HC Deb 13 February 1933 vol 274 cc666-73

4.11 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, after the word "by," to insert the words "the Minister, after consultation with."

There are three Amendments in my name and the names of some of my hon. Friends dealing with the first part of Clause 1, and they all stand or fall together. The House is aware that we have always been opposed to the idea of Appointing Trustees as being a clumsy, and, we believe, unworkable method of getting a satisfactory appointment of the officers for the new London Transport Board, but we are not attempting by this Amendment to cut out the Appointing Trustees. We appreciate that the House, in the Committee stage, voted in favour of that, and against our Amendment to leave the appointment in the hands of the Minister, which we believe to be the right method, but we are moving this Amendment because already the Minister actually has to do everything else with regard to the members of the board. Under Sub-section (4) resignation is to the Minister. Under Sub-section (5) the Minister has to approve the amount of leave which they may have, and also has to declare the office vacant. In Subsection (6) he may remove any member of the board for inability or misbehaviour.

It seems to us it would be much more consistent, therefore, if the Minister were the actual appointing person after consultation with this new body of trustees. That would put in the hands of the Minister the whole of the negotiations between the advisory body and the people who were to be appointed, that is to say, he would ministerially act, either to appoint, dismiss, give leave or whatever it might be. He would be the one voice who spoke for these various persons, and we hope that the Government will see their way to accept this Amendment, not in any sense as intending to reverse the policy which the House has decided upon in Committee, but as being intended to improve the operation of the Act while still maintaining the principle which, presumably, the House thinks right, but which we think wrong.

4.14 p.m.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir. Thomas Inskip)

The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that it is not the intention of this Amendment to reverse the decision arrived at by the Committee, and it is quite true that in form the Amendment is not a direct reversal of that decision, but I am inclined to think that its merits would be greater, although I could not accept it—


Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman seconding the Amendment?


The question has been put from the Chair.


May I ask if it has been seconded?


It is not in accordance with practice, when an Amendment is moved from the Front Bench, to require a Seconder.


I think the Amendment would have greater merits, although I could not accept it, if it were a direct reversal of the proposal contained in the Bill. The original proposal was that the Minister should appoint the board, but the plan adopted by the Committee, after a great deal of consideration, was that the Appointing Trustees should appoint the board. Now the hon. and learned Member desires that the Minister shall appoint the board, after consulting the Appointing Trustees. It seems to make the worst of both worlds. Now that the Minister is to have the responsibility of appointing the board, I think that it should be his responsibility, and, if he is a wise man he will, no doubt, consult such persons in private as it is his duty to consult. It was the proposal of which, I understand, the hon. and learned Gentleman and his party are in favour which the Committee by a very large majority rejected. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he has no intention of attempting to go back upon that position and to put back the Minister as the appointing body, but he wants to say that the; Minister is to be the appointing body after consulting, and, I suppose, that that means, with the consent of the Appointing Trustees. It seems in substance to be very much the same thing as making the Minister the appointing body, but with the complication that he has to consult the body whose advice he need not take but whose advice it will perhaps be difficult for him to refuse if the body in question choose to promote a conflict of opinion with him.

The advice which I respectfully tender to the House is that they shall adhere to the decision that the Appointing Trustees should appoint the Transport Board, and that the Minister should be left with the powers which later Subsections will give him. I think that, on the whole, it is not an undesirable division of duties that the Minister should be charged with the duty of removing any person from the board who is unable to perform his duties, and that the Appointing Trustees should fill the vacancy if one should thus be created. That will prevent any suspicion of a removal having been brought about with a view to providing an opportunity to fill the vacancy by appointing a particular person. The Minister will remove,

and the Appointing Trustees will appoint, and you will thus have a division of duties which, on the whole, will be in the public interest and I ask the House of Commons to reject the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 33; Noes, 228.

Division No. 39.] AYES. [4.19 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Harris, Sir Percy Milner, Major James
Attlee, Clement Richard Hicks, Ernest George Nathan, Major H. L.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jenkins, Sir William Parkinson, John Allen
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Price, Gabriel
Daggar, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Salter, Dr. Alfred
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Thorne, William James
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert Tinker, John Joseph
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, Valentine L. Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Maxton, James Mr. John and Mr. Groves.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Crossley, A. C. Hore-Belisha, Lesile
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Albery, Irving James Davison, Sir William Henry Horobin, Ian M.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Dawson, Sir Philip Horsbrugh, Florence
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Denman, Hon. R D. Howard, Tom Forrest
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Denville, Alfred Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.
Atholl, Duchess of Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Atkinson, Cyril Donner, P. W. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Doran, Edward Hume, Sir George Hopwood
Balniel, Lord Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Dunglass, Lord Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Beauchamp, Sir Brogravs Campbell Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Elliston, Captain George Sampson Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Elmley, Viscount Ker, J. Campbell
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Emrys-Evans, P. V. Kerr, Hamilton W.
Bernays, Robert Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Kirkpatrick, William M.
Blaker, Sir Reginald Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.
Bossom, A. C. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Knox, Sir Alfred
Boulton, W. W. Fermoy, Lord Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Law, Sir Alfred
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Forestier-Walker, Sir Leolin Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Boyce, H. Leslie Fox, Sir Gifford Levy, Thomas
Broadbent, Colonel John Fremantle, Sir Francis Lewis, Oswald
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Fuller, Captain A. G. Llewellin, Major John J.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Ganzoni, Sir John Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.Gr'n)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Gillett, Sir George Masterman Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Glossop, C. W. H. Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Burnett, John George Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mabane, William
Butler, Richard Austen Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. MacAndrew, Lt.-Col C. G. (Partick)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Goff, Sir Park McCorquodale, M. S.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas McKie, John Hamilton
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) McLean, Major Sir Alan
Castlereagh, Viscount Grimston, R. V. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Castle Stewart, Earl Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Gunston, Captain D, W. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hales, Harold K. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Martin, Thomas B.
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Clarke, Frank Hammersley, Samuel S. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Colfox, Major William Philip Hanbury, Cecil Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)
Conant, R. J. E. Hanley, Dennis A. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cook, Thomas A. Hartland, George A. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Cooke, Douglas Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Cooper, A. Duff Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Moreing, Adrian C.
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Morgan, Robert H.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Muirhead, Major A. J.
Cross, R. H. Holdsworth, Herbert Munro, Patrick
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H- Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Robinson, John Roland Summersby, Charles H.
North, Captain Edward T. Rosbotham, Sir Samuel Sutcliffe, Harold
Nunn, William Ross, Ronald D. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Palmer, Francis Noel Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Patrick. Colin M. Runge, Norah Cecil Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Peake, Captain Osbert Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Penny, Sir George Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Perkins, Walter R. D. Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Petherick, M. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple) Savery, Samuel Servington Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.
Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Wells, Sydney Richard
Potter, John Somervell, Donald Bradley Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Pownall, Sir Assheton Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Procter, Major Henry Adam Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Pybus, Percy John Spencer, Captain Richard A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Wise, Alfred R.
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland) Womersley, Walter James
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Ramsbotham, Herwald Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.) Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Rawson, Sir Cooper Stourton, Hon. John J. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Ray, Sir William Strauss, Edward A.
Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Strickland, Captain W. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F. Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward and Lord Erskine.

4.26 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, after the word "persons," to insert the words: including the General Council of the Trades Union Congress. The General Council of the Trades Union Congress is such an important body in the industrial affairs of this country that it really ought to be consulted in connection with these appointments. We do not believe that it would be going outside the powers of appointment to consult a body of this kind. They represent such a huge body of the industrial community that their views ought to be heard at least with respect. The General Council of the Trades Union Congress is really the nerve center of the whole of the trade union movement of the country. The trade union movement is largely incorporated in the Bill now before the House. Practically speaking, every person employed under the new board will be a member of the Trades Union Congress. They are men of proved capacity and great knowledge in this direction. They have in the past proved to be efficient advisers, and on many occasions they have been taken into consideration and consultation by more than one Government on matters of really great importance which required to be considered from the two points of view. They are selected by trade union people from the whole of the country, and they have the confidence of a large number of people connected with the industrial movement of the country. Representing, as they do, this great organisation, we feel that it will not in any way be lowering to the Appointing Trustees to take them into consultation. They will be able to offer advice which will help the Appointing Trustees in the work which they have before them. We consider that the Amendment should be accepted, because we believe that, after consultation with the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, the position of the Appointing Trustees will be strengthened very considerably.

4.30 p.m.


The hon. Member proposes to mention one body whom the Appointing Trustees are to consult. He does not propose that the Appointing Trustees should be prevented from consulting anybody else. He mentions one of a number of bodies whom the Appointing Trustees may consult if they think fit. I would call the attention of the hon. Member and of the House to the fact that there is nothing to prevent the Appointing Trustees from consulting the Council of the Trades Union Congress if the Trustees think fit. The hon. Member wants to put in the Council of the Trades Union Congress as a body whom the Appointing Trustees must consult. I perhaps do not altogether share the hon. Member's opinion as to the great merits and virtues of the Council of the Trades Union Congress, but I do not want to get into a controversy with him and, for the purpose of my argument, I will accept all his testimonials as to the merits and virtues of that body. If they be so full of merit as he describes, they are certainly a body whom the Appointing Trustees are likely to consult. I should prefer to leave it at that. I do object to picking out one body, however excellent, and saying that they are to be consulted, when there are many other bodies equally full of knowledge and experience. To single out one would be invidious. I suggest that it would be better to leave the Clause in the wide terms in which it stands at the present time, which empowers the Appointing Trustees to consult any body when it thinks fit to do so in particular circumstances.

4.33 p.m.


I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for his indication that, no doubt, this particular body will be consulted. [HON. MEMBERS: "May."] If the Appointing Trustees do their duty they will be consulted.


What I said was: "If the body in question is so full of virtue as the hon. Member thinks."


I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman in a matter of this importance is not going to rely on some jesting phrase. From the point of view of the workers, this body is a body of importance. Whatever its particular merits may be, there are, of course, as the right hon. Gentleman says, many other bodies which are of importance. If we are to understand that the right hon. Gentleman has indicated that in the view of the Government this would be a proper and right body to be consulted, I do not think we need take the matter any further.

Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and negatived.