subsection (6) ensures that any person entering on land should leave the premises as effectively secured as he found them; so that the locking of gates is provided for. In the light of what I have said, I hope that the noble Lord will feel it unnecessary to embody in the Statute an ordinary piece of common sense and reasonable and decent conduct that one would expect of anyone carrying out any of these powers.


I have two observations. The first is that one would think it is common sense to lock the door of untenanted and unguarded buildings which are being entered into for the purposes of inspection. It seems to me the same argument applies on the agricultural as on the industrial scene. Since the noble and learned Lord has referred to subsection (4), I should like to say that it appears that it is the land that has to be damaged and not crops and, more specifically, not the stock. Therefore, there may not be recourse under subsection (4). It may be that I am out of order, but I had it in mind, and then decided against it, to inquire what there was in the way of arbitration to reach an agreed figure for damage when a claim was made. I suspect there is a technical answer to that. But I feel that the noble and learned Lord's sympathy for farmers is not quite as evident in the content of what he has said as it was in the manner.

If he does not wish me to proceed with this Amendment, then I am happy to withdraw it on the understanding that I will in the interim try to get advice as to how it could be better drawn. If there is time—and there is a very short time until the next stage of this Bill—for him to add to his already voluminous correspondence to me, he might like to suggest means by which this could be done. I do not think that my farming friends in Wales or elsewhere would thank me for leaving this out of the Bill if it was thought necessary. If it should appear for other people who are not farmers, I do not see why farmers should be less favourably treated.


I will certainly do that. I am in full sympathy with what the noble Lord has in mind and will examine again whether it will be helpful and protective to make some statutory provision.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Power to obtain information]:

1.22 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 45: Page 13, line 29, leave out ("fails") and insert ("refuses or fails without reasonable cause").

The noble and learned Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to prevent the failure by any person required to give information in respect of the ownership of land being regarded as an "absolute" offence, so that the subsection is amended to read: Any person who, having been required … to give any information refuses or fails without reasonable cause to give that information shall be guilty …". This is an Amendment to strengthen and improve the position of the citizen, and to make the provision less draconian than it is in its present form.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord LOVELL-DAVIS moved Amendment No. 46: Page 14, line 7, after ("by") insert ("the Secretary of State").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of the Amendment is to make clear the intention that the Agency should have available to them certain statistical information obtained by the Secretary of State as well as by the Manpower Services Commission, the Employment Services Agency and the Training Services Agency. The fact that the Agency should have this information available to them is already achieved by the subsection and, strictly speaking, therefore, this Amendment could be regarded as unnecessary. It is basically a drafting point to make the intention fully clear that they can have available to them information obtained by the Secretary of State. I might point out that the information referred to in subsection (6) is non-controversial. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule 1 [The Welsh Development Agency]:

Lord LOVELL-DAVIS moved Amendment No. 48: Page 17, line 16, leave out ("approval of the Secretary of State and the Minister for the Civil Service as to numbers") and insert ("consent as to numbers of the Secretary of State; and the Secretary of State shall not give his consent without the approval of the Minister for the Civil Service")

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting Amendment which distinguishes between the quite separate control powers of the two Ministers, the Secretary of State and the Minister for the Civil Service. This avoids any implication, as in the text at present, that there is a joint direct responsibility. I beg to move.

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Members and staff of the Welsh Industrial Estates Corporation]:

1.24 p.m.

Lord CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 48A. Page 20, line 29, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: Paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 is one of considerable importance to the staff who might be injuriously affected by the Bill and by the transfers that might take place as a result. It deals with compensation to such persons who might be adversely affected. In my Amendment, I am proposing to substitute the imperative "shall" for the permissive "may". I do not for a moment imagine that the present Secretary of State or any future one would not make the necessary regulations, but I am bound to say that the staff will feel happier if the word "shall" appears in the Bill, and they will be delighted if my noble and learned friend will accept my small Amendment.

Perhaps I may be permitted to point out to him that there is a precedent for the use of "shall" in the Local Government Act 1972, in what I may regard as the comparable provision. That was inserted in that Act some time ago, but there is a much more recent precedent for the Amendment that I am proposing. Indeed, yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, made an Amendment similar to the one I am now proposing, to the Scottish Development Agency (No. 2) Bill. The Minister himself moved an Amendment to that effect. I am now proposing that in the Welsh Bill the word "shall" shall be substituted for the word "may". I am sure that we in Wales do not always want to be dragged at the heels of Scotland, but I shall be very grateful if we are on this occasion, and if my noble and learned friend will accept the good lead by our Scottish friends. I beg to move.


I doubt whether Welshmen would be willing to be dragged at the heels of anybody. Accordingly, I am very happy to give my fellow countrymen the same rights of compensation as have been bestowed on our brothers and sisters in Scotland and we accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 49. This is a purely drafting Amendment which puts right an inappropriate reference.

Amendment moved— Page 21, line 11, leave out from ("1974") to end of line 12.—(Lord Lovell-Davis.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Financial and administrative provisions relating to Agency]:

Lord LOVELL-DAVIS moved Amendment No. 50: Page 21, line 35, leave out ("financial") and insert ("accounting").

The noble Lord said: This is a purely drafting Amendment. Throughout the Bill, the Agency's year is referred to as "accounting year", and the Government's as "financial year". In this case the reference is to the Agency's year and hence should be "accounting" and not "financing". This is a change in words only, since the Agency's "accounting" year and its "financial" year will be identical. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.


Before we conclude may I, on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the Committee, thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in particular, and also the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and indeed other noble Lords in the Committee who have so helpfully facilitated its progress. I think we have made improvements in the Bill at the Committee stage and there are a large number of matters which we are now going to look at between now and the Report stage to which we shall refer again. It is remarkable that we have taken about half the time that the Scottish Bill took, but it would be churlish of me to leave it like that because we benefited from the earlier discussions in Committee on matters common to both Bills. So it is with no sense of false pride that I make the point. But I thank noble Lords for the way in which the progress of the Bill in Committee has been so ably fulfilled and expedited.


I should like very much to reciprocate those remarks from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. He and the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis, have been most helpful to us in considering our Amendments. I think we have had only one dispute which was resolved by a Division, and apart from that the points we have made have been most fully gone into, and we are very grateful. I should also like to express our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, who struggled single-handed with the Scottish Bill for hours on end, and has facilitated our business very much by putting on record answers to some of the points we were going to raise.

House resumed; Bill reported with the Amendments.

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