HC Deb 11 March 1942 vol 378 cc1057-8
45. Mr. Tinker

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that production is suffering because the workers are of opinion that privately-owned concerns will not go all out unless they are sure of profits; and will he make it clear that the Government intend to take over any business proved to have behaved in this manner?

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

If there are any cases of the kind to which my hon. Friend refers, I would make it clear that the Government would not hesitate to make full use of the powers conferred upon them by Defence Regulations, including, if necessary, the taking over of the business, if they were satisfied that production was unsatisfactory for reasons within the control of the management.

Mr. Tinker

I am glad that statement is made, because there is no doubt that work is interfered with by private owners not going all out, and unless something is done the Government will not get a 100 per cent. effort.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply will give great satisfaction to the workers, against whom so many allegations are being made? Can the number of private firms that have been controlled be made known?

Mr. Attlee

Perhaps my hon. Friend will put that question down.

Mr. Simmonds

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the number of private firms who would be animated thus is negligible?

Mr. Attlee

The number of people among both masters and men who are not pulling their weight in the war effort is very small.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an atmosphere throughout the shipbuilding and engineering shops that the employers are not playing the game? Will he make inquiries, because it is what is at the root of the trouble and of all the insinuations that come across the Floor of this House about the workers not putting their backs into it. They certainly are not putting their backs into it, and that is one of the reasons—they, like the employers, are wondering what will happen after the war.

Mr. Attlee

Perhaps my hon. Friend will consult with my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, who has made a tour of the shipbuilding yards, and have a talk with him on the subject.