§ [No. 34]
§ After Clause 16, insert the following new clause—
§ "The Agency and the media
§ .—(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, neither the Agency nor any of the Agency's subsidiaries—
- (a) shall commence a business of publishing newspapers, magazines or other periodicals for sale to the public in the United Kingdom; or
- (b) enter into any contract with the Independent Broadcasting Authority for the provision of programmes.
§ (2) Subsection (1) above does not apply to periodicals wholly or mainly concerned with the activities of the Agency or any of the Agency's subsidiaries.
§ (3) Subject to subsection (4) below, neither the Agency nor any of the Agency's subsidiaries shall acquire any of the share capital of a body corporate if a substantial part of the undertaking—
- (a) of that body corporate, or
- (b) of a group of companies of which it is the holding company, consists of carrying on—
- (i) a business such as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above, or
- (ii) the activities of a programme contractor.
§ (4) Subsection (3) above shall not prevent the acquisition of share capital of a body corporate if the acquisition is made in pursuance of a direction under section 10 above.
§ (5) Subject to subsections (7) and (8) below, if the Agency or any of the Agency's subsidiaries acquire any of the share capital of a body corporate which carries on any such business as is mentioned in subsection (1)(a) above, it shall be their duty to exercise their voting power with a view to securing that the 716 body corporate disposes of the business as soon as practicable.
§ (6) Subject to subsections (7) and (8) below, if the Agency or any of the Agency's subsidiaries acquire any of the share capital of a body corporate which has any interest, direct or indirect, in a body corporate which carries on such a business, it shall be their duty to exercise their voting power with a view to securing that the capital of the body corporate which carries on that business is disposed of as soon as practicable.
§ (7) The Secretary of State may direct that the Agency or a subsidiary of the Agency shall not be under any duty imposed by subsection (5) or (6) above during such time as the direction is in force.
§ (8) The Secretary of State may only give such a direction as is mentioned in subsection (7) above if he is of the opinion that without such a direction serious commercial injury would be caused to any newspaper, magazine or periodical concerned.
§ (9) If the Agency or any of the Agency's subsidiaries acquire any of the share capital of a body corporate which is a programme contractor, they shall consult the Independent Broadcasting Authority as to the steps that they are to take with regard to that share capital and obey any direction given by that Authority.
§ (10) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, it shall he the duty of the Agency and of any of the Agency's subsidiaries to use any power to control or influence the carrying on of a business such as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above or of the activities of a programme contractor only in relation to financial or commercial matters.
§ Lord LOVELL-DAVIS
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 34. As noble Lords are well aware by now this clause defines the Agency's responsibilities in respect of the operation of news media. It follows precisely the comparable provision in the Industry Bill. In particular the Agency will not be able to initiate an enterprise in the news media and it is clear that directions given by the Secretary of State to allow the Agency or their subsidiaries to retain the media interests are not intended to be permanent. Such directions will continue in operation only while there is a danger of serious commercial injury being caused to a newspaper or periodical if the Welsh Development Agency were obliged to dispose of their interests.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has already given me notice of a 717 question in respect of this. The reason why we have provided something rather fuller is simply one of drafting and I think perhaps of national independence. It was felt better to set the matter out in full in our Bill without referring to or depending in any way on another Bill. So that unlike the Scottish Development Agency Bill the Welsh Development Agency Bill in this respect stand on their own feet.
I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 34.
§ Moved, That this House both agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Lovell-Davis.)
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation about the difference between the new clauses in the two Bills, because on the Scottish Development Agency Bill I raised the point that the equivalent clause there was only five lines, and I referred to the Industry Bill and the National Enterprise Board. My object was to find out whether there was any difference. The noble Lord has kindly replied and made it clear that it is simply another way of drafting, and of course I see no objection at all.
I am sure it is right that Welsh and Scottish legislation should go about these things in their different ways if that seems best and convenient. But in your Lordships' House I think I was the first person to raise the whole question of the Agencies and their relationship to the media, and the difficulties that there might be if there was not some provision for situations where they were trying to help companies in the media and where the control of those companies might come into question. So I think your Lordships will be as glad to see this additional clause in the Welsh Development Agency Bill, as we have been to see a similar, though differently worded, clause in the Scottish Development Agency Bill.
May I add that, when I drew attention to the difference between the drafting of these two clauses, I did not make any unfavourable comparisons about the reasons for this as between Scotland and Wales, but I should like to draw atten 718 tion to the fact that in the previous Amendment No. 33, "may" and "shall" is something that continually occurs in Scottish debates on Bills, so I am sure that also is common to both Scottish and Welsh legislative discussions.
§ Lord LLOYD of KILGERRAN
My Lords, may I add that I am glad we in Wales have scored over Scotland in this matter. This clause has been properly drafted in the modern sense because all lawyers and all businessmen know what a nuisance it is when a clause refers to another Bill, and what the draftsman of this Welsh Bill has done is merely to quote largely passages from the Industry Bill to make it readable to the ordinary person. I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lovell-Davis, on the point he made about drafting.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.