I beg to move Amendment No. 64, in page 12, line 2, to leave out from 'issued' to the end of line 4.
This presents me with the opportunity on the Floor of the House of celebrating one of those rare occasions when I got near to the Chief Secretary in mind: we very nearly met. It is amazing that in a Bill which is perpetrating an act of great folly there should appear at the top of page 12 the words:
and the arbitration tribunal, in determining the value that the securities would have had as aforesaid, shall have regard to all relevant factors.
The House will surely share my amazement that any arbitration tribunal should be enjoined to
have regard to all relevant factors.
The Chief Secretary said in Committee:
The hon. Member for Yeovil first asked me why one should have the words in. From the tone of his voice he thought it was painfully obvious that one would have regard to all relevant factors whether one had the words in or not. I hope that I do not embarrass him by saying I rather agree with him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 29th November, 1962; c. 1248.]
I am sad to have to state that during much of our proceedings in Committee the Chief Secretary and I were very far from being in that sort of cordiality and agreement. Emboldened by that and anxious to enshrine those feelings in an Act of Parliament, I decided to table the Amendment to give the right hon. Gentleman the chance that he must be longing for to accept it and delete wholly unnecessary words.
The second question I asked the Chief Secretary was what the relevant factors were. The right hon. Gentleman said that, because the list was so lengthy, he did not want to set it out in case something was omitted. The phraseology and terminology that creep into some of these odious Bills always interest me in a mild way. It is occasionally worth while for Members of Parliament to ask Ministers to defend almost indefensible phraseology, whether on grounds of meaning or because it is wholly unnecessary. I have given the right hon. Gentleman a second chance to accept a reasonable and modest Amendment.
What the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) says is true. We covered this ground fully in Committee. I found it difficult to imagine what new points the hon. Gentleman would put to me. He has not put any. He has asked the same questions. I repeat the same argument. To save the time of the House, I refer hon. Members to the proceedings in Committee where I pointed out that, if the words are unobjectionable and if it is perfectly obvious, as I think it is, that every tribunal would have regard to all the relevant issues, there is no harm in putting the words in so as to make it absolutely clear that that is the framework within which the arbitration would take place. Further, as I said in Committee, this follows the precedent of the previous steel nationalisation Act and, if these words, having there appeared, were now to be omitted, lawyers and others might try to put a special interpretation on the fact that they were now omitted. So I thought then, and I think now, that by far the best thing is to leave the words in.
The hon. Gentleman made it clear that this is not a large point. It is a small one. On balance, I think the words should be retained. I do not think the hon. Gentleman needs me to go over again the reasons why, in the interests of the stockholders' representatives, it would be wrong to attempt to list all the factors that might arise in every single consideration which any tribunal might have. It would be far better to leave it absolutely wide and open so that the tribunal could, if it felt so satised, have regard to every single issue put before it, if it was satisfied that they were all relevant issues. In those circumstances, I need delay the House no longer.