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Clause 4—(Annual Report Of Commission)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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I beg to move, in page 2, line 40, to leave out from "day," to the end of line 46, and to insert:

"(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, but subject to the provisions of the next following subsection, the report of the Commission for any period shall include a record of all questions with which the Commission have been concerned during that period and which appear to the Commission to be of general public interest, indicating the purport of any representations or recommendations made by the Commission with respect thereto, and the conclusions reached thereon."
Those who served on the Standing Committee will remember that a crisis arose on Clause 4 when the Government were defeated and were compelled to provide that in the annual report of the Commission there should be inserted a great amount of detail showing particulars of all dealings with Departments, authorities and statutory undertakers, however trivial and unimportant those dealings might be—and some of them might well be trivial and unimportant in the course of 12 months.

This Amendment is an endeavour to rectify the mistake of the Committee. It provides that the Commission shall include in their report a record of all questions with which the Commission have been concerned during the period which appear to them to be of general public interest. In fact, it seeks to treat the Commission as a serious and responsible body. It should not be treated as a body which has to be told every little thing which it must put into its annual report. I hope the House will accept the Amendment, which I think is reasonable, and which gives directions to the Commission so far as they ought to be given, but no further.

The rebuff which the Government suffered in the Standing Committee appears to have had a salutary effect on the right hon. Gentleman, and, while this Amendment does not go all the way of those who supported the Amendment in Committee, I should myself regard it as on the whole a satisfactory compromise between what is possible and what is ideal, and I shall therefore support the right hon. Gentleman.

As the reluctant architect of the Minister's downfall in Committee on this matter, I am glad to see him reinstated in harmony with us by this Amendment. He is accepting his defeat to a certain degree, and I welcome the signs of reform on the part of the Minister.

Amendment agreed to.