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Viscount Thurso: I am sympathetic to the noble Earl's objectives but I do not believe that the clause achieves them. He said that we have a code of practice that is not working but he seeks to put another code of practice before us. Why should this code of practice work if the other does not?

The Earl of Bradford: The codes of practice which were introduced in the past were not backed by statute. They were voluntary codes of conduct or were put forward by Her Majesty's Government. We are seeking to establish a code of conduct to which everyone must abide. It is easy for people to say, "Yes, that sounds like a good idea but I am not going to let it apply to me". I should like to see a code of conduct apply to everyone.

Viscount Thurso: I thank the noble Earl for making the point that I was trying to make; that the previous codes of conduct were voluntary but that this is statutory. Therefore, one would be imposing on the industry an obligation with which by no means everyone in the industry agrees or has been consulted about.

If the clause remains in the Bill it must appear in the code of practice. If, on the other hand, the amendment is agreed to and the clause is removed from the Bill there is nothing to stop a code of practice making some reference to it. I ask the noble Earl to save his firepower for that stage.

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As the noble Earl referred to other countries I must tell him that there is a huge difference between the law of this country and that of others. Having spent five years in France running a hotel, I am aware of the raft of social legislation behind the whole management of service. I believe that it is the Loi Goddard, which was passed in the 1930s. That makes clear exactly what goes to the staff, how it goes to the staff and the way in which it is taxed. With great respect to the noble Earl, it is not as simple as saying that if a procedure works in France it should work here.

As the noble and learned Lord the Minister has advised that the provision in the Bill would not be acceptable, I feel that the amendment should be put forward and I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 4 to 7 not moved.]

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

8.30 p.m.

Clause 3 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: If Amendment No. 8 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 9.

Viscount Thurso moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 2, line 3, leave out from ("Act") to end of line 4 and insert (", other than this section, shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint.").

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 8 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 10. They provide for a consultative process for the trade. I have spoken at length about why the trade needs a consultative process. I understand that the noble Earl has no philosophical objection or objection in principle to the amendments. The hour being late, I shall rest my case. I beg to move.

Lord Monson: My Amendment No. 9 could have been advantageously grouped with Amendments Nos. 8 and 10. The noble Viscount and I are at one in believing that three months is an insufficient period in which to prepare for the major changes that the Bill would entail if enacted. The advantage of Amendment No. 9 is that a fixed time limit may galvanise the parties concerned to get their act together more speedily than they would if the matter were left on a more flexible basis. On the other hand, if the noble Viscount, with his great experience in the hotel and catering trade, believes that such flexibility is essential I am entirely happy to accept his judgment and I shall not move my Amendment No. 9.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I have some sympathy with the principle behind Amendments Nos. 8 and 10. As I noted on Second Reading, a further objection to the Bill is that it would override the discretionary powers available to the Secretary of State under Section 26 of the 1987 Act to make regulations relating to the circumstances and manner in which particular price indications may be given and the requirement in that provision for consultation before any such regulations are made.

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The formulation of the noble Viscount's proposals, however, does not fit well with the existing provisions of the 1987 Act. In particular, Section 25 of the Act, which sets out the provisions for issuing a code of practice, already obliges the Secretary of State to consult the Director-General of Fair Trading and such other persons as he considers appropriate before he can make any order approving, modifying or withdrawing a code.

These amendments do, however, highlight another aspect in which the Bill is defective, in that since the existing code of practice approved by order does not meet the requirements of the clause, it would infringe the provisions of the Bill once they had come into effect. Transitional provisions would be needed.

In view of the Government's position on the Bill, I have no comment on Amendment No. 9. As regards Amendment No. 11, the disapplication of the Bill to Northern Ireland would be technically correct because Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 itself does not apply in the Province.

The Earl of Bradford: After 17 years of discussion within the industry and of trying to bring restaurants into line in order to stop confusing the public, whether the time limit is three or six months, or however long the Secretary of State may deem fit, is irrelevant. My noble and learned friend the Minister has made it clear that we shall not proceed too much further with the Bill. However, I urge upon him the absolute necessity of getting together all sections of our industry in order to agree a consensus of the way in which we charge customers in restaurants in this country.

That is vital because we are doing harm to an industry that has made enormous strides forward in the past 20 years. I believe that everyone accepts that today London is counted among the culinary capitals of the world. We have a choice of restaurants and a tremendous enthusiasm among young British chefs. We are offering a product that is vastly better than that offered 20 years ago.

Sadly, we are still doing harm to ourselves. Whatever decisions are made regarding my Private Member's Bill, I urge the industry, with the encouragement of the Government, to try to reach a voluntary consensus view of the right way forward. In that way, we shall all gain

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because staff will be treated differently and in a more professional manner and waiting staff will be properly rewarded. Therefore, so far as concerns time, I shall leave the matter to the Committee.

Viscount Thurso: In view of the advice offered by the Minister, I believe that it is only correct for me to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 3, leave out ("three") and insert ("six").

The noble Lord said: I am sorry that Amendments Nos. 8 and 10 which were tabled by the noble Viscount were shot down. Having heard the noble Viscount speak, I believe that his amendments were probably superior to mine. However, Amendment No. 9 is second best in my view and is certainly preferable from the practical point of view to the Bill as it stands. I do not believe that any technical objections could possibly be raised against it. Therefore, even if the Bill has a very poor chance of going ahead, I wonder whether it might be accepted so as to give everyone a little more time for preparation. But, of course, that is a matter for the Committee to decide. I beg to move.

Viscount Mountgarret: I believe that it would perhaps be better if the noble Lord, Lord Monson, refrained from taking his amendment any further. We have heard the advice from my noble and learned friend the Minister and, indeed, what my noble friend Lord Bradford had to say as regards ambivalence about the actual timing, and so on. Moreover, following my noble and learned friend's advice, the noble Viscount said that we should let the matter rest. Therefore, I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, will feel likewise.

Lord Monson: In the absence of any support, I can only beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an amendment.

        House adjourned at seventeen minutes before nine o'clock.

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