§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I beg to move, in page 3, line 27, to leave out from "functions," to "or," in line 28.
This Amendment and the following Amendment in the names of my hon. Friends the Members for North Camber-well (Mr. Ammon), Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) and South-East Leeds (Major Milner), deal with very much the same point, and I suggest that it would be convenient if we could discuss them together, reserving the right to have two Divisions on them if necessary.
§ The Chairman
If the Committee is agreeable, I have no objection to that course. It would mean that the next 1931 Amendment could not be debated separately, although there could be separate Divisions if necessary.
§ Mr. Ede
The difficulty which confronts hon. Members on this side of the Committee is whether we should be pleased with having the Bill at all, or disappointed at having so poor a Bill; and when we get to this Clause, our feeling of disappointment seriously outweighs our feeling of pleasure, because under the Clause there is a serious danger that the Ministry of Supply may be a merething of shreds and patches.I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman would still be content to be the Wandering Minstrel and to go on proclaiming its virtues and his own in such parts of the country as he could obtain an audience to listen to him; but we desire that the Ministry shall be something more than the very limited conception that is embodied in this Clause. The effect of these two Amendments would be to ensure that the Ministry would be able to function over a wider sphere once it came into being. The first Amendment would take out the words:or such classes of those articles as may be so specified.We suggest that the transfer of the functions with regard to all these classes should take place at once. The Minister dealt with this point to some extent on the previous Clause, but he has left me quite unconvinced. Speaking as an old soldier, I do not believe the War Office is as inefficient as is made out by the case for the Government. The Minister says that they are going to be multiplied fivefold, and that therefore, he has to come in to look after them. I wonder how many times the Air Force has been expanded in the past three years. The right hon. Gentleman does not, of necessity, get these functions in regard to the Air Force. We do not claim in regard to the construction of ships that the Admiralty's functions should be transferred to him, but I wonder how many times the functions of the Navy have been increased during recent years; I should think not far short of the extent that he referred to in the case of the War Office. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand why he should be really the Supply Minister for the War Office and but little else at the beginning. I venture to say that unless the alterations which we pro- 1932 pose are made now, there will be the usual jealousies between Departments— jealousies which are to be found equally in private enterprise and municipal enterprise when it is proposed to transfer powers, duties and functions from one department to another. We think that if the Government limit these functions tosuch classes of those articles as may be so specifiedin. the Order, they are making the transfer too slowly and putting the right hon. Gentleman in command of Supply as a whole at far too slow a pace. Then, coming to the second Amendment, to leave out the words:or as may be agreed between the Department and the Minister,we are inclined to think that that means postponing some of these transfers to the Greek Kalends. If the right hon. Gentleman is to wait till he gets agreement with some of these people we are seriously afraid that the transfer will never take place at all. We on this side of the House have asked for a Ministry of Supply because we believe that in the tremendous emergency that we are continually being assured by right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench confronts the nation it is essential that the equipment of the Forces should be carried through with speed, and without conflict between the Departments, and that the supply of materials and labour should be allocated in the best possible way. The best results can only be achieved by placing all these functions in the hands of one Ministry, and we welcomed the announcement that the Ministry was to be created because we hoped that at last the Government had accepted that view. We now find, to our very considerable dismay and disappointment, that that is not the case, and that while the right hon. Gentleman will deal with supply for the War Office he will have to wait for, and possibly get only in very small instalments, the same functions of other Departments. That must inevitably lead to overlapping, to competition, to the wasteful use of materials and labour. Economy in the use of materials and labour is almost as important as getting on with the job of supply. After all, in the long run there is a limit even to the resources of this great nation, and the wasteful use of those resources in the early stage may very well prove a detriment to us if the struggle should prove to be prolonged.
1933 Hon. Members opposite have asked why no limit is put on the powers given to the Minister in this Part of the Bill. I think the answer is fairly clear. The Government was created in a crisis it drifts from one crisis to another. As long as it exists it will have to go on finding new crises in order to justify its existence. If hon. Members opposite really want to put a limitation on this Part of the Bill they should get rid of this Government and put us in office, when, by a more sane conduct of the affairs of the nation, we would bring affairs back into a state where crises would be no more. Otherwise, it is quite clear that there will be nothing but crises in the world. In view of the fact that they seem to think that they have a fairly long tenure of office before them (though we believe they are going to be disillusioned when they put that to the test), we think it is very desirable that economy should be exercised in controlling the use of the material and labour available. We want to see concentrated in this Ministry the whole of the supply functions of the Government. The effect of these two Amendments, of which I am moving the first, would be to hasten that consummation.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I must confess that when I listened to the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) expounding the merits of his Amendment, I failed entirely to understand how he thought the good purposes, which no doubt he cherishes in his heart, would be achieved by this alteration in the Bill. His object, he said, was to hasten events and to render the accomplishment of the objects of this Bill more expeditious, but the words which he is proposing to delete are inserted in the draft for that very purpose, and the Amendment could not but have the effect of making the working of the Bill more rigid, and consequently less adaptable to circumstances. The hon. Member's chief argument was that the words which he proposes to delete in some way limit the generality of the powers that are to be transferred.
§ Mr. Morrison
The Clause as drafted enables either the wholesale or the retail method to be adopted, and in appropriate cases it is intended to adopt what the hon. Gentleman calls the wholesale method. But there are great advantages to the public service in being able to adopt a procedure more adequately adapted to the problem in hand. A common one, for example, would be the transfer from the War Office of most of its Supply functions to the new Ministry while leaving that Department still to deal with such questions as rations and supplies which are obtained locally and not in bulk, thus enabling the units of the Army to deal with people round about them. It is better that it should remain so. All that these words do is to give power for them to do that in a proper case. If there is some one item like that which it is better in the interests of efficiency to leave to the Department it can be done, but under this Amendment you could not make such an arangement; you would have to give the War Office the right to deal with all or none of the articles it requires. Therefore, I think the words in the Bill are more conducive to speed.
Let me deal with the second Amendment, as I understand it is the desire of the Committee that both should be considered together. Here, again, the Clause does not mean that only such things as may be agreed upon shall be transferred. The words are plain:His Majesty may by Order in Council provide that the powers and duties of any Government Department specified in the Order, whether conferred or imposed by statute or otherwise, in relation to the supply of articles or as may be agreed between the Department and the Minister shall be transferred.The reason, again, is in order to get a more flexible and adaptable machinery. It is necessary under the scheme laid down in the Clause to have an Order in; Council when you want to transfer a supply function. It may be that there is. some quite small item which some Department would prefer the Minister of Supply to take over or which it may be in the public interest that the Minister should take over for them. All that the words in question do is to enable such detailed items to be included in the Order by agreement. I hope I have made clear what our desire is and the words which we have put into this Clause really hasten; 1935 the achievement of that object and provide a more adaptable and easier running machinery for doing so.
§ Mr. Ede
In regard to the right hon. Gentleman's explanation on the first Amendment, would not the Clause be more in accordance with the explanation which he gave if instead of starting this phrase with the word "or" he used the word "except"? The object of these words, he says, is to enable, forage, for example, to be purchased locally. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is intended to take over these things wholesale but he suggests that there are one or two things like the local purchase of forage, for such horses as are left in the Army, which make it desirable to have these words. If that is the intention of the Government, surely the word "except" should be substituted for "or." Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that suggestion between now and the Report stage?
§ Mr. Morrison
That is a question of drafting, and, of course, it will be considered. It is clear that there is no difference of opinion between us as to object and I think myself, at first blush, there is no improvement to be achieved in the way suggested by the hon. Member. I mentioned the case of forage. Supposing it was desired to give the Minister special power to buy all the steel required for shipbuilding. That would be a case in which you would specify a certain class of supply function to be transferred to the Minister. I take it there is no difference between us as to intention.
§ 9.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Lawson
We cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. He says that the intention of these words is to increase the power of the Minister and not to limit his functions. In that case I am very much surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's attempt to explain away the words "or as may be agreed between the Department and the Minister." I do not understand how he can interpret those words as increasing the range of the Minister's powers. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister designate has been acting for some time now, in effect, as Minister for 1936 Supply, but I do not know whether he will mind my saying that he has some experience to go through yet. Some of the Defence Departments have probably made their contribution to the destruction of the reputation of Ministers for Co-ordination and when the Minister of Supply comes to discharge his functions, on the lines of agreement between himself and the Defence Departments, he may find himself very much limited. The right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of telling us whether I am wrong or not, but reading this Clause and these words in particular, my hon. Friends and I, with the best intentions in the world, and with no desire to twist the words out of their proper meaning, cannot but regard them as limiting in their effect. If the exercise of the Minister's functions is to depend upon agreements between Departments, he will certainly be limited.
It may be that the Defence Departments have learned a good deal in relation to co-operation, but those of us who have been watching these matters for many years know the great difficulties that exist in getting Departments to co-operate with regard to contracts. We know the time which has been occupied in setting up pooling committees for contracts. We know the time that has been taken, stage by stage, in getting to the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence and we are not sanguine that the right hon. Gentleman will get the agreement which he wants with the Departments. If we cannot influence him to reconsider these words, it is our duty to warn him that he will probably come up against difficulty if he is dependent upon agreement with the Departments as other Ministers have found in the past. I believe that Ministers for Co-ordination have found themselves in such difficulties. When the right hon. Gentleman is taking powers, I think he is very much mistaken in submitting to these words. When I first saw them I imagined the kind of conversation which must have taken place inside the Government in regard to them. Probably it was said, "This is a bit risky, but we will see what those fellows on the other side think about it." I shall be very much surprised if these words do not involve the right hon. Gentleman in difficulties, and we certainly cannot accept the interpretation which has been put upon them by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
§ 943 p.m.
§ Mr. Naylor
I always listen to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with great interest and I usually find him convincing, but in this matter he has failed to carry conviction to me. His chief argument appears to be that if these two sentences were omitted from the Clause, Orders in Council would have to be multiplied in order to deal with each separate transfer. It seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman tried to prove that the lesser covered the greater. I suggest that if these words are omitted, it will readily be seen that the greater covers the lesser. If we give the Minister power to take over Supply functions from any Department, in whole or in part, why should it be necessary to introduce these qualifications? It is a difference not so much between wholesale and retail, as between direct and indirect methods.
Unless the Minister is going to say that an Order in Council is not sufficient for this Clause without those words included, I am prepared to say that you might possibly have more than one Order in Council if the words are left in. Suppose the. Minister gets an Order in Council for the
§ part transfer of a. certain Department, and it is found necessary afterwards to give him a complete transfer. The Order in Council will lay it down that his powers are limited to the extent of the conditions set forth in the Order. Therefore, it will be necessary for him to get another Order in Council to enable him to take over a larger share of the Department, whereas without these words one Order in Council would govern each and every transaction of that kind. I do not know whether I have been able to impress the Minister in the slightest degree by what I have said, but I know him to be reasonable and receptive, and I suggest that the matter is worthy of his reconsideration.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 188; Noes, 116.1939
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[9.47 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. C. J.||De Chair, S. S.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hunloke, H. P.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Donner, P. W.||Hunter, T.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Drewe, C.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Dunean, J. A. L.||Joel, D. J. B.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Dunglass, Lord||Jonas, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Eastwood, J. F.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Erskine-Hill, A. D.||Kimball, L.|
|Boyce. H. Leslie||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Fildes, Sir H.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Fleming, E. L.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Lennox- Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Levy, T.|
|Bull, B. B.||Gledhill, G.||Lewis, O|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Goldie, N. B.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Little, J.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Grimston, R. V.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Cary, R. A.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Channon, H.||Hambro, A. V.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hammersley, S. S.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E, Grinstead)||Hannah, I. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Markham, S. F.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (E'burgh, W.)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Hepworth, J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth)||Moreing, A. G.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Holdsworth, H||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Holmes, J. S.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hask., N)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Munro, P.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Samuel, M. R. A.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Touche, G. C.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Schuster, Sir C. E.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Selley, H. R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Peake, O.||Shakespeare, G. H,||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Petherick, M.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Simmonds, O. E.||Waterhouse, Captain C|
|Pilkington, R.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie|
|Pansonby, Col. C. E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald||Walls, Sir Sydney|
|Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Somarville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Read, A. C. (Exeter)||Spens. W. P.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Reid, J. s. C. (Hillhead)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.||Windsor-clive, Lieut.-Colonel G|
|Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wise, A. R.|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichten- (N'thw'h)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||York, C.|
|Ross Taylor, W. (Wood bridge)||Sutcliffe, H.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Rowlands, G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.|
|Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Tate, Mavis C.||Mr. Furness and Major Sir|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)||James Edmondson.|
|Russell, Sir Alexander||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Adams, D. (Contain||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Hicks, E. G.||Ridley, G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hopkin, D,||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Isaacs, G. A.||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Jagger, J.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bartlett, C. V.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Batey, J.||John, W.||Sexton. T. M.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Benson, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Silkin, L.|
|Bevan, A.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Bromfield, W.||Kirby, B. V.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Kirkwood, D.||Sloan, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cape, T.||Lawson, J. J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Leach, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Leslie, J. R.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Daggar, G.||Logan, D. G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dalton, H.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Thurtle, E.|
|Dobbie, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Maclean, N.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Marshall, F.||Watson, W. MoL.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Maxton, J.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Foot, D. M.||Messer, F.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Milner, Major J.||White, H. Graham|
|Gallacher, W.||Montague, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Wilmot, J.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Parker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Parkinson, J. A.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. Anderson.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Poole, C. C.|
§ The Chairman
I propose to call the next two Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) and other hon. Members on the understanding that they are taken together—in page 4, line 14, to leave out from the beginning, to "to, "in line 15, and to insert "There shall be transferred"; and in line 17, to leave out from "1938," to the end of the Clause, and to add:and His Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for such consequential matters 1940 as it appears to Him expedient to provide for by reason of this Sub-section, and may by any such Order modify any enactment relating to such matter.Perhaps I ought to tell the Committee that I should not have selected the first of these Amendments if it had stood by itself, and I hope that will be a hint to the Committee that the principle involved in that Amendment has already been discussed on at least two other Amendments.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Ridley
I beg to move, in page 4, line 14, to leave out from the beginning, to "to," in line 15, and to insert "There shall be transferred."
I am obliged to you for your Ruling, Sir Dennis, which eases my task considerably in moving the Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) and myself, and I will endeavour to remember what you have been good enough to say. If the two Amendments were carried the Clause would then read:There shall be transferred to the Minister the powers and duties of the Board of Trade under the Essential Commodities Reserves Act, 1938, and His Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for such consequential matters as it appears to Him expedient to provide for by reason of this Sub-section, and may by any such Order modify any enactment relating to such matter.It is true that the principle of compulsory and complete transfer of the powers now in the possession of the Department has been discussed on two previous Amendments, one moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) and the other by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) but they were, I submit, related to the Defence Departments, and this Amendment is not so related. I thought the Minister, in replying earlier on the Debate, was a little half-hearted, and that the way in which he employed the terms of the Ministry of Munitions powers showed him to be half-hearted. In reply to the question he put to my hon. Friends as to what was to be done with a Department which was reluctant to concede its powers, I should say that its reluctance was evidence of the desirability of taking those powers from it, particularly in the case of Defence Departments.
I am now discussing the Board of Trade. The Minister said earlier that they were anxious that the supply of every necessity for the public service should be active. "Every necessity" would mean not only the necessities of the Defence Services, but those of the community in a very much wider sense. I therefore submit, in the terms of these two Amendments, that the Essential Commodities Act covers commodities which are as essential to the success of a campaign as are those which are covered by the Defence Departments. 1942 I was a little disturbed to hear the Chancellor of the Duchy say that rationing in the Army was still to be a reserved authority and not within the authority of the Ministry of Supply. I should have thought that food in the Defence Services was as much a common-user commodity as most other things, that food in war was a common-user commodity to everybody, civilians, military, naval alike, and that therefore it was in every way desirable that the powers now exercised by the President of the Board of Trade tinder the Essential Commodities Act should be transferred to the Ministry of Supply and related to its general responsibilities. There is very considerable authority for the belief that the morale of the German Army in 1918 was not broken by its own defective food supplies but by the fact that it was being continually reminded of the defective food supplies of its civilian population behind the lines. Therefore, it is a matter of national importance that the Minister of Supply should be responsible not only for the supply of the normal defence weapons of the three Defence Departments but for the supply of all the common-user commodities, particularly those covered by the Essential Commodities Act.
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill makes it clear that the Minister will only be able to exercise the powers in the Bill subject to the approval of the other Departments. It seems to me that that will lead to departmental confusion. The great mistake the Bill is likely to make is to pretend to create a Ministry of Supply and in the; end not to do so, to be half-hearted about it by introducing permissive powers which may never be exercised, or, if they are required, can be exercised only after inter-departmental discussions which may involve dispute and dislocation. The essence of the success of the Ministry is that it shall have in its possession the maximum amount of co-ordinating authority and able to exercise that authority not after conflict with other Departments but with the maximum speed. The short submission is that the powers now evercisable by the President of the Board of Trade under the Essential Commodities Act are so complementary even to the limited powers which the Ministry of Supply seeks in the Bill that they should be transferred to the Ministry of Supply and exercised by the Ministry of Supply.
1943 As to the second Amendment, the terms of it are in harmony with the general provisions of the Bill, although I understand they have the honour to meet with the disapproval of the Liberal party below the Gangway. If the Amendment disposed of a few minutes ago had not been the subject of a Division, we should have had the spectacle of empty Liberal benches. This second Amendment is within the general provisions of the Bill and seeks to give the Minister, subject to the Parliamentary authority which is inherent in the general provisions of the Bill, the opportunity of moving with speed in moments of danger.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Burgin
It may assist the Committee if I give an explanation why this Clause is in the Bill and show how far I am in agreement with a good deal of what the hon. Member has said. He said he thought there were a great many commodities which were in common use and a great many which were as important for the civilian population as for the Defence Services. That is quite true. A great deal of the Essential Commodities Act is being transferred by the first Order-in-Council, as will be seen from the White Paper. What is not being transferred is food, because food is in the Food (Defence Plans) Department, a separate Department presided over by the Chancellor of the Duchy. The whole food Defence plan is far wider than the Defence Services, covering the whole civilian requirements. It is already a separate Department of State with a separate head. There is not the slightest advantage in further transferring that to the new Ministry of Supply. It is functioning very well. The whole question of food and food distribution is already the subject-matter of this special Department presided over by a Cabinet Minister. So you transfer part of the powers given by the Essential Commodities Act but not the whole. You transfer everything dealing with raw materials, but you do not transfer food, because that is subject to another Department, and you do not transfer petrol, because there are elaborate arangements for petroleum and petroleum products already controlled by the Treasury, with a proper co-ordinating committee of the Service Departments, so that all ordinary supplies and rebates from standard prices and so on are guaranteed. All matters 1944 dealing with petrol, petroleum and lubricating oils are a highly specialised line of inquiry and it is natural that all that should be dealt with under the Oil Board, on which the Service Departments., the Treasury and Mines Department are represented, and which is in reality a committee reporting to the Committee of Imperial Defence.
I start by saying that I am in agreement with the Mover of the Amendment that certain powers under the Essential Commodities Act should come in, but you do it by Order-in-Council. There is no point in saying "There shall be transferred," because the White Paper says so. You do not effect any improvement by altering the wording of the Clause. The White Paper says "There shall be transferred." What you do not do is to transfer food or petrol, because that is a separate line of country already provided for. This Clause is entirely a matter of book-keeping. Instead of these various purchases that the Board of Trade makes under the Essential Commodities Act figuring on a particular Estimate, they are taken off and debited from a particular account and credited to another. The Clause is put in as a bookkeeping transaction entirely. The intention is to transfer to the new Ministry under the first Order-in-Council all the Essential Commodities Act powers of the Board of Trade except food, feeding stuffs and petrol.
§ Mr. Burgin
The Oil Board is presided over by the Chancellor of the Duchy and reports to the Committee of Imperial Defence, so that it is the Minister for Co-ordination sitting in another place, who has as his spokesman here: the Chancellor of the Duchy.
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
Will the right hon. Gentleman have any direct representation himself on the Oil Board?
§ Mr. Burgin
I am satisfied that I am adequately represented on it as it is., but I will make inquiries and perhaps on Report shall be able to give the explanation for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman asks.
§ Mr. Wilmot
Will the commodities now being dealt with by the Lord Privy Seal's 1945 Department, commodities required by the various departments of A.R.P. and required by local authorities for fire-fighting services and so on, be transferred to the right hon. Gentleman's Department by the order that he mentions?
§ Mr. Burgin
They are not covered by the Essential Commodities Act. They would require another Order-in-Council so far as they consist of steel and so on.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
Will the right hon. Gentleman point out where the powers of the Board of Trade are transferred?
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
It says "the acquisition and maintenance of fertilisers for land and raw materials from which fertilisers can be produced."It is confined to those two articles.
§ Mr. Burgin
It is necessary to put it in that manner because these are statutory powers which have expressly to be transferred. The hon. Member can accept my assurance that in the first Order-in-Council there will be transferred to the Minister of Supply the powers of the Board of Trade under the Essential Commodities Reserves Act except food, forage and petroleum.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman asks us now to accept his assurance. As a matter of fact the White Paper has been issued in order to tell us what will be transferred, and this transference on which he has based his argument is not included in the White Paper at all. There must be some explanation.
§ Mr. Burgin
I have tried very hard once or twice to give the explanation. The right hon. Gentleman is speaking without the Essential Commodities Act before him. If he had it, he would see that this gives power to the Board of Trade in regard to other matters as well as food, forage and petroleum. Therefore, being a power referred to in the Statute, it has expressly to be referred to in the White Paper. After all, the White Paper is intended for the convenience of the House. It is intended to be a revelation by the Minister of the way in which he intends to use the powers transferred to his Department by Order in Council, and it was thought to be a convenient method of telling the House that when the Bill, giving him 1946 power to use Orders in Council, is passed he intends by the first Order in Council to do certain specific things, and so there is in the White Paper a reference to the skeleton of the wording of the Order in Council which will be the first Order in Council made under this Act when it becomes an Act. Power to buy raw materials is given to the Minister of Supply. Power to buy certain stocks was given to the Board of Trade by the Act of 1938. The power over food is to be retained and the power over petrol is to be retained.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Lawson
The right hon. Gentleman is asking us for the second time to-night to accept what is his intention rather than what seems to be in the Clause itself. I have listened as carefully as I could to what he has had to say about this Measure and it seems to resolve itself, in the long run, into what the Minister intends to do. He does not accept our first Amendment. Would it not strengthen his purpose and give him more room for the carrying out of his intention if he were to accept our second Amendment? It states:His Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for such consequential matters as it appears to Him expedient to provide for by reason of this Sub-section, and may by any such Order modify any enactment relating to such matter.I do not see that what the Minister intends to do is in the Clause at all. This is a flexible Amendment, there are no two ways about it, and the right hon. Gentleman should not ask the Committee to take things on trust.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
I hope that the Minister will not accede to the appeal which has been made to him. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has said that we are being asked to accept too many things on trust, but if the second of these Amendments were carried we should be asked to accept everything on trust. I am rather surprised that hon. Members above the Gangway are sponsoring an Amendment of this kind. The hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley), who moved the Amendment, had practically nothing to say about this second Amendment.
§ Mr. Foot
I do not think that the Liberal party comes under the heading of the second Amendment, which empowers thatHis Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for such consequential matters as it appears to Him expedient to provide for by reason of this Sub-section.And, secondly, is given power tomodify any enactment relating to such matter.Those are entirely unlimited and undefined powers. First of all the Minister is given power to do practically anything he likes. Secondly, he is given power to modify Acts of Parliament. That is, as I said when speaking upon a previous Amendment, what is commonly known as the Henry VIII Clause, giving that power to a Department. No sort of time-limit is proposed in the Amendment. Hon. Members probably know that this question was fully considered by the Donough more Committee, on which the party above the Gangway were represented by the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Richards) and by Professor Harold Laski, and all of them said that to give powers of this kind to a Department was inconsistent with the principles of Parliamentary Government, and that if there were an extreme case and it was thought that these powers were absolutely essential, they should be limited to 12 months from the passing of the Act. There is no 12 months' limitation here.
There was a precisely similar proposal put forward in this House a few weeks ago, but not by the party above the Gangway. It was in the Military Training Bill. If hon. Members will look at Section 11 of the Military Training Act they will see that there is a Section in almost entirely the same terms as the second Amendment, namely:Subject to the provisions of this Section, His Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for such consequential matters as it appears to Him expedient to provide for by reason of the passing of this Act, and may by any such Order modify any enactment relating to such matters.On that occasion my hon. Friends and I put down an Amendment to limit the exercise of these powers to 12 months from the passing of the Act, and on that Amendment we were able to discuss and criticise the proposals which were then before the House. In that we had the 1948 support of hon. Members above the Gangway. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), whom I am glad to see in his place, said, with reference to the Clause, which was precisely similar to the Amendment we are now considering:I would say that this Clause is one which gives the Government very far-reaching powers to make Orders in Council. It is practically within the power of the Government to amend the Bill as they wish. For that reason the Clause ought to be greatly safeguarded. The Minister has not answered the point of the Amendment which is that the power to make these orders should be limited to 12 months.He went on to say that, unless he was given satisfaction on that point, he and his friends would go into the Lobby against the Clause which they afterwards did. He was followed by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), who went even further. He was not dealing with any particular Clause, but with the whole class of Clauses of this description, and he said:To allow Clauses like this to go through is to abrogate the legislative functions of this House and to entrust them to the right hon. Gentleman."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1939; cols. 1141–2, Vol. 347.]It is a different right hon. Gentleman now, but the principle is precisely the same. I do not know whether hon. Members above the Gangway have more confidence in this Minister than they had in the Secretary of State for War. There have been other occasions quite recently when we have discussed matters of this kind. On 5th May of this year we discussed the Coast Protection Bill, and there again the proposal was made that the Minister should have power to abrogate the provisions of Acts of Parliament. On that occasion we had a very interesting speech from the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams), who condemned proposals of this kind in un measured terms. He said:We" —I take it he was referring to the party above the Gangway—are certainly opposed to any legislationI ask the Committee to mark the words "any legislation"—which will confer upon civil servants the power to make orders which override the provisions of an Act of Parliament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1939; cols. 2262–3, Vol. 346.]1949 That is precisely what is proposed in this Amendment. That is the principle which was raised on Clause II of the Military Training Bill, and it is precisely the same principle which we are considering in the second of these Amendments. For that reason, my hon. Friends and I certainly cannot support the Amendment.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Batey
We have just listened to a very strange speech. The hon. Member may have a legal mind, but he certainly has not a logical mind. He has been happy in telling the Committee all the faults of some hon. Members on this side, but one thing that we should try to avoid in the House of Commone is the quoting of past speeches, because that can be done against Members of all parties. We on these benches sometimes do things which may seem to the ordinary mind to be silly. Again and again we move reductions in order to argue for more money, but that is the only way in which we can do it. Here also we have an Amendment which affords the only means of doing what we want to do. The Minister says that the Essential Commodities Reserves Act prevents the transference to him of powers relating to petrol. Some of us are interested in petrol. We believe that, in setting up a Ministry of Supply, powers should be power to the Minister to set up works for the extraction of oil from coal. Oil for the Army, Navy and Air Force is just as essential as guns. We are sadly disappointed that the Minister of Supply is to have no power to do the one thing that we believe to be essential, that is, extraction of oil from coal.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Clifton-Brown)
The question of the extraction of oil from coal does not arise on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Batey
But the Minister referred to the question of petrol, and when I speak of oil I am speaking of petrol. I want the power to deal with petrol transferred to the Minister. One thing that would be needed in a war is oil. The Army is being mechanised, and it will need petrol. It is essential that plant should be set up in this country, in order that we should have the petrol we need, and not run the risk of being prevented from getting it, as will be the case if we depend on supplies from overseas. I am 1950 sorry that hon. Members below the Gangway will not support this Amendment, because, in my opinion, it is essential.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I listened, as I always do, with very great attention to the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot). I think he will agree that on most occasions I have listened to him, not merely with attention, but with a great deal of sympathy, and that I have often done what I could to back him up, especially on the kind of principle that he was advocating just now, I regret that this time I must part company with him. I do not think that he was quite fair. Usually he is very fair, but on this occasion he presented his argument as though, if this Amendment were adopted, the result would be to abrogate the rights of this House to control legislation, and to hand it over to some Ministerial Department beyond the control of Parliament Had that been so, I should have felt a certain doubt. But I wonder whether he has read Clause 6.
§ Mr. Silverman
If he has, I understand his speech less than ever. There was nothing in that speech to indicate that he had; nothing to remind the Committee that the general principles he was advocating had to be read in relation to Clause 6. Sub-section (2) of that Clause says —
§ Mr. Silverman
I am not attempting for a moment to discuss it, but if we are asked to deal with a particular Amendment on a particular Clause, and to say that the acceptance of that Amendment would have a certain effect, when a later Clause makes it perfectly clear that it would have no such effect, I suggest that, without infringing the Rules of Order, I am entitled to draw attention to that Clause, without discussing it at all in order to meet the argument the hon. Member raised. I am doing it merely for that purpose and for no other. I do not propose to discuss it at all—it is not necessary—but I propose, with your permission, Colonel Clifton Brown, to read it and to do no more than that. Clause 6. (2) provides that: 1951Every Order in Council made under this Part of this Act shall be laid before Parliament and shall cease to have effect at the expiration of twenty-eight days from the date on which it is made, unless within that period resolutions approving the making of the Order are passed by both Houses of Parliament.
§ Mr. Foot
I am very sorry to differ from the hon. Gentleman on this occasion. He has pointed out in justification of this Amendment that the Order will need to come before the House. I make two answers to that. As he knows, you cannot amend an Order, and therefore the House is in a difficulty as compared with legislation. Secondly, I drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that a precisely similar Clause appeared in the Military Training Bill when his party took a different view. This provision to lay Orders before Parliament also occurs in the Military Training Act.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am afraid that all this discussion is out of order. When we come to Orders in Council we can discuss the whole thing, but the hon. Member is out of order in his speech, and he must not pursue that subject.
§ Mr. Silverman
The only point with which I am concerned—and I content myself with this—is to reply to the contention of the hon. Member that if this Amendment were passed the authority of Parliament would be abrogated, that it is clear under Clause 6 that that authority would not be abrogated.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan
I do not intend to enter into these high constitutional matters, but I should like to ask the Minister a question. As I understand it, he has informed the Committee that under the Clause, if passed without Amendment, he has certain powers. In the White Paper he has told us how he intends to use the powers for the first Order in Council. He now tells the Com-
§ mittee that he intends in the first Order in Council, when he produces it, to transfer all those powers with the exception of those dealing with food and petrol. That, I take it, is his intention. He went on to show the reason for the non-transference of fuel to be organised under what he called a separate Department under his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. Is that really the case? Surely, it is under the Board of Trade. The Vote is carried on the Board of Trade and there is no separate Department at all. For the convenience of organisation and ministerial work the right hon. Gentleman, I understand, presides over these matters, but it is not a separate Department. It is the method by which we work. If there is any extra work to be done it always seems to fall upon the right hon. Gentleman. Although in the first Order in Council he does not intend to take these particular powers respecting food and petrol, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent a further Order in Council, if the situation so develops, to transfer these powers ultimately to the Ministry of Supply. I would like him to assure me whether I am correct.
§ Mr. Burgin
The hon. Member is quite correct. The Board of Trade was the Department that set up the Food (Defence Plans) Department, and to create a new Department in the sense that it was a statutory creation would need legislation, The matter will still be carried on the Board of Trade Vote. My hon. Friend is quite right. There is nothing whatever in the Bill which in any way fetters the power to transfer other powers, should it be deemed necessary.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 26; Noes, 11.1955
|Division No. 181.]||AYES.||[10.36 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Ft. T. D.||Boyce, H. Leslie||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Chapman, A, (Rutherglen)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Clarry, Sir Reginald|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Browne, A. G. (Belfast, W.)||Conant, Captain Ft. J, E.|
|Aske, Sir Ft. W.||Bull, B. B.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Cox, H. B. Trevor|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Craven-Ellis. W.|
|Beamish, Rear. Admiral T. P. H.||Butcher, H. W.||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley|
|Beaumont, Han. R. E. B. (Portsm' h)||Cartland, J. R. K.||Crowder, J. F. E.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Carver, Major W. H.||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cary, R. A.||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||De Chair, S. S.|
|Denman, Hon. R D.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Donner, P. W||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Rowlands, G.|
|Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.||Keeling, E. H.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Drewe, C.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.)||Russell. Sir Alexander|
|Duggan, H. J.||Kimball, L.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Lancaster, Captain C. G.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lees-Jones, J,||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Leigthton, Major B. E. P,||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Selley, H. R.|
|Elliston, Cant. G. S.||Levy, T.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Liddall, W. S.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Lipson, D. L.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Little, J.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Evans, D. O (Cardigan)||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn't)|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Loftus, P. C.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Lyons, A. M.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Foot, D. M.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Furness, S. N.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Macmillan, H. (Stookton-on-Tees)||Spens. W. P.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Macnamara, Lt.-Col. J. R. J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Gledhill, G.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Markham, S. F.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R.||Marsden, Commander A.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Tasker. Sir R I.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Moreing, A. C.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., SJ|
|Guest, Maj Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P,|
|Gunston, Cast. Sir D. W.||Morrison, Rt. Han. W. S. (Cirencester)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Hambro, A. V.||Munro, P.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Nall, Sir J.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Walker Smith, Sir J.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Heilgers, Captain F, F. A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Peaks, O.||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie|
|Hepworth, J.||Perkins, W. R. D||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth)||Petherick, M.||White, H. Graham|
|Holdsworth, H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Holmes, J. S.||Pilkington, R.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel S|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Wise, A. R.|
|Hunloke, H. P.||Read, A. C. (Exeter)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Hunter, T.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||York, C.|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Captain Waterhouse and|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Captain McEwen.|
|Joel, D. J. B.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Kirkwood, D|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Frankel, D.||Lathan, G.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Gallacher, W.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gardner, B. W.||Leach, W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Lee. F.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Logan, D. G.|
|Barr, J.||Grenfell, D. R||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Batey, J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Benson, G.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||McGovern, J.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Maclean, N.|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Marshall, F.|
|Bromfield, W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Maxton, J.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Hicks, E. G.||Messer, F.|
|Burks, W. A.||Hopkin, D.||Milner, Major J.|
|Cape, T.||Isaacs, G. A.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jaguar, J.||Naylor. T. E.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Dalton, H.||John, W.||Parker, J|
|Day, H.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Dobbie, W.||Jones. A. C. (Shipley)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Ede, J. C.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Poole, C. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwallty)||Kirby, B. V.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Richards, R. (Wraxham)||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Watson, W. MoL.|
|Ridley, G.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lee- (K'ly)||Welsh, J. C. '|
|Riley, B.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helene)||Stephen, C.||Wilmot, J.|
|Sexton, T. M.||Stewart, W. j (H'ght'n le-Sp'ng)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Shinwell, E.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Silkin, L.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Young, Sir R. (Newton I|
|Silverman, S. S.||Thurtle, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Simpson, F. B.||Tinker. J. J.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. Chorlton.|
|Sloan, A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Watkins. F. C.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 1.45 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Smith
I wish to submit a few observations for the consideration of the Committee and the Minister. This Clause relates to the transfer of the functions of other Government Departments. In the White Paper, it is stated that:The Royal Ordnance Factories, and other manufacturing establishments concerned with the stores transferred, will become the responsibility of the Minister.I suggest that when the Royal Ordnance Factories are taken over, they should organise research on a bigger scale than in the past, and that, in view of the developments that are taking place through out the world, the Royal Ordnance Factories, when taken over, should also carry out great experiments that ought to be carried out under the auspices of the State. The reason I raise these matters is that one or two points have been put to me by promiment people in industry who are very much concerned about the matters on which I am speaking. I find that a German who has been resident in London for many years has been responsible for preparing a report that has been published in Germany, and in this report, he comments on the restriction of the development of home refineries in order to keep up the value of the oil industry's wharves and depots and the favouring, for capitalist reasons, of rail against road traffic. I suggest that when the Royal Ordnance Factories are taken over, it should be the duty of the persons in those factories, acting on behalf of the Minister, to carry out, first of all, a survey of the manufacturing resources of this country, and secondly—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am afraid the hon. Member is getting very wide of the matter before the Committee. This Clause deals with the transfer of certain factories to the Ministry. The hon. Member is now going into the question of what 1956 duties they might or might not perform, which is a new field that does not come up on this Clause.
§ Mr. Smith
I shall take note of your advice, Colonel Clifton Brown. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member who said "Hear, hear," has not been in the Committee for many minutes, and certainly, I shall not take any notice of his "Hear hear." Too much of that kind of thing takes place in the Committee. The hon. Member has not been here the whole day, but has been outside attending to ether business functions, and then he comes in and says, "Hear, hear" when we are trying to carry out our duty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who was it?"] If anyone wants the name, it can be given, because I think it is time there was some straight talking with regard to this. I was pointing out that these factories are to be taken over, and in my view, the time has arrived when the responsibility for co-ordinating and developing this kind of research should be carried out by those factories. In addition to that, some time ago the Institution of Mechanical Engineers held a conference in London, at which representatives of the engineering industry from all parts of the world were present. Several of the speakers who read papers at the conference devoted themselves to suggesting alternative supplies of motive power for this country.
One of the suggestions that was made was for dealing with the by-products of the coal industry. We can no longer afford to leave it to the Minister of Mines to deal with this question. It should be dealt with by the Minister of Supply, and now that he is taking over the Royal Ordnance factories the Minister should be responsible for seeing that the experiments which have been made in order that by products of coal can be used as alternative supplies for motor power are brought to the same success that they have been in some other countries. More and more the engineers concerned with these new methods are concerned about this. To 1957 private enterprise it is not a business proposition.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member overlooks the fact that this Clause deals only with the transfer of certain functions, and he cannot deal with what those Departments might do.
§ Mr. Smith
May I suggest, with respect, that industry is changing from week to week, and if we could only get the best out of research that is taking place into new motive powers—which researches private enterprise cannot afford to carry through—it would result in great advantage to the State. I know it is a fact that in Germany, Soviet Russia and America what I am advocating is already being done.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member is still dealing with powers. Powers are given under Clause 2.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
No, he can argue whether or not these powers should be relinquished and whether the Department should be transferred, but not with what they should do.
§ Mr. Neil Maclean
But if you are transferring the powers and duties of a factory, surely you are transferring the work that is being operated within the factory; and if that work can be improved, surely Members are within their rights in suggesting what improvements there can be in these duties under the Ministry itself?
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I cannot but think, Colonel Clifton Brown, that you have under-estimated the breadth of this Clause. May I respectfully draw your attention to Sub-section (2, b):for the carrying on and completion by or under the authority of the Minister of anything commenced by or under the authority of any Government Department …";and in particular to paragraph (c) which reads:for such adaptations of the enactments relating to any powers or duties transferred …1958 Therefore, we are not dealing simply with powers and duties which already exist, but we are giving the Minister an extremely comprehensive power to adapt and extend those powers and duties. Surely it must be in order for an hon. Member to deal with the nature of those powers which may be adapted by the Minister under this; Clause?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
There is a difference between adaptation and extension, and what the hon. Member was arguing is the extension of the powers.
§ Mr. Stephen
Would not the hon. Member be in order in making a reference, if he does not debate the matter at length, to the particular extension which he has in mind?
§ Mr. E. Smith
I have finished with it now. I desire that the Royal Ordnance factories should adapt themselves to the carrying out of the experiments which the Institute of Mechanical Engineers recommended. This is only one example of many which could, be given. It is well-known that one of our greatest difficulties in the last War was in connection with shipping and transport. In another war it will be most important to economise as much as possible on shipping. Therefore, any alternative form of motive power that can be perfected in this country to save us importing petrol or oil will be a great advantage and will considerably increase the strength of the country. That is why I argue that the Royal Ordnance factories should be adapted for carrying out these experiments in particular. The Island Transport Company is already to a certain extent making use of an alternative motive power known as producer gas. This producer gas has been examined by the Glasgow Corporation Transport Department and I am asking that this matter should be carried a stage further. It is not right that we should leave experiments of this kind to private enterprise. Owing to the urgent necessity which exists in this matter, it is for the State to embark upon these experiments.
I find that in France, Russia, Germany, Italy, the Baltic States and in the Scandinavian countries, the use of producer gas as a motive power for vehicles is already being encouraged in various ways 1959 by the State. Not only should we consider the utilisation of the ordinary by products from coal such as petrol and oil; we should also be engaged in perfecting such things as methods of transport by producer gas. In this way it will be possible to economise on shipping and in the use of petrol and oil so that the maximum supply can be utilised by the armed forces and retained at their disposal, while alternative methods are provided for ordinary transport. That can be done only if these experiments are carried out in the Royal Ordnance Factory on the same lines as the experiments made in other countries.