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Clause 1—(Alteration Of Composition Of National Coal Board)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 4, at end, insert:

"() The persons from amongst whom the members of the Board are by subsection (3) of section two of the principal Act required to be appointed shall include persons appearing to the Minister to be qualified as having had experience of, and having shown capacity in, the coal-mining industry."

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

This Amendment was inserted on the suggestion of one of the noble Lords in another place who pointed out that there was a difference between the wording of the original Act in respect of the qualifications required to be a member of the Board and the corresponding Clauses in the other Nationalisation Acts. The Coal Nationalisation Act simply describes the persons from whom the Minister must select the members of the Board as being:
"persons appearing to him to be qualified as having experience of, and having shown capacity in, industrial, commercial or financial matters, applied science, administration, or the organisation of workers."
But there was no specific reference to the coal industry, whereas in the case of the Electricity Act the first of the categories from whom the Minister shall appoint Members is:
"persons having had experience of, and having shown capacity in, the generation and supply of electricity…"

Let me begin by congratulating the Minister on accepting so many Amendments. Almost all the Amendments put down by the Government are very good. The Opposition can say so with unchallengeable authority, for they repre- sent proposals made to the Minister both on the Floor of this House and upstairs, and were vehemently denounced by the Minister. We have been kept waiting for weeks and weeks to discuss this Bill because of the obstinacy of the Minister. Now he accepts our Amendments on the recommendation of the other place. I must say that it is a great waste of Parliamentary time for the Minister not to listen to us and then to go through this whole process of coming here to-night and accepting Amendments that were proposed to him during our long discussions on this Bill. The conversion of the Minister is miraculous. Never since Moses struck the rock and found water has there been anything so surprising—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or so wet."]—save, perhaps, the watering of the parched town of Porthcawl by the right hon. and lachrymose Gentleman.

Question put, and agreed to.