§ Mr. Speaker
In calling upon the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) to move the next Amendment, I think it would be for the convenience of the House if we discussed it in conjunction with the following two Amendments to line 38.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 38, at the end, to insert:Provided that the Commission shall not engage in the carriage of goods by road other than ordinary long distance carriage as defined in section thirty-eight of this Act, except for traffic originating from or destined for carriage by rail.We have now reached a Clause which deals with the powers of the Commission. One of their first powers is to carry goods and passengers by rail, road, and inland waterways within Great Britain, and the purpose of this Amendment is to restrict that power to the long-distance haulage of goods. The second Amendment we are discussing seeks to restrict the powers of the Commission to carry passengers by road, either in so far as they take over the London Passenger Transport Board, or when an approved scheme, under Part IV of the Bill, is put up. Members opposite used at one time to talk a good deal about the mandate extended to them at the time of the Election. I have long ago, I am glad to say, lost the document entitled, "Let Us Face the Future", but I am quite satisfied that whatever that document did or did not contain the story which was sold to the country about goods 1846 haulage was that they intended to nationalise the railways and long-distance road haulage. That case was put for-ward, all over the country. Under the Bill as at present drafted, not only will the Government take over long-distance haulage, but they will become the largest owners of short-distance haulage, which is hardly the case which Members opposite presented to the country at the time of the Election—
§ Mr. Mellish (Rotherhithe)
I fought a by-election recently, when I told my people that the Government would nationalise all forms of transport. In that by-election the Tory candidate lost his deposit.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The hon. Member's observation illustrates the progress of our forces. I was talking about the policy presented at the General Election. At the General Election, I remember, a programme of a more modest character was put forward. For my own part, I had no doubt as to what the Government's intentions were. I was always clear that having taken over long-distance road haulage as a first step, they would, as soon as possible, get as many hauliers as possible under their control. Let me take the provisions of the Bill. The acquisition of the short-distance haulier takes place in two ways. One is that they take over a haulage firm without taking the whole of it, if they are satisfied it is predominantly long-distance. In the process they take over many short-distance hauls as well, and in taking over the railways, they take over firms like Pickfords and a great deal not only of short-distance hauliers but also of cut price traffics which under the proposals of Clause 38, would have accepted carriage of livestock and liquids in bulk.
I should like to direct the attention of Members to the situation which will result. There will be left a number of hauliers operating within the narrow and restricted limits of 25 miles. These private hauliers may not at any time go beyond their 25 miles limit, except by licence, application for which will have to be made to their present competitors. They will, therefore, be normally limited to 25 miles from their operating centres. Against them will be competing this great national transport monopoly, with all its resources and powers at its disposal. Hon. Members opposite may say, "Well, don't you 1847 believe in competition?" We do but we believe in competition on something like fair terms.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I hardly thought the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would hold up I.C.I. as an example to the Government. The way in which this competition will be conducted will, I think, inevitably be unfair. To start with, the resources of the Commission and the Transport Board are immense. It will be a comparatively simple thing to undercut one of the short-distance hauliers at any time when it pleases the Commission to do so. They can lower their prices and their charges and they can do so by putting up the charges upon the long-distance traffic. No one can complain because you cannot go to anyone else except the Commission. So far as the Commission are concerned, they can put up prices on long distances as high as they like in order to subsidise short-distance competition. The Commission can go to the trader in a town and say, "Do not bother whether it is 25 miles or 26 miles; we can carry your goods any distance you like, so give us a quotation to carry your goods and we will deliver them." Whereas the private haulier cannot offer those promises, not because he is not willing, but because the Government are preventing him from doing so.
In those circumstances it is plain that what will happen will be this. The smaller private hauliers operating in this narrow 25 miles will rapidly be driven out of business altogether. Their earnings will be reduced and at an appropriate time they will be taken over, but taken over of course in a more or less bankrupt condition, to which they will have been reduced by the operations of the Commission. These operations can be very easy and cheap to conduct, and though I am not concerned with the firm mentioned by the hon. Member for West Fife, there are private combines which use these methods to crush out competition in their awn industry, a thoroughly undesirable thing, which this Government have made no attempt whatsoever to stop. No legislation has been proposed or suggested by any Member of the Front Bench opposite.
§ Mr. Sparks (Acton)
I would draw the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that in answer to a very similar question last night in this House, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) said that he was not aware of a single instance in which that had occurred.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I am sure the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) does not wish to mislead the House. He asked whether my right hon. and learned Friend could give a single instance. My right hon. and learned Friend did not say that there was not one single instance.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I think the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) is under a slight misapprehension. It was not the transport industry in particular which was mentioned. It is common knowledge to Members on all sides of the House that taking British industry as a whole, we could all say that we have found instances in which a group of firms have placed themselves in a powerful position, not by producing better things but by undercutting their competitors and on the basis of the immense finances which they had at their disposal have crowded out the weaker element.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
That is precisely the position which we have here. The Government and this Commission could undercut these men.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
During the Committee stage it was suggested to us that the Amendment which we put down to achieve this end would be impracticable because there was a certain amount of road haulage of a short-distance character which would have to be carried out by the railway companies in order to effect a clearance from those railways. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that that point is adequately dealt with at the end of the Amendment, because in those circumstances we allow the Commission to conduct traffic of that kind. This surely is the position about road haulage, that the Government should carry out the policy which they stated they 1849 would carry out when they took over the long-distance haulage, and that they should not start carrying short-distance traffic which they admitted they were hardly suitable to undertake.
As far as the second Amendment is concerned, I do not want to elaborate it a great deal as some of my hon. Friends will wish to speak on it, but the point here is very similar. Under the Bill the Government take over, as far as the passenger traffic is concerned, the London Passenger Transport Board. Later on, under Part IV of the Bill they may, without a scheme being put up, take over road passenger transport in a particular area. Under Clause 2 (2, e)—if I may have the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary for one moment. [Interruption.] I do not need to apologise for asking for his attention. We on this side of the Committee do not always get satisfactory replies to our suggestions, but we do like to think that our arguments are listened to.
Under Clause 2 (2, e) it appears to me—and the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that the Commission is empowered to take over by agreement any road passenger undertaking. That would include road passenger undertakings which have nothing to do with the London Passenger Transport Board, and would be wholly unconnected with any general scheme. In fact, the Commission could take over haphazardly, between now and the scheme being put up, any particular undertaking, finance it out of the rest of the reserves of this great Commission, run it below cost, and drive out of business the road passenger man operating in that area. That would be entirely within the powers of the Commission. I think that is a position which ought to be guarded against. Whether it is on the goods or on the passenger side, we seek to see that the rather narrow limits of private operation should, at least, be safeguarded and able to go on without being subject to the unfair competition of a great State monopoly.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Renton
I beg to second the Amendment.
At the same time, in accordance with the Ruling which you have given, Mr. Speaker, I wish to mention the Amendment which stands in my name and those 1850 of my hon. Friends relating to passenger services. Before proceeding to the subject matter of the Amendment which stands in my name, I wish to supplement very briefly the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) with regard to goods services. He referred to the 25-mile "cells," as they have been called on occasions since this Bill was introduced. There is a certain amount of confusion of thought on both sides of the House as to the exact attitude to competition. I believe that hon. Members opposite think that competition is a thing that can be dispensed with quite easily in all circumstances. Certainly they arc quite wrong when they think that we suggest that all competition is necessarily good at all times. We do not think so and, indeed, legislation of prewar Governments, now represented on the Opposition side of the House, has proved that conclusively. We say that there is such a thing as unnecessary and wasteful competition. In the Acts of 1930 and 1933 serious and, I consider, successful attempts were made to eliminate such wasteful and uneconomic competition and to ensure that there is competition which is beneficial. Within those 25-mile "cells" now to be created, there is no doubt that the competition will be wasteful and unnecessary. I would say that the provisions of this Bill in setting up those "cells" are not only killing but intended to kill.
I proceed to passenger services. In Clause 2 (2, c) the Commission will have power to acquire by agreement any passenger undertaking. Under Part II of the Bill the London Passenger Transport concerns will be taken over, and, under Part IV, area schemes may be made embracing passenger transport services by road. A considerable time will elapse before those schemes are brought into effect. That is beyond dispute. It was referred to earlier by the Parliamentary Secretary. Bearing in mind that a number of years will elapse, there will be a sort of interregnum before the area schemes are made effective, and we have to consider what is to happen meanwhile. One of the purposes of this Bill is to secure a co-ordinated system of transport. As matters stand at the moment, far from it being a properly coordinated and integrated system, so far as road passenger transport services are concerned, there will be, at least, a dual 1851 system. There will be those vehicles licensed by the Traffic Commissioners, as they have been since the Act of 1930 came into force, and there will be the area schemes. Surely, it would be very much better if, instead of setting up a dual system in a Bill which is intended to coordinate, the Government had a unified and integrated system?
There is a simple process right at hand for the Government to achieve that, but they do not appear to wish it. That was made perfectly clear in Committee. The Government do not wish to use the Traffic Commissioners and to put the Commission under the jurisdiction of the Traffic Commissioners, so that the careful co-ordination which the Traffic Commissioners have exercised over recent years can continue. In mentioning that, I remind hon. Members that the Traffic Commissioners sit in public, they sit locally, they hear all points of view, and they are able to achieve a great measure of co-ordination, not merely between one road passenger service and another, but even between rail services and road pas-senger services. The Traffic Commissioners are in the habit of getting hold of railway timetables. Surprising though it may seem to hon. Members opposite from the criticisms one sometimes hears them make of the present system, that is a fact.
However, as the Government are not prepared to make the fullest use of that system and are prepared during the period of interregnum to have this dual system, we considered it necessary to put down this Amendment to save the Government from the chaos which it appears to us they will be introducing. We therefore say that the Commission should not be allowed to operate services, except in accordance with a scheme made under Part IV and to operate the London passenger transport system, which is obvious, under Part II. We suggest to the House that if that precaution is taken there will be a continuance of the wellplanned and well-ordered system which has applied to road passenger transport for the last 15 years.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
It seems to me that the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) would make absolute nonsense of this Bill. The Amendment to 1852 restrict the Transport Commission to the operation of road haulage over long distance is quite impracticable. It would destroy the very purpose of this Bill. I say that for this reason. In the first place Clause 38 provides that the Transport Commission shall acquire road haulage undertakings, and it will acquire those undertakings as units. When it takes over those undertakings, it will take over both long-distance and short-distance services. It will acquire vehicles which are engaged both in long distance and in short distance work. If when a unit has been taken over it is said that the undertaking cannot continue to carry goods for a short distance, which it has been doing in the past, the Transport Commission can no longer operate that unit properly because the short-distance haulage and the long-distance haulage were operated together in the organisation, one working in with the other and the profits of the concern depending upon the two. But more important than that is the fact that if we take over a unit which is operating long and short distance, as the Transport Commission will be doing, and we acquire vehicles, there will be no vehicles available to continue to do the short distance work. If we are forbidden to do short-distance work, who will cater for the traders who still want their goods carried short distances? There are not the new vehicles available, people are not available to go into the business, and it will be impossible for the traders to be serviced in the way that they have been serviced in the past. This severance of the business which is suggested, not of the physical assets, but as regards the requirements of the trader, is impossible and, as I have said, unnecessary.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear that he wishes to nationalise short-distance as well as long-distance road transport?
§ Mr. Davies
Certainly. The Transport Commission is taking over short distance to the extent that short distance is carried on by those undertakings which the Transport Commission acquires. That is laid down in Clause 38. At the same time if is taking over that short distance which is operated by the railway companies today, which includes Pickfords and Carter Paterson, and that part of Carter Paterson and Pickfords which is inter-related with railway traffic will have to continue. That is another 1853 reason why this Amendment is not sensible, because the purpose of this Bill is to provide for the co-ordination of all forms of transport, and a successful transport system of this country must depend upon the co-ordination of road and rail traffic. If there is to be true co-ordination between road and rail traffic, then the Transport Commission has to be free to use the road transport to the extent that it desires to do so, and rail traffic to the extent to which it desires to do so. There will be certain distances which will emerge as time goes on in which it is more economic to use road transport, either to feed the railways or for the purpose of carrying the traffic without feeding the railways at all. If you restrict the carriage of goods to distances exceeding 25 miles, then you will not be able to work in your road traffic with your railway traffic in the way this Bill intends to provide.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, perhaps I did not make my question quite clear; does he, supported by his hon. Friend, desire to nationalise all short-distance transport? That is the issue.
§ Mr. Davies
Might I ask the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) to study the Bill? It lays down clearly the extent to which the Transport Commission takes over long distance and short distance. Clause 38 provides for the taking of long distance and short distance where both are operated by undertakings. Other Clauses provide for the taking over of railway undertakings which already engage in a certain amount of short distance. It is not provided in the Bill that undertakings operated within the short distance of 25 miles should be taken over automatically but, where the undertakings desire to be taken over, there are provisions in the Bill for it. It is laid down clearly in the Bill, it came out in the Committee upstairs, on which the hon. Gentleman sat, and it has been debated on the Floor of the House.
One point in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Monmouth. He suggested that, in the case of long distance, the Transport Commission would be free to make what charges it liked for carriage, that there would be no competition and, therefore, it could put up its charges to whatever extent it liked, and if engaged on short distance, it could 1854 charge unfair rates and enter into competition. I think the hon. Gentleman was overlooking the fact that the "C" licensee continues unrestricted under this Bill—
§ Mr. Davies
And as the "C" licensee continues unrestricted, there is that check on the operation of all long-distance traffic, that, if you charge more than a certain price for the carriage of goods, it would pay the trader to carry the goods himself. So there is that check on the charge which the Transport Commission will make and there is competition, and his argument as regards being able to charge high prices for long distance in order to undercut the short-distance haulier does not enter into it.
On the question of competition as between fair competition for private enterprise and unfair competition as is suggested, in effect, for nationalised undertakings, if this Amendment were carried there would be unfair competition for the Transport Commission because the Transport Commission would not have the advantage of the profitability of short. distance, but would be engaged only in long-distance traffic. It would, therefore, be at a disadvantage as regards competition with the short haulier. So I ask the hon. Member for Monmouth to think again about this Amendment; to think whether it is practicable, and should be carried out, or whether it is not designed to make nonsense of the Bill so that the Bill will not work.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Sir A. Salter
I think the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) has put before the House an extraordinary argument. He said that because the Commission takes over a particular undertaking, which has both long-distance and short-distance traffic, it must continue to run short-distance traffic. Do the Government intend that when this change takes place the particular present stratification of the transport system in this country should be perpetuated for ever? Is it not the intention to reorganise and rationalise the system, leaving to private enterprise what is most suitable to private enterprise and to public enterprise, what is most suitable to public enterprise? I thought that was the purpose. If it is the purpose, it is perfectly clear that the 1855 problem to which the hon. Member refers can easily be dealt with.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Surely, the right hon. Member is aware that the vehicles are not allocated as between long-distance and short-distance traffic, but the same vehicles will be carrying certain goods on long distances, and certain goods on short distances?
§ Sir A. Salter
Of course they will. But, when the change takes place, the existing transport of the country is going to be put upon a rationalised basis with a re. arrangement between the kind of traffic most suitable for one form or another. For a long time I have thought that while there is a great difference between the two sides of the House in regard to much of this Bill it was common ground that the short-distance part of this traffic was better left to private enterprise. We may clear out of the dispute the question of collecting for rail for the Amendment deals with that. But, dealing with the rest, if it is the case that it is proper and right that the short-distance traffic should normally be left to private enterprise the purpose behind these Amendments is perfectly simple and reasonable. It is that where private enterprise is not legislated out of business, and thus automatically put out of business, it should not be later inevitably frozen out of business. But, that will be the effect unless we have a safeguard of this kind. Hon. Members ask if we do not believe in competition. Certainly we do, but in reasonable, fair and equal competition. Competition between a Dreadnought and a dinghy is neither useful, interesting, nor likely to last long; but that is really not an unfair analogy. Competition between this vast Transport Commission on the one hand, and a small road haulier on the other, is so unequal as to make it quite impossible for the smaller party if the first is bent on aggression.
I can hardly think the hon. Member was serious when he talked about the unfairness to the Transport Commission of the advantage which a small, modern, shortdistance haulier would have. Let hon. Members think of the situation on the other side. It is not only, as my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) said, that the Commission can put up the rates on the long-distance 1856 traffic and use that income to subsidise competition on short-distance traffic. They can also draw upon the resources of higher rates on the railways, profits on hotels, profits in relation to the docks—profits upon anything in the whole sphere of their vast combined enterprise, all of which goes within one fund. It is completely impossible competition if the Transport Commission are out to kill the short-distance haulier. Can we have any assurance that they will not do that?
The hon. Member said that there is at least the protection of the competition of the freedom given to the "C" licence holder. That is no thanks to the hon. Member. He argued, on the Second Reading of the Bill, that any such concession as has subsequently been made by the Government would be fatal to the whole of this transport system. I agree that, to the exent to which that concession has been made, the Bill is better. But how inadequate that concession is as the sole protection against the kind of competitive pressure that the big Transport Commission could bring to bear upon the small haulier. It is obvious that, if they wished to do it, they could freeze out the small haulier altogether, and I have very little confidence indeed that they will not be tempted, and successfully tempted. to do so.
§ Sir A. Salter
I will answer the hon. Member. When we were discussing the question of "C" licences, the House will remember that the Parliamentary Secretary, rather giving away the Minister, who had said that all bona fide traders had no cause for alarm. He said that the Transport Commission could not afford to lose the cream of the traffic. If in the first days of the Bill, before it is law, those are the lines on which the Government are thinking, what is likely to be the temptation to the Transport Commission a little later when they see, as they will see, that purely from the point of view of their own finances, it will be very attractive to freeze out, to under-cut, to throw out of business, some of these small hauliers? It will be convenient and profitable for them to do so, and unless we have some safeguard, they will certainly be very likely to do so. Hon. Members also said, when we were talking about the prospective fate of the small hauliers of being squeezed out by a large concern, 1857 "Is that not what private capitalism has done in the past?" Yes, there have been such instances; they have been the abuses of part of the capitalist system. We all know what happened in the early days of the railways. We know that the railways used their power to squeeze out the canals, not only in regard to that part of the business which, in view of the advent of the railways, had become less economical to the consumers, but also in respect of that part of the business which it would have been very much to the advantage of the country to maintain.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very great difference? These capitalist companies were running the business for the profit of the few. The Transport Commission will be running the business in the interest of the many, and will not have the same desire or interest to indulge in unscrupulous conduct such as that to which he is referring.
§ Sir A. Salter
I do not think that that is an argument which need be carried very far. I will merely repeat the remark I made just now that when this Bill was having its Second Reading the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Transport Commission could not afford to lose the cream of certain traffic in connection with which, under subsequent pressure, the Government have since been compelled to give a safeguard for private enterprise. It is undoubtedly true, as I have said, that here and there in the capitalist system there has been an abuse of a monopoly in the form of the use of overwhelming financial power to squeeze out a small operator. There are, however, two things to say about that. First, such occurrences have not been the normal characteristics of the capitalist system of the country; they have been occasional and exceptional abuses.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Is not Tillings one case of the growth of the road transport undertakings—with which we are concerned in these Amendments—at the expense of the small passenger road transport proprietor?
§ Sir A. Salter
Tillings is nothing like he complete monopoly which is contemplated under this Bill. They are not exempted from an extensive form of competition.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Is it not a fact that Tillings and one other combine have about three-quarters of the road passenger transport business of this country?
§ Sir A. Salter
I really must get on. was making two statements, neither of which can be answered. The first is that there is nothing in the present system comparable with the exemption from competition contemplated under this Bill, and the second that the use of an enormous and overwhelmingly stronger financial power to squeeze out small competition has been exceptional and not the rule. That is the first point I wanted to make on this matter. The other is that whenever cartels and monopolies and semi-monopolies have developed at least they have done so without the specific intention of Parliament and without the specific allocation of powers by Parliament to help them to do it. That is the difference. I quite agree that where a monopoly has developed and is used in that way either it is ripe for nationalisation or it calls for other action by Parliament. But when we have one of these alternatives and nationalisation is proposed what do hon. Members opposite say? They say, "That which we have for many years been denouncing as the abuse of capitalism—though it has only been a relatively small part of the capitalist system—we will now make our very model and pattern."
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Proctor (Eccles)
An Amendment similar to this was moved in Committee and, despite the illustrious names which were attached to it, I pointed out that its effect would be that the Transport Commission would not be able to collect or deliver any goods and carry them by rail. That was admitted on all sides as being perfectly plain, and I want to point out again that although it is probably not what the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) or any of his supporters intend, this would be the effect of the actual words now on the Order Paper. I submit that although it was not their intention the promoters of the Amendment have provided only for the collection of goods and not for their delivery. The essential words used here are: 1859except for traffic originating from, or destined for, carriage by rail.Let us assume that the Commission collects goods from a trader, carries them to the railway station, and takes them by rail. It can do that. But it cannot deliver these goods by road, because the goods have not originated from the railway system; they originated somewhere else. Therefore I suggest that those who put forward this Amendment will have to revise it if they wish to make sure that the Commission will be able to carry out the ordinary business of transport, that is, collecting goods, carrying them by rail, and delivering them to the trader.
The other vital principle which is contained in this Amendment is even more interesting. We on the Government benches have been accused of taking by this Measure something which belongs to the private individual and handing it to the State without giving proper payment for it. All the arguments with regard to the payment for shares were based on that contention. But let us see what this Amendment would accomplish. Under this Bill, the State will purchase two valuable things.' One is the short-distance traffic which the railway companies carry at present; and we shall pay for that as a going concern. The other purchase is that referred to by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), the case in which we purchase a road transport concern which has both short-distance and long-distance traffic. That will be paid for by the British people as a going concern. What does the Opposition propose to do to this concern which now becomes the property of the British people under this Bill? In this Amendment the Opposition propose to take that which belongs to the nation, and hand it to private concerns for nothing. They would take the valuable consideration for which we pay under this Bill, and hand it over to private enterprise without receiving any payment for it. We on this side of the House deny that we have acted unfairly in any way, and assert that we are giving fair compensation; but the Opposition cannot deny that they propose here to commit the crime with which they have charged us, only in the opposite direction. The central purpose of this Amendment seems to be to take something which belongs to the nation and hand it over to private enterprise without any payment.
§ Mr, Renton
The hon. Member has thrown out something of a challenge, and I think it ought to be put on record that we completely deny his suggestion. The extremely tortuous argument which he is making would not bear examination. Even though there is not time to answer his arguments in detail, I think it ought to be put on record that he has completely misconstrued the argument put from this side of the House.
§ Mr. Proctor
The hon. Member is well aware that the usual plea in the places in which he is very often seen is "Not guilty." But that plea does not interest the jury at all. The evidence is weighed and considered by those who are charged with that duty. I think the evidence I have put forward tonight will be weighed very carefully by hon. Members who carry that responsibility. Now I say that to carry out this proposal made by the Opposition would be to cripple the Commission in its work of organising British transport. If one takes away from the Commission all the short-distance traffic that the railway companies are doing at the present time, one is committing a great crime against the British people. Far better that we should be honest and say that, if we are to do this, we should abandon the whole Bill. I suggest that this Amendment should go under the heading—and I have had to use this description before—of "wrecking Amendments."
The hon. Member for Monmouth has, however, made some progress between the Second Reading and the present stage of this Bill, because on the Second Reading he advocated a "free for all" system of transport. During that Debate, he said "Let everyone have a go." He was challenged, and leading Members of the Opposition were asked to give him support, but there was a grim silence all along the Opposition Front Bench on that occasion. I can only recall an almost inaudible "Hear, hear" from the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). So much for the support of the Tory Party. However, the hon. Member has come some way from his "free for all" policy. He now proposes to place a restriction on the principal transport authority in this country, and to exclude the Commission from the carriage of short-distance traffic by road. The intention is only to cripple the functioning of this experiment which, I am quite confident will 1861 nevertheless be a success so far as this country is concerned.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I suggest to the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) that he should get together with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), because he understands the Bill without having read it. We are, of course, aware of the hon. Member for Eccles, who was with us for two months in Committee upstairs. I must say that he tried hard. But, if anybody wonders why we, on this side, have put down these two Amendments, their doubts would have been removed by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) who has done so much to clarify for us what is really behind the Government's mind on this subject. The point which I should like the hon. Member for Enfield to answer is whether he is in favour of short-distance road transport being treated in this way. I ask him to "come clean" and tell the House whether, in fact, he is in favour of it.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
The question which I would ask the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) is, "Has he studied this Clause"? Does he suggest entire nationalisation? We nationalise a small section. When we nationalise long-distance undertakings we take over railways, which include short-distance road transport.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
The hon. Member is again avoiding the point. It is clear from all his speeches during the Committee stage and in this House that he, in common with the hon. Member for West Fife is in favour of total nationalisation in this country. That, I suggest, is a terrible thing, but it is allowed in totalitarian countries. If the hon. Member wishes to put that forward, let him say so, and let the people of this country know the fact.
§ Sir A. Salter
May I suggest that the hon. Member really got his answer in the earlier remark of the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) when he said that there are certain sections of short-distance haulage which are not automatic.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
On a point of Order. I think I have been long enough here to know that no hon. Member can take the Floor unless someone gives way. I want to know how often one can speak on this Clause.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) is perfectly correct. It is not desirable for hon. Members to give way too frequently or for us to have too many interruptions.
§ Mr. McKinlay
Further to that point of Order. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) accused me of raising a point which was not a point of Order. I did raise a point of Order which has been supported by you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not think the hon. Member's observations were called for at all.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
If I may conclude the few words I intend to say on this particular subject I would put it that hon. Members should realise that there is a considerable section behind the Government Front Bench who are in favour of the all-out nationalisation of transport in this country, both long-distance and short-distance. Let them "come clean" and be honest about it. That is the point I have been trying to make. The trouble is that the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) will not "come clean." It is clear that it is his intention to nationalise all short-distance transport.
§ Mr. Mitchison
On a point of Order. Is the question before the House whether the hon. Member for Enfield will or will not "come clean," and if so, has it anything to do with the Amendment we are discussing?
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
I think the House would prefer to consider the Bill which the Government are asking the House to discuss on its Report stage, in relation to the particular Amendments moved by hon. Members opposite. May I first relieve the mind of the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who seemed worried that in permitting the Commission to take over some short-distance work on the roads, we were exceeding the mandate which we received at the General Election— He seemed to be under the impression that 1863 in our pamphlet "Let Us Face The Future" we limited ourselves to long-distance road haulage. That was the argument which he developed at some length. I want to tell him that he is quite wrong. We did not define the exact spheres of transport which we would be nationalising but contented ourselves with the general statement that unification of inland transport was desirable under public ownership. So the hon. Member need not worry about that.
We are in this Bill giving the Commission certain functions and certain duties and their prime duty is to provide an efficient inland transport service which will be convenient, cheap, and effective for agriculture, industry and the public. And having given the Commission that duty under Clause 3 of the Bill, we find ourselves constantly faced with arguments from Members on the other side who seek to restrict and hamper and prevent the Commission carrying out those general duties which the Bill is placing upon them. This is one of these restrictive Amendments which, if it were carried, would make it very difficult—even impossible—to carry out the policy imposed by Parliament on the Commission. What would be the effect of the acceptance of the Amendments? The Commission would be unable to carry out any local deliveries in regard to haulage of short-distance road goods. It would be unable to do any collecting work or delivery work for goods which are to be carried on canals. I do not know what the mover and seconder of the Amendment would do with Carter Paterson when it comes over to the Commission. If the Amendment is carried, they would have to sell the whole concern, because the purpose of the promoters and supporters of the Amendment is that the Commission should divest itself of all services doing short-distance road work.
§ Mr. Renton
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the last words in my hon. Friend's Amendment? He will see that work in connection with servicing of railways is included. This is being done by Carter Paterson.
§ Mr. Strauss
Carter Paterson do a great deal of door-to-door delivery directly, both long-distance and short-distance. Therefore the Commission if this 1864 Amendment were passed, would have to get rid of all or a large part of the present Carter Paterson organisation. Further the Commission would be in this situation, which was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies). The road haulage firms which would be taken over would consist almost entirely of firms which do long-distance and short-distance work. Very few do long-distance only; nearly all combine it with short distance activity. It would mean, in fact, that the Commission would have to sell to private enterprise a bit of each of these organisations which it would take over. They would have to split up each organisation, which would make it wholly inefficient in most cases, and sell a bit of it to somebody who might come along and want to run a short-distance haulage undertaking. I suggest that that would not be in the public interest. The Commission would be hampered in carrying out the work which Parliament is placing upon it because the undertakings which it would take over would be severed. What would happen would be that a great deal of the short-distance work these firms have been doing would not be done at all.
I cannot conceive how anyone can argue that it is desirable that the Commission, having acquired those firms which are predominantly doing long-distance work, should immediately proceed either to suspend their short-distance work or try to sell it. For those reasons I suggest it would be wholly contrary to the public interest if the Commission was restricted in the way suggested in the Amendment. I suggest that it would be contrary to the public interest if the second Amendment were incorporated in this Bill. The Commission has a duty to see that there is adequate road passenger as well as goods haulage services in this country and where there is no adequate road passenger service it is a duty imposed by Parliament to see there is such a service. It may be the case that before any general road passenger schemes are worked out and carried into effect it may be desirable to run a local road passenger service linking up stations with other transport services where there is no convenient link at the moment. It would be ridiculous if the Commission were prohibited from starting a service of that sort, which might not pay for the time being, where there is no existing service doing the work. Therefore, I say, we 1865 must not in any way restrict the Commission in carrying out the general function which Parliament is imposing on it to see that there is an efficient transport service, both for passenger and goods traffic, whether the goods service is long distance or not.
I want to say a word about the fears which have been expressed by hon. Members opposite, and particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), about unfair competition. It has been suggested that the Commission put out of business existing companies which are running haulage undertakings. It struck me that the right hon. Gentleman found it difficult to envisage that this great transport undertaking which we are setting up, will be totally different in spirit and intention from the ordinary great private enterprise firms which have been in the field. The main object of any private company whether in the road transport business or any other, is to make as good return to the shareholders as it can. That is what it exists for, and it is naturally trying all the time to drive out competitors in order to make greater profits. With a Commission of the sort envisaged in this Bill we have an entirely different situation, but hon. Members opposite seem to be unable to imagine any kind of undertaking other than the ordinary private capitalist one. I do beg hon. Members opposite to appreciate that it is possible for a great undertaking to be established whose object shall be, not private profit but public service.
§ Mr. Linstead (Putney)
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he will explain to the House why the Post Office has not reduced its charges but continues to pass on large sums every year?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot go into these wider questions in any detail. Perhaps I allowed the right hon. Member the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), to go a little further than I ought to have done and I am allowing the Minister to reply but the Debate must not be extended further.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
This body is to be established as a public service and its main purpose is, as stated in Clause 3, to bring about good transport services throughout the country and to integrate those services. Therefore I suggest in the 1866 first place, that if it started out to try to drive the local haulier out of business— and I cannot understand why in the world it should want to do so—but, if, by any chance, it wanted to do so, it would be directly flouting the duties placed upon it by Parliament. That duty I say is to integrate the existing public services in the country and see that they are as efficient as possible and serve the public as' well as possible. It would be quite contrary to the direct instructions given to the Commission by Parliament if it proceeded, along the lines suggested by hon. Members. Any. Minister of Transport would inevitably give the Commission directions, if he suspectded for one moment that they were setting out on a line which was contrary to that imposed by Parliament.
There is another reason why it is exceedingly unlikely that the Commission could, even if they wanted to do so, carry out such a policy. The Commission will. have to carry out the charges, both in respect of passengers and goods, imposed by the charges schemes, which will be worked out first by the Commission and then by the Tribunal. They will not be free to make any charges they like, to drive out competitors. They will have to work in accordance with the charges schemes which the Tribunal considers to be fair and proper. The Commission would be unable to drive the small man out of business, even if they wanted to; if they did that, they would as I have pointed out be flouting the duty placed upon them by Parliament. If the Commission were to have imposed on them' the restriction suggested here, it would hamper severely the public transport services of this country, and would be wholly contrary to the public interest. The fear that this body may try to imitate the objectives of private enterprise in driving its competitors out of business to make greater profits is groundless. It cannot happen, because the Bill tells the Commission directly that it must not happen. Moreover, they will be prevented from doing so by any Minister of Transport, and by the charges schemes which it will have to work. We, in Parliament, are telling the Commission they have a duty to provide an integrated and efficient service for the people, for industry and for agriculture. It is ridiculous to try at the same time to impose restrictions which would make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to carry out that duty.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The lowest common factor. in the three speeches we have had from the Government benches, has been that these Amendments seek to make 'nonsense of the Bill. That suggestion has run through the speeches of the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), the lion. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) and the Parliamentary Secretary. Let us consider what the Bill sets out to do. It sets out to nationalise long-distance transport, and it specially excepts two forms of transport, one being excluded traffics, and the other being transport under 25 miles. I do not think anyone on the other side will deny that the object of the Bill has been stated, time and again, to be the nationalisation of long-distance transport. When the hon. Member for Enfield sought to grasp the nettle, he said "Oh, yes, but the Bill also says that it is taking over the whole of the business included in the formula set out in the relevant parts of the Bill." But what is the formula designed to do? On what ground was it recommended, in our Debates in the Standing Committee? It was on the ground that it fairly gave a definition of what was long-distance road haulage transport. It is a reductio ad absurdum to say that because the formula does not work, you can say your Bill is no longer designed to be limited to long-distance road transport, and that the object is to take over short-distance road transport as well. That was the argument of the hon. Member for Enfield.
Although I am not unaccustomed to legalistic argument, I have not heard anything to equal the sort of argument developed in excelsis, or in profundis, by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor). Traffic does not originate with the carrier at all; it originates with the consignor, who is a merchant or producer. This extension of our Amendment has been made not only with accurate intention, but with accurate wording to cover the point that was objected to when we moved a slightly more limited Amendment in Committee, namely, that it would not cover collection and delivery from the railhead. It is a poor argument to suggest that when we meet a point which has been put to us, we ought to squeeze into the word, "originate," a meaning which no reasonable person could possibly give it. The Parliamentary Secretary came down to the Pickford-Carter Paterson- 1868 Hay's Wharf postwar carriage argument. Let us consider what that group do. Of their traffic, 73 per cent. deals with excluded traffics—liquids in bulk, furniture removals, the carriage of meat, and of abnormal indivisible loads.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to develop my argument. These are traffics which, by the design and intent of the Bill, it is intended to nationalise. Of the remaining 27 per cent., 22 per cent. are traffics which are under 25 miles—again the form of traffic which it is the intention to exclude from the operation of the Bill—and we remain with the 5 per cent. which would come within the purview of the Bill. I quite accept the point, and this is really the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary. He did not mention the number, but he knows and I know that Pickfords have some 3,000 vehicles. The hon. Gentleman said, "You are not going to suppose for an instant that the Transport Commission are going to sell 95 per cent. of the 3,000 vehicles. Would not that be a terrible thing for this great State monopoly which I have described to you in such poetic language to have to break up its business and to have to sell its vehicles."
I did not notice that a single wither of the Parliamentary Secretary was wrung when he was describing all the innumerable transport businesses he was prepared to burst up and whose vehicles he was prepared to dispose of, when we were discussing the compensation Clauses. But, of course, when it comes to Pickfords it is a terrible business. He would not have the least difficulty on the terms of payment for vehicles at the rate that he suggested—new vehicle less a 20 per cent. depreciation at three years' purchase, which he so eloquently urged. There would be a queue of people ready to buy the business on those terms. There would not be the slightest difficulty in getting rid of it, and carrying out the plan—that ghostly spectre of a plan which runs through this Bill, for dividing road transport on lines which give the basis of proper co-ordination. That is, of course, the clear and logical consequence of this Amendment, and it would in that one place at any rate, change this Bill from being a hotch-potch of conflicting ideas 1869 into a logical, clear course leading to some form of co-ordination of transport. For that reason, of course, it will not be looked at, but we might as well have its reasonable and logical facets put clearly before the House.
I turn to the other arguments which the hon. Gentleman put forward. If he will allow me to say so, he has dealt with great ability with every argument we have put forward and has deployed every argument which he could command in answer. Sometimes we have had different ideas as to the strength of his arguments, but that the hon. Gentleman has always endeavoured to apply them, I think we on this side fully admit and appreciate. Therefore I want to do the same myself by answering them. I want to deal for a moment with the question of the general attitude of the public corporation which he has put forward today. He has advanced the argument that the public corporation is to be totally different in spirit. That does demand some consideration, but the other great question—and we can never have regard to one aspect only of a public corporation or anything else— which is to be considered is that of efficiency. The Parliamentary Secretary has implied that the State monopoly is to be without the check of the customer being able to go elsewhere.
By the rejection of this Amendment the hon. Gentleman is strengthening that aspect. He is making it more difficult for any checks on efficiency to be in existence. We suggest that there are two motives. One is that we have to try to disguise inefficiency, and the other is that the State monopoly, from its very origin and from its method of working, is prey to one of the most sinister defects which we have seen in the 20th century, the lust for power and the determination to get a dominant and ever more dominant position. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may take these matters facetiously today. It is always easy for them to be facetious about anyone who suggests to them that they are riding roughshod over, and dealing harshly with, minorities, and restricting the right of those minorities because they themselves happen to be in a majority. But it is sometimes quite useful to look at these matters objectively and to consider that these positions have been reversed in the past and will be reversed again. I put it to hon. Members opposite who have approached this Bill 1870 with all the emphasis on one aspect—that is the feather-bedding of the position of the railway unions—that they should remember this. I ask hon. Members opposite to remember this that road transport has been built up in such a way that the number of vehicles in this country has risen from 20,000 to 500,000 in 20 years.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
It is a remark which is denied by everyone connected with the road transport industry, and by the legislation which that industry has had passed during the past 20 years. I ask hon Members opposite not to approach this in the easy way from the point of view of their own concerns, but to remember that this industry, which has grown in this way, will not be put down by unfair terms being fastened upon it in a House of Commons in which its interests happen to be in a temporary minority. The Government are dealing with something that arose from, and had its being in the healthy life and powers of the people of this country and no unfairness of this kind will check it.
The other point which I want to make clear is with regard to the charges scheme. The Parliamentary Secretary said—and he must forgive our smiles when he said it— that if there were any unfair charges, they would be checked by a scheme. But who makes the scheme? The Commission, of course, but the Commission is concerned in the unfair charges. What happens when the scheme is made? It goes to the Tribunal. What happens if the scheme amended by the Tribunal is not liked? It goes back to the Minister, who can give a direction in order to see that the scheme does not offend any principle, which commends itself to him as being in the national interest. All we are asking in this Amendment is that those forms of traffic which were excluded from the purview of this Bill should be given a fair chance to operate. That is all we are asking, and when the answer is given to us, "Oh, but you will receive a guarantee of fairness by a tribunal which can only operate on schemes put forward by the Commission, 1871 and then cannot operate outside the blinkers imposed by the Ministry," we on this side of the House must be forgiven if we do not attach very much importance to that.
The kernel of this Amendment comes to this, that we are asking that the Commission should not come into, broadly, two forms of transport of goods—first, the short distance, which is the descendant of the old horse carriers, and has always had many of the same qualities, and secondly, the very traffics that were excluded from the Bill. We say, so far as passenger transport is concerned, take the London traffic, make the schemes of which we have heard so much this afternoon, but do not—and why should you?—go outside these proposals today. For that reason, I shall advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for this Amendment when they get an opportunity.
§ Mr. Percy Morris (Swansea, West)
. May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to define in clearer terms what he meant by "a typical union remark"?
§ Did he mean by that remark that the railway unions have made no contribution to the present state of efficiency and progress of the railways?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am very glad the hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. P Morris) has put that question. What I am suggesting is that the railway unions, in considering this Bill, have approached it entirely from a railway angle, and have not been able, in spite, I am sure, of genuine efforts, to give an objective and correct view to the problems of the roads. I shall not withdraw that remark, because I am a frank as well as a fair controversialist, and that happens to be my opinion. I hope it will not be thought that I am depreciating or denigrating the work the railway unions have done as far as the railways are concerned. That has been wholly admirable, and the war years are a great testimony to that.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided; Ayes, 128; Noes, 313.1875
|Division No. 157.]||AYES.||[11.19 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Glyn, Sir R||Nicholson, G.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Gridley, Sir A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Naughton, S. G.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Beechman, N. A||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bowen, R.||Hollis, M. C.||Renton, D.|
|Bower, N.||Howard, Hon. A.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr, Roland|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N J||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P G. T.||Hurd, A.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'Id'n)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Channon, H.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cole, T. L||Langford-Holt, J.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H||Strauss, H G. (English Universities)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Linstead, H. N.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. E||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Teeling, Willlam|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thorneycroft. G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thorp, Lt..Col. R. A. F.|
|Digby, S. W.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Touche, G. C.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fraser, H. C P. (Stone)||Medlicott, F.||York, C.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Edwards, W. J, (Whitechapel)||Logan, D. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Longden, F.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lyne, A. W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.|
|Alpass, J H||Ewart, R.||McEntee, V. La T|
|Attewell, H. C.||Fairhurst, F.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Farthing, W. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Field, Capt. W. J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Baird. J||Follick, M.||Maclean, N (Govan)|
|Balfour, A.||Fool, M. M.||McLeavy, F.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Barton, C.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Battley, J. R.||Gaitskell, H. T. N||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Gallacher, W.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. J||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Benson, G.||Gibbins, J.||Marquand, H. A.|
|Berry, H.||Gibson, C. W.||Mathers, G.|
|Beswick, F.||Gilzean, A.||Medland, H. M.|
|Bing, G. H C||Gooch, E. G..||Mellish, R. J.|
|Binns, J||Goodrich, H. E.||Messer, F.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R|
|Blyton, W. R.||Grey, C. F.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Boardman, H.||Grierson, E.||Monslow, W.|
|Bottomley, A. G||Griffiths, D. (Bother Valley)||Moody, A S.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llonelly)||Morgan, Dr H. B.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Morley, R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Morris, Lt-Col. H. (Sheffield C.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gunter, R. J||Morris, P. (Swansea. W.)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Guy, W H.||Moyle, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Murray, J. D.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hall, W. G.||Nally, W.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Hardman, D. R||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J (Derby)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hardy, E. A.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Burden, T. W||Harrison, J.||O'Brien, T|
|Burke, W. A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oldfield, W. H|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Callaghan, James||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Carmichael, James||Hewitson, Capt M.||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Champion, A. J.||Hobson, C. R||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Holman, P.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Paton, Mrs F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||House, G.||Paton, J (Norwich)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hoy, J.||Pearson, A|
|Collick, P.||Hubbard, T.||Pearl, Capt. T. F.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Platts-Mills, J. F. E|
|Collins, V. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverh'pton, W.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Comyns, Dr. L||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rushotme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)||Price, M. Philips|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Irving, W. J.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Corlett, Dr, J.||Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jay, D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J|
|Crawley, A.||Jager, G. (Winchester)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Jager, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Randall, H E|
|Daggar, G.||John, W||Ranger, J.|
|Daines, P.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Reeves J|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, J H. (Bolton)||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Ridealgh, Mrs M|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Keenan, W.||Robens, A|
|Deer, G.||Kendall, W. D.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Kenyon, C.||Roberts. Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Key, C. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Diamond, J.||King, E. M.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dobbie, W.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Royle, C.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Kinley, J.||Sargood, R.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lang, G.||Scollan, T|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lavers, S.||Scott-Elliot, W|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lee, F. (Hulme).||Shackleton, E. A A.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Lee, Miss J (Cannook)||Sharp, Granville|
|Dye, S.||Leonard, W||Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Levy, B. W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Edelman, M.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Silverman, J. (Erdinglon)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Skinnard, F W.||Thurtle, E.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Smith, C. (Colchester)||Tiffany, S.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Smith, S H. (Hull, S.W.)||Timmons, J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Solley, L. J||Tolley, L.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Sparks, J. A.||Usborne, Henry||Williams, D. J. (Heath)|
|Stamford, W.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Stephen, C.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Strachey, J.||Walkden, E.||Williamson, T.|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Walker, C. H.||Willis, E.|
|Stubbs, A. E.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Swingler, S.||Wallace, H W. (Watthamstow, E.)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Sylvester, G. O.||Warbey, W. N||Woodburn, A.|
|Symonds, A. L.||Watkins, T E.||Wyatt, W.|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Watson, W. M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Taylor, Dr S. (Barnet)||Weitzman, D.|
|Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wells, P. L (Faversham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wells, W T. (Walsall)||Mr. Michael Stewart and|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||West, D. G.||Mr. Simmons|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnes
I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, to leave out "and," and to insert:whether or not those goods have been or are to be carried by the Commission, so, however, that facilities for the storage of goods shall not be provided by the Commission except at places where such facilities are required for the storage of goods carried or to be carried by them.(d).This point was raised by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) in Committee. The hon. Member asked for an assurance that the Commission would not establish warehouses and storage accommodation outside the natural requirements of their business undertakings so as to enter into wholesale competition. This Amendment gives that assurance and places that limitation on the Commission.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I thank the Minister for the insertion of these words. I think the Amendment will relieve the anxiety of a number of people who felt the Commission might enter into a number of activities quite disconnected with transport.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Oliver Poole
I beg to move, in page 3, line 9, at the end, to insert:Provided that the Commission shall not have power to carry passengers by road in a hackney carriage adapted to carry less than eight passengers and used in plying or standing for hire in a street.The right hon. Gentleman has accepted a suggestion made by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and I hope he will receive this Amendment in the same frame of mind. It is required 1876 to give effect to a statement which the Minister made in Standing Committee, on 19th February, that taxicabs are not being brought within the provisions of the Bill. The object of the Amendment is to qualify the wide general power in Clause 2 (I a). The words in the Amendment, are, I am advised, the most suitable for the purpose and follow the Road Traffic Act of 1930. I very much hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept it. It might perhaps be convenient for the Committee, if the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Digby) in page 5, line 3, which covers the same point, were also discussed.
§ Mr. Barnes
The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. 0. Poole) is quite right. I did indicate that if such an Amendment were moved, it would be sympathetically considered and I am prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Barnes
I beg to move, in page 3, line 37, at the end, to insert:(g) to enter into and carry out agreements with any person carrying on business as a carrier of passengers or goods outside Great Britain providing for the carriage of passengers or goods by or on behalf of the Commission and that other person under one contract or at a through charge or in the same vehicles or containers, whether belonging to the Commission or not.1877 The railway companies have a practice of booking through carriage rates from this country to various places on the Continent, and this Amendment enables the Commission to have a similar power and authority.
§ Mr. Maclay
The only comment I would make is that I think this is a very useful Amendment and I congratulate the Minister on putting such a fair Amendment on the Paper.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 4, line 15, leave out "(d) and (e)," and insert "(e) and (f)."
§ In page 4, In line 23, leave out "or (c)," and insert "(c) or (d)."—[Mr. Barnes.]
§ Mr. Digby
I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, at the end, to insert:(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this section the Commission shall not run contract carriages or motor vehicles adapted to carry less than eight passengers for hire or reward.This Amendment is similar to that which has just been accepted by the Minister, with this exception that, as well as vehicles which are covered by the definition of taxicabs, contract carriages are included. In Committee the Parliamentary Secretary told us it was not intended to include the operation of contract carriages within the functions of the Commission. That statement was made on 23rd April, at col. 1057. Furthermore the Minister at the seventh Sitting of the Committee told us he did' not intend to include taxicabs and I gather that this point has also been covered in letters from the Minister to the Passenger Vehicle Operators Association. If that is the case, I cannot see why the Minister should not accept this Amendment. If there is no intention that the Commission should in any circumstances operate either taxicabs or contract carriages, it is clearly unnecessary for them to have powers to do so under the Bill. Therefore I hope the Minister will agree to this Amendment.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
I think there must be some misunderstanding. I never said in Committee, as far as I remember, and I never intended to convey to the Committee that in no circumstances would the Commission be able to run contract carriages. If I did say so, it must have been in some other connection. It was not in my mind at the time that there should be 1878 any prohibition of this sort. May I suggest to the House that it is desirable that the Commission should have powers in certain circumstances to run such vehicles. My right hon. Friend has accepted an Amendment which would prohibit the Commission from running taxis. But it may be very desirable in connection with railway or hotel work, to run small cars. For instance, in London, the Commission may want to run a regular service of small vehicles between the various stations. That would not be a service of taxicabs, but of—motor vehicles adapted to carry less than eight passengers for hire or reward.It may be desirable, in connection with the hotel work of the Commission, that vehicles should be run, contract carriages or otherwise, to take passengers to and from the station, or, in helping the tourist trade, from a hotel to a place of historic interest in the neighbourhood. I suggest that it would be unwise, if we want to enable the Commission to function fully and in the best public interest, particularly in regard to the hotel section, to impose a ban of this sort. It is not our intention that the Commission should set up hire-service stations all over the country, and carry on, in the ordinary sense, the business of running hire vehicles for private people. We do not want to do anything of that kind, and the Commission would not want to do that. At the same time we do not think it is wise to prohibit the Commission from running such vehicles as I indicated. It might seriously interfere with the hotel section of the Commission's work.
§ Mr. Strauss
I think I was referring there to a definition. If my memory serves me aright, I think I said that there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the Commission running contract carriages if they desired. I am pretty certain about that, because a question was asked whether they would be in competition with other undertakings, and I said, "Inevitably."
§ Mr. Oliver Poole
I think there is some misunderstanding in regard to this 1879 Amendment. There is no doubt about what the Parliamentary Secretary stated although I cannot give the quotation in reply to certain questions which arose, when the whole question of contract carriages was discussed. The object of this Amendment is merely to give effect to the statement which the Minister made that taxicabs would not be included. I understand that that was the whole point of the letter which was written to the Passenger Vehicle Operators' Association. If he will look into this matter again, in view of the misunderstanding, and give that assurance, I am sure that my hon. Friend will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Strauss
If there is some misunderstanding, we shall certainly look into the matter again, especially if we find there is justification for the suggestion that there is something wrong, but we are clear as to our intentions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.