HC Deb 06 April 1943 vol 388 cc490-1
46. Mr. Astor

asked the Prime Minister whether any decision has been taken by the Government as to whether the manufacture of civil aircraft is or is not to be nationalised after the war; and whether he can give assurances that the House of Commons will be consulted before any final decision is taken and that no wartime measures will be used to prevent existing firms with long and successful experience in this work from resuming it after the war?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

His Majesty's Government have taken no decision about the nationalisation after the war of the manufacture of aircraft, whether for civilian or military purposes. I cannot conceive that the Government would embark upon such a policy with all its implications without consulting not only the House but the country. As to the last part of the Question, there is no intention to use the war-time powers to prejudice unjustly any existing firm or their shareholders. Decisions as to the future policy of the State in time of peace must be taken on general grounds and by regular constitutional means and not as a result of the application of war-time measures in particular instances.

Mr. Astor

Will the Government take immediate practical steps to ensure that shareholders will be able to get their property back through having the shares which the Government have taken over registered in their names, or some other practical measure of that sort?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to my answer.

Mr. Granville

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we shall have no civil aircraft at all after the war unless we prepare our designs now?

Sir H. Williams

As the Emergency Powers Act will last until His Majesty by Proclamation declares the present emergency at an end and as, judging by the precedent of the last war, that may not happen until two years after the termination of hostilities, can we have some assurance that emergency powers will not be used for exceptional purposes after the termination of hostilities?

The Prime Minister

Our policy is everything for the war and, after the war is won, fair, free review under normal political conditions.