Clause 8. — (Supplementary Provisions as to Registration, References and Applications.)

Orders of the Day — Resale Prices Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1964.

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Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton 12:00 am, 13th May 1964

I beg to move Amendment No. 46, in page 8, line 8, to leave out from beginning to "shall" in line 9 and to insert: (supplementary provisions as to regulations)". This is purely a drafting Amendment. The words in question simply describe the broad purport of Section 19, subsections (2), (3) and (4) of the 1956 Act, which are made to apply to Regulations made by the Registrar under the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In line 20, leave out from beginning to end of line 21, and insert: of the following costs incurred by any other party, that to say—

  1. (a) costs incurred on a reference under section 5 of this Act, or on an application under section 7(1) of this Act, in respect of any issue determined in favour of that party, being an issue which in the opinion of the Court substantially corresponds with an issue so determined in proceedings under Part I of the said Act of 1956; or
  2. (b) costs incurred on an application under section 7(2) of this Act in respect of an issue determined in favour of that party".—[Mr. du Cann.]

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

I beg to move Amendment No. 48, in line 23, to leave out from beginning to "who" in line 24 and to insert: shall include provisions—

  1. (a) for enabling the Court on the application of the Registrar or of any party interested, to give directions with respect to the goods to be included in or excluded from any reference or application under section 5 or section 7 of this Act;
  2. (b) for securing that retailers and trade associations representing employees in the distributive trades".
I think that it would be convenient for the Committee to discuss, at the same time, Amendment No. 50.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

If that be convenient, so be it.

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

We touched on this Amendment in some of our deliberations earlier this afternoon. Amendment No. 48 has two separate functions. It deals with two distinct points which must be covered in the rules of procedure which the Lord Chancellor may make in relation to proceedings before the Court.

First, the rules must make provision for appeals against the Registrar's grouping of goods for the purposes of a reference to the Court under Clause 6(6). I dare say that the House will remember very well the discussions which we had on this point in Committee. I myself remember, and I am glad to recall to the House, the speeches made on the subject by the hon. and learned Member for Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) and my hon. Friends the Members for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and for Putney (Sir H. Linstead).

The position is that the Bill as drafted makes no provision for challenging the Registrar's grouping. These Amendments remedy this. Rules will be required to permit any interested party, including the Registrar himself, to apply to the Court for a direction varying the reference by including or excluding particular goods. It is clear that suppliers might wish to appeal against the grouping either at the initial hearing or on an application to the Court to review an earlier decision. The Amendment relates to both cases. Basically, that is the first point.

The second point is that the rules must provide for a right of audience before the Court for trade associations of employees with an interest in a case, and "trade associations of employees" naturally, includes trade unions. The Bill as drafted makes such provision for retailers, but not for employees. Again, there was some discussion in Committee about the legitimate interests of employees in the debates we had on the proposed new gateways for Clause 5 and on Clause 8. I remember particularly the intervention of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Winterbottom) and the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby, the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells), the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne).

I think it right also to pay a tribute to the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley) and to remind the House that, undoubtedly, he would have wished to wax eloquent on this subject had he not been unavoidably detained elsewhere at the time. We all know his deep interest in these matters. At all events, we undertook to consider what could be done to allow employees as well as retailers to have a right of audience.

In sum, the first Amendment fulfils the undertakings which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave to the Committee gladly and willingly during our deliberations on these points. The second Amendment is purely consequential upon the first. I commend them both to the House.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

We welcome these Amendments. We regard as of great importance the one dealing with the grouping of goods and classes of goods. It is desirable that there should be no interested party, supplier or anyone else, thinking that the investigation of the Court is in any way tainted because, initially, there has been an unsatisfactory process of grouping in the reference. This point was made from both sides of the Committee, and the Amendment appears to meet the difficulty there.

We on this side of the House particularly, perhaps, welcome the provision that regulations shall be made to cover the wish of trade associations representing employees in the distributive trades to be present at a hearing.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

It is probably my fault, but I am not clear on one point. It seems to me that Clause 8(3) deals with two separate matters. I take it that the latter part as amended deals with the main proceedings before the Court. The earlier part, taking into account the first Amendment, deals with the right to appear before the Court in an appeal on a grouping or regrouping. However, this is not very material to the question I have in mind.

5.15 p.m.

I am concerned about the present position regarding costs, especially as it will affect trade unions which are, quite properly brought in by the Amendment. I am not referring to any error on the part of the Registrar having put people in jeopardy again, with the chance of losing the case, as it were. I am talking about the present position as regards the initial costs of the hearing. It seems to me that the Clause ought properly and logically to be extended in the way I have in mind, but sometimes these things are overlooked in the course of drafting.

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

If I may have the leave of the House, I should like to reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole). I do not think that there is any difficulty about it. As I understood his question, the position is entirely in order, but, as he has kindly taken the trouble to bring the point to my notice I shall verify what I have said and, if there is any difficulty, I shall let my hon. Friend know.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 8, line 26, leave out "the proceedings" and insert: any such reference or application".—[Mr. du Cann.]

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

I beg to move, in page 8, line 32, to leave out "shall include a reference" and to insert: and in section 34 of that Act (proceedings of the Board of Trade) the reference to that Act, shall include references". This is largely a technical Amendment, but it is a good deal more than a matter of drafting. The Amendment makes provision for the exercise of powers conferred on the Board of Trade. The House will recall that we touched on this matter during our deliberations on other Amendments. Clause 6(1) as amended in Committee provides that the Board of Trade might direct the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements as to the order in which exemption cases are to be brought before the Court under Clause 5. It is necessary, therefore, to include the customary statutory provision regarding the exercise of the powers of the Board of Trade.

I spoke earlier about simplification and lack of verbiage. In this case, instead of setting out what one might describe as the customary paragraph in detail and in full, we have done the job by attracting the existing provisions of Section 34 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956.

In other words, this Amendment is necessary by virtue of the Amendment we have already made to Clause 6(1), an Amendment which had the support of the whole Committee at the time. I hope that the House will think that what we propose now is desirable and right.

Amendment agreed to.