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Clause 2—(Constitution, Etc, Of Development Councils)

Volume 440: debated on Friday 25 July 1947

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Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 11, at end, insert:

"and shall contain provision for securing that the persons who are included as being of the categories specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the last preceding subsection shall together be of a number constituting a majority of the members of the council"

2.45 p.m.

I beg to move, "This House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment carries out a promise I made during the course of the Report stage.

I would like to thank the President of the Board of Trade for fulfilling so entirely the promise he gave us. During the Committee stage, we pressed the point of trying to secure that either side—either employers or employed—on the development councils, should, under the Bill, have a majority over the independent members. The President of the Board of Trade has not been prepared to go so far as that, but this Amendment, as it stands, has some significance for the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Attewell), who was apparently unable to conceive of circumstances in which employers and employed were in agreement. That happens, and it happens much more often than the hon. Member appears to credit as likely. This Amendment means that if the employers and the employed are both agreed on a subject, they cannot be voted down by the independent members who are appointed at the disposition of the President of the Board of Trade. Therefore, once again, we have a case in which a Governmental wish may not he imposed upon an unwilling industry. An unwilling industry, in this connection, means an industry both sides of which agree that something is desirable or undesirable. I would ask the House to remember that these cases of both sides of industry knowing their own business, and agreeing how it shall be conducted, are much more frequent than those who study the OFFICIAL REPORT might be led to suppose.

I wish to elucidate something in respect of category (c). Is it the intention of the Government to appoint civil servants as independent members? There is a good deal of misunderstanding upon this issue in the country. I have seen it recorded in trade journals that it is the Government's intention to fill all these positions of independent members with civil servants, and so gain control, or an aspect of control, over these development councils.

No, Sir, that is not the intention. It would be entirely contrary to the intention and object to put civil servants in such positions. I do not say that if both sides of an industry came and asked us, for some particular reason, to put a particular civil servant on the council for a particular period of time, we might not consent. But the appointment of civil servants to those positions would be contrary to all my ideas, and to the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.