HL Deb 22 September 1972 vol 335 cc1497-529

" .—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, nothing in this Act shall affect any person's status, or the right of any person to be admitted, as a freeman of a place which is an existing borough; and in this section any such place is referred to as a city or town.

(2) On and after 1st April 1974 the roll of freemen of a city or town shall be kept by the proper officer of the relevant district council, that is to say, the council of the district which comprises the whole or the greater part of the city or town.

(3) If at any time on or after 1st April 1974 any person claims to be admitted as a freeman of a city or town, his claim for admission shall be examined by the chairman of the relevant district council, as defined:;ia subsection (2) above and, if the person's claim is established, his name shall be entered on the roll of freemen of that city or town.

(4) After 31st March 1974—

  1. (a) a freeman of a city or town,
  2. (b) any person who by marriage, descent employment or otherwise is or has been related to or associated with a freeman of a city or town, and
  3. (c) any person who is or has been related by marriage to the widow or a child of a freeman of a city or town,
shall have and enjoy the same rights, whether in respect of property or otherwise, as were held and enjoyed on that date by a freeman of that city or town, by a person correspondingly related to or associated with such a freeman or, as the case may be, by a person correspondingly related by marriage to the widow or a child of such a freeman.

(5) A person who is on 1st April 1974, or becomes thereafter, an inhabitant of a city or town shall, as such, have and enjoy the same rights, whether in respect of property or otherwise, as were held and enjoyed immediately before that date by an inhabitant of that city or town."—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 239 and 240 agreed to.

Schedule 29 [Adaptation, modification and amendment of enactments]:

THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 125T: Page 363, line 33, leave out from ("to") to end of line 36 and insert ("the end of the paragraph there shall be substituted the words " means the local weights and measures authority".")

The noble Earl said: On behalf of my noble friend I beg to move the Amendment which goes together with Amendment No. 137. These Amendments relate to that part of the Bill whose purpose is to amend the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1961 relating to the local authorities who enforce regulations made under that Act. Paragraph 18(2) of Schedule 29 and the connected repeals in Schedule 30, while amending provisions of the Consumer Protection Act mentioned, relating to enforcement authorities in England and Wales, also purport at present to amend provisions in the 1961 Act as related to such authorities in Scotland. As noble Lords will know, the Bill does not extend to Scotland, and therefore these Amendments negative the purported effect of the paragraph in relation to Scotland.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 125WW, 125XX and 125YY as being consequential to Amendment No. 102UU.

Amendments moved— Page 364, line 8, leave out paragraph 21. Page 365, line 50, leave out from beginning to end of line 12 on page 366. Page 366, line 13, leave out ("that Act") and insert ("the New Towns Act 1965").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

THE EARL OF COWRIE moved Amendment No. 125U: Page 367, line 34, after ("following") insert ("the")

The noble Earl said: I am always given the most elegant things to say in this Committee. Amendment No. 125U has not anything to do with Amendments No. 125YY or 125XX. It is a drafting Amendment. Paragraph 37 of Part II of Schedule 29 is ambiguous as it stands, for it fails to take account of the fact that the words "certified copy" appear twice in Section 57(4) of the Marriage Act 1949.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 125V is consequential on Amendment No. 100K. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 369, leave out lines 5 to 10.—(The Earl of Gowrie.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 125AAA is consequential on Amendment No. 102UU. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 369, leave out lines 15 to 29.—(The Earl of Gowrie.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 29, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 243 [Consequential and supplementary provisions]:


Amendment No. 125W is a drafting Amendment, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 186, line 25, leave out ("Part I or II of").—(Viscount Colville of Cuirass.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 125X is a drafting Amendment, as is Amendment 125Y. With the leave of the Committee, I will move them together. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 186, line 36, leave out ("Part I or II of"). Page 187, line 3, after ("by") insert ("any Act passed or by").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question Amendments agreed to.

3.27 p.m.

LORD ROYLE moved Amendment No. 126: Page 187, line 42, at end insert— ("( ) Notwithstanding anything in subsections (1) and (2) above, no part of the pavilion estate (as defined in the Brighton Corporation Act 1931) which immediately before 1st April 1974 was held by the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of the borough of Brighton by virtue of the Brighton Corporation Act 1931 shall be transferred to any Council other than the Council of the district comprising the existing county borough of Brighton.")

The noble Lord said: During the course of the various debates to-day I have wondered whether I should go on with this Amendment or wait until Report stage. But I put the Amendment down immediately after Second Reading, and I want it to be aired and to express the hope that the Government will see fit to accept it. As we have moved on a little more rapidly than we appeared to be doing at one time, perhaps I may be allowed to move the Amendment, not in too lengthy a way but adequately, because this is a matter of vital importance to the council and inhabitants of the Borough of Brighton. I make no apologies for raising something which relates only to one town. Goodness knows! during the whole of the Committee stage of this Bill we have had a great deal of that, and in the early parts, when we were on the Corrigendum, we were talking a lot of "parish pump" stuff. Perhaps therefore I may be forgiven if I concentrate on an Amendment dealing with the anxieties of a particular town.

In order to make things clear, and for the sake of the Record, I think I should quote the appropriate words from the clause referred to—Clause 243, subsections (1) and (2). Subsection (1) says: The Secretary of State…may at any time…make such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision as may appear to him—

  1. (a) to be necessary or proper for the general or any particular purposes of this Act or in consequence of any of the provisions thereof or for giving full effect thereto; or
  2. (b) to be necessary or proper in consequence of the provisions of any other Act passed in the same session as this Act as apply to any area or authority affected by Part I or II of this Act."

Then subsection (2), which is important, reads: An order under this section may in particular include provision

  1. (a) with respect to the transfer and management or custody of property…and the transfer of rights and liabilities".
My Amendment to follow subsection (2) would exempt the Brighton Pavilion Estate from those paragraphs in the clause.

May I be a little historical? The Prince Regent, the Prince of Wales or George IV—whatever we like to call him—decided to build his Royal Palace on the coast at Brighton. This was in the period as your Lordships will know, from 1784 to 1820. Of course, the stories of his journeys between London and Brighton are manifold, but he did establish a building which was different from any other in the country: an extraordinary building which has tremendous interest not only for people in Britain but for visitors throughout the world. This palace was used by him a great deal. Eventually King William IV inherited the palace and also used it as a marine residence. He was "the Sailor King" and therefore he liked the palace. But when Queen Victoria came to the Throne she hated the place. She thought it was a monstrosity and ordered it to be dismantled. The local people were up in arms about this, and the Brighton Town Commissioners of the day asked the Queen if she would sell it to them. Eventually they bought it, and on incorporation in 1854 it was transferred from the Brighton Town Commissioners to the Brighton Town Council. And that has been the position ever since.

The ownership of a Royal Palace by a local authority (I speak subject to correction, but I feel sure I am right) is unique in this country; and in Brighton not only the Town Council but the whole of the town's inhabitants cherish this place very much indeed, and they would resent its loss. It is part of the civic and social life of the town. Over the years the Council have taken great care of the building and have restored with loving care (I do not think that is an exaggerated term) and great pride parts that needed restoration.

One of the events in which so many people participate is the annual Regency Exhibition, which is something very extraordinary indeed. Year by year Her Majesty the Queen lends wonderful pieces to that Exhibition. It is attended between May and October by many thousands of people. This building—and this is the point I want to emphasise—is known throughout the world as the Brighton Pavilion. It is not a lifeless museum at all, like some we could name. Apart from being a great museum in its own right, as a building within the peri- meter of the estate, it is used for dinners, balls, conferences and concerts; and, as I say, is well known to very many people. Within the perimeter of the estate are lawns, the great Pavilion itself, the stable Dome, which used to be the stables of George IV, and the Corn Exchange, which used to be the riding school. There is also a Pavilion Theatre and a Library. I want to talk for a moment or two now if I may about the library, because a lot may be said later, and this is important. It is understood (is it not?) that responsibility for libraries will go to the new county councils. Therefore there is a great problem here as to what should happen to the library which is within the perimeter of this estate.

I am empowered to say that the Brighton Council agree that in the event of these words being put into the Bill, and that the Brighton Pavilion shall remain, possibly for ever, the property of the Brighton Corporation, they will allow the council to have the library rent free until such time as changes are necessary. In advance of that situation, the present Chairman of the East Sussex Council has indicated his view in the following letter: Personally, I would not be in favour of a new county council taking on the responsibility for the Royal Pavilion, as I have been greatly impressed by the way in which the Brighton Corporation runs the Royal Pavilion. I had a letter this morning from the Town Clerk-designate of Brighton in which he says: When we spoke on the telephone on Tuesday, I said it would be in order, if you thought fit, when moving the Amendment to give an assurance that if the Amendment were passed the county council as library authority would be permitted to use rent-free for library purposes so much of the pavilion estate as is being used for those purposes on the appointed day. I have today been asked by the Clerk to the East Sussex County Council if I can ensure that such an assurance would be given in Parliament, and I shall be grateful therefore if you will make a point of this when moving the Amendment. The county will not then seek to have the Amendment opposed. That assurance is at this moment being given, and the Brighton Corporation are prepared to allow the library within the estate to be used rent-free by the new authority.

I hope that I have made that position clear. I recognise at once that this was one of the snags which existed when I put down the Amendment. As a resident in that area I know what a part the Pavilion plays in the civic and cultural life of the town. I feel—and I hope that others may agree with me—that it would be completely inapt to pass that place into the hands of another authority, in this case the new county council, based in Lewes, which is quite a distance away and does not have the same historical pride in this estate that the people of Brighton have. "The East Sussex Pavilion" does not sound right to me; it would change the whole meaning. I am quite sure that King George IV would turn over in his mausoleum if it turned out that it was no longer called the Brighton Pavilion but was re-named the East Sussex Pavilion.

The Minister of Housing and Construction (who happens to be the Member of Parliament for the Pavilion Division of Brighton) sends rather an ambiguous letter. I should like to quote from it: The Government has already indicated in its consultation paper the general lines which it intends to follow concerning the property transfer consequent upon reorganisation. But the paper clearly stated that the Government also recognises that special circumstances in particular areas may require that the transfer of a property be dealt with by ad hoc arrangements by order or by agreement between the authorities concerned. It is our view "— he is writing as a Minister— that the pavilion estate is one of those properties. It is to be hoped that the authorities concerned will be able to come to an agreement between themselves. I have described that letter as ambiguous; but in addition to that it is a threat. It shows that under the terms of the clause as it stands, East Sussex could come in and take over the Brighton Pavilion Estate. It is that danger that I want to obviate, and I want it down in the Statute that that clause does not apply to the Brighton Pavilion Estate. I hope the noble Viscount will agree with me. I beg to move.

3.40 p.m.


It surely was at this very fine building that one 18th century wit said, "St. Paul's has gone down to the seaside and pupped." I am sure that that was not meant to be derogatory. And certainly after this debate we shall have to call it the "Royle Pavilion. That remark, I confess, I have to attribute to my noble friend Lord Aberdare. The noble Lord, Lord Royle, is perfectly right in saying that it is a very important building and has to be considered carefully. The Committee will know that this Clause, No. 243, gives powers of transfer by order. It would be impracticable to go on the face of the Bill into a mass of detail, but the guiding principle the Government have already announced is that where property is held by an existing authority in connection with the exercise of a particular function—and I think "function" is pretty plain in this case; an integral part of the life of Brighton—it will be transferred to the new authority responsible in future for that function in the area. I am coming to libraries in a minute. That was the guiding principle in fact in London, and it worked quite well, but there may have to be special arrangements, and probably the Brighton Pavilion Estate is one of them.

I was interested to hear what the noble Lord said about the library side because this is one of the problems. In the case of a split use like this, where we have a county function as well, the course taken is to transfer the property to one of the new authorities and provide that the other one should have continuing rights of accommodation; and I am delighted that the two authorities have already got so close together on this one. There are of course any number of different kinds of arrangements that can be made under Clause 100.

The basic trouble about this Amendment is that if the noble Lord proceeds at this stage, or on Report—I do not know why this point seems to be one I always have to argue—we are going to have a Hybrid Bill, and that is the end of the Local Government Bill. The noble Lord shakes his head and I know he is a wise and experienced chairman of committees. I am only going on the advice I have been given. I explained this in relation to the Temples. It is never perfectly certain, but there is a very severe danger. If that is so, I think the noble Lord must concede that it would be inappropriate to jeopardise, as it would, the whole of this piece of legislation, simply for the sake of the Brighton Pavilion. I would suggest that, if the matter has not already been fought out—perhaps not fought out, but agreed amicably—between the East Sussex authority, as it now is, and the Brighton Corporation, there will in due course be the opportunity for consultation between the authorities and the Department of the Environment to see how the question of property of this kind should be dealt with by way of transfer order by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

The noble Lord, Lord Royle, quoted only part of the letter from my right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Construction. What he went on to say is this: it is very difficult on the present information to foresee a case of sufficient strength being made for transferring any part of the estate out of Brighton's ownership. I do not know whether that was in the same letter or another letter; but that is what he is on record as saying. As the noble Lord has said, he is the Member for Brighton Pavilion, and so I should have thought he was almost inextricably involved in what has just been said. I am surprised that the noble Lord thinks that that is not a sufficient undertaking. There it is. I would have suggested to the Committee that the Government have, perhaps exceptionally, gone quite a long way on this matter already. There appears to be a good deal of amity between the local authorities concerned. We accept that this is a difficult case which may well need special treatment, and there are perfectly good powers in the Bill whereby it can be given special treatment.

I am afraid I must insist that this Amendment, if it were in fact inserted in the Bill, would jeopardise the entire measure. Therefore I hope, with that assurance, so far as I have been able to give it in explanation to the noble Lord, that despite the local, the national and the international importance of this estate, he will agree that it would be a mistake actually to press this Amendment to a Division.


I should be ungracious if I did not thank the noble Viscount for what he has said. I agree that he has endeavoured to clear up the matter, but as to the question of interfering with the general spirit of the Bill, creating a special case for a town like Brighton, I do not think that there is a great deal in that point. I am making a case for Brighton, and other people would have been perfectly entitled to put down Amendments for the areas with which they are concerned. I do not think it would have been a bad thing if a number of Amendments of this kind had found their way to the Statute Book. It would make things very much clearer. I do not believe that consultation is quite good enough. One of my problems about consultation is that at this moment consultation is going on between the existing East Sussex County Council and the Brighton Council, but when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament the County Council will be quite a different animal. It may well be that it will be fine, but the certainty is not there that they will give way and say, "Brighton must keep the Royal Pavilion". That is the danger. I want the certainty to be in the Statute and for it to be clearly laid down that this estate is to be the property of Brighton, and not of the County Council.

So far as Mr. Amery is concerned, of course there are split loyalties here. There is his loyalty to his constituency and a loyalty to the Government of which he is a member. I know that it is difficult to wear two hats, and therefore, as a Minister, he comes down on the Ministerial side rather than on the constituency side, and I know that that has been a great disappointment to the Brighton Council. However, if the bells rang and somebody picked up those ivory rods, about ten more people might come into the Chamber, and the noble Viscount would have his majority against me. Therefore it would be foolish to occupy any more time by taking a Division on this issue, in spite of the fact that I feel extremely strongly about it. I am going to reserve the right—and I think the noble Viscount will expect me to—that after consultations and further thought I may raise the matter again on the Report stage. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment, for the reasons which I have stated.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


This is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move Amendment No. 126A.

Amendment moved— Page 188, line 37, after ("II") insert ("section 207(1)(b)").—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question Amendment agreed to.


This also is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move Amendment 126B.

Amendment moved— Page 188, line 39, after (" Act ") insert (" or to section 207(1)(b) of this Act or to any provision of ")—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I am at fault in not having put, before I called the Amendments to Clause 243, that Clause 241 and Clause 242 shall stand part of the Bill, and with your Lordships' permission I will do so now.

Clauses 241 and 242 agreed to.

Clause 243, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 244 [Transfer of officers]:

3.50 p.m.


I beg to move Amendment No. 126C.

Amendment moved— Page 189, line 7, after ("192") insert ("(Power to confer on district councils in Wales certain functions relating to agriculture)")—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question., Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 127: Page 189, line 30, leave out from ("transfer") to ("he") in line 33.

The noble Lord said: It might be for the convenience of the Committee and perhaps speed matters up if at the same time I spoke to Amendments Nos. 128 and 129. It is beyond question that the staffs of local authorities are in no way responsible for the changes that reorganisation involves. Those who are or will be adversely affected by those changes are indeed innocent victims. We live in times of takeovers and mergers, and the trade unions, because of their experiences, are fully alive to the need to safeguard the interests of staffs involved in the shake-ups that follow. It is little wonder, therefore, that they feel deeply concerned to ensure that those for whom they speak, men and women who have given loyalty and service of the highest order to the communities for which they have worked in local government, shall not suffer as a result of reorganisations which might imperil their security and prospects.

Clause 244 deals with the transfer of officers consequent on reorganisation. Subsection (3) introduces an undesirable and, to the trade unions—it will be appreciated that this afternoon I am doing my best to voice the views of the trade unions—unacceptable provision that after an officer has been transferred, his terms and conditions of employment may be changed. Obviously when his terms are improved there is no difficulty, but the effect of the provision as now drafted could be detrimental, and it runs contrary to the principle of protecting the officer by recognising what is for him an unfortunate circumstance over which he has no control and by meeting that position by the payment of a personal salary peculiar to the holder. This has worked in local authorities within which reorganisation has happened; I believe it operates within the Civil Service following the reorganisation of Departments. and it is by no means novel in the private sector. To put it simply, it means that the scale of the transferred officer should be preserved on a personal "no detriment" basis.

Amendment No. 128 is intended to prevent a new receiving authority from changing the grade of any particular officer so that he would be prejudiced thereby. Amendment No. 129 is, I suggest, one of simple justice. The areas where it would have relevance may be limited and I understand that South Wales is an outstanding example. If an officer who is called on to move a considerable distance finds himself unable to sell the house in which he is living at the time, or is able to sell it only for a figure much below that which obtains for similar property in other parts of the country, such as the part of the country to which he may be transferred, obviously he is placed in a position of considerable financial embarrassment. If better solutions could be found for those to whom transfer means the change of residence with considerable loss it will be enlightening and helpful to hear them. Failing that, it would be reassuring to those most vitally involved to have the words of the Amendment written into the Bill.

I have moved the Amendment as briefly as I can. I hope it will be appreciated that there is a very great deal more that could be said on this matter and that I could at length illustrate the points I have been endeavouring to make. I hope, because of the limitation I have imposed on myself, that it may command the more sympathy from the Minister when he replies. I beg to move.

3.55 p.m.


I should like to thank the noble Lord for moving these Amendments altogether and for doing it so swiftly and comprehensively and clearly. May I say again what I said to him the last time we were debating these matters: that I acknowledge readily the great importance of these clauses that deal with the transfer of staff and the full justification for the appropriate trade unions to take the interest, which I know they do, in these matters.

So far as the first two Amendments, Nos. 127 and 128, are concerned, there was a fairly exhaustive discussion of these matters in another place, both at the Committee stage and on Report, so perhaps I need not go into it at quite such length and detail as I might otherwise have felt bound to do. May I start by making clear what the situation is under Clause 244. I am not sure that it is fully appreciated. The first point is that immediately on transfer the officer transferred continues to enjoy the terms and conditions of employment, including pay, no less favourable than he was enjoying immediately before transfer. The second stage is that when the new employing authority offers him new and permanent terms and conditions of service those terms and conditions, not including pay, must continue to be no less favourable than those he was enjoying previously.

The third point is that if his permanent duties continue to be reasonably comparable to those he was performing immediately before transfer, his salary scale must also be no less favourable. In other words, provided the transferred officer is doing a reasonably comparable job—as undoubtedly the great majority will—his pay scale and other terms and conditions of service are guaranteed. If, however, his new job is not reasonably comparable he will get the appropriate rate for it and be entitled to compensation by virtue of regulations under Clause 247. The difference between us on this is whether an officer on a permanent basis should get more than an appropriate rate for the job. This two stage operation involves complete protection for an interim period, followed by the determination of new terms and conditions of service and is designed to allow staff and authorities to ease into the situation in a humane and orderly fashion.

The new authorities will want to produce sensible and efficient management and staff structures. This will take some time to work out in practice. The uncovenanted disadvantage of a number of anomalous situations, involving senior officers rather than junior staff, could well frustrate these efforts and there is a danger that they might lead to increased redundancy. We feel convinced that the right way of managing this matter is that where an officer is moving to a job which is not of a comparable scale to what he had before he should receive the rate for the job and receive the compensation due to him, rather than, as the noble Lord is suggesting, he should go on receiving his present salary on an exceptional personal basis. This could lead to difficulties: it could be upsetting to other staff; it could lead the authority into making appointments of people who were on a comparable scale before and it could lead to redundancies. All these matters, as the noble Lord I am sure is well aware, were covered in the debate in another place. The last point I should like to put to the noble Lord is that the Bill's provisions are the same as those in Section 85 of the London Government Act 1963. The provisions in that case worked well and we believe that they will work well in the case of this Bill.

May I now pass on to the noble Lord's third Amendment, No. 129. This is in two parts and I would, if I may, deal with them separately. The first part seeks to ensure that where a transferred officer cannot sell his house or can only sell it at an unfair price, the new authority must either buy the house or reimburse the loss suffered. This is trying to put into legislative terms matters which are necessarily vague and indeterminate and which we feel are best dealt with by the exercise of administrative discretion. It talks of sale by the employee at a "fair price" but there are no criteria to determine what a fair price should be in these circumstances. It requires the local authority either to purchase the property or to reimburse the financial loss suffered. But again there are no criteria for determining the purchase price or the amount of financial loss. And it is this lack of precision and difficulty in the concepts and the terms that are used which cause us to think that these are matters better not included in legislation.

The existing Scheme of Conditions of Service for administrative, professional, technical and clerical staffs specifically recognises the problem which this Amendment is seeking to meet and states: It would be reasonable for the employing authorities concerned to be able to examine these cases on their merits and to have discretion to deal with them. That is, we feel, the right way of dealing with it. Representatives of the local authorities and their staffs will be negotiating the detailed terms and conditions of transfer through the appropriate channels and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, will accept an assurance that the Government will urge local authorities to exercise their discretionary power generously in the interests of staff adversely affected by the need to move their homes.

The second part of this Amendment seeks to ensure that the new authority will be required to pay the transferred officer any removal or additional travelling expenses incurred at the time of transfer to the new authority or within a period of four years thereafter. The consultative document on compensation arrangements which was issued on March 7 indicates that the Secretary of State for the Environment intends that the staff transfer order will require employers to pay removal and travelling expenses that result from the transfer and refers to a period of two years. The only difference between us, therefore, seems to lie in this question of the number of years—whether two, or four as in the Amendment—and I presume that what the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, is intending to do with the four years is to cover a situation where a new authority decides to build a new administrative centre with the result that the physical transfer of staff takes place only with the completion of the new building. I accept that there will be some, perhaps many, delayed transfers of that sort, but the detailed terms and conditions of such transfers are necessarily matters for negotiation between employers and employees. But I will undertake to look again at the two-year limit that we have previously suggested with a view to ensuring that any officer who is required to move his home as a result of reorganisation will be protected by the provisions of the staff transfer order in relation to the payment of travelling and removal expenses. Changes of the administrative centre or other transfers which are not directly attributable to reorganisation will, of course, be a matter for consideration by the appropriate negotiating body when that question may arise. I hope, my Lords, that I have gone some way to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, that we are doing our best to make sure that the objects he has in view are met although not written rigidly into the Bill.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for the very full explanation he has given of the Government's attitude to these Amendments. I am grateful for the very great care he has taken in dealing with a number of points. I think he will appreciate that he has probably made a much fuller reply than was made in another place when this subject was discussed there. It was pretty obvious that no reply at all was there made, for instance, to Amendment No. 129. I am therefore very grateful to the noble Lord.

May I say in regard to what he said on Amendments Nos. 127 and 128, that I have studied the discussions in another place and have had access to some correspondence which has taken place since the debate there. The Minister's argument in another place was not acceptable to the trade unions. I think they will probably be very interested indeed in what has been said here this afternoon. I think the best way for me to deal with that is to say that I should welcome the opportunity I shall have of discussion with them after the noble Lord's statement has appeared in Hansard; thus we may look at it in some depth.

In regard to Amendment No. 129, I am extremely appreciative of the noble Lord's effort and I shall look at the time period with a view possibly to extending the two years to a four-year period. I am sure that that would give a great deal of satisfaction, and if the noble Lord is able to come back with an Amendment to that effect on Report it would be very acceptable. On the question of what is a fair price for property, I should have thought that the district valuer could have been involved somewhere. In the light of what has been said this afternoon, it may be possible to come up with something on this question. If further consideration is given by the Minister and on our side, perhaps on Report, we may find a solution which is thoroughly satisfactory to those who will be most affected. In the circumstances, I am very pleased to ask permission to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 244, as amended, agreed to.

4.9 p.m.

LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 129A:

After Clause 244 insert the following new clause:

Continuity of employment in cases of voluntary transfer

" .—(1) This section applies to a person if,—

  1. (a) at some time before 1st April 1974, or on that date but otherwise than by virtue of provision made by an order under section 244 above, he enters the employment of a new local authority (in this section referred to as 'his new employment'), and
  2. (b) had he continued until 1st April 1974 in the employment (in this section referred to as his previous employment') which he last held before he entered his new employment or (if he did so continue) had he then ceased to be in that employment by reason only of section 1 or 20 above, provision would have been made by an order under section 244(2) above for his transfer on that date to the employment of a specified local authority.

(2) Where this section applies to a person, then for the purposes of section 28 of the Industrial Relations Act 1971 (qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal) and section 1 of the Contracts of Employment Act 1972 (minimum periods of notice)—

  1. (a) the period of employment in his previous employment shall count as a period of employment in his new employment, and
  2. (b) the change of employment shall not break the continuity of the period of employment."

The noble Lord said: This again is to protect the interests of employees. The doctrine of continuous employment is important in a variety of contexts and in this clause we are concerned with two, protection against dismissal and the period of notice. The protection against unfair dismissal afforded to an employee by the Industrial Relations Act 1971 does not apply unless the employee has been continuously employed by one employer for a period of two years. There are specific provisions in the Act covering the situation where the employer changes through the operation of an Act of Parliament. In such circumstances the notional change of employer does not break the continuity of employment. It follows that the generality of officers transferred to the new authorities under the staff transfer order will not lose the protection against unfair dismissal afforded by the Industrial Relations Act. It would, however, appear that those officers who themselves secure appointments to the new authorities prior to the operation of the transfer order might, unless specific provision was made, break the continuity of their employment and thus have to start a new two year qualifying period before they were protected. This Amendment is designed to put that right. Equally, the amount of notice to which an employee is entitled under the Contracts of Employment Act 1963 varies according to the length of his period of continuous employment, and the same point applies equally to the determination of continuous employment for the purposes of notice. This is a clause which should help to protect the staff in their rights under those two Acts.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 245 agreed to.

Clause 247 [Compensation for loss of office]:

LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 129B:

Page 192, line 29, after ("to") insert—

  1. (" (a) the provisions of any such order as is referred to in section 326(1) of the Public Health Act 1936;
  2. (b) an existing local authority ceasing, as respects the whole or any part of their area, to be a food and drugs authority, within the meaning of the Food and Drugs Act 1955,
  3. (c)")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment 129B, and perhaps I could take with it No. 129D and No. 142A. These Amendments enable the compensation regulations under subsection (1) to be applied also to persons suffering loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments as a result of the provisions under other legislation, and make the necessary consequential repeals. They relate first to persons affected by orders under the Public Health Act 1936 concerning land drainage; secondly, to public analysts and employees of local authorities which cease to be food and drugs authorities for the whole or part of their areas; and, thirdly, to persons affected by orders under Section 46 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969. This is a further extension to help staff in those categories with regard to compensation, and I am sure it will appeal to your Lordships.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 129D.

Amendment moved— Page;92, line 31, at end insert— (" or (d) the provisions of an order under section 46 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969; and without prejudice to the repeal of any enactment by this Act, regulations making provision for any of the cases specified in paragraphs (a) to (d) above may provide that the provisions as to compensation made for that case by section 326 of the Public Health Act 1936, section 129(1) of the Food and Drugs Act 1955 or, as the case may be, paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 shall not apply in relation to persons to whom the provisions of the regulations apply.")—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


May I call attention to the fact that we seem to have passed over Clauses 245 and 246 in the original Bill?


I do not think so. We have a very complicated order dealing with the clauses, and I think those two clauses have been dealt with or are going to be dealt with. I think everything is in order.

Clause 247, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 248 [Remuneration of employees of existing local authorities outside Greater London]:

4.13 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 130: Page 193, line 14, after ("London") insert ("and from representatives of employees of local authorities").

The noble Lord said: I have a substantial brief on this Amendment and the next, but I propose to cut it as drastically as I possibly can while still endeavouring to do justice to the case I seek to make. It may be again to the convenience of the Committee and again saving time if I speak to Amendment No. 131 as well as No. 130 now.

Clause 248 deals with the remuneration of employees of existing local authorities outside Greater London. It seeks to prevent employing authorities from making unjustified increases in pay or grading before the appointed day; that is to say, April 1, 1974. On the face of it, its purpose is unexceptionable. I understand that the Secretary of State is to designate the Local Authorities Conditions of Service Advisory Board—I understand it is shortly called LACSAB, a pretty awful name—as the advisory board to consider any increases in pay made, or proposed to be made, by any authority outside London. It is a body which represents employers' interests only. I think it will therefore occasion little surprise to the Committee if I say that the trade union interests involved—and particularly the National and Local Government Officers' Association—take very strong exception to this approach.

I understand that LACSAB will consult and seek information from new and existing local authorities, and the Secretary of State may direct any local authority to furnish it with the information is desires. If LACSAB, in its wisdom—and I stress that it represents employers' interests only—considers a local authority has fixed, or proposes to fix, remuneration at a rate greater than it considers appropriate, they then notify the authority concerned and recommend a substitute rate. Should the local authority ignore LACSAB, they may raise the matter with the Secretary of State. It is only at this late stage in the proceedings that consultation will take place with representatives of the local authorities and their staffs. There then follow arrangements whereby the Secretary of State may give the local authority a mandatory direction, and for dealing with cases where local authorities have slipped through the net.

I have to say that the apparatus created by this clause is regarded as far too elaborate and cumbersome. Local authorities are generally very law abiding, and the risk of abuse in this matter is pretty minimal. What creates concern is that consultation with the unions would be ruled out altogether where, under subsection (3), a local authority accepted the LACSAB recommendation. The Amendments would ensure that the unions would be consulted at the outset. I hope that these Amendments will be treated as sympathetically as those I moved a few minutes ago. They are certainly put forward with a view to being helpful. Their acceptance would do something to mitigate the very strong fear that this clause, as it stands, could encourage some local authorities to use it as a reason for not conducting a normal review of establishment or revising the grades of posts in cases of increased duties and responsibilities. That is something to be strenuously avoided. Normal reviews of establishment, applications for re-grading, and the operation of existing provincial and national appeals machinery, must continue without interference. I mention this because the clause is seen as an instrument whereby difficulties might be created for staffs, who are at present at a disadvantage due to below average grading of posts, when compared with other authorities merging to form a new council.

I should have liked to say a great deal more on this question, because those of us in local government are aware that this situation all too frequently exists. Any suspicion that there could be direct Ministerial intervention in the fixing of salary scales—even in a limited and temporary manner—is highly undesirable. If it occurred it would create an objectionable precedent. I am sure that the unions involved would be most helpful in seeking to tackle the very few cases of unjustifiable increases that may possibly arise. One feels that the intervention of LACSAB and the Secretary of State in this field is as unnecessary as it is undesirable. I beg to move.

4.20 p.m.


I know that the noble Lord appreciates the need for this clause and, like him, I should hope that it would be called into use only on very rare occasions, if indeed it had to be called into use at all. But what we feel about his suggestions in the Amendment is that there is really no advantage in making the fact-finding procedure under Clause 248 too elaborate, because the local authorities themselves can provide all the facts which the advisory body—LACSAB, as he called it—is likely to need. If a local authority does not do so and drags its feet, then the Secretary of State can issue a statutory direction. We believe that to force the advisory body to seek information from the staff associations at this stage would be unnecessary and cumbersome, and could result in this body with its cumbersome title ending up with a mass of duplicated information. But of course there is nothing in the clause to prevent the associations from offering, or being asked to offer, information.

My right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and Development gave assurances at the Report stage in another place that the Secretary of State would not consider a request for a direction unless both sides of the appropriate National Joint Council had been given an opportunity beforehand to consider the matter. Moreover, under subsection (4) it is quite clear that the staff side will have an opportunity to make representations to the Secretary of State before he issues a direction. I suggest to the noble Lord that this is where it really matters, and that there is no gain to anybody from cluttering up preliminary procedures with what would not be essential to the work of the advisory body in this instance.

With regard to Amendment No. 131, I was not very clear what the noble Lord was seeking to gain. Its effect would be to limit the advisory body to taking action only on the basis of information obtained directly from local authorities or, if Amendment No. 130 were carried, from staff interests. We feel that this Amendment would introduce technicalities into the procedure, without any obvious advantages. It would limit the advisory body's power by preventing them from giving advice to a local authority except on the basis of information gathered under subsection (2). We believe that it would be better to leave it to their common sense than to require them to act only on information which they have received under subsection (2). So I do not think I can help the noble Lord very much on these two Amendments. We do not think they are necessary and we believe they have certain disadvantages; but perhaps the noble Lord would like to consider what I have said.


Again, may I express appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for the care and clarity of his reply. Although he has spoken with great clarity, at this late hour in our proceedings to-day and at the end of a fairly strenuous couple of weeks it may be that I have overlooked something he said or have not properly interpreted what he has said. I am sure he will understand if I say that I should like to read the OFFICIAL REPORT closely when it is issued. As regards Amendment No. 131, after I have read the report of what he has said about it I may feel obliged to come back to it at Report stage, but I think it would be wrong at this point in the Committee's proceedings for me to set about elaborating what the Amendment seeks to do. While appreciating very much the attitude which the Minister has shown in giving a fairly full reply to what I have said, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 248 agreed to.

Clause 249 [Local Acts and instruments]:


Amendment No. 131K is consequential on Amendment No. 98E. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 195, line 3, leave out ("that date") and insert ("1st April 1974")—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 131H is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 197, line 30, leave out from ("provision") to end of line 34 and insert ("applying wholly outside Greater London (except in the Isles of Scilly) and so much of any local statutory provision applying partly within Greater London as applies outside Greater London, being in either case a provision in force immediately before 1st April 1974 and not expressly repealed or revoked by this Act, and subsection (9) above applies to any such local statutory provision of the following descriptions ").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 131J.

Amendment moved— Page 197, line 43, after ("undertaking") insert ("a provision relating to any person's status, or the right of any person to be admitted, as a freeman of any place or the rights of any person by virtue of any relationship or association with such a freeman.")—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.27 p.m.

THE EARL OF MANSFIELD moved Amendment No. 131P: Page 197, line 44, at end insert ("or a provision contained in the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 131P, which stands in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Henley. Clause 249(9) of this Bill provides, in effect, that all local statutory provisions to which the subsection applies shall cease to have effect in 1979 or 1984, according to whether they do or do not apply to metropolitan counties—unless, of course, they are exempted by an order of the Secretary of State or an appropriate Minister. Subsection (11) as it is now amended exempts provisions applying wholly to Greater London and also what I might term hybrid provisions in so far as they relate to Greater London as opposed to areas outside it. Difficulty has arisen in respect of the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938. This most excellent of measures, which should be blessed by all those who live or work in South-East England, provides, in effect, for the preservation of land from industrial or building development in areas in and around Greater London. The position to-day is that many thousands of acres are held by local authorities under this Act subject to restrictive covenants to preserve their character, and many other thousands of acres are privately held with restrictive covenants similar to those which apply in the case of the local authorities.

I will not go into the technicalities because I understand the Government are sympathetic to the proposed Amendment; but, putting it in a sentence, the safeguards for the Green Belt would be considerably diminished if that part of the Act extending outside Greater London were in effect repealed. At the same time, if the position were to hang in the balance, as indeed it could until 1984, I believe that the operation of the Act would be blighted (if I may use a horrible word) in the sense that, meantime, it would be unlikely that there would be any more additions to the list of safeguarded properties. This situation, your Lordships may well agree, is unsatisfactory. It has worried a number of the local authorities, and also the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. This Amendment is intended to preserve the law as it is in relation to the Green Belt as a whole. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, whose name is on my Amendment, desires me to say that he cannot be in his place but gives the Amendment his blessing; and that applies also to the noble Earl, Lord Courtown. I beg to move.


The Government are pleased to accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 249, as amended, agreed to. Clause 250 agreed to.

Clause 251 [Committees of existing councils for consideration of certain matters]:


Amendments Nos. 131A and 131B are consequential upon Amendment No. 98E. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 201, line 20, leave out ("subsection (1)") and insert ("subsections (1) and (3)").—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment 131B.

Amendment moved— Page 201, line 27, after ("sections") insert (" (Transitional arrangements for discharge of functions)").—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 251, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 252 to 254 agreed to.


This is the new clause on disqualifications for the House of Commons which we have already discussed on a paving Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

After clause 254 insert the following new clause:

Amendment of House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957

" .—(1) The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957 shall be amended in accordance with the following provisions of this section.

(2) In Part II of Schedule 1, in its application to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the following entries shall be inserted at the appropriate places in alphabetical order—

The Staff Commission for Wales established under section 246 of the Local Government Act 1972'.

(3) In Part III of Schedule 1, in its application to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the following entries shall be inserted at the appropriate places in alphabetical order—

(4) In Part III of Schedule 1, both in its application to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and in its application to the Senate and House of Commons of Northern Ireland, in the entry relating to local government officers, the following words shall cease to have effect, that is to say—

  1. (a) in the sub-entry beginning 'Clerk or deputy clerk', the words ' of the council of a county in England and Wales, of the Greater London Council or' and the words `England and Wales or'; and
  2. (b) in the sub-entry beginning 'Town clerk or deputy town clerk ', the words `of the City of London, of a borough in England and Wales or'."—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Clause 255 has already been dealt with.

Clause 256 [General provisions as to interpretation]:


Amendments Nos. 131D and 131E are consequential upon Amendment No. 98E. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 203, line 5, after ("regulation") insert ("or the giving of a direction")—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I bee to move Amendment No. 131E.

Amendment moved— Page 203, line 8, leave out ("or regulation purporting to be made") and insert ("regulation or direction purporting to be made or given").—(Lord Aberdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 256, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 257 [Savings]:


This Amendment corrects an error in references in previous

("7 Edw. 7. c. cxl. The City of London (Union of Parishes) Act 1907. Section 22.")

Page 377, line 44, at end insert—

("21 & 22 Geo. 5. c.17. The Local Authorities (Publicity) Act 1931. The whole Act.")

The noble Lord said: In the test of Schedule 30 there are two Amendments which are not to be moved—at least, I anticipate that the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, will not want to move Amendment No. 132, and I shall not want to move Amendment No. 138D. Apart from those two, the rest are Government Amendments and there is not a single one which is not either consequential or drafting. I would suggest, therefore, that we move them in three blocks,

(" 26 Geo. 5. and Edw. 8 c. 48. The Health Resorts and Watering Places Act 1936. The whole Act.")
Page 380, line 41, column 3, leave out (`paragraph ") and insert (" in Part II, paragraphs 1(3) and "). Page 381, line 12, column 3, at end insert ("Section 18(5)").
Page 385, column 3, leave out lines 33 and 34 and insert—
(" In section 126, in subsection (1), the definition ' county ' and subsection (4).")

clauses of the Bill concerning the conservators of commons. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 206, line 18, leave out ("239 or section 242") and insert ("242 or section 243(2)(b) ").—(Lord A berdare.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 257, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 258 agreed to.

Schedule 30 [Repeals]:


This Amendment is consequential on the Amendments on sheriffs moved by my noble and learned friend. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 371, line 26, after ("Sections") insert ("170").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.35 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendments No. 131G and 131M: Page 373, line 50, at end insert—

pausing at Amendments Nos. 132 and 138D to register that those are not to be moved. That will then leave two Amendments with which my noble friend Lord Aberdare will deal. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 131G and 131M.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 132A to 138C.

Amendments moved— Page 378, line 28, at end insert—

Page 387, line 14, at end insert—

("5 & 6 Eliz. 20. The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957. In Part III of Schedule 1, both in its application to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and in its application to the Senate and House of Commons of Northern Ireland, in the entry relating to local government officers, the following words:—
(a) in the sub-entry beginning " Clerk or deputy clerk ", the words " of the council of a county in England and Wales, of the Greater London Council or " and the words " England and Wales or"; and
(b) in the sub-entry beginning " Town clerk or deputy town clerk ", the words " of the City of London, of a borough in England and Wales or ".")

line 17, column 3, at end insert ('Section 10 ").

Page 394, column 3, leave out lines 14 to 16.

Page 396, line 16, column 3, at end insert (" Section 92(3) ").

Page 397, line 19, column 3, leave out from (" 8 ") to (" paragraph ") in line 21.

(" and in the amendment of section 195 of the 1933 Act, the words " or county borough " ")

column 3, leave out lines 44 to 46 and insert—

(" Section 15(4).").

line 47, column 3, at end insert—

(" In section 21, in subsection (1), the words from " and expenses " onwards, and subsections (2) and (3)(b).").

(" 1965 c. xxxix. City of London (Various Powers) Act 1965. In section 33, in subsection (1), the word "6 and " " 2 and " and subsection (2).")

Page 405. column 3, line 27, at end insert—

("In Schedule 3, paragraph 2(1).")

column 3, leave out lines 52 and 53 and insert—

("Section 8.")

Page 406, line 7, at end insert—

("1970 c. lxix. City of London (Various Powers) Act 1970. Section 7.")

(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Schedule 30, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 259 [Short title, commencement and extent]:


Amendment No. 146 is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 207, line 26, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

Line 59, column 3, at end insert ("and").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 138E to 145.

Amendments moved— Page 399, line 8, column 3, at end insert—

Line 48, column 3, leave out from ("the") to end of line 49 and insert ("definitions of" local authority "and" population" ").

Line 50, column 3, at end insert—

(" In Schedule 2, in paragraph 2, in subparagraph (1) the words from" but except "onwards and sub-paragraphs (2) and (3); and paragraph 6.").

Page 400, line 20, at end insert—

(" (3) Except for section (Amendment of House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957) above, paragraph 33 of Schedule 29 to this Act and the repeals made by this Act in the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957 and any enactment amending that Act, this Act shall not extend to Scotland.

(4) Except for section (Amendment of House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957) above and the said repeals, this Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland.").—(Lord Sandford.)

4.37 p.m.

THE EARL OF BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 146A: As an Amendment to Amendment No. 146, in the proposed new subsection (3), line 2, after ("above") insert ("paragraph 11 of Schedule 23,").

The noble Earl said: "I am not certain that I was mentally sound when I put down this Amendment concerning the Mental Health (Scotland) Act, but it was a comfort to know this afternoon, from what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner said, that I am not altogether alone in making mistakes. In order to follow this Amendment may I suggest that your Lordships turn to page 340 of this enormous Bill. Quite a number of sections of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960 refer to England. Paragraph 11 of Schedule 23 to the Bill we are now discussing amends Section 10 of that Act, which concerns the welfare of certain hospital patients, to persons under guardianship of, or transferred to, a local health authority. Under the English Mental Health Act 1959, as amended by paragraph 9 of Schedule 23 which removes the terms "local health authority", children authority" ,and"local authority" and replaces them with the term, "local social service authority", the welfare of such persons in England and Wales will be the responsibility of the local social service authority.

I hope that noble Lords will have followed me so far. But the real point is this. The purpose of paragraph 11 of Schedule 23 is to include hospital patients et cetera in the care of a local social service authority in England and Wales. As the Bill stands, and unless my Amendment is carried, the law as regards Scotland will remain unchanged. I apologise to your Lordships at the very last stage of a lengthy Bill and at a late time in the afternoon for raising this point, but the question before the Committee is whether this paragraph should or should not extend to Scotland. With a few misgivings, I beg to move.


I should like to compliment the noble Earl on the way he moved a very intricate Amendment. I have not followed a single word of it, but I agree with every word that he has said.


I feel like saying the same; but I have followed what the noble Earl has said; indeed, I followed closely what he said when we were discussing paragraph 11, on page 340. It is a complicated matter. I should like to take it back and think about it. The noble Earl's point has already been put to Parliamentary counsel and we are considering it carefully. I am grateful to him for having drawn our attention to it. I hope that, on that undertaking, he will agree to withdraw his Amendment.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment (No. 146) agreed to.

Clause 259, as amended, agreed to.

On Question, That the House do now resume?

4.42 p.m.


On the Motion that the House be resumed, as is rather usual at the end of a Committee, I think we have to extend the usual courtesies between the Front Benches. Although we have been operating under the pressure of a tight time schedule, which I deplore, I should like to thank Ministers for their treatment of the Committee and for their consideration of the numerous Amendments moved by noble Lords in all parts of the Committee. I would especially thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, with whom I have been happy to co-operate in an endeavour to be fair to noble Lords, and particularly to the officers and staff of the House. I will say one further word. I thank the Government and Ministers responsible for this Bill, in particular, for notes on clauses made available to us. This is an advantage that I had experienced only when I was a Minister, and never before in any other capacity. It is an innovation that I welcome, and I hope it will become common practice. However, I hope not to see for a long time a Bill as complex as this one.


I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Champion, and I would in turn thank him most warmly for the way he has cooperated, because in some ways I think that on his side of the House he has had an even harder time than we have. I am grateful, and I should also like to thank the staff whom we have kept up late on many occasions. I hope we have improved the Bill with the numerous Amendments that we have made. We have done so very freely and without relying on what I believe is called the B.I.M—the built-in majority.


You have not always had it.


May I also say how very useful the exhibitions in the Royal Gallery have been. I am sure that note will be taken of what the noble Lord says. I understand that in November we are likely to have a debate on pornography and I am not quite sure what will happen about such an exhibition then.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.