I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he satisfied that the present system of arbitration is completely independent, since the arbitrator may be involved with one of the parties? Will he consider a system with an independent chairman—perhaps involving a panel—to ensure true independence?
Mr. Mark Hughes:
Will the hon. Gentleman carefully study these proposals, which seem to have considerable merit, from both the CLA and the NFU, allied to the suggestion by his hon. Friend that the appointment of an arbitrator would make honourable, legal and decent what is infrequent practice in reality?
I must rebut that accusation. The appointment of arbitrators is not a matter of dispute between the parties. The machinery is well established and well organised. My right hon. Friend is meeting both presidents this afternoon to discuss the proposals put forward by the two organisations.
Arbitrators in these matters are appointed either by agreement between the parties or from the Lord Chancellor's panel, from which my Department selects names. There is no difficulty about this matter, but if the hon. Gentleman knows of a specific case I shall be glad to look into it.