HC Deb 22 January 1942 vol 377 cc400-1
25. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that many experienced industrialists believe that there is a great need for a regional controller of production with industrial experience, and having full authority over production in each region; whether the Government have given consideration to this matter; and with what result?

Mr. Bevin

I am not aware that this suggestion has any widespread or authoritative support. It would not be practicable to give the suggested full authority over production to regional controllers in view of the responsibility of Ministers for the production programme as a whole.

Mr. Lawson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable industrial backing for this proposal and that the general opinion held is that the War Production Committee cannot deal with bottlenecks and hold-ups generally? If you had a man of industrial experience with authority in the region, he would be able to deal with them direct and be in touch with the Advisory Committee in the region. May I ask, therefore, whether this is the Government's last word on this subject, because I can assure him that it has considerable backing?

Mr. Bevin

I have not been long a member of the Government, but I have discovered that they never have a last word. I will call attention to the point made by my hon. Friend. The present arrangement of production is such that every Department has its regional representative directly under the Minister in the region, and the policy has been not to hand over those powers to a person acting for the whole Department.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is divided authority in the regions, that there are Area Supply Boards and Boards under the direct control of the Ministry of Supply? Is it wise to have that divided authority?

Mr. Bevin

I would like notice of that Question.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Do not my right hon. Friend's answers really make out a case for a Minister of Production?