HC Deb 13 May 1946 vol 422 cc1559-644

  1. (1) The Minister shall by order constitute two Councils to be called respectively Industrial Consumers' Councils and Domestic Consumers' Councils for each of such areas as he may determine for the performance of the duties imposed upon such Councils by this section.
  2. (2) The chairman of each such Council shall be a barrister or solicitor of not less than seven years' standing, and shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
  3. (3) Each such Council shall consist of six members in addition to the chairman and such members shall be appointed by the Minister—
    1. in the case of the Industrial Consumers' Council after consultation with and so as to ensure that there shall be one representative of the Board and one representative of each of the following interests operating within the area of the Council, namely consumers of coal for industrial purposes, consumers of coal for the production of gas, consumers of coal for the production of electricity, the railway companies, and persons engaged in organising or effecting the sale or supply of coal for these purposes;
    2. in the case of the Domestic Consumers' Council, after consultation with and so as to ensure that there shall be one representative of the Board and one representative of the administrative counties within the area of the Council, and one representative of the county borough councils within the area of the Council, one representative of persons engaged in organising or effecting the sale or supply of coal or coke for domestic purposes, and two persons appearing to the Minister to represent the interests of consumers of coal and coke for domestic purposes.
  4. (4) The chairman of each Council shall be appointed for a term of seven years and shall be eligible for re-appointment, and the remaining members shall be appointed for three years provided that of the original members two shall retire on the first anniversary of the constitution of the Council, and two shall retire on the second anniversary of that day. The Minister shall make regulations as to the quorum proceedings, meetings, determinations and other matters of the Councils, including the execution and proof of documents.
  5. (5) The duties of each of the Councils constituted under this Section shall be as follows:—
    1. to consider any questions relating to the sale or supply of coal and, in the case of domestic consumers' councils, of coke, which may be referred to the Council by the Minister;
    2. (b) to receive and consider representations from any quarter with respect to the price, quality, quantity and the method and date of delivery of coal, and in the case of the domestic consumers' councils, of coke, by the Board or by or to persons engaged in organising and effecting the supply of coal or of coke, and in particular to consider any 1560 allegations of discriminatory treatment between consumers or classes of consumers;
    3. (c) when the council have considered any such questions or representations as aforesaid they shall report to the Minister upon their conclusions and make such recommendations to the Minister in connection with those conclusions as they think expedient;
    4. (d) to make representations to the Minister upon any matters within paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Subsection if it appears to them to be expedient in the public interest so to do whether or not any questions have been referred or any representations made to them.
  6. (6) On the notification or making to the Minister by any of the said councils of their conclusions or report on any matter, if it appears to him, after consultation with the Board, that a defect is disclosed in the Board's general arrangements for the production, sale or supply of coal, he may give to the Board such directions as he may think requisite for remedying the defect, and the Board shall give effect to any such directions.
  7. (7) The said councils shall be furnished by the Minister with such accommodation and such clerks, officers and staff as appear to him, with the concurrence of the Treasury as to numbers, to be requisite for the proper discharge of their functions and the Minister shall pay to the members of the said councils such allowances and to the clerks, officers and staff of the said councils such remuneration and allowances as he may, with the approval of the Treasury, determine and shall pay such expenses incurred by the said councils as he may so determine.
  8. (8) Each of the said councils shall make an annual report to the Minister of their proceedings and the Minister shall cause the same to be printed and laid before each House of Parliament, together with a statement of any action which has been taken by him in consequence of any recommendations submitted by the council during the period to which the report relates.—[Captain Crookshank.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second lime."

If the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) was considered hysteria, I suppose the Attorney-General will consider what I have to say as hopelessly reckless, because I am about to offer some observations on behalf of consumers who under this legislation are most likely going to be in a very difficult position. We offer a new Clause to take the place of Clause 4 in the Bill as reported from the Committee. It seems to me that three major interests will be concerned with this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. First, there are the existing owners, who are going to be concerned to the extent of disappearing altogether Secondly, there are the miners who are in dwindling numbers, but, nevertheless, will be still with us for a considerable time to come, and who get very little out of the Bill. It is still most obscure why the ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry, the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. William Foster) resigned but we all suspect that it had something to do with the Bill until someone tells us to the contrary, possibly the hon. Member himself. Thirdly, there are the consumers who are affected for all time one way or another.

It has been very difficult for us who do not believe in this national ownership business, to envisage exactly what is to be the position of the ordinary consumer of coal industrially or domestically when it comes to making complaints. We thought it would have been up to the Government and the supporters of the Bill to explain first to the Committee, then to the House, and then to the nation, exactly what is to be the new status vis-à-vis the management of the industry, and whether it is in fact more the Minister or more the National Board. What is to be the status of the consumer towards the management? How will people get their complaints rectified and what are they to do if they are in difficulties, either industrially or domestically, about the quality or quantity of the coal which they purchase? The Minister, of course, attempted to deal with this problem in Clause 4 of the Bill. We thought he did not do it satisfactorily. It is obvious to ask what is the position at present. We can take, for example, any industry or an ordinary domestic consumer. If one orders coal from a certain firm—a retail firm in the latter case or a colliery or group of collieries in the former—if for one reason or another the quality changes and causes dissatisfaction, under the normal working of free enterprise one changes one's order and places it somewhere else. If it is not satisfactory one can go somewhere else until satisfaction is secured. That was the practice in the past. What we have not been able to get out of the Minister is an answer to the question, "What is to happen in the future in the case of dissatisfaction?" Perhaps the new Minister has views on that subject.

We had discussion in the Committee about rm ordinary constituent. A widow in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) was made the target. The question was what she was to do when she got the kind of coal from her retailer which she did not like. We do not know. It is assumed that under this new national ownership there will be great powers in the Board, and possibly in their local agencies, enabling them to compel the coal consumers to take what is offered and to prohibit them from going elsewhere. We have difficulties of that kind in the food system which we have at present. It is not easy to change one's retailer. To meet this, the Minister put up a Board and two consumers' councils for the whole nation, one industrial and one domestic We do not believe that is the right way to deal with this matter If we were successful the Minister's proposals would disappear. I would like the Committee to look at our proposals in the light of those in the Bill which we reject.

The Minister says there shall be two consumers' councils, one industrial and one domestic. Each of the said councils shall have such members as the Minister thinks fit—no set number—appointed by him to represent the Board. In addition, on the industrial side there will be members whom he would appoint after consulting bodies representative of consumers of coal for industrial purposes and, on the domestic side, after consultation with bodies representing the domestic consumers' interest. Those are the two councils. They are nation wide, indeterminate in number of members. Representatives of the Board are to be on them as well as other persons unspecified representing the users, whether industrial or domestic. Their function should be to consider any matter affecting the- supply and sale of coal which forms the subject of representations made by consumers of coal or any matters which they think they ought to consider. Having done that, if any action appears to be necessary, it would be incumbent upon the councils to notify their conclusions to the Minister. Thereafter, if it appears to the Minister after consultation with the Board that there is a defect in the Board's general arrangements for the production, sale or supply of coal, then the Minister may give the Board any directions that he thinks fit to remedy the defects. That is the layout. It seems curiously remote from the ordinary industrial undertakings and the ordinary domestic consumer. The late lamented Parliamentary Secretary, in one of the few speeches he made on the Committee stage, addressed himself to this proposal. The thought struck some of us, at least, that he said very odd things. We had been arguing that this layout in the Bill was not really a very great safeguard or protection for the industrial or domestic consumer from the new State monopoly. Then the Parliamentary Secretary blandly announced that these councils were not being set up for that purpose. They were not meant to be protection or safeguard from the monopoly. What was intended was that instead the new councils were to work with the Board on a basis of cooperation. The Parliamentary Secretary's remarks will be found in columns 303 and 304 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee. He thought the fear of hon. Members, which was quite baseless, was: …a State monopoly will not run any industry in the interests of the community, but will exploit certain interests in the community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 27th February, 1946; c. 304.] Those were our fears. He said that could not happen because the councils will represent the public interest and the Board is charged to carry on and run this industry in the public interest. Of course, all that is quite true but it is very "highfalutin'" and high minded and very much above the level of the complaints which individuals will be found to have.

What do we suggest instead of this layout of the Minister's? We suggest that instead of having only two councils, one domestic and one industrial, the Minister should set up two councils, not for the whole nation, but in any area that he may designate for the purpose. We give the Minister power to do this because he seems to be the right person to do it. He might designate 10, 15, or 50 areas —I do not know—according to what he decides in his wisdom. We grant him wisdom, on paper, anyhow, for the purpose of legislation and because we know he will have successors. We leave it to the Minister to determine the areas in which he would set up industrial and domestic councils. We stick to the same nomenclature, and, indeed, to very much the same functions, but we ask that there should be statutory bodies everywhere to bring the thing nearer the people than is possible with the one national consumer council. The Minister has powers inherent in his office and certainly in the Bill to set up advisory bodies. During the Committee stage he said it would be easy for him to set up subordinate advisory bodies. We want regular statutory bodies. That is why we have cast the new Clause in this form. We try to lay down the number a little more specifically. I am quite sure the learned Attorney-General will appreciate this point. We say that the chairmen of these bodies should be legal people. In our experience that is the most satisfactory arrangement. The learned Attorney-General himself has been chairman of the Catering Committee, a position which he occupied all the better for being a legal luminary. That is what I understand from his colleagues who were pleased to serve under him. It is phrased in the common form: The Chairman of each such Council shall be a barrister or solicitor of not less than seven years' standing, and shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor. 7.15 p.m.

With regard to membership, we say that in the case of the industrial consumers' councils there should be a representative of the Board, and then representatives of what seem to us to be the big five, so to speak, of the industrial consumers. They are representatives of consumers of coal for industrial purposes, for the production of gas, electricity, the railway companies, and somebody concerned with sale or supply. On the domestic side we bring it rather more into the local authority's sphere. Obviously, the representatives could be either men or women. The corresponding personnel of the domestic consumers' councils should be the representative of the Board, as before, and then one representative of the administrative counties within the area, one representative of the county borough councils within the area, someone concerned with the supply or sale, and two others whom the Minister considers representative of actual users of domestic coal. It may be that the Minister can think of somebody who ought to be consulted who is better fitted than the people we propose. In that case, we would not quarrel with him. We want to persuade the Minister to define in the Bill the kind of representa- tives which these councils should have, bearing in mind that we do not want just one national industrial and one national domestic consumers' council. We want the pair of them in the various areas to be settled by the Minister.

We think it is important that these Councils, when established, should have some security of tenure. In the Bill there is nothing about that, and that is why we say that the chairman should be appointed for a term of seven years and should be eligible for reappointment, together with the proviso, which is common in such Bills, that some members should retire. Further, we provide that the duties of the councils in each of these areas, designated by the Minister, should be to consider any questions relating to the sale or supply of coal and, in the case of domestic consumers' councils, of coke, which may be referred to the Council by the Minister; Nobody, I presume, would quarrel with that. Then— to receive and consider representations from any quarter with respect to the price, quality, quantity and the method and date of delivery of coal, and in the case of the domestic consumers' councils, of coke, There cannot be anything wrong with that. Then, and we think this very important— to consider any allegations of discriminatory treatment between consumers or classes of consumers; We bring that in here because the Minister in the Committee was not very satisfactory on the subject of discrimination. The right hon. Gentleman looks surprised, but he really was not, because he said something with which we found it difficult to agree. He said the discrimination might be required. Here we are talking about consumers of the same class, which is rather a technical matter when it comes to the provision of fuel for industry, and the Minister said: I want the Board to differentiate where it is essential to do so." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C; 13th February, 1946; C. 79.]

It may be that it will have to discriminate, but, if it does, it would be just as well that allegations of unfair and improper discrimination should be made somewhere, and we think that a council of the nature we describe is the right place in the first instance. I know all about how, in the long run, they may come to Parliament, but, surely, hon. Gentlemen opposite did not really want the whole of the business of Parliament at Question time to be matters of individual coal consumers' difficulties, or even the coal difficulties of different industries? We all recognise that Parliament is the final court of appeal for every citizen of this country from every administrative act, but we do think there is need for the exercise of some common sense, otherwise our correspondence and the Order Paper of the House of Commons would be something awful.

Then we suggest that the council, after consideration, should report to the Minister and make such recommendations as they think necessary in the public interest on such matters as might come within their knowledge and purview within the exercise of their duties as a council. If there is a defect, we leave it, as the Minister does, so that he shall have power to give directions that it should be remedied. The question of staff we leave, as the Minister does, but we make one further proviso that is not in the Bill. I hope hon. Members opposite will not light-heartedly vote against the new Clause, although I daresay they will, because there is no sign of agreement with it, so far, although I hope the Minister may yet say he will accept it. There is nothing inherently wrong with it. We are fighting here a very important battle for the consumers. It is important because this is the first occasion—it may be the last—on which the State is taking over under national ownership a productive industry. That is why we must get these matters of principle settled, as far as we can, right at the start.

The final proviso is that each of these councils—I do not know how many there will be of each, and I leave that to the Minister to decide—should make an annual report to the Minister of their proceedings, and that the Minister should cause it to be printed and laid before Parliament, together with a statement of what he has done as a result of their recommendations. There is nothing very terrible in that. Indeed, the Minister did, in fact, find it most difficult to explain away, because, since this Bill was introduced- the Government has produced another Bill—the name of the right hon Gentleman is not on it—dealing with civil aviation. I am not going to discuss it, but merely point out that the Government set up under the Bill a body called the Air Transport Advisory Council. That body is the one which is to consider—and this has some relevance to what I have been saying—any question relating to facilities for air transport or relating to the charges for such facilities. It is not the same thing as coal prices, I agree, but it has, in that sphere, something to do with it, and that council has to make an annual report to the Minister of Civil Aviation on its proceedings. We have just lifted that little Clause out of the other Bill and put it into our new Clause, because it is, in this very limited sphere, in a Bill of which we do not approve, exactly what we want.

Mr. Shinwell:

No, because there is only one council.

Captain Crookshank:

Well, is the Minister prepared to give us his one council?

Mr. Shinwell:

No, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is trying to found his case on something that appears in another Government Bill. That is what I understand he is doing. He has been arguing for a number of regional consumers' councils. The Air Transport Advisory Council is the only council to be set up under that Bill.

Captain Crookshank:

That is really no argument at all. But for the recklessness of which I was accused by the Attorney-General, I should have put my speech into words of one syllable and at dictation speed. I am not relying on anything in the Civil Aviation Bill, except to say that, in that case, the Government are setting up a council and that they are making it mandatory on that council to make annual reports to the Minister of their proceedings, which the Minister will lay before Parliament and inform Parliament what action has been taken. That is the only bit I have taken out of that Bill, and it is just as related to my case whether there is only one or there are fifty councils, my case being that there should be a report to Parliament. If the Minister defeats our new Clause, will he give us the one in the Bill, because that would help?

Mr. Shinwell:

There is no need for it

Captain Crookshank:

No need for it? Is the argument that it would be quite unnecessary that Parliament should be informed what the consumers' councils are doing about the kind of representations made to them and the action they take on them? Really, I think the right hon. Gentleman disregards this House even more than I had feared. It seems to me that the Government are going into this great national monopoly and are not going to make any provision for informing Parliament about what is done by these two councils in the Bill and the x number of councils in our proposal as regards rectifying grievances concerning industrial or domestic consumers. If the right hon. Gentleman is not to inform Parliament about that, indeed, he is setting up an authority which is going to work in secret and which is going to throw back exactly what I am told we may in the long run see—more pressure, more work, more inquiries and Parliamentary Questions to Ministers and the Government at all times on matters of small detail which should not come here if the. organisation is right. I agree that the Minister, like all Ministers, is bound to have a, parental feeling for the words in the Bill, and, no doubt, he has been advised by those who drew it up that this is the best possible form of doing it, but I ask him to realise that, on this matter, there is a great deal in what we say—that it will be overloading the machine if only one industrial council and one domestic council should deal with the heap of difficult points that are bound to arise from the consumers' point of view.

I am not saying that the plan in our new Clause is going to alter that. There will be complaints and difficulties. but, surely, they will be handled in a more businesslike way by these two parallel councils in each area than by the national council proposed in the Bill and nothing in between, except that the Minister can receive complaints from Members of Parliament. I do not think that is a workable idea. We feel that there is a gap in the Bill and that the whole position of the consumer and purchaser of coal in this great State monopoly has not been adequately dealt with. It is no good the Minister saying that we have not thought it out. We do not think this is a good plan. It is, as the Lord President said while in the United States, a case for the nationalisers to make out their case. It is for those hon. Gentlemen who have been talking about it for years and are now putting it into legislation to explain their views on the position of the consumer. So far, they have not done so, and I do not believe that they have any views. They have put in this common form Clause about a consumers' council because it had been done in some other legislation of far less importance than this.

I ask the Minister, whether he accepts our Clause or not, to be very receptive to the suggestion that he should amend his own Clause. as he still has the opportunity, to make certain that there will be Parliamentary reports, whether there is one or whether there are 20 or 50 councils, to say what they have done, in each area, in regard to the consideration they have given and the recommendations they have made on the questions that came before them.

I ask him at least to do that. I shall be interested to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say in reply. I hope the Minister will take back some of the things he said in the Committee and will accept this new Clause which is, at least, an improved safeguard for the consumers whom we all represent. When all is said and done and whatever their political views may be, we here represent every consumer whether Conservative, Liberal, Labour, Independent or whatever else they may be in our own constituencies. Their interests are all the same on a problem of this kind. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to be adamant. He has accepted a number of small Amendments so far. I trust he will accept this new Clause which is of some magnitude and importance.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Niǵel Birch (Flint):

I rise to support the remarks made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). During the Committee stage of this Bill, my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) described the councils as set out in the Bill as so much "eyewash", and he was most certainly right. What we are trying to do here is to put that situation right. It all ties up with a question asked by the former Parliamentary Secretary when he was discussing this matter upstairs. He asked how an organisation which is running an industry for the public interest, could exploit anybody. l t is quite clear that the Minister considered that remark "reckless and hysterical," and that may be why the change has been made. It is clear that he does not agree with that. If he agrees that it is not possible for a State monopoly to exploit the consumer, he must also agree with all the demands made by the miners. But he has, quite rightly, not done so. In the past, miners have been under-privileged but they should not now be in a position to hold up the country to ransom. To prevent that happening, the Minister will need all the assistance he can get, and the main assistance will be public opinion. Public opinion should be mobilised through proper councils in which people can have confidence. What will give them confidence is full publicity. As far as I can see, there is no provision whatever in the Bill for full publicity for the proceedings of these councils and I hope we can have an absolute assurance that neither council will be prevented by the Minister from publishing anything if they think it should be published. We want an assurance that they will not be muzzled. Our proposal ensures a proper report to Parliament and proper publicity of all they do.

The next point about the councils is that they must have some authority and must inspire some confidence. The way to do that is, first, to give some security of tenure and independence to the people serving on them and, secondly—and this is very important—some representative character. As the right hon. Gentleman will see, we have put in our new Clause that there shall be certain representatives of county councils and county boroughs, thus bringing in the representative principle, especially on the consumers' side. I believe that if we can be assured that these councils will give publicity to their findings, that they will be representative, that they will consist of men of standing, independent of the Ministry, and that they will be able to rally public opinion behind justice, that that is what we want —and that is what the Minister may in future find himself very much in need of. At the moment, I do not see how the Clause in the Bill can give anybody any confidence. The words continually occur "as the Minister sees fit." Everything—how many people there are, who they are, and when they meet—is governed by "as the Minister sees fit." He may be right or wrong, but unless something is laid down which is independent of his influence and not entirely under his thumb, no one will have any confidence whatever in these councils.

I hope that the new Parliamentary Secretary is going to reply. He was good enough to congratulate me on my maiden speech and, as a simple back bencher, I wish him well. He is admirably suited to play the dove to the Minister's eagle. When he replies, I hope he will give a serious answer to the points raised and will give his genuine opinion on whether people can have any confidence whatever in the Clause in the Bill, and whether he does not think they will have far greater confidence in the new Clause we have presented.

Mr. Hale:

I am grateful to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) for tabling this new Clause. We have come downstairs from nine weeks in Committee in which we were on rather a sticky wicket, but we were batting against time. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough had an entertaining time bowling his insidious lobs which added a great deal to the game. If I may change my metaphor—otherwise I shall get out of my depths soon—we saw the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) pass from incredulity to amazement, and saw his astonishment at the Clauses put forward. He found himself in a mass of words which, with his customary modesty, he said he could not understand. His brow wrinkled in incredulous astonishment and he hardly knew what we were doing.

Captain Crookshank:

Is the hon. Gentleman describing his mental attitude on the Amendment which we discussed an hour ago?

Mr. Hale:

I am telling the Committee of my attitude on the new Clause which has been tabled today. In the course of the proceedings on this Bill we have been told that we are establishing a bureaucracy and that we are spending public money. This is the first opportunity we have had of considering a new Clause tabled by the Conservative Party and it is worth our while to consider it in detail. In the first instance, I will refer to Subsection (1) to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough attaches such importance. He says that we should have not two councils for the whole country, but X number of councils in any number of regions designated by the Minister. It is amazing that he proposes to leave that power to the Minister. May I respectfully point out that his Clause does not achieve that object, because the wording is that the Minister shall constitute councils for such areas as he may determine? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has made no reference to the extraordinary cost of the many tribunals which he is about to set up, not merely for the coal industry, but presumably, for other industries which are to be nationalised undertakings, to the staffs that will have to be kept, and so on. I think it is time to consider how it is proposed that these councils should work. I have sometimes had a little sympathy with the Opposition who say that things are being left to regulation and not being put in the Bill. The Clause in the Bill which it is suggested should be omitted in favour of the proposed new Clause is a particularly modest Clause. In it the Minister takes no power to make regulations except on the limited basis set out in Clause 2 (7), in other words, regulating as to the appointment of members of the board, the proceedings and meetings and the execution of instruments. What is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's substitute for that? He says: The Minister shall make regulations as to the quorum proceedings, meetings, determinations and other matters of the councils, including the execution and proof of documents.

I can imagine what would have happened about the words "and other matters" had we proposed them. I can imagine the right hon. and gallant Gentleman rising with real astonishment and saying: "What are 'other matters?' Those words mean the Minister can make regulations about any matter affecting the Bill." Then we come to the provision to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman paid special attention, dealing with the power of the two councils to consider "any matters." That again is not the intention. Subsection (5, d) of the proposed new Clause says: to make representations to the Minister upon any matters within paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection. But paragraph (a) of the Subsection refers exclusively to matters which may be referred to the council by the Minister. Paragraph (b) of the Subsection refers to representations from any quarter Apparently, a local council may consider representations concerning our coal export policy, from the Free Church Council, from General Franco or from any body in any part of the world who cares to send a letter to the council so constituted, and this matter shall be considered by the council, reported to the Minister, reported to Parliament, brought forward in a White Paper and made the subject of debate. If that is not bureaucracy gone mad, I do not know what is, and I hope the Committee will waste little time in rejecting this proposed new Clause.

Major Lloyd Georǵe (Pembroke):

I am sorry the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) appealed to the Committee not to waste any time on this proposed new Clause, because I do not think anybody in any quarter of the Committee can suggest that this is not a matter of vital importance to the people of this country. There is no hon. Member, to whatever party he may belong, who does not think it right that the consumers of fuel in this country should be amply protected. I think the Minister himself agrees that there should be protection for the consumers, otherwise he would not have put his own Clause into the Bill. Clause is put in the Bill, presumably, for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of the consumers. I am supporting the proposed new Clause because I do not think the provisions now in the Bill give the consumers any protection at all. While I am not wedded to all the words in the proposed new Clause, I think it goes much nearer to getting protection for the consumers than the existing Clause.

There are two types of consumer referred to—domestic and industrial. We are all agreed that the domestic consumer certainly deserves protection, because in so many cases he is not organised in the way that other consumers are. So far as industrial consumers are concerned, it is equally vital that they should also have protection because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, consumers on the industrial level have in the past, to the great advantage of the country, and at very large expense to themselves, installed fuel consuming appliances to burn particular types of fuel. In many cases they have put in appliances to burn fuel which, before those appliances were installed, could not be burned at all. In that way they have assisted in securing what we all desire, the best use of the fuel resources of the country. It is very important that they should be enabled to receive the quality of coal for which their particular appliances have been adapted, at the price which they had in mind when they incurred this expenditure, because it would have a tremendous effect on the costing of whatever commodity they are responsible for.

7.45 P.m.

During the war when I was the responsible Minister, many complaints were directed to my Ministry, both from the domestic and industrial sides, as to quality and consequently as to price. But there were then difficulties, of which hon. Members will be well aware, which made it impossible for the particular qualities to which certain people had been accustomed, to he provided for those people or concerns. In particular, the question of transport in wartime made it impossible to give the same elasticity of delivery to concerns all over the country, and the difficulty with regard to labour, and screens in particular, undoubtedly led to a certain deterioration in coal. It was unavoidable because of the difficulty of blackout and the scarcity of labour. That was in war. One is entitled to expect those conditions to right themselves in normal circumstances as peace conditions return, as my right hon. Friend said. In other words if a colliery which one expected to supply could not deliver, one went to other collieries until one was satisfied. But under this Bill there will be only one supplier of coal. We know today that very strong exception is taken to attempts to change suppliers unless very good reasons indeed are given. Therefore, because ordinary methods will not be possible after this Bill becomes law, it is more than ever important that the consumers should be amply protected.

The Minister obviously appreciates that, because, in fact, he has inserted in the Bill a Clause which is designed to protect the consumer. Therefore, there is nothing between us on that. Where we part is on the question of whether that Clause, in effect, gives any protection to the consumer at all. I have no hesitation in saying that that Clause is what the Minister himself said in Committee upstairs was, in his experience of some consumers' councils, a sham.

Mr. Shinwell:

I said this proposed new Clause was a sham.

Major Lloyd Georǵe:

No, the right hon. Gentleman said that, in his experience, many consumers' councils were a sham. I say the Clause in the Bill is a complete sham from beginning to end. Let us see what the Minister can do under the Clause. This council, having been appointed, the members must consider certain questions concerning the supply and quality of coal. Where action appears to them to be requisite, it is the council's duty to notify their conclusions to the Minister. That is the first action they have to take. In fact, I think it is their only action. I am now referring to Clause 4 (3, a). We then come to the Minister's part in Subsection (5) of the same Clause, and it is rather interesting to observe——

The Chairman (Major Milner):

I must point out that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to refer to Clause 4 only for the purpose of explaining the proposed new Clause.

Major Lloyd Georǵe:

I fully appreciate that, Major Milner, but the reason why we are introducing this new Clause is because the existing Clause which covers consumers does not, in fact, give the Minister the authority which we think he ought to have, neither does it give the requisite power to the consumers' councils. I was going to refer to what I said was a sham. The reason why the new Clause has been submitted is because the original Clause does not do what is necessary. I will not go into detail, but I would point out that the original Clause in the Bill, says the Minister, may give… such directions as he may think requisite. There are so many qualifications that 1 think there is no question at all that nothing can really be done. To show that this Clause is really only a sham, I would point out that the powers already in existence in previous Clauses give the Minister full power to give directions to the Board in the exercise of their functions, which are of a wide type Therefore, the Minister already has the powers. I am confirmed in my view that Clause in the Bill is purely a facade an I will not, in fact, give the consumers the protection which everybody wishes them to have. I am not in the least concerned whether there should be regional councils or a central council. My own view with regard to the whole set up is that the regions are more important than the central authority. am certain that that is so, as far as the obtaining of coal is concerned at any rate. The councils that matter are the regional ones. Therefore, I am not particularly tied as to whether there are regional councils or a central council. One thing about which I am concerned—I think the most important part of this proposed new Clause —is that the report should be laid before Parliament. My right hon. and gallant Friend referred to questions coming to the Minister and so on. In my judgment the only consumers' councils worth having in this country are the Houses of Parliament.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Gaitskell):

In that case, why has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman supported the new Clause?

Major Lloyd Georǵe:

Because it says that Parliament should have the report laid before it. I believe it would make a greater contribution if we had the facts presented from this body and not merely from one individual, as we should get them, of course, in the ordinary course of events, when all we can do is to put down a Question. But if we have a report from a body which is representative of industrial consumers and from a body that has knowledge of all domestic consumers, then, at least, we shall be in a position to judge whether the industrial and domestic consumers of this country really have cause for complaint or not, and whether the new arrangement, which the Minister has set up as a great experiment, is going along the right lines. As far as I can understand, the sole purpose of changing the ownership of this industry is for the national advantage. Therefore, as we are the national representatives here, we shall be able to do our duty far better if everything we ought to know about this industry, in its new set-up, is made available. As this proposed new Clause sets forth a suggestion of which I particularly approve, that a report should be laid before Parliament, I support it.

Mr. Gaitskell:

Before turning my attention to the proposed new Clause, may I express my appreciation of the courtesy shown by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) earlier this afternoon. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) described me as a "dove." I am not sure that that is entirely appropriate at all times. I am not sure that, so far as my home life is concerned, my family would quite take that view. As far as the present moment is concerned, I certainly am dovelike; to the extent of feeling very timid. Therefore, I hope the kindly spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman made his remarks earlier this afternoon will be continued during my speech.

On this side of the Committee we welcome the spirit which animates the proposed new Clause. We are delighted to see that the Conservative Party are so concerned about the position of consumers. It is certainly somewhat of a change. I do not want to rake over the past, but it is somewhat of a change from what happened before the war. During all those long years when the Conservative Government were in office I do not recall a single Measure which in any way attempted to protect consumers, not merely from nationalised undertakings, of which, after all, there are very few, but from the much more helpless position in which they find themselves when facing private monopolies.

Colonel Clarke:

Does the hon. Gentleman remember that after the Coal Mines Act, 1930, committees of investigation were set up for this very purpose? I do not remember them having been an outstanding success, but that was definitely done, and done by the party on this side of the Committee.

Mr. Gaitskell:

The hon. and gallant Member has answered his own point: they were not an outstanding success. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd-George) would agree that they were nothing much more than a sham.

Colonel Clarke:

That is why we are so afraid of what is to be set up now.

Mr. Gaitskell:

We are only too delighted to find the new spirit which animates the benches opposite.

Colonel Clarke:


Mr. Gaitskell:

I must emphasise at the start that we believe there is an important difference between the position of consumers facing private monopolies and those facing a Government undertaking. In the case of the private monopoly, after all, the motive behind that is the maximisation of profits. There is no argument about that. The maximisation of profits unquestionably may lead—I do not say it will in all circumstances—such a private monopoly to exploit consumers in the most ruthless fashion. In the case of a public undertaking such as the National Coal Board, that is not the case at all. The Board will not be activated by the same motive. It is not asked to try to make the largest possible profit. It is certainly asked to cover its costs, but it is asked at the same time to act in the public interest. If it were not so to act, then there is my right hon. Friend behind me ready to step in to see that it does so act. Therefore, we cannot suppose that the gentlemen who have already been appointed to this Board will behave in the same way as a private monopoly.

We realise however that there may be a remote danger that in certain circumstances the consumers' interests would be not so fully regarded as they should be. It is for that reason, of course, that these safeguards have been introduced into the Bill. What are the safeguards? In the first place there are the councils, and the councils may influence the Minister to intervene very directly. We had the Amendment introduced during the Committee stage—I might be out of Order if I were to read it, but perhaps I might mention it—on Clause 4 (5). Then we have the Minister's power under the earlier Clause to issue directions to the Board. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pembroke referred to that as a reason why the whole thing was a sham. Surely it is an additional safeguard; it is not a sham at all. Finally, as is surely clear, we have the right to raise questions in Parliament; incidentally, a right which would not exist if it were not for the nationalisation of the industry, and if it were not a public undertaking. I am anxious to try to explain our point of view in this, and, therefore, I would like to say what we think the position of the consumers will be under this Bill.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) made some play with the obscurity surrounding the position of the consumers. One cannot put everything into an Act of Parliament, of course, but I do not think there is really any great difficulty about the matter. In the first place, the vast majority of complaints which the consumers have will be dealt with directly by the Board itself. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to suppose that in the case of an industrial undertaking no complaints were made to the undertaking. Of course they are, and all the minor matters will go that way., At the present moment hon. Members on all sides of the Committee have received comments and complaints, probably about the scarcity of coal, and complaints about unfair distribution. We realise that coal has been scarce this winter. However, that is in a very abnormal situation, and that is why they come to the Government, to Members of Parliament, because they cannot get satisfaction directly through their own suppliers. Normally, they would go to their suppliers in the first instance. Therefore, the basic mistake, if I may so describe it, which underlies the new Clause is the idea that the Board itself will entirely ignore the consumer, that there will be no possibility of consumers coming and complaining to the agents of the Board. That is completely wrong.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Cooper (Middlesbrough, West):

On a point of Order. May we have some light, or soon we shall not be able to see whether there is any Opposition or not?

Mr. Gaitskell:

I turn very briefly to some of the points in the new Clause itself. It sets out a number of ways in which these councils should work, and I will deal with some of the more important differences between the new Clause and the Clause as drafted in the Bill. First of all, there is the proposal for area councils. My right hon. Friend is not necessarily against some area organisation—he made that clear during the Committee stage of the Bill—but he does feel that it is a mistake to commit ourselves at this stage to a particular form of statutory council for a number of different areas. I have already said that most of the complaints, under the Bill, will naturally be dealt with by the Board itself, but the essence of the councils, surely, will be that they pro- vide, as it were, a channel of appeal to which the aggrieved customer goes if he does not get satisfaction from the board.

This is one type of complaint they will have: Mrs. Jones will complain that her supplier is discriminating against her and favouring Mrs. Brown down the street. The council hears about that, she says she has tried to get redress from the supplier, and the council will proceed to investigate. Incidentally, at this stage, of course, we are dealing with complaints about retail supplies. The councils are entitled to do that, although the retailers may be, and indeed presumably will be for the moment, entirely private and separate from the board. But clearly, if the council were to get a series of complaints about bad distribution in an area, that is just the sort of thing it would take up and would report to the Minister. On the other hand, there may be cases where, the board's representatives being on the council, it is possible to deal with the matter without reference to the Minister. That seems to me to be an excellent element of flexibility in the scheme.

There may, of course, again remain the questions of policy which the council will wish to consider without receiving any complaints, the whole question, for example, of whether there should be a single price charged to consumers within an area, however distant they may be from the pithead or delivery point. That is an interesting question, and a lot is to be said for and against, and that seems to be the kind of general issue which the councils may well consider. There are, therefore, two main types of points which they may refer to the Minister: points arising out of complaints which have not been settled by the Board and, as I say, these major issues of policy which they may take up themselves. I repeat that that does not seem to be any particular reason why we should suppose that an area organisation would be particularly good or useful from this point of view. It may be so; do not let us tie ourselves down to it at this stage.

I turn next to the point about the chairmen. I do not know why hon. and right hon. Members opposite are so enthusiastic about having lawyers on everything. Indeed, I really find it surprising. I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth (Mr. Bracken) would never have supported this for a moment. He cannot possibly have been consulted, because the things he says about lawyers in this House—I will not say they are unprintable, because they are printed, but they are certainly very strong. Why have lawyers? Why should not doctors occasionally be employed? Why should not businessmen occasionally be used for this purpose? This is not a matter of interpreting the law, it is a question of commonsense and good chairmanship, and I suggest, without I hope offending my hon. and learned Friend, that very often good chairmen come from other sources. We see no reason to tie ourselves down in this way, and, as I say, I find it strange that this particular suggestion should have been made.

Let us turn next to the character of the councils. The new Clause seeks to tie us down there as well, in a very precise manner. Take, for instance, the industrial consumers' council, which is to consist of: one representative of the Board and one representative of each of the following interests operating within the area of the Council, namely, consumers of coal for industrial purposes, consumers of coal for the production of gas, consumers of coal for the production of electricity, the railway companies and persons engaged in organising or effecting the sale or supply of coal for those purposes. Have hon. Members opposite considered the significance of their choice? Do they realise that of the four interests to he represented, three are due to be nationalised—gas, electricity and railways? It might well be that the fourth, the representatives of the industrial consumers, would be taken from the steel industry, and we should then have the extraordinary position that on those councils we should have nothing or practically nothing but representatives of nationalised industries. Is that what they want? That is where we get to from this very narrow and rigid approach to the problem, and they would be wise not to tie themselves down too much in advance. After all, they cannot be sure how far the Government will go in their nationalisation programme, and if they were to put down some other industry that, too, might become nationalised.

Even if we take the domestic consumers' council I do not think there is any particular virtue in having one representative of the administrative counties within the area of the council and one representative of the county boroughs. It might not be such an easy task to get the counties and county boroughs to agree on the representative to act for them. We feel, again, that these are not matters on which we want to be too precise, so that if we wished to change we should have to have new legislation. It is very much the same with the other details, details of the appointments, for example. No doubt hon. Members opposite are concerned to get the best possible people to serve on these councils, and there we should entirely agree with them, but it is not necessarily the best way to go about it to say that they must serve for five years. There are all sorts of people who would prefer not to be tied down, and indeed, it is very unusual—I think I am right in saying so—to tie down members of these voluntary advisory bodies to rigid terms of service as if they formed a contract of employment.

Finally, as regards the relations with the Minister, there seems to be another really rather ridiculously rash proposal in the new Clause. In Subsection (5), paragraph (c) it is stated: When the council have considered any such questions or representations as aforesaid they shall report to the Minister upon their conclusions… That is, for every single complaint that comes to them they have to report to the Minister about it. Could anything be more absurd? Of course, it is quite unnecessary. The whole idea of the thing is that most of them shall be settled with the representative of the board sitting there. We do not want everything to go to the Minister—I do not think my right hon. Friend does anyway—and I do not see that there would be any great advantage in having every single detail sent forward.

We feel that although no doubt the intentions behind the new Clause are really harmless, and indeed creditable to hon. Members opposite, they have not quite seen the disadvantages of the method of approach which they propose. Frankly, we do not feel that the new Clause as it stands would help in any way to strengthen the consumers' councils. It would tie the hands of the Government much too rigidly. We should not be able to make changes as we might wish to make changes in the whole set up for handling complaints, if we agree to this; and, therefore, I must ask the Committee to reject the Clause.

Colonel Clarke:

May I, with deference, congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on having so quickly acclimatised himself to our style of debate? Before answering him, may I first answer one or two things said by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) who, I am sorry to see, is no longer in his place? I agree with him that the lobs by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) succeed in tempting out the batsmen on the other side. I hope before long we shall see the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Cooper) in again. I think I saw him about to leave the pavilion a moment ago. Upstairs he was about to intervene on this subject when he, unfortunately, stepped outside his crease and was stumped by the Chair.

To refer now to the point of the hon. Member for Oldham about the expense of starting consumers' councils all over the country, I would point out that upstairs the Minister suggested that there would be, probably, some division of the country into districts, very much like the division that exists at present. That would limit it. The committees of investigation set up in 1930 did consist of one in each district, and one for the country as a whole, a sort of appeal committee. I do not think, therefore, that that question arises at all. Then the hon. Member for Oldham suggested that the drafting of the Opposition's draftsmen was very much at fault. However, he was, indeed, criticising the drafting of his own side, because that part of our Clause was taken straight from the Civil Aviation Bill that was brought in the other day. It was not by our draftsmen at all.

Now to answer the points put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not think that our objection to what was suggested in the way of committees of investigation was so much in detail, but rather to their contact with the actual consumer: our criticism was directed rather higher up. As to the point that a great many of those consumers who, in our committee of investigation, are to be nationalised, I would say threatened men live long. Anyway, to nationalise them does not stop them being consumers. It is just as bad for the man who is burning nationalised gas or using nationalised electric light to have to pay more for it or to have an extremely poor supply. I do not think that comes in at all. One of our principal lines of criticism was that these committees suggested by the Minister would go into complaints and investigate cases, and report to the Minister, who then had the Board to say that nothing more should happen. After all, criticism of the Board, when the Minister has the power that he has under this Bill over the Board is criticism of the Minister. Naturally, he will try to put right a complaint. I am sure the present Minister would. He obviously would not advertise it more than he could help, and if the criticism were persistent it might be sent back, it might be pigeon holed, it might even find its way into the waste-paper basket, and nothing would happen; but by the Clause that we suggest something would have to happen, because a great many people would read the complaint and find that something was not right.

8.15 p.m.

It is really on the broadest lines that I wanted to say a word or two. The predecessor of the Parliamentary Secretary, whom the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough rather funereally referred to as "the late lamented," asked how can an organisation running an industry in the public interest exploit anybody, assuming any national monopoly must be a benevolent one. I am not suggesting it would be malevolent; but, after all, it may make mistakes of judgment. A favourite writer of verse of mine teaches us Evil is wrought by want of thought As well as want of heart. That is very true, and mistakes of judgment may create evil in the sense of hardship. I want at once to clear away any suggestion that I am supposing that this present Board would be guilty of any such thing. We know they are most capable. But though the Minister is taking great powers in this Bill, I have yet to learn that he is taking power to make his Board immortal.

They will pass away, and others will be substituted; and, as I suggested on a previous occasion, they may be civil servants, and there is not the check on civil servants, or on those running any nationalised industry, that there is on private enterprise. There is not the fear of losing the business. In private enterprise, if a customer is dissatisfied, the man responsible has his head combed, either by the customer himself or by the management or the junior partner. We in private enterprise have a saying that the customer is always right, because we have to please him. If he says a thing we have to try to agree with it. Has anyone ever heard a Government Department say that the customer is always right? He is not; he is always wrong. We in private enterprise are proud of service. Its rewards are accumulative and add up to form the goodwill of a business. It does not exist in the same way in a public monopoly. A spirit of service is a matter of great pride to private enterprise. There is nothing predatory or ruthless about it, as is sometimes suggested. In a national monopoly the spirit is much more that of "take it or leave it," except where there is a threat of a Question.

I do not see why a national monopoly should not, in time, develop goodwill in the same way as private enterprise, but without the spur of competition, I do not believe it will. It needs some stimulant, some stimulant to its conscience, and we have put forward this Clause, which, we believe, adds to the structure of the industry that is to be developed nationally and which, I think, will keep those in charge of it up to the mark. I know it will take a long time for them to build up the goodwill, but if they are constantly kept up to the mark they may develop that spirit of service which has actuated private enterprise in the past.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central):

The Parliamentary Secretary in his initial solo flight from that Box—on which we congratulate him—could not restrain himself from having one of the time honoured tilts that members of the Party to which he adheres so often bring into their arguments. He accuses Members on these benches of having evinced no interest in the past for the consumer where private monopolies were concerned. I should like to ask him where there exists a private monopoly in which there has not been made provision by a previous Government that the consumer shall not be exploited, or where such a private monopoly has not been open to the four winds of international competition.

Mr. Gaitskell:

Is the hon. and gallant Member saying that there are no private monopolies in this country which are uncontrolled by Acts of Parliament?

Colonel Hutchison:

I say that where a private monopoly is uncontrolled by Act of Parliament, it is open to the four winds of international competition. Competition, national or international, has been a tremendous safeguard for the consuming public. It is a safeguard which this Bill is taking away. The coal industry can scarcely be claimed to be an industry where international competition has entered within the shores of this country.

The Deputy Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont):

The hon. and gallant Member in talking about the four winds of international competition is getting very wide of the proposed Clause. This Clause deals with a consumer council and I shall be glad if the hon. and gallant Member will keep to that point.

Colonel Hutchison:

I was trying to lead up to the point, that throughout the whole of this Debate, and throughout the whole of the Bill, the export trade appears to be completely ignored. We had hoped to be able to have another council to look after the interests of the export trade, but I understand it is unlikely that we shall have an opportunity to discuss that question. That being so, we must judge whether the provisions put forward in this Clause improve the position of export trade, as compared with what is at present in the Bill. Is the export trade a matter of concern to the Minister, or have we heard its swan song? Is this export trade, which produced £35 million—?

The Deputy-Chairman:

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will help me by telling me which part of the new Clause refers to the question of the export trade?

Colonel Hutchison:

So far as I am able to understand this Clause, I find, in Subsection (5) (b) that this council shall receive and consider representations from any quarter.

The Deputy-Chairman:

In speaking of quarters, I do not think that we should divide up the world.

Colonel Hutchison:

I had hoped that the words "any quarter" would include representatives of that great body of men who are interested in the export trade of this country. If this great trade is to have no more consideration than has been shown by the Minister during the Committee stage, and if the procedure makes it impossible for me to debate the matter, except under the rather strange circumstances under which, you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, are allowing me to discuss the matter, I would ask hon. Members and the country to take note that in this great Bill, the prototype no doubt of other nationalisation Bills, no specific provision is made whereby those interested in the great export trade can have their case considered.

Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks (Chichester):

I am afraid that I shall undoubtedly earn the accusation of the Attorney-General for being reckless, and then perhaps hysterical. I have never previously taken any active interest in coal, and I have no practical connection with coal as a producer or as a distributor, and, strange as it may seem to some hon. Members opposite, I have not derived directly any benefit from coal royalties. I wish to say something as a coal consumer and as a representative of a great many people in my constituency who never see coal in the raw state except when it gets into the scuttle, when nowadays it is sometimes in a very raw state indeed, who suffer when coal is badly distributed and is insufficient in quantity and in quality. It is these people whom the Government have forgotten. We have a large Bill which has been advertised much in the same way as with the cinemas— Coming events cast their shadows before. We have seen, "When the Socialists get into power, you are going to see coal nationalised." We have asked for a long time how they are going to do it, and presumably this is the result. Never have we heard that the object was for the benefit of the consumer, and I wish to press upon the Committee that the consumers' protection calls for some provision in the Bill.

I do not suggest that this is perfect protection, but it is the best protection that can be offered by those who have no technical knowledge of coal, but represent the interest of the coal consumers, particularly on the domestic side. I would call attention to one or two provisions in the hope of enlisting the support of other Members of the Committee who regard the matter from the same point of view as myself. I do not profess to like the idea of nationalisation of coal any more than I like the nationalisation of anything else, but let us accept the fact that we have it, and let us do the best we can to protect the interests of what we will call "Mrs. Smith"—the average small domestic consumer. My first comment is that even with area councils, such as are suggested in the Clause, it will be difficult for Mrs. Smith to get her complaints heard. In the proposal put up in the Minister's suggestion, it will be quite impossible for Mrs. Smith to complain about the supply, quality or quantity of coal, or any other fuel which she may be using if she has a patent cooking appliance. She has only one board to go to, but her complaint would have to filter through many strata and grades in the Civil Service before reaching it, and by that time her complaint would have little hope of ever receiving attention.

Mr. Follick (Loughborough):

Where does she go now?

Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks:

At the present moment she has to go to her local fuel overseer, and we have seen that the system introduced as a wartime measure has brought no satisfaction at all to the consumer. Nevertheless, if we cannot revert to the proper freedom of supply and demand, so that the consumers can get what they demand and are paying for, let us, at any rate, try to give them proper protection under this Bill.

8.30 p.m.

As regards the constitution of the area councils, neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor I are wedded to the idea of the chairmen of the councils being lawyers. He does not like lawyers, and I share his reason because, as a lawyer myself, I think that we are all much too busy in our own job. Nevertheless, we would, of course, make much the best chairmen. As regards their constitution, there can be no doubt that the Clause is right. I say in all seriousness to the Minister that there is going to be no confidence by the domestic consuming public if the members of the Board, to whom the public are to put their complaints and difficulties, are persons only nominated by the Minister. That is not going to carry confidence in the country. I hope that the Minister will recognise that fact and will agree with the principle on that point in the Clause. With regard to the types of persons who are proposed for nomination, in the case of the industrial council representatives of the different industries using coal, it is all the more important, if these other industries should be nationalised, that they should have a voice on these councils, because if they have only inter-Departmental claims, as between civil servant and civil servant, they will never get anywhere. If it is going to be a question of Peter paying Paul, let Paul male certain that he gets the right payment.

I want also particularly to stress the question of reporting. The Parliamentary Secretary criticised adversely the proposal that the councils should report on their decisions to the Minister. I can see no objection to their doing that. If the Minister is to keep his finger on the pulse of what is going on between the Coal Board and consumer, surely he must know of all the complaints, and how they are dealt with when they come before the Board. I urge that that principle should be accepted because it leads to the principle that the Minister should report the councils' decisions to Parliament. Unless the councils report to the Minister, how can the Minister report the councils' decisions to Parliament? They must come to the knowledge of the Minister, and it is essential if we, as Members of Parliament, are to protect in any adequate way, the interests of the consumers, who are not only the payers for the coal but the payers for the whole scheme and produce the money for the Ministry itself, that we must have a report submitted to the House by the Minister and be able to criticise.

Mr. Geoffrey Cooper (Middlesbrough, West):

I want to be very brief, in addressing a few remarks to the Committee regarding this very important subject of the consumers' councils. As I see it, this is not really a political or party issue. It is a question of organisation, and a fundamental principle of organisation is involved. In saying that, I am not, for a moment, supporting this Clause, which has been brought forward by the Opposition. The reason that I am not doing so is because I do not think it will achieve any useful purpose. The very fact that an unspecified number of councils would be set up defeats the object in view, for it would make for confusion in the whole industry. It may be that that is the purpose for bringing it forward; I do not know. I do not follow the remark made by the hon. and gallant Member for Chichester (Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks) that the Opposition represents the consumers' interests, because who more than hon. Members on this side of the Committee represent consumers' interests? We represent them to a greater degree because we represent more of them.

The reason why I do not think this new Clause would achieve its purpose is because the whole purpose of a council is to confer, and if a council is to confer it must have on it all the major interests represented. Now the council that is suggested would be a consumers' council only, which would prevent it functioning to the fullest degree. To enable the council really to achieve its purpose in the interests of the organisation of the industry it requires not only the consumers to be present but the producers. This is not just a passing theory, because, after all, it is something which was suggested by one of the miners' leaders, Arthur Horner, the South Wales miners' leader at a conference on management held a few weeks ago in Oxford. He asked that there should be a producers' council. What is happening, I think, is that now that those people who formerly opposed nationalisation are accepting it as an essential thing, they are asking in what way they can help nationalisation to succeed. An indication of this is shown by the way these various interests are coming forward and saying, "Can we have a council to represent our views?" That, of course, is manifestly impossible. There cannot be many councils, because obviously that would lead to a lot of confusion—" In a multitude of councils there is strife." What we could do is to have on the consumers' council, which the Minister intends to set up under this Bill, more complete representation of the various interests concerned. If that is done, from the purely organisational point of view, we should achieve a worthwhile purpose. We should bring together in the council at a level with the executive Coal Board the full concensus of opinion, technical skill and advice in the industry. We should also be giving expression under this Bill to the spirit which is being born in nationalised industry and which asks for participation in a way in which it can serve the new industry in an effective manner. So I would ask the Minister if he will give a little further consideration to this point, because many interests throughout the country are making their representations and asking what way they can effectively help in the industry. Particularly is that so of the technicians and the scientific people. We have seen that the scientific and technical people want to come in and form some sort of a joint organisation. I do not want to speak on a subsequent Amendment, but it illustrates the point which I want to make, namely, that all these interests want to express themselves. If the Minister would have at the top of the industry this central council, drawing together these people in some such way as I now suggest it would give new energy and vitality to the industry. The way that capitalism did things is disappearing, but we know that some degree of efficiency, though it was not really sufficient, was introduced into capitalist industry by the profit motive and the desire to retain the capital intact. That is disappearing, and there must be some new incentive given within nationalised industry to keep it efficient. I suggest to the Minister if he forms a council fully representative of all interests it will give all those various interests an opportunity of coming in and feeling that they are part of the industry, in which they are vitally interested. I have no doubt if this is done the success of nationalisation will be undeniable.

The suggestion has been made that if this was done it would undermine the authority of the Board. But if this council was given a specific task to fulfil, that of acting in an advisory and consultative capacity on technical and producers' as well as consumers' problems, it would remain only in that function, and would not necessarily overlap into the executive function of the Board. If that were done there would be a chance for the new spirit in industry, which the Prime Minister asked should express itself in order that the productivity of the country should be increased to a high degree, to become effective. The way in which that could happen, is by this method of democratic participation in the way that nationalised industry is controlled.

Mr. Jenninǵs:

I was glad to listen to the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Cooper) because he, at any rate, has shown that he is not 100 per cent. satis- fied with the Clause as it stands. I welcome what he said about this not being a party matter, because everybody is concerned, especially the consumers of coal. I want to say, in no apologetic way, that I support the new Clause, because I want to protect the Board from itself. The Board might come to the view that it would be justified in keeping up the price of coal to domestic consumers in order to bolster up the industrial side. Only this winter, in Sheffield, I heard of cases of people who could not get coal, and of those who were having to pay for coal which was really stone. The Minister advised me to tell them to apply to their local overseer for redress, but I am sorry to say that after they had done so they still had little or no coal, and still complained of its quality. If a reduction in the price of coal can be given it ought to be given to the domestic consumer. The Minister is smiling, but we have bought a lot of bad coal in the last few years. I think the Minister ought to be ashamed of some of the coal he has had to sell. Perhaps he has been forced to it, but if I had sold stone for coal, I should have been prosecuted——

The Deputy-Chairman


Mr. Jenninǵs:

I am sorry, Mr. Beaumont, but I was rather led away by the smile on the Minister's face, which I have seen so often in the Committee upstairs. The new Clause protects the Board from itself. I make no apology for saying that the Board might have a view which was not directly in the interests of domestic consumers; it might show a bias towards industrial consumers. The Parliamentary Secretary said that all complaints are not likely to come to the Minister, but I feel that the Minister ought to hear everything about complaints from all sides of the industry.

8.45 p.m.

There is another major reason why I support the new Clause. I believe that the House of Commons should have control in the matter of complaints. It ought not to be left to people who have a complaint to write to their Member of Parliament so that he can put a question to the Minister, and probably get a very uncertain reply, as we do get from Ministers from time to time. A report on the complaints heard before the councils ought to be made to the Minister, and that report ought to be available to all hon. Members, so that we may see the type of complaints that are being made. We ought to be able to make sure that the industry is doing its best for every type of consumer. It is entirely wrong that the Minister should take power to take action if he chooses to do so. I am never very happy when I see a provision in a Bill that a Minister "may take action"; very often when he is expected to take action, he does not do so. That is why I feel that a report about complaints should come to the House, so that if the industry is burdening the consumers either from the point of view of the price or the quality of coal, the matter can be debated in the House. For these reasons, I support the new Clause.

Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East):

I heard the earlier part of the Debate on this new Clause before being called out of the Committee, so that I hope hon Members will bear with me while I state the reasons I and my hon. Friends feel rather strongly on this matter. I think the difference shown by this Debate between the two sides of the Committee is one of degree. Clearly, the Government, by the somewhat short Clause 4 and its rather perfunctory provisions, do not attach anything like the importance to these councils which hon. Members on this side do. The new Clause is clearly the result of a great deal of very careful thought. Line after line of it provides for one detailed safeguard after another. It provides in detail the duties of the councils and their constitution, and it provides for the seven years' appointment of the chairmen. All this indicates that on this side of the Committee these councils, with their permanent chairmen, are meant to be things of real power in the country. The fact that the chairman's appointment is to be for seven years is designed to give that man independence so that he can stand up to the Minister. There is nothing like that in Clause 4.

Hon. Members on the Government Benches ask, "Why do we want all these councils?" I believe I am right in saying that the Minister of Fuel and Power once represented a Scottish Division. Is he going to say to us tonight that Scotland would not want its own consumers' council, that Scottish consumers or industrialists would be satisfied to lay their complaints before a council in London? If he does, he has forgotten his own background, and if he does, I feel certain he will meet as much criticism from Scottish consumers as he is now meeting from Scottish miners. I insist that Scotland certainly wants its own councils, and I have no doubt that the Midlands, Wales, and other parts of England could put forward equally strong claims. The truth is that in these various areas, each of which has its own characteristics, the complaints themselves have their own characteristics and can be dealt with only by people living in the area who understand the local conditions. It is obvious that the Minister expects the Board to make mistakes because he provides for measures to meet those mistakes. In Clause 4 (5), he contemplates, in writing, that defects may be disclosed by the Board. We on this side of the Committee are quite certain that defects will be disclosed.

I do not think the hon. Members on the Government side realise the fear that is caused to us here and, I think, to the country, by the prospect of a great new, absolute, national monopoly for this vital product. [An HON. MEMBER: "It could not be any worse."] I am talking of peace time conditions when obviously, as my right hon. Friend has said, if one did not like a certain supplier one went to another. Now we shall take the coal only at the dictate of the Minister of Fuel and Power and that is, as I have said, a new and absolute national monopoly. That being so, it is vital that we should establish, here and now, the principle that against such a complete monoply the safeguards for the consumers should be the fullest possible. That is the stand a Liberal takes on this matter. [Laughter.] Let it be noted by the country tomorrow that when one claims that the rights of the consumers shall be protected against the national monopoly the hon. Members on the Government benches laugh at him. If hon. Members are laughing at Liberals—[Interruption.]

Mr. Shinwell:

At the hon. Member describing himself as a Liberal.

Mr. Stewart:

If hon. Members are referring to the comparatively small numbers—

Hon. Members:


Mr. Shinwell:

I am very sorry but the hon. Member fails to understand the cause of the ribaldry behind me. It is not that hon. Members seek to ignore the claims of consumers; in fact they are very conscious of the need to safeguard them. Neither do they make any attack on the Liberal Party, which is conspicuous by its absence. They are only interested in what the hon. Member said about himself, as an alleged Liberal.

Mr. Stewart:

I claim the right myself, to know whether or not I am a Liberal. The last person from whom I should seek advice on Liberal principles is the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I must ask the hon. Member not to continue on this point any further——

Mr. Pickthorn:


The Deputy-Chairman:

Perhaps the hon. Member will wait until I conclude. There is nothing in the Clause dealing with Liberals.

Mr. H. Macmillan:

On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. When a Minister of the Crown, representing what is alleged to be a responsible Government, thinks fit to make an attack on the bona fides and the character of my hon. Friend, are we not entitled to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill at least to behave with ordinary decency?

The Deputy-Chairman:

In reply to that point of Order, I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the interjections and remarks were of a good humoured nature. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] May I be allowed to finish? What I said was that I hoped the hon. Member would not continue that line of argument.

Mr. Pickthorn:

On a point of Order, and in perfect good humour. [Interruption.] I will say it again; in perfect good humour. I hope that those who speak as good humouredly as did the light hon. Gentleman opposite will be allowed to discuss at the same length the subjects which he discussed.

The Deputy-Chairman:

Now that we have secured good humour all round, I would ask the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Stewart) to continue his speech.

Mr. Stewart:

Perhaps I may now be allowed to conclude, also with perfect good humour, by saying that I represent a seat which I have represented consistently for 14 years, and which was represented for 33 years by Mr. Asquith. If any place in the country should know its Liberalism, and recognise a Liberal Member, it is East Fife.

It is significant that nowhere in the Minister's Clause is there any suggestion that the action of these councils is to be publicly reported to the country, although their action will sometimes be vital to the interests of the country. The Minister will remember that during the war we set up a Select Committee on National Expenditure, which used to go round the country examining this that and the other problem. It published its reports, and the Government were required to publish what they had done to meet the Committee's criticisms. That was most important. The greatest value of that Committee was that it publicised the Government's actions, and that it compelled the Government to take public action to meet those criticisms. None of those things will the right hon. Gentleman accept. He deliberately wishes to escape all those responsibilities. We would like to pin him down, and not only him but the whole new business of a State monopoly, to the complete publication of criticisms made of its operation and of the action taken or not taken by the Departments concerned. That point seems to me to be of first-class importance. As one who represents, humbly it is true, a rather small party, I urge the point of view of the people who seek complete publication of the Government actions. I demand that the proposed new Clause shall be accepted because it is the essence of the expression of Democracy.

9.0 p.m.

Major Roberts:

He Parliamentary Secretary spoke of the interests of coal consumers. The fundamental point which must be remembered by Members opposite is that consumers who were dissatisfied in the past were able to change their suppliers. Under nationalisation they will not be able to do so. I was lather distressed to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary said about representation of nationalised industries. He seemed to take the view that once an industry was nationalised, the interests of the con- sumers no longer mattered, and need no longer be represented.

That, I think also, is a very dangerous statement. I want to refer to a speech made by an hon. Member opposite who is not now in his place. He was talking about those who represent consumers. He made what I thought was a rather exaggerated statement when he said that Members on the opposite side of the Committee represented a majority of consumers. In point of fact, if they take the total number of consumers in the country, and add up the votes they got at the last Election, I do not think they will find they have a majority of consumers.

The next point is that of discrimination. This is causing a great deal of instability in the industry at the moment. If I may give one example, there is the selling of slag to coke ovens. As we know, certain coke ovens will be owned by the Government and others by private enterprise. It may well be that there will be discrimination between the supply to the Government's coke ovens on the one hand and private enterprise coke ovens on the other, and it is very necessary, if the industry is to have confidence, that complaints about discrimination should be covered by this Clause and safeguarded in other Clauses of the Bill. I want to point out that if the Board has to cover its own costs, it will have pressure brought to bear on it—we have already seen it—from the miners' side, some of it quite rightly, for an increase in wages and, possibly, shorter hours, and there will also be pressure by the Minister for an increase in output. Between those two very strong pressures, it is possible that the consumer, as the least line of resistance, will have to bear the brunt of an increase in price. To my mind it is essential that the consumer should be as strongly represented as the Minister, with his drive for production and the miners' representatives with their drive for increased wages. There must be an equal power for the consumer. I maintain that the Bill does not give this, and I agree with hon. Members on this side of the Committee who have supported this new Clause which gives that power. I say, on behalf of my constituents, many of whom are coal consumers, that it is very necessary that power should be given, through a proper Clause of this kind, so that their interests can be safeguarded.

Mr. Pickthorn


The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 121.

Division No. 154. AYES. 19.05 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'1, Exch'ge) Daines, P.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith. South) Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Davies, Edward (Burslem)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Brook, D. (Halifax) Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Alpass, J. H. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Deer, G.
Attewell, H. C. Burden, T. W. de Freitas, Geoffrey
Attlee, Rt. Hon C. R. Burke, W. A. Delargy, Captain H. J
Awbery, S. S. Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Diamond, J.
Ayles, W. H. Callaghan, James Dodds, N. N.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Douglas, F. C. R.
Bacon, Miss A. Champion, A. J. Driberg, T. E. N.
Baird, Capt. J. Chater, D. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
Balfour, A. Chetwynd, Capt. G. R Dumpleton, C. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Clitherow, Dr. R Dye, S.
Barstow, P. G Cluse, W. S. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Barton, C. Cobb, F. A. Edelman, M.
Battley, J. R. Cocks, F. S. Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Bechervaise, A. E. Coldrick, W Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Bellenger, F. J. Collick, P. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F. Collins, V. J. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Colman, Miss G. M. Ewart, R.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Comyns, Dr. L. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
Binns, J. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Follick, M.
Blackburn, A. R. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Foot, M. N
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Corlett, Dr. J. Gaitskell, H. T. N
Blyton, W. R. Corvedale, Viscount Ganley, Mrs. C. S
Boardman, H. Cove, W. G. Gibbins, J.
Bottomley, A. G. Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Gibson, C. W
Bowdon. Flg.-Offr. H. W. Crossman, R. H. S. Gilzean, A.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Daggar, G. Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Gooch, E. G. Macpherson, T (Romford) Skinnard, F. W.
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Mann, Mrs. J. Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Grenfell, D. R. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Grey, C. F. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Smith, S. H. (Hull. S.W.)
Grierson, E. Marquand, H. A. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Marshall, F (Brightside) Snow, Capt. J. W.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Messer, F Solly, L. J.
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Middleton, Mrs. L. Sorensen, R. W.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Gunter, Capt. R. J. Monslow, W. Sparks, J. A.
Guy, W. H. Moody, A. S. Stamford, W
Hale, Leslie Morgan, Dr. H. B. Steele, T.
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Morley, R. Stephen, C
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Strauss, G. R.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Mort, D. L. Stross, Dr. B.
Hardy, E. A. Moyle, A. Stubbs, A. E.
Harrison, J. Nally, W. Swingler, Capt. S.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Naylor, T. E. Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Haworth, J. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Henderson, A, (Kingswinford) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Herbison, Miss M. Noel-Buxton, Lady Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Hewitson, Capt. M Oldfield, W. H. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Hicks, G. Oliver, G. H Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Hobson, C. R. Orbach, M. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Holman, P. Paget, R. T. Thorneycroft, H.
Holmes, H E. (Hemsworth) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Thurtle, E.
Hoy, J. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Tiffany, S.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Palmer, A. M. F. Titterington, M. F.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pargiter, G. A. Tolley, L.
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Parker, J. Turner-Samuels, M.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Paton, J. (Norwich) Viant, S. P.
Irving, W. J. Pearson, A. Walkden, E.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Pearl, Capt. T. F. Walker, G. H.
Janner, B. Perrins, W. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Warbey, W. N.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Popplewell, E. Weitzman, D.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Porter, G. (Leeds) Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Price, M. P. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Pritt, D. N. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Pryde, D. J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Keenan, W. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Kenyon, C. Ranger, J. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Key, C W. Rankin, J. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Kinley, J. Reeves, J. Wilkes, Maj. L.
Kirby, B. V. Reid, T. (Swindon) Wilkins, W. A.
Lang, G. Rhodes, H. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Richards, R. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Ridealgh, Mrs. M Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Leslie, J. R. Robens, A. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Levy, B. W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Levy B. W. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Williamson, T.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Sargood, R. Willis, E.
Lindgren, G. S. Scott-Elliot, W. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Segal, Dr. S. Wilson, J. H.
Lyne, A. W. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. Wise, Major F. J
McAdam, W. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Woodburn, A.
McAllister, G. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Yates, V. F.
McEntee, V. La T Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
McGhee, H G Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Mack, J. D. Shurmer, P.
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
McLeavy, F. Simmons, C. J. Mr. Collindridge and captain Michael Stewar
Agnew, Cmdr. P G. Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Foster, J. G. (Northwich)
Assheton, Rt Hon. R. Cooper-Key, E. M. Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)
Astor, Hon. M. Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)
Baldwin, A E. Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Gage, Lt.-Col. C.
Baxter, A B. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)
Beechman, N. A. Cuthbert, W. N. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)
Birch, Nigel Davidson, Viscountess Glyn, Sir R.
Bossom, A. C. Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Grimston, R. V
Bower, N. Digby, Maj. S. W. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Haughton, S. G.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Drayson, G. B. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Drewe, C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Duthie, W. S. Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)
Challen, C. Eccles, D. M Hope, Lord J.
Channon, H. Erroll, F. J. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)
Clarke, Cot. R. S. Fletcher, W. (Bury) Hurd, A
Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Maude, J. C. Strauss, H. G. (Com. Eng. Univ'sities)
Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Mellor, Sir J. Studholme, H. G.
Jeffreys, General Sir G. Molson, A. H. E. Sutcliffe, H.
Jennings, R. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Morrison, Rt. Hn W. S. (Cirencester) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Keeling, E. H. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Teeling, William
Kerr, Sir J. Graham Nutting, Anthony Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Lambert, Hon. G. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Pickthorn, K. Turton, R. H.
Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Wadsworth, G.
Linstead, H. N. Prescott, Stanley Wakefield, Sir W. W
Lipson, D. L. Prior-Palmer, Brig O. Walker-Smith, D.
Lucas, Major Sir J. Rayner, Brig. R. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Renton, D. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
McCallum, Maj. D. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Maclay, Hon. J. S. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold Ropner, Col. L. Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Maitland, Comdr. J. W Ross, Sir R. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Marlowe, A. A. H. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Marples, A. E. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Marsden, Capt. A. Smithers, Sir W. Sir Arthur Young and Major Conant.
Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Spearman, A. C. M.
Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)

Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 123; Noes, 286.

Division No. 155. AYES 9.15 p.m
Agnew, cmdr. P. G. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Hare, Lt.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge) Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Astor, Hon. M. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Pickthorn, K.
Baldwin, A. E. Haughton, S. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Baxter, A. B. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Prescott, Stanley
Beechman, N. A. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Birch, Nigel Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Rayner, Brig. R.
Bossom, A. C. Hope, Lord J. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Bower, N. Hurd, A. Renton, D.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Ropner, Col. L.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Jennings, R. Ross, Sir R.
Byers, Lt.-Col. F Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Challen, C. Keeling, E. H. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Channon, H. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Smithers, Sir W.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lambert, Hon. G Spearman, A. C. M.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Lancaster, Col. C G. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Strauss, H. G (Corn. Eng. Univ'sities)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Sutcliffe, H.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O E. Linstead, H. N. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Cuthbert, W. N. Lipson, D. L. Teeling, William
Davidson, Viscountess Lucas, Major Sir J. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Digby, Maj. S. W. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. McCallum, Maj. D. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Turton, R. H.
Drayson, G. B. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold Wadsworth, G.
Drewe, C. Maitland, Comdr. J. W Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Duthie, W. S. Marlowe, A. A. H. Walker-Smith, D.
Eccles, D. M. Marples, A. E. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Erroll, F. J. Marsden, Capt. A. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Marshall, S H. (Sutton) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Maude, J. C. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Gage, Lt.-Col. C. Mellor, Sir J. Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Molson, A. H. E Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Glyn, Sir R. Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)
Granville, E. (Eye) Neven-Spence, Sir B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Grimston, R. V. Nutting, Anthony Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Awbery, S. S. Barstow, P. G
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Ayles, W. H. Barton, C.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Battley, J. R.
Alpass, J. H. Bacon, Miss A. Bechervaise, A. E.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Baird, Capt. J. Bellenger, F. J.
Attewell, H. C. Balfour, A. Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hale, Leslie Pearson, A.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Peart, Capt. T. F
Binns, J. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R. Perrins, W.
Blackburn, A. R. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Blenkinsop, Capt. A. Hardy, E. A. Popplewell, E.
Blyton, W. R. Harrison, J. Porter, G. (Leeds)
Boardman, H. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Price, M. P.
Bottomley, A. G. Haworth, J. Pritt, D. N.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Henderson, A, (Kingswinford) Pryde, D. J.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Pursey, Cmdr. H
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'I, Exch'ge) Herbison, Miss M. Ranger, J.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hewitson, Capt. M. Rankin, J.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hicks, G. Reeves, J.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Hobson, C. R. Reid, T. (Swindon)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Holman, P. Rhodes, H.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Richards, R.
Burden, T. W. Hoy, J. Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Burke, W. A. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Robens, A.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Callaghan, James Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton. W.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Sargood, R.
Chamberlain, R. A. Hynd, H. (Hackney C.) Scott-Elliot, W.
Champion, A. J. Irving, W. J. Segal, Dr. S.
Chater, D. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G A. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Janner, B. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.
Clitherow, Dr. R. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Cluse, W. S. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St Pancras, S.E.) Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)
Cobb, F. A. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E
Cocks, F. S. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Shurmer, P.
Coldrick, W. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Collick, P. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Simmons, C. J.
Collins, V. J. Keenan, W. Skinnard, F. W.
Colman, Miss G. M. Kenyon, C. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Comyns, Dr L. Key, C. W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Kinky, J. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Kirby, B. V. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Corlett, Dr. J. Lang, G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Corvedale, Viscount Lee, F. (Hulme) Snow, Capt. J. W.
Cove, W. G. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Solley, L. J.
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Leslie, J. R. Sorensen, R. W.
Crossman, R. H. S. Levy, B. W. Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Dagger, G. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Sparks, J. A.
Daines, P. Lindgren, G. S. Stamford, W.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Steele, T.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Lyne, A. W. Stephen, C.
Davies, Harold (Leek) McAdam, W. Strauss, G. R.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) McAllister, G. Stross, Dr. B.
Deer, G. McEntee, V. La T Stubbs, A. E.
de Freitas, Geoffrey McGhee, H. G. Swingler, Capt. S.
Delargy, Captain H. J. Mack, J. D. Symonds, Maj, A. L.
Diamond, J. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Dodds, N. N. McLeavy, F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Douglas, F. C. R. Macpherson, T. (Romford) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Driberg, T. E. N. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Mann, Mrs. J. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Dumpleton, C. W. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Dye, S. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Marquand, H. A. Thorneycroft, H.
Edelman, M. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Thurtle, E.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Messer, F. Tiffany, S.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Middleton, Mrs. L. Titterington, M. F.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Tolley, L.
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Monslow, W. Turner-Samuels, M.
Ewart, R. Moody, A. S. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Viant, S. P.
Follick, M. Morley, R. Walkden, E.
Foot, M. M. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Walker, G. H.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Mort, D. L. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Gaitskell, H. T. N. Moyle, A. Warbey, W. N.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Nally, W. Weitzman, D.
Gibbins, J. Naylor, T. E. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Gibson, C. W. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Gilzean, A. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) White, H.(Derbyshire, N.E.)
Gooch, E. G. Noel-Buxton, Lady Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Oldfield, W. H Wigg, Col. G. E.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Oliver, G. H. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Grenfell, D. R. Orbach, M. Wilkes, Maj. L.
Grey, C. F. Paget, R. T. Wilkins, W. A.
Grierson, E. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Palmer, A. M. F. Williams. D. J. (Heath)
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Pargiter, G. A. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Parker, J. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Gunter, Capt. R. J. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Williamson, T.
Guy, W. H. Paton, J. (Norwich) Willis, E.
Wills, Mrs. E. A. Yates, V. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Wilson, J. H. Young, Sir R. (Newton) Mr. Collindridge and Captain Michael Stewar.
Wise, Major F. J. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Woodburn, A
  1. FIRST SCHEDULE.—(Assets to be transferred to the Board.) 12,128 words, 1 division
  2. cc1634-44
  3. SERVICE PENSIONS 3,867 words