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Commons Chamber

Volume 915: debated on Tuesday 22 June 1976

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House Of Commons

Tuesday 22nd June 1976

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

British Transport Docks Bill

Order for Third Reading read.

Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.

Read the Third time and passed.

Foyle And Londonderry College Bill Lords

Hove Borough Council Bill Lords

Read a Second time and committed.

Cromarty Petroleum Order Confirmation

Mr Millan presented a Bill to confirm a Provisional Order under Section 8 of the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936, relating to Cromarty Petroleum; and the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Wednesday 30th June and to be printed. [Bill 167.]

Oral Answers To Questions


Industrial Disputes


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers were involved in industrial disputes in the first four months of 1976 compared with the first four months of 1975.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many working days were lost because of industrial disputes in the first four months of 1976 compared with the first four months of 1975.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many stoppages of work because of industrial dispute occurred in the first four months of 1976 compared with the first four months of 1975.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many stoppages of work because of industrial dispute occurred in the first four months of 1976 compared with the first four months of 1975.

Provisional estimates show that 625 stoppages due to disputes began in the period January to April 1976 compared with 905 in the same period in 1975, that 249,800 workers were involved in all stoppages in progress in this period compared with 349,500 in the same period in 1975, and that 1,188,000 working days were lost compared with 2.106,000 in the same period in 1975.

Will my right hon. Friend appreciate that those figures are encouraging? Can he tell us how these figures compare with some of our industrial competitors?

International comparisons are difficult and can sometimes be misleading, but the general tendency in industrial countries is that they have an increasing number of days lost due to disputes, and our figures are considerably better than those of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and Italy.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that these figures represent a success for the policy of conciliation rather than confrontation? This takes us back to the level of stoppages in 1967 before successive Governments produced legalistic nonsense for binding the trade union movement. Does he also agree that, in order to retain the good will and support of the trade union movement, urgent action must be taken over the level of unemployment, including urgent consideration of matters like selective import controls, particularly in areas such as the textile industry, and more investment by the National Enterprise Board to create jobs?

I would say to my hon. Friend that certainly the number of days lost in this period are lower than at any time since 1968. As to the cause, I would agree with him to the extent that a very large measure of it is due to attempts at conciliation by the work of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. I would also say that it is partly due to pursuing industrial relations policies as well as our policy of consensus and co-operation rather than of confrontation and legal intervention. However, part of the overall relationship with the trade union movement must involve the other factors that my hon. Friend has raised. I would agree that they are most important.

Can the Secretary of State say whether the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is doing an industry-by-industry survey to see whether disputes procedures should be improved? There are many manufacturing industries in which improvements really ought to be made so that the procedure is used before there is a stoppage.

It is certainly within the scope of ACAS to look at procedures used for the conciliation of disputes within industry, and its general remit is to urge people to use their own procedures before coming to ACAS. My Department has recently published a record of the outcome of our inquiry into the level of strikes in this country, and on examining that I might take up the point raised by the hon. Gentleman in respect of ACAS to see whether there is a rôle for an industry-by-industry examination.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the answer he gave initially was very encouraging? Does he further agree that unemployment is a new and terrible discipline which is now descending upon a vast number of working people? Far more time and production is lost by unemployment than by all the strikes put together. Would my right hon. Friend accept that it really is time that something was done to prevent more and more massive unemployment from taking place?

Of course, one can enormously exaggerate the loss of production which results from strikes. Certainly much more production is lost by unemployment and much more is lost by industrial disease and injury as well. We have to tackle this question of unemployment irrespective of the industrial relations implications. Although there are improvements, some of the things which lead to unemployment can also lead to industrial disputes, and all of us would wish to see a reduction in industrial disputes as well as a great reduction in unemployment.

Is it not essential that the Secretary of State should compare the figures he has given this afternoon alongside the figures for unemployment during the same period? Does he not think that as unemployment rises strikes tend to fall? Can he tell the House what moral he draws from that?

I have certainly tried to make this comparison of the correlation between disputes and unemployment in respect of other periods of high unemployment, but there is no evidence of a comparable fall in industrial disputes. I have come to the conclusion that many things which have caused disputes are similar to the causes of unemployment, like strikes against attempts to bring about massive lay-offs and closures. I cannot accept that the number of disputes is in any way connected with the high level of unemployment.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that these are most encouraging figures? Does he not think, however, that they are not just a flash in the pan but more of a long-term industrial strategy worked out between the Government and the unions?

I certainly do. They are not a flash in the pan even statistically, because the comparisons that we were making were with 1975, which was a year of low industrial dispute figures, particularly in the period of the year considered. As my hon. Friend has said, this owes much to the developing relationship which has improved industrial relations generally and made for greater national discussion of policies among the TUC, the Government and employers.

Would the Secretary of State agree that all who have helped to achieve this improvement in industrial relations—this substantial reduction in the number of strikes—deserve our commendation and congratulations? By "all" I mean both sides of industry and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Would he repudiate the over-simpliste interpretation which tends to praise trade unions when the number of strikes comes down but is not prepared to blame trade unions when the number of strikes goes up? Will he have another look at the correlation between the numbers of unemployed and the numbers of strikes, because my reading of numbers in the past is that there is some correlation?

I have given my views on the question of correlation, which I stand by, but this is not a matter for praise or blame of trade unions. I am ready to acknowledge that employers as well as unions were prepared to refer matters to ACAS in advance of ACAS being established as an independent statutory body. However, in the particular areas in which special responsibilities have been laid on ACAS there were some references by unions, some jointly by unions and employers and some by employers alone. But it is fair to say in defence of the general view of some of my hon. Friends as to the rôle of the trade unions that more came forward from the unions alone than from the other two sources put together.

Redundancy Payments


asked the Secretary of State for Employment when the weekly wage of £80 was fixed as the maximum to be taken into account for assessing redundancy payments; and what that figure would now represent if calculated at current prices.

The limit of £80 was fixed by Order made on 31st July 1974 and became effective for dismissals occurring on or after 28th August 1974. It is estimated that approximately £112 would have been required in April 1976 to purchase goods valued at £80 in August 1974.

As presumably at the time that this level was fixed it was deemed to be fair and therefore, by implication, it is not fair today, why has no review taken place? When will a review take place?

A review will take place during 1977 under the Employment Protection Act. The original figure was such as to include all but the top 3 per cent. of those receiving pay, excluding overtime. The present £80 does that except for the top 10 per cent. We believe that the time is not yet ripe for a review.

Textile Workers (Unemployment)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest total of unemployed people in West Yorkshire whose last employment was in the textile industry.

At 13th May the total was 4,569.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, for the most part, this tragic toll of unemployed men and women are victims of unfair competition by foreign textile industries? Would he further agree that there is little point in applying sticking plaster to an industry which is bleeding to death? Will he therefore make representations to the Secretary of State for Industry asking for urgent and extensive import controls to be introduced? Secondly, will he take specific measures to assist the textile industries, which are suffering from additional problems of decline, since ways of boosting employment are urgently needed in these areas, which are suffering very badly?

My hon. Friend knows that the present coverage of import restraints for the textile industry as a whole has never been wider. I think he also knows the Government's views about the difficulties of widespread and non-selective controls and the fears of retaliation. However, I shall certainly draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Industry. I think that my hon. Friend is to meet the Minister of State at that Department in the near future to discuss these matters.

Has the Minister made an estimate for national unemployment in the coming months and years? If so, will he share it with the House and the country?

Does my hon. Friend accept that the situation in the cotton and allied fibres industry in the North-West is at least as bad as that in West Yorkshire and that in industries employing a large number of women the unemployment figures tend to be understated? Will he take note of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) about import controls, particularly the point that, although we have wide and all-embracing controls, they are so high that they make no damned difference?

I certainly share my hon. Friend's anxiety about the North-West, but I have already answered the question about import controls. Despite what my hon. Friend says, I should not have thought it was true to say that they are having no effect at all. I think that they are having a substantial effect.

Is my hon. Friend aware that all the people involved in the industry—employers and unions—believe that the present import controls, although they have been extended, still fall far short of being adequate to deal with the problem and that when they are imposed they are far too little and far too late to be effective? The stuff is already here before action is taken.

I cannot add to what I have said, except to repeat that I will certainly draw my right hon. Friend's attention to what has been said today.

Training Board Levies (Small Businesses)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will ensure that exemption for small businesses from training board levies moves in line with the movement of wages in those industries in which the exemption is based upon the total of wages paid annually.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that this factor is always taken into account where the exemption level for small businesses is based on the total of emoluments paid. It is not, however, the only factor influencing the level of exemption.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that between 1974 and 1975 levy exemption was raised by 17·3 per cent. but that in the same period wages rose by 25·5 per cent., so that there is a substantial lag? Will he draw that factor to the attention of the Manpower Services Commission? Secondly, what are the other factors to which he has referred?

I will draw the attention of the Commission to the facts that the hon. Gentleman draws to our notice. The other factors include the extent of the training needs in the particular industries, the ability of the training boards to provide service to small businesses and the cost effectiveness of providing a service to small firms.

Does not the ability to provide services vary vastly from one area to another? Could the less good areas be brought up to the standard of the best?

We hope to achieve a uniform standard throughout the United Kingdom, but certainly this is a matter which the Manpower Services Commission and the training boards will take into account.

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that small businesses have been clobbered in a variety of ways by actions of the present Government and that some easement in this area would be very helpful?

The Government leaves it to the industrial training boards and the Manpower Services Commission to work out the needs of particular industries. That policy will continue.

School Leavers


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to improve job prospects for school leavers during 1976.

The Government have already taken a large number of measures, including the job creation programme, the recruitment subsidy for school leavers, additional resources for training, Community Industry and the careers service to deal with unemployment among school leavers and other young people. These measures are under review, especially in the light of yesterday's debate on youth unemployment.

Will the Minister confirm that this country is currently short of certain vital industrial skills and is likely to remain so? Will he consider publishing a list of those skills with a view to allowing employers who took on and trained school leavers to approve standards to recover the cost of that training in full?

This question will be discussed in the consultative document, which, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced yesterday, will be published shortly for consultation.

When my hon. Friend reviews job prospects for school leavers, will he ask the Home Secretary why many police authorities have discontinued police cadet training? Would he agree that the money spent on police cadet training is money well spent? It is good training for a good job and is in the best interests of the nation.

I will draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

In view of the high level of unemployment in the West Midlands, particularly among school leavers, why are the Government trying to stop firms from going to the West Midlands?

My understanding is that the Government have relaxed the industrial development certificate provisions and that this relaxation has been most helpful in the West Midlands.

Is my hon. Friend in a position to respond to the question which I put to the Secretary of State last night? Will he undertake to set in train discussions between his own Department and the Department of Education and Science, or between the Training Services Agency and the local education authorities, so that TSA resources can be put at the disposal of local education authorities to enable them to provide vocational courses for young people? If this were done, it would also take up the slack in the employment of teachers.

Before I came into the Chamber this afternoon I had the pleasure of reading in Hansard my hon. Friend's remarks of last night. I also noted the categorical assurances given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. This is a matter which is being studied.

Although the Government survived last night's vote, we heard this morning that 122,905 school leavers are unemployed. There are many hon. Members on all sides of the House who are not prepared to sit back and watch young people's hopes and ambitions being frustrated. What are the Government going to do?

We dealt with this matter very fully in the debate yesterday. We gave categorical assurances that the Government would deal with the problem as urgently as possible.

Does the Minister accept that today's figures are very alarming? Seasonally-adjusted figures for the number of vacancies notified, which cover young people and others, indicate a very serious trend. Will the Government look at these figures with a greater sense of urgency and a greater sense of concern?

There could be no greater concern than that which is felt on this Bench at the figures published this morning. One of the additional problems is the fact that the school leaving date was brought forward and employers have not yet adjusted to this in their recruitment measures.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs are at present available which would be suitable for school leavers.

27,719 unfilled vacancies were held by careers offices on 4th June. These include many which would be suitable for school leavers, but it is expected that some employers will not notify vacancies specifically for school leavers until later this summer.

Is the Minister aware that that answer—and, indeed, all the others he has given this afternoon—will give absolutely no hope to the unemployed school leavers? Is he further aware that the best way to help them would be to abandon the Price Code, thus allowing employers to take on school leavers while at the same time seeing a return on their investment?

I think that it will be some encouragement—although the situation is still bad—that the number of unfilled vacancies has increased from 24,476 in April to 27,719 in June. The Government believe that a wide range of measures is needed, such as have been pursued in the past 12 months, to deal with this pressing problem.

Will my right hon. Friend have discussions with the Secretary of State for Social Services as a matter of urgency with a view to looking at the training and employment of school leavers in the professions supplementary to medicine? Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a grave shortage of speech therapists, physiotherapists and many other categories, and that we could do with a full long-term programme in order to fill those vacancies?

Health And Safety (Further Education Institutions)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to extend the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to students in schools, universities and other institutions of further and higher education.

I am advised by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that schools, universities and other institutions of further and higher education are already covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. The interests of students are taken into account by provisions of the Act intended to protect the health and safety of other people who may be affected by the activities of an undertaking.

Does my hon. Friend accept that it is not really satisfactory to cover the interests of students indirectly? It would be much fairer if the Act was extended to cover students directly. It is an anomalous situation that young people of the same age, who are handling the same substances and the same equipment, can be covered directly or indirectly according to whether they are technicians or students. Will my hon. Friend consider this matter, and discuss it with the National Union of Teachers and the National Union of students?

I take the point. The Health and Safety Commission has directed the Health and Safety Executive to study the conditions of work in schools, colleges and universities. We should await the report before making any preliminary judgments.

Retraining (Rural Areas)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied that the opportunities for retraining of persons resident in rural areas are sufficiently adaptable to take account of the inherent geographical problems and specific job requirements in country districts.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the Training Opportunities Scheme—TOPS—offers a wide scope of training to people in rural areas through the variety of its courses, the adaptability of its training to local needs, and its network of training establishments.

Training is available in skillcentres, colleges of further education and employers' establishments. TOPS facilities have been greatly expanded and expansion is continuing. In addition, the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas has embarked on an expansion programme designed to increase the range and scope of training which it provides in traditional rural crafts and other occupations.

I am grateful to the Minister. Has he considered the concept of a mobile training and retraining unit, particularly in rural areas, offering a limited number of courses based on existing facilities such as local authority or educational workshops? This could be an extension of the evening-class concept in certain trades, crafts and skills.

I have not considered this matter, but it seems to be a useful and constructive suggestion. However, I see all sorts of difficulties in the way of it. Nevertheless, I shall draw it to the attention of the Training Services Agency.

Will the Minister accept that there are great difficulties for young people living in rural areas? They want to travel to the towns and cities to get jobs, but the bus services in rural areas do not allow them to go to distant places. Will the hon. Gentleman draw this to the attention of his right hon. Friend, or will he at least arrange for a subsidy for these young people's travelling expenses?

It is true that there are difficulties in rural areas where the population is too scattered to provide skill-centres, and there is a difficulty in travelling to the nearest town in which there is a college of further education. Lodging allowances and travelling allowances are available under the scheme to help these people, but I believe that there is some difficulty in the fact that adequate information is not always generally available.

Unemployed Persons


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of unemployed and the percentage rate in the West Midlands and in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively, at the latest available date; and how he expects the situation to develop in each of these areas.

On 10th June 1976 the total number unemployed and the percentage rate of unemployment in the West Midlands was 127,148–5·6 per cent.; in England, 1,060,721–5·4 per cent.; in Scotland, 144,134–6·7 per cent.; in Wales, 73,796–7·2 per cent.; and in Northern Ireland 53,954–10·4 per cent.

I would expect falls in the current high levels of unemployment accompanying our recovery from the present economic recession to vary on an industrial rather than a geographical basis.

Are not these the worst figures since before the war? For all their talk, the Government have failed. To what extent has the protection of jobs in Wales and Scotland worsened the employment position in England?

These are extremely bad figures; there is no denying that. I take the view that the development area policies of successive Governments have resulted in unemployment in Wales and Scotland in relation to other parts of the country being lower at this time than during any other slump. The recent measures that we introduced to alleviate unemployment were not confined to the development areas in recognition of the fact that there was an inordinately high level in other places.

Referring to the point made earlier by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), with unemployment in the West Midlands being above the national average, as it has been for some time, may I ask whether we may have a categorical assurance from my right hon. Friend that relaxation of industrial development certificate policy in the West Midlands will continue as industrial recovery gets under way and that firms which want to expand in the West Midlands will be able to do so?

I appreciate the way in which my hon. Friend has pursued this matter with me both from his constituency and in the House. I have looked into it most carefully. It is not the case, however, that jobs in the West Midlands are being hampered by the IDC policy. The situation is being helped now by greater flexibility. I am sorry to say that the causes of high unemployment in the West Midlands are to be found elsewhere and in areas which are possibly more difficult to deal with than the IDC policy.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is unfortunate that the figures should be produced on the day on which he has to answer Questions on the subject? The figure for Scotland, which is quite appalling, will be inflated in 10 days' time by 65,000 school leavers, who, if they do not obtain jobs, will increase our rate to about 10 per cent. Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question which the Secretary of State for Scotland ducked in his reply to the debate last night? Will he tell those school leavers just what chance they have of getting a job in present circumstances?

On the timing of Questions, obviously I would have preferred a little longer to study the figures. I have, however, examined the position in Scotland against the current figures, and I have found that our manpower measures as of now are producing only about 18,000 jobs in Scotland. There is obviously a long way to go yet on the take-up of these measures.

As to the specific problem of school leavers, we anticipate that there must be a substantial increase in these projections of the number of unemployed school leavers in Scotland, and therefore we must do our utmost to see that we achieve this year what we achieved last year by special measures—a dramatic reduction in the number of unemployed school leavers.

The IDC policy as such is not responsible for the level of unemployment in the West Midlands or anywhere else. The responsibility lies with the fact that our policies do not match up to the immediate needs of the situation. Will my right hon. Friend indicate to the House what measures the Government intend to take rather than give platitudes in dealing with this crisis?

I agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's analysis of the situation. In light of the figures I have announced, one is justified in saying that the measures taken to deal with the problem are not sufficient. Nevertheless, the West Midlands area has benefited not only from the Job Creation Scheme, the temporary employment subsidy and the school leavers' recruitment subsidy, for which I am responsible to this House, but from measures taken by the Secretary of State for Industry to support the machine tool industry and the vehicle building industry. I contend, therefore, that against the worst economic recession the country has known since the 1930s we must go on to seek to develop more effective measures and a more effective policy. It is not the case, however, that we have not attempted to deal with the unemployment problem outside development areas.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the Government's devolution proposals will increase competition for scarce jobs between one part of Britain and another? Will he explain how those proposals and policies will improve job prospects throughout the United Kingdom?

I must concede that I have been unable to make such an effective appreciation of the devolution proposals. However, I cannot on the evidence before me see how the proposals can aid the overall employment situation or the situation in individual countries within the United Kingdom to which they apply. They will, of course, raise the problem of how far individual national agencies dealing with economic measures can work effectively as opposed to a system in which some of the measures and policies are worked out in a co-ordinated manner on a United Kingdom basis.

Will my right hon. Friend indicate how the figures compare with those of France and Germany?

I cannot give the exact figures, but on the last comparison which I made the situation in those countries was comparable to ours, although in the case of France our position was slightly better.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no evidence that under any Government, when an industrial development certificate is refused for a relatively small firm, the firm is likely to expand in a development area? Is he aware that it simply does not expand? Therefore, while I welcome the more flexible policy that the Secretary of State announced, I should like to know why on earth the Government tightened the policy when they came to office.

I agree to the extent that one cannot conduct an IDC policy in isolation and one cannot expect that when a firm is refused an IDC for one location it will automatically move to another area which is aided. The decision to tighten up was taken in conjunction with other measures of special help to development areas. One of the actions we have taken, recognising the problem now, is to permit the replacement of factories which have fallen out of use in some of those areas, including the West Midlands, and we believe that this can be of much more assistance than the IDC policy.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole House will regard these figures as extremely grave? Is he aware that, whereas the figures in other countries are now improving, our figures are getting worse? Does that not reinforce the need for a change in economic policy, although not the change indicated by the Secretary of State? Does he accept that the best way to get industry moving and to reduce the unemployment figures will be to change economic policy so that the Government are seen to be supporting private industry and private investment, in which case the country could feel confidence enough to invest, which it is not doing now? Is he aware that when we get the investment we shall get the jobs?

Since the Government are advocating a change of industrial strategy and economic policy I must, of course, agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is a need for change. As for the comparisons with other countries, it is true that they are improving their position. Some of them have a great deal of room for improvement compared with Britain. In Belgium, for example, the seasonally-adjusted figure is 8·6 per cent. In Canada it is 7·4 per cent. and in the United States it is 7·3 per cent. I agree that the French figure has fallen, but against these considerations is the fact that there was a substantial increase in Government expenditure here to deal with the problems, particularly of employment. We believe that to be justified and we believe that it has held our figures at a lower level than those in many comparable industrial countries through a year of deep economic depression.

Training Opportunities


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what further plans he has for expanding training opportunities in industry.

In February my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that an extra £55 million would be made available this year to provide additional training. I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that financial support for up to 35,000 training places for new entrants in 1976–77—including over 26,000 extra places—has already been offered to industrial training boards. The MSC and the Government jointly will shortly be publishing a consultative document putting forward, without commitment, a possible scheme of collective funding for initial training in transferable skills in selected occupations.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he accept that it is now an observable fact that in each succeeding business cycle the level of unemployment increases? Therefore, is it not now necessary to place industrial training in the absolute forefront of our industrial life? Will my hon. Friend observe the success which the Swedes have had in maintaining a low level of unemployment through industrial training, and will he seriously consider imposing a substantial general training levy on all firms?

My hon. Friend was correct in his opening reference to a discernible tendency towards higher unemployment. I think he recognises that the Government have indicated their commitment to an expansion of training by the significant extra sums of money they have made available for the purpose and the large increase in the number of skillcentre places available, in addition to the extra that we have provided for industry itself. Certainly there is a benefit in looking, as we have done, at the range of labour market policies which have been used in Sweden. The Swedes have applied not merely training but a whole range of policies.

In country towns which have industry but which are often quite a long way from retraining facilities, should we not encourage local authorities, local business men and local education interests to get together with industry to "do their own thing" much more in retraining unemployed people?

The hon. Gentleman will know that in respect of local government itself there is a local government training board run by the local authorities. I think that the arrangements that the Government have through the Manpower Services Commission and the Training Services Agency are sufficiently flexible to allow them to take into account the need of particular localities and the views and contribution that individual employers and authorities can make. But certainly what the hon. Gentleman has said deserves reflection.

Bearing in mind the deplorable record of British industry with regard to day release, what steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that, as the profitability of manufacturing industry increases, the record of day release of trainees will also improve?

Certainly, I think we would welcome any increase in facilities for day release, but my hon. Friend will realise that this is primarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Trade Union Membership (Closed Shop)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many employees have been dismissed for refusing to join a trade union since 1st January 1976; and whether he is satisfied with the operation of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act so far as the closed shop is involved.

The information requested in the first part of the Question is not available. The answer to the second part of the Question is "Yes".

But does not the Minister think that he ought to obtain that information? Ought not the Government to take steps to protect the livelihood of those individuals, many of whom have given a lifetime of service to an industry and who are now being dismissed for no other reason than that they wish to exercise their right of free conscience?

The Government have no power to obtain the information that the hon. Member seeks. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman suggests that the Government should take that power.

Even the hon. Gentleman's own Government in 1971 had to throw away their attempts at a complete outlawing of the closed shop and to recognise that there was a place for it in some industries. Our position in these matters is one of strict neutrality, leaving it to people in industry to handle these matters for themselves.

Will my hon. Friend agree that in the history of the growth of the trade union movement there have been many thousands of trade unionists who have lost their jobs for daring to join a trade union? Will he also agree that it should now be the task of the House and of people on all sides to encourage all working people to join their appropriate union?

My hon. Friend is quite right in saying that there has been a long record of victimisation and blacklisting of people for their trade union activities. I hope that the House will join my hon. Friend in encouraging members of trade unions.

Will the Minister join with decent people in condemning the sacking of those who have served a lifetime in an industry and not been members of a trade union? Is it not intolerable that the closed shop should be used in this way to sack that sort of person?

I think that the hon. Gentleman and the House ought first to appreciate that what the Government have done is to restore the legal position to what it was in 1970, before the Conservative Government introduced their disastrous Industrial Relations Act, with all the evil consequences and damage which flowed from that.

There is now a tribunal to which recourse is available for those who may feel that they have been unjustly dismissed. There is specific exemption in the 1974 Act for those who have genuine religious objections to membership of a trade union. If there have been unfair dismissals, the proper recourse of the people concerned is to the tribunal.

I beg to give notice that I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.



Will the Prime Minister tell the people of Wessex and the House what he would say if he were Leader of the Opposition coming to Prime Minister's Question Time on the day when the Government announce unemployment figures in excess of 1,300,000?

I would say to the people of Wessex what I would say to the rest of the country, namely, that the figures are unacceptably high, that they are the consequence of economic policies which allowed our monetary system to get out of control, that it is important that we should overcome inflation, and that we should use all possible opportunities through training for our young people to get these figures down as low as possible. If I were Leader of the Opposition, I would go on to say that I therefore give full support to the efforts of the trade unions in their attempt to introduce an incomes policy.

Will my right hon. Friend agree that one of the last people to make regular official visits to Wessex was King Arthur, head of the workers' co-operative of Knights of the Round Table? Was it not his function in life to bring light to dark areas of Conservative England?

Yes, Sir, and I think that another frequent visitor was King Alfred. He burnt the cakes, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would never do that.

What has happened since October 1974, when unemployment was said by the Government to be coming under control, to lead to the devastating and intolerable figures that the Government have announced today?

I think that what has happened is that in September 1973 the increase in the money supply had reached the never before achieved level of 28·5 per cent. under the M3 system. That was inevitably bound to lead to inflation of an unprecedented character. It has done so, and we have now started as a country, I am glad to say, to correct the errors of the last Administration.

Will the Prime Minister answer my question, which referred to October 1974?

I am giving an answer to the right hon. Gentleman, but I cannot give him an understanding.

Has my right hon. Friend seen the Conservative publication Free Nation for 11th June, which puts forward immediate and enormous public expenditure cuts of over £16,000 million? Would my right hon. Friend like to say what effect such cuts would have on our unemployment situation?

The cutting of public expenditure now would, of course, lead to additional unemployment. I have made this clear time after time, and I have spoken of the dilemma that will face the country in 1977 and 1978, when it is expected that investment will increase very considerably, thanks to returning confidence. The latest forecast is that companies hope and expect to increase their private investment in new plant and machinery by 15 per cent. If that is so, it will have certain consequences for Government policy.

If the Prime Minister meets the people of Wessex, what does he think they will think of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who persuades the trade unions against the child benefit scheme on the ground that the Cabinet is against it, and then the very next day persuades the Cabinet against it on the ground that the TUC is against it? Is not this, even by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's standards, an extraordinarily low piece of double-dealing?

Personal attacks of this nature are becoming characteristic of the Opposition. The way in which the discussions on this matter have been held and the approaches made involve no criticism of my right hon. Friend or anybody else. The Government have taken their decision after perfectly sensible and fair discussion.

Economic Policy (Prime Minister's Speech)


asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on economic policy to the General and Municipal Workers' Union in Bournemouth on Monday 7th June.


asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the public speech on economic policy to the General and Municipal Workers' Union in Bournemouth on 7th June 1976.

Does my right hon. Friend recall that in his speech to my union's annual conference, a speech that won a standing ovation, he rejected demands for the decimation of the public expenditure programme, but also rejected demands for increased public expenditure without regard to the cost involved? Is he aware that he will be warmly supported in walking this economic tightrope, but that if the Government are prepared to economise on the child benefit scheme—one of the great weapons against family poverty—they will be making a serious mistake that they will long live to regret?

The Government have introduced a new benefit for children of £1 per week with an additional 50p premium for single-parent families. That is the beginning of the introduction of the scheme and we shall go on to fulfil it in due course. However, as the total scheme at the rates proposed would have cost more than £300 million next year, it would not have been possible to introduce it.

Can the Prime Minister say what could happen over the next six months to make unnecessary an extension of the £3 billion standby credit arrangement, further borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, increases in taxation, or cuts in public expenditure?

Is not my right hon. Friend in danger of being misunderstood in the argument which he used at Bournemouth and in reply to his first Question today? He says that the Government cannot reflate the economy until the rate of inflation has been reduced. Does that not suggest that the Government are using unemployment as an economic regulator? Could he not put the record straight by advising local authorities and others involved in public expenditure that they must not cut back at the expense of jobs?

We have asked local authorities to keep in line with the figures they agreed before the beginning of the year. That is not unreasonable. I trust that they will do it.

As the Bournemouth speech was largely on economic policy, will not the Prime Minister agree that confidentiality within the Government is vital for the conduct of economic policy? Since the right hon. Gentleman made his statement about an isolated leak last week, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Privy Council Office has issued a statement, on his ministerial responsibility, saying that there have been premeditated leaks over a wide range of Cabinet business in the past 18 months. Does that speech represent the view of the Government?

I read my hon. Friend's speech with very great interest. Probably the only mistake he made was to talk about the last 18 months, because I am afraid that this has been going on for rather a long time. I have a list here. I do not think I shall read it, but those who live in glass houses should not throw stones—otherwise they might find trouble.

The Prime Minister is trying to throw off this matter very lightly. Is he not aware that many people read that speech not merely with interest but with the greatest possible alarm? Is he aware that if it represents the true course of events, there can be no confidentiality of Cabinet proceedings and no confidence in the country about the conduct of defence, security or economic matters? Does he not think that he should completely repudiate that speech?

I am aware of the seriousness of this matter. As I said last week, we should be very careful about the way in which we conduct our affairs in relation to briefings. I am especially concerned about the actual reproduction of Cabinet minutes, but it is no good the right hon. Lady adopting this "holier than thou" attitude. Perhaps I should refer her to the investigations into leaks on defence matters on 14th January, 3rd May, 23rd May and 12th November 1971, 19th March and 19th April 1972 and into the leak about the purchase of American missiles on 24th July 1973, every one of which was concerned with leaks by the Ministry of Defence. Anybody can throw stones. The point is that the Government and Ministers should take defence, foreign affairs and other issues very seriously in order to ensure that these leaks do not take place. But I cannot have one side of the House hurling accusations at the other.

Does not the Prime Minister agree that what he has just said shows that the last Conservative Government took this matter seriously? Can he tell us when the minutes of a Cabinet meeting were last published in public just a short time after the meeting took place?

As it was under the Administration of the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) that, in the words of Mr. Harold Macmillan, the Think-Tank first started to leak, can my right hon. Friend say how many major leaks there were under the last Conservative Administration?

There were 37 leaks and 30 inquiries into them. As far as I can see, we are just about par for the course at present and it is about time the situation was improved.

Will the Prime Minister confirm what he appears to have told the TUC and Labour Party Liaison Committee yesterday—that further public expenditure cuts cannot be ruled out, bearing in mind his remark about two buckets dipping into the pool of savings? Does he agree with the statement by the Governor of the Bank of England that if the borrowing requirement is to be reduced, there should be a presumption against further increases in taxation and therefore in favour of spending cuts as soon as possible?

I have made my position on this matter quite clear at every Question Time. I have nothing to add to it.

The Prime Minister has referred to track records, but will he not address himself to the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and confirm that this is the first time Cabinet minutes have been directly leaked? Is this not a very serious matter and does it not follow that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Price), who is one of the right hon. Gentleman's own Ministers, has indicated a very serious difference between the current situation and what has happened under any previous Government?

The right hon. Gentleman should keep himself up to date. I set up an inquiry into this matter last Thursday because of the gravity with which I regarded it. I suggest that we should wait until the result of that inquiry is known. I hope that it will have better results than some of the inquiries which took place under the Administration of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member.

I surely made my position quite clear to anybody who was here on Thursday. It is utterly reprehensible that the minutes of Cabinet meetings, which are distributed to a limited number of people, should be reproduced accurately in public. People may not like the rules, but they should seek to change them and not break them because they do not like them.

Questions To Ministers

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There were 37 Questions down to the Prime Minister today, and we reached No. 2. Important as the last Question was, it developed into a debate which shut out the other questioners. May we get on with our Question Time?

May I say that I am rather surprised by the source of the point of order? The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) is not lacking in jumping up during Prime Minister's Questions. If the House is feeling strongly on a matter, it is difficult for me to decide when the moment has come to cut off the questions. This afternoon it seemed to me that there was a rising interest in Question No. 2.

Aircraft And Shipbuilding Industries Bill (Proceedings)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement.

The House will recall that on 27th May we voted on the procedure motion on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. The first vote was decided by Mr. Speaker's casting vote and on the second the Government had a majority of one. It was subsequently alleged that the Government's majority had been achieved by questionable means, and since then there has been a sense of grievance, resulting in the breakdown of communications through the usual channels.

It is not in the interests of the House that matters should remain in this state. The business of the House is being disrupted and the Members themselves are being put to considerable inconvenience and even, in some cases, distress.

The right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition and I met informally last week to consider how best to deal with this. We recognised that there was a sense of grievance about the vote on 27th May. We thought it right, therefore, to ask our Chief Whips privately to carry out together an informal inquiry on their own into what had happened and to let us have a common account for our private consideration. This they have done, and the right hon. Lady and I have considered it together.

The agreed result of their inquiry makes clear that there was undoubtedly misunderstanding about the pairing and voting arrangements on 27th May and that the normal courtesy of consultation about changes in pairing was not observed as it should have been.

In the light of this, I do not believe that matters should be left as they are and I propose, after consultation with the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip, that it would be in the best interests of the House if the Government were to provide the opportunity for the issues on which the votes were taken on 27th May to be considered again and the matter put to the vote in an appropriate way. The Leader of the Opposition has already, with her colleagues, tabled a motion to refer the Shipbuilding and Aircraft Industries Bill to a Select Committee, and if the House were to debate that motion this would provide the opportunity for the House to vote again on the matter. Accordingly, the Leader of the House will be announcing in his Business Statement on Thursday that a debate will be arranged on the right hon. Lady's motion.

I hope that an arrangement of this kind will commend itself to the House, that the two Chief Whips will meet to discuss how to avoid a recurrence of the events of 27th May, and that we can resume the orderly arrangements of our affairs through the usual channels.

I thank the Prime Minister for making this statement. I am grateful to him for acknowledging that there was a grievance, and that it was well-founded, by providing what I hope will be a full day to debate the motion about setting up a Select Committee to consider petitions.

Secondly, as the right hon. Gentleman has stressed that the normal courtesy of consultation about changes in pairing was not observed as it should have been, may I say that as a certain name has been mentioned I should like to make it quite clear that the inquiry found no personal blame attached to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry)?

Thirdly, as the right hon. Gentleman has recognised that an assurance is needed so that there can be a basis of trust in future, I agree that our two Chief Whips should get together to see how best they can obtain mutual assurance about the conduct of pairing matters in future. When they have obtained that mutual assurance between them and their respective offices, I hope that the way will be open to resume business as usual.

Finally, I stress that on this side we believe that business, whether by Government or Opposition, must be conducted on the basis of the rules of the House, which are clearly understood, and the normal, understood customs and conventions about pairing.

I agree that the right hon. Lady's complaint was well-founded. Indeed, I indicated to her on the first occasion we met that I knew that there was a genuine sense of grievance. As regards the timing of the debate, I think that is a matter for discussion between the two Chief Whips. The question whether it is a full day's debate is something that they can discuss. If the Opposition want a full day, I hope that the Chief Whip will not resist—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tomorrow."] I believe that there is some business set down for tomorrow.

I thank the right hon. Lady for the generosity of what she said about my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry). I welcome what she said. I did not wish to make any personal references. I fully accept that we should now try to put this matter behind us. The Government have made a proposal which I fully understand will in some ways be regarded cynically. Nevertheless, it is my desire that the present situation should not continue to affect relationships between both sides of the House because the House cannot continue unless the present situation changes.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the last thing I want to do is to detract in any way from the sweetness and light that has suddenly broken out this afternoon? However, will he bear in mind when arranging the business of the House that there are eight parties in the House—not two or even three, but eight—and that they are concerned with the running of the House?

Further, I ask him to remember that the main issue in the debate which led to the trouble was not so much the Bill in question as whether the rules of the House should be altered, without consultation, to the detriment of those in the House and outside. It is that matter which many of us feel is extremely important. Will a discussion of that be in order in the forthcoming debate?

It is not for me to say what will be in order in the debate. That is a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. The motion put down by the right hon. Lady is very broad, and I imagine that hon. Members will be able to go very wide on it. It calls for reference to a Select Committee.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all believers in parliamentary democracy will welcome his statement and its reception by the Leader of the Opposition, and feel that he and the right hon. Lady are to be commended on their wisdom and statesmanship? May I remind my right hon. Friend that on one occasion when the House was having difficulties a time ago, when we were both in Parliament, a Member of the then Opposition shared with us the view that this should not happen? It reminded us that in 1906 the feeling in the House was such that Government and Opposition Members did not even speak to each other. Let us hope that that never happens here. May parliamentary democracy be sustained.

I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said. Like him, I have lived through many stormy days in this House. I think none of us will ever forget the period of Suez, for example. However, I do not think that relations between hon. Members on this occasion have been anything like what they were on some previous occasions that I can recall. Perhaps the wisdom and sanity of Back Benchers has enabled us to produce a result that, I hope, will be acceptable.

Order. I hope the House will take my advice and say that in the best interests of the House we should leave the matter there for the time being.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is one aspect which I think should properly be raised as a point of order as it concerns the Chair. In the disputed vote on the night of Thursday 27th May, Mr. Speaker, who does not have discretion in these matters—he is governed by precedent in the way in which he votes—would have been bound to vote with Opposition Members on that occasion. If the Question is put in such a way in the debate to which the Prime Minister has referred that Mr. Speaker is bound to vote the other way, because the motion is procedurally an amendment to a Government motion, that would not give the House the same opportunity as it had that night.

Therefore, I ask that the Prime Minister should declare that, if there is a tie, it would be the view of the Government that Mr. Speaker ought properly to vote—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes—with the same effect as his vote would have had if it had been cast according to precedent that night, otherwise the objective of the Prime Minister and of my right hon. Friend of restoring the situation that prevailed that night will be frustrated.

The House knows that Mr. Speaker is always guided by precedent and that, in casting his vote, he does not consider which side of the House is affected, although he notices it. Since both the right hon. Lady and the Prime Minister have made their statements, I hope that we may leave the matter there for this afternoon. I understand that the usual channels are to meet. They will no doubt take note of what the hon. Gentleman has brought to the attention of the House in his point of order.

Following the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), would it not also be reasonable to suggest that the numbers of hon. Members eligible to take part in that Division should be the same as the numbers who took part before? In other words, as the constituencies of Rotherham and Thurrock were vacant on that previous occasion, should there be new Members of Parliament for those constituencies on the future date they should not be allowed to participate in the vote.

Order. I hope that hon. Members will not try to pursue the argument through points of order. If I tried to stop anyone elected to this House from voting, I think that I should be the first Speaker in history to do so.

On another point of order, Mr. Speaker. With due deference, I think it is unfortunate that you have cut off the opportunity of the House welcoming the Leader of the Opposition's exculpation of my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) and welcoming the Prime Minister's typical forthrightness and decency on this issue.

European Community (New Zealand Butter Supplies)

3.43 p.m.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the agreement reached in the Council of Ministers (Agriculture) in Luxembourg yesterday about imports of butter from New Zealand. The Council agreed on arrangements which carry out fully and satisfactorily the understanding secured at the European Council in Dublin last year.

Under these arrangements, the quantities which may be imported from New Zealand in 1978, 1979 and 1980 are 125,000, 120,000 and 115,000 tonnes respectively. These are firm and fixed quantities.

Within these fixed quantities, there are arrangements under which some butter may be diverted, if necessary, from the fresh market into food manufacture. This will apply only to imports in excess of 25 per cent. of our butter market in the preceding year. It will not affect New Zealand's total entitlement or her financial return.

Finally, the Council made a statement confirming that Protocol 18 remains the basis for continuing imports of New Zealand butter after 1980. The Commission will make a report in 1978, and this will serve as a basis for further decisions on these continuing arrangements.

I kept in close touch with the New Zealand authorities during these negotiations. New Zealand fully agrees that the settlement reached takes account of their essential interests both up to 1980 and afterwards.

The House will be glad that this important matter has been resolved. Does the last sentence of the statement, which refers to the settlement taking account of New Zealand's essential interests, mean that New Zealand regards this as a fair and satisfactory arrangement?

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman three other questions. First, if the whole of this quantity comes to the United Kingdom and it exceeds 25 per cent. of consumption in the previous year, who will pay for the decrease in the price of butter diverted into manufacturing? The right hon. Gentleman said that it would not affect New Zealand's financial return. Somebody will have to pay the bill. Who will that person or body be?

Secondly, will the Minister be more explicit about what he believes will be the impact and effect on the United Kingdom butter market, which is now in a state of revival?

Lastly, does not this agreement mean that it is even more vital now than it was before to get on top of the ever-increasing surplus of dairy products in the Community? Will he assure the House that he will not again agree to a hare-brained scheme that demonstrably fails to achieve the required objectives?

I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should be contentious about this matter. The Community has always recognised a continuing commitment to find room for New Zealand's imports into its market. The Community is pledged to agree this autumn on measures designed to bring the milk products market into better balance and to rectify the surplus situation. I cannot go beyond that. I think that this is a very good deal for New Zealand. Indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand made a magnificent statement on this matter. He said that the agreement protects New Zealand's interests, and added:

"I am particularly grateful for the understanding and support received from the British Government and the EEC Commission. Now that the outcome is known the dairy industry will be able to plan ahead with greater confidence."
On manufacturing, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand said that in the lengthy negotiations New Zealand had been at paints to stress the need to preserve cif returns and the need to be able to market the diverted butter. This will not cost us what I think the right hon. Gentleman implied. Naturally New Zealand will have access to our markets in the way that it always has had. This is a very good deal for New Zealand.

Does my right hon. Friend believe that this settlement bears out the belief of those of us who thought that New Zealand would get a perfectly fair deal from the Community as a result o the British Government's representations?

Yes, I accept that. Indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand publicly stated:

"The package was the result of very tough negotiations and what had finally been agreed took account of New Zealand's essential interests."
He then went on to talk about access after 1980:
"None the less, a statement read into the Council Minutes"—
[Interruption.] I do not know why hon. Members laugh; this is a major statement affecting New Zealand—
"makes it clear that the Commission will submit a further report to the Council before 31st December 1978, and this, taken with the decision made by the Heads of Government at Dublin, assures the ongoing nature of the arrangement beyond 1980."
New Zealand has praised this deal, and I am very proud of it.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the satisfactory settlement which he reached is fully in conformity with the terms negotiated at the time of accession—and that anything that has been said since then to imply that the terms of accession did not provide for just such an arrangement totally falsifies the reality of the situation?

I accept that the agreement was based on Protocol 18. The Government and I played a major part in achieving that. I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's support.

I understood the Minister to say that imports of New Zealand butter would occur on a declining scale from 1978 to 1980, from a figure which was already much below that of five years ago. Will the Minister assure us that the Government do not accept the presumption that the decline will continue after 1980?

My right hon. Friend is wrong, as he sometimes is, on this matter. The quantity that I negotiated was fully consistent with the Dublin declaration and is more than New Zealand has recently sent. It means that the average entitlement for 1978 to 1980–120,000 tonnes—is higher than the average sendings in 1974 and 1975, which was less than 119,000 tonnes. Indeed the degressivity is less than that originally proposed by the Commission. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not nit-pick and that he will welcome this deal.

I am sure that the New Zealand Government were pleased to accept the present arrangements. But I wonder what were the views of the British producers. If home milk production continues to rise at the present rate for the next five years, does the Minister think that we shall take up the quota of New Zealand butter that was agreed yesterday? If so, what effect will that have on our dairy industries? We are all aware that the New Zealand butter imported into Britain has been subsidised during the past few years from EEC funds. Will that policy be continued until 1980?

The hon. Gentleman represents an important dairying area in Cardiganshire. He will know that we had a moral obligation to help New Zealand. That was stated by both Governments. After all, New Zealand came to our aid voluntarily in a crisis. New Zealanders regard themselves as British in the best sense. That is not sentiment. I believe that we fulfilled that moral obligation under the terms of the Dublin Summit agreement. I do not worry. I think that we can accommodate this market and at the same time have a flourishing dairy industry in our own country.

I congratulate the Minister on this agreement. However, does it not make a reform of the Community dairy industry more essential than ever? The accession of this quantity of butter from New Zealand puts enormous pressure on the Dutch, the Danes and the other producers in the Community and must force the Community to mend its ways of dealing with dairy products.

I am not sure what my hon. Friend is trying to argue. The dairy industries of the countries he mentioned are efficient in many ways. The Com- munity agrees with us that there should be a link with New Zealand—we have achieved that—despite the fact that it has problems with its own dairy industry. Therefore it was not easy for the Commission to make that decision. The Commission felt that it must honour the Dublin agreement. I am proud to say that it did so. Commissioner Lardinois played an important part in that.

The Minister said that some imports of butter may be diverted into food manufacture. Does that mean that if the British people want to eat more than 25 per cent. of New Zealand fresh butter they will not be allowed to do so? The Minister did not answer the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) about cost. The Minister said that ongoing arrangements would be assured. To which assurances did he refer?

I referred to the assurances contained in my statement, which have been approved by the New Zealand Government.

There will be no diversion into manufacture unless imports of New Zealand butter under the special arrangements are more than 25 per cent. of the United Kingdom market for butter for direct consumption in the preceeding year. If imports of New Zealand butter amount to more than 25 per cent. of the United Kingdom market for direct consumption in the preceeding year, butter may if necessary be diverted into food manufacture—for example, cakes and biscuits. This is a sensible arrangement which was approved by New Zealand.

If the House will cooperate with me and ask brief questions, I hope to call everyone who has stood so far. However, I hope that hon. Members will ask single questions, as there is a great deal of other business.

Does my right hon. Friend remember saying that the Dublin agreement on special arrangements would not deprive New Zealand of the outlets which were essential to it after 1977? Have the New Zealand authorities confirmed that the quotas which my right hon. Friend announced will not deprive them of those outlets? How do we know that the amounts sent out will be up to those figures?

I cannot say exactly. The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand has confirmed that we agreed.

Will the Minister be more helpful about the post-1980 situation? Does he expect the principle of degressivity to continue to apply thereafter? Is there a longer-term assurance?

I mentioned the proposal for a review in 1978 to determine access after 1980. The New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister said:

"It is clear that the arrangements will continue after 1980. The Council of Ministers were not prepared to admit the inclusion in the Council regulation of an article making explicit provision for a review in 1978.… None the less a statement read into the Council minutes makes it clear that the Commission will submit a further report to the Council before 31st December 1978, and this, taken with the decision made by Heads of Government at Dublin, assures the ongoing nature of the arrangement beyond 1980."
We have confirmed that. It was approved by New Zealand. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may mutter. I cannot be more New Zealand than New Zealand. I have defended New Zealand's interests. That was agreed.

Will my right hon. Friend say what will be the effect of this agreement on the consumer? Will he confirm that the intervention stocks of butter by the end of this year will be 400,000 tonnes?

Do the Government assume that New Zealand will produce 500,000 tonnes of butter less every year until finally it produces nothing at all?

Mr hon. Friend is being facetious. I have the impression that some hon. Members wish that I had not succeeded.

I accept that my right hon. Friend has done his best within the straightjacket within which he must live. Will he not take on board the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes) that the agreement underlines the urgent necessity for the Community to put its own dairy industry in order?

I do not wear a straitjacket. I was freely able to negotiate with New Zealand and with my colleagues in the Community. Hon Members are showing that they do not wish to have a successful deal with New Zealand. We achieved a successful deal, which was approved by the Government of New Zealand.

Does the Minister accept that it is difficult to base any argument on the amounts of butter supplied by New Zealand to this market over the past year or two, as the New Zealanders have been subject to considerable pressures by the Commission—in terms of prices and the future arrangements on which they depend—not to supply the quotas to which they are entitled?

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould). He is a New Zealander and, in view of his background, he knows the difficulties. The tonnage agreement which I obtained is a good one. The continuing access provision was approved by New Zealand and the New Zealanders responsible for this matter. I am proud of the agreement. It shows that we have been able to accomplish what we set out to achieve.

Although the Minister has maintained the interests of New Zealand, has he considered the essential interests of the housewives of this country? Surely we should seek to scrap the EEC common agricultural agreement, which works against the interests of the housewife. In view of the build-up of the surpluses and the price rises, something must be done to change the scheme.

I am rather surprised at that question. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) must have supported me on previous occasions when I was critical of negotiations. Certainly the present arrangement is not incompatible with the needs of our consumers. If my hon. Friend is saying that I should not have obtained this access, I understand his argument, but I still believe that it was right to obtain access for New Zealand butter to this market. We gave a pledge on that matter as a party, and I am sure that my hon. Friend was party to that pledge. I gave a pledge to the Dublin Summit, and I shall not go back on it.

I am sure that it has not escaped your attention, Mr. Speaker, that when we are discussing agricultural matters, I am always among the last to be called.

I know my right hon. Friend's loyalty to and love of New Zealand, and I accept his assurance. I know that he seeks to obtain the best possible deal he can for New Zealand. Therefore, I hope that the agreement is more successful than some of the rotten agreements we have made in the last few months. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the farming correspondent of the Observer, Mr. Murray, correctly anticipated the situation by stating the precise terms of the agreement that was read out this afternoon? Was that intelligent anticipation, or was it a leak?

My hon. Friend, who has read the Dublin agreement, will know the aims of the British Government. Therefore, there is nothing new in the situation, and indeed the matter was endorsed by the House of Commons. I know Mr. Murray as a distinguished journalist and a sensible man. There are no leaks involved in this matter. I have just returned from Luxembourg, where we had long discussions late into the night. I was glad to achieve what I did achieve. I was grateful for my hon. Friend's earlier remarks.

The figures of tonnages were mentioned in the course of the debates on the European Community on Thursday of last week. I think that that is the answer to the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett).

I am grateful for that reinforcement of what I said. That is what we want to endorse in relation to the Dublin Summit.

Industrial Common Ownership Bill

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your help on a Private Member's Bill entitled the Industrial Common Ownership Bill? The Bill was introduced into the House in December last year and was given an unopposed Second Reading as a Private Member's Bill in March. It is about to go into Committee tomorrow.

At the last moment—that is to say, last night—the Government proceeded in a slightly strange fashion. They tabled amendments to remove seven out of eight of the Bill's clauses and to amend the Long Title of the Bill. I am sure that it will be agreed that that is a slightly odd approach, even in these rather bizarre days. It means that if this kind of procedure is to be continued, the necessity for a Second Reading debate which normally takes place on Government measures will be bypassed. Furthermore, it will mean that Private Members' Bills, which are still a residual privilege of private Members, will be badly abused.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will be able to give the House some guidance in order to safeguard the rights of the House, which seem in this case to be in danger of being badly abused.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Michael Foot)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), I wish to make some further inquiries about this matter, and I hope to report to the House upon it. I do not know the details of the matter, but I shall examine the situation before we proceed.

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's reaction. Am I to understand that the Bill will not be proceeded with until the right hon. Gentleman has had a chance to examine the matter?

I imagine that before we deal with the matter, I shall be required to make a statement. Since I have no knowledge of the matters under consideration, I shall immediately examine the situation, communicate with the right hon. Gentleman and make a statement to the House.

Has the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) informed my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Watkins) of the fact that he sought to raise this matter today? I understand that the Bill is scheduled to go into Committee tomorrow morning. If that is the case, surely the right hon. Member should have informed my hon. Friend that he intended to raise this point on the Bill. Would that not have been the courteous thing to do?

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not seek to override the rights of the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Watkins). Indeed, I am seeking to defend him against the intrusions of the Government.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to get in touch with my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Watkins) so that I may understand the situation. I did not make any statement about holding up the Bill, but in view of what has been said I should like to go into the matter and to communicate with the right hon. Member for Yeovil or with the House. I shall examine the matter and get in touch with my hon. Friend the Member for Consett.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make the position clear before any further proceedings are pursued in relation to the Bill. I hope that he will make the matter clear to me and not just to the Committee concerned.

I fully understand the right hon. Gentleman's point. I am seeking to safeguard the position. I must consult my hon. Friend to see what is his attitude. If it is satisfactory to my hon. Friend that these amendments should be made, obviously that is a matter to be taken into account. But I cannot judge the matter until I have had a chance to discuss the situation.

I am sorry to pursue the matter, but I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is being a little less than forthcoming on the Bill in question. The Opposition gave the Bill a Second Reading as a Private Member's Bill, and indeed as a non-controversial affair. The Opposition now find the Government coming in on all four feet, and it appears that their attitude has undergone a severe change.

I do not withdraw anything I have said. I shall look at the matter urgently. I must take account of my hon. Friend's views and I must weigh that matter. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that I have approached the matter in a proper way.

If I may intervene in a point of order, may I say that it would depend on the Chairman of Committees as to which amendments are selected. He may turn down all the Government amendments—in which case he would, of course, make history. It is my concern to protect the rights of this House. I have taken note of the point of order raised by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) and I think we may leave the matter there. We must move on because we have still not dealt with the Ten Minutes Rule Bill.

There is an important point of principle at stake, Mr. Speaker. If this House gives an unopposed Second Reading to a Bill, it is totally wrong and contrary to precedent that it should be altered by any amendment proposed by the Government at any stage.

That is the same point as that to which I have just referred. I am conscious that I am guardian of the rights of the House, but we shall look carefully at the matter raised by the right hon. Member for Yeovil when the Bill comes back to the House. The Bill is now about to go into Committee and will be the responsibility of the Chairman concerned.

Professions Supplementary To Medicine Act 1960 (Amendment)

4.9 p.m.

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960 to include chiropody.
I want to ensure that in future the public will know that everybody who practises chiropody has a qualification recognised by statute. This is not the position today.

It may seem strange that a "Foot" Bill should emanate from the Conservative Benches, particularly in these difficult days, but this Bill would be an important step forward in chiropody.

The Bill has crossed the floor of the House because the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) first raised the issue in the Chamber on 21st October 1969. It has all-party support today and I hope that it will not be opposed. It is also opportune that Age Concern—that body which does so much for our elders—has brought out a report this week entitled "Step on It". It is a report on the chiropody services which strongly supports the provisions in my Bill.

Under the heading "Discussion points", Age Concern states that chiropody should become a closed profession so that only those with State qualifications can set up as practising chiropodists. That would facilitate the use of less highly skilled but competent aides to assist in the National Health Service chiropody service who would provide the guarantees that members of the profession are anxious to secure for the protection of their own status and, more important, the safety of their patients.

Chiropody is important to people of all ages, not just to the elderly. At present chiropodists are registered under the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act along with physiotherapists, radiographers and members of other supplementary professions. Chiropodists differ from other professions that are registered in two important ways. First, chiropodists' patients come directly to them and are not normally referred by the medical profession. Secondly, a large percentage of chiropodists are in private practice.

To be employed within the National Health Service chiropodists must be State registered but there is no restriction about private practice and, therefore, no real standard or qualification. Anyone can buy a pair of scissors, a nail file and, I hope, a bottle of disinfectant and, with a short correspondence course at best, put up a plate and become a chiropodist.

My Bill would make it compulsory for those in private practice to be registered or enrolled by the Chiropodist Board. Why should there be dual standards for the public and private sector? Why should those who are entitled to treatment within the National Health Service receive treatment by the fully trained and qualified while those who are not entitled to treatment within the National Health Service have to resort to someone without any form of training at all? Only a minority of the population receives National Health Service treatment in chiropody.

Because the Secretary of State accepts responsibility only for priority groups of patients—the elderly, the handicapped and pregnant women—almost all the working population have to seek private treatment. They have no choice. Should they not be protected from less qualified treatment? Should they not be given a guarantee that the chiropodist that they attend has a recognised professional qualification? A limited service is provided for school children by the National Health Service and I am pleased to say that most of that work is done in Scotland.

In order to become State registered, a chiropodist has to take a three-year course of training which includes life science, relevant medical subjects and detailed anatomy of the lower limbs. The course also ensures thorough clinical training and practice. Examinations are held every year. At the end of the course examinations are conducted by independent examiners in each subject.

It is important to remember that chiropodists do not only cut nails and treat corns but are also responsible for a comprehensive foot care service for all ages from the young to the old. Since their patients are not referred to them by medically qualified men, the chiropodist is often the first person to see diseases with symptoms occurring in the feet which require medical investigation. He has to decide whether it falls within his province to treat that patient or to refer his patient elsewhere. That is one of the most important parts of his work. How can an unqualified practitioner in private practice hope to be able to send on a patient with such a problem if he cannot recognise the problem in the first place? How many people today suffer health problems because their unqualified chiropodist does not recognise that there is a complication somewhere else in the body?

My Bill would enrol any practitioner who has practised chiropody as his principal means of livelihood for five years out of the preceding seven years. That could probably be reduced in Committee. No more administration would be necessary, since the enrolment of practitioners would be by the existing Council for the Professions Supplementary to Medicine. Such enrolled chiropodists might then become eligible for employment in the National Health Service and help to overcome the present shortage of chiropodal manpower in the service. It would make little immediate difference to the profession but it would result in a better trained profession in the future because it would end the situation in which anyone can practice. It would mean that a chiropodist was the same wherever he worked, inside or outside the National Health Service. They would all be recognised as qualified professional people.

Care of the feet as part of medical practice is as old as medicine itself. Chiropody as a separate art began during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, with the passing of the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act in 1960, reached full professional status.

A large proportion of the population suffer from some kind of foot trouble—and that is not mean to be a pun. Those people are not as efficient as they should be either at work or at play. Most of the conditions that cause their disability can be treated by chiropodists. They cannot all be cured but they can be improved and made symptom free. Money spent on improving the facilities and organisation of the chiropodal service would produce handsome returns in terms of the well being and efficiency of the population. Many feet are ruined by badly fitting, poorly made shoes from abroad. Fashion is the chiropodists' worst enemy.

I accept that there is little chance of the Bill reaching the statute book this Session but it is a serious matter which would have far-reaching consequences for both people in the profession and the general public. I give notice that I shall seek to reintroduce it at an early stage in the next Parliament—irrespective of which party is in power. I would like to see only those on a register or roll established and maintained by the Chiropodist Board using the title "chiropodist" or practising chiropody. I hope that the House will support me.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. John Corrie, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, Mr. Andrew Bowden, Mr. Robert Cooke, Mr. Roger Moate, Mr. Ernest G. Perry, Mr. George Thompson, Mr. Peter Emery, Mr. Malcolm Rifkind and Mr. David Penhaligon.

Professions Supplementary To Medicine Act 1960 (Amendment)

Mr. John Corrie accordingly presented a Bill to amend the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960 to include chiropody: and the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 16th July and to be printed. [Bill 172.]

Development Land Tax Money

Queen's Recommendation having been signified—

4.19 p.m.

I beg to move,

That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to impose a new tax on the realisation of the development value of land, it is expedient to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of any sums required to enable the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in certain cases to make to a body by whom an interest in land is acquired a payment in respect of the tax paid on an earlier disposal affecting that land.
The resolution is needed because of the Government's proposal to include in the Development Land Tax Bill two new clauses which are numbered New Clause 2 and New Clause 3 on the Order Paper, which will in certain circumstances result in a body which is to acquire an interest in land net of development land tax obtaining a benefit which goes beyond receiving the development land tax paid by the vendor in respect of a particular acquisition.

New Clause 2 deals with the case in which an authority's intention of acquiring from the owner an interest in land for development is frustrated by his subsequently selling the land to a third party. That sale could very well cream off any development value, and if the authority later acquired the land from the new owner it would be likely to have to bear the full market cost, because little if any development land tax would be payable. As compensation, the tax paid on the first sale is to be paid over to the local authority.

A similar situation is dealt with in New Clause 3, giving an authority which acquires land developed in contravention of planning permission the benefit of any development land tax paid to the Revenue on the start of the development project.

The implementation of each of the new clauses could involve the Inland Revenue in making payments to the acquiring authority not out of current tax receipts but out of the Consolidated Fund.

The two new clauses do not affect any rights or any sales. They merely mean the paying over to the local authority of a certain sum which the private individual has paid in tax to the DLT office in the two very limited circumstances which I have described. After a notice has been received by an owner of an intention by the local authority to buy his land, if he then sells the land to another private owner the DLT will be paid in the first instance to the Inland Revenue. If the resolution and the new clauses are accepted, the Inland Revenue will be given the power to pay over that money to the local authority.

We are not concerned with extensions of powers in relation to the payment of money to local authorities. The resolution is merely one which will have to be implemented if the House accepts New Clauses 2 and 3.

4.22 p.m.

The Money Resolution appears on the Order Paper because the Government failed to think out fully the peculiar procedure which now appears in Clause 39 and Schedule 7. We saw in Committee how the Government had failed to think the matter out when drafting the Bill, for a completely new Schedule 7 was presented to us. Then, at the very last moment before Report—I think only on Friday—we saw on the Notice Paper two new clauses supplementing the procedure for payment net of tax, the procedure whereby local authorities can estimate the tax and pocket it for themselves out of the money they pay when acquiring property.

We objected to this procedure as a whole. There are amendments today saying that the first thing to do in such a procedure is to have the tax assessed by the Inland Revenue and not estimated by the local authority. We object to an extension of the procedure.

We shall have an opportunity to debate New Clauses 2 and 3 on their merits. At this stage I merely want to protest at the extension of the principle to the situation in which the local authority acquiring property may have been a little late in doing so, with the result that there may have been a previous process which means that it is unable to deduct all the tax which it might otherwise have been able to deduct. Exempt bodies are not only local authorities. There are the other bodies mentioned in Clause 11. I presume that the resolution gives power to the Board of Inland Revenue to pay over the tax on those occasions to such bodies as the Commission for the New Towns, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Letchworth Garden City Corporation, the North-Eastern Housing Association, the Scottish Development Agency, the Scottish Special Housing Association and the Welsh Development Agency.

It is extraordinary that, instead of accounting to the Exchequer for the tax which it collects, the board will be directed by means of this resolution and the new clauses to pay the tax over to the acquiring authority, whether that is a local authority or one of the bodies in the list in Clause 11. The procedure will be of the utmost inconvenience to those buying and selling property. As it applies to Clause 2, it means that a sword of Damocles will hang over the heads of owners of properties for five years.

I object to the principle that the total tax collected by the board will not go into the Exchequer but will be paid direct to those public authorities, the so-called exempt bodies. Nowhere in the Bill is there a right for those exempt bodies to have the whole benefit of the tax paid. Nowhere in the Bill is the whole benefit of the tax given to local authorities or any other authority providing community services. It is a tax which should go to the Exchequer and be dealt with the normal way, just like any other tax. We object to the extension of the peculiar procedure of purchasing net of tax—that is, an exempt body taking the tax from the purchase money that it pays.

4.27 p.m.

I have not given the Bill the study which many of my hon. Friends have given it. I am sure that the Minister of State will find occasion to remind me of that. The Bill is so important, however, that it is right for me to seek to acquire a little knowledge of it and make such criticisms as appear to me to be relevant.

I know that my hon. Friend has tried for a few days to understand some of the complexities of the Bill. Not many of our fellow citizens can apply my hon. Friend's expertise and intelligence in considering detailed tax legislation. It must be with a sense of profound sadness that we contemplate the fact that so many people who have to try to understand the Bill will probably end up making mistakes and perhaps being ruined by their failure to understand this abortion of legislation.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It would be better if we had not embarked upon such legislation. It is interesting to reflect on why we ever get into such a position. It would have been much more valuable if the Cabinet minutes dealing with the decision to go ahead with the Bill had been leaked. At least we should have had a glimmer of understanding of why we must be considering it at all.

I turn to the Money Resolution. It is odd that the Minister did not tell us what sums were likely to have to be repaid. I do not even know the likely yield of the tax. We must now debate that by reference to the repayments that might be made under the resolution, which makes the tax less valuable as a revenue earner. Therefore, I as least, am in the position of considering how much we can afford to disburse out of a tax whose yield I do not know.

That is an unsatisfactory position in which to be when we are considering a Money Resolution. After all, the point of a Money Resolution is to enable the House to control the expenditure of the Government. It is now becoming common for which this Government not to include in Money Resolutions the amount of money that is involved. That is a pity. I can understand that probably the amount will not be very much, because what the Minister has outlined to us is really an anti-forestalling procedure. It is designed to prevent people escaping from the mere serving of a local authority notice upon them.

I find pretty obnoxious the suggestion contained in the Bill that by serving a notice on a would-be, or perhaps non-would-be, seller of land a local authority can, so to speak, sterilise all further transactions in that land and acquire it for the value less the tax, keeping the tax, as it were, for itself. This raises a whole series of detailed questions to which I should like the Minister to reply. For instance, if a certain value attaches to the land, both base value and market value, at the time the notice is served, obviously it is from those two values that the amount of tax is to be calculated.

Suppose, however, that through the transaction of selling the land to a third person the base value or the market value is found to be different, upon which set of figures is repayment to be made by the Treasury? Does the Minister follow me? I should like to know whether repayment will be made on the basis of the figures worked out by the local authority when serving the notice or on the basis of the actual figures when the third party transaction is made. If those two figures are different, is it not rather unfair that, the original owner having paid a given amount of tax, on the eventual transfer to the local authority the tax may be found to be something different? The amount may be very much less, and perhaps the original owner paid a lot more than he should have paid. What provision is there in the legislation for dealing with that situation? Clearly, that is a question which should be answered.

Again, suppose that a certain amount of time elapses and it happens that market values change, as the base values could change too, after a certain period. Is the amount of tax already paid by the Treasury to the local authority to take account of the changed values after a certain passage of time, or is it to be strictly confined to the original value when the tax was first levied?

If the two amounts of tax in the computation turn out to be different, is it the intention of the Government that the higher or lower value should be taken, or is the original owner of the land to be recompensed if he is found to have paid too much tax? These are all likely probabilities to occur. We know the speed at which the bureaucratic machine moves, and the time that will be taken in all these calculations and transactions is endless. Therefore, there seems to me to be a great deal of doubt about it all.

All this arises out of the extraordinary way in which the relevant part of the Bill is drafted. Surely, if it is desired to give back to local authorities the tax on sales to them, it would be much easier if the Treasury in all instances collected the tax and then paid it back in such circum- stances as seemed appropriate to the Government. I have grave objection to the whole idea that local authorities should not have to pay what other citizens pay. The whole basis stinks of prejudice. I would mention the word "hybridisation", but I am sure that it would be wrong to mention that delicate subject to Labour Members because they do not like that word.

On that thought, I wonder whether my hon. Friend has considered the implications of Clause 11 and the authorities to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) has referred. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is involved in this and it may be that other park authorities are not. It might indeed be appropriate to refer to hybridisation if other park authorities are to be involved.

Before the hon. Gentleman continues his speech, I must draw the attention of the House to the fact that we must keep within the confines of the Money Resolution.

I thought I had done so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with considerable care hitherto. I do not know whether your rebuke was directed towards my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) or myself. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is just such a body as might receive sums under the Money Resolution repayment, and I should have thought it would be difficult to discuss whether sums should be paid to these bodies without being able to mention them and their suitability for having any such sums paid to them. In my opinion, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is a most unsuitable body to have these sums repaid to it. I can think of much more worthy bodies than that authority which should be exempt.

The hybridity point could well have been raised, as it can be on New Clause 1, as to why industry should be treated differently from commerce, but I say that in parenthesis to avoid incurring a further rebuke from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask the Minister of State, therefore, to justify the Money Resolution, because it is very far from clear what will be the rights of local authorities in the less straightforward cases with which this legislation will abound. There are bound to be many disputed, contentious and difficult cases.

The question of valuation is hard enough, particularly when they are deemed values, as the base value most certainly is. There will be many cases where the tax paid by the original seller is different from the tax as computed at the time the local authority eventually gets the land. We want a considerable dissertation from the Government as to how those cases are to be dealt with. I have referred to only two of them, but clearly we cannot contemplate going ahead with this complicated procedure unless we understand exactly how it is to work, if it is to work at all.

4.40 p.m.

In the discussion of the Community Land Bill on the Floor of the House—and I am very glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Planning and Local Government present—I said that the danger with Report stages and discussion of Lords amendments such as we had all night on the Community Land Bill was that those who were involved in the Committee proceedings reached a stage of talking to themselves and forgetting the wider issues having lived so closely with the Bill. It was for that reason that my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) opened his remarks with his usual percipience by bringing us back to the essential point of the amount of revenue to be made available to local authorities under the procedure already in the Bill, which is now being widened by this Money Resolution to take in the provisions of New Clauses 2 and 3.

I understand from those discussions that we sometimes have privately that I am likely to be able to speak on New Clause 3 and I do not want to anticipate that, but there are a few questions which need to be answered. The first, which seems to be absolutely basic, is what kind of revenue we are discussing. That is essential to any intelligent understanding of the subsequent clauses.

New Clause 3 is concerned basically with a way of getting round the enforcement procedure under the Town and Country Planning Act as it stands. It would be helpful if the Minister of State would say how much revenue the Treasury expects to be in a position to disburse to local authorities from the provisions of New Clauses 2 and 3.

If he is about to say that he cannot do that, perhaps I can give him a slight hint. Can he say what is the current number of enforcement notices which have been served and how many of them have been approved? They are exactly the cases in which New Clause 3 will be involved, where illegal development has taken place and the local authority has sought to stop it. New Clause 3 says that not only shall the illegal development not take place, but that the local authority will claw back any added betterment which may have accrued.

Presumably this will help to swell the coffers of local authorities for the purposes of further land acquisition. As those hon. Members who recall the Community Land Bill will be aware, under Section 44(2) the Secretary of State, with the approval of the Treasury, sticks his hand into any surpluses local authorities may have accrued. If a local authority has made some money on land acquisition and subsequent disposal, or by buying land net of development land tax, that money goes into a big pool which is laughingly called the Community Land Surplus Account. If there is any surplus at the end, under the provisions which the Secretary of State has outlined in various circulars 30 per cent. will be left with the authority concerned and 70 per cent. will go to the Government, who will keep 40 per cent. and redistribute the other 30 per cent. to those local authorities which have been incapable of making any profits or which have wasted them. So Robin Hood will redistribute the money appropriately. The 30 per cent. is available, therefore, for further land acquisition by local authorities.

When we discuss New Clause 15 I for one will seek to point out that in Leicestershire this year for land acquisition for the whole county there is likely to be £450,000 allocated under the community land scheme, of which the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council wants £1 million. The revenues likely to be available are so trivial and the amount of money available, therefore, to bring land on to the market so negligible that difficulties for builders in future years in having an adequate flow of land to finance the building programme will be insuperable.

As I say, when we come to New Clause 15 we shall be able to deal with that matter further, and that will be a particularly appropriate time for the Minister for Planning and Local Government to be present, because one of his arguments when we considered the Community Land Bill was that in the first two or three years builders would have enough land and that, at the end of that period, local authorities would be dishing out land to them in accordance with the acquisitions which had already been made. In view of the public resources which will be available—and they are likely to be negligible—the Government's hope that there should be a steady flow of land is likely to be completely nullified by events.

When the Financial Secretary put this Money Resolution on the Order Paper, presumably he had in mind a figure that would swell the coffers, go into the 30 per cent., and get Leicestershire's £450,000 this year up to, say £451,000 with which it could buy another chicken run to help more building in the county. We need to know that figure.

I emphasise that it is wrong for the House to consider and, if necessary, approve Money Resolutions without specific figures being given of forward projections. That is what the purpose of this House is all about. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to give figures of the expected yield and the information for which I asked him about the enforcement notices.

4.45 p.m.

At the outset of our discussions on this Bill I have to declare an interest in the subject matter since I am a director and a substantial shareholder of companies whose land might be affected by various aspects of the Bill, and, as one who is involved with a significant retailing organisation, I ought perhaps—

I am afraid that I forgot to declare my own interest as a director of a house-building company.

I am glad that I had the inadvertent opportunity to remind my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) about that. I had not quite finished my declaration of my own inter- ests, however. I was about to add that I also have an interest as a farmer whose land, I hope, will never be affected by any of the Bill's provisions.

When he moved the Money Resolution, the Minister said that we were concerned with a resolution relating to two new clauses which arrived before us at a late stage in the lengthy process of our consideration of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) talked about "embarking" on our discussion. We appea