Clause 5. — (Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to the Corporation.)

Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1967.

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12 m.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

I beg to move Amendment No. 40, in page 5, line 29, to leave out from 'manner' to the end of line 30.

The object of this Amendment is to delete the words: notwithstanding that the directions may be of a specific character. It has always been the limiting factor upon directions given to a nationalised industry by a Minister that they should be of a general character. So far as I can see, with a Clause like this it would be possible for any Member of Parliament to put down Questions asking for any specific direction to be given. I feel that it is wrong for Ministers to have powers for giving specific directions. I hope that the Minister will think about this again and will decide that his powers of generally directing the Corporation are sufficient without taking this Dower for giving specific directions.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

The purpose of this Clause as it stands is not to empower the Minister to interfere in the detailed running of the industry. It is directed at the issue of organisation, and it is on those grounds that one must judge it.

Clause 5(2) is an essential corollary to Clause 4 which requires the Corporation to review its organisation and to submit reports to the Minister from time to time. This Clause ensures that the final decisions rest with the Minister, by giving him the power, for the use and non-use of which he is answerable to Parliament, to direct the Corporation on organisation. We believe that any weakening of this power would upset the balance between Clauses 4 and 5 and would weaken Ministerial and Parliamentary control over the organisation of the nationalised industry. It will be noticed that all my remarks are directed to that particular word "organisation" and to no other. For that reason, we feel that the Clause should remain as it is.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

It is a little difficult to accept that reply. If the Parliamentary Secretary will read the words of this subsection he will see: The power conferred by the said section 4"— I agree that we are dealing with the organisation— on the Minister to give directions to the Corporation shall extend to the giving to them of such directions as appear to him to be requisite to secure that the carrying on of the activities that have fallen to be carried on under the ultimate control of the Corporation is organized… and so on.

It seems to me that if one is giving directions on the question of how the Corporation organises its method of performing the functions put upon it by this Bill, the directions go right the way through to the functions of the Corporation. I do not see that under this subsection as drafted the Minister will not be able to give specific directions to the Corporation covering more or less all of its functions and not just the question of how it organises itself.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

The key words in the subsection to which the hon. Gentleman referred are in line 27. I had better read from the beginning of this subsection: The power conferred by the said section 4 on the Minister to give directions to the Corporation shall extend to the giving to them of such directions as appear to him to be requisite to secure that the carrying on of the activities that have fallen to be carried on under the ultimate control of the Corporation is organised, so far as regards the direction thereof"— these are the key words: in the most efficient manner, notwithstanding that the directions may be of a specific character. I get the impression that the hon. Member is perhaps reading into the Clause more than is intended by the drafting of it. He can rest assured that the Clause does relate to organisation and not to interference in the detailed activities of the Corporation.

Amendment negatived.