§ Order for consideration, as amended, read.
§ 11.18 a.m
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
May I at the outset remind the House of the present position in regard to Clause 2 of this Bill.
§ Mr. Hudson
Then may I be allowed to move, "That this House do now adjourn," to allow me to put my point? This particular matter is one for the Board of Trade. On the Committee stage, a promise was given that consideration would be given by the Government to putting down some Amendment to the Clause to meet the points raised. We, on this side of the House, consider that we should have the President of the Board of Trade here in his place on this occasion. This 1558 is, if I may remind the House, a Clause which did not appear in the original Bill. We got a very indifferent explanation of it in Committee and, much as we appreciate the powers of the Parliamentary Secretary and of the brief with which he has provided himself, we think it is treating the House with gross discourtesy, if the President of the Board of Trade, who is responsible for this Clause, does not turn up himself to defend it. I do not know whether there is any chance of getting him—I take it that he is not engaged, as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was the other day, in getting a cup of tea at this hour of the morning—butI should be very grateful indeed if he could be here, and we on this side think he ought to be here. Unless we can get some satisfactory assurance that he will turn up to defend this Clause I shall ask the leave of the House to move the Adjournment, to draw attention to the gross discourtesy with which we are being treated.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I have a fairly long experience of the House but I cannot recall an instance of the Adjournment being moved merely because a Minister is not in his place when a competent Parliamentary Secretary, who has not yet been heard on the Bill, is here to take his place. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should have referred to my own absence from the House for a period of twenty-five minutes in the period between 2.15 and 11.53 the other evening. I venture to say that when he has been in charge of a Bill he has never been in the House as long as I have been. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I have been in consultation, in accordance with the promise that I gave to the Committee; we have considered this matter, and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has convinced me that it is unnecessary for the Government to put down any Amendment to this Clause. In the statement which I made to the Committee I did not go beyond saying that these consultations would take place, and that I would very carefully examine the matter to see that we get the powers we want and, if possible, get them in terms that shall be unmistakable. After con- 1559 sultation with my right hon. Friend, I am convinced that the Clause as worded carries out the desire of the Government, and does not require amendment. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will not be here to-day but the Parliamentary Secretary is here and will, when the Amendment is moved, prove fully competent to deal with any points that the Opposition may wish to put.
§ Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)
The statement of the Home Secretary will be received with great disappointment on this side of the House. I would like to assure him that we are in no way suggesting that the words which he used would bind him to amend the Clause. I am not suggesting that in any way, but we are keenly disappointed that the President of the Board of Trade has been able to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that no Amendment is necessary. The Amendment that stands in my name—
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman cannot move his Amendment until we dispose of the present Question.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his explanation, but, in my experience, when we sat on those Benches Members of my right hon. Friend's Party were continually moving the Adjournment for this purpose. If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has convinced the Home Secretary that what he said was right, it would have been at least courteous—
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the right hon. Gentleman should ask the leave of the House to speak. He has already made one speech.
§ Mr. Hudson
I should have asked the leave of the House and I apologise. It would have been at least—
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
On a point of Order. You assume, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman has the leave of the House. I, as one Member, object, and therefore I submit that he cannot go on with his speech.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
May I conclude my right hon. Friend's intervention, and say that this is really a further example of the desire which seems to exist not to discuss these matters to which we have called attention. What my right hon. Friend was going to say, I think, was merely that if the President of the Board of Trade has been so successful in persuading the Home Secretary of the Tightness of his view, in our opinion it would have been equally right and courteous on his part to convince us, at first hand, rather than through the mouth of the Home Secretary, who will no doubt give the reasons for his conviction. That is the only point we wanted to make.
This is a major Bill. The fact that it is a major Bill is demonstrated by its having been kept on the Floor of the House. The Leader of the House indicated some time ago that it was the intention of the Government only to keep on the Floor of the House very important Bills. That must be accepted as the definition of this Measure, and that being so, and from the fact that on the back of the Bill are the names of right hon. Gentlemen holding the most important offices in this sphere, we had hoped to have the advantage of hearing the President of the Board of Trade speaking from his angle on this new Clause—which was not in the Bill as originally printed—rather than the Home Secretary speaking from his angle. That is the long and short of it. If there is really an overwhelming reason why the President of the Board of Trade cannot be here, if he is setting up working parties, elsewhere, instead of attending to this particular working party, we shall be glad to hear of it. I do not think the Home Secretary will really take exception to our having called attention to this rather curious way of handling the situation, and I should like to assure the hon. Gentleman, the Parliamentary Secretary, that none of the remarks of my right hon. Friend were aimed at him. [Interruption.] Yes, I think we have known each other long enough for him to accept my assurance that those remarks were not directed in the slightest at him. But we all know that the Parliamentary Secretary's position is not quite the same as that of the Minister, and the Parliamentary Secretary himself would be the first to accept that view. It was for that reason that 1561 my right hon. Friend called attention to this point. We have no desire to delay consideration of the Bill because of this, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion. [An Hon. Member: "The hon. and gallant Gentleman did not move it."]
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ CLAUSE 2.—(Power to make Defence Regulations for controlling prices.)
§ 11.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, leave out "controlling the prices to," and insert "securing that fair prices shall."
Before discussing the actual Amendment I would like to express the disappointment we feel at not having the President of the Board of Trade here. That feeling is somewhat mitigated in my case, by the satisfaction I shall have in listening to the Parliamentary Secretary who has, during the course of the war, been of great assistance to mein the various responsibilities which I have undertaken. I believe it is your intention, Mr. Speaker, to call the Amendment on the Order Paper to page 2, line 42, so T will confine my remarks to the particular aspect of the words I use in the Amendment and not in their general aspect. The object of the Amendment is to make the Clause more particular. The words as they stand in the present Bill give colour to our suspicions that this Clause is intended to give control for control's sake. I suggest that the Home Secretary should have no difficulty in accepting this Amendment, which merely wishes to strike out the general phrase "controlling the prices to," which gives the provision that colour of general control, and to insert "securing that fair prices shall." It seems to me it would be a difficult argument for the Government to advance that they wished to control prices for other reasons than for securing fair prices. With those few remarks from me, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will feel able to accept the Amendment.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Ellis Smith)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1562 Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) and his hon. friends had their names to several Amendments that were considered on the Committee stage of the Bill. As the right hon. Gentleman has rightly said, they withdrew those Amendments on the assurance which was given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that this Clause would be reconsidered and that the case made out by the right hon. Member for Aldershot would also be taken into consideration. We have considered the Clause and the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, and we have decided it is imperative that we should have the full powers in this Clause as it now stands in the Bill. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have now put down the Amendment which we are considering, and I will give reasons to the House why it is in the national interest that this Clause should be passed in its present form.
The present powers for controlling prices are derived from three Acts. The first is the Prices of Goods Act, 1939, the second is the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act, 1941, and the third is the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, under Defence Regulation No. 55. The method of control prescribed in the 1939 Act is not sufficiently effective for our purpose, principally because prices can be controlled only in relation to goods of exactly the same kind as those made prior to the war. No one knows that better than the right hon. Member for Aldershot. In the six years that have passed production and designs have changed. We are hoping to be legislating for some time, and we want modern machinery to fit the new times. The Goods and Services Act, 1941, enables us to fix maximum prices and charges for any class of goods, but it does not enable maximum prices to be fixed for individual businesses and types of goods. We want that power from the House. Industry wants it. It will enable us in suitable cases to allow for variety without having to rely upon the cost-plus method which has been so rightly criticised during the war and which has many disadvantages, in particular the disadvantage that it provides no incentive to efficiency and even discourages it. I had always thought that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite claimed to stand for efficiency and for the encouragement of initiative. We want to 1563 amend the Goods and Services Act, 1941, to cover the points I have indicated and those to which I shall refer later. In some cases to which I shall refer, we want to deal with the matter by Defence Regulations, and I have no hesitation in saying, as a result of my experience and in particular this week's experience, that this will save Parliamentary time. We want also to use this Clause to mark price controlled goods and where necessary to mark what is the controlled price. We want powers to deal with evasion. We are receiving thousands of letters asking us to deal with the black market and the evasion that is taking place. We want to fix a fine that will be at least equal to the profit resulting from the offence. Some of us will never forget our experiences where bookmakers have been fined and have paid the fine with a smile and been glad to get out as quickly as they could. We want more authority to deal with evasion.
Our first objective in price control is to prevent inflation. That is why we want comprehensive powers. For this purpose we must not be limited to the control of essential goods only. We also need power to prevent the charge of excessive prices through restrictive practices from which the people of this country have suffered for far too long. We are determined to see that the people obtain the benefits of the mass production of consumer goods at reasonable prices. While naturally we are more concerned on behalf of the consumers about the prices of essential goods than about the prices of luxuries, we must be free to prevent those engaged in non-essential production from charging more than reasonable prices. Profiteering is a social evil which we intend to prevent wherever we can. Our people have something better to do, when we consider the conditions in the world and at a time when we are short of almost everything we need, than to make excessive profits on the production of luxury goods. Far too long have millions of our fellow countrymen and fellow workers been employed on piece work while others have charged what they liked for what the people needed. We desire not only to talk about prices in relation to the cost of production, but to see that progressively they are reduced, and, for a change, not by reducing wages. We support a fair return 1564 on capital, but not an exorbitant return, while others are slaving for their country and working to build up the export trade.
After the last war there was scandalous profiteering. This time it is our duty, and we accept that responsibility, to insist on a close control of all goods in great use in order to prevent a repetition of that profiteering. Our men and women have saved our country. We are determined that, as far as we can ensure it, the young men of this war shall not suffer after it as my generation did after the last war. We are determined to use our power to prevent that. Let me emphasise that our interpretation of a controlled price is a fair price. We want a prosperous home market and we want the goods required to go into the homes of our people at reasonable prices. I only wish that John Wheatley, George Lansbury, Bob Smillie and Tom Mann could have heard me speaking from this Front Bench in the way that I am doing this morning. When we are in full production our export prices must be reasonable, and it is our duty to defend industry from the effects of the pre-material costs which send up production costs automatically. Our people should have all that they require at fair prices. Let me emphasise that this will be a constructive contribution to the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment.
All the Regulations will be subject to the scrutinising Committee, they will be put on the Table of the House, and any hon. Member will be able to take action if he or she desires. We want greater elasticity of control, we want to act quickly, and to benefit from our experience. We want to amend the defects in our present methods of price control. All the conditions requisite for inflation such as happened after the last war are beginning to appear again. The one exception to all that is a strong people's Labour Government. The people have recently given us their confidence. Our task is to prove worthy of it. I wish the proceedings of the House could be broadcast. We want, by means of this Clause, to safeguard salaries, wages, pensions and savings from inflation. It is not only new men that this country wants, it is also men with a new outlook and a new policy of the kind I am outlining this morning.
I shall never forget, in 1939, putting question after question and making speech 1565 after speech on the dangers of inflation. As a result of that, I got friendly with the late Member for West Woolwich, Sir Kingsley Wood. He was having difficulties with some of his people, and he realised how necessary it was to avoid in-inflation. This country has done better with regard to the avoidance of inflation than most students of affairs thought would be possible in 1939 and 1940. We have been able to do that only because of controls and because the House has insisted on the national interest being put before any individual interest. We have to thank, in the main, Lord Keynes for the financial and economic advice he gave to the Government during the war, and if any hon. Member has any doubts about the policy I am now outlining, I invite him to go into the Library and ask for a pamphlet entitled "The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill" by Lord Keynes, and there they will see evidence of the Tightness of what I am saying this morning.
The Defence Regulations have been used in the past for the defence of our country. We have always supported that. They were used against many of my fellow trade unionists after the last war. We now desire to use them to defend our people from profiteering and from inflation, and so to safeguard their hard-won savings. We want to avoid increases in the cost of living, we want a square deal for all, and therefore, I appeal to every hon. and right hon. Member who is prepared to put national interest before any individual or vested interest to support this Clause.
§ Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
Like all other hon. Members I listened with the greatest interest to the admirable sentiments expressed by the Parliamentary Secretary. I doubt very much whether those sentiments might not have been equally well expressed by anybody of any political party in an appropriate place and at an appropriate time, but what on earth they had to do with the Amendment on the Paper, I completely failed to understand. The only possible conclusion I could draw was that because, you, Mr. Speaker, did not rule the hon. Gentleman out of Order, it was further evidence of the intensely wide and far-flung range of the powers which the Government are seeking to take. If I may be permitted for a moment to refer to the Amendment, as a matter of change, 1566 may I remind the House that its purpose is to ensure exactly what the hon. Gentleman claimed he wanted to ensure, that fair prices shall be charged for goods of any description.
The Amendment is changing the words giving powers to control prices to giving powers to secure that fair prices shall be charged. It gives the hon. Gentleman a wider scope than that for which he has asked. Instead of limiting him to the power of controlling prices, it is granting him such powers as may be necessary to secure that fair prices shall be charged. I really cannot see any basis of argument whatever why the Amendment should not be accepted, excepting the argument, which I hope will not occur to hon. Members, that it has been moved from this side of the House.
The other Amendment which relates to this matter is designed to secure exactly the same thing, namely, that the public shall have a square deal. It is again merely changing the words giving powers to the Government. Instead of giving the Government the power to control charges made for services of any description, it gives the Government power to ensure that fair charges shall be made for services of any description. What possible objection can there be to that?
§ Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how he would decade what is fair?
§ Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks
I am very grateful for the interruption. The hon. Member knows full well that such words are in many Acts of Parliament. It is not for this House to decide what is fair at the present time. It is for His Majesty's Courts of Justice to decide. It is a question of interpretation. How on earth can we here possibly decide what may be fair in a year or two years, or even in three months' time? It is certainly not advantageous to this House, nor is it advantageous to the public, that a rigid line of demarcation should be laid down at any time, and the hon. Gentleman himself claimed that one of the arguments in favour of this Measure was that it was to give him facilities for making a more flexible means of control. The Amendment which we have suggested, and 1567 which I think hon. Members recognise, is very largely designed so that there shall be flexibility for the benefit of all as long as controls remain. The hon. Gentleman in the course of his remarks merely emphasised the whole point for which these Amendments have been designed and he did not advance any conclusion or any argument which indicated that the original words are preferable for that purpose to words contained in the Amendment.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I am a little surprised that such a hullabaloo should have been caused by the absence of the President of the Board of Trade. This Amendment, said to be so important, was moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) on the basis that the words he wanted to put in had exactly the same effect as the words he wanted to take out. You cannot have a Cabinet Minister brought down to deal with that point. It seems to be unnecessarily heavy gun-power. The thing that strikes one is that if, as the right hon. Gentleman says, the words have the same effect, why is the time of the House taken up in trying to alter them?Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.I do not think that it can be suggested of this Government that they want controls for controls' sake. They have plenty to do to control things for the sake of the public without spending time on controlling things that do not need to be controlled. Would the Amendment have the same effect? I remember, as a young man, learning with some interest that a gentleman, whom I shall not name, was employed behind the scenes by the Tory Party for the sole purpose of drafting innocuous Amendments which afterwards allowed a little sabotage to be carried on. Whether he was worth the money or not I have never discovered. Whether they need anyone now or not, I do not know. But it is quite plain to any lawyer, even a bad one, that if some profiteer, or even some not particularly profiteering vendor of goods or services, in 18 months or six months' time thought he would challenge the validity of some Order made under this Clause, he would have much more fun and his lawyers would earn a great 1568 deal more money and have many more chances of success in sabotaging the provision if it was not a clear power to control the prices to be charged but was merely to secure that fair prices should be charged. The hon. and gallant Member for Chichester (Lt.-Commander Joynson Hicks) when he began to discuss that, rather showed, although he did not intend to show, the cloven hoof, or the thin end of the wedge—the cloven hoof, perhaps, is more appropriate. But surely the plain and simple answer is that these words are better and more effective and ought to stay in the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)
The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) is hardly consistent. At one moment he says that these words mean the same thing—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) was quite inaccurate in saying that I said they meant the same thing.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower
It seems to me that the purpose of the Bill is to secure fair prices and fair charges. It is much more reasonable than to say "control of prices." It there shows the object in view. The right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of this Bill on Second Reading said he did not believe in controls for control's sake and that he was going to remove every kind of control which was no longer necessary. The words inserted in the Bill, if left as they are, mean that the Government regard the control of prices as a natural and normal thing, whether it is necessary in the interests of the public or not.
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading)
There are three detailed reasons why the Government will be well justified in resisting the Amendment apart from those of general principle given by the Parliamentary Secretary. There is the question, to which reference has already been made, of the vagueness of the term "fair 1569 prices." We on this side of the House are as conscious of the significance of the powers that the Government are taking in this Bill as are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. What we do not want is to be in doubt in three months' time of the real intentions of the House. The standard text-books on cost lay down four separate methods of arriving at fair prices. They are all fair, but all will give a different answer according to the point of view with which you start. We do not want to take up the time of the House in academic and abstruse discussions upon the techniques of costing "three times a day after meals."
The second point I want to make is that it is conceivable that it is a matter of economic policy that the Board of Trade might fix prices of goods below fair prices in order to stimulate the consumption of certain classes of goods. We should not withhold from them the power to use price fixing as a method of stimulating the consumption of certain classes of goods or for other economic reasons where such is expedient in the national interest.
Finally, I want to refer to the point made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lt.-Col. Dower). The effect of the Amendment is to remove from the Clause some phraseology which lays down the means which shall be employed and to substitute some phraseology which lays down the ends to be achieved. I am young in the counsels of the House, but I was under the impression that in the Bill it is the long Title and Preamble which describe the ends to be achieved and that the detailed Clauses of the Bill are for the purpose of describing the means whereby those ends shall be achieved. It seems, therefore, contrary to good sense to use a detailed Clause to reiterate the end laid down fairly in the long Title and Preamble of the Bill. I cannot conceive any method—and I should be glad to hear from any hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who know any method—of securing that things should be sold at fair prices other than the adoption of controlled prices. I cannot understand why these hon. and right hon. Gentlemen wish to tell the Government what blueprint they are to work to and not what tool they are to use.
§ Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
The House should have clearly in mind before a vote is taken on this matter, what is the difference between the two points of view before us. With the greatest respect and good feeling in the world, I would remind the Parliamentary Secretary of the difference between the wording of the Bill as it now stands and our Amendment. We want to alter "controlling the prices to," to "securing that fair prices shall." On that point I did pay particular attention, as I always do to what the hon. Gentleman says, and it will be within the recollection of the House that he said: "Our interpretation of a controlled price is a fair price." By using these words he was conceding in clear language, without any equivocation whatsoever, that the Amendment of the Opposition was right. It is an essential feature of proper legislation in this House that we should select words which can be construed for the future by the people who will be affected by the legislation. We do not leave it—we would be false to our trust if we ever left it—to the interpretation which, with the greatest good will in the world, made be made by the Minister of the day. Therefore, all we are asking—and it is a very simple and fair request—is that the hon. Gentleman should put in black and white in the Bill what he has already said—I am sure with complete good faith—in strong and vehement terms, at that Box.
That is all we are asking for and that is the issue before the House to-day, but I want to point this out, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will give effect to it. If not in his mind, there may be in other minds—there certainly can be in other minds—a different interpretation from that which he gave in that part of his speech, because the hon. Gentleman himself, in an earlier moment of his speech, said that one of the reasons for which he wanted to retain the words was to give control of individual businesses.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) developed that point with great clarity, if I may say so, on the Committee stage, and its effect was recognised in the conciliatory language of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary at the close of the Debate. My right hon. Friend pointed out that, if one of the objects of control is to 1571 deal with individual businesses, they may be dealt with by discrimination against individual businesses, and the hon. Member who has just spoken, looking at the matter through the wrong end of the telescope, showed quite clearly the possibility that, if you get competition which private enterprise may display against certain of the State ventures His Majesty's present advisers might introduce, this might be used in order to deal with prices one way or another, and make difficult a fair show for private enterprise, which we on these benches desire.
So far as I can see, the only reason for this control that has been given to us in any of the speeches for the Government side is to discriminate against individual businesses. If it is a reason, it is a reason capable of very sinister manifestations; if it is not the only reason, then we are left with the bankrupt and nauseating idea of control for control's sake. Those are the alternatives which the House has to face. I only want to deal for a moment with the legal extravaganza of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt). I am sorry he is not in his place, but, having known him so well for so long, I know that he is the last person to resent the coals of fire which may, vicariously, come on his head as the result of what he has said. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chichester (Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks) had desired that this should be a matter for argument in the courts. Few people have had to consider more than myself the effect of the working of the Act which gives the right to make Defence Regulations, and, if the House would allow me to read the words, they are:as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for controlling the price.and we sayfor securing that a fair price shall be charged.Now, if there is one piece of law which is more than self-evident, it is that, if you give power to a member of the Executive by the wordsappear to him to be necessaryhe is the judge of what is necessary, and, therefore, there can be no question of passing this point to the courts. It is a matter for the Executive, and I want to 1572 impress on the hon. Member who has just addressed us that it is then a matter where the responsibility passes to this House. If you take away the powers from the courts, and you can do so if it is necessary, that only redoubles the duty, under which every hon. Member of this House lies, to see that the Regulations are proper and fair and just, and what we want to do is to fix a criterion imposing a touchstone which any ordinary person can judge for himself. I do not think, after our experience of the last 50 years and probably more in the repetition of these and similar words in so many Statutes, with which I do not want to weary the House, that there would be any difficulty, in deciding what was a fair price. I am ready to accept it from the majority of the House, even though they are politically opposed to me, but I am not ready to leave vague words like these, affecting the question of controls, when we can, by accepting the interpretation of the Parliamentary Secretary, put in words that will be accepted by the House. For that purpose and for those reasons, we are ready to divide on this point.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, there is nothing, not even a Division, which I would prefer to hearing any words from him.
§ Mr. Ede
I rather expected so. I must congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the tremendous weight he has been able to place on the very thin discussion on this very narrow point. I do not propose to enter into the legal contest between himself and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), who will be quite capable of taking care of himself, I have no doubt. I think that what we have to discuss is what we mean by the word "fair," because my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, in his first speech from this Box, on which I should like to congratulate him, and which was, I think, the kind of performance we expected from him after our experience of him from the other side of the House, did indicate that there is really nothing much between us except a form 1573 of words, but I do want to point out that the word "fair" is a somewhat vague word, and I will take the example given to us the other afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton).
It is not always the duty to fix a maximum price. There may be occasions, and the right hon. Gentleman gave an example which he admitted was justified, where it is necessary to fix a minimum price. To whom has the price to be fair? Normally, when we talk about fair prices in this House, we mean only fair to the consumer—a more or less colloquial idea of what is fair—but there was an industry which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned where there was a great danger, as I understand it, and I have made inquiries very meticulously into the point the right hon. Gentleman raised, that one very big producer, owing to the exceptional circumstances of the time, could probably put smaller people out of business by being able to sell at prices with which they could not possibly compete. Therefore, it was felt, in the national interest, that the proper thing to do in that case was to control the price by fixing a minimum price so that all the people coming back into business should have an opportunity of restarting and maintaining their position. It was a definite effort, and I believe it has been a successful effort, to prevent a monopoly being created. We feel that it is desirable, in the national interest, that we should not introduce into this Bill words which may, in certain circumstances, be held to preclude us taking action of the kind I have mentioned.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me? He does appreciate, surely, that Clause 1 (a) contains the words—
equitable distribution or their availability at fair prices.
§ Mr. Ede
Those are the purposes of the Bill, and we are now filling out in the Bill the means by which we propose to attain those purposes. I do not think there is anything inconsistent between Clause 1 and the interpretation that I am now placing on Clause 2. I have given this matter very careful consideration. Admittedly, it is more a question, I think, at the moment, of the form of words than of anything else. I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman said on the Committee stage that he did not object to the Order fixing minimum prices, to which he drew the attention of the Committee.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
If I may intervene for a moment, there is a rather important point here. In most of these matters of price fixation, as the Home Secretary has said, in the public mind it is only the consumer who is to be protected, but there are also, on occasions, moments when the producer has to be protected, and that again is a fair price.
§ Mr. Ede
It is a fair price to one producer as compared with another, and the right hon. Gentleman is only approving what I advocated to the House earlier in my remarks—that the word "fair" is a word that is very vague when used in this connection. It is for that reason that the Government are unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 212; Noes, 83.1575
|Division No. 9.||AYES.||[12.15 p.m.|
|Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)||Blyton, W. R.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Bottomley, A. G.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Coldrick, W.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosforth)||Bowen, Capt. R.||Collick, P.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bowles, F. G.||Collindridge, F.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Brock, D. (Halifax)||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cook, T. F.|
|Austin, H. L.||Brown, George (Belper)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Burke, W. A.||Cove, W. G.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Daggar, G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Davies, A. E. (Burslem)|
|Benson, G.||Chamberlain, R. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Berry, H.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Binns, J.||Clitherow, R.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Deer, G.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sargood, R.|
|de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.||Longden, F.||Segal, Sq. Ldr. S.|
|Diamond, J.||Lyne, A. W.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Dobbie, W.||McAdam, W||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Dodds, N. N.||McAllister, G.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||McEntee, V. La T.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Mack, J. D.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Dye, S.||McLeavy, F.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacMillan, M. K.||Skeffington-Lodge, Lt. T. C.|
|Edelman, M.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Mayhew, Maj. C. P.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Messer, F.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Farthing, W. J.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Solley, L. J.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Montague, F.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Glanville, T. E.||Moody, A. S.||Steele, T.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Morley, R.||Stewart, Capt. M. (Fulham)|
|Gould, Mrs. B. Ayrton||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Swingler, Capt. S.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morris, R. H. (Carmarthen)||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Mort, D. L.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Grierson, E.||Moyle, A.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Murray, J. D.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. G. R. (E'b'gh, E.)|
|Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Thurtle, E.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. G.||Oldfield, W. H.||Tiffany, S.|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Tolley, L.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Pargiter, G. A.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Walker, G. H. (Rossendale)|
|Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pearson, A.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hicks, G.||Perrins, W.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Piratin, P.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Holman, P.||Popplewell, E.||Whitely, Rt. Hon. W.|
|House, G.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Whittaker, J. E.|
|Hoy, J.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Hubbard, T.||Pritt, D. N.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Proctor, W. T.||Willey, F. T. (Sutherland)|
|Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Pryde, D. J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Randall, H. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Janner, B.||Ranger, J.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Reeves, J.||Willis, E.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jones, Maj. F. E. (Plaistow)||Robens, A.||Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.|
|Keenan, W.||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. E. O. (Merioneth)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Lavers, S.||Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)|
|Leonard, W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Leslie, J. R.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Mr. R. J. Taylor and Captain Blenkinsop.|
|Levy, Lt. B. W.||Royle, C.|
|Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.||Gridley, Sir A.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hon. J. H.||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. N.||Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Nield, B.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Nutting, A.|
|Bower, N.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G.||Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bromley-Davenport Lt.-Col. W.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. The Hn. L. W.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Carson, E.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Stoddart-Scott, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Studholme, Maj. H. G.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Cooper-Key, Maj. E. M.||Lindsay, Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'ddt'n, S.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Vane, Lt.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.||Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Ward, Group-Capt. The Hon, G. R.|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Marsden, Comdr. A.||Williams, G. (Torquay)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Erroll, Col. F. J.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Maude, J. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Foster, Brig. J. G. (Northwich)||Mellor, Sir J.||Commander Agnew and Mr. Drewe.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, leave out from "description," to "for," in line 43.
In the discussion on the previous Amendment I referred to the more general aspects of the later Amendment and I will not labour the point which has already been developed at some length in the Committee stage. It is that, as at present drafted, the Clause seeks powers other than those which are set down in Clause 1 to secure sufficiency at fair prices, the readjustment of trade and industry, and the relief of suffering at home and abroad. I imagine that this Amendment will put the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in some difficulty as, in reply to my remarks, I imagine he will wish to make exactly the same speech as that which he delivered upon the smaller point earlier, and which appeared to me to be entirely irrelevant to that particular point although very applicable to this point. But where I do not think we have had any satisfactory explanation is how, if these words are left out, the powers to control the prices of particular types of goods within the Clause, already covered by the existing Act, are vitiated by so doing. The words
whether or not such Regulations are necessary or expedient for the purposes specified in the said Sub-section (1)are in fact the words which cause the limits of this Clause to be entirely indefinite. The Clause gives limitless powers for other than the purposes set out in Clause 1. We have had no satisfactory explanation of what those purposes are; we have had no explanation of whether it is intended to use this Clause for discrimination against individual businesses, and I repeat that, as drafted, it will give that power. I am not suggesting that it is the intention of the Government necessarily to discriminate against one business or another. This Clause, as now drafted, gives them powers to do so and it is in the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House that this is another instance of a wish to take a sort of overcoat power and tell the House, "You need have no anxieties; although we have taken all these powers, we shall apply them with discretion." That is not the way in which to draft a Bill which deals with the life of every citizen in the country, and I fail to see how the arguments that we wish to get down to individual types of goods would be affected if the words of which 1578 we complain are left out. However, I will not detain the House any longer, the arguments are well known, but I should like further explanation on those points.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
I shall not follow the right hon. Gentleman in interpreting what is in Order or out of Order—we have more respect for you, Mr. Speaker, than to make observations of that kind. The case I stated was our economic case as to why we want this Clause and you, Mr. Speaker, ruled that it was in Order in dealing with it on the previous Amendment. Therefore as the right hon. Gentleman stated, there is no need to restate our case. However, I want to emphasise that we must have the powers sought in this Clause in order to deal with what are usually looked upon as non-essential goods. Too many of our people who have been engaged in productive industry and have been receiving, owing to their being in the competitive world, £4, £5 or £6 a week, when they come to purchase what are looked upon as non-essentials, have not been able to afford them. There has been a most unfair distribution of goods as a result of that, and we are determined to take whatever steps we possibly can to prevent a repetition. In addition, the constant increase in prices of what are looked upon as non-essential goods is bound to have inflationary tendencies.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Does not the Parliamentary Secretary consider that the objects he is now discussing are covered by the words in Clause 1 (I) (a)—to secure a sufficiency of those essential to the well-being of the community or their equitable distribution or their availability at fair prices.
§ Mr. Smith
As I said earlier, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave an undertaking to the right hon. Gentleman last Monday night that we would reconsider this Clause and that we would take into consideration the case he made out. We spent a large amount of time on this and, as a result of the previous experience of the people who are responsible for administering the Price Control Acts, they have convinced us of the necessity for having the power we are seeking this morning.
§ 12.30 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
May I interrupt my hon. Friend? That is really coming back to what I said at the beginning of this 1579 Debate. The hon. Gentleman and the Home Secretary seemed to take the line that because someone in the Board of Trade was convinced that certain things were necessary that is the end of it. We exist in this House in order to try and elicit from people who ask for powers, or introduce legislation, the reasons why—and I do not think I am being unfair in saying that. If there are sound and satisfactory reasons which have convinced hon. and right hon. Members who want to secure the interests of the nation in these critical and difficult days, why cannot we be told what the reasons are? If the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend do not give us those reasons he cannot complain if we assume that there must be other reasons which he is unwilling to disclose. If the hon. Gentleman's desire is to serve the national interest and if his officials, the people who administer the Acts, have convinced him that additional powers of the vaguest description are necessary, let us hear the reasons that have convinced him of this, and not some vague generalities such as he tried to ride off with in his earlier speech.
§ Mr. Smith
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. Hudson) knows me sufficiently well to realise that I am not one who tries to ride off on vague generalities. We have suffered from that in this House for a long time, but there is going to be none of that now. If Mr. Speaker allows me I will give concrete examples to show the necessity for these powers. I would; rather that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport had not reminded me of what I said earlier, because I had to restrain myself. If we are to be faced with this sort of thing during the time when we have the confidence of our people it will mean a new technique in this House, but one to which we can adapt ourselves. Officials of the Board of Trade have great experience, and I should have thought that we are all prepared to draw upon the experience of others. We also have our own ideas, and let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that the brief drawn up this morning was by the person who delivered it, and not by others. We have to satisfy ourselves as to policy before coming to speak in this House. Now let me deal with the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- 1580 ber for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton). I can assure him that in its generally accepted sense we do not want to discriminate against any particular business. He should know our policy sufficiently well to realise that we do not desire that. Any firm that is carrying on business in the national interest has nothing to fear from the powers that are contained in this Bill.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Gentleman is saying that there is power to discriminate against individual firms in this Clause, but that they need have no anxieties be cause so long as he is in his present office these powers will not be used. But that is not the point; the hon. Gentleman may not always be in his present office. In fact, I should say that promotion for him is not far distant—
§ Mr. Smith
I am not complaining of the interruptions. I agree that we will have authority for dealing with individual firms and we need it, because our people have suffered too much from vested interests in the past who have carried out a policy of restraint and maintained prices above fair prices—
§ Earl Winterton
It is not a question of Order; it is a question of whether the Minister gives way The hon. Gentleman has made a most interesting observation, no doubt completely free from prejudice, and I want to ask him whether he would benefit the House by giving the names of the firms who have behaved in the way he has just described.
§ Mr. Smith
If the Noble Lord thinks that is a good policy to begin to carry out, then I am prepared to ask my right hon. Friends if they are prepared to consider it. Then we shall see who is putting the national interest first. Some people had a lot to say in the General Election about the public interest. We intend to prove that we are going to put the national interest first, and not only talk about it at a General Election. As I was saying, we need authority in order to safeguard the interests of consumers who have been subject to profiteering, scandalous prices and restraint for far too long. Now we have a real people's Government we are seeking authority in order to prevent that in future.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I was very glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say a few minutes ago that he had done with vague generalities, and was going to have none of that. I think he was rather led astray from some observations from this Bench and forgot to leave generalities and come down to brass tacks, and he has not done it yet, I therefore hope the House will allow the hon. Gentleman, after I have finished, a second chance so that he may give us the benefit of the particulars which he has in mind, so that we may judge. He has put most of the weight of his case on the question of the need for dealing with individual firms. Personally, I do not mind whether names are given or not, but I do think we want to know the type of practice which is to be controlled so that we can then sec whether it would be possible to control that type of practice under the limitations of Clause I, or whether some wider power is necessary. I am not arguing at the moment whether these controls are good or bad. It may be that when the hon. Gentleman tells us the type of practice he has in mind, and the sort of controlling legislation he wants to stop it, we shall disagree with the method of control altogether, but that is not the point of this Amendment. The point is Will that type of control fall within the limiting words of Clause I or not? 1582 I think the Parliamentary Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary would agree, putting it at its very lowest, that when you are setting up a system of delegated legislation you should, if possible, put in some limiting words, and not leave it completely unlimited, as it is here. That is far below the standard recommended by the Committee on Ministers' Powers. If possible you should introduce limiting words. It is, therefore, for the Government to prove that limiting words here are impracticable. I would not accept that as sufficient discharge of the proper burden of proof, but that is, at the least, essential. Limiting words are impracticable only if they can produce some particular instances where their purposes would be defeated if we inserted limiting words, perhaps their own words, which they have put into Sub-section (1) of this Bill. I think I am entitled to say that before the House can be asked to reject this Amendment we must have put before us specific instances of wrong-doing, and of the types of control of that wrong-doing, which will fall outside the limiting words of Sub-section (1). Then the Government will have a prima facie case for what they are asking; at present, they have not one shred of justification for what they are seeking.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
I would like to say to the Parliamentary Secretary that I am quite prepared to accept the compromise suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid), and also to say, with great emphasis, that the hon. Gentleman has no right to come to the House and make vague charges of a most serious nature against firms carrying out business in the country unless he gives the names, or specifies what are those charges. Let me give him this piece of advice. If he wishes to work well—as I am sure he does—with the great business enterprises of this country, he would be well advised not to make vague charges of that kind, but to reduce them to details. I hope we shall have further information on this subject from him or from the Government.
§ 12.45 P.m.
§ Mr. Ede
The words it is proposed by this Amendment to leave out are these:whether or not such Regulations are necessary or expedient…1583 Those are the words which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) proposes to leave out, but leaving them out would confine the operation of Clause 2 solely to the purposes set out in Clause 1 of this Bill. I dealt with this matter on the Committee Stage, when I pointed out that these words are designed to enable us to deal with any malpractices which may occur in future with regard to non-essential goods that do not come within the operation of Clause 1, and which operations themselves might set up inflationary tendencies. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid), as a lawyer, will not expect me to do other than act in accordance with the advice I have received from lawyers, and I am advised that without these words it is not possible to deal with that situation. As we get farther and farther away from the strain which war put upon the people and the incentive it gave them to behave themselves with reasonable self control, it may very well be, in face of the pent-up spending power in the nation, that those who are dealing in commodities, other than those covered by Clause 1 will allow prices to get so much out of control that without these powers it will not be possible to prevent inflation. I used the same argument in Committee, and on going back I find that the line I had taken represented exactly the case for these words being in the Bill. These words are the protection of the community against inflation caused by rocketing prices for non-essential services, and we feel that in the situation confronting the country—goods being in short supply and a tremendous amount of money being available—it is essential to have these powers if we are to prevent inflation.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
I hesitate to detain the House, but we have reached an extraordinary position in the course of the proceedings on this Bill. Let us see what it is we are debating. This is a Clause to control the prices of goods and services, and it controls the prices of goods and services of any description. We have already rejected the first Amendment, which was to insert the words "fair prices" in order to make what was admitted to be the meaning quite clear, and we were willing to leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to 1584 determine what was meant by fair. We are now discussing whether there is to be any limitation at all on the right to fix prices, not for the purpose of the courts deciding but for the purpose of even the Executive deciding what limitations they shall impose upon themselves in order to secure the correct principle on which prices should be controlled. On this side of the House we are saying, "It surely is enough if we put in words to secure a sufficiency of those essential supplies and services necessary to the wellbeing of the community, or their equitable distribution, or their availability at fair prices," That is what the Amendment means. One right hon. Gentleman and one hon. Gentleman have got up from the Government front bench to say, "No, that is not good enough. We must have an absolutely unfettered discretion even for our own conscience." We are not asking that the courts should interfere in any way.
The Government have been implored to give one example of what they mean, but they have failed utterly to do so. One of the Government spokesmen took refuge behind his desire not to mention the names of firms, and the other said that he was legally advised that the words which we seek to omit are necessary, but he failed to give one single example. The situation is that the Government are asking for unfettered discretion to fix prices of any description and are not prepared to state even to Parliament what will be their motives when they fix them. They have put forward only two general propositions. One is that they need these powers in order to deal with individual firms and the other is that they need them in order to prevent an inflationary tendency. As to dealing with individual firms, while these things may be necessary let us frankly recognise that we are being asked to do something which has been known to be a bad legislative principle from the days of Solon onwards, and that is to impose on individuals a penal law which does not apply generally to whole classes and cases. We have asked for one single example but we do not get it. Having been refused that we go on to say, "But under the terms of the Amendment as we propose it you shall have your chance to deal with individuals as you wish on condition that it is necessary to secure a sufficiency of goods and services essential to the well-being of the com- 1585 munity, or their equitable distribution, or their availability at fair price." It would be difficult to imagine what wider discretion a Legislature could give to an Executive, but even then the hon. Gentleman cannot explain why it is that these words, which would enable him to deal with individual firms if he so wanted, are not sufficient in order to satisfy this present Administration.
The Home Secretary has gone further that that. Obviously not liking the explanation which had been given by the Parliamentary Secretary he proceeded to give another one. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he wants to deal with individual firms, but that was not the purpose stated by the Home Secretary. He said that he wanted to prevent an inflationary tendency, and that he had been legally advised that that cannot be done unless complete dictatorial powers are given. But what can be required to combat an inflationary tendency beyond what we had during the war? Why cannot he give us one example of what is wanted that was not available during the war? Why must he tell us that he does not really know for what purposes he wants them—because that will not do either? Under this Clause these Regulations must be Defence Regulations and he has to bring them into effect before next February. Why cannot the Government say what they want them for? Is it possible that they do not know?
Argument after argument which has been put forward from this side has been answered by easy generalities. The hon. Gentleman answered one argument with a reply which was obviously designed for a totally different Amendment, and in replying to another argument he lost his temper. We are being asked now to do something which no Legislature in this country has done since the reign of Charles I, and that is to govern without Parliament. Under this Clause we are asked to give the Executive the power to control prices—the Attorney-General is there and can challenge me on anything I say—in such a way that they do not even have to describe their motives for doing it, and when we put forward our arguments in this House all we get in reply are vague generalities and bad temper from the Government front bench. Why should we be asked to submit to conduct from an arrogant majority 1586 such as no other Government, even when furnished with a greater majority, has ventured to impose upon the House of Commons? There never has been a case in which Ministers were more hopelessly beaten on the merits of the question or more resolutely refused to listen to careful arguments presented from the other side. In place of an answer all we shall get is action by a majority most of whom have not bothered to come into the Chamber to listen to the case.
§ Mr. Cobb (Elland)
We have been challenged to give examples on this particular issue and the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) prompt me to give some information. In the course of my career I have had some experience in industrial concerns. It is true that I have not risen to the dizzy heights of industrial captaincy which have been bestowed upon or otherwise acquired by some of the hon. and right hon. Members opposite, but I have seen some things going on at first hand. Of all the pebbles on the capitalist beach which the right hon. Gentleman could choose to cast he chose bricks. The other evening, when this subject was being debated, he said that the Ministry of Supply would be concerned to keep up prices. I think it was difficult for him to find a good brick to throw, but he managed to choose one which was as far from his own doorstep as possible. He threw a brick. Why did he not choose to deal with something a little nearer to his own particular sphere of action? Why did he not choose the subject of lamps, for example? Lamps are a very good example in relation to what we are now debating. They provide a good example of the efforts of the Ministry of Supply quite recently to reduce prices, which were undoubtedly far too high. Bricks are a racket, and lamps are far worse.
The Electric Lamp Manufacturers' Association is a cartel operating not only in this country but it is associated with a world-wide cartel. It has done its best during the war to keep up prices, and has done it very successfully, and I shall watch the right hon. Gentleman in his new sphere of action to see how a politician progresses in opposition and in association with these "cartelliers." I should advise the right hon. Gentleman to imitate 1587 Agag and tread very delicately, for these gentlemen are most experienced. I should strongly advise him to move with great caution in dealing with his new associates. I would repeat that this cartel, E.L.M.A., did its best to keep up prices to the Government. They took high prices when they were not justified.
Right through the war there were no price increases on lamps to the public—no increases at all. In the long run the Ministry of Supply got suspicious. Even non-industrial permanent civil servants who have not had the advantage of industrial experience also got suspicious. Their Tory training in the past—it is not their fault that they did not act more quickly; it has been the object of the hon. Members opposite to see that the civil servants of this country do not have industrial experience—excluded that. But there were in the Civil Service temporary civil servants who had had industrial experience, and they got on the trail of this industrial cartel. Only recently, the Ministry of Supply, after very long, careful and patient negotiations, got the price of lamps to the public reduced by 20 per cent. I suggest—
§ Mr. Cobb
I do not know who the then Minister of Production was. I do not think it is germane to the case. I want to repeat what I said, that the Ministry of Supply, after patient and long negotiations, beat these cartelliers with whom the right hon. Member for Aldershot is now associated. They beat them, and made them, in time of war, reduce prices to the public by 20 per cent. This was not putting up prices; this was putting them down, and this is what they intend to continue to do. That is why they want these powers. We are concerned to continue this trend. There is a lot more knowledge on this side of the House about how to do it, and where to look, and perhaps the case I have given to the House will demonstrate to hon. Members, and more particularly to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot that, in this particular case, those in glass houses should not throw bricks.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
I would like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Elland (Mr. Cobb) on his maiden speech. May I be excused, perhaps, for not following it. This Sub-section gives very wide powers, but they are divided into two parts. The first part deals with the powers referred to in Section 1 (1) of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act. I listened with great interest to the speech of the Home Secretary. His defence rests purely on the question of limitation. That is really not enough, but there is another point which ought to be the concern of every Member of this House—the right of this House to question the Minister concerning legislation. The first part of the Section referred to has excluded this House from questioning the Minister of War. That is with regard to powers existing during the war, and which it is now proposed to extend.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Will the hon. Member explain what he means when he says that this House is deprived of the power of questioning the Minister?
§ Mr. Silverman
Of course, it gives the Minister complete and unfettered discretion, but when did this House of Commons part with its right to criticise and question a Minister on the issues he has raised?
§ Mr. Morris
The House would have no means of enforcing pressure. A decision once made by the Minister would be complete.
§ Mr. Silverman
There is no Regulation made under this Bill that the House cannot reject, if it wishes to do so, by means of a Prayer.
§ Mr. Morris
It has been impossible, hitherto, apart from the Defence Regulations, because questions of this kind have been excluded, by giving complete and final discretion to the Minister. It is true that this House is supreme and that the Government are in the majority, but, at some future time, there may be another Government, and the discretion of the Minister will still be completely free and unfettered. This second part of the Subsection goes a good deal further than that. 1589 It confers powers on the Minister which, even in time of wax, under the Emergency Powers Act, were never sought and were never given. It is all right to say you can put down a Prayer to the Government of the day, but, as I have already said, it is not always the same Government. What we want is real power to deal with this fear of inflation if it really becomes a menace. Surely, a Government with a majority like the present one could remedy that situation quickly enough. But why should it delegate the rights of this House to the Minister before that situation arises? I think the extension of this part of the Clause is thoroughly bad.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
I rise first, to say a word or two in reply to the non-controversial maiden speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Elland (Mr. Cobb), and, secondly, to pursue a little further the matter I raised with the Home Secretary the other day when we were debating this Clause. I should like to compliment the hon. Gentleman, who made his maiden speech, on the clarity of his diction, but I should be unfaithful to my friends in the Civil Service if I did not say a word or two on his derogatory remarks about civil servants.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
The hon. Gentleman went much further than that. I think it is in the recollection of the House that he said that the Government had, deliberately, tried to prevent civil servants from gaining industrial experience. I must say, with the greatest respect, that I have never heard greater nonsense in my life. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to talk about bricks and lamps. I thought his bricks were misdirected, and that his lamps cast no light on all the House. It is true the Government need the power to keep prices down, and it may well be true that bricks are a racket, and that lamps are a racket, but there are many other rackets as well. Surely, the point we are discussing to-day is whether these two lines in the Bill are necessary to enable the Government to beat those rackets. The short answer is that they are not necessary at all, because full power is given under Clause 1 of the Bill to deal with any kind of racket of 1590 that sort, and the whole argument about bricks and lamps really misses the point we are discussing.
The only reason I have heard for objecting to the exclusion of these words is the fear of inflation. I do not under-estimate the risk of inflation, nor indeed, the danger of it. It is the sort of thing that when once it gets going it is extraordinarily difficult to stop, and any Government would have my blessing in doing its best to prevent that process. What does inflation involve? It involves a steady rise in the price level. That is the concomitant of inflation. A rise in the price level may be due to two or three things—a shortage of consumer goods, the pressure of excessive purchasing power, or the deliberate manipulation of prices by parties interested in making profit. Those are the three prime causes of inflation, but I would say that there is not one of those things which cannot already be dealt with under Clause 1. Clause 1lays it down that the Government shall have power to secure a sufficiency of supplies for the well-being of the community, their equitable distribution, or their availability at fair prices, so that if prices show any tendency to become unfair, either as a result of inflation, or any one of the other two causes I have mentioned, they can be dealt with under Clause 1. So one is still left wondering what is the reason why the Government so firmly resist the exclusion of the last two lines in Clause 1.
I would reinforce what I said the other day, that all Governments tend to acquire more powers than they need and that, invariably, all Governments exercise more powers than they get. That is a characteristic of Governments. It is not peculiar to this Government; it is a disease in the character of government itself, whether the Government be Conservative, Labour, Liberal or even—and this is a contradiction in terms—Independent. This habit of Governments of acquiring more powers than they need and of using more than they have, is a habit against which Members of all parties in this House must be on their guard. I speak as an old civil servant, and I know the rules. If you have to go to a civil servant about some monstrous act of wrong—and, believe me, hundreds of thousands of monstrous acts of wrongs have been committed during this war by Government Departments, many within my own 1591 personal knowledge—you will find that he will say he is very sorry, and that he thinks there is no answer to your case, but that, under, let us say, line 4, Section 3, Clause 17, the Department has no option whatever but to do the wrong thing.
I can give the House the most valid illustration of that. To mention one, at the beginning of this war the Government commandeered a holiday camp for accommodating troops, sailors and the Armed Forces generally. They also commandeered the furniture. In the case of certain holiday camps the War Office entered into an agreement to pay so much rent for that purpose, and under the Defence Compensation Act they were also, at the end of the war, to restore the furniture to its rightful condition, to replace it. After four years on a hiring agreement, when the prospect of having to make good the furniture was quite near, the War Office then exercised its power under another Section of the Act, and purchased the stuff outright. Here comes the snag. Under the Defence Compensation Act it is only allowed to purchase at 1939 prices. So what the War Office has done is to pay 1939 prices in 1943 or 1944, when the cost of furniture is doubled, trebled or quadrupled, and left the holiday camp proprietor with the job of replacing the furniture at three or four times the cost after the war is over. Let no man of whatever party seek to defend that. It is absolutely unjust, but perfectly legal.
I want to say to my old friends of the Labour Party opposite—and I still regard them as my friends—thatthe longer they sit in those places, the more they will learn the necessity of watching all Governments closely, including their own, not merely from a narrow party point of view but from that of trying to prevent injustice being done to ordinary men and women. I say that whatever the political complexion of the Government, they must always be vigilant in the defence of the citizen. I remind hon. Members opposite that a majority of 400 is not an answer to a case. It is perfectly true that on any issue that may be raised in this House, whether it comes from the Front Bench above the Gangway or the Front Bench below the Gangway, they can if 1592 they like automatically "clout it out" by the exercise of their very great majority. In my experience majorities that merely vote other people down with out answering the case, before long cease to be majorities. If hon. Members want an example of that will, which appeal to my colleagues opposite, the Coalition Government was a case in point.—
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
I think that the hon. Gentleman is getting rather far from the Amendment we are discussing.
§ Mr. Brown
As a good trade unionist the hon. Member should not try to usurp Mr. Speaker's job. If I go far from the Amendment Mr. Deputy-Speaker, who has longer experience than the hon. Member, will pull me up very sharply. Whether hon. Members like what I say or not, it is usually directed to the point at issue. I am urging on hon. Members-opposite that a large majority is no substitute for answering a reasonable ease, which has not yet been answered. We have only advanced one stage from the earlier Debate, and that is in connection with the argument on inflation. That is the only new factor, so far as I can judge, that has emerged during the Debate. The Government want these powers under Clause 2 (1) to guard against the possibility of inflation. I say that already they have completely adequate powers to deal with that. I want to ask what is hidden purpose behind the opposition to the removal of these lines.
§ Mr. Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I venture to intervene because I happened to be closely associated with the work of price control under the Coalition Government. I cannot help feeling, after listening to the speeches made this morning, that a certain amount of misunderstanding seems to have crept in.
During the war, prices were controlled by the Board of Trade under two different Acts of Parliament—the Emergency Powers Act (Defence Regulation 55) or the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act. The second Act, passed in 1941, enabled the Board of Trade to fix maximum prices for classes of goods, but it gave no powers to fix prices for individual articles. That was a disadvantage from the point of view of administration. It was, indeed, a disadvantage frequently from the point of view of the industries 1593 themselves, because it made it necessary to get the articles produced in a kind of iron framework, so that they could be described as classes of goods and not individual manufacturers' products. The alternative, the control of prices under the Defence Regulation was also subject to one important limitation. Because, I presume—I am not a lawyer and not absolutely certain of the argument here—the Emergency Powers Act preceded the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act, 1941, the legal advice given was that the Defence Regulation could not be used to fix prices, unless the fixing of prices was part of a general scheme of control for the industry. That is the advice that was always tendered by the legal advisers to the Coalition Government.
Both these methods are subject to disadvantages. The consequence is that while with a utility scheme it is a comparatively simple matter to proceed under the Defence Regulation, because there is a scheme of control for the whole industry, or it is possible to proceed under the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act this is not the case with non-utility goods. If I may quote an example this may help hon. Members opposite to understand. An example of the difficulty one gets into is this: The hosiery industry was turned over in a very high proportion indeed to utility production. I think I am right in saying that the proportion was 80 or 90 per cent. There remained, however, a small proportion of non-utility hosiery. This hosiery was controlled by a standstill order, and it had to be a general order under the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act. Non-utility hosiery could not be sold at prices above the 1942 level—I think that was the exact order made. A standstill order of that kind very rapidly becomes completely inoperative, because the articles produced in 1944 or 1945 are different from those produced in 1942. There is no comparable article, and, therefore, even if prices have gone up, prosecution becomes impossible.
Another alternative would have been to apply the cost plus provision. This again is a general type of control which could have been done, and in some cases was done, under the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act; but I think it is agreed on all sides of the House that cost plus is not a suitable method of control. In the case of the hosiery industry—I do not think I am breaking the Official 1594 Secrets Act—the hosiery manufacturers came to the Board of Trade and said, "We wish to have a certain degree of freedom in this non-utility sphere. We know there is a standstill which is inoperative at the moment. We do not like cost plus, can we have something else because if you tie us down to cost plus we shall not be able to experiment in the non-utility sphere as we wish to." The answer that the Board of Trade gave was, "We are very sorry, we cannot. We have not any other system of control, because non-utility is a non-controlled part of the industry, and the Defence Regulation cannot be used." That was the advice given. On the other hand, if we applied the Goods and Services (Price Control) Act we have to deal with a class of goods.
§ Mr. Brown
That is an exceedingly interesting argument. May I ask the hon. Gentleman to deal with a special point? It is true that Clause 2 (1) gives the Government, if we pass it, powers additional to Clause 1. There is no argument that the Government ought not to have powers under Sections 1 and 2. The essential point is the purpose for which these powers will be exercised. We suggest that regulations are necessary and expedient to the purpose specified in Subsection 1. What are the purposes?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I will deal with my hon. Friend's point in a moment. As I say, the Board of Trade had told the hosiery manufacturers that nothing could be done so long as the present legislation is as it is. What was proposed by the manufacturers was a system of individual price control for non-utility articles. They were prepared to accept that for non-utility hosiery. But as the legislation stood it was impossible to accede to their request.
The hon. Gentleman opposite asked me to explain what was the necessity for maintaining the words in the Clause. The answer I think is quite straightforward. It is because Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 refers to "sufficiency that is essential to the well-being of the community." But non-utility hosiery may be regarded as not the least essential to the well-being of the community. The manufacturer of pullovers and jumpers of fancy designs suitable for export purposes, which might also be sold in the home market could 1595 be regarded as quite inessential and therefore not covered by this Clause at all.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
That is not the case. The Home Secretary has told the House what the legal advisers say. Hosiery is not the only example. There is a broader aspect. At the beginning of the war there was a general idea that it would be sufficient just to control the prices of the necessities of life and, if the Government did this, nothing else need be done. In fact those administering price control during the war soon began to realise that in the first place drawing the line was a very difficult job and secondly in order to maintain prices of necessities at reasonable levels you had to take control of the prices of non-essentials. Again may I quote an example: not long ago a dangerous situation developed in the clothing industry because non-utility clothing, being very much higher priced than utility clothing and much more profitable to manufacture was causing those who were allowed to make this clothing to pay higher rates of wages to entice workers away and generally to undermine the output of utility. That argument could be applied more generally. You cannot stop at what is essential and what is necessary for the community. You have also to take some account of non-essentials. For these two reasons I suggest there is nothing sinister in the attitude of the Government in this matter. It is really a highly technical point and I feel quite sure that if the House agrees to this Amendment there need be no fear of those dangers which the hon. Gentleman who preceded me, in his illuminating sermon to Members on these Benches, described so carefully and fully.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)
I would like to make one observation on the speech to which we have just listened. I have no doubt we have had a most excellent description of the difficulties which have been found in administering price control but I would suggest to the hon. Member for South Leeds (Mr. Gaitskell) that to rectify that position it is surely not necessary to take such wide powers as are asked for in the Clause 1596 which we are now discussing? I had not intended to take part in this Debate to-day until I listened to some of the speeches which we have heard from the other side of the House. I am bound to say that they have caused me the greatest anxiety. I speak feelingly about this as an industrialist and employer of labour who is most anxious to help the Government to pursue their policy of full employment. I venture to suggest to hon. Members opposite, who perhaps consider that they represent the interests of labour more than I do, which not for one moment would I admit, that what they are doing to-day may have consequences adverse to those whom they represent, which perhaps they do not foresee. May I explain what I have in mind about what is worrying me at this moment?
I was preparing to establish two factories for the production of equipment for housing. This equipment would, I think, have turned out to be better than anything else on the market to-day. Some of the items of equipment are patented articles. One of the works, which has been engaged almost wholly on production for the Admiralty, is now getting slack through the falling off of Admiralty orders. The production committee, seeing this, came to the manager a few days ago, very anxiously inquiring what was presently to happen to them. We took them entirely into our confidence, explained to them what our post-war plans were and how we were endeavouring to find a new class of work which they would be capable of performing. They went away quite satisfied. These products to which I have referred would undoubtedly come under the definition,necessary to the well-being of the community.Anything to do with housing must embrace the equipment put into housing. Some of the things which may be made would probably cost a little more than the cheaper and inferior goods which, but for this new production, would be all that would be available. The position I now have to consider is this: I may persuade my friends to find the capital for these two new industries. We may embark upon this enterprise. We may buy the equipment necessary and put all the tools and machinery in the factory. We may go into production for a year or two and find that there is a great demand for our products. The Government can then 1597 come along and say, "We are not satisfied with your prices; you are making too much money, and you will have to reduce them from X to Y."
§ Sir A. Gridley
I am answering that question to the best of my ability. The Government are taking power to control prices of goods of any description whatever. If I am wrong I would like to be contradicted; that is how I construe it. I am in the same position as I know hundreds of my industrial colleagues are throughout the country who are proposing to embark on new kinds of work, and who will have to say to themselves, "What do the Government mean by this? They intend to take this immensely wide power. We want stability of policy. We want to know where we are. We shall never know where we are if the Government claim powers as wide as this." I most earnestly beg Ministers on the Front Bench—because they have to carry
§ a far greater responsibility than the cohorts behind them, they can either lead or mislead—to give most careful consideration before they ask for powers which will cause the gravest anxiety amongst those who employ labour, and who honestly and sincerely want to help them in their full employment policy, powers which will give rise to great misgivings, and which really are not necessary.
§ Mr. Austin (Stretford)
I understood the hon. Member to say that the Amendment before the House would react adversely on the community, I would like to hear how it would do so. We have had no indication at all.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 98.1599
|Division No. 10.||AYES.||[1.40 p.m.|
|Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)||Collick, P.||Guy, W. H.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Collindridge, F.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Comyns, Dr. L.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cook, T. F.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Alpass, J. H.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Haworth, J.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Corlett, Dr. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Corvedale, Maj. Viscount||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Austin, H. L.||Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Captain M.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, A. E. (Burslem)||Holman, P.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||House, G.|
|Battley, J. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hoy, J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hubbard, T.|
|Belcher, J. W.||de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Diamond, J.||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Benson, G.||Dobbie, W.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Dye, S.||Janner, B.|
|Binns, J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Edelman, M.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Jones, Maj. F. E. (Plaistow)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fairhurst, F.||Jones, Maj. P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Farthing, W. J.||Keenan, W.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lavers, S.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Follick, M.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Foot, M. M.||Leonard, W.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Levy, Lt. B. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Glanville, J. E.||Longden, F.|
|Champion, A. J.||Gould, Mrs. B. Ayrton||Lyne, A. W.|
|Chater D.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McAdam, W.|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Grierson, E.||McAllister, G.|
|Clitherow, R.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Cluse, W. S||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||McGovern, J.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)||Mack, J. D.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Coldrick, W.||Gunter, Capt. R. J.||McLeavy, F.|
|MacMillan, M. K.||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|McNeil, H.||Pritt, D. N.||Thomas, J. R. (Dover)|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Proctor, W. T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Pryde, D. J.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. G. R. (E'b'gh, E.)|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Randall, H. E.||Tiffany, S.|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Ranger, J.||Tolley, L.|
|Martin, J. H.||Reeves, J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Maxton, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Messer, F.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Walkden, E.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Robens, A.||Walker, G. H. (Rossendale)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. E. O. (Merioneth)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)||Weitzman, D.|
|Montague, F.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Morley, R.||Sargood, R.||Wells, Maj. W. T. (Walsall)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Scott-Elliot, W.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Moyle, A.||Segal, Sqn. Ldr. S.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Murray, J. D.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Whittaker, J. E.|
|Nally, W.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Simmons, C. J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Skinnard, F. W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)||Willis, E.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Snow, Capt. J. W.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorensen, R. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Sparks, J. A.||Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Steele, T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Pearson, A.||Symonds, Maj. A. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Mr. R. J. Taylor and Captain Michael Stewart.|
|Perrins, W.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Piratin, P.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.||Harris, H. Wilson||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nield, B.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. N.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Nutting, A.|
|Bowen, Capt. R.||Howard, The Hon. A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bower, N.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hurd, A.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Carson, E.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. The Hn. L. W.||Renton, Maj. D.|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.||Keeling, E. H.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. J. R.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Key, C. W.||Studholme, Maj. H. G.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludow)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. (P'b'ke)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Touche, G. C.|
|Digby, Maj. S. Wingfield||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Vane, Lt.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A. A. H.||Ward, Group-Capt. The Hon. G. R.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Foster, Brig. J. G. (Northwich)||Marsden, Comdr. A.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.|
|Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Maude, J. C.||White, Maj. J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Gibbins, J.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Mellor, Sir J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Grimston, R. V.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morris, R. H. (Carmarthen)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hon. J. H.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Commander Agnew and|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ CLAUSE 5.—(Application of principal Acts and effect of their expiry, and adaptation of other enactments.)
§ 1.45 p.m.
(5) The provisions of Parts II, V and VI of the Requisitioned Land and War Works
Act, 1945 (which confer temporary powers to acquire and retain possession of land used for war purposes and to maintain, use and remove war works) shall, subject as hereinafter provided, have effect as if the expression 'war period' included any period after the expiry of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, during which this Act is in force and as if the expression 'war purposes' included the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section one of this Act, and any other pro-
visions of the said Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945 (except Section forty-five thereof), shall, so far as they relate to the provisions aforesaid, have the like effect:
Provided that no powers shall be exercisable by virtue of this subsection unless the appropriate Minister has certified—
and has served a copy of the certificate, either by delivery or by prepaid registered letter on any person to whom compensation under paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section two or Sub-section (2) of Section three of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, is in course of payment in respect of the land to which the certificate relates.
In this Sub-section the expressions 'Minister,' 'works' and 'the doing of work on land' have the same meanings as in the Requisitioned hand and War Works Act, 1945, and the expression 'the appropriate Minister' means the Minister by whom or by arrangement with whom or on whose authority or direction the work was done or the land or works were used for the purposes aforesaid, and Section fifty-six of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945 (which relates to the exercise of powers by the Board of Trade), and Sub-section (2) of Section fifty-eight of that Act (which relates to the proof of certificates) shall apply for the purposes of this Sub-section as they apply for the purposes of that Act.
§ On the Committee stage of the Bill I undertook to give very careful reconsideration to Clause 5, Sub-section (5), as it then was, and particularly to endeavour to meet some points that had been raised in the course of the discussion by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York). I had very fully considered the Sub-section, and I am going to ask the House to allow me to withdraw the Sub-section as printed in the Bill and to substitute the longer Sub-section which now appears on the Order Paper. I have here endeavoured to meet some of the criticisms which were made about the Bill not having sufficient definition, and have tried to set out as clearly as possible in the circumstances of the times in which we live, the exact purposes for which this Sub-section 5 will be required.1602
In the first place, I have excluded altogether from the operation of the Subsection Part III of the Requisitioned Lands Act which deals with highways. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton dealt with that at some length in his speech. Between our consideration on the Committee stage and to-day, I have also received from the County Councils' Association representations on the matter, and they assure me that they regard the alteration that has been made as dealing satisfactorily with the position of highways. Perhaps I might make it quite clear that there will now be no power other than those in the ordinary processes of law, to stop up or divert highways, because on 28th September an Order in Council was approved which withdrew from the War Agricultural Executive Committees the power to arrange for the ploughing up of footpaths and any other operations they wanted to carry out interfering with highways. So that I think that from the passing of this Bill there will be no power to make any fresh diversion or closure of a highway except in the three ways known to the law even before the war started—either a special Act of Parliament, an order of the Justices in Quarter Sessions, or a town planning scheme. I hope on that point that I have fully met all that was desired and, may I say, which I myself desired to secure. With the increase of motor cars and heavy traffic on the roads, it is very desirable that all these by-ways should be protected as much as possible from closure. Only yesterday I received from an old pupil of mine a letter showing the effect that walks have on young people, in which he reminds me of a walk on which I took him, when he was a pupil of mine, with other pupils, from Epsom to Leith Hill. It obviously made on his mind an impression which now, 35 years afterwards, still remains. He concludes by saying:
I close by wishing you every success in your high Office, and feel very proud to have a Home Secretary who once caned me"—
§ so that I left more than one impression on him. I hope that the first which he mentioned was as beneficial as the second. I trust that the House will feel that on this point they have been fully met.
§ We recognise that the premises and works concerned fall into two categories for which different treatment is necessary.1603
§ In the first category are premises requisitioned and works constructed for war purposes under the powers conferred by the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act of 1939, and not required for the new purposes set out in Clause 1, Sub-section (1) of this Bill. As regards that category, we accept the contention that the two-year period after next February ought not to be extended, and accordingly that Clause 5 (5) ought not to apply to those cases. That is to say, to put it colloquially, if these works have been carried out on premises requisitioned for purely military purposes, we do not seek to extend our power to maintain the works or hold them beyond the period that was originally fixed by the Requisitioned Lands Act. So that within the two years after 24th February next, when the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act expires, the Government will have to make up their minds in accordance with the pledges given by the Coalition Government, and no extension of our powers is sought in that respect.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
Might I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? Does that cover the point which I put to the Financial Secretary about aerodromes? Does it mean that the Government will have to make up their minds within the next two years which aerodromes they are going to keep, and which they are going to hand back?
§ Mr. Ede
In the case of an aerodrome which is required for purely military purposes, and which may not be used, let us say, by the Ministry of Aircraft Production for certain production purposes, it might come within this. Where it is a purely military aerodrome used for the purposes of the war, the Government have to make up their minds within the two years. I think the considerable concession obtained by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton from the Coalition Government in matters like that remains completely unimpaired.
The second category consists of premises and works which will be required for the new purposes. In most cases these premises and works will already have been acquired or constructed, and will simply be kept on for the new purposes, but in some cases it will be necessary to requisition new premises and to construct new works. We feel that there 1604 is a strong case for extending the powers of the 1945 Act to cases falling within the second category. If new premises were requisitioned or new works constructed after next February, the power of acquisition under the 1945 Act will not apply at all because the land will not have been used and the works will not have been constructed during the war period under the Act which at present expires next February. It is important that these powers of acquisition should apply, because new factories may be built for the purposes of the new Bill or old ones may be extensively adapted. We anticipate that such cases will not be numerous, but where they arise it is right that the State should have the benefit of any expenditure thereby incurred just as in the cases at present covered by the 1945 Act, and subject to the safeguards prescribed by that Act. Where we have to requisition land or maintain works of this description, we intend first that they must be for the purposes of this Bill and not for any previous purpose, and that then the five years term of this Bill will run, and within two years of the end of the five years term of this Bill the Government will have to make up their minds, just as they do with regard to the military works and lands which we do not propose to bring under this Bill.
In cases where existing factories and works are kept on for the new purposes, it is right that the Government should not have to decide whether they ought to acquire them permanently until the moment comes when they no longer need the factory or works for the temporary purposes set out in the Bill. This was one of the main purposes in Part VI of the 1945 Act, namely, to give an opportunity at the moment when the emergency purposes were over for the Government to decide what it ought to do about property on which public money had been expended. For the purposes of the premises and works brought within the ambit of this Bill, the Supplies and Services Bill postpones that moment for five years, and a similar extension of the 1945 Act is, therefore, required. Apart from the question of acquisition, Part VI confers useful, and indeed necessary, powers to restore land on which works have been constructed and to remove the works, and these again must come into operation when the factory or works are no longer needed for the purposes set out in the Bill.
1605 2.0 p.m.
I ought to mention that factory premises and works, although they are by far the most important class of case, are by no means the only case; for example, buildings have been built on sites requisitioned under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, to provide school meals for children, and education authorities will have to retain these premises during the five-year period provided by the Bill. I recollect that when I was at the Ministry of Education we found that one of the things that no Government Department or local authority had a right to requisition premises for was the provision of the school meals to children, and we had to make an Amendment to one Regulation in order that that might be done in some places where it was impossible to provide the meals without requisitioning premises. There are in addition certain office premises which were originally required for war purposes, but which will be wanted for some time to come for the new purposes set out in Clause 1 of the Bill.
Accordingly, this Amendment secures the necessary extension of the 1945 Act in cases where premises or works are required for the new purposes set out in the Bill, but in those cases only. This is secured by the proviso to the Sub-section, which prohibits the use of any powers given by the Sub-section unless the responsible Minister has certified that the premises or works concerned have been used for the new purposes set out in the Bill or, in the case of new works constructed after next February, that the work has been done for those purposes. This certificate has to be served on the person who is entitled, but for the requisitioning, to occupy the land affected.
Thus, Departments using land for purposes for which powers expire on 24th February next, will have no extension of the period already provided for by the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act within which to operate the Act. In particular, no extension is being made of the period over which Service Departments can retain possession of premises or works required for defence purposes only. Departments which use land for purposes for which powers are continued or conferred by this Bill, will have the right to continue to use it for any of those purposes up to the end of the five years of 1606 this Bill. Then, on condition that they certify that their use of the land has in fact been under these powers they have two years within which in these cases to bring the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act into operation.
The new Sub-section contains another important change, in that it extends only Parts II, V and VI of 1945 Act, that is, the powers of acquisition of land and works, either by the Government or by local authorities, and the powers to retain possession of land for an extra two years and during that period to remove works and restore the land. Various ancilliary provisions, as, for example, those relating to the War Works Commission, the machinery for acquiring land, and the adjustment of compensation, have been extended, but only so far as they relate to the powers contained in Parts II, V and VI. The expressed exception for Section 45 of the Act, which was moved by the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir. J. Mellor) and accepted by me, has been retained, although probably, with this Sub-section in its new form, it is not strictly necessary. In order that there will be no doubt about it, we have retained the hon. Member's Amendment.
This has been a very genuine effort on my part to meet the case that was made out from the other side of the House. I have had the advantage of a conversation with my right hon. Friends the Service Ministers, and they are anxious to bring to an end as soon as possible their retention of any land or buildings that they have taken over for war purposes and that are no longer required. Mention has been made in debates since Parliament reassembled of dumps by the roadside which belong to the Service Departments. They are anxious to get these cleared up as soon as possible. It is desirable not only from the point of amenity, but for the safety of the community that that should be done. We regard this as a high priority, but labour for this purpose cannot be diverted from the building of houses or factories. After that, we regard this work of being as essential in the interests of the community. The Service Departments have, in addition to these dumps, works in different parts of the country which are in some cases disfigurements, and in others are a hindrance to the proper use of the land for agricultural and other purposes. Efforts will 1607 be made to see that this land is, as speedily as can be arranged, brought back into its proper use. But where there is some substantial work that will require a good deal of labour for its demolition and which does not actually impede agriculture or the ordinary carrying on of business, we may not be able to deal with it as rapidly as we would like while the labour shortage is acute. We have no desire that these works should remain long enough to be scheduled as ancient monuments.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
May I ask a question about aerodromes? A number were built towards the end of the war—I am glad to say a limited number—where the Admiralty in particular took absolutely first-class land. There were other aerodromes in the near neighbourhood where the land was less good. I know of a case where the less good land has been given up, but not the best land. Will the right hon. Gentleman talk to the Service Ministers and see that they give up the best land first, even at some inconvenience, and continue the use of the less good land?
§ Mr. Ede
The right hon. Gentleman knows that the difficulty of a Home Secretary in introducing a Bill like this is that it is an omnibus Bill and covers a wide range of Departments. Nobody but the late Sir Charles Dilke would be capable of answering every question on the Bill. He would have regarded every Sub-section of this Bill as mere child's play and would have welcomed the intervention of right hon. Gentlemen opposite so that he could display his erudition and width of knowledge. I will mention that point to my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Air. I hope, however, that the rather more general assurance that I have been able to give, as indicating the spirit with which the Government tackle this problem, might be regarded as sufficient for the purpose of dealing with this Sub-section. There are certain Amendments down to my Amendment. I think it will be better if I dealt with the points as they arise when the Amendments are called. I can assure hon. Members that the Government are anxious to meet the spirit of the discussion that took place on Monday on the issues raised in this Sub-section. I hope that in 1608 this matter at least we have met with a reasonable measure of success.
§ Colonel Clarke (East Grinstead)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how he would define military works. For example, in my constituency, on a very famous viewpoint that we know as Camp Hill, a big wireless station has been erected during the war purely for war purposes. Is that to be considered a military work? I do not mean that I expect that it will be removed, but if it remains there we hope to get alternative land. We do not however want to wait seven years, or there will be very little land obtainable in that district that is not built on, or is at an impossible price.
§ Mr. Ede
I know it was an example. The pledge I gave to-day was given on behalf of the Government, and we shall have to view that particular case and other cases, entirely on their merits to see how far they come within the definition of a military work or of a work that is required for the permanent peace-time organisation of the country. I really cannot go beyond that.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
We appreciate that skilled labour must not be diverted from the building of houses, so may we take it that so far as is possible works constructed by military labour shall be cleared by military labour, and in particular that full use will be made of Italian prisoners, where they are available, for the purpose?
§ Mr. Ede
If a great quantity of military labour becomes involved in this, we may find that demobilisation is being held up. We cannot take these problems in isolation. It may be that some of the work can be done by military labour and by prisoner of war labour while in other cases it may be more advantageous to use civilian labour that is not required for the building of houses or factories or other essential purposes. The Government are considering the best way to deal with these matters and I imagine that some will be dealt with by one form of labour and others by another.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The Question is, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
On a point of Order. Would it be for the convenience of the House if we were to have a general discussion on the proposals the Home Secretary has put forward, and address ourselves later to the small Amendments that are proposed to the Home Secretary's Amendment? Otherwise I fear that we shall be in danger of infringing the rules of Order.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
If I may have the leave of the House to explain—I am in the difficulty that I have spoken once and have to ask leave to speak again—the first Question to be put is "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill." We desire to vote "No" on that. Mr. Deputy-Speaker will then put the Question "That the proposed words be there inserted," and I should have thought that it was on that question that general comments on the proposal would be most relevant and in order. I do not want to do anything which infringes on the rights of the Chair to conduct the business of the House, but if we had a general discussion on that question my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury might like to make a reply, after which the Chair would proceed to call any Amendment to the proposed Sub-section it might think fit to call. I suggest that that would be the most convenient way to handle the matter.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is what I was proposing to do, if it would be for the convenience of the House.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to foe left out, stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
I think we ought to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having been as good as his promise of what he would try to do to meet us in drafting this new Sub-section. I shall try to express as simply as I can my understanding of it and see whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees. Unfortunately, the Financial Secretary came along the other day and indicated that he wanted 1610 to take advantage of this opportunity to do something to the original Sub-section, and it is with regard to that point that the Amendment to the Amendment, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend and myself, will arise. I think it might therefore be convenient if I confine my remarks at the moment to the question of the retention and giving up of possession of property, and reserve for discussion on the Amendment to the Amendment all questions of when and how, and to what extent, requisitioned property should be acquired compulsorily. It is all extremely complicated and the arguments have not been developed at all. I wish to reserve all I have to say on compulsory acquisition until I come to deal with the Amendment.
The Requisitioned Land Act confers two quite different types of right on Government Departments. It confers upon them, in the first place, the right to retain possession of requisitioned land for a longer period than they could have done under their original requisitioning powers which would come to an end next February when the Emergency Powers Act comes to an end. It is being extended, as I understand it, only in certain cases. Broadly speaking it is only being extended from two to seven years where there is a certificate by the appropriate Minister that the land is being used for one of the new Clause 1 post-war purposes. I hope I have got this right—a Department can only keep possession of any land beyond February, 1948, on production of a certificate that the land is being used for a Clause 1 post-war purpose. It must either clear out or produce that certificate or, of course, set in train the compulsory acquisition procedure before February, 1948.
If that is so, the difficulty will be when there is a use, but only a slight use, for a post-war purpose after that date. It will be quite simple where the whole of the requisitioned property is to be used for a post-war purpose; there will be no doubt about it, and the certificate will be easy. It will be equally simple where there is nothing but tidying up the effects of military operations and no post-war purpose is in contemplation; there will be no certificate and the land will either have to be bought or vacated by February, 1948. The difficult case will be where there is a slight amount of post-war use. 1611 I hope the Home Secretary will be able to indicate that these certificates will not be given unless the post-war use really is a substantial use of a greater part of the property.
I can foresee difficulty in border-line cases, and we could not possibly draft anything to sort out one type of case from another, but if the right hon. Gentleman will indicate that there is no intention of giving these certificates unless there is a genuine, reasonably full use of the property for post-war purposes, I think that will avoid a good deal of difficulty. Therefore, there are the two classes of case, divided according to whether there is or is not a great deal of post-war use. Where there is no post-war use, or no substantial post-war use, you have got to be out by the date in question or must have set in train the procedure for compulsory acquisition. Where there is a substantial post-war use, you may retain the property for a further five years. If that is the position, I think we shall feel we have been reasonably met, and it is only when we come to the code for compulsory acquisition that I shall have anything more to say. I trust I may reserve my remarks on that question until the Amendment is called.
§ 2.23 p.m
§ Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
It would be ungracious of me if I did not thank the Home Secretary for the great trouble he has taken in re-writing this Bill. On the Committee stage there was a certain amount of interruption and criticism when I was complaining of this Sub-section, and that interruption and criticism came from hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Gentleman has now justified the criticism which I and my hon. Friends made by taking out that short Sub-section and inserting this very long one. We are really in very great difficulty. We have had 48 hours in which to study a most complicated new provision that has many pitfalls. In that interval I have had time to consult certain people and bodies who are very interested in this matter, but they are not entirely satisfied that the new procedure will meet their objections. The Home Secretary has made it quite plain that in his view Part III of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, which deals with the stopping up of high- 1612 ways, would no longer continue. He made a statement that it had already ceased. In fact, it will continue under that Act, surely, until two years after 15th February, 1946. But there is a question whether the words used in some parts of the new sub-section will not give the right to stop up highways leading to land requisitioned under this Bill. I shall not mention that matter now, because I understand an Amendment which is to be moved later will deal with the point.
This is the point I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman now. As this Sub-section is now drafted, surely there will be nothing, as long as Part VI of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act is applied to this Measure, to stop a Government Department retaining possession of any requisitioned land for seven years, provided they send a certificate as laid down under this Sub-section. There is no check. It will be a matter of form for the War Office or the Air Ministry merely to sign a certificate and send it to the registered owner or occupier, and nobody will then be able to question their right to retain possession of the land for seven years. I put some weight on that objection, which has been put to me by bodies in which I know the Home Secretary is as interested as I am, bodies which are caring for the footpaths and commons of this country. There is no check on the certificate. Can the Home Secretary devise some better check than is laid down in the new Sub-section that will stop a Service Department from retaining requisitioned property for an undue length of time? From my knowledge of Service Departments, I can foresee that unless there is some adequate check on them they will use the means of a certificate to retain possession of requisitioned property for an unduly long time.
What is the system of this certificate? I am not clear whether, when the new certificate is given, there is a re-requisitioning of the property. That is a very important matter. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when we were discussing the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, hon. Members representing seaside constituencies in which there were many boarding houses put forward a very strong case in regard to houses that had been requisitioned at a time when rents and profits were very low. Now that times are a little better, are these 1613 houses to be re-requisitioned by means of this certificate at the same old rent? I hope the Home Secretary or the Financial Secretary will give us some assurance on this matter, because the only mention of the Section that deals with allowing the boarding houses to be requisitioned at a fair rent is the reference to the exclusion of that provision entirely from this Measure. I refer to that point now so as to give the right hon. Gentleman a warning that this is a matter that will arise.
When replying to the Debate last Monday, the Financial Secretary said that if this Sub-section is not agreed to, it will be impossible, after next February, under this Measure, to acquire lands on which work has been done or to stop up a permanent highway which has been temporarily closed. I would like to be quite clear that no longer do the Government want to stop up permanent highways which have been temporarily closed for any of the purposes mentioned in this Bill. After all, if that is so, it is a great advance on the speech of the Financial Secretary only three days ago, when he shattered my arguments with the claim that the Government want to stop up highways that have been temporarily stopped for the purposes of the Bill and that if these powers were not given he could not carry out the intention of the Government. Do I understand that he has turned down that completely and no longer wishes to stop up permanently highways which have been kept in temporary repair. I hope that that will be mentioned in the reply from the Front Bench.
I ask the Government to think again about this new draft between now and the time when the Bill will become law. Fortunately, there is still another place where an opportunity is provided for reconsideration of drafting. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has performed a very great public service in having quickly made a very complicated re-draft of what is admitted on all sides of the House to be a very complicated matter. It would be wise if there was a review of the words in the draft—the learned Attorney-General is here and could no doubt consider the point—to see whether a better form of words could not be drafted, and in particular, to see 1614 whether Section 28 of the Requisition of Land Act, which allows Government Departments to remain in occupation of requisitioned property for two years, should not be used for the purposes of this Bill. At an earlier stage I alluded to the difficulty that, under Section 28, rural communities are having to lose many thousands of gallons of water taken by aerodromes. The fact that Section 28 will be applied in this new Measure endangers the rural water supplies of the community. As the Home Secretary has given way on this highway question, he too, ought to give way on rural water supplies and say that, after two years from next February, water should not be taken by Government Departments under the Emergency Measure of the Requisition of Land Act and the Defence Acts. It is a reasonable request and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will meet us on that point.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I wish to raise only one point with the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. In his opening speech, he referred to the fact that he is in negotiations with the Services for the purpose of accelerating the giving up of properties which the various Service Departments have requisitioned during the war. As far as I understood this speech, I thought it was most helpful from the point of view which some of us hold, but we have found in many places a particular difficulty. A vast number of hotels and boarding houses have been requisitioned and the Services are beginning to de-requisition them, but not quite as fast as they might. Very often they have ceased to use these premises which are of very little practical value to them, but there is always a gap between their relinquishment and the time when they can be used for their normal purposes.
This is a matter which affects the livelihood of the people of my own constituency and of other places all round the coast of England, and it is of vital importance to-day because it is essential—as the Government have said, and most of us will agree—that we should give back the amenities whereby the people of the towns can get their holidays. I know that the Home Secretary cannot give a definite answer, but I think he could give an assurance that the Government, 1615 through the medium of the Service Departments, would go into this question carefully and do everything possible to accelerate the process of de-requisitioning where they do not want to retain hotels and boarding houses. I will give one illustration of the advantage this would be to the Government from the financial point of view. I came across a case the other day where a hotel was requisitioned by the Government and the manager received £200, which he paid out in rent for the hotel. The furniture of the hotel was being stored in four rooms at another hotel, and the Government were paying more rent for those four rooms than they were paying for the use of the whole of the requistioned hotel. Number 2 hotel is being used for storage purposes and the Government are paying vastly more rent for it than they are paying for the use of the other hotel. That is not their fault. It was done quickly. It had to be done quickly, and mistakes were made. If I could have an assurance from the Financial Secretary that this is a matter which the Government are following up, it would bring some relief to me and a great deal of relief to a vast number of people throughout the whole of Great Britain.
I am sure that no one in a Government Department wants to hold on to buildings unnecessarily, but there is apt to be someone in a building who is fairly comfortable and is not in a hurry to give it up. It goes much further than that. It goes on in shipyards and in other directions, which I will not mention, but the Government should give some assurance that they will go into the matter and give orders to their Departments that no hotel should be held a minute longer than is necessary. Very often an owner receives information, either locally or otherwise, that his hotel is about to be de-requisitioned, but it is weeks before it is actually de-requisitioned. It may be said that an hotel would be de-requisitioned on 30th September but things may go on perhaps to 20th October, or the actual permit does not come more than a week or two before the date the premises are to be derequisitioned, and the effect of that is that the owners of properties can do nothing in the course of those last weeks towards getting their property into running order again. I hope that these points will be useful to the Government 1616 and that they will consider them. It will be of very great value to the community—I am not asking for pledges—if they will say that they will go into the matter.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I wish to refer to the point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). It may be that a series of small hotels is still requisitioned; and it may also be that some of them will have to be requisitioned for some time further. When a certificate is given by the responsible Minister some short period should be fixed for the validity of the certificate, otherwise it will be rather indeterminate. As my hon. Friend said, the owners are only too willing to play their part in the bargain, but there should be greater willingness on the part of Service Departments to play their part. They are being asked to hand back what is really the capital on which depend the livelihood of many individuals and the happiness of many others who want to come for their holidays at the seaside. To leave the certificate indeterminate or to leave the owner in any doubt as to the length of the period during which the certificate will remain valid, and equally to allow any form of certificate which would give the least possible encouragement to any Service Department to maintain the requisition in force must, in essence, be wrong.
I was very glad to hear what the Home Secretary said as regards the express wish of the people in charge of the Service Departments to do their de-requisitioning as soon as possible, but we do not see it working out in the way I have indicated, and I should like some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman of how the certificate business will work in that connection.
§ Mr. Ede
I should like to thank right hon. and hon. Members for the way in which they have received this effort to meet a point of view which they have put forward, and I will endeavour to deal briefly with the points they have raised. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid) raised the question of the retention of some part of land or premises that have been hitherto wholly requisitioned. Our intention is that, if it is only required to use part of the premises requisitioned, the certificate shall only relate to the part required in future.
§ Mr. Ede
After all, we are trying to get a specific assurance, almost, on the question of proportion, and I am not prepared to say that it may not be necessary, in some cases, to take quite a small portion of land requisitioned under the old powers for the purposes of the new. But, where that has to be done, it will be done by a certificate and that is a Ministerial act and can be challenged here.
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) adopted the somewhat peculiar logic that, because I have given way on one point, I ought to give way on another. Of course, that is not a way to encourage a Minister to be accommodating, and I do not think I can give way on the second point which the hon. Member raised as completely as he asked me to do. If we are to have a factory, for the purposes of this Bill, near the kind of water supply which the hon. Member mentioned, it may be necessary that the arrangements made in previous cases should be made in that kind of case. But I hope that we shall be able to do a great deal to improve the water supplies in rural areas and perhaps make the problem rather less acute. We shall not hesitate to use the powers given to the Minister of Health under the Act of this year in order to assist them.
On the highways point, I should like to make the position quite clear. There is no power under this Amendment to stop a highway, or to keep stopped up a highway, in respect of which the certificate expires on 24th February, 1948. If it is necessary to erect a factory on the site of a highway, or a footpath, bridle path, carriageway, or even—and I think the hon. Member would like an assurance on this—a navigable river, the appropriate powers will have to be sought, presumably either by special Act of Parliament, or by the order of the Justices in Quarter Sessions. That places all these highways in exactly the pre-war position, because I cannot think that, for this particular purpose, one would be able to rely on a town planning scheme. There 1618 is no new requisition when a certificate is issued; the old requisition is continued.
The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. Charles Williams) and the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) raised a question, which I think is a little remote from this proposal, about the continued requisitioning of hotels. There may, of course, be factories erected in some areas where it might be necessary to requisition property of the kind the hon. Members have indicated, but I do not think it is very likely, although I would not exclude it. What I said with regard to giving up land works, when I moved the omission of the old Sub-section, applies to the requisitioning of hotels. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is exceedingly anxious to get rid of as many of these liabilities as he can as quickly as he can, and I want to say, in reply to the hon. Member for Torquay, that I do not negotiate with Service Departments. I merely discuss matters with them, and, with regard to the whole question of the surrendering of unnecessary properties and works, I have had the most satisfactory assurances from them, and the hon. Member can rest assured that pressure from the Treasury on them will be all that he will desire.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will discuss these matters, but will he assure me that, in this matter, he will see that the Service Departments are acquainted with what has happened here to-day, so that they will see that he and I, on this matter, at any rate, are agreed. I hope his discussions will be complete and successful.
§ Mr. Ede
I can assure the hon. Member that what is being said in this House to-day on this Bill is being watched with great care by the Service Ministers, and that his remarks will be read with the attention they deserve. I would like to thank the House most sincerely for the way in which they have received our efforts to meet them. There are some particular points on the Amendments on which it is desired to have some further information, and, when those Amendments are moved, I will endeavour to satisfy their supporters.
§ 2.45. p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, 1619 in line 6, to leave out from "force," to "and," in line 7.
I think it would probably be convenient, and save the time of the House, if I formally moved the Amendment standing in my name and those of some of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
The Amendment really raises quite a simple point, but this matter is all so complicated that I feel that I should not be taking up too much time if I approached it slightly indirectly. Under the Requisitioned Land Act the Government have two years after the end of the war period, provided they are still in possession of the requisitioned land, in which to make up their minds whether they are going to acquire it or not, and they must acquire it, if at all, by reason of operations having been done on the land for a war purpose. The Bill, as originally introduced, extended the two years to seven years, again provided that the Department remains in possession, but it still left it that they could only acquire the land if its character had been changed to the necessary extent in the course of an operation for war purposes. We think that is right and we think that the second thoughts of the Financial Secretary are wrong and that there should not be any extension beyond that. We would have preferred, of course, that Departments should make up their minds in all cases, within two years after the end of the war, whether they want to buy the land or not, but if that is asking too much we think it is going too far to say that operations carried out for a peace purpose after the end of the war shall put it in the power of the Department to say that by reason of those operations the land is to be bought.
I hope there will be very few of these operations. Broadly speaking, land can be bought by reason of operations performed on it under either Section 5 or Section 6 of the Requisitioned Land Act. I hope that at least we can be quite certain that Section 6 will never come into the picture, because Section 6 only comes into it when the operations have diminished the value of the land "by Government war work done thereon or by damage caused by Government war use thereof." I hope these Government post-wax purposes, for which the Ministry 1620 of Supply and others have asked powers, will not involve the destruction or partial destruction of any land or the erection on that land of something which diminishes its value. So far as Clause 6 is concerned, therefore, I think the Amendment put in by the Home Secretary has no content in it at all and he can safely give it up so far as that is concerned.
Now we come to Clause 5, which is concerned with the case where the value of the land is increased by the erection of a factory or something of that kind. Again I hope, in the present scarcity of building labour and of materials and so on, that Departments will not be encouraged to start building operations for post-war purposes on these requisitioned lands. Surely enough that has been used for war purposes and is no longer required is being given up to enable Departments which want to spread in the post-war era to get vacant premises in which to conduct their extended operations Therefore, I hope very much there will be very few occasions when there will be extensive building on requisitioned land after this war.
But I would say this: if you want to carry out extensive building operations, you should buy the land outright at once. You should do that for at least two reasons. In the first place I think anything like good planning requires that before you start on operations of this character you should have some idea where you are going, and you must, therefore, know before you start whether it will be best that the Government only shall plan or whether the operations will be such that land can be restored to its original character and original use at the end of the five years. It really is essential that before the Government Departments begin extensive operations of this sort there should be some check upon them, some planning check at least, some check by the Minister of Town and Country Planning and by other persons concerned in this matter—let alone the owner, and I will come to him in a moment. If a Ministry which wants to indulge in large-scale building after this war has to buy the land compulsorily, I do not object to purely short term methods, but at least the issue is raised: is this a good place to start building this elaborate thing, or is it not? Could not the work be done in an existing building somewhere else? One knows 1621 so well that Government Departments which have requisitioned land just proceed at their own sweet will without consulting anybody, and it is really dangerous to contemplate that after this war a Government Department may be allowed to start an extensive building scheme without by your leave from anybody.
That is one reason why it seems to me that the proposed Amendment is a bad one. The other reason is that I think the owner is entitled to know what his fate is to be. The owner's private right is not to hold up any necessary development in the national interest—everybody recognises that—but the owner ought to know at as early a stage as possible whether he can reckon on getting back his property in its original form at the end of the emergency, or whether he has to say goodbye to it for ever. It is reasonable that he should know that, and he will know that if this Amendment and the others which hang with it are accepted, but he will not know that for five years if this Amendment is not accepted. On all those grounds, therefore, I ask the Government to go back to their first thoughts, which were best, and not to extend the scope in the way in which it is being extended by their proposed new Amendment.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)
The Government cannot accept this Amendment for the very simple reason that it would destroy one of the main purposes for which we are asking the House to give us this Bill. If I may say so, the speech in support was very persuasive but it actually missed the whole point of why we want to put in these words. The effect of the Amendment would be to exclude the definition of war purposes in contradistinction to the war period in the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act. The purposes set out in Clause 1 of the Bill—the operative Clause—would fail if this Amendment were accepted. We should lose the very real and desirable support of the 1945 Act. For that reason, if for no other, we must ask the House to reject this Amendment.
I do not think I need labour that point for it is a very simple one. The Requisitioned Land and War Works Act is a Measure that provides, among other things, a very real protection to the owner 1622 of property. There is this period of two years which is of the utmost benefit to him. There are the provisions under Section 6 which we do not want him to lose, and the real effect of this Amendment would be to take the Bill completely out of the 1945 Act. I am positive that no section of the House really wants to see that done and I hope, therefore, that the House will reject this Amendment without a Division.
Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.
§ Colonel Clarke
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 7, leave out from "act," to end of line 10.
Before I say anything more, I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the way he has already met us in this connection. I am sure he will appreciate that some of us who have fought our own side so strenuously in the summer would have been very sorry to have seen what we won over the Requisitioned Land and War Works Bill returned to the Government Departments by the Government. I hope he will forgive me, however, if I say that there is still considerable uncertainty in the minds of a great many people as to how this Amendment of his will affect them. Private owners, public authorities and those responsible for commons all share this feeling of depression and uncertainty as to their future. Unless Government Departments are given a fairly early date by which they have to make up their minds they are prone to continue to put things off from day to day and month to month. I pointed out just now one way in which this was a great disadvantage to the kind of people I have just mentioned, to those who wish to obtain alternative land. Again, if a man has lost part of his farm he wants to know, well ahead, how soon he can expect it back. Agriculture is a long term planning affair and the farmer should know two or three years ahead when he can expect to get his land back. The object of this Amendment, broadly, is to bring the whole thing into line so that Government Departments in two years from February must give definite notice of what they intend to do, so as to allow others to plan.
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
I would like the Government to tell us what is meant by the words 1623 which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke) is seeking to leave out. I think I have been described by the Home Secretary as "learned," but it is some fifteen years since I practiced my learning, and having practiced farming since that time I hope he will treat me as an illiterate farmer and not as an erstwhile barrister. Let me refer to the new Clause which the Home Secretary wants to bring into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman says, "I am going to use the provisions of Parts II, V, and VI of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act," and then he says:And any other provisions…shall…have the like effect.He tells us that he does not want Part III. I have the greatest respect for the right hon. Gentleman as a Minister, but less respect for him as a draftsman. I feel sure that he will obey the assurance he has given, but I am not so certain that some of the other clever, irresponsible Government Departments will not try to use Part III. May I give an illustration? Supposing you have a house that is now used as Army headquarters and you have access to a road that used to be a private footpath. For war purposes that path is temporarily closed to the public. Supposing the War Office say, "This headquarters will be used for storing uniforms." I suggest that if they are using that house for that purpose they will be able to say, owing to these words, "We will keep this footpath temporarily closed." It is true that if the matter is brought before Parliament we shall be able to pray in aid, but many things are done in the dark, by Orders in Council, that are not brought to the light of day in Parliament.
I ask the Home Secretary to consider whether he wants these words in the Bill. What else is brought in? Not Part III. Part IV, regarding telegraphic lines, cannot possibly be wanted, but Parts V and VI are. Then we have this dangerous Part VII. I understood that no provision of Part VII, which is applied to the Defence Act for post-war purposes, would be used. Part VIII deals with compensation. Part IX, which is an amendment of the Compensation Act is, for some reason, not being used by the Home Secretary. I should have thought that if 1624 the Government had a case for these words they would say, "The only case where we want additional words is where we are continuing requisitioning," where there might be a case for greater compensation because the owner is receiving adequate compensation in peace-time. For some reason the Government have excluded that. They have said, "We are not going to allow any of this property to have Section 45 applied." I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to think that I am trying to lead him into a trap, but nobody would wish Section 45 (1) to be excluded, because it is really the poor, requisitioned owners legal aid department. So, I hope that either now or later the right hon. Gentleman will consider what is going to be the position when you get a continuation of requisitioning at compensation rentals which are unfair. I am sure the House will agree that that should be rectified, that if, for instance, a landlady is receiving low compensation rental it would be possible for that to be adjusted
Finally, these words cannot be used in connection with the interpretation, which is Part X, because they are already in the New Clause. The Home Secretary has said that Sections 56, 58 and 59 shall apply. He has referred to those parts of Part X that are to apply. I am always suspicious when I see a lot of words in a Bill which seem to mean very little. I think it is far better to wipe them out. I know the right hon. Gentleman was working under great difficulties in doing this drafting at emergency speed, but I ask him to consider whether he cannot cut all these words out so that we know exactly where we stand in regard to the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act.
The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shaweross)
I cannot help thinking that there is some misunderstanding about the effect of the words which it is proposed by this Amendment to leave out of the Clause. The words which it is proposed to omit do not effect any kind of extension of the Government's powers under this Act, but merely secure that necessary and ancillary provisions should apply to those parts of the Act which are affected by this Bill. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has referred to Part III of the Act. That Part does not, of course, relate to Parts II, V or VI, and if hon. Members will look at line 9 of the 1625 Clause they will see that so far as the provisions of other Parts of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act are concerned they are only to be applied so far as they relate "to the provisions aforesaid." The effect of that is that the other provisions of that Act which do not refer to Parts II, V and VI will not apply. Only those other Parts of the Act will apply in so far as they are ancillary to Parts II, V and VI of the Act.
§ Mr. Turton
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us an illustration? It is always easier to see what is meant with an illustration.
§ The Attorney-General
The main purpose is to ensure that all those other Parts of the Act which may have some bearing upon the operation of Parts II, V, and VI shall be available. Parts II, V and VI are not completely watertight compartments of this Act, their operation may be affected by other Sections and other Parts of the Act—Part I, for instance, which sets up the War Works Commission which exercises some powers in relation to the acquisition of land; Part VII, which applies the Defence Act for the purpose of acquiring land under the Act; and Parts VIII and IX which deal with matters of compensation. Without going over every Section, taking the Act as a whole it can, I think, be said accurately that it is quite impossible to isolate Parts II, V and VI from the rest of the Act, and all that is proposed here is to ensure that those Parts shall be read in relation to the Act as a whole, and that the rest of the Act shall apply to this Part for that purpose and that purpose alone.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks
I feel that I ought to say, speaking for myself and I venture to believe the vast majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House, that I have not the faintest idea what it is we are doing. I listened with the greatest care to the illustration given by the learned Attorney-General, and I got to the point where I understood him to say that Parts II, V and VI of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act are extended and made to apply to the Measure which we are discussing and only such other Parts, as are ancillary to those three Parts. That, I thought, had clarified the atmosphere 1626 considerably, but after that I understood him to say that those three Parts overlapped all the other Parts and that other Part would not be considered apart from those three Parts. Therefore, we seemed to come back to the original position that all Parts of the Act are related. I am afraid that I am in no way competent to argue the matter, and I only hope that some hon. Members comprehend the nature of the legislation which we are passing, because I honestly believe it is going to land us all, and especially the unfortunate people who suffer under it, in the greatest difficulties in the future.
§ Colonel Clarke
I think that under the circumstances I had better ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)
I should like to say one word on this subject, because the new words have rendered unnecessary an Amendment which I had put down. Part III of the Act which we were discussing was a subject of negotiation between associations of local authorities and the Government and they looked upon this Bill as departing from the undertaking entered into. What has been done has rectified that, and on behalf of those associations I wish to express thanks to the Home Secretary.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Lyttelton (Aldershot)
I will be as brief as I can on a matter of this importance. It would be ungrateful, I think, if I did not thank the Home Secretary for those concessions which he has been able to make, however meagre they are, to the representations made from this side of the House. They have undoubtedly improved the Bill, although they have not met the main charges which we have leveled against it. I was much amused and not a little annoyed to read in an organ of the Left Wing the other day a headline which said, "The Home Secretary gets tough when the Tories 1627 obstruct." It is not obstruction to try to elicit information from Ministers. It is not a loss of time which can be laid to the charge of the Opposition when they do not get the information which is asked for, and it is not obstruction to seek to preserve the rights of discussion which we hold dear and to bring Measures so far reaching as this under the further control and discussion of Parliament.
No argument of substance—a few sophistries and specious arguments, but no argument of substance—has been advanced to support the period of five years. I propose in the few words which I will offer to the House to turn aside from the many unsatisfactory replies and evasions on points of detail with which we have been met during these discussions, but this is part and parcel of an attempt to stifle Parliamentary discussion of vital Measures. Just as in the Vote of Credit sums were asked for which will preclude us from raising financial points on a Vote of Credit until next March—a practice departing greatly from that which the Coalition Government pursued during the war—here is another attempt to stifle and to limit the powers of Parliamentary discussion. Hon. Members opposite are very fond of saying their little piece about a mandate from the people. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I see that the keenness is still there. Let me remind them that the first mandate which a constituency gives to its Member is to be a Member of Parliament, and it is his duty to try to protect the individual citizen from unlimited incursions by the Executive. I do not often indulge in prophecy, because I like to be of honour in my own country, but I will be so bold as to make one prophecy. There will be many hon. Members who support the Government who will live to regret this derogation from their powers which they are now giving to the Government.
Powers are sought for the first time of almost limitless extent—powers which are far beyond, and this is in the admission of the Government, those that were needed during the greatest war in which this country has ever been engaged. They are sought for a period of five years, which is a period just beyond the life of this Parliament. No reply of an effective nature, not even a crack of the whip such as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade treated us to this morning, has been 1628 advanced against the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden).
Let me remind the House what the principal argument was. It was that in war time the Coalition Government came to this House year by year, in those times of great national crisis, to renew these powers. Now, in times of peace, we are told that these powers must be extended beyond the life of the present Parliament. Great parties are not founded upon Parliamentary tactics of that kind. Policies cannot mature into full fruitfulness for the benefit of the people unless they are ripened in the light and sunshine of public opinion. If nothing is to be done, except by negative Resolutions, for five years, then, I say, we have witnessed, in my opinion, a sorry Parliamentary display in the alacrity of hon. Members opposite, in going into the Lobby and using the honoured rights of this ancient House to support such a proposal. I would remind hon. Members opposite that an analysis of the votes of the country would show that votes given in the General Election for those who voted against the Government the other day exceed the votes in the General Election for those who voted for it.
We agree, to sum the whole matter up, that powers of this nature, but not to this extent, are necessary to counter discontent from which we shall admittedly suffer during the next three months and longer. This is a time when the whole world is in a very fluid condition, and no man can predict with accuracy what conditions will supervene in six months' time. But while we agree that powers of this nature, but not to this extent, are necessary to the Government we condemn, out of hand, the duration of the Bill and the duration of the powers which they seek. The attitude of the Government is calculated to widen as far as possible cleavages in opinion. That sometimes cannot be avoided, but the Government are widening them unnecessarily at this moment, at a time, when I say with every sincerity, it is our duty to try to narrow them as far as possible, so that we may be able to achieve some degree of national unity in facing the great problems of the restoration of our people and our prosperity, which now confront us. For no substantial reasons, these cleavages are being widened, and the 1629 Government show an instinct, if not a policy, for placing ideological and partisan doctrines against the right of discussion that will lower our position outside this country. We can look back over a long line of those who spent their lives, and sometimes lost their lives, in defence of Parliamentary institutions and who, if they could see these powers which the Government now seek, would turn in their graves.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
The synthetic fury of the right hon. Gentleman leads me to give him this little warning from a slightly older Parliamentary hand. If he uses up practically the whole of the English language in indignation because powers have been given for five years, what will he say when there is something that really does get under the Tory skin? He will be rather in the position of the film trade. When we read a description of a new film we say, "If they have used up the whole of two languages, English and American, on this film, what will they say about the next one?" The Tories will surely be wise to economise their fury and conserve it for something else which is not quite so obviously shadow-boxing. There is one thing I would like to say about the right hon. Gentleman's arguments. I think I have answered them more or less all before, but he did emphasise one a little in his short speech just now. That was the point that right through the war the Government took much shorter intervals than this interval of five years. During the war the two great parties in the State were substantially united in defending the public interest, and there was no need to fear that time would be wasted each year by factious opposition; but now that we are at arms' length and the Government are faced with the opposition of Tories, with all the great industrial interests behind them, then the Government are surely right to regard five years as a matter of real importance in economy of time.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
This is rather a remarkable argument. Am I to understand that when Parliament is united, one year is reasonable, and that when they are disunited, the Government are justified in asking for five years?
§ Mr. Pritt
No, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can understand that. He should understand that I was answering an argument, and the argument [Laughter]—I apply that description with my well known courtesy to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) but if hon. Members opposite find it a subject for laughter I am ready to withdraw it—was that the war position and the peace position are parallel. I was pointing out that the parallel breaks down. The Tories in wartime and everyone else served the public interest with a few reservations, as they are now serving private interests with few reservations. The right hon. Gentleman made certain elaborate calculations of the votes that were actually cast for people who happen to have got here, in spite of the activities of Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. Brendan Bracken, and who went into the Lobby the other day I think on the Committee stage. He said if these were added up, the number of votes cast in their favour at the General Election would overpower the number of votes given to the people who went into the other Lobby. I do not know whether that is so or not. I do know that if you examine the votes given at the General Election for and against the Members who spoke on the other side on this issue, who got into this House by split votes, some of the speeches we have heard would not have been made at all.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay(Montrose Burghs)
I rise without any great sense of fury but with a good deal of sorrow in my heart. At this stage of the Bill it is possible to look at it with some sense of perspective. The conclusion to which I have come is that it is not really the contents that are worrying us to-day, but the intentions and motives of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Members opposite that cause us to think very carefuly. There has been a great deal of nonsense talked in the country during the Election, and even in this House, about the attitude of myself and other hon. Members on this side on the subject of controls. I doubt if there is any one of us who would argue for a moment that continuation of controls is not necessary so long as conditions of shortage exist in this country, and even so long as the world is in the chaos in which it is likely to remain, possibly for 1631 some years, after the events of the last five or six years.
It is quite impossible at this moment to know whether the powers which this Bill gives to the Government will be necessary for one, two, three, four or five years. I think we must all agree on that. What is quite certain is that in two years' time we shall have a much better idea of conditions in this country and of conditions throughout the world. By then, even hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree, we should know whether the demobilisation scheme is going to do something to solve the shortage of labour in this country. Certain materials must be in more ample supply. We should know whether the United Nations Organisation has any hope of achieving the result which we all hope and pray it will achieve. We shall also know the results of the discussions now going on in Washington. On them depends a great deal, because they are the first step in determining whether we are to live under restrictive trade practices, or whether the world is at last returning to sanity.
My real suspicions of the intentions of the Government and hon. Members opposite began to appear when we learned that the Government would not consider the two years Amendment, or the one year Amendment which was also moved, and which I would have been quite prepared to accept. In fact, I rather preferred that Amendment. The Government showed no signs of conceding anything on that, which was bad enough. Then one began to look very carefully at all the speeches made during the Second Reading and Committee stage of the Bill. As a result I would submit that hon. Members opposite and the country should realise that there is a great deal of evidence as to the intentions of the Government and of the party in power. Careful study cannot fail to convince one that many of them believe it would be a good thing for the citizens of this country if their daily activities were firmly ordered by some central planning committee or committees and that these central planning committees should exercise all the faculties of judgment which the individual has been in the habit of making in the past in his own affairs. I would like to quote something in substantiation of that. 1632 Towards the end of his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council during the Second Reading of this Bill used these words:We think that this Bill is necessary in the public interest. We believe that it should last for five years. If we do not want it for that period or do not want parts of the Defence Regulations, we will scrap them. They will go. They are not going to last longer than the public interest requires, but if we want them after five years, we shall come to Parliament and produce our Motion to extend the Act for a further 12 months, and, if necessary, for further periods as long as the public interest requires. It is the public interest which is going to be the test, and not any private interests…"—[Official Report, 9th October, 1944; Vol. 414, c. 180.]That bears very little relation to the first sentence of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Bill, which reads:Some of the powers conferred by existing Defence Regulations will require to be exercised not only for purposes connected with the prosecution of the war but also for certain purposes connected with the period of transition from war to peace conditions.In quoting the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council, I may be accused of taking his words out of their context, but right through the Debate there had been the most definite signs that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not look on this Bill as a transitional Bill from war to peace conditions, but as a transitional Bill from conditions of individual thinking and exercising of judgment to State planning. Let us be frank about it. If that is what it is why could not the Government say so? It is called a Transitional Powers Bill.
I would like to quote again very briefly. At an earlier point in the Second Reading is what I regard as the most extraordinary piece of arrogance which this House has yet heard. In the course of an excellent speech the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) twice postulated the question "Who is to decide what is essential for the well-being of the country?" He was met by loud cries, duly recorded in the Official Report, of "We are." That is most intolerable arrogance. I would remind hon. Gentlemen that this Bill deals with the immediate actions and activities of individual citizens of this country. Surely it is the function of Government to create the best possible conditions under which individuals can go about their daily business and exer- 1633 cise their own judgments as to what is best for themselves? [Interruption.] The experience of countries which have tried the opposite and handed over responsibility for judgment to their Governments has been pretty unfortunate. I do not propose to continue much longer, but I wish to say that I might not have voted against the Government on certain Divisions had it not been for this suspicion in my mind. I believe that these powers for which the Government have asked are probably necessary for some time to come, but why the Government refused to accept limitation of the duration of the Measure is puzzling, unless the explanation I have deduced from the general atmosphere of the Debates is correct. If that is so, I think that the future for this country is very gloomy indeed.
§ 3.37 P.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)
I wish to refer to a statement made by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt). Hon. Members on this side are extremely worried about the increase of arbitrary powers given to the Executive by almost every single legislative Measure. To be told, as we have been told to-day, that Ministers are responsible to Members in this House will, I am afraid, not go down. That is because those of us who have been in this House for some time know—I am not admonishing, I am merely assuring new Members that they will learn from their own bitter experience—that it is very difficult indeed to hold Ministers responsible for every exercise of their executive power. There are very brief opportunities. One is at Question Time, where one may get in two supplementaries—one will be treated with extreme courtesy by Mr. Speaker—and there are very inadequate opportunities for debate.
I do not feel it is a true answer to say "Give the Executive these powers, give this delegated legislation, because it will be perfectly all right, you will be able to challenge a Minister of the Crown on the Floor of the House." I do not think that that is really an effective answer. My other point is this: Hon. Members will have the lesson brought home to them by the letters they receive from their own constituents, and the day will come when they will feel just as honestly as we do on this side in their determination to 1634 secure the liberties and freedom of the people of this country. They may be able to take a hard case to a Minister, and they may be able to have that hard case put right. But for every hard case one has put right, there are probably 20 or 30 about which one never hears. Those people have to suffer from these arbitrary powers which we are passing day after day. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is not true to say that we on this side of the House are not genuinely and deeply concerned to protect the rights and freedom of the people, and we hope the day will come when perhaps some of the hon. Members opposite will come forward, and support us.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Bechervaise (Leyton, East)
I am very glad the Bill has reached its present stage. It has given me the experience of seeing that hon. Members on the opposite benches have not yet learned what has happened. I have watched with some interest the attitude of indignation—I do not know whether it is real—which has been adopted from time to time on the Front Bench opposite. I think it will be as well for all of us to realise that we have reached a point in our political history at which some changes have got to be made. It is true that we have developed politically, but the political freedom has not given us all the freedom required. Some of us have had experience between the two wars. I happened to be a member of a board of guardians during that time. With all the political democracy that we had some of us experienced considerable trial and suffering in spite of all the promises that were made.
The party in power should exercise all the power it has at its disposal to avoid a repetition of what happened during the two wars. Those people who suffered during that period would have been amused at some of the arguments that have been used, to the effect that people will lose their freedom if we pursue the course that we propose to take. I think it is as well that they should make up their minds that we are going to carry out the programme which we promised the electorate. It must be understood that conditions are different now, and that there will be an entirely different policy, I hope, which will manifest itself in the Acts passed by this House so that, at any rate, we shall avoid what happened immediately after the last war.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I am quite sure that an outside observer of our proceedings would wonder at the heat of the language that has been used in the course of this short Debate on the Third Reading and would probably not find the explanation in anything that has occurred either to-day or on the Committee stage. What are the facts of the matter? So little were the Opposition opposed to this Bill that, on the Second Reading we started at 3.45 and we wound up at 7.52, although we could have run on to 9 o'clock. As a result of the collapse of the Debate, the Opposition were taken to task by their alleged friends in the Press who complained that they were not fighting hard enough, and from that time onwards we have had these exhibitions of petulance and alleged alarm. I want to express my thanks to my hon. Friends on this side of the House for the discipline they have displayed in the face of the temptations that were held out to them by hon. Members opposite. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) has never sat in Opposition before. He will get quite used to it in the course of a few months or years, and he will become accustomed to make the kind of speech which he had to make earlier to-day in a vain effort to make the thing spin out for the day.
§ Mr. McLeavy (Bradford, East)
May I ask a supplementary question if it is in Order? Is an hon. Member obliged to speak the truth in this House?
§ Mr. Ede
I was rather endeavouring to encourage the recruit. After all, it is one of the elementary cases put forward by an Opposition that the Government supporters never speak. Why should they? As the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) said, the Coalition Government brought their Measures here every year. Of course they did. Their own supporters could not trust them. Last night's ex- 1636 hibition proved the truth of the remarks that I have just made.
I thank the House sincerely for the way in which this Measure has been considered. It has roused deep feelings, some of them perhaps a little over-expressed, but we recognise that feelings are roused on this matter. On the whole, our Debates on this Measure have been characterised by good temper, and, on the part of the Opposition, by an effort at periodical intervals really to improve the Bill, and we have endeavoured to meet them when they have been in that frame of mind. We are told that these are powers beyond those sought in the greatest war in history. We believe that we are entering on an even greater war—the war against ignorance, poverty and disease. We are determined to conduct that war with all the resources that this House places at our disposal.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
As we have a few more minutes, I hope the House will not think it unreasonable if I make some observations on what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. I am grateful for what he said about the constructive part of the Opposition's effort. At the same time, I want to tell him that it is in no fractious mood that we say to the Government: "You are making a mistake in asking for these powers for five years." I say that to the right hon. Gentleman all the more, because, in the reply which he gave the other day, he gave us no explanation at all of why he must have these powers for five years. Indeed, he has not referred to it in any way in the speech which he has just made. This Measure has to go to another place, I suppose, and come back here, and I say to the Government that if then they were willing to say "We ask for these powers for two years and after that we will come back," there would be no opposition at all from this side of the House. We cannot with good will agree to these powers for five years. When I asked the other day for two years the right hon. Gentleman insisted on five years and said that there was no analogy with war-time and that in war-time we had Regulation 18b. Have we to thank the Government because we are not subject to 18b now? That is going a little too far. These controls are required, as we know, for industry and the life of the 1637 people, but I am going to venture even at this late hour to make an appeal, and it is sincerely made.
I am convinced, and my hon. Friends are convinced, that powers such as these will be needed for some years to come, but I say frankly that the Government ought to get the nation behind them in carrying out these powers. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen may say that they have got a majority, but that is not the way to govern the country. Of course they can carry things through the House, as they will carry this Bill to-day, but I would remind them that there are a lot of people in the country who take the same point of view as we do and as our Liberal friends do. If the Home Secretary will say now, or when this Measure comes from another place, that the Government will come back in two years' time, review the position as it then is, and ask for these powers afresh, there will be no opposition from this side. No man can tell, not even the Home Secretary or the Leader of the House or anybody else, what the position will be in two years from now, and we think it utterly unfair that the Government should say that they desire these powers until after the General Election. I cannot regard that other than utterly unreasonable.
I do not ask for an answer now, but I beg the Cabinet to think this matter over and to consider whether it would not be wiser to get the whole nation behind them when they are taking powers over the life of every citizen, as they are doing in this Bill. They could get that by the extra measure of reasonableness for which I am appealing. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about the Opposition and for the way in which
§ he has met us on various items, and I do ask the Government sincerely to bear in mind that, even in their own interests, they would be wise to say that, after thinking the matter over, they considered that two years was better than five.
§ Mr. Eden
I had not talked about any Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I have not the slightest idea what another place will do with the Bill. [An Hon. Member: "You have a good suspicion."] The House need not get worked up about this. I am not trying to make any party point. I have not the slightest idea what another place will do. I said that possibly the Government will have an opportunity of bringing this Measure in some form before us again. If they want to do it, they can do it and move some Amendment in another place so that the Bill will come before us again. My simple point is this. There may be, or there may not be, another chance of considering this question of five years or two years. If there is, I beg the Government to take the opportunity to consider it further, because, despite their majority in this House, they will need good will in the country. They will get it if they will agree to come back to Parliament in two years' time, but they will not get it if they do not agree to that.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 199; Noes, 108.1641
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[3.59 p.m.|
|Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)||Benson, G.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Blackburn, A. R.||Coldrick, W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Collick, P.|
|Allighan, Garry||Blyton, W. R.||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Boothby, R.||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Bottomley, A. G.||Cook, T. F.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bowles, F. G.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.|
|Austin, H. L.||Braddock, Mrs, E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, George (Belper)||Cove, W. G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Davies, A. E. (Burslem)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Barton, C.||Burden, T. W.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Battley, J. R.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Diamond, J.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Champion, A. J.||Dobbie, W.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Chater, D.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Levy, Lt. B. W.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Sargood, R.|
|Dye, S.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lindgren, G. S.||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Longden, F.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McAdam, W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Farthing, W. J.||McAllister, G.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McEntee, V. La T.||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)|
|Follick, M.||Mack, J. D.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Foot, M. M.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||McLeavy, F.||Solley, L. J.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||MacMillan, M. K.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibson, C. W.||McNeil, H.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Glanville, J. E.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Steele, T.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Stewart, Capt. M. (Fulham)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Stokes, R. R.|
|Gould, Mrs. B. Ayrton||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Strachey, J.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Messer, F.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Grierson, E.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Guy, W. H.||Morley, R.||Thomas, J. R. (Dover)|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thomas George (Cardiff)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Moyle, A.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. G. R. (E'b'gh, E.)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Nally, W.||Tomlinson. Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Haworth, J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Walkden, E.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Walker, G. H. (Rossendale)|
|Hicks, G.||Oliver, G. H.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Orbach, M.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Holman, P.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|House, G.||Pargiter, G. A.||Whittaker, J. E.|
|Hoy, J.||Parker, J.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hubbard, T.||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Perrins, W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Janner, B.||Piratin, P.||Willis, E.|
|Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Pritt, D. N.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Pryde, D. J.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Randall, H. E.||Yates, V. F.|
|Jones, Maj. F. E. (Plaistow)||Ranger, J.||Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Reeves, J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jones, Maj. P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Keenan, W.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Lawson, Rt Hon. J. J.||Robens, A.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and Mr. Simmons.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Maude, J. C.|
|Aitken, Gp. Capt. The Hon. M.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.||Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Morris, R. H. (Carmarthen)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Harris, H. Wilson||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Bowen, Capt. R.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nevens-Spence, Major Sir B.|
|Bower, N.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Nicholson, G.|
|Boyd Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Nield, B.|
|Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Howard, The Hon. A.||Nutting, A.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Carson, E.||Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Challen, Flt-Lieut. C.||Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)||Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. The Hn. L. W.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Cooper-Key, Maj. E. M.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Renton, Maj. D.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. J. R.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Linstead, H. N.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. (P'b'ke)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lucas, Maj. Sir J.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. O.|
|Digby, Maj. S. Wingfield||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Studholme, Maj. H. G.|
|Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A. A. H.||Touche, G. C.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Foster, Brig. J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Vane, Lt.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Wakefield, Sir W. W.||Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.|
|Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.||White, Maj. J. B. (Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Ward, Group-Capt. The Hon. G. R.||Williams, C. (Torquay)||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and Mr. Drewe.|
|Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie||Williams, Lt.-Cdr. G. W. (T'nbr'ge)|
|Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.