HC Deb 10 July 1946 vol 425 cc461-2

Lords Amendment: In page 40, line 25, at beginning, insert: the organisation and conduct of the operations in which such persons are employed and.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Gaitskell

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is consequential on an earlier Amendment.

Major Roberts

I do not feel that this is consequential. I think it is the second half of something, but certainly not consequential. What it says, in point of fact, is that consultation shall take place for particular purposes, and I feel that that is far more than consequential, and that it is even dangerous. I am frightened that it is flying a false flag. I have felt all along that merely to have consultations is, in itself, no safeguard whatsoever to the people whom this purports to safeguard. The consultations themselves may lead nowhere at all; they may be postponed or put off. I am disturbed that, by putting in these words, we shall be giving a very false impression, unless the Parliamentary Secretary is prepared to give us some explanation, possibly to the miners' leaders and to the miners in the country, because it is no good putting in that consultations shall take place if, in point of fact, consultations are postponed or put up. We know there have been consultations with reference to a five-day week and that certain members of the mining community have pressed for it, as well as certain forward-looking managements. The Minister may not like it, but this is one concrete example of where consultations lead to very little. I am alarmed that these words will lead to a false state of complacency on the part of those people who are being attacked. One knows of the consultations which took place with Mr. Joseph Hall in South Yorkshire about Wentworth Woodhouse. [Laughter.] Nothing happened. and the steamroller of State——

Colonel Wigg (Dudley)

On a point of Order. The hon. and gallant Member has referred to the five-day week and Wentworth Woodhouse, which have nothing to do with this matter.

Mr. Speaker

I think it was an illustration. I was listening to the argument carefully.

Major Roberts

I was referring to cooperation between the trade unions, the mine workers and the Coal Board. All this says is that consultation shall take place, and the instance which I am giving is one where consultations have taken place but where, nevertheless, the steamroller of nationalisation has pushed the people aside. Unless we can have some explanation, I think these words had better be left out.

Mr. Gaitskell

I must confess to astonishment at what the hon. and gallant Member has said. I understood the party opposite to be rather proud of this particular Amendment in the form in which it was moved to Clause 1. I think the right hon. Gentleman spoke in glowing terms of the noble Lord who had moved it in another place. It is, of course, a corollary to putting it into Clause 1, which we have already done. Perhaps I might remind the House exactly what it says: The policy of the Board shall be directed to securing, consistently with the proper discharge of their duties under Sub-section (1) of this Section, the benefit of the practical knowledge and experience of such persons in the organisation and conduct of the operations in which they are employed. That is perfectly satisfactory. What I would term the consultation Clause, I must add, was put in specifically at the suggestion of hon. Members opposite, who, I think, were rightly proud of having raised it in the House. Why, then, the hon. Member should object to consultation on this additional point, I cannot imagine.