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Clause 1—(The Covent Garden Market Authority)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Clause 1 sets up the Covent Garden Market Authority. Perhaps we could be told the composition of this Authority, some of its general powers, and how the Minister sees it working. Perhaps the Minister could give certain assurances which are needed by this side of the Committee, because I understand the position of this Authority is somewhat extraordinary. As I understand, once the Bill leaves the House of Commons this Authority will have enormous powers. We will not be able to ask questions about it.

For example, if I feel that the Authority is doing things inside the market to which I object, I understand that I shall not be able to question the Minister about what is happening. In the Select Committee, Mr. Gerald Gardiner, Q.C. argued on much the same lines about the setting up of this body, with enormous powers. We are unhappy about leaving the position there. Perhaps the Minister would give us some details of the Authority.

As the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) will know, Clause 1 was not amended during the Committee stage. It contains seven subsections. The first sets out that the Authority should be constituted on a certain day appointed by the Minister. Subsection (2) provides that the Authority shall consist of a chairman and a managing director and from three to six other members who would be appointed by the Minister.

As to its powers, the best analogy I can think of—I used it during the Second Reading debate—would be the Port of London Authority. It is true that the hon. Member would not be able to put down Questions in the House about the day-to-day activities of the Authority, but it will not be the only statutory authority of which that is true.

As I say, this Clause has not been changed.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.