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Clause 5. — (the Board's Reports.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Prices and Incomes Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing 12:00 am, 9th August 1966

We thought that we would get a reasonable reply from the Attorney-General to put our fears at rest, but unless he can give a further assurance, I propose that we should divide in favour of the Amendment. He prayed in aid the procedure of the Monopolies Commission, but that is quite different, because the Commission investigates firms in a specific category—large firms with more than a third share of the market. Despite what he says, what is published in the Commission's final report has been discussed at considerable length with the firms concerned.

Therefore, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Commission. This will clearly not be the case under this legislation. We are worried that, as a result of an investigation by the Board, information will be published which is not covered by the present Companies Act, and is not likely to be covered by the Government's future Companies Act. As to the Amendment relating to the High Court, we understood in Committee that no more information would be published than could be obtained anyway by the High Court. We felt that the Amendment might help to overcome this. Additional information should not be obtained and published which is not covered by other legislation.

As it stands, the Clause provides no safeguards. The complicated arguments put forward by the hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour in Committee were not referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Apparently, the Government's defence to the Amendment is totally different on Report from what it was in Committee. Therefore, unless the right hon. and learned Gentleman can convince us otherwise, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will divide.