HC Deb 11 August 1947 vol 441 cc1927-2157

3.31 p.m.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, to leave out from beginning, to "that," in line 1, page 2, and to insert: (1) For the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that all Defence Regulations directed by Order in Council to have effect by virtue of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, and remaining unrevoked at the date of the passing of this Act and all orders or other instruments in force thereunder are and remain valid and effective for all or any of the purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section one of that Act. (2) The purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section one of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, shall include and shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes. The purpose of this Amendment, and of another which I shall mention in a moment, is to bring the Bill into line with the intentions of the Government, as expressed with some particularity by the Lord President on Friday, and again, in shorter form, by the Prime Minister last night. I think it is obvious that this Bill was produced in a hurry It is not part of a long-thought-out plan, because there is not such a plan, and, therefore, it is quite easy to understand that the draftsmen may have received some indefinite instructions and have thought that they had better be on the safe side in drafting the Bill as widely as possible

Before I proceed to explain what the Amendment seeks to do, it might be well if I stated in as short a form as I can what I understood to be the view of the Lord President and of the Prime Minister. The Lord President, on the Second Reading Debate on Friday, put in the forefront of his case the removal of legal difficulties. He said: We were apprehensive that unless we got this additional definition of purpose we might, first of all, get into legal difficulties. Then he said: The courts might rule that some of the action was ultra vires. Secondly, there might have been a temptation to the Government to stretch the meaning of the existing law. A few lines further on, he said this: Therefore, because of legal doubt, because we wanted Ministers to be able to say to themselves all the time, 'I am acting within the law,' and in order that the Government might have adequate powers, which it must have, to deal with the present situation, we thought it right to take the straightforward course and bring this Bill before Parliament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1804.] I welcome the fact that the Government are extremely scrupulous, even though I do not understand their scruples. I do not think their scruples were explained, certainly not adequately explained, on Second Reading. In any event, we have now reached the Committee stage, and I accept the view that the Government have scruples, right or wrong, and that those scruples ought to be respected. The purpose of the Amendment is to bring the Bill into such a position that it will meet and remove all the scruples which have hitherto been expressed.

The Lord President mentioned three different topics on which he was doubtful whether the existing powers really covered them. The first was redressing the balance of trade, the second was the development of the export trade, and the third was the emphasis on increasing production. He thought, if I understood him right, that there was some danger of an order, which appeared on the face of it to be directed to one or more of those objects, being held by the courts ultra vires the 1945 Act. I do not think I would feel very happy in having to plead before a court that such an order was ultra vires that Act. I do not think I am usually at a loss for an argument on a legal topic, but I confess that I should be at a loss on this occasion. Nevertheless, let us suppose that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General has discovered a statable argument on this question, and that, therefore, we ought to deal with it.

This Amendment does precisely what the Government want. It sets out to remove doubts, and, if I may, I should like to read it. (1) For the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that all Defence Regulations directed by Order in Council to have effect by virtue of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act. 1945, and remaining unrevoked at the date of the passing of this Act and all orders or other instruments in force thereunder are and remain valid and effective for all or any of the purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section one of that Act. Then, we go on— (2) The purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section one of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, shall include and shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes. That links up with the passage in the Bill at the top of page 2— that is to say:—

  1. (a) for promoting the productivity of industry, commerce and agriculture;
  2. (b) for fostering and directing exports and reducing imports, or imports of any classes, from all or any countries and for redressing the balance of trade."
These two things include everything about which the Lord President expressed doubts on Friday, and it is necessary, I think, in order that the proper meaning of this Amendment should be appreciated, that I should discuss along with it, the Amendment at the bottom of the first page on the Order Paper, which seeks to delete subsection (1, c)— In page 2, line 7, leave out from "trade," to end of line 11. Plainly, it will not make sense to make an Amendment of the purposes set out in Section 1 of the 1945 Act if it is not linked up with Subsection (1, c). With your permission, Major Milner, I propose to discuss the two Amendments together, and, no doubt, they can be put separately to the Committee in due course.

Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)

On a point of Order. Could we have a Ruling on that? Do I understand that we are now to discuss both these Amendments and also the Amendment to delete Subsection (1, c), because, if so, it widens the whole scope of this extremely important Amendment, and, indeed, we might discuss the whole substance of the Bill?

The Chairman (Major Milner)

If it is agreed and for the convenience of the Committee, I have no objection to the Amendments being discussed together.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Further to that point of Order. Will the second Amendment in that case be voted on separately?

The Chairman

The reply to the right hon. Gentleman is "Yes." There can, of course, be a separate Division, if that is the desire of the Committee.

Mr. Churchill (Woodford)

I am very glad, Major Milner, that you have ruled that the Debate on the present Amendment shall accept within its compass the issue raised by the Amendment with respect to Subsection (1, c), but, of course, there will be two Divisions. Surely, there is no reason why these two Divisions should not take place at their proper time and place in the chronological sequence of the Bill? That would be agreeable to us. No doubt, a prolonged Debate will take place on the first Amendment, and it might, to some extent, abridge the time of the Committee in regard to the second.

Mr. Morrison

I appreciate that point, and the only difficulty on which I would seek your guidance, Major Milner, is this. Between this Amendment now being moved and the Amendment at the bottom of the page, there are two others, and it seems to be logical and proper that, if we are to have two Divisions, the votes could take place on this Amendment and on that at the bottom of the page instead of waiting to dispose of those in between.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

Before you give your Ruling, Major Milner, may I explain that the second and third Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friends and myself on the Order Paper are really alternative to the first. The second is in page 1, line 20, after "which," to insert— at the date of the passing of this Act, and the third, in line 23, is to leave out from "thereunder," to "shall" in line 24. They raise quite short points and are little more than drafting. I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we took the discussion of the present Amendment and the one on paragraph (c) now, had our Division on this first Amendment, discussed the next two Amendments in their turn, and then had the Division on the Amendment relating to paragraph (c).

The Chairman

I must make it clear that there cannot be a second discussion on the Amendment relating to paragraph (c). I understand that it is desired that there should be one discussion but two Divisions, and the Divisions would be taken in chronological order, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition suggested.

Mr. Churchill

I cannot agree to that. If that is to be your Ruling, Major Milner, then I think it would be better if the discussion on this present Amendment were limited strictly to its terms, and that we should preserve all our rights to have a full discussion on the main issue, which is the Amendment to leave out paragraph (c). If, however, a Debate were to take place on that Amendment and the present one now, it would affect the duration of the Debate on the Amendment relating to paragraph (c). If it is desired to keep this Debate on this Amendment strictly to the terms of the Amendment, then, of course, the main discussion of the evening will fall on the Amendment relating to paragraph (c).

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we cannot have two discussions on the same subject matter. I understood that the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked that the two Amendments should be taken together in one discussion. I was agreeable to that, on the clear understanding that there would be only one discussion—not two—but two Divisions if desired. However, if the Committee do not unanimously agree to that course then we must take the Amendments in the order in which they appear on the Paper, and the discussion on each one must be strictly limited to its terms.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I am afraid it is not really possible to discuss this present Amendment without mentioning paragraph (c), but I shall attempt not in any way to argue the case about paragraph (c) at this stage, and to restrict myself merely to mentioning it, in order to get the rest of the argument into shape.

There was a most noticeable conflict on Friday between the view of the Lord President and the view of certain hon. Gentlemen who sit high up behind him; and it is, perhaps, noticeable that, after that conflict had fully emerged into the light of day, the Prime Minister on Sunday night came down entirely on the side of the Lord President and against hon. Members who sit behind him; because the Prime Minister, according to the Press report, said this: The Government have introduced a Bill which, while it gives no greater powers than were given to the present Government in 1945, enables them to be applied to the present crisis. It is exactly in line with that sentence in the Prime Minister's broadcast that this Amendment is drafted. If I had been asked to draft an Amendment to carry the Prime Minister's intention into legislative effect I do not think I could have drafted a better Amendment than that which now appears on the Order Paper in the name of my right hon. Friends and myself. It is necessary, I think, in order to appreciate the importance of this Amendment, to spend a moment or two in developing the conflict—or, rather, in showing the reasons for the conflict—between the right hon. Gentleman and his follow.

3.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) and others appeared to be fellow travellers on this issue. I think I may take it that their remarks worked in together and were intended to form a coherent whole. The view of the hon. Member for East Coventry certainly was that the attempt to maintain full employment without the controls we have in operation already was bound to lead to a crisis. I think that that is what he meant when he said "without adequate controls." Therefore, the hon. Member for East Coventry, far from regarding this as a Bill for the removal of doubt, regarded it, as he explained in his opening sentence, indeed, as a Bill which ought to be used to very great effect. If this Amendment were carried, that use would be precluded, and the view of the Lord President would be sustained.

Then the hon. Member for Reading made a speech at least equally important to that of the hon. Member for East Coventry, because he regarded this Bill as the result of pressure brought to bear on the Government by himself and his friends. He told us that, whereas the Government had said months ago that his proposals could not be carried out, the Government were proposing to carry them out; but that they could not be carried out by reason of administrative difficulty. I venture to think the Government were right, and that if they attempt to carry out the views of the hon. Member for Reading they will land the country first into administrative chaos and secondly into national disaster. It is in order to support the Lord President against all pressure of that kind that this Amendment is designed—to prevent assaults coming down on his head from those who sit on the Mountain behind him. I cannot help remembering at this time the somewhat triumphant self-confidence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General 18 months ago when he told us, "We are the masters now." I wonder whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite sure today that he and his colleagues really are masters of the situation?

Mr. Collins (Taunton)

Is this particular discussion relevant to the Amendment we are considering, Major Milner?

Mr. Churchill

So the hon. Member is out to teach the Chair, is he, as well as everybody else?

The Chairman

I must ask the hon. Member to leave the conduct of the Debate in the hands of the Chair.

Mr. Reid

I should like to carry the Committee with me, and, therefore, I would just say in passing to the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) that the purpose of this Amendment is to make clear on the face of the Bill what the two leading Members of the Government have said was their intention—that the Bill does not go beyond the removal of doubts, and, especially, the new purpose specifically mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. I think that all I have said up to now is relevant to that issue. As I say, our main reason for putting down this Amendment is to relieve the Government from pressure while they are finding a policy. It is noticeable that the hon. Member for East Coventry invented quite a different myth. He invented the myth of wise statesmen foreseeing trouble, making preparations, and then awaiting the psychological moment to launch on an astonished world a policy which would sweep the country. I wonder if he was serious? We have heard rumours, of course, that far from sweeping the country, the right hon. Gentleman has not even carried all his own followers.

The Chairman

The hon. and learned Gentleman is not entitled to discuss policy or purposes under this Amendment. That question might conceivably arise hereafter in relation to the Amendment to omit paragraph (c).

Mr. Reid

I have tried as carefully as I can to keep strictly to this Amendment, but it is difficult to draw the line. I have tried not to forestall what I may have to say in regard to the Amendment to leave out paragraph (c). If, Major Milner, you think the line of argument I am now pursuing would be more relevant on that Amendment, I will leave it for the moment and pass on to other matters. I can be short on this Amendment, retaining what I have to say till that later Amendment, because it would be unfortunate if I developed half my argument and then had to leave the other half to be brought forward in a disjointed manner. Possibly it would be better if I did not now develop the general line of argument, which I shall do at some stage during the Debate.

We are dealing here with such very loosely drafted and vague provisions in the Bill that a great deal depends on the spirit in which the Government intend to operate the Bill. Therefore, it is important that we should get at the beginning of the Bill a clear pointer to the spirit in which Parliament intends the Bill to be operated. If at the beginning of the Bill, we put in a clear indication that its main purpose is for the removal of doubt, and for the establishment of at least two of the purposes in Clause I as comprehended within the framework of the 1945 Act, then it is clear that, whatever be the legal niceties, no Government could, without flying in the face of the obvious intention of this House, use this Bill for more extended purposes. It is clear, therefore, that the Government would not really be free to change their minds. At the moment their minds are entirely in line with the Amendment. I find nothing in the speeches of right hon. Members opposite which goes one bit further than this Amendment would carry them. If that is what they want, then this Amendment makes it clear that they cannot be pressed, either by panic or by pressure from behind, into going further than they intend.

I hope the Government will accept this Amendment as carrying out their intention. At the moment I cannot see any reason why they should not. If they do accept the Amendment, then they know exactly where they stand. They have the powers for which they ask and no more. We have not yet been told any reason at all why they should get any more, but to pursue that line of argument would, I think, be trespassing on the later Amendment to leave out paragraph (c). If this Amendment is accepted the Government will have all—and indeed more than all—the powers which they ought to have to make changes by regulations. I do not want to dwell on the topic which I hope to raise at a later occasion, that the right way to deal with this matter is to bring forward important new developments for discussion in this House before they are put into operation. That, I take it, under your Ruling, Major Milner, comes more appropriately under paragraph (c).

Mr. H. Morrison

If the right hon. and learned Member is raising the question whether the matter should be dealt with by affirmative Resolution or by negative Prayer, that comes under a separate Amendment.

Mr. Reid

I am certainly not raising that question at all. The point I am raising, or propose to raise in some detail at a later stage, is that where there are major changes of policy they ought to be brought before this House in the form of Bills, and that neither a negative Prayer nor an affirmative Resolution is——

The Chairman

Clearly, that question does not come within the scope of this Amendment.

Mr. Reid

I rather thought that, and it was only because of the interruption of the right hon. Member—which, I confess, I rather invited—that I ventured to foreshadow the argument I shall put at a later stage. At this stage it is enough to say that this Amendment will save right hon. Members opposite from their friends.

Mr. Paget (Northampton)

The right hon. and learned Member has said what the Government can do under their Bill, and what can be done under this Amendment. Could he now tell us what the Government can do under the Bill but which cannot be done under the Amendment?

Mr. Reid

I thought I had made it perfectly clear that if this Amendment were accepted, it would be a clear pointer to the Government that this Committee agreed with their intention; and it would be, if not a breach of the law, at least a breach of faith for the Government to proceed beyond their present intentions. If they have as their authority a Bill beginning "For the removal of doubt," quite clearly such a Bill could not be used, without at least a grave breach of faith with the Committee, for purposes which go beyond the specific purposes to which the right hon. Member alluded at an earlier stage.

The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)

I shall not follow the right hon. and learned Member in his Second Reading speech. I confess I am not surprised that he devoted his speech to Second Reading matters and not to the purpose of this Amendment. I shall seek, if I can, to avoid falling into that error, and to direct my observations to the Amendment on the Order Paper. This Amendment, as I see it, would add a great many words to the Bill but, as sometimes happens, the words would be entirely empty, and would in no way at all alter the scope, the effect or the substance of the Bill. I would not reject them for that reason alone if I thought that their adoption would enable hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to spend nights less ridden with fears of Gestapos, goblins and dictators.

4.0 p.m.

The Chairman

I do not think goblins are relevant to this discussion.

The Attorney-General

If it had been in Order, I would have said that this Amendment would not achieve that result. The Amendment, by the first of its two Subsections, seeks to remove doubts; but these are doubts which have never arisen, and which nobody could suggest for one moment were ever capable of arising. The purposes for which existing regulations could be used is, indeed, a matter which is in doubt, and it is for the purposes of removing this doubt that this Bill is introduced; but this Subsection does not deal with this doubt at all. Let me read it to the Committee. (1) For the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that all Defence Regulations directed by Order in Council to have effect by virtue of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, and remaining unrevoked at the date of the passing of this Act and all orders or other instruments in force thereunder are and remain valid and effective for all or any of the purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section one of that Act. That is, the 1945 Act. That is not a matter about which I apprehend anyone has the slightest scintilla of doubt what soever. If there were a doubt, it would be a most grave and important constitutional matter that we should seek, by this Bill, to remove this doubt in regard to existing orders and regulations by retrospective action. But there is not the slightest doubt about it, and Members opposite know there is no question about the validity and operation of existing regulations or orders already operative and in force thereunder. These orders have been made and these regulations were continued for one or other of the four purposes specified in the 1945 Act, and that those orders and regulations are operative, legally enforceable and valid, no one who devotes his mind to the matter could for a moment have the slightest doubt.

Subsection (1) of this Amendment is completely vacuous, and so also is Subsection (2). Subsection (2) merely restates, in language which is less apt, what is already set out in the Bill. I could quite understand Members opposite wishing to raise some issue in regard to paragraph (c), which we shall approach on a later Amendment, but so far as this Amendment is concerned, taken by itself, as we have to take it, it adds nothing to and detracts nothing from the existing provisions of this Bill. The only result which would be achieved by the inclusion of this Amendment in the Bill would be to complicate the eventual legal interpretation which will have to be put on it by the courts, and for these reasons we cannot accept it.

Mr. Churchill

As the high legal authority who has misled His Majesty's Government on this subject, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is naturally anxious to fight every point. We were led to believe that the object of this Bill was only to remove doubts. It was for the purpose of removing doubts as to the working validity of the 1945 Act. We were led to believe that possibly the courts might hold that, an emergency of a peculiar character having now arisen, the phrase "transition from war to peace" would no longer cover the interim powers granted under the 1945 Act. We were led to believe that. If there was only this doubt, we thought it only right to put down an Amendment to remove the doubt. We do not seek to alter at this moment—little though we like them—the vast powers which are enjoyed by the Government under the 1945 Act. But, it appears now that all this is wrong. There is no question of removing doubts. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has the effrontery to get up and say at that Box, "No, there is no doubt about all this." I have never heard such stuff.

The Attorney-General

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way. Obviously, when the right hon. Gentleman said that he never heard such stuff, he had not been listening to what I said. What I said was that this Bill has been introduced for the purpose of removing doubt—doubts which might arise in future as to whether the purposes for which it was desired to use existing regulations were covered by the four heads set out in the 1945 Act. This Amendment seeks to remove not this doubt, but doubts about quite different matters which have never arisen except in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Churchill

I have legal advisers and friends here in this House whose professional credentials are at least as high as those which the Labour Party are able to procure by the glittering prize of office. We are told now that there has never been any question of doubt in this matter. Certainly we were told that there was doubt, and I have certainly every reason to believe that the doubt operated in respect of the word "existing" regulations, and that no new regulations could be made under this Bill apart from those which have already been made under the 1945 Act. After all, there is the Lord President of the Council. I have a great deal of confidence in his sense of fair play. [Laughter.] I have when it comes to a dead-level talk across the Table of the House. He knows perfectly well that we were assured that existing regulations were all that were to be involved in this Bill, and that the Government were afraid the existing regulations would be hampered by arbitrary or far-fetched constructions being put upon them by the courts, and that consequently, at a moment when there is a grave emergency, the Government's powers may be hampered and restricted.

There was all this brought out by the Lord President on the Second Reading about the delicate feelings of Ministers who had to administer great and important Acts regulating the entire life and movement of labour and the conditions throughout the country. They were most anxious that they should not be forced even to appear to make a strange interpretation of the law. We were told all this; that this was the reason and the purpose for which this Bill was introduced. We were told that it was for the purpose of removing all doubt. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must have misled his superiors who engage him. He may have misled them at a time before this Measure, but we are well aware that there were doubts, and doubts of the kind I have described. A mere statement, which is the most perfect representation of the converse of the truth that it would be possible to refer to within the limits of Parliamentary language, in no way removes this impression.

This Amendment is intended to give the Government all that we understood they asked for. We thought they asked for very little, having regard to the immense powers they already possessed, that they wished to be sure that these powers are not diminished at this time of crisis. The Government could not have considered that it raised an important issue. They hoped to push it through at the tag end of the Debate on Thursday, and wind it up and get us all away by Friday. So trumpery and trifling did they consider it—just a matter of removing doubt. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that it has nothing to do with removing doubt. If he considers that there is nothing more in it than that, it shows what a bad bargain the Government have made in hiring him to give legal advice.

We desired very much to approach the issues in this crisis, so far as possible, as a united Parliament. Instead of that, this challenge is flung in our faces. I shall elaborate that on the later stages of the Bill. I have just been informed that the Government of the Bahamas have deported their Attorney-General. If I wished this Government well, I might recommend the adoption of a similar course, but I cannot wish them well in view of the partisan manner in which they have treated us. We have endeavoured, with all the legal talent and authority we can command, to express exactly what we were led to believe—and I understand the meaning of words as well as anyone else—was what the Government wished. By no one was that impression conveyed more than by the Attorney-General. This Measure has grown to one of enormous importance. All that lies behind it is coming into view. The Government refuse to accept the Amendment, which gives them all that they asked for and demanded—the removal of doubt. One doubt, at any rate, which has been effectively removed is that of the competency of the Attorney-General.

Mr. Blackburn

The Leader of the Opposition has an advantage in this matter over me and most Members on this side of the Committee, in that before this Bill was presented to Parliament he had conversations which we do not know about, but to which he has referred. I and the members of my party were not consulted about this Bill, and have in no way given authority, in advance, to produce a Measure which has nothing whatever to do with our mandate. It seems to me, with great respect, that the Amendment is platitudinous. The right hon. Gentleman had his tongue in his cheek in the way he moved it. In effect, his purpose today has been to move an Amendment which means nothing whatever. I propose to vote with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party, because I wish the whole Bill to mean nothing at all. It is a totalitarian Measure and exactly the kind of thing which was introduced in Germany and other Fascist countries. In my submission, it is most important that the Attorney-General and the Lord President should make clear whether they stand by the original line which the Lord President put across in the conversations we have heard about. Is this a Bill for the removal of doubt? Is the Bill merely an attempt to say, "There may be some slight doubt"——

The Chairman

The hon. Member keeps referring to the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Bill as a whole, he is out of Order, but if he is referring to the Amendment then he will be in Order.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Blackburn

I am referring to Subsection (1) of the Amendment, and particularly to the words: For the removal of doubt. The advantage of those words, although the Subsection is platitudinous, is that they declare that the intention of the Bill is merely to remove doubt as to the legal validity of the 1945 Act. If the Amendment is accepted, or if the Attorney-General or the Lord President—as I appeal to them to do—get up and say, "The purpose of this Bill is merely to remove doubt," then the great constitutional crisis which will arise on this point can be avoided. I appeal to them to make their position clear.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

Following the dispute which has taken place between my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and the Attorney-General, I want to turn to the words of the Preamble. After citing the 1945 Act, it states": Whereas under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945,"— and these words will show what, in the view of the Government, was the interpretation they put on their Act— …(being purposes connected mainly with the orderly transition from war to peace and the allocation of available supplies and services during the transition)". I understand that that is what the Government have suggested is the reason why they want this hew Bill.

The Chairman

I do not know whether the right hon and learned Gentleman heard the Ruling I gave a few moments ago, but we are dealing with a specific Amendment, and not with the Bill as a whole, or with the Preamble. If the Preamble has any relation to the Amendment, then the right hon. and learned Gentleman is in Order, but not otherwise.

Mr. Davies

Those words are an explanation of the doubt which apparently was in the mind of the Government. They say, and the Attorney-General agrees, that because they had doubt as to the force of the 1945 Act, and the purposes for which it could be used, they are now saying, "We require a new Act, and hence this Bill." Is that, or is it not, true? The powers of the 1945 Act are very extensive. What happened? The war was coming to an end. During the war the Government, under the Defence of the Realm Act, had power to issue regulations which are still in existence. They were to come to an end within six months of the end of the war. Everybody agreed that it would be wrong that that Act should be terminated and that from that moment the right to make Orders in Council should come to an end so that we could begin to legislate for matters arising as a result of the war. In the circumstances, the 1945 Act was passed. That will remain in force until 1950. There is nothing in that Act which says that it is mainly for purposes connected with the orderly transition from war to peace. Why there has been any doubt in the minds of the Government, I cannot make out; why this Bill should ever have been necessary I cannot make out. That being so, if there is a doubt, the right way to remove the doubt is to accept this Amendment.

Mr. H. Morrison

If there was no need for the Act, and if this Bill makes no difference—which I do not agree—as the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now arguing, why was the Liberal Amendment to the Second Reading put down, making out that it was totalitarianism?

Mr. Davies

I was coming to that. If it is to remove a doubt, the right thing to do is to accept this Amendment, and to say that in order to remove doubts, the Act of 1945 must not be limited to anything occurring in the transitional period, but it is to be in existence for five years; but if it is intended to do more, as we suspect that it is from the words that are used in subsequent provisions, then we oppose it. If there is merely a doubt as to the purpose of the 1945 Act, then accept the Amendment which seeks to remove those doubts and no more. There is our declaration. It is obvious from the refusal of the Government to accept this Amendment, that they intend to do what we suspect.

Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)

I support the Amendment moved by my right hon. and learned Friend, and I think that the answer of the Attorney-General is, in part, disingenuous and, in part, inaccurate. Let me deal with the first point first. He says that Subsection (1) of the Amendment taken alone—and I think the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) made a similar point—is platitudinous and, probably, improper. With respect, I agree, if it were taken alone, but I say that no lawyer looking at this Amendment would dream of taking it alone. It is quite obviously intimately connected with Subsection (2), and without Subsection (2) it is impossible to give it any meaning. If we look at it with Subsection (2), then it is neither platitudinous nor improper. In the attempted demolition of Subsection (1), the Attorney-General is really not being fair to the Amendment or to those who drafted it.

Mr. Blackburn

What difference will there be if we knock out the whole of Subsection (1) and limit it to Subsection (2)?

Mr. Strauss

I think that the convenient rule of draftsmanship, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has pointed out, when the whole purpose of the Bill is the removal of doubt, is to set out the words "for the removal of doubt" clearly in the opening Subsection, and that is the reason. I am not differing from the Attorney-General or the hon. Member for King's Norton in saying that if Subsection (1) stood alone it would be platitudinous and improper, but I say that no lawyer looking at this Amendment as a whole would dream of saying that Subsection (1) should or could be construed in isolation.

When we come to the consideration of Subsection (2), then the Attorney-General's argument becomes definitely wrong, in my respectful submission. He said that, taken in conjunction with Subsection (1), Subsection (2) merely carried out the intention of the Government's own Bill, but did it in a more long-winded manner. I think that he is wrong in that. The words in the Government Bill state: The Regulations … shall … be extended so as to be applicable for the following additional purposes. That would, in my submission, read as from the passing of the Measure.

The Attorney-General indicated assent.

Mr. Strauss

The right hon. and learned Gentleman nods to signify his assent, and if' he will turn to the language of the Amendment in Subsection (2) he will find that it states: The purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section 1 of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, shall include—— I ask him to note the next words: and shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes. These words definitely make the Amendment which we are proposing different from what the Government have said, and also, in my submission, make it more favourable to the Government, because it means they will not only be secured after the passing of the Act with regard to the use made of the regulations and orders thereafter, but as to their use at the present moment.

For those reasons, I hope that I have shown the Committee that there really is no substance whatsoever in the suggestion that there is anything wrong technically or in substance with the Amendment which has been moved. It has all the advantages claimed by the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) and accentuated by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. I have endeavoured to meet the point of criticism which came from the hon. Member for King's Norton. I have confined myself to the legal considerations There is no ground whatsoever for considering that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has produced any answer to the case put forward.

Mr. Paget

The legal argument which has been advanced by the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) seems to me to be quite inconsequential. How can he say that any court could conceivably construe the words in Subsection (2) of the Amendment: Shall include and shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes as being in any way different in effect from the words shall be construed as including which are contained in the Bill? When a court has to construe a Section and there is an Act telling them how to construe it, as this Bill will do, it says "the Act shall be construed." That means that there is a statutory construction put upon the Section as from the beginning. That comes to exactly the same thing as: shall be deemed always to have included. There is no difference whatever. It strikes me that the whole argument upon this Amendment is really the greatest waste of time, because the two things mean just the same thing. This is an enabling Bill. It is a Bill that empowers—[Interruption.] This is an Amendment to a Bill. One cannot discuss an Amendment without mentioning the Bill. The Bill is an enabling Bill. What matters is, what are the powers given by the Bill? The greatest use of these powers will be made in order to mobilise the resources and the labour to meet this crisis. It would not be in Order to go into that on this Amendment. I will have an opportunity to do so later.

The other question that arises is this. Powers are granted by the 1945 Act for certain purposes; do those purposes include the economic mobilisation necessary to deal with this present crisis or do they not? That is the doubt. Whether it is said that the Amendment is to remove a doubt or whether it is put in the simpler and more economical version in the Bill seems to me to make no difference whatever. The doubt which we are removing is whether the powers can be used for dealing with this economic crisis. If the powers can be used, then they can be used for any purpose necessary to deal with the crisis. If that is so, the form of words makes no difference at all, and I respectfully submit that the Attorney-General's version on this is completely right.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

I cannot agree with my political neighbour the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that there is really no difference between the words of the Amendment and the wording of the Bill. But if, in fact, there is no difference the wording of the Amendment is much clearer. There can, I think, be no doubt between the lawyers on either side of the Committee that the regulations made under the 1945 Act will remain in force whether or not this Bill is passed into law in its present form, and the question, if I understood the Attorney-General correctly, is really whether orders under these regulations can now be made for the purposes mentioned in Clause 1 of the Bill or whether those orders under the existing regulations might be declared ultra vires. I think that was what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General said, because otherwise I am in complete doubt as to whether there was a doubt arising, bearing in mind that the regulations already made are in force and will continue in force, and this Bill creates no power of making new regulations.

The Attorney-General

I want to make this point perfectly clear. I see no reason why there should be the slightest difference or doubt between the lawyers on both sides in regard to this simple and elementary point. There is no doubt and I think no difference between us on the point that the existing regulations and orders made thereunder remain operative and effective for one or other or all of the four purposes specified in the 1945 Act. Those purposes continue. The doubt, which is in no way removed by Subsection (1) of this Amendment, is whether those four purposes are sufficiently wide to cover the kind of matter which can be covered under the three additional purposes which we propose to add by this Bill.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for so clearly stating what the doubt is, but I should have thought he would have resolved that doubt if he had read the Lord Chancellor's speech in introducing the Supplies arid Services Bill in another place in 1945. After all, the purposes of this Bill, as expressed in Clause 1, are for the purposes of: promoting the productivity of industry, commerce and agriculture; for fostering and directing exports and reducing imports, or imports of any classes, from all or any countries and for redressing the balance of trade, or, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said, to deal with the economic crisis. May I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman of the arguments used by the Lord Chancellor in favour of the 1945 Bill that it was really to deal with those very same problems? He said this—and I am quoting from the Second Reading Debate made in another place—when introducing the Bill: … so long as those shortages continue the principle of 'fair shares' must go on. It is not only a question of foodstuffs."— so that foodstuffs were considered then— and clothing; there is a very great shortage of raw materials of all kinds, and the difficulty of getting the necessary raw materials is very closely bound up with the manifold difficulties relating to the dollar exchange. It is obvious that we must continue to produce at home everything that we can, both in our fields and in our factories. He then goes on to talk about the inflationary difficulties and the necessity of controlling other costs. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if he examines that speech—and I do not want to weary the Committee by reading it at any length—he will see that the argument used then was for powers to enable regulations to be made for the very same purposes as are covered by Clause 1 (a and b) of this Bill. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman agrees with that, then, so far as Clause 1 (a and b) are concerned this Bill is unnecessary, because the right hon. and learned Gentleman has now agreed that any orders made under the existing regulations for the purposes set out in Clause 1 (a and b) can be made under the existing Act.

The Attorney-General

I did not say that. What I do say is that I am in substantial agreement with the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the intention of the original Act, but doubts have been expressed whether the Act as actually framed is sufficiently wide to cover the three additional purposes expressed in the present Bill.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I was dealing only with the first two purposes, because the third will be the subject of a separate Debate. We hear that doubts have been expressed without any clear exposition of those doubts. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman seriously contend, contrary to the view expressed by the Lord Chancellor, that the purposes set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Clause are not covered by the 1945 Act? I suggest that the real doubt is the doubt as to the purposes for which the Government want this Measure, and if the Government cannot come down on one side of the fence or the other—and I should have imagined that between last Friday and today they would have been able to make up their minds as to whether this Bill confers powers such as the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) suggested or whether it is for the resolving of a doubt—then they will soon earn for themselves the epitaph "They toil not, neither do they spin."

Mr. H. Morrison

We have had a fair discussion on this Amendment——

Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)

All between lawyers.

Mr. Morrison

—and I should have thought the Committee could come to a conclusion now. [HON. MEMBERS:"NO".] As hon. Members opposite like; we shall be here all right, but the Debate started with the intention that we should discuss this Amendment and the one at the bottom of the page together. The hon. and learned Member who suggested that, was subsequently thrown over by the Leader of the Opposition, and we are now debating a more limited matter, namely, the first Amendment on the Order Paper. We still have to come to the Amendment on the famous paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) which I imagine will excite a little more eloquence than this rather more reasoned one.

I am bound to say that the more I listen to this Debate, the more I am mystified as to what the Opposition is getting at, and, indeed, the Leader of the Liberal Party as well. I do not know what all the bother is about. Clause 1 (1), as drafted in the Bill, is perfectly straightforward, honest and upright, and all it says is that for the future, in the interpretation of the Defence Regulations, the making of orders and statutory instruments thereunder, the purposes can be wider and also more numerous than they have been. That is put in the most honest and straightforward language, and it adds those three purposes, which are to be found at the bottom of page 2 of the Bill, to the four purposes that are to be found in the Act of 1945-That is all there is to it. Why there has been all this bother and suspicion of hidden, dark and insurrectionary purposes I do not know. The hon. and learned Gentleman and others keep on insisting that I should say who is right about the interpretation of the Bill, myself or my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). The answer is perfectly simple—I am right. I represent the Government. With great respect, my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry does not represent the Government. Of course, he has a perfect right to be heard, and to say what he likes, but he speaks only for himself, and not for His Majesty's Government.

Why all these questions, except in the hope of making a spot of bother? It is clear that the only people who speak for the Government are those who sit on the Treasury Bench. Therefore, it is ridiculous. As I have said. Subsection (1) is perfectly straightforward. I would not dissent from the description that was given of it by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, (Mr. Paget); I think he is right. Nor would I dissent from what was said by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. Indeed, I say myself that it is also for the removal of doubts as to the future administration of Defence Regulations. It is for both these things. In the words of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, it is to enable the Defence Regulations and orders thereunder to be used for the three purposes set out in Clause 1 (1) of the Bill, as well as for the four purposes set out in Section 1 (1) of the 1945 Act.

Secondly, or firstly—I do not mind which; it does not matter twopence—it is to remove any possible doubts as to whether, if the regulations or orders were used for those things, they might not be ultra vires. That is the purpose of Clause 1 (1), and it does it in perfectly honest and straightforward language. I am bound to say that on grounds of constitutional doctrine and respectability—if Socialists dare to plead respectability, and I do not see why we should not, because, in these constitutional matters, we are just as respectable as hon. Members opposite—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] I do not suppose the hon. Gentleman knows more than the dead what it is all about. We should not expect him to know; let him get on with his motorcar and the carburetter—this Amendment is a very doubtful document. The first paragraph of it seems to me, in the language of Karl Marx, to be tautological. It says, in fact, that: it is hereby declared that all Defence Regulations directed by Order in Council … shall remain valid and effective for all or any of the purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section 1 of that Act. Of all the redundant, tautological nonsense I have ever read, this is the last word, and how the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition should be in a position to pass the slightest reflection on the skill, uprightness and ability of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, when some pantomime lawyers have advised him to put down this Amendment, I do not know. It is litter verbiage; it is unnecessary; it is redundant; it is ridiculous; it is tautological, and it ought to be scrapped and put into the wastepaper basket.

In any case, who are the Opposition, even though the Government may have slipped up or acted ultra vires, to come rushing along to the Despatch Box opposite and to say, "We will get you out of your troubles. Here is an Amendment to say that anything you do is upright and honourable and within the law"? What an Opposition! Is it their business to get us out of trouble? If we are in trouble, it is our business to take the initiative in getting ourselves out of it. I should have thought it was a most curious thing for the Opposition to start rushing round in order to get the Government out of doubts as to whether they have been breaking the law for the last two years. It is altogether an "Alice in Wonderland" business.

445 p.m.

The second paragraph of the Amendment is a most amazing thing for any Parliamentary party to put forward. It is worthy of the Fascists or of the Communists. It says: The purposes set out in Subsection (1) of Section 1 of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, shall include and shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes. They are the purposes set out in this Bill. So what are the Opposition saying there? They are saying that, even if the Government have been breaking the law in respect of purposes (a) (b) and (c) as set out in this Bill, the Conservative Party want to say that not only is it all right for the future, but also for the past. That is worthy of Hitler or Mussolini, and I would be ashamed to put such a thing forward. In these circumstances, and having shown that this Amendment is not only nonsense, but pernicious nonsense, I hope that the Committee will not waste any further time upon it, but will reject it.

Squadron-Leader Fleming (Manchester, Withington)

I was rather astonished to hear the Lord President of the Council supporting his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General in his remarks about the question of doubt. The words: For the removal of doubt. … are set out at the very beginning of the Amendment. I remember that last Thursday, when the Lord President spoke about this Bill, he mentioned the doubt which he possessed on behalf of the Government as regards the interpretation of orders or regulations which had already been made under the 1945 Act. He expressly referred to some arbitrary decisions by the courts, and said that he wanted nothing like that to occur again. Therefore, it was obvious that there was some doubt in his mind, and it was on account of that doubt that I was very pleased to see that my right hon. and hon. Friends had put down this Amendment in order to help the Lord President to get rid of his doubt, not because he happens to be a Member of the Government, but because—which to me, as an old Member of the House, is more important still—he happens to be a Member of the House, as we all are, no matter on what side we sit. It is our duty in a time of crisis to help each other to get out of the difficulty, no matter who has got us into it.

Furthermore, this Amendment refers specifically to the "valid and effective" instruments which are now in force, and it was on those instruments that the Lord President last Thursday, expressed some doubt as to whether they would be effective in the future, because they were originally passed for the transitional period from war to peace. That being so, I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on putting down this Amendment, and, if it goes to a Division, I shall have great pleasure in supporting it.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)

Whatever else this Debate has done, I feel quite sure that it has caused a good many of us to rejoice in seeing the Lord President of the Council back in his old form again. I have not heard him make a debating speech of that description and eloquence for a very long time. I think we all enjoy the right hon. Gentleman when he really gets going. Of course, we know there is nothing in it, but the way in which he is able to ignore argument, to leap over the facts, and to arrive at a contrary conclusion, almost literally in the same breath, is very refreshing and entertaining, and we really appreciate it very much indeed.

I wish to refer to one particular point in which he sought to rip the Amendment into oratorical shreds. The Committee will recollect how he pointed out the iniquities of the various Subsections of the Amendment, and yet, when his right hon. and learned friend the Attorney-General was speaking, he advised us that the Amendment added nothing to and detracted nothing from the original Clause. Similarly, the Attorney-General's honorary assistant behind him, when advising the Committee, specifically stated, I think, that the Amendment meant exactly the same as did the original Clause. Yet, when we have the guidance of the Lord President of the Council, he seeks to make great play with the differences that exist between the two. Which are we to believe? I find it a matter of very great difficulty.

When we started this Debate, we were all satisfied that the Lord President of the Council had certain doubts in his mind that he was anxious to remove. That went along all right until the Attorney-General came upon the scene and made it clear that the doubts which we understood the Lord President of the Council had in his mind were entirely different from the doubts which the Attorney-General advised the Committee existed. That speech rather confused the general trend of the Debate. Exactly where we are at present, after the speech of the Lord President of the Council, nobody quite knows. Doubts indubitably exist, or we should not be debating the Question at all, but to what extent they exist, and even what they are, it seems impossible to say.

I would like to bring the Committee back to the speech of the Prime Minister on Friday last, when he made it clear that the Bill was purely an enabling Bill and a Bill for the removal of doubts. We all understood what he meant. What he meant were the doubts referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) when he moved the Amendment, as to whether this is an enabling Bill or a Bill to achieve the purposes referred to by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and others the other day. It is for the purpose of removing those doubts that the Amendment has been moved. If, as is admitted by the Attorney-General, the Amendment adds nothing to and detracts nothing from the Bill, and if, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) says, it is in substance the same as the Government's Bill, and if it is not accepted by the Government, I suggest that it is abundantly clear that the intention of the Bill is not to remove doubts but is for a far wider purpose, and that it has been introduced at present, heralded as a crisis Bill, in a spirit of mala fides which is not worthy of the Government and which deceives the people of the country.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

The Opposition have done their best to introduce the greatest possible confusion as to the intentions of this Bill and the object of their Amendment. It is important to get the matter clear. What the doubts are has been stated over and over again. May I try to repeat them in language which I hope will be intelligible? The 1945 Act gave the Government power to make Defence Regulations for certain purposes set out in Section 1 of that Act. Those purposes were four, and they were defined in the Act, in relation to the position which then existed. They were: To secure a sufficiency"— of supplies and services— essential to the well being of the community; To facilitate demobilisation; To facilitate the readjustment of industry and commerce; and To assist the relief of suffering. As the Lord President of the Council rightly said, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, doubts have arisen whether regulations made under the 1945 Act are applicable to the purposes of the present crisis. Perhaps I might quote the Lord President of the Council, who said: It may be argued that the existing powers are wide enough for the purposes which I have indicated, namely, the increase of production and the balance of payments situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1803.] I am not referring to paragraph (c), because to do so would be out of Order, but in regard to paragraphs (a) and (b) the doubt which has arisen is in regard—if I may quote from the Bill—to "fostering and directing exports," etc. It seems to me that the doubt which His Majesty's Government had in mind was whether or not those words fostering and directing exports were covered by the purposes mentioned in the 1945 Act. It is abundantly clear that no question arises, or should arise, about the validity of all the regulations that have been made under the 1945 Act. Incidentally, let me say, in regard to the way in which the powers have been exercised, that no question has ever been raised in the House suggesting that those powers have been abused by His Majesty's Government. I suggest that there is no reason to suppose, from the Government's record of the past two years, that the powers which the House has given will be abused in the future.

The Government, by reason of those doubts, have come to ask for a further Bill to clarify the matter. That means that the Government, so far from defying, as the leader of the Liberal Party said last Friday, the principles of Parliamentary democracy, have taken a courageous course by asking for a clarifying Measure when they could easily have assumed that their existing powers were adequate. By so doing they have vindicated their respect for Parliamentary democracy and in the supremacy of the House. Those are the essential points which arise under the Bill. The Amendment, as the Lord President of the Council has said, is not only mischievous but pernicious and unnecessary, and I hope that it will be rejected.

Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)

As one of those whose names are appended to the Amendment, perhaps I may be allowed two or three minutes in which to intervene, particularly as L like the majority of hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, am not a lawyer. The discussion in the last hour has, with one exception, been carried on by members of the legal profession. I can only assume that as I do not possess the trade union ticket I have been ignored. I am, I am sure like most of my non-legal friends, in a state of complete confusion, because legal luminaries on opposite sides of the Committee have said things which are mutually contrariwise. Who are we non-legal Members to decide among them?

I listened to every word spoken by the Lord President of the Council last Friday and I listened to every word he said today. Two more contrariwise speeches I have never heard. I understood from the Lord President on Friday that he was in considerable doubt, and that for the purpose of removing doubt the Bill had been brought forward. I also listened to the Home Secretary, who wound up the Debate on Friday, and he left precisely the same impression upon my mind. Were we in good company or were we not? I would like to conclude what I have to say by reading what "The Times" said in its first leading article on Wednesday morning. It said: The Bill presented by the Prime Minister yesterday reflects the gravity with which the Government now regard the position. Its immediate intention is simply to extend the scope of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act of two years ago, so that the powers over the national economy already possessed by the Government will be applicable without doubt to the present emergency. I assume that "The Times" has competent legal advisers to advise those who write the articles, if they are not sometimes written by the legal people themselves. In the present state of confusion it is right that the Amendment should be pressed to a Division, and I, for one, will certainly go into the Lobby in favour of the Amendment with a complete consciousness that I am doing the right thing.

5.0 p.m.

Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)

I intervene only for a short time because I do not think that the Committee would expect the criticisms which have been made on this Amendment, which stands in my name and the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends, to go unanswered. I should like very shortly to deal with the three aspects of the matter which in my view require attention. The first point on which every one, be he lawyer or layman, wants reassurance is whether this Bill is only a piece of clarification removing doubts, or whether it is really intended to go further. It is a very easy and clear way of dealing with that difficulty to begin the legislative and enacting part of the Bill by stating that it is for the removal of doubts. If that be the purpose, as it appears from the various quotations from speeches made by the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Home Secretary and other authorities, let us state it and let us all know where we are. If there is any objection to putting it in that way which clarifies the matter——

Mr. E. Fletcher

Surely, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is begging the question? The question is not whether there is any doubt about the effect of the existing legislation; the doubt is whether the existing legislation needs to be amplified to meet the new situation.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I really do not see the misty non sequitur obfuscating the hon. Gentleman's mind. One point which has worried people is whether this Bill is merely for the removal of doubts or whether there is something behind it, something more sinister. The Lord President of the Council has said again and again, "There is nothing sinister. What are you worrying about?" The way to show that there is nothing sinister is to state, as our Amendment states, that this Bill is for clarification and removal of doubts only. That is the first point, and it seems a perfectly reasonable method of approach.

I now come to the second point, which is the number of the regulations that are affected. If I remind the Committee of the difficulty which I confess quite frankly was caused to me in this matter, and if I explain it as shortly as I possibly can, the Committee may sympathise with me in the matter. The original regulations were made under the 1939 Act. They came out in the Defence Regulations, which are now in the comparatively slim volume I hold in my hand because they have been pruned. The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong, but I think I have the matter right. Parts III and IV of these Regulations were the subject matter of the 1945 Act, and, in addition, the other Regulations mentioned in the First Schedule to that Act were included. That was the body of regulations which could be dealt with by Order in Council under the 1945 Act. I think that is the effect of Section 1 (4) of the 1945 Act.

We are trying to get this quite clear. As I understand it, and as we have heard from the Lord President of the Council and the Home Secretary, there is no intention and no desire that there should be any more regulations than are in existence at the moment. What do we say? We say, take the regulations, not as they stood at the time of the introduction of the 1945 Act, but as they stand today, leaving those which have been revoked, and let us confine it to stating and making quite clear that these are the regulations that we declare are in operation. That is the object of Subsection (1) of our Amendment. It is a very reasonable suggestion to make quite clear, so that he who runs may read, what regulations are affected.

The third point is that we want again to make it clear that the purposes shall be treated as extended, but whatever purposes we decide upon when we come to discuss them in a short time, we suggest that (a) and (b) should be included. The Lord President takes us to task because we have said that the purposes of Section 1 (1) of the 1945 Act shall be deemed always to have included these purposes. He says he does not like our kindness or our constitutional doctrine. The answer to our criticisms and attacks has been that the Opposition are again refusing to assist the Government in the task in front of them. We have two answers on that point. First, I cannot see how the period of transition is coming to an end and how the Government would have any difficulty in acting under Section 1 (1, c) of the 1945 Act; but let us assume that during the past week or two, when this crisis broke into even their astonished minds, they had gone an inch further. Then the Opposition come along and say, "Take not only an inch but an ell if you want to; so long as you use it bona fide for the crisis, we are prepared, to the extent to which we legislate today, to absolve you and prevent you from being enmeshed in your own difficulties." That is the attitude for which the Lord President, in his revivified speech, takes us to task. For neither the words nor the attitude have we the slightest regret or compunction, and for these words and for that attitude we shall be fully prepared to go into the Division Lobby.

Mr. John Foster (Northwich)

The Debate has shown that it is agreed on both sides that doubts exist. The Government have argued that the doubts which we are seeking to allay either are not real doubts or that we have not done this as efficiently as they have done it. The Attorney-General did not appreciate that doubts can also be created by the Bill itself and that the doubts which we seek to allay include, besides those we have mentioned, doubts created by the present wording of the Bill, which we are seeking to alter by this Amendment. If the Attorney-General looks at the wording which we are seeking to remove, he will see that the regulations which this Bill is seeking to validate shall in operation be limited expressly or by implication to the purposes of Section 1 (1) of the 1945 Act. It seems very difficult indeed to see how purposes which are laid down by an Act of Parliament in 1945 can imply a date limiting these regulations. The Government have passed a lot of regulations and obviously they must be limited to the 1945 Act.

I think great concern will be caused in the country if people understand from the Lord President of the Council that the Opposition should not help the Government in Committee. Surely, he has been in Committee when an Amendment has been put forward by the Opposition and the Minister has said, "This improves the Bill"? It has been done again and again in the great nationalisation schemes of the Government, in regard to transport, electricity and the coal industry when the Opposition, although putting forward their unalterable opposition to a nationalisation scheme, have put forward Amendments which helped the Government, and which the Government said helped them. The Lord President of the Council, in making this kind of easy debating speech, is on record as saying that in no circumstances must the Opposition help the Government, and that if the Government are in a mess they must stay in it, and do not want to profit by our advice. I think that is very ungenerous, and also very unconstitutional, because one of the great lessons of English democracy is that the Opposition acts as a kind of partner to the Government. [Interruption.] That is quite true. Often in Committee the Opposition put forward an Amendment, putting in a word or phrase which improves a Bill. That is common knowledge. Why does the Lord President of the Council, in order to catch the headlines, say that the Opposition are not trying to help the Government, and that it is no part of constitutional practice that they should do so? I think it is very wrong of him, and very misleading. I am sorry he is not here, but I ask him on a future occasion to correct that impression. It is arguable whether this Amendment is better or worse, but the Lord President ought not to have made the point that its purpose was to help the Government.

The Attorney-General said that it was tautological, platitudinous, and so on, but then the Lord President of the Council, making a completely inconsistent point of that, said that the words in Subsection (2) meant that it was like Fascism and Hitlerism, and used those words. How could that be so? If the Attorney-General was right in saying that it was a platitudinous and boring Amendment, and if the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was right in saying that it was an entire waste of time of the Committee to discuss it, how could the Lord President of the Council be right in saying that it had those terrible dictatorial and totalitarian effects?

Mr. Blackburn

I do not think the hon. Member is being quite fair because what was said was that Subsection (1) was platitudinous. The argument the Lord President advanced about Subsection (2) was that the words: shall be deemed always to have included the following purposes. would make retrospectively varied, orders and regulations made during the last two years which otherwise would have been unvaried. I do not think the Opposition really intended that effect.

Mr. Foster

The short answer seems to be that as the Amendment seeks to remove doubts, that is the object of putting in the Subsection. That seems quite simple. I do not know quite where I am with the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) because he is against this Amendment, but is going to vote for it, I understand, because he does not like the Bill. He is not a sea lawyer, but I suppose he has to steer a difficult course, and he may have to work his passage.

Mr. Blackburn

Would the hon. Member answer the argument?

Mr. Foster

The answer to the hon. Member seems to be that the Subsection is put in to remove doubts and, as I said, this Amendment is designed to make the removal of doubts, which is the Government's object, clear, and if it does that it is in order.

Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)

One does not need to be in full agreement with an Amendment in order to support it. I agree with the position of the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn). One may not go the whole way with an Amendment, but may be against a Clause. The explanation of the Attorney-General seems clear and fair enough. He said that the doubts are whether regulations and orders under the Act of 1945 can be applied to the three additional purposes of this Bill. If there is any doubt about that, it means that the additional purposes, particularly purpose (c), in the Bill, go far beyond the 1945 Act. It is not a legal issue, or a question of a legal problem at all. It is a political issue, whether the Government are taking into their hands powers which the Lord President said on Friday the Government were not going to be cross-examined about in advance. That is the issue, and upon that issue I think we should vote against the Clause, and vote for the Amendment, as there is no better Amendment on the Paper.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Lord President of the Council, and I think my hon. Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) was a little hard on him today. I do not think he realises the disadvantages under which the Lord President suffers. First, the Lord President said he was not going to be cross-questioned, and then he found he was being cross-questioned and immersed in a Debate in which almost no one but lawyers took part. He had the supreme misfortune of having to listen to a speech by the Attorney-General, which obviously confused him, and which he said confused him. Then he had the further difficulty of a speech by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), and the unhappy Lord President was completely and entirely without the help and support of the one good lawyer on the other side of the Committee, the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). How in the world could we expect him to be in anything but a state of confusion? He dealt with the first part of the Amendment in slight confusion, and then something seemed to upset the Lord President. I do not know what it was, but it gave me great pleasure, because he seemed his own lively vocal self again, and went up in the air at nothing in particular.

Mr. Cecil Poole (Lichfield)

On a point of Order. May I ask what the Lord President has to do with the Amendment?

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

I should imagine he has a great deal to do with it.

Mr. C. Williams

I really think it is carrying mutiny a little too far if hon. Members are not allowed by back benchers to support Government policy. I was very interested to hear what the Lord President said about Subsection (2) of the Amendment. I do not for a minute say that it is a good Subsection. I think it goes a little too far. Standing by itself, it is not the best part of the Amendment. I see that the Lord President has returned, I suppose from consulting his hon. and learned Friend by telephone. I am glad to see the wisdom that has come to him through my help on this occasion. What really happened to the Lord President when he went all excited about Subsection (2) of the Amendment? Obviously he had become aware that he had been making a very bad case. I do not know whether there crossed his mind one of the naughty newspaper headings which he saw this morning, or whether something was muttered from behind by his able supporter, the Minister of Health, but he suddenly went for the poor wretched Opposition

about the kind of help they were offering. We know he is in an awful mess, and that he would give anything to get out of it. We are trying to get him out of it; we would like to get him on to shore.

Apparently we are all agreed that the first part of this Amendment is pretty good, and that the second part is not so good. Could we not take the first part and vote on that, and put it into the Bill? That would seem to be a commonsense solution. It would define the position. I believe that I have support from several hon. Members on the other side of the Committee for that. We could then drop the second part of the Amendment. We might be able to put it into the Bill at another stage of the Measure, or get the Bill so amended that even the best lawyers on the other side would agree that, as amended, it had nothing whatever to do with the interpretation which the Lord President of the Council has put on this part of our Amendment.

Question put, "That the words 'The Regulations which' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 125.

Division No. 373] AYES. [5.21 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Champion, A J Forman, J. C.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Chater, D. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Allen, A C (Bosworth) Chetwynd, G. R Gallacher, W.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cluse, W S Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Alpass, J. H. Cocks, F. S Gibson, C. W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Collins, V. J. Gilzean, A.
Anderson, F (Whitehaven) Colman, Miss G. M Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Attewell, H. C. Cook, T. F Gordon -Walker, P. C.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R Cooper, Wing-Comdr G Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)
Ayles, W. H. Corlett, Dr. J Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs B Cove, W. G. Grenfell, D. R.
Bacon, Miss A. Crawley, A. Grierson, E.
Baird, J. Crossman, R. H. S Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Barnes, Rt Hon A. J Daines, P. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Barstow, P. G Dalton, Rt. Hon. H Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Barton, C. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Battley, J. R. Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Gunter, R. J
Bechervaise, A E Davies, Harold (Leek) Guy, W. H.
Benson, G Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras S. W.) Haire, John E (Wycombe)
Berry, H Deer, G Hale, Leslie
Beswick, F de Freitas, Geoffrey Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil
Bevan, Rt. Hon A (Ebbw Vale) Diamond, J. Hamilton, Lt.-Col. R.
Bing, G. H C Dobbie, W. Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Binns, J. Dodds, N. N. Hard man, D. R.
Blenkinsop, A Driberg, T. E. N. Hardy, E. A.
Boardman, H Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Harrison, J
Bewden, Flg.-Offr. H W Dumpleton, C. W. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Durbin, E. F. M Herbison, Miss M.
Braddock, Mrs E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge) Dye, S. Hicks, G.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Edwards, John (Blackburn) Hobson, C. R.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Holman, P.
Brooks, T J. (Rothwell) Evans, E. (Lowestoft) House, G.
Bruce, Major D. W. T Evans, John (Ogmore) Hoy, J.
Buchanan, G. Fairhurst, F. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Burden, T W Farthing, W. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Burke, W A Fernyhough, E. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Callaghan, James Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Carmichael, James Follick, M. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Chamberlain, R. A. Foot, M. M Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A
Jay D. P. T. Neal, H (Claycross) Stross, Dr. B
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.) Stubbs, A. E
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Swingler, S.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Noel-Buxton, Lady Symonds, A. L.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Oldfield, W. H. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Keenan, W. Orbach, M. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Kendall, W. D. Paget, R. T. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Kenyon, C. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
King, E. M. Pargiter, G. A. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Parkin, B. T. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Paton, J. (Norwich) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Leslie, J. R. Peart, Thomas F. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Levy, B. W. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Thurtle, Ernest
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Popplewell, E. Tiffany, S
Lewis, T (Southampton) Price, M. Philips Titterington, M. F.
Upton, Lt.-Col. M. Proctor, W. T. Tolley, L.
Logan, D. G. Pryde, D. J. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Longden, F. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Lyne, A. W. Randall, H. E. Viant, S. P.
McAllister, G. Ranger, J. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
McEntee, V. La T Rees-Williams, D. R. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
McGhee, H. G. Reeves, J. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Reid, T. (Swindon) West, D. G.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Richards, R. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
McLeavy, F. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Robens, A. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mainwaring, W. H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wigg, Col. G. E.
Mann, Mrs. J. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wilkes, L.
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Rogers, G. H. R. Wilkins, W. A.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Scollan, T. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Shackleton, E. A. A. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Martin, J. H. Sharp, Granville Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Mathers, G. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Medland, H. M. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Mellish, R. J. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Willis, E.
Messer, F. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Middleton, Mrs. L Skeffington, A. M. Wise, Major F. J
Mikardo, Ian Skeffington-Lodge, T. C Woodburn, A.
Mitchison, G. R Skinnard, F. W. Wyatt, W.
Monslow, W. Smith, C. (Colchester) Yates, V. F.
Moody, A. S. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Morley, R. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Snow, Capt. J. W. Zilliacus, K.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Solley, L. J.
Moyle, A. Soskice, Maj. Sir F TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Murray, J. D. Sparks, J. A. Mr. Pearson and
Nally, W. Steele, T. Mr. Simmons.
Naylor, T. E. Stephen, C.
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Erroll, F. J. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon O
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Baldwin, A. E. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Barlow, Sir J. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Gammans, L. D. Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Beechman, N. A. Gates, Maj. E. E. Manningham-Buller, R E
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Glyn, Sir R. Marlowe, A. A. H
Boothby, R. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Marples, A. E.
Bossom, A C Gridley, Sir A Marsden, Capt. A.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Bracken, Rt. Hon Brendan Harris, H. Wilson Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Harvey, Air-Cndre. A. V Maude, J. C.
Bullock, Capt. M. Haughton, S. G Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'l, d'n) Head, Brig. A. H. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Byers, Frank Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Morrison, Maj J. G. (Salisbury)
Carson, E Herbert, Sir A. P. Morrison, Rt. Hon W. S. (C'nc'ster)
Challen, C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E
Channon, H. Hogg, Hon. Q. Nicholson, G
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Orr-Ewing, I. L
Clarke, Col. R. S. Jarvis, Sir J. Osborne, C.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Pickthorn, K.
Davidson, Viscountess Lambert, Hon. G. Pitman, I. J.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
De la Bère, R. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Prescott, Stanley
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Raikes, H. V.
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P W. Lennox-Bcyd. A. T. Rayner, Brig. R.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Linstead, H. N. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Low, Brig. A. R. W. Renton, D.
Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Lucas, Major Sir J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Roberts, Maj. P G (Ecclesall)
Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Teeling, William Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Thorp, Lt.-Gol. R. A. F. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Spearman, A. C. M. Touche, G. C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Spence, H. R. Turton, R. H. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Vane, W. M. F.
Stoddart-Scott, Col. M Wadsworth, G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Strauss, H. G. (English Universities) Wakefield, Sir W. W. Major Conant and
Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Ward, Hon. G. R. Major Ramsay.
Taylor, Vice-Adm. E A. (P'dd't'n, S.) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
The Deputy-Chairman

I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we took the next two Amendments together.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, after "which," insert: at the date of the passing of this Act. I respectfully agree, Mr. Beaumont, with what you have said. These are simple Amendments and I hope they will not cause any controversy. The object of inserting these words is to make it quite clear that it is only to regulations which will be in force at the time of the passing of the Act that the Act and its contents apply. In the argument on the last Amendment I showed briefly how some doubts come into this from the necessarily complex understructure of the Defence Acts and Acts under which regulations are made. I do not propose to repeat that, nor to confuse the Committee by giving the various difficulties which have presented themselves to different Members of the Committee. I only say that that difficulty has presented itself and, therefore, the clarifying words should be welcomed. If we put the words in there, I think it will be agreed that the same words which occur in line 23 are unnecessary at that point. The object of the second Amendment is to take them out in line 23. For these reasons which I think are well understood by the Committee, I move the Amendment.

Mr. H. Morrison

To be quite frank, we hardly feel that this Amendment makes a difference to the Bill. On the other hand, we follow the point which has been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was a perfectly fair point put quite clearly. We wish to meet the Opposition. In view of the reasons advanced and the fact that the Opposition would be happier and we have no objection on merits, we should be glad to accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 1, line 23, leave out from "thereunder," to "shall," in line 24.—[Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe.]

Mr. Churchill

I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, to leave out from "trade," to the end of line 11.

This Amendment deals with the crux of the Bill. In order that everyone should appreciate its character, I will read the paragraph which the Amendment seeks to delete. This is the paragraph: … (c) generally for ensuring that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and are used, in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community; I would challenge anyone to think of anything which a Government might wish to do of a drastic character which would not come within this sweeping provision. I am glad to see that the Minister of Labour is in his place. I take, first of all, the question of industrial conscription in time of peace. This paragraph is designed by the Government to give them not indeed the power—for they possess that already though they have not dared to use it—but to give them, as it were, a renewed Parliamentary authority and to refresh them in carrying out that policy. This is, in fact, a proposal to which we are asked to give a wave of support, for serfdom in time of peace, without even the protection of Parliamentary legislation.

That is what it is and that is what we shall have to tell the people when we see them on the platforms of the country. We shall have to say, "Any one of you may be taken from your homes at any moment, and from your employment, and sent off wherever some obscure official in the various Departments may decide you are to go." That is the power for which the Government are asking. The Government fear to bring this very grave matter before Parliament by the recognised legislative measures They hoped to sneak it through at the fag-end of the Debate last week, when they thought to obtain power without a Bill in Parliament, over the whole lives of the working people of this country—a power such as no Government in these islands has ever taken before except when the enemy's bayonet was at our throats.

Why was there all this fuss in the Labour Party when they were making provision for conscription for military service? It was a comparatively small affair to this, only affecting people for a year or 18 months at an early period in their lives, and yet what a very great storm there was over that. The Government, very properly, introduced a Bill, and passed it through all Parliamentary processes, which enabled it to be shaped, and it was powerfully modified by Parliament while it was passing through; but here the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are taking the power to conscript compulsorily, and, no doubt, with pains and penalties, every wage-earner in this country, and they can compel him to go wherever they like, no matter what the conditions that may prevail.

It is a very serious thing for the ordinary working men and breadwinners of this nation to have this hanging over them, and not to know whether they are safe from being told at any time, "You must get off and work at some rougher job where we are very short of labour at the present time. We will take you from your home and send you away." The press gang was limited to the Navy in taking their men, but this press gang of snoopers is to go around the country trying to find out means of taking workpeople from their existing positions and sending them, against their will or without their consent, to other industries. Will they be much good when they arrive at these other industries? May they not be found to be unfit for the work which they are called upon to do? All this is to be done without any protection of Parliament, and without a Measure being carefully shaped by Parliament.

I cannot conceive that it would be in the interests of anyone not to take advantage of this Parliamentary protection of long Debates and the discussion of Amendments in Committee, which would ensure this right and protection to the working people of this country. Now, after two years of Socialism, we have this proposal, which is intended at once to pillage the well-to-do and enslave the poor, and to do it without an Act of Parliament, when, on the other hand, the Government's confiscatory taxation is put before us in a Bill, in a procedure which enables it to be amended. The rights of the poor man to choose and change his employment when he pleases, and not when the Government pleases, are to be dispensed with, without any of the constitutional processes which, in the long centuries of the development of democracy in this country have developed the rights of the people of this country and placed them under its protection. I say that the Government are endeavouring to establish the serfdom—for that is the word I am going to apply to this proposal, and not only here—the serfdom of the working classes, and this is being done without giving them the right and the power to be protected by Parliament.

I see hon. Members sitting over there who will have to justify these matters to their constituents, and we would like to know how this is going to happen. No doubt, they will have a vast apparatus of prejudice at their hands, and all these working men who disagree with being moved from their present position and being thrown into other jobs, for which many of them may be quite unsuited, will be called "spivs" or "drones" or any of the filthy jargon that is being invented to enable the incompetence of the Government to save itself by drastic legislation.

We are told that the Government would not do anything of a rough character. They would not dream of using these powers in an unsympathetic manner. What guarantee have we got of that? It is quite true that we are now asked, as it were, to reinforce the dying war-time regulations which they have never dared to enforce. We are reviving these regulations of the 1945 Act and carrying them forward with renewed Parliamentary authority. I think that the Government are, by that means, placing the wage-earners of this country who are not engaged in the basic industries under the perpetual menace of uncertainty. A man comes home at the end of a hard day's work, highly skilful work, a man who may be earning £8, £10 or £12 a week at his trade, and he may find, when he comes home, and hopes to have a little peace and rest with his family over the week-end, an order from the Ministry of Labour, or whoever it is, telling him to proceed to some town far away and there undertake a task which he has never been fitted for, and without any provision for the housing of his wife and children and also without any plans for the children's schooling, which will be deranged.

I do not wonder that the Government do not like to put this proposal into an Act of Parliament. They had hoped to slip it through last week, when they were making it appear that it was nothing at all, not even to remove doubts. Now, they want these great powers, without any protection of the House of Commons, and I say, here and now, quite frankly, that whatever had been the powers under the 1945 Act they should not, in the future, be exercised in respect of the direction of labour without being the subject of a definite Parliamentary Bill. That is the position which I think we should certainly take up. I only take up this point because it is one of the most glaring powers for which the Government are asking. It is a power which they have already, but which they have never dared to use. Why have they not done so? They have not done so because they are afraid, but, now, they think that, if they can pillage and pinch this new affirmation from the House of Commons, they will be perfectly free to do that.

To whom are we to entrust these great powers? So far as I can make out, there is nothing in Subsection (1, c) which would make it impossible for them to discriminate against anybody. It is necessary for them to discriminate, between man and man, interest and interest and between trade and trade. There is nothing to force them to give any reason why they discriminate adversely against an individual. These are very grave matters. Someone has said that a strong nation should no more be confiding of its liberties than a pure woman of her honour, and, if Parliament were to allow this to be smuggled through in this way, without bringing in a Bill, without subjecting it to the full light of day and directing upon it the full blast of public opinion, we should utterly fail in our duties. If the Government wish to direct labour, if that is the answer, I think the least thing to do is to give to all these working people of this country, the breadwinners, the wage-earners, who are in some cases, men running up to 45 and 50 years of age, the same protection which they gave to the recruits called up for the Army, which was done through the ordinary legislative process.

I am sorry for the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President who began this afternoon in a most meek and mild manner, like the cooing of a turtle dove in spring, but, afterwards, felt that he must hurry up and put himself in line with the Left Wing elements of his party. I certainly do sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman for having received one rebuff after another at the hands of his party, and I say now that neither he nor the Prime Minister, with all their great positions, are the men who decide what legislation should be put forward and what should not. They have to take their orders—and I warned the country at the last General Election that they would have to do—from outside bodies of no elected authority.

Who is to administer all these powers, I should like to know? We see the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President and others there who have shown themselves to possess many qualities of self-restraint, and who have had experience, but they are no longer free agents. We are giving these great powers, but will they be free to exercise them? At any moment the convulsion may take place in the privileged, protected conclaves of the party, and the present Prime Minister may be discarded as lacking in colour, or for some other reason—although I thought his colour was pretty red anyhow—and in his place we may have the Minister of Health, or someone like that, to exercise these powers.

These are not powers which we are giving only to a particular set of men; they take their place on the Statute Book, and there they are to be used, and can be used, with any amount of political spite. Distinctions can be drawn in the movement of labour, on taking men from one trade and thrusting them into another of an invidious character. The ipse dixit of the Minister is sufficient to say it was necessary in the interests of the community—what he thinks are the interests of the community—and in a manner best calculated to serve those interests. Then we were blandly asked by the Home Secretary, a most respectable politician—I was astonished to hear him taking such a line—"How could you oppose the idea that the whole resources of the community are available for use?" Well, I certainly do. Personally, I think that private property has a right to be defended. Our civilization is built up on private property, and can only be defended by private property. As a Communist theory that is quite logical, but the party opposite have made themselves the opponents of that; they will not touch that. They tried to draw this line between their opinions and those of the Communists, but what is the result? They have neither the efficiency of collectivism nor the enterprise and energy of individual initiative, and to say that anybody is a "spiv" or a drone who thinks, at any rate, he may have the right to wear his own pair of trousers, and to do that under the loose provisions of this Clause, is an outrage on Parliament. If we were to consent to it we should be unworthy to hold our place here.

There are a great many other possibilities which in this Debate we shall show will arise with the Government if these powers are given. They tell us, "Oh, we do not mean anything. You know us well; we will not do anything with them. We have not been able to do anything with anything very much." But we have no right to count upon their violence or their weakness; we are responsible for the legislation which goes from this House. The blameless and reputable Home Secretary, the other night, used language very similar to that which was in the mouths of Hitler and his associates. I do not think he is a second Hitler; I do not think right hon. Gentlemen opposite are likely to be second Hitlers. They may use his words, but they have not got his guts, nor, I am glad to say, his criminality.

We feel bound to take our stand at this moment upon the rejection of these sweeping powers, far beyond anything that Parliament would vote or pass in a legislative form. Very slowly the rights of private property, and the rights of working men to choose or change their employment have been built up in this country, and they ought not to be cast away except after prolonged, mature consideration by the House of Commons. I feel that there was no need for this. It is brought in, I think, either under some dark design, or what, I admit, may be more probable, to allow weak, incompetent men, who cannot think out any plan for mending our affairs, to give some satisfaction to the crypto-Communists and extremists who sit behind them and on their flank, and to say, "Well, anyhow, this will please our boys; it is something in which they can see that we have taken all powers." I have no doubt whatever that this ought not to appear on the Statute Book—the words of paragraph (c)—and we shall do our utmost and everything which lies in our power, here and in the country, to resist it.

I am sorry, indeed, that this step should have been taken by the Government. It is a step of gross provocation. We know the difficulties that they are in, and we know that some of those difficulties are not of their making. We know very well the plight in which the country stands. I offered to assist them in anything which was national in its character and not animated by party strife, and that offer I gave in all good faith. What is the answer? The answer is this Bill which contains in it a Clause more insulting to the rights and dignities of decent men and women throughout this country than almost any words which any Government ever dared to put upon the Notice Papers of the House of Commons.

6.0 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I have always understood that there are two methods of debate; one is to consider the matter under discussion on its merits, and objectively, and the other is to blackguard the other side, as the right hon. Gentleman, if I may say so, does with such charm and gusto on every occasion that he has the opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman is a past master in the art of picturesque hyperbole. But I must not, and, indeed, could not, attempt to follow him on any excursion into that realm of fantasy in which, at least in regard to this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman seems to live, and, indeed, to thrive. I am restricted to dealing with the Amendment as it appears en the Paper, and to dealing with it in relation to the grave situation in which this country now is. But the right hon. Gentleman thought fit to mention that he was not unaware of the view that I had indicated about the proper construction of this Bill. I want to take the opportunity of assuring the right hon. Gentleman that I have not departed in any way from any view that I have expressed at any time about the effect of this Bill.

I do not take the view that this Bill involves in practice any vast increase in the powers which are invested in the Government, for the powers which are already invested in the Government are very extensive indeed. Those powers include, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten, the power of directing labour—the power which the right hon. Gentleman himself introduced at another period in this country's history when the position of the country was one of great gravity and danger. That power was continued by Parliament under the 1945 Act, and it continues in existence at the present day. The right hon. Gentleman devoted a great deal of his address to a discussion of the evils which might arise from an injudicious or improper exercise of the powers. But I cannot help feeling that what is really disturbing the serenity of hon. Members opposite is not the possibility that labour may be directed by virtue of the provisions of the Bill, but the danger that further steps may be taken, is may be against employers, property or wealth, under the enlarged scope which is being given to the purposes of the present enactment. That is the real fear which is behind all the allegations and the spurious indignation which have been expressed by hon. Members opposite in regard to the possible direction of labour.

The particular provision which is challenged by the Amendment removes any possible doubt as to the interpretation and extent of the powers as they exist under the 1945 Act. By this provision, the Bill will enable the Government to use, not new powers, but existing powers—powers created by the right hon. Gentleman under the 1939 and 1940 Acts, continued by this House under the 1945 Act for the transitional period. The provision will enable the Government to use those powers not only for the four purposes which are expressed in the 1945 Act, but for the three additional purposes which are set out in this Bill and, in particular, for the purpose embodied in paragraph (c), which is the subject of the present Amendment—in particular, that is to say, for ensuring that the resources of the country, not only in manpower, but in management, property and wealth, are used for the benefit of the country.

Mr. Churchill

In the opinion of a partisan majority.

The Attorney-General

In the opinion of His Majesty's Government, supported by the great mass of the people of this country.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

Give people the chance to say. The Government dare not.

The Attorney-General

We propose to continue with the Government of this country, supported as we are by the mass of the people in the country, without taking up time by giving hon. Members an opportunity to go to the country and exploit the present difficulties for their own party political ends.

Mr. Hogg

Try it and see. The Government are afraid.

The Attorney-General

If we regarded paragraph (c) in isolation, and apart from the wide powers which already exist in the 1945 Act, paragraph (c) would contemplate a pretty wide purpose for the exercise of the existing powers and regulations. It is a wide purpose, and it is intended to be. It is a purpose not dissimilar from, although not quite as wide as, the power which was conferred on the Government by the Act which was passed unanimously by Parliament in 1940. But wide though the purpose is, its exercise is, of course, subject always to the important safeguard in case it should be misused, of the Parliamentary check by way of negative Prayer. Having got, as we have, and as Parliament has said we ought to have, certain defined powers under the 1945 Act, we cannot risk their exercise being indefinitely postponed and delayed while the ingenuity of legalistically minded people is being exercised right up through the hierarchy of the courts, until each particular power has been made the subject of some decision—favourable although I have no doubt such decisions would eventually be—by the House of Lords. These are powers the exercise of which must, in certain cases, be carried through with expedition and without the risk of long litigious delay.

The purpose of this Bill, and the particular purpose expressed in paragraph (c), is to ensure that our existing powers—not new powers but powers arising under the existing regulations—are exercisable without the fear that they will constantly be the subject of challenge, and sometimes of frivolous challenge, in the courts. We want wide powers because the grave necessities of the existing situation require wide powers sometimes to be exercised. One could forgive more readily the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman and the attempts of himself and his followers to delay and impede the Government in the implementation of their policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] One could understand—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member will remain quiet he will hear. One could understand the desire of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) to impede and delay the policy of the Government by obstructing the progress of this Bill, if they had some alternative policy with which to meet the grave situation in which the country is placed. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will remember the notable speech made by the right hon. Gentleman—not, I observe, in this House, but I think at Blenheim the other day; and as, admittedly, hon. Members opposite have no kind of policy to meet the grave situation in which the country is placed, the least they can do is to support the Government with realistic powers, however drastic, which are needed for dealing with the present situation.

Brigadier Head (Carshalton)

When I first read this Clause, I must confess that, although without any legal knowledge, I said to myself, "This is the works." When I was told that there were certain explanations which the Government had for the inclusion of this Clause, I attended most carefully to what was said in the Second Reading Debate and to what the learned Attorney-General has just said. There has been nothing to change my opinion that this is a totalitarian Clause. It seems to me that both the Lord President of the Council and the Home Secretary were not only ill at ease when they were speaking about this Clause, but they were furtive as well. If there were any doubts upon this matter, they were entirely removed by the speech of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). His speeches are always of interest to me, and I think many Members on this side, not least because of the rapid changes of front in which he indulges; and, against the firmament of somewhat fixed stars on the back benches opposite, he flies to and fro, for all the world like some political flying saucer. Where he comes to rest very often indicates where there is the main gathering of rebels who are going to ginger up the Front Bench. His speech indicated to me that very considerable trouble is coming from that very volatile tail which wags the somewhat rickety Front Bench dog—as we shall discover gradually whether the powers contained in this Clause are to be implemented by the Government, whatever their protestations of innocence may be at the moment.

But if the Government profess that the intention of this Clause is not what the Opposition consider it to be, I cannot understand why they cannot accept this Amendment. The removal of this paragraph can still leave them with all the powers they require. I can only assume that the reason they adhere to it must be one of three. Either what they say is untrue, and they do really require these totalitarian powers; or else, there was, perhaps, originally a legal mistake, which they obstinately refuse to acknowledge, and through obstinacy they prefer that the country should run the chance of losing its liberty rather than the Front Bench should lose face; or lastly, now that this mistake, if mistake it was, has been revealed, they dare not go back on it for fear of incurring the wrath and rage of those who sit behind them. I should say that the truth is a mixture of all three reasons. But that is not very much comfort to us on this side of the Committee.

An hon. Member has reminded us of the disastrous and gradual decline of Germany towards totalitarianism, but it seems to me that there is a very marked difference between our case and that of Germany. The decline of Germany was gradual, and 20 years elapsed between the time when the Germans shouted "Hoch, der Kaiser" and the time when they shouted "Heil, Hitler!" Even a few days ago the country could rightly, having listened to the Prime Minister, have greeted him with the salutation, "Ad hoc, Attlee!" Now, however, they might well salute the probable inspirer of this Clause with "Heil, Cripps," or, more euphoniously descriptively, "Heil, Crippler!" It so often happens, when a country faces a situation such as ours at the moment, that there is a temptation to demand authoritarian powers. It is natural, and can be well understood. I well remember that, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was making his periodic announcements to Parliament, many of those who had to dig out the endless figures and facts for him were inclined to say, "Why should Parliament continue to interfere with all this pressure of work when the Prime Minister and others are so hard pressed?" That is a natural sentiment in those circumstances. But it seems to me to be a fatal one, for by yielding to it we should destroy the very thing for which we were fighting.

That is part of our difficulty in regard to this Clause. It may have originated, not necessarily from any evil intent of the Government, but through confusion. Part of that confusion may have arisen legalistically, and part may have arisen because it was not really understood what the effect of the Clause was going to be. But the confusion seems to me now to come from the confusion of two issues. The first is the material one of this crisis, which, whether we surmount it or whether we go down under it, will be a material victory or a material defeat. But the second issue is the issue of our liberty, and that is something in which I passionately believe; and because of that belief I shall resist to the end what is sought for in this Clause today. It seems to me that by this Clause we shall betray that for which this country has long stood, and for which so many have fought and died.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I rather gather from the speeches we have heard from the Opposition that they are against giving the Government the powers in paragraph (c). They appear to believe that for Parliament to give the Government those powers is to go beyond our Constitution altogether, to overthrow democracy, and to substitute for Parliamentary democratic Government a totalitarian State. I hope I am stating the argument of the Opposition fairly. They do not believe a word of it; least of all does the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition believe a word of it. He knows as well as we all know that there are circumstances in the life of a nation which require that Parliament, and the Government of the day supported by Parliament, shall have all powers that are necessary in the interests of the community. Does he deny that?

Mr. Osborne

In peace time?

Mr. Silverman

I am coming to the qualification in a moment. I am concerned, first, with establishing the principle, about which I say that the House of Commons is unanimous, that there are circumstances which would justify these powers. Let us be fair about it. The question between us is what those circumstances are. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do themselves very bad service when they pretend that their argument against this Clause is that the giving to the Government of powers of this kind is never justifiable. They do not believe any such thing.

Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)

That is not the only issue between us. The other issue is for what purpose these powers are to be used? For that we have no reason at all.

Mr. Silverman

If the hon. Member will forgive me, I shall endeavour, in my own inefficient and inexperienced way, to lay out my argument as I wish to lay it out; but I cannot say it all at once. No one would have believed, listening to the right hon. Gentleman today, that he himself had brought into Parliament and passed through Parliament such a Measure—not after a long delay, not after careful examination, not after investigation point by point, not after a long Committee stage and a long Report stage and a long Third Reading, not after long argument in another place to enable further Amendments to be made and then counter Amendments. He said that Parliament was not justified in giving to the Government powers of this kind at all, and then he seemed to qualify that by saying, "Only if there was long, patient, legislative authority for every single detail of the powers."

Mr. Churchill

The hon. Gentleman surely must attach importance to mortal danger in time of war, and distinguish between that time and the time when no fighting is going on?

Mr. Silverman

I am coming to that.

Mr. Churchill

I see. And, in the second place, he must attach some importance to legislation which is put forward by a Government officially representative of all three Parties in the State?

Mr. Silverman

I can appreciate that, in some people's minds, the first point which the right hon. Gentleman put to me is decisive of this issue, and I am coming to that in a moment, but I am amazed to hear the right hon. Gentleman put forward the second point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] What conceivable difference can it make how many parties are represented? [Laughter.] Before the hon. Member laughs, let him consider what his laughter involves. Is the right hon. Gentleman now challenging the Parliamentary system of this country?

Mr. Churchill rose——

Mr. Silverman

I will give way in a moment very willingly, but I want to finish my point, and I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman, before he puts the point he is going to make, that Parliamentary authority in this country means that a Government is entitled to bring in legislation and to pass legislation through the House, so long as that Government has the confidence of the majority of the House of Commons; and so long as the Government has that majority, the number of parties that make up the Government is entirely irrelevant. On this serious matter the right hon. Gentleman is now seeking to put forward a principle which I think has occurred to him only in the heat of Debate, and which on calm reflection he would be the last man in this Committee to put forward.

Mr. Churchill

The hon. Member makes a mistake to found his argument upon the idea that there is no difference between party Government and partisan Government. Undoubtedly the majority in the House of Commons is effective for all legislative purposes, but a Government which represents all parties has a moral authority to deal with matters which is not possessed by a party Government seeking to carry out its class and partisan prejudices and animosities over the heads of its political opponents. That is my answer.

Mr. Silverman

The right hon. Member leaves me more puzzled than ever. What is he asking the Committee to believe? Is he asking hon. Members to believe that to give the Government these powers is wrong in itself, or is he asking them to believe that it would be wrong to give the powers to this Government, but right to give them to a Coalition Government? Is that what the right hon. Member asks me to believe?

Mr. Churchill

It is wrong to give these powers, in any circumstances, to any Government in peacetime, but the urgency of the State may be such that when there is agreement between all the organised parties in the State, these terrible steps may have to be taken.

Mr. Silverman

So now we have reached, at last, the principle which I advanced at the beginning, that there is nothing wrong with paragraph (c) in principle. [Interruption.] But the right hon. Member has just said so. He has said that what makes the powers wrong is not the principle of the paragraph—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The right hon. Member can correct me if I get it wrong; I am doing my best to get it right. The right hon. Member agrees with me that there is nothing wrong in the paragraph in principle. The only thing that makes it wrong is, first, that it is not a Coalition Government——

Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

No.

Mr. Silverman

Well, that is what he said. The hon. and gallant Member, in the subtelties of his own mind, may draw a profound distinction between an agreement of all parties and a coalition, but I am unable to follow it, unless what the hon. and gallant Member really means is that it is quite right for a Coalition Government to carry out a party policy but wrong for a party Government to carry out a coalition policy. The very words upon which the right hon. Member founded his argument are the words of his own Act.

Mr. Blackburn

In time of war.

Mr. Silverman

Certainly, in time of war. I am coming to that point in a moment and hon. Members opposite may not like it any better when I do. Section I of the 1940 Act says: The powers conferred on His Majesty by the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939,"— which were not powers conferred upon a Coalition Government, but powers conferred upon a party Government, in 1939— (hereinafter referred to as the 'principal Act') shall, notwithstanding anything in that Act, include power by Order in Council to make such Defence Regulations making provision for requiring persons to place themselves, their services, and their property at the disposal of His Majesty "—

Mr. Osborne

What is the date?

Mr. Silverman

It is 1940.

Mr. Osborne

But what date in 1940?

Mr. Silverman

I will come to it in a moment, if the hon. Member wants the exact date. It was some time in 1940. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read on."] It goes on: as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Realm, the maintenance of public order, or the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, or for maintaining supplies or services essential to the life of the community. So the principle is agreed. All that can be done without being totalitarian; all that can be done without being un-Parliamentary; all that can be done without overthrowing the democratic system; all that can be done without imitating Hitler, provided—what? Provided there is a coalition, and provided—and here I come to the second point—the country is at war. I agree entirely that on that point must be founded the real difference between the Government and the Opposition in this Debate.

The Opposition believe that powers of this kind are justifiable only in war. Can they really mean that? Do they not really mean that they are not justifiable even in war, unless they are necessary for the safety of the State? Many wars have been fought without this power, and it is only at the moment when these powers are necessary to save the State that they can be justified, as they were undoubtedly when that Act was passed. That is where we differ. We on this side of the Committee—I think all of us—cannot accept the distinction drawn by hon. Members opposite. We think that what people can be compelled to do, with justification, in the interests of the community in war, we are equally entitled to compel them to do for the constructive purposes of peace, provided only that the crisis in which we find ourselves justifies those powers.

I should like to know how serious hon. and right hon. Members opposite think this crisis is. It seems to me they think it very serious when they think the Government are doing nothing, but they think it trivial whenever the Government does anything. So far as I have been able to discover any policy in the Opposition at all, it is to wait and see what the Government do, and then to tell them that they must not do it. When the Government seemed to underplay the crisis, it was hon. and right hon. Members opposite who were saying that the country was on the brink of ruin, and why did not the Government do something about it. When the Government say, "We agree, this is the most critical moment in our national history. There has never been a more critical moment in the national history of this country, even in war——

Mr. Churchill

Rubbish.

Mr. Silverman

The right hon. Member says, "Rubbish." He has himself made speeches in the country making the same point. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He used the very words, at Blenheim, that there was nothing except the actual bloodshed which this country was not suffering now, two years after the end of the war, which it suffered during the war. Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean it? Only he can say that. I am going to assume that what he told his audience at Blenheim is what he meant——

Mr. H. Strauss

Hear, hear.

Mr. Silverman

—that the country is in as serious a condition now, apart from bloodshed, as when he passed his Act in 1940.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Churchill

No sort of deduction of that kind can be drawn. There is no sort of comparison between the dangers in which we were in June, 1940, and the kind of dangers we are now in. In 1940, the dangers were brought upon us by the terror and power of the enemy. Now the difficulties and dangers we are in, which I certainly do not wish to underrate or understate are, we hold, largely due to the mismanagement of the party opposite. That is altogether apart from their escaping from their faults, neglects and incompetence by the assumption of sweeping powers, which in their hands will only make matters worse.

Mr. Silverman

The right hon. Gentleman does himself an injustice. He has devoted his intervention to showing that our present dangers are due to a different cause from that of the dangers in 1940. That is not in dispute. Of course our dangers are due to different causes. Although we may differ about the causes, we will agree that they are different. But that is not what he said at Blenheim, and that is not what I said he said. Let us come to the difference in causes. The cause today is just as much due to the world situation as it was then. The United States has been directly responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. [Laughter.] Let me make my own point. It seems to me that for the first two years of the war America let us have whatever we could pay for in cash. That was the cash-and-carry period—"Do not take any single armament away on any occasion unless you can pay for it in cash." That is what took our foreign investments, every penny of them. It was on these foreign investments that we relied to bridge the gap before the war between our imports and exports. We had to spend every penny of them in America, very often at under-cut prices, and very often at forced sale prices, in order to pay for the materials we needed to defend America as much as ourselves. It was only when every penny of our investments had gone that they came forward with this unsordid act, which they called "Lend-Lease," and which, incidentally, had the effect of preventing us from preparing the ground for building up our export trade again after the war.

Mr. Blackburn

On a point of Order. We are debating a narrow issue in one sense, namely, paragraph (c) of this Bill, and whether or not it confers totalitarian powers. Is it in Order for an hon. Member to utilise that as an opportunity for making a very ill-timed attack upon the United States?

The Deputy-Chairman

It is inevitable that the Debate should go very wide. Therefore, I cannot find anything which I think is out of Order. I assume the hon. Member was simply using it as an illustration.

Mr. Hogg

I do not in any way want to question your Ruling, Mr. Beaumont, but if this argument is to be admitted, it is quite obvious that some of us may want to controvert it in preparing the speeches we want to make, if ever we catch your eye. Since this matter has been raised, can we have your Ruling on how wide we can go in controverting this argument in relation to our foreign investments and our United States Ally?

The Deputy-Chairman

I hope that I have made my meaning and Ruling clear. I assume that the hon. Member is using this as an illustration, and not basing a long argument on it.

Mr. Hogg

In my humble and respectful submission, the hon. Member has gone far beyond an illustration in this matter. He has proceeded to argue for at least five minutes in the warmest possible terms. I want your guidance, Mr. Beaumont.

The Deputy-Chairman

The decision as to whether or not an hon. Member is out of Order must be left to the Chair. That is my Ruling.

Mr. Hogg

I still want your guidance.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member wants my guidance. My guidance is that he allows the hon. Member to continue.

Mr. Hogg

Does it now mean that we are not to have your guidance, Mr. Beaumont, on whether we shall be able to controvert this argument?

The Deputy-Chairman

I have already expressed the view that I think it would be undesirable that we should make an argument of this, but that it should simply be used as an illustration.

Mr. Silverman

I have only one more sentence on this point. I used this only to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's point, which he was allowed to make, on what was the cause of our present discontent and distresses. He was saying that much the greater part of the cause was the Government, and I was endeavouring to controvert that argument, successfully, I hope. The final sentence I wanted to say was this. When the end of the war came, if only the United States could have been persuaded to take the view which we on this side unanimously held, namely, that what was required for the purposes of war would necessarily be required for a number of years for the reconstruction of peace, and had continued Lend-Lease for a couple of years afterwards, the world as a whole would be out of its distress; but instead they preferred to act like shabby money-lenders——

Hon. Members

Shame. Withdraw.

Mr. Osborne

Is it in Order for an hon. Member to hurl such insults at an Ally who has so generously treated this country?

Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)

Is it courteous to you, Mr. Beaumont, after your Ruling that the subject should not be pursued, to take advantage of the situation to make that insulting remark?

The Deputy-Chairman

In my opinion the remark was very undesirable.

Hon. Members

Withdraw.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member has gone outside the Ruling I gave that the point should be regarded purely as illustration and not as an argument. I hope that the hon. Member will withdraw.

Mr. Silverman

If you direct, Mr. Beaumont, that the expression I used was un-Parliamentary, I withdraw it unreservedly, but what I say is that what they in fact did was to make certain that we should borrow their money——

Mr. Hogg

I understood your Ruling, Mr. Beaumont, was not that the expression used was un-Parliamentary, so much as the hon. Member had largely gone outside your Ruling on what was relevant. As I understand it, the hon. Member is now seeking to repeat in different words the irrelevant observation he made before.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) may know what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) is going to say. I asked the hon. Member to withdraw the expression he used, which he has done. I am going to ask him to keep his remarks within the borders of the Amendment itself.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

Further to that point of Order. It is quite obvious that, with a view to preserving proper international relations, an answer must be made at the earliest moment to the charge which has been made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), and I trust that you will agree, Mr. Beaumont, that for that purpose, if for no other, it will be in Order for someone on this side of the Committee to deal with the monstrous accusations which have been made by the hon. Member.

The Deputy-Chairman

I hope that in the course of the Debate Members will not get outside the scope of the Amendment.

Major Lloyd

In order that you may be assisted by the Committee in this dilemma, Mr. Beaumont, ought not the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) to be called on unhesitatingly to withdraw the insult which he offered to a friendly Ally?

The Deputy-Chairman

I understood that the hon. Gentleman had withdrawn.

Mr. S. Silverman

I was dealing with the argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, that all this trouble had been due to His Majesty's Government. I was putting forward the argument that it is due to nothing of the kind, that it is due, in the main, to the United States Government. I dealt with what happened up to the time of Lend-Lease, and the cessation of Lend-Lease, and in a very few words I can complete the story. What happened was that we had to borrow money on their terms, spend it in the United States, and that after we had done that, they raised prices against us. That is exactly the situation, and Members opposite can put what construction they like upon it.

Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)

Will the hon. Gentleman say what he means by stating that we had to spend the money in the United States, because that is contrary to the facts?

Mr. Silverman

The hon. Member knows very well that our difficulties are entirely due to the fact that we are not allowed to use the resources of the rest of the world where we can find them without buying an equal quantity of stuff at increased prices in America.

However, what I want to say, in conclusion, is this. We on this side of the Committee take the view that it is necessary to put this country on its feet, to make it independent, economically as well as politically, of anybody else in the interests of this country, and in the interests of the world. This country has contributed more to the further progress of human civilisation than either America on the one side or Russia on the other. The salvation of humanity depends on our being able to combine the collective control of our resources with individual and political and civil liberties. If that cause goes down in this country, it goes down in the world, and we are in danger at this moment of seeing it go down for want of being able to use our resources of wealth, property, labour, and everything else we have, to save it from that calamity. Members opposite may think that that does not matter; we think it does. We think it matters as much as it did in 1940, and on that basis we are justified in taking these powers and using them wherever they are necessary without being intimidated by anybody.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

In view of the fact that no member of the Government has risen immediately to repudiate the monstrous line of argument of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) I think it is necessary that someone sitting on one of the Front Benches should rise to dissociate every decent Member of the Committee from his remarks——

Mr. Silverman

I do not want to be too finnicky about these matters, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that he wished to dissociate from something or other every decent Member of this Committee. The implication is obvious—that those who believe what I have said to be true, as I do, are being charged with not being decent Members of this Committee. I want to ask you, Mr. Beaumont, whether such a charge is in Order?

Mr. Blackburn

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) described a great and friendly Power as "shabby moneylenders." He was ordered by you, Mr. Beaumont, to withdraw——

Mr. Silverman

No, I was not.

Mr. Blackburn

—and I submit to you that the hon. Member should not be entitled to use points of Order to repeat an insult of a veiled kind.

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) implied any particular individual, and, that being so, I cannot rule that he was out of Order.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I think that not only Members on this side of the Committee, but the great majority of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite also, would wish to take the earliest opportunity of dissociating themselves from what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said. I do Members opposite that credit because I do not believe that, whatever may be our differences on domestic matters, anyone with any sense of responsibility in this Committee wishes to stir up trouble, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne does, between us and the United States of America——

Mr. Silverman

I rise only to assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I have no desire whatever to cause trouble between this country and America——

Mr. Brendan Bracken (Bournemouth)

"Shabby moneylenders."

Mr. Silverman

I have been to America, and I propose to go again. My experience of the United States is that they like people who hold sincere opinions and express them frankly.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I might be inclined to take at its face value what the hon. Gentleman has just said did I not realise that he is a man of very acute intelligence. I cannot accept that the hon. Gentleman, whatever his motive may be, did not realise the extremely offensive nature, to Americans, of his remarks. I can think of no one at the moment who is trying to make trouble between the two countries except the hon. Member and Ben Hecht——

Mr. Silverman

On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. I ask you whether it is not the custom of the House that when a Member states a matter as his opinion, it is un-Parliamentary for another Member to say that he does not really believe it? I have said three times that I have no desire to cause trouble between this country and the United States, and it is my honest belief that nothing I have said would do that.

Mr. Bracken

"Shabby moneylenders."

Mr. Silverman

It may be a mistaken view, but it is my honest and sincere view. I ask whether hon. Members are entitled when I say that I am expressing what I believe, to say that I am not telling the truth.

The Deputy-Chairman

That is not for the Chair to say. May I express the hope that now we will get on with the Amendment?

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I do not propose to add anything to or subtract anything from what I have said.

Mr. Blackburn

On a point of Order. As I raised the original point of Order about this matter, I ask you, Mr. Beaumont, to rule that any further discussion on the relations between ourselves and the United States is out of Order.

The Deputy-Chairman

No, I am not going to rule any such thing. I have expressed the hope that the Committee will now get down to the Amendment.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I pass from this topic with one remark only, and it is that I hope that someone on the other side of the Committee will also express their detestation of the line of argument of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. I should not have tried to catch the eye of the Chair quite so early in the Debate had I not thought it necessary to say what I had just said, but as I have done so, I shall now pass to some remarks which in other circumstances I would have sought to make at a somewhat later stage in the Debate. The Attorney-General's line of argument I found very mystifying. First, he was full of scruples that the 1945 Act was a very limited Act, and that orders which most of us would have thought were plainly within its compass were possibly subject to challenge. Then he says, "Oh, but this paragraph (c) hardly carries us any further; the 1945 Act is so wide that (c) adds nothing to it." I cannot understand how those two lines of argument can be reconciled. I should have thought that we had now emerged from the realms of doubt, and we could, on this point at least, take the Clause on its face value. The Clause says that it is to apply to: the following additional purposes. Paragraph (c) is called an additional purpose, and I should have thought that a wider purpose could not have been devised. Surely, the Government would agree that under the 1945 Act, as it stands, a challenge in the courts would be comparatively easy if the Government went beyond the expressed purpose.

The Attorney-General indicated dissent.

Mr. Reid

The Attorney-General must not shake his head, for that has been the foundation of his whole case for this Bill. If that is so, I challenge anyone to mention anything, which would be subject to challenge if paragraph (c) were allowed to stand. It is so wide that I cannot imagine anything being challenged under it. I thought that was the right hon. Gentleman's purpose—to get something completely unchallengeable, no matter what the Government did. Therefore, we come up against the fundamental question on which I shall ask the patience of the Committee for a few moments, because I believe it is essential to set out, in as clear terms as one can, what we regard as the essence of Parliamentary government and democracy.

We think that the essentials are being undermined and may be swept away if this Clause appears in the Bill. It is hardly necessary to burn down the Houses of Parliament if the Government get paragraph (c). I think that it makes it worse that the Government do not know what they are going to do with it. If the Government said, "We want drastic powers for a particular purpose," we would have some chance of judging whether those powers ought to be granted. We are asked to give powers that will last three years before Parliament will have any say in the matter at all, and we cannot know in the least what the Government will do; and what they can do is wholly unlimited. I believe that it is a function of the House to defend the twin rights of liberty and property. Believe me, if we sacrifice the one, we shall sacrifice the other. All history proves that. Therefore, let us try for a moment to separate the arguments about this Clause, because I think they have got rather confused.

There are two quite separate points involved. One is what powers ought to be given to the Government; and the other is by what method ought the Government to get those powers. Those are wholly different questions. At the moment we are talking about the method and not about the powers. The only reason the Government want this power, if it means anything at all, is because they do not want to disclose in advance to Parliament and the country what they intend to do. We believe that in the present circumstances there is no case for allowing them that power.

I want to put forward propositions to which, I think, the House as a whole will agree. I wonder whether there are many hon. Members who would disagree that the more far-reaching the change of policy, the greater need there is for discussion and approval in the House before that policy is put into effect. I should be surprised if hon. Members opposite, and any occupant of the Government Front Bench, disputed that. Let me pass to the next point. I say that major changes should not be made by executive order if there is time for them to be preceded by Parliamentary discussion. Therefore, I come to the confusion which has vitiated so many speeches at this and other stages of the Debates on this Bill.

It has been running through the speeches that because in time of war it may be justifiable to grant wide powers of this nature, therefore they are proper when we come to a crisis in time of peace. That rather reminds me of the old fallacious argument that because we can spend £12 million a day in time of war, we can do so in time of peace. Surely, there are two quite essential differences between war and peace in this respect? The first is that the meeting of Parliament in war time may become impossible by enemy action, and, if that were so, and we had no powers in reserve, we might be held up for a very long time. The second, and even more important, reason is the comparative speed with which the situation can change. In war time we all know that the situation can change from day to day or even from hour to hour, but does anyone opposite really say that this crisis is going to change in essentials from day to day or from hour to hour? I am no great admirer of His Majesty's Government, but I believe that even they can see at least a week ahead at present. Indeed, if anybody believes that we cannot see ahead in peace time, it just makes nonsense of any claim that there can be the kind of centralised planning in which Socialists believe. Therefore, the time factor would not prevent the Government's proposals from being submitted to the House before they were put into operation.

7.0 p.m.

If that is so, I cannot think that any person should maintain that this crisis should be solved by administrative action alone, unless either he is not stopping to think or he has other reasons for wanting to undermine the authority of the House. I do not think it is a party question—at least I hope not. I think I have the Lord President of the Council with me in this, because he said on Friday that if there was to be any question of revolution, let it be after full discussion. It is quite true that his ideas of full discussion and mine would not always correspond, but at least he seems to have the right idea about it. He cannot deny that something like revolution could be done under paragraph (c) without discussion.

Mr. H. Morrison indicated dissent.

Mr. Reid

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Can he think of any revolutionary change with regard to persons, liberty or property which a court could hold to be ultra vires under paragraph (c)? I find great difficulty in imagining that, although there may be a few—one never can prove a negative. I will say that changes of the vastest importance and the most far-reaching effect on the everyday lives of everyone in this country, rich or poor, could be made by executive action alone under paragraph (c). Why should there be? There can be only two reasons. One is speed, of which I have disposed, and the other is the desire to burke discussion. The right hon. Gentleman may say, "We have no intention of doing these things," but is every hon. Member satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman will still be sitting there three years hence? I am not sure. In any case, we had better not take the risk. There is nobody who goes so far as the man who starts out but does not know where he is going, and that is the position of the right hon. Gentleman today. Therefore, I think we had better take temptation out of his reach.

There is another matter which I believe to be the most fundamental of all. A suggestion was made that there is no difference between changes of this character being made by a Coalition Government and by a party Government. Surely anyone with any idea of the practical working of democracy knows that although a majority puts a Government in power, they can never carry out far-reaching changes without a very wide measure of agreement in the country. Therefore, it is sheer foolishness to think that because 51 per cent.—if it were as many—voted for the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, they can go ahead regardless of ever taking the other 49 per cent with them. That is sheer foolishness.

Mr. H. Morrison

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that we cannot introduce far-reaching changes unless we have a large measure of support in the country. Can he say whether there was a measure of far-reaching agreement on the Trades Disputes Act in 1927?

Mr. Reid

Personally, I should have said "yes," for this reason——

Mr. Morrison

Because it was a Tory Bill.

Mr. Reid

—— that was not very many years after, when only 50 hon. Members opposite were left in this House, so there could not have been much rankling.

Mr. Paget

Two years?

Mr. Reid

From 1926 to 1931—that is five years, if my arithmetic is correct.

Mr. Paget

1927?

Mr. Reid

Well, that is four years.

Mr. Morrison

But what about 1929?

Mr. Reid

I was quite accurate in what I said. What I said was it could not have rankled very much, because four years later only 50 Socialist Members came back into the House. However, that is a side issue, and hon. Members opposite can take their own view. Surely it is essential to the working of democracy that there should be discussion before executive action on important questions. It is not only that Bills have been very greatly improved by the House during the last few years—the right hon. Gentleman will admit that—but if he has to bring in any kind of large-scale Measure at all, he has got to put it in black and white in words. It is just as easy to put it in a Bill as it is to put it in an order. Why not bring it here, where it can be amended and improved?

More fundamental than that is that the main purpose of discussion is both to state and form public opinion. If hon. Gentlemen opposite really believe that the things with which they are toying would be for the benefit of the country, and if they really believe in democracy and that the people will come to the right view in time, after consideration, debate and discourse, surely they should welcome the fullest possible discussion before they try to put their ideas into operation, because they would swing public opinion if they were right, and they would facilitate smooth operation. We are not to have that. There are to be powers to do all these things without any consultation with the elected representatives of the people of this country. I cannot for the life of me see why that should be except on the footing that hon. Gentlemen opposite have more than a lurking suspicion that if these things were made plain to the country before they became law, they would never become law, for the country never would have them.

To conclude what I have to say, I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) in his diagnosis of the underlying difficulties which we have to surmount before we can get out of this crisis. He said: Now, more than ever, there is need for … a moral and spiritual uplift in this country to conquer the material difficulties which beset us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1823–4.] That may be got if there has been adequate discussion and leadership in the House, but it will never be got by Orders in Council. Therefore, I say that not only is this a proposal which completely undermines the authority of the House, and not only is it a proposal which defeats to a very large extent the fundamentals of democracy and Parliamentary Government, in which I hope most of us believe, but it is a proposal which will defeat its own object if the object of the Government is not to score party points, but to get the country out of its troubles. This is the worst possible way of doing it and, therefore, now that tempers have cooled a little, I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think again about this. He is really doing the country a great disservice and I do not think that he is doing his own party any great service by insisting on this. I hope that he will see fit to be reasonable.

Mr. H. Morrison indicated dissent.

Mr. Reid

He refuses, so it must be left to us to defend in the House the traditional rights of the people, rich and poor.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

On a point of Order, Major Milner. When you were not in the Chair some remarkable statements were made in a speech by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). They consisted of a most opprobrious attack on a friendly Power which we on this side of the Committee think should be the subject of a definite dissociation on the part of the Government. I would, therefore, like to move to report Progress to give the Government a chance to dissociate themselves from the remarks in question.

The Chairman

I cannot accept that Motion. The Government are perfectly competent—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—on such occasions as they think fit to make any declarations they wish to make on such questions. I do not therefore think I can accept any Motion on those grounds.

Mr. Nicholson

I know that it is perfectly within your right to accept or refuse a Motion like this, Major Milner, and I do not argue on that. What I do say is that when a totally extraneous matter has been raised in a Debate of urgent international importance, it is only right that we should give the Government the chance of expressing their opinion upon it, and in that case am I not within my rights in raising the matter?

The Chairman

The hon. Member is certainly within his rights, but I do not think it is any part of the functions of the Chair to decide whether or not a particular declaration should be made at any given time. That is a matter on which the Government and the Opposition must decide for themselves, and any individual Member may similarly say what he wishes to say on those occasions when he is called upon. I cannot accept the Motion.

Mr. Churchill

May I emphasise the importance of some statement from the Government Front Bench dissociating His Majesty's Government from the insulting terms in which the United States were referred to by the hon. Gentleman?

Mr. H. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman was not here and I think he really should be a little careful in entering into matters which arose when he was not present. If the Government were to disapprove, approve, repudiate or otherwise comment on various statements made by private Members of this House—on both sides—then indeed we should be kept busy, and I do not propose to be ordered about by the Opposition.

Mr. Churchill

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong in thinking that I was ordering him about, but we did think that in all the circumstances—which are very serious—it would be well for the Government to dissociate themselves from the kind of language which was used by the hon. Gentleman.

The Chairman

We must proceed with the Debate on the Amendment. I cannot accept the Motion proposed to be moved by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson).

Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)

On a point of Order. I am sorry to hold the Committee up on this point of Order as I am anxious to get on with the main Debate, but with the deepest respect, Major Milner, in your last Ruling you said it is open to any hon. Member, whether on the Front Bench or not, to make what comment he thinks appropriate on any subject. The question I wish to submit to you is: Is it really true that upon this Amendment it is open to the Government, however competent, to deal with the matters referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), and is that not, therefore, an argument for some other form of Motion being put before us?

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Nicholson

As you were not present at the time, Major Milner, may I tell you that your predecessor directed the hon. Member to withdraw his remarks, thus making it difficult for other hon. Members of the Committee to raise the subject now. In my humble submission, therefore, a special Motion should be passed.

The Chairman

That may be. I was not in the Chair, but all I can say at the moment is that without prejudging the question in any way as to what has been said or ought to have been said, I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's Motion on the grounds which he has given, nor on the grounds given by the hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pick thorn).

Mr. Pickthorn

With respect, I was not so much giving ground for accepting the Motion as asking the question whether on the existing Motion the matter could be raised by the Front bench opposite even if they choose to raise it.

The Chairman

There again, I am asked to give a Ruling on circumstances which have not arisen.

Mr. C. Davies

The speech that was made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) deserves a reply not only from the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench but also, I think, from me speaking as a Liberal for Liberals. During his speech the hon. Member made several charges. I do not propose to refer to them. But he also made some very serious statements with regard to the constitutional position of the House of Commons, and it is with those that I intend to deal. According to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne there are occasions upon which the House has the power to surrender all its present powers and transfer them to the Executive or to whomsoever it pleases. The hon. Member went further and said that if it has that power—about which there may be some quite considerable doubt—it is the duty of the House on occasion to surrender its powers to the Executive.

Mr. S. Silverman

No. All I said was that powers of this kind had been accorded by Parliament to the Government before. They were accorded, for instance, in 1940, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman voted for them then as I did. What I said was that the real difference between the two sides of the Committee was as to the occasions on which such powers might be voted.

Mr. Davies

I am right in the statement I made. I am only analysing the statements step by step as to what the hon. Gentleman had in mind. The hon. Gentleman said that this had been done, that there was power in the House to surrender its own powers, that there was a duty upon the House every now and then to surrender those powers, and that this is one of the occasions upon which that duty should be undertaken by the House.

Mr. Silverman indicated dissent.

Mr. Davies

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head at the first of those two propositions because——

Mr. Silverman rose——

Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Davies

I am anxious not to keep the Committee and the hon. Member must really take the debating answer his words deserve. He was saying that this was one of the occasions, and judging from the cheers with which his speech was received, not only from the hon. Members sitting behind him, but even from the Front Bench, quite obviously the attitude now of the Government plus the bulk of their supporters is in favour of the statement made by the hon. Gentleman. It is perfectly obvious that what they have in mind is that this is a moment when these full powers possessed by the House should be surrendered into the hands of the Government. [Interruption.] If it does not mean that, what does it mean? That is where we differ fundamentally from both the hon. Member and those who agree with him, for that is the surrender of everything that is sacred in and to democracy.

Let me deal with some of the points he made. He said that, this having been done before, it was right that it should be done again. He used that as a principle. So far as I know, this kind of power was never surrendered to a Government on any occasion, except in May, 1940. Such powers were never given to the Government of this country even when it was less democratically representative than it is, and at a time when it was in great danger when we were fighting Napoleon. These powers were not surrendered to the Government by this House during the war of 1914–18, when we were in mortal danger. They were not surrendered by this House in 1939. May I remind the House that if any war was ever declared, not so much by a Government, as by a people united in one common purpose it was the war of 1939? That war was declared not from above, against a common enemy, but from below, when the whole country was united.

If ever there was a time when the House of Commons might have said that it surrendered its powers unto the Government it might have said in 1939, but we only did so in 1940, when we were in such a state that we were a beleaguered nation, almost as if we were in a mediaeval castle threatened with destruction at any moment. Then and then only were these powers given unto the Government. What is more, as has been pointed out to the hon. Gentleman, at that time the Government of the day decided that whatever differences they might have domestically with other parties in normal times of peace, they would sink those differences for the one purpose of defeating the common enemy. It was in such circumstances that such powers as these were surrendered to the Government.

I would also point out that some hon. Members seem to think that there is no real difference between a crisis in time of war and a crisis in time of peace. It is suggested that what is needed in time of war is needed today, as we heard in a most eloquent peroration. May I point out that there is a great difference in time of war, because then we know who the common enemy is? All our power is directed against him. The problems confronting us in time of war are really reduced to the one problem of defeating the enemy with the least cost to ourselves. In time of peace the problems are more complex, and we may differ, as indeed we do, as to the method of solving the problems and as to the causes of them.

Some hon. Members believe that the Government would be in this situation today whatever it had done, and whatever Government was in power. There are those who say that the whole situation is due to the failure of the Government. The truth lies between those two positions. I say deliberately that the Government should have foreseen a number of things which have now happened and should have taken precautions in time. I had to remind the right hon. Gentleman the other day that we might have gone away without this Bill, without this Debate and without last week's Debate, as he viewed the situation a fortnight ago exactly. He then told the House that he had no statement to make on the economic position before we adjourned. Now it is said that the situation has so rapidly changed in a fortnight that we are face to face with a situation which calls for the surrender of all the powers of the constitution and for putting them into the hands of the Government.

Therein lies the great difference. No one can deny that the economic situation is critical. I have been talking of the danger of what might happen when the war ended and for some considerable time thereafter. I would say to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne that I have used such words as "never in the history of this country have we been faced with such a critical situation economically," and that I would do certainly all that is possible to try to resolve the problems that had brought about that situation. I would say with the Leader of the House that we should unite together, not in a coalition, to try to resolve those problems so that the least possible suffering should be caused and a solution found at the earliest possible date. But I am being asked to surrender not only such powers as are necessary to resolve that situation, but the complete powers that a Government may need so that they may have—if we give the paragraph its full meaning—no need to call this House together again.

Now I am coming to what the hon. Gentleman said. He said that this House had the full power, together of course with the other House, of legislating for anything. Certainly, for any single thing that we like to mention; and it would be legal. The House is now asked to transfer its full powers, together with those of the other House, into the hands of the Government. Would the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne deny that under those powers the Government need not call this House together again until the Act expires? All the taxation which the Government require to raise could be raised without a Budget or a Budgetary Resolution. Would the hon. Gentleman deny that there is no limit whatever to the power over resources, men and material that we are now being asked to surrender into the hands of the Government?

Whether those powers would be required or not would not be for us to judge. The Government would be the sole judges of what they thought was really necessary for their purpose. No court would declare the decision illegal. I would like to give the House a quotation which deals with this very problem and puts it very clearly. This was said on 31st October, 1939: The question we have to consider tonight is: What is the minimum of special regulation which will accomplish the legitimate purpose of protecting the country against its enemies? For "enemies" hon. Members can now read "Our economic problems and difficulties." Anything that goes beyond that is an unnecessary attack upon the liberty of the subject— the very point which I raised— and ought not to be tolerated by those who should specially be the guardians of the liberties of the people. There is a very different problem which has beet dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman—not what is the minimum necessary, but what is convenient for the administrator and bureaucrat who promises not to misuse the powers, even though they are admittedly too wide. That is the very argument that has been used on that side of the House. I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman's statement proved conclusively that the attack so ably launched by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) upon these regulations was entirely justified. You can, not get out of it by citing instances in which the regulations might be used to good purpose and without doing harm. I readily admit that anyone can think of instances in which the regulations could be used quite properly and without doing harm to any person who ought not to suffer. What one can equally show is that they are, in their wording, wide enough to cover a multitude of instances, in which they could be misused to the great detriment of the freedom of the people of this country. The vital question is whether they do not take away the liberty of any class or party of people in this country, to oppose the Government up to the hilt, if they want to do so. 7.30 p.m.

I hope these words have been noted by the Leader of the House, for that vital question is the very one which is being put to him tonight as Lord President of the Council. May I have his attention for a minute? I have never been discourteous to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that I have never been discourteous to any hon. Member. It has never been my desire to be so. I have always tried to argue my questions on principle, and have never sought to bring in personalities. What is being said in the House tonight and what was being said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in 1939 is:

The vital question is whether they do not take away the liberty of any class or party of people in this country, to oppose the Government up to the hilt, if they want to do so. It is very dangerous when governments start to identify themselves completely with the national interest. There is grave danger that they may take the view that everything the Government docs it in the national interest, and, therefore, anyone who opposes the Government is opposing the national interest. If we arrive at this stage, as well we may under these regulations, then we shall have completely wiped out all political liberty in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1939; Vol. 352, c. 1889–90.] I commend that statement to the right hon. Gentleman and his followers. A clearer statement of the dangers could not possibly have been made. It was made by the President of the Board of Trade whose absence I sincerely regret. There it is. The purpose of the words which are being used in this Bill is to give totalitarian powers to a Government, and we are asked as the House of Commons to surrender those powers. We have had to fight throughout the centuries for these rights against the Executive. At one time they were claimed by the King; today they are being claimed by a Government, and their use is without limitation. For those reasons I and my colleagues strongly oppose this provision.

Mr. Collins (Taunton)

During this Debate we have heard from hon. and learned Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee the legal arguments which would lead us to the view that the Government had in existing legislation already such powers as they are now condemned for taking or for underlining. It does not lie with me to follow any of those arguments. I want to say a few words about the Amendment, and by so doing, I may create a precedent in this Debate. A point of importance was made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) when he suggested that whatever the majority the Government might have, when they introduced legislation which is likely to be of an unusual, or, as he put it, of a revolutionary nature, there should be a wide measure of agreement in the country. Confused as the notions and the knowledge of the general public may be about the facts and seriousness of this crisis, the one thing on which there is not merely a wide measure of agreement but almost a general measure of agreement is the necessity for ensuring that the whole resources of the community are available for use and that they are used.

If there is one thing for which this Government would not be forgiven, it would be for failing to make use of any resources of labour, materials or wealth which this country possesses. Therefore, while I am not able to enter into fine legal arguments as to whether we already possess those powers, and it does appear that we do not quite possess them in the form envisaged in this Bill, I maintain that it is vitally necessary for production and for recovering from our present grave economic troubles—the paragraph deals with economic facts—that we should have a provision of this kind in the Bill.

A great deal was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the loss of liberty. He was particularly concerned about the poor who, he said, would be enslaved under the Bill. There was one little phrase sticking up like a black bristle in a white pig's back, about pillaging the rich, but for the main part he was concerned about enslaving the poor. He urged their inalienable right to change employment. For the first time this century in peace time we have a Government which has provided the people not merely with the political liberty to change jobs, but with the economic possibility of making that liberty effective. This is of vital importance. It is only by the implementation of provisions of that kind that that liberty, which is prized by all sections of the community—the right to demand work and the ability to get work and to change employment—exists today. It has not really effectively existed before during this century. It is therefore nonsense to suggest that people like my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade are likely to implement under this new legislation any acts which will deprive people of real liberty, but it is imperative to understand that legislation of this kind will be necessary if we are to harness the resources of our country in manpower, materials and wealth and to provide the continued employment which will provide our people with economic liberty.

There was a suggestion that in paragraph (c) the Government had brought forward gross provocation. In my view the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was completely gross provocation, if indeed it was not incitement. It is bound to create difficulties and doubts in the minds of men and women when they read and hear speeches of that kind, doubts which to my mind have no right to exist. I hold the view that if there is one way whereby we can overcome our present troubles—and there is only one way—it is by making them real to every man and woman in this country. They will not be real if only one special section of the community is subject to direction under the Control of Engagement Order. They will only be real if the people see before their eyes factual, visual evidence that the sacrifices have been levelled off and are being made by all and that single sections are not being asked to sacrifice and to submit to direction.

I hope that several Measures are going to be introduced under paragraph (c), and I do not think that power to introduce them already exists, although it has been said that it does exist. For example, recently, we have provided legislation which allows for setting up development councils in industry. Those development councils stop short at the power to enact that there shall be works councils in individual firms. One cannot possibly get individual men and women in the workshop to play their part in this struggle unless they first understand it, and, secondly, know that machinery exists to enable them to make their contribution by way of suggestion and discussion, to feel that they are really part of the industry in which they work. The only way to do that is by getting their participation in individual works councils.

I hope that under this paragraph the provision now applying to development councils will be extended so that there will be compulsion, possibly, to introduce works councils in all businesses over a certain size, councils to permit men and women a definite say over a definite field in the industry, and how it shall be directed. It is in those things that I think this provision can be extremely useful. It is vitally necessary that the Government should have these powers. I believe the great majority of people of this country want them to have these powers, and the only thing they will not forgive is failure to use every resource we have to extricate the country from its present difficulties, and to help it to emerge into a better way of life.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) takes the good Socialist totalitarian view that the end justifies the means. He is prepared to see the people of this country go through fire, provided that at the end they achieve some sort of economic freedom. He is prepared to resort to direction of labour, and prepared not only to apply it to workers, but to managements as well. He is prepared to see the whole face of our country scourged and scorched if only he can achieve some Utopia which is unspecified and undefined.

Mr. Collins

May I interrupt the noble Lord? I should not be prepared to subject one class of the community to any kind of direction to which another class would not be equally subject.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

The hon. Member does not appreciate that the effect of direction of labour and that the enforcement of laws of that kind in peace time will last far beyond the immediate period, and do irreparable damage to our country and our spirituality.

I am very glad we have got away from the feeble beginnings of this Debate. For a time we toyed with the idea that this was a Measure to remove doubt. Then, fortunately, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) clearly stated the issues as they were going to affect the workers of this country. Equally fortunately, the Attorney-General reciprocated by saying that the powers taken here might involve further steps against property, wealth, and employers. That raises in acute form the major issues which many of us have known resided in this Bill from the very moment of its preparation. I wish to ask the Government a number of questions, and I hope there will be some kind of reply. So far we have had denunciations of the Bill, and quite rightly, but no one has asked the Government in what way they are going to use the powers they are now taking. I would like to know whether they are going to exercise any of these powers over the trade unions. The other day, in another place, Lord Brand made a remarkable speech in which he said that the serious inflation from which we are suffering could only be arrested if there was some Government intervention in the process of collective wage negotiation. I want to know whether the Government have considered his view, and whether they are now prepared to introduce into wage arbitrations the Government itself, representing the consumer, and see to it that in our present period of inflation wages do not rise further at the present time.

Mr. H. Morrison

May I ask for guidance, Major Milner, and whether it is really in Order to have a Debate covering the whole economic field—which is where the noble Lord is getting? I do not intend to follow in that field as though we were having a two-day Debate on economic affairs.

7.45 p.m.

The Chairman

While the noble Lord cannot go into too much detail, I do not see how I can rule out of Order a question which would appear to be inviting an answer as to whether a certain matter comes within the powers which under this Bill it is proposed to employ. We cannot have detailed discussion of these matters, though they can be mentioned incidentally. We cannot have a discussion on the matter in detail, but it seems to me in Order that this, amongst other matters, may be argued generally under paragraph (c).

Mr. Morrison

With respect, I fully agree, but as I understand it, the noble Lord is asking me if I would make a declaration on wages policy on behalf of His Majesty's Government.

The Chairman

As the right hon. Gentleman knows better than I do, it is a matter for his discretion as to whether or not he answers such questions.

Mr. Blackburn

Further to that point of Order, in view of the very important Ruling you have given, Major Milner, which I loyally accept and abide by, may I submit this to you? In view of the fact that this Debate can cover absolutely everything, and at the same time enshrines most important constitutional principles, may I ask you to indicate that you would not be prepared to accept the Closure Motion on it at once?

The Chairman

I cannot give any promise of that sort and the Ruling I gave was directed to the proposition put forward by the noble Lord. I must reserve all my rights as to a future Ruling.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I really do not see how we can give these powers to the Government unless some of the problems contained in them are explained and questions which we are entitled to ask are given an answer. Whether the Lord President chooses to answer is a matter for him to decide, but the Committee may note that on the first question I put he rose rather truculently, and said he had no answer to give. That is in line with his statement the other day that he wanted these powers, but was not prepared to be questioned on them. That is another indication of the arrogant nature of the Members of the present Government. I have no desire to proceed upon this matter of union organisation. There will be other opportunities.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

Will the noble Lord tell us what is the meaning of "arrogance"?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

It is a word which is contained in the Oxford English Dictionary. I would advise the hon. Member to go and look up the definition.

Mr. Logan

What is the true meaning of the word?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Then there is the question, which has been mooted and referred to in Government speeches in the last few days, of the curtailment of non-essential industries. We are told that those industries are to be cut down. Who is to say that they are to be cut down? I presume the Government and its planning committees. Who is to say whether the industries are essential or nonessential? Again, the Government and the planners. This seems to me to be a most wrong-headed solution. We shall be doing ourselves grave damage if the Government proceed, under the powers given in this Subsection (1, c), to close down one industry after another, which one or other Member of the Government, in a position of departmental responsibility, may think to be worthy of being closed down. Who knows but that some young industry which is coming into existence might be knocked on the head, which, if allowed to carry on would, in time, capture the export trade of the world? Those are the kind of considerations to which the Government ought to address themselves before they act arbitrarily under this Bill.

Then there is the question of foreign travel. We are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and Treasury policy over the last few months is in accord with it—that one of our best hopes in this country is to re-establish our invisible export trade by encouraging merchant venturing overseas, by encouraging the establishment of businesses which will trade with one country and another, and thus provide for us vital invisible exports. Have the Government thought of the reaction upon our home tourist trade of the measures which they propose to cut down foreign travel? It will start a process of preventing people from coming here, and slash this very important trade which has been building up since the war.

This idea that the State as such must be master of its own fate is a piece of 20th century madness. It is the people and their desires who must be the masters of their own fate in building up businesses wherever they can, and by travelling all over the world wherever they want. This idea that being suddenly confronted with a collection of elected members of the Socialist Party, who are foisted into positions of power by the vote of the people, who preside over great Departments of State, you should entrust them with the power to take decisions in accordance with their own natures, involving every single member of the population, is dangerous and utterly unconstitutional. The only hope for this country is that the people, whose liberty is now being drastically curtailed from day to day, shall be enabled to take their own decisions, and go where they like throughout the world, to trade and travel, building up their lives and fortunes where they may.

Then there is another question. Under this paragraph, the Government will no doubt take powers to apply mass incentives to specialised industries, to apply differential rations to certain categories of workers. Have they thought of the consequences of that? Do they think that every coalminer and every engineer is worthy of special rations, silk stockings for his wife, special commodities in the shops, and that no artisan in the building trade, or in some other walk of life who does not qualify for these benefits, is worthy of consideration? There are enterprising bricklayers, telephone operators, insurance clerks, there are people in every walk of life who need these special advantages, special payments and special inducements. The Government's proposals for mass incentives to specialised industries take no account of those people, and take far too much account of the lazy men and women who exist in some of them. The question of incentives is a personal matter of man to man. The only solution for this country is to restore the price system throughout our economy, and to get away from this idea which the Government desire to enforce, through the provisions of this Measure, of mass benefits to certain industries, highly represented in this House.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the direction of labour. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford, with unerring instinct, made it the burden of his magnificent speech this afternoon. Our party has for a long time now been castigated for having so arranged our economic affairs that many people were thrown out of work at different periods of crisis by the too drastic operation of the old-fashioned Liberal price system. But let us not forget they were thrown out of work by a great impersonal force, and that makes all the difference. Now, along come the Government, and proceed to direct labour in a positive sense, acting according to the will of certain identifiable personalities, for purposes which people cannot understand, and which they heartily dislike. Sir, how terrible a thing is State Socialism. We have seen it at work upon the Continent. It starts by pleading that men should be good and equal.

The Chairman

I hope that the noble Lord is not going into the whole question of State Socialism. If he wishes to refer to the direction of labour, he must bring what he says within the confines of the paragraph which we are discussing.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

The burden of many speeches, including that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford, was directed to the subject of the direction of labour. Am I not entitled to refer to it, if only in passing? I would say, very briefly, that what happens is that this business of trying to make men good and equal resolves itself into seeking means to ensure this. Over the years it feeds upon itself, gathering potency from the very crises which the doctrine induces. The issues are narrowed up from precedent to precedent until a pyramid of State power has been erected. Then the monster is unloosed, and simple people, brought up to pursue life and liberty, are indicted for acts of "sabotage against the people," cast into gaol, and torn limb from limb. That has been the experience upon the Continent, and we have to take it into account. Do not hon. Gentlemen opposite observe the remorseless and relentless trends here? At the present time we may well have, and do in fact have, a kind and gentle Prime Minister, and a Lord President, who is in exuberant spirits, and thinks of this Bill in light-hearted terms. But the printed words are there for all to see. In Bill after Bill introduced into this House over the last two years, more and more power has been embraced to the State. Do not hon. Gentlemen opposite see how communised and organised labour are forcing these——

Mr. Paget

On a point of Order Has there been, in the noble Lord's speech in the last five minutes, one word which has complied with your Ruling, Major Milner?

The Chairman

I am listening to what the noble Lord is saying. I thought he was indicating that his speech was coming to a close.

Sir Waldron Smithers (Orpington)

It Subsection (1, c) is passed, what is to prevent the Government from taking the ring off the fourth finger of your left hand?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I will not detain the Committee for very long. In conclusion, I would like to say that I think that the Government have forfeited the respect of the people of this nation by their actions over the last two years.

8.0 p.m.

The Chairman

The noble Lord cannot go into general animadversions of that kind on this matter which is strictly limited to certain purposes, though admittedly the purposes are of a wide nature. The noble Lord must address himself to the Amendment.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

In taking the powers which they will have under this Bill, and under this Subsection, the Government show that they forfeit the confidence of the country. They show that they have exceeded their Mandate. It would seem to me that the only honourable course for the Government to take in face of that situation and in face of the growing contempt of the community towards them, is to resign and to face the electors. Then, if they are returned to power, they can take the powers contained in this Bill and do it with a good conscience; but that they should attempt to do it now, two years after they were returned to power, when every month produces fresh evidence of crisis——

The Chairman

Order.

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order. Surely we are discussing an Amendment to decide whether to give the Government certain powers. I had always understood that upon an Amendment of that character it was both material and in Order to discuss whether the moment was opportune at which such powers could reasonably be given, or whether the Government which demanded these powers was a Government worthy of our confidence. It must be material, when considering whether certain powers are to be given, to consider to whom they are to be given. I submit that we must not be unduly confined in this matter. We must look at it in all its relevant repercussions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—I am raising a point of Order.

The Chairman

But the hon. Gentleman need not raise his point of Order at such great length.

Mr. Hogg

May I ask your guidance on this matter? May we not, in a Debate to decide whether the Government should be afforded certain powers, consider whether the Government which it is proposed should assume them is one worthy of our confidence and whether the moment is or is not opportune for these powers to be taken? If not, what are all these speeches about?

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Further to that point of Order, Major Milner. In view of the fact that the Lord President himself has made a statement that he does not intend to give any indication of the manner in which these powers are to be used, are we not entitled, if we catch your eye, to try to elicit from the Government by questions, information about the mariner in which they will use these powers?

The Chairman

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is right in what he has just said and to some extent the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) is also right. But there must be some limit to the discussion, and I am afraid, fortunately or unfortunately, I must be the best judge of that limit. I do not think that the noble Lord had any cause for complaint.

Sir W. Smithers

Is it not a fact that there is no limit to the powers taken by the Government if this Clause is passed?

The Chairman

That is not a matter for the Chair. It is a matter for the Committee to judge, and not one for me.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

I should like to come back to the question of these powers and the use that is likely to be made of them. I think that the noble Lord and the Leader of the Opposition were at least right in this: that they concentrated on the labour control as probably the most important issue arising under this Subsection. I think the language in which the Leader of the Opposition painted the probable manner in which the Government would use the powers of control and direction was some what vivid. I do not think that we should take seriously this picture of workers being directed away from their homes in thousands and so forth. Nevertheless, this is an exceedingly important issue——

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise what will happen? It is not that every working man will be directed away from home, but there must be vast numbers who will be.

Mr. Jay

I do not believe that will happen. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will let me get on. I think that the issue of the use of labour controls under this Bill is an exceedingly vital one, and I would like to ask the Government for one or two assurances about how these powers are to be used; and I would like to make some suggestions about how we can, as it were, soften the difficulty. I happen to have had the job of administering these powers of direction and so forth for three years or so during the war. On the basis of that experience, I believe that it is possible to say how these powers ought to be used in the present emergency. I would also say on the basis of that experience that I am totally opposed to the use of labour direction in peace time in almost any circumstances. I think it would be doctrinaire to say "in absolutely any circumstances," but I say "in almost any." I say that for two reasons. First, because I think such direction is unacceptable in principle, and, second, because I believe on the basis of experience that it will be clumsy and ineffective in practice. I believe that it is unacceptable in principle because compulsion of this character on the individual in respect of the job which he cither wishes to accept or leave is an interference in what I would call personal freedom. It is really confusing to discuss this question on the basis of whether we direct capital, on the one hand, or whether we direct labour, on the other.

The real issue is between what I would call personal freedom, on the one hand, and what I would call economic freedom on the other. I think we invade the sphere of personal freedom when we begin to say that an individual must not leave his job if he wishes or, alternatively, we try to direct him into a job which he does not wish to accept. We have got into some confusion over this—perhaps even the Government have got into confusion—by the use of the phrase, "Negative direction of labour," and also by rather slipshod references to the Control of Engagement Order which, of course, was used very widely in wartime. I have been advocating the use of the Control of Engagement Order under this Bill to meet this crisis in the coming months. I think that if we make use of that Order in the correct manner, we shall be able to meet a lot of our difficulties. Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which the Control of Engagement Order can be used in this situation or, indeed, in wartime. On the one hand, it can be applied to a whole industry in the sense in which it is applied to the coal industry and to agriculture at this moment. We used to call it, as the Minister of Labour will remember, putting a "ring fence" round the industry. When that is done we say: "This worker is a coalminer, or a farm worker; he may not leave that industry and he may not take any other job." In my opinion, that is a vicious system, and one unlikely to prove effective. It is vicious because it is a plain and blatant interference with personal freedom. It is ineffective, first, because it is very doubtful whether——

Squadron-Leader Fleming

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member allowed to go into such detail in view of the fact that you have already stopped other hon. Members?

The Chairman

Possibly the hon. and gallant Gentleman saw that I was about to interrupt. The hon. Gentleman is certainly going into far too much detail. I cannot permit him to do that.

Mr. Jay

Really I had only one other brief point to make. The other method, and this is my main point, by which we can use this power, is by putting a limitation on the employer in respect of his right to engage additional labour. I believe that, if the Government are going to operate this control under this Bill, as the President of the Board of Trade has rather indicated on these lines, namely, on the lines of a limitation of the engagement of extra labour by firms in non-essential industries, that is the right, valuable and effective method. I do not think it is always realised that if that is done, inessential firms will soon lose their labour as a result of natural wastage.

The Chairman

The hon. Member should not go into further detail. He has made his point in general terms, that should be sufficient on that matter.

Mr. Jay

I wish finally, therefore, to ask the Government if they can assure us that the use of these powers of labour control will be, very largely, by the limitation of the recruitment of extra labour by nonessential firms, and not by interference with the personal freedom of individual workers, either by preventing them leaving their jobs or by directing them elsewhere.

Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)

I do not intend to take up the time of the Committee for very long, but it seems to me that the speech which the hon. Gentleman opposite has just made is an illustration of the difficulty in which we are all situated. None of us, on either side of the Committee, has the foggiest idea of what the Government require these powers for. It has been very rare to hear either a coherent speech or one that was com- pletely in Order, but I would hazard a suggestion to those hon. Members who have asked questions of the Government that they will get no answer from the Government, for the reason that the Government do not know the answers. They have made it quite plain to us that they have no idea.

I should like to make some other remarks before I come to the main subject of my speech. As the mover of the rejection of the American loan, and as a strong opponent of that loan and the conditions attaching to it, I would like to repudiate very strongly the remarks made about the loan by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I am very well-known in the United States as a lively opponent of the loan in this country, and, if any words of mine carry across the Atlantic, I would like to say that I do not believe that there is one man in a million in this country who shares the views expressed by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne—[Interruption.]—or, as one of my hon. Friends says, one man in 20 million. I would like to say that, in 23 years in this House, I do not think I have heard anything much hotter than the speech of the Attorney-General. It really was shameful, and the interjection of the Lord President just now, when he referred to the point of Order raised by my noble Friend, and when he said that, whether it was in Order or not, he had not the slightest intention of answering the question, made me wonder whether I was sitting in the Reichstag.

There are two views about this Bill and this paragraph. There is the view that a group of able and ruthless men are seizing the opportunity to impose a totalitarian system of Government in this country, the opportunity being the present economic crisis. There is another view that this Government consists of incompetent, frightened and timid men, quite incapable of reaching decisions or achieving a policy of any kind, who have brought in what purports to be and looks like a bold piece of legislation in order to cover up their own incompetence and panic. Until this afternoon, I was inclined to the latter view, but I am not now quite so sure, after the interjection of the Lord President. I think that the Government ought to make some attempt before we part with this Measure to tell us the purpose of it. They have not made the slightest attempt to do so.

8.15 p.m.

Why do they think that these sweeping powers are necessary? I really think that we want a little precision in this matter; we have got absolutely none. The right hon. and learned Attorney-General never bothered to tell us, and the Lord President truculently told us that he would not tell us, however often we asked, for what purpose these enormous, sweeping powers are required. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne attempted to say that the Leader of the Opposition had said that these powers were, in fact, justified. If he looks up HANSARD tomorrow he will see that the right hon. Gentleman said nothing of the kind. He said that these powers were wrong—they were the words he used—and that similar powers would only be justified in a position of grave emergency, such as war, and with the approval of all parties, or the great majority of this House. I think he is right.

I would have thought that not only were the Committee entitled to some precision from the Government in this matter, but that they were also entitled to the maximum number of safeguards to protect what, after all, used to be thought a valuable thing in this country—the freedom of the citizen. I complain bitterly that the Government have not made the faintest attempt to meet the wishes or the anxieties of the Committee on this matter. They have not put a single provision in the Bill to tone it down or to give us any satisfaction that this most important paragraph will not be abused. It could have been drafted with much greater care. It bears all the evidence of haste and improvisation. Some attempt, at any rate, could have been made to define what were the purposes of the Government, and to safeguard, in some way, the liberties of the subject.

No attempt has been made to do that, and, so far as I can see, the Government can do anything under this paragraph. They can repeal any statute on the Statute Book. I am not convinced that even the Common Law—the last safeguard—is not in extreme danger, and could not be violated under the terms of this paragraph, if the Government so desired. The right hon. and learned Attorney-General has given us absolutely no assurance on this provision whatsoever. When we ask what practical measures the Government propose to take under this Bill, the party opposite are dumb, because, of course, they do not know themselves. Look at the problems that have to be faced and solved in our present economic situation. There is the question of hours of work, of wages, of the cuts in food, of economy in expenditure overseas, and the great vital question of convertibility and non-discrimination which ought to have been taken up long ago with the United States. All these things will have to be dealt with; none have been grappled with by the Government up to now. No decision has yet been come to on any one of them. No wonder the Lord President said in moving the Second Reading of the Bill: We have no preconceived notions as to precisely how we propose to utilise it. That was a remarkable sentence for the Leader of the House to utter in introducing the Second Reading of one of the most revolutionary Measures, to put it quite mildly, ever to be brought forward in this House. I could hardly believe it. In fact, I will read it again: We have no preconceived notions as to precisely how we propose to utilise it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1806.] After an intervention he said that he had no intention of making any attempt to answer the questions which were put to him by either side of the House. I think this is really one of the most outrageous things which have ever been perpetrated in this House.

I am not going into the details of the matter, Major Milner, because I fully accept your earlier Ruling, but when it comes to the direction of labour, I agree with the hon. Member opposite that it would appear to have a very sinister interpretation. The Government have failed to man the mines largely because they capitulated to the orders of Mr. Horner, not for the first time, and not, I am afraid for the last. Let us face it. The only way they have carried on agriculture in this country during their two years tenure in power is by slavery. Does this Measure mean that they are going to find another form of slave labour in order to man the essential industries of this country? We have certainly had no assurance to the contrary from any Minister.

Whatever the motive or purpose of this Measure, it is unquestionably and undoubtedly a step in the direction of the totalitarian State. Nobody can deny it. The Government may proclaim their own beneficent intentions. But this Government may not last so long as some Ministers think. Even before the termination of this Parliament, they might be replaced by a more extreme Administration which would still command a narrow majority, and which might use the powers which it is sought to grant in this Bill for purposes other than those anticipated by the Attorney-General or the Lord President of the Council. That is the deadly danger that Mr. Gollancz pointed out in a remarkable letter to "The Times" this morning. We are frightened not so much of the intention of those who brought in this Measure, as the fact that once it is on the Statute Book it may be used for a far more evil purpose than was contemplated by anybody who has been responsible for bringing it in. That is what, to me, marks the absolute infamy of the Government in bringing in this Measure, and in refusing to tell the House of Commons why they brought it in and what they propose to do with the immense powers which it contains.

Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

I think I detect in the speeches which have been made by Members opposite a measure of fear, and I wonder exactly why they think the powers are required. I have listened very carefully to many of their speeches, and this question of what the working class will think about this Bill, comes very strangely from Opposition Members. I have never known them have any concern at all for what the working class might think or might wish to do, unless they wanted to use the working class for their own purposes. In the background of the speeches of hon. Members opposite is the fear that, perhaps, these powers may be used in order to see that those people born into high society, and who have never done any productive work, will be required to work in the interests of the community, upon whom they have lived for so long. Some hon. Members opposite, who have never done any productive work at all, may fear that they might be directed to some peculiar type of work which they do not know how to do. Perhaps they will have to attend training classes in order to dis- cover the sort of things which the working class have had to do for so long. I can envisage the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) being directed to gut the herrings about which he talks so often, for three or four days, so many hours a day, or doing something productive and useful to the community.

Mr. Boothby rose——

Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green) rose——

The Deputy-Chairman

I cannot have three hon. Members on their feet pursuing points of Order at the same time.

Mr. Baxter

On a point of Order, and a very important point of Order. An hon. Member of this House has voiced the probability that Members of Parliament will now come under direction. Is this not a breach of Privilege, which should be treated as being almost as important as the leakage of secrets from the Labour Party?

The Deputy-Chairman

It is not for me to allay the fears of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Boothby

Further to that point of Order, I must tell you, Sir, that only women gut herring, not men.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Further to that point of Order. Your predecessor, Mr. Beaumont, has already ruled that, in the Debate on this paragraph (c), no details are to be discussed at all, and that it is to be discussed as a general matter, particularly as regards direction of labour. I submit that the hon. Lady has gone well beyond the Rule of your predecessor.

The Deputy-Chairman

If I had thought so I should have ruled the hon. Lady out of Order.

Mrs. Braddock

There is only one reply I should like to make to the hon. Member for East Aberdeen regarding herring. It may be that under this provision the hon. Member may have to try to do something which women have been very capable of doing, and which he has been unable to do up to the moment. I think there is a fear in the minds of hon. Members opposite. They are afraid of many things, but they are afraid mostly that a lot of their ill-gotten gains, that they have got from the production of the workers, may be used in the interest of saving the community, in which community hon. Members opposite suppose themselves to be the only patriots.

Mr. Baxter

And the hon. Lady as a chief commissar.

Mrs. Braddock

The patriots are the working class of every type, who suffered all the indignities put upon them by organised capital, who suffered unemployment, and who even now are suffering unemployment—unemployment that cannot be righted at the moment because it is a legacy left over from the past because the whole of the resources of the community have never yet been used for the benefit of the community. What hon. Members opposite are afraid of is that, perhaps, this Government, who were returned to power to see that the whole of the resources of the community should be used for the benefit of the community, may, for the first time, have those resources used for the benefit of the community through the regulations the Government may make.

We have been asked how we are to justify this Bill to the workers of this country. It is always the workers who are referred to. Let me say without any fear of contradiction that it has taken me all my time during the last 18 months to justify the fact that we have not taken these powers and have not insisted that the whole of the resources of the community shall be used in the reconstruction period for the benefit of the community. It takes me all my time to do that when I go into my constituency, where, after the last war, because the whole of the resources of the community were not used, the poverty was of a most dreadful character; and its scars are left on the working class in that community even to this day. They press me every time I go there to say why it is that only a section of us are asked to give everything in order to save this country in an economic crisis. "Why is it that we workers are always asked to produce more?" they ask. There is only a certain amount the workers can stand and the workers can do. Knowing them as I do, living as I do amongst them on every possible occasion—preferring to be with them than with the type of person represented on the other side of the Committee—I know they are concerned, very concerned, as to why we have not used the whole of the resources of the community to get us out of this economic difficulty. We talk here above their heads. They do not understand half of what is said by hon. Members on the other side. They do not understand the Opposition's talking about what the workers think, because it is an entirely new conception to them that anybody representing capitalism, as the Tory representatives do, can be considered to be concerned about the working class. They think that they are concerned only with how much work they can get out of them, and how much profit they can make.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

This is child's play.

Mrs. Braddock

Their view is that the Tories cannot be interested in what they think. That is a fact. The policy of the Government is on trial. That policy is an attempt to get workers and capital to work together——

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont, your predecessor in the Chair has given some fairly severe Rulings on what may or may not be discussed in this Debate. At least two hon. Members, one on either side, have had to conclude their speeches prematurely simply because they went outside the strict terms of the Amendment. I ask you, how much more of this have we got to put up with?

The Deputy-Chairman

It is not for me to comment on the last part of the hon. Member's observations. The hon. Lady is now getting rather far from the Amendment, and I should be glad if she would return to it.

Mrs. Braddock

I should like to conclude the sentence, in the middle of which I was interrupted. For the past two years the Government have made strenuous efforts to get industry to work for the benefit of the community as a whole. It is that policy which is on trial, not whether the Government are able to deal with the situation. What is on trial is whether it is possible, in new circumstances, to get the working class and the employing class working side by side, utilising in industry the total resources of the community. If that breaks down and a class war becomes evident, it will not be the responsibility of the Government or the working class, but the responsibility of the owners of industry who are not prepared, unless forced to do so by some penal measures, to use our resources for the benefit of the community. It must be within the knowledge of hon. Members opposite that at present great efforts are being made to sabotage the policy which the Government are trying to put into operation——

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Lady is now quite outside the scope of the Amendment. She must keep to the Amendment under discussion.

Mrs. Braddock

Surely, the question of sabotage is very relevant to the position? The fact that there is sabotage——

The Deputy-Chairman

That is not for the hon. Lady to decide, but for the Chair, and I rule that it is out of Order.

Mrs. Braddock

If you say that, Mr. Beaumont, I am in a difficulty. If it is out of Order to refer to the fact that the resources of the community are being misused, or that the Government's attempt to use them is being sabotaged, I must leave it there. I do not want to discuss the American loan and what we feel about it.

Whether we like it or not, the working class of this country can produce so much, and no more; they can carry so many parasites on their backs, and no more. But unless there are powers to prevent their having to carry those parasites on their backs, sooner or later the working class will itself take powers—which nobody will be able to discuss—in order to throw off the parasites they have carried for so long. That is my own honest opinion. I have been in the Socialist and working class movement all my life. I have never been a hypocrite, and I do not intend to saddle the Government Front Bench with responsibility for my opinions, but I believe sincerely and emphatically that we cannot endure a system whereby the workers are in subjection, while the employers make huge profits, on which they live, without producing anything. I ask hon. Members to read paragraph (c), and to read it carefully. I believe if it is reiterated by the Press of the Tory Party, it will act as a clarion call for the workers to insist on this Government taking the necessary powers to see that the whole of the resources of the community are organised to the advantage of the community as a whole.

Major Haughton (Antrim)

In the course of his peroration to a long speech last Thursday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that during the Recess we should ponder, study and explain the economic crisis to our constituents. That was hardly the type of message we expected. We expected some inspiration which would send us back to rouse our constituencies to try to raise agricultural and industrial production to overcome the crisis. I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) will forgive me if I do not follow her speech, because I cannot think that a speech of that kind is calculated to bring about that unity of effort which we need to solve our problem. Over and over again, the President of the Board of Trade has gibed at the Opposition for trying to remove controls. I think that he knows in his heart of hearts that those of us who are concerned with businesses are trying to overcome the petty frustrations and difficulties which face us in trying to get production. I have with me a number of examples of petty frustrations which have to be overcome. Members in all parts of the Committee receive representations of this kind. I derive no satisfaction in overcoming one of these difficulties by correspondence with the President of the Board of Trade, or with some other Government Department, because I feel that they should never have arisen. Why should it be left to Members of Parliament to remove some petty frustration in connection with the issue of a licence to encourge the export trade?

What has struck me during this Debate is the inconsistency of hon. Members opposite. I do not want to be petty or indulge in recriminations, but two months ago the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was deriding the Government because a Measure gave the Home Secretary power to do whatever he liked, or let someone else do it for him. During the course of that same Debate, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) gave unqualified support to that view. That was on a Measure which is very similar to the one we are discussing today. During the weekend I went to the cinema, and the caption, "The Clarion Call," came up on the screen. Then the Prime Minister was seen and heard, in his earnest, quiet, way, describing the crisis, and explaining why the country will have to tighten its belt and accept the rules, orders, and regulations which will be brought forward as a result of this Bill. At that moment, I could not help thinking of the message which was sent out to our troops by Field-Marshal Montgomery just before the battle of El Alamein. Those who were there at that time, or thereabouts, will remember that it was a simple and unexpected message, in view of all that had gone before—the disorganisation of the Eighth Army and its regrouping and redrilling. The message was—"How proud …

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. and gallant Member is making a Second Reading speech instead of confining himself to the terms of the Amendment.

Major Haughton

Instead of a Measure of frustration like this, which will mean more orders and regulations, what we should be doing at this time is going to our constituents and rousing them to increased production by telling them that having won the war how proud they should be of having the opportunity of facing up to the situation. Almost anything can be done under this Bill, and that is why I support the Amendment to limit its powers.

Mr. Paget

There has been a great deal of confusion in this Debate between the powers which are conferred in this Clause and the purposes for which those powers are to be used. The powers are not new; they have existed since 1941. When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was speaking of those powers, he said that they involved industrial conscription, that they imposed serfdom on the people of this country, that nobody would feel safe from having a knock at his door at night. The powers which he so described are the powers which he himself took. There is no new power conferred by this Bill. Again, when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking to us about those powers, he said that we should be particularly careful about conferring powers of that kind because of the character of the people who are to exercise them. He referred particularly to the President of the Board of Trade, he quoted to us what my right hon. and learned Friend said away back in 1934, and he said, "Look at the type of man to whom you are giving these powers." But the right hon. Gentleman himself gave these powers to that very man, when he was Minister of Aircraft Production, and he used them. Really, we must get away from that "phoney" histrionic nonsense, and come back to what is the real issue here.

The question is not as to the powers, not, I think, very widely as to their purpose, but for what the powers will be used now. Are they to be used for the mobilisation of industry in order to meet this crisis? Are we to treat exports as though they were shells and are we to say to every man who owns a factory: "At this moment you own a national asset, and if that asset is required to serve the nation, it must serve the nation, and you must make the things which the nation requires"? Is not that the sort of use which is to be made of these powers here and now?

8.45 p.m.

It seems to me that we have come to a parting of the ways. I feel that this is a moment, and a Bill, of very great importance, not so much because of its legal effect, but because it is a milestone that is marking the parting of the ways. We have come out of a sunlit, dollar-paved valley in which we could strut about, and now there are only two roads before us. They are both hard roads, and they both involve some loss of economic liberty. In the Second Reading Debate, those two roads were described with very great candour, on the one side by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) and the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) and on the other side by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). I can see no middle road between those two. Let us recognise here and now that they both involve sacrifice of economic liberty. Here I would say to the hon. and gallant Member for Antrim (Major Haughton) that one should draw a distinction between civil liberty and economic liberty. The hon. Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), was attracted very directly towards civil liberty, and the expression of opinion.

Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern) rose——

Mr. Paget

That I do not feel is threatened here in any way. I know that the hon. Member who was about to interrupt has an Amendment down about suppressing newspapers.

Mr. Byers

Why I rose had nothing to do with that. I wanted to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman in which category he puts the direction of labour—is that civil or economic?

Mr. Paget

That, I say quite emphatically is economic. Economic liberty is something that has never been enjoyed except by that small minority of people who are fortunate enough to have private means. Private means were the key and passport of economic liberty. The people who had no private means never have had economic liberty. They were subject to the rule of the boss, and this was a rude which was enforced by a very serious sanction indeed—the dole and the means test; the sack——

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. Your predecessor ruled the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay) out of Order for exploring this very avenue in rather a different sense. May we not have some Ruling as to how far this kind of argument is permitted to be pursued by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) as distinct from the hon. Member for North Battersea?

The Deputy Chairman

I was about to rise to intimate to the hon. and learned Member that his remarks were remote from the Amendment. It would permit of more speeches being made if hon. Members would keep to the Amendment.

Mr. Paget

What I was indicating was that this Bill provides, among other things, for this additional purpose: Generally for ensuring that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and are used, in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community. What we have to discuss is whether that is desirable or not, and I am attempting to argue that it is desirable, and, in fact, is a lesser reduction of liberty than the alternative. The alternative which was put by the hon. Member for Monmouth was to cut the social services and get back to mass unemployment, which is what economists describe, and ask us to accept, as the stick that goes with the carrot. The system, as the hon. Member for Monmouth put it, is to get back to price mechanism.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. and learned Member is now making a Second Reading speech, and I must request him to confine his remarks to the Amendment.

Mr. Paget

I will try to do so. There, on the one hand, are the very grave curtailments on economic liberty which are imposed by one section. If the nation desires them, it can go back to them. The alternative is to go forward—and again I will try to keep in Order here—and try to take the full Socialist alternative which was given by the hon. Member for East Coventry. In this matter I most emphatically support everything he said. I feel, and I think a good many hon. Members opposite will recognise, that in this Parliament I have been a moderate, and my opinions have been dictated more by reason than by doctrine on a great many occasions. Indeed, I think the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) will remember that I was one of the very few voices to state that the tied cottage was necessary to agriculture.

The Deputy-Chairman

Will the hon. and learned Member tell me how tied cottages arise on this Amendment?

Mr. Paget

I was simply dealing with the general point. While on this point, I should like to say that I feel there is no kind of middle way. If we try to drift along as we have been drifting along, without either taking the Socialist alternative or the alternative put forward by the hon. Member for Monmouth, that is the way to certain disaster. Here is a point where we have to say quite firmly, either we go back to price mechanism, or we go the whole hog and mobilise industry, as it were for war, to make things which the community requires as for a military operation, because the safety and the future of the community depend upon it. This is the Bill which will give us those powers, and I submit that they are highly necessary at this time.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)

I do not propose to detain the Committee many minutes, and I shall try not to make a Second Reading speech. I have listened with great interest to the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock), and I rather regret that her speech was not made in Hyde Park rather than in the House of Commons. No doubt she is perfectly honest in all she says, and I realise that she does not want to know me. As for the speech that has just been made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) I would ask him to remember that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) took these powers in 1940 it was in time of war, and in time of war anything and everything must be done by the community in the interests of the whole nation in order to protect us from invasion. Therefore, it is not comparable to talk about what we did in 1940 and what is being done today. Many of us thought in 1945 that the powers that the Government took then were wholly unnecessary in time of peace. Had the Government known their business they could perfectly well have done without them, although, of course, some controls had to be retained for the time being while things were scarce.

Now we are told that the present Bill confers no further powers on the Government than they already had under the Act of 1945. The Prime Minister has assured us that this Bill was only required in order to enable us to weather the economic crisis and that this Clause we are discussing was necessary to make sure that it was legal to enforce the existing Act. I am one of those who think that this Bill is wholly unnecessary. I am perfectly certain that the Government could carry on and do everything necessary in the existing emergency without further legislation. But we have just heard a speech, similar to other speeches made from the other side of the Committee, which showed very clearly that there are hon. Members whose views about this Measure are not those of the Prime Minister. They are advocating that the Bill should be used not so much to assist our economic recovery as to using economics in order to carry through a social revolution.

My great complaint about this Bill is that it establishes a dangerous precedent. I do not think for a moment that the Lord President of the Council, the Prime Minister or most of the right hon. Mem- bers on the Front Bench opposite are really totalitarian in the sense in which Hitler was. I do not look upon them as desperadoes but, as was said by ray hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern (Mr. Boothby), rather as frightened men who do not in the least know what to do and are, therefore, anxious to get rid of Parliamentary control, as far as possible and then rule by Orders in Council. But although this Government may be well meaning there are other hon. Gentlemen on that side, who may, as has been suggested, soon be in control of a majority in the House, and they are by no means so harmless.

I look upon the national situation at the present time as being extremely dangerous, but I think that it would be better if the Government were to concentrate on the essentials and not to dither about inventing in Government Departments various ways of directing industry in this way and that, and in arranging what particular exports are to be sent to what country and a hundred other details. They should concentrate on the two great essentials and then we might soon get this country going again. If only they could get the miners to produce more coal, if only we were in a position to sell coal abroad as we were in 1937——

Mr. Follick (Loughborough)

How about our own industries?

Sir C. Headlam

I am glad the hon. Member mentioned that. I thought it was so elementary that it went without saying; if we could also supply our own industries with an adequate coal supply and renew our export trade coal, we should soon be on top of the world. Does it occur to hon. Members that if we exported 30 or 40 million tons of coal a year as we used in the past we should before long bridge the gap between our imports and our exports?

Mr. Alpass (Thornbury)

How would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's party get the miners to produce the coal necessary?

9.0 p.m.

Sir C. Headlam

I am leaving it to the party opposite. [Laughter.] I cannot understand why hon. Members should be so much amused. I thought they had passed the Coal Act in order to get a larger production of coal and to please the miners. Surely they are the people to induce the miners to produce more coal. It is perfectly natural that we should look from this side of the House to that side for more coal.

If we could also re-establish our agriculture, we should save millions of pounds spent on imported foodstuffs. The Government should get to work on those two great essential industries coal and agriculture. I believe we should then see the wheels of industry working again and the recovery about which we are all anxious. That is why I feel it is absurd for the Government to make such a fuss about the Bill at the present time and about the necessity of passing it.

Mrs. Nichol (Bradford, North)

On a point of Order. I thought the right hon. and gallant Member said that he did not propose to make a Second Reading speech. His speech sounds rather like a lecture on economics.

The Deputy-Chairman

The right hon. and gallant Member's argument has gone rather wide, but he is still in Order.

Sir C. Headlam

I certainly will not detain the Committee much longer. I agree with you, Mr. Beaumont. I do not think I have infringed the rules of Order. I have been trying to point out a few obvious facts to the Government and to tell them why we on this side of the Committee are fearful of the Bill, and why we do not think it is necessary for the economic situation.

The Deputy-Chairman

I would remind the right hon. and gallant Member that we are not discussing the Bill, but an Amendment to the Bill.

Sir C. Headlam

I apologise, Mr. Beaumont. I meant to say "this particular paragraph of the Bill" which we are now discussing. I want the Government to get down to the essential things and not to fuss about with smaller matters. The country will be behind them, I am certain of that, if they are really capable of carrying out their work. They are men on trial and they certainly have not been very successful so far. The country is rapidly beginning to understand their failings. Everywhere people are discussing the situation and asking whether the powers conferred by the Bill are necessary, and whether such wide powers are required. I agree with what my noble Friend the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said, when he suggested that if the Government really were anxious to re-establish themselves they should go to the country and that if they got another mandate to carry out their high-handed policy, well and good.

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not see anything about a mandate in the Amendment.

Sir C. Headlam

I will say no more, Mr. Beaumont. [Laughter.] I am glad I have been successful in amusing hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are easily amused. I, on the other hand, am genuinely concerned because I feel that the Government, by introducing this Bill, are doing something which may be most dangerous to the rule of law in future.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I must crave the indulgence of the Committee if I introduce a rather discordant note into the discussions of the last half hour or so by speaking for a few moments on the Amendment.

The Deputy-Chairman

I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not casting reflections on the Chair.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

That was the last thing that could be in my mind, Mr. Beaumont, and it is only lack of time which prevents me from expressing at even greater length my felicitations on your constant and ever-increasing endeavours to achieve the results which I hope I shall myself be able to achieve.

The Amendment rests on the point that, in discussing the matter, now we all accept that purposes (a) and (b) have been given to the Government by the Bill. Then we come to consider that if the Government have purposes (a) and (b), why do they want purpose (c)? That that is the question. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President has said that he will not—and we on this side of the Committee suspect that he cannot—tell us what are the concrete measures for which he wants purpose (c), but if he will not do that—I know of old that when he announces an intention it is not likely that any words of mine will woo him from it—he must at any rate face this second point: what are the things which he cannot do by making orders varying regulations for purposes (a) and (b) which he thinks he can do if he has purpose (c)?

I want the right hon. Gentleman to take the three obvious uses for which these regulations can be made. I take Regulation 58(A), the regulation dealing with direction of labour, and also Regulation 55, which deals with the regulation of prices at which goods can be sold and the power to control and acquire businesses. It is conceded, and we are approaching it on that basis, that the right hon. Gentleman can direct labour, regulate trade, control prices, or acquire an individual business for the purpose of promoting productivity, or redressing the balance of trade. He can do that under the powers which the Bill gives him without this extra paragraph. What is it in his mind and the mind of the Government that they will be prevented from doing if they can do all these things for the purpose of increasing productivity or redressing the balance of trade? Surely, there can only be one thing in the minds of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, and that is that in using these powers they do not want to be limited to the needs of the crisis, that is, increasing our production or restoring our trade balance: they want to be able to use the powers also for theoretical and party political purposes. Otherwise, what is the need for the wide words which really express their attitude towards the State, and their fellow men who compose it?

Clearly, the sort of thing that could be done under this power (c), which could not be done under powers (a) and (b) is a matter of principle—the direction, for example, of unmarried women as a class, the direction of unemployed as a class, the application of a more stringent price control, although it is difficult to imagine it, or the concentration of industry, or the acquisition of individual businesses, not for the purposes of dealing with the crisis by increasing production in the businesses which are left, or redressing the balance of payment, but because of political preconceptions that that would be a better use of the resources of the community in the interests of the community, and a good thing for example, to acquire the shares in I.C.I. or Mr. Rank's businesses. That is the difference, and the only difference, between a practical approach conditioned and necessitated by the needs of the crisis and an a priori approach conditioned and necessitated only by political views. That is the only reason I can see for putting in the general words in addition to paragraphs (a) and (b), which give full power to deal with the crisis.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman, first, if he will even now try to tell us what he has in mind, and if that is too difficult let us get clear why these wide and general words have been inserted, and what is the difference he has in mind. The right hon. Gentleman has complained about readiness to give him powers. We say that it is the duty of the Government to ask for those powers in a manner which makes what they are asking for clear to hon. Members. But we have gone far beyond that in the discussion of the Amendment which is before the Committee. The whole trend of the discussions, Mr. Beaumont, as you have been compelled to notice, has been to go wide, and to come to fundamental points. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), eschewing histrionics, as he informed us, spoke many times about that peculiar milestone of his which did not measure any advance, but showed the parting of the ways, to which he thought we had come. The hon. and learned Gentleman was not alone in taking that wide view.

9.15 p.m.

That is the size of the very matter of which I am now complaining, that we have, in the demand for powers, got beyond the request for those things which are needed for the crisis. We have come to the general words of the Bill which enable the Government to control, on the one side, labour, and, on the other side, capital, by means of [...] price regulation of acquisition of businesses. There is no discrepancy or difficulty in the balance; it is there, it can be used on either side, as everyone who has studied these regulations knows, as clearly and as strongly as possible. But the purpose for which it is being sought is what is worrying us in relation to this Amendment. It has, so far as I can see it, a purpose which can be justified only on political grounds. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that that is miles apart, and a very different matter, from the mild and almost injured way in which he moved the Second Reading of this Bill, and in which he spoke earlier this afternoon. It is because we want an answer to that question that we have put down this Amendment, to which my hon. and right hon. Friends have spoken, and it is the answer to that question which we desire to have before we divide.

Mr. H. Morrison

As always, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) has spoken to the point, and has made a practical speech giving the real essence of the points of difference between the two sides of the Committee. Let me say at once how much I agreed with the opening of his speech. I associate myself with what he said, and he certainly followed his own doctrine, and gave us a good concrete speech in relation to the Amendment. The real point he raised was, first, "What are you going to do with this provision?" My answer is the same answer as I gave on Second Reading, that is, no answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] All I have got to show is that there is a prima facie case for this paragraph in the Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—believe me, "Yes." It is a reasonable thing for which to ask, and if I were to set out in a speech all the purposes for which this provision is to be used, I should at once circumscribe the action of His Majesty's Government under the Bill.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Give us one.

Mr. Morrison

I am not going to do so.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Direction of labour.

Mr. Morrison

I will talk about direction of labour, if I am permitted to do so.

Mr. Medland (Plymouth, Drake)

We did not interrupt the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby.

Mr. Morrison

The reason we want these words is that in paragraphs (a) and (b) wo set out limited and particular provisions, and in paragraph (c) we fill up any elements of doubt and uncertainty, by putting in the Bill some general words. There are plenty of precedents of so doing, of making sure that one is safe legally when subsequently one acts. As a matter of fact, such general words were used in the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1940, which speaks of the necessity to secure that the whole resources of the community should be rendered immediately available when required for purposes connected with the Defence of the Realm. That is what is at the back of the minds of hon. Gentlemen—that they do not like the Socialist character, I suppose, of this paragraph in the Bill.

But, as a matter of fact, it is not necessarily Socialist. A good national sentiment is set out in this Bill. Anybody who is a good public-spirited citizen of the country, who wishes his country well, and who puts his country before class and sectional interest, ought to like paragraph (c). All that paragraph says is in the following unexceptionable words. I cannot see anything to quarrel with. They seem to me to be an admirable, national, public-spirited declaration of sentiments. It says: … generally for ensuring that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and are used, in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community; Could any decent, respectable, moderate-minded, public-spirited British citizen conceivably quarrel with those sentiments? If the Opposition quarrel with them, I can only feel that they are putting section and class interests before the interest of the community. At any rate, the essence of these words were in the Act of 1940. The Bill was introduced by the Government of which I was a Member—none the worse for that. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Government was."] No, I do not think so. In the Act of 1940, it was declared: … to secure that the whole resources of the community should be rendered immediately available when required for purposes connected with the Defence of the Realm. We require these powers for the defence of our country against economic misfortune. If that Government were entitled to them, as I think they were—and I appreciate all the exceptional characteristics of war—I say that we are entitled to them.

Mr. Assheton (City of London)

Why?

Mr. Morrison

Because we are the Government of the country. We are subject to more Parliamentary checks than those to which that Government were subjected, and we are entitled to as much consideration for effective action in times of economic stress within proper Parliamentary limits—more severe Parliamentary limits—as that Government were entitled to in time of war. But, it is argued, particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who is so fond of accusing us of being Hitlers——

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South)

Where is he?

Mr. Morrison

Do not let us quarrel. He has had an illness and I am not going to quarel about his absence, and do not worry because he may bob up any minute. It is just conceivable that we shall be wishing he had stayed where he was. He may keep us going for quite a time. The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of talking about Hitlers. The Leader of the Opposition is a most interesting psychological case. I am sure that he will not mind me saying this though he is not here. I have no grievance so long as he does not have a grievance. He has got it into his head that he could do anything, that he could have any powers, mat he could roll around with the most dictatorial powers himself when he was Prime Minister, but if any other guy comes along who wants powers approaching the powers that he had as Prime Minister, then he is a Hitler, a dictator, a tyrant and Heaven knows what. We are always getting it and I am getting to the point when I thought perhaps it would be legitimate for me to draw attention to it.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition says "Ah, but you are a party Government." Mind you, he says a lot of other things about us too. He does not like this Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That is all right. We do not like you, come to that. We all feel——

Hon. Members

Order.

The Deputy-Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman must not express his like or dislike of the Chair.

Mr. Morrison

If anybody said that I did not like you, Sir, let me say that that would be utterly untrue. Hon. Members opposite were saying that they did not like us and I was saying, "The same to you," but at the end of the day I do not know that there is much in it. The Opposition say, "Ah, but there was a war on." I know, but the powers were infinitely greater in that statute. I know. I had some of the powers as Home Secretary at the time—the most extraordinary powers—and I was not sorry when I lost them, and I lost them as quickly as I could after V-E Day. If I may say so, I administered them with fairness and consideration, and I make that claim. It was right that these exceptional powers should cease, and a whole lot of these powers were scattered on V-E Day and many more later, and I was very pleased to let them go.

This paragraph will apply to those powers which exist under Defence Regulations, or under Defence Regulations as they may be amended within the purposes of the Act of 1945—not 1940, but 1945—and this Bill. Consequently, we are legislating within a narrow and defined field, and the dangers of revolution and upset about which the Opposition are trying to scare the country are really all nonsense. The right hon. Gentleman who began the Debate was really working himself up into a state for which there was no need. [Interruption.] We are all very glad to see the Leader of the Opposition here, and I may say that I have been defending him in his absence. The right hon. Gentleman worked himself up into a terrible state about this paragraph, which, as I say, is a most admirable and perfectly proper sentiment as a declaration of the public interest, and that is all there is in it; but the right hon. Gentleman worked himself up into a terrible state to say that we have got the powers to do anything on earth. I say again that the powers will only apply to existing Defence Regulations for the purposes within the Act of 1945, and for purposes for which they may be amended. That is all there is to it.

Mr. Blackburn

May I say to my right hon. Friend that that, in fact, covers almost everything except throwing a man into prison?

Mr. Morrison

That is, again, the existing Defence Regulations as they may be amended for different purposes. If my hon. Friend is right——

Mr. Blackburn

I am right.

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend is, very much.

Mr. Blackburn

May I say to my right hon. Friend that independent legal opinion of the highest validity will be expressed upon this matter, backing up what I have said, within two or three days from now?

Mr. Morrison

I will await it with interest. I was saying that, if my hon. Friend is right—and I was going to add that I am becoming a little alarmed how right he is becoming—if he is right, he ought to have been up in his place months ago asking for the repeal of the Act of 1945, and, so far as I am aware, he did not oppose the Act of 1945. Believe me, every degree of power and the essence of the matter are contained in the Act of 1945, and all that this Bill is doing is bringing it up to date and adapting it for additional purposes to meet the present emergency and the present difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is trying to make out that this means red ruin and revolution, and that it enables us to pick people up and dump them down in some terrible way—[HON. MEMBERS: "It does."] That is a grotesque and dramatic and hopelessly exaggerated way of putting the case under the Bill.

9.30 p.m.

I prefer the language of the Trades Union Congress on this question. I prefer their view about the rights of labour and about direction of labour If I may say so, I would sooner trust the T.U.C to protect the rights of organised labour and the trade unions than I would the right hon. Gentleman. If one of the prime supporters of the Trades Disputes Act of 1927 now comes out as one of the champions of organised labour, I am going to look twice at anything he says before I accept it. I hope that I am in Order, because at the beginning the right hon. Gentleman devoted nearly all his speech to the direction of labour. What do the T.U.C. say? Here is public spirit, not party spleen, misrepresentation, spite and jealousy because they are sitting that side instead of this. Here is what the T.U.C. said. They are a really public-spirited body of people, and it is a public declaration. It says: If it is found that the application of the Control of Engagement Order does not produce the results required, the General Council will be prepared to discuss with the Government further measures, including direction of labour, which may be necessary to deal with our national difficulties. That is a public-spirited declaration, which is more than I can say of what the right hon. Gentleman opposite has said since Friday last throughout the proceedings upon this Bill. That is my view.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, as I said when he was about to come in, has really got the impression that any Government of which he is a member or the Prime Minister is entitled to do anything on earth, and that any other Government should be looked at askance, and with the utmost suspicion as to what they are up to. He repeatedly justified exceptional measures on the part of the Government of which he and I were members. We both look back with pride and good feeling on the work we did in it and the comradeship we had in dangerous circumstances at the time. At the same time, I was not sorry, both from my own point of view and in the public interest, when circumstances arose which brought that Government to an end. But it was a good time while it lasted. The right hon. Gentleman's test is that a Government representing all parties can do things which, otherwise, it would not be reasonable to do; that we are a party Government, and are not entitled to do things which (a) in war one could do, and (b) in a representative coalition of all parties one could also do. That is the doctrine.

I find that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, on 3rd September, 1930,—it was the day of the declaration of war, if I remember rightly, when there was a party Government in power; it certainly was not a National Coalition; it was Mr. Chamberlain's Government at the outbreak of war, and the official Opposition was not in it, and the free Liberals were not in it—said: It is a war, viewed in its inherent quality, to establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual, and it is a war to establish and revive the stature of man. Perhaps it might seem a paradox that a war undertaken in the name of liberty and right should require, as a necessary part of its processes, the surrender for the time being of so many of the dearly valued liberties and rights. In these last few days the House of Commons has been voting dozens of Bills which hand over to the executive our most dearly valued traditional liberties. We are sure that these liberties will be in hands which will not abuse them, which will use them for no class or Party interests, which will cherish and guard them … and so on. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read on."] I will read to the end of the paragraph—in fact to the end of the speech, because the right hon. Gentleman was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), which fact, I have no doubt, will cheer him up. The right hon. Gentleman continued: and we look forward to the day, surely and confidently we look forward to the day when our liberties and rights will be restored to us, and when we shall be able to share them with the peoples to whom such blessings are unknown."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd September, 1939; Vol. 351, c. 295.]

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Churchill

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the quotation which he has read. Will he not complete his services by telling us that his whole party voted for all these Measures at the time, and that they passed, as all great Measures should pass, with an overwhelming measure of public unanimity.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Morrison

One sees how partisan the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are. When I read out those words, namely that the right hon. Gentleman was content to hand these exceptional powers over to men whom he trusted, there were loud cheers. [HON. MEMBERS: "There was a war."] No, that was not the point. The point of those cheers was that they were handing over those powers to themselves. It was again the class and sectional interest which is always actuating the Party opposite. The applause was eloquent in confirming the point that I was making, namely, that they expect the Labour Party to support them in having exceptional powers, but that we must never expect them to support us in having exceptional powers. As a matter of fact, those powers did not go through freely. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) quoted a speech by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade—a very fine liberal declaration, if I may say so. I believe I made one, too. It is a wonder he did not drop on me.

Mr. C. Davies

It was not quite as good.

Mr. Morrison

I am not ashamed to have some liberal blood in my veins. What was my right hon. and learned Friend doing? He was not criticising the Emergency Powers Bill. If I remember rightly, he was criticising a proposed Defence Regulation which ultimately led to the famous Defence Regulation 18B. So was I, and the Defence Regulation was modified as a result of consideration in the House. What I object to is that the Opposition are always willing to take powers for themselves, and automatically expect other people to support them, but they get very "sticky" when other people want powers on a very limited basis, to meet an emergency and a crisis.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery also worked himself up into a state which really was not realistic. He painted a picture of there being no need for any more Budgets or meetings of Parliament under these powers. Really, that is childish. I challenge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to put his finger on any one of these Defence Regulations, whether under the new Bill or under the old, whereby we could have a Budget without Parliamentary sanction and without going through the processes of the Finance Bill. What is the number of the Defence Regulation under which we could do without a Budget and a Finance Bill?

Mr. C. Davies

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee what he thinks is the meaning of this Subsection: The Regulations which have effect by virtue of the … Act of 1945 … shall, in so far as their operation is limited, expressly or by implication, to the purposes mentioned in the subsection (1) of section one of that Act, be extended so as … to include powers for ensuring: that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and so on. That subsection extends the powers of the 1945 Act in the fullest possible way so that the Government may do anything they like.

Mr. Morrison

I despair of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He is a lawyer——

Mr. Churchill

The Lord President will despair of a lot of things.

Mr. Morrison

I do not know whether I despair of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The trouble is that I like him so much that I really do not like to say anything really rude to him. The same is true the other way round, but he will not admit it. But I really do despair of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party. He is a K.C.: he is a learned gentleman. We cannot do anything by virtue of that paragraph in the Bill of itself. We can do something only under a Defence Regulation or Order made thereunder.

Mr. C. Davies indicated assent.

Mr. Morrison

Yes. I have asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman which is the Defence Regulation under which, applied by that paragraph, we need not produce a Budget and can do without a Finance Bill. He cannot tell me, because there is not any such Defence Regulation. He should not talk this loose, silly stuff. As to the frequency of meetings of Parliament, this Bill will make no difference whatever. Parliament will meet as frequently as is desirable and necessary.

Hon. Members

Ah.

Mr. Nicholson

Who is to judge that?

Mr. Morrison

This is a democratic Parliament, and it will have its own will. It is really nonsense to talk like that. We have had a long Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, we have. Some of it, indeed, has been very interesting. I think that, now that we have discussed the matter exhaustively, the Committee might well be ready to have a Division on a matter which has been fully explained and defended by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, and, I hope, not without some degree of ability, by myself.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Gentleman's speech is surely a conclusive argument against his appeal for giving these powers to the Government. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) put to him a specific question, and a perfectly fair one when addressed to a member of this Government. My right hon. and learned Friend asked him specifically to tell the Committee of a single thing which the Government want to do and which they could not do if this Amendment were carried and paragraph (c) removed from the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was asked—he was, indeed, challenged—to tell the Committee of one thing for which he wants these powers. The right hon. Gentleman refused. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that he did not propose to answer that question. The Committee is forced in- evitably to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman adopted that attitude for one of two reasons: either he could not think of one single thing for which he wants these powers, or he could think of such a thing but thought it wisest not to disclose it. Either reason is not only profoundly discreditable to the Government but is, in my submission to the Committee, a conclusive reason why these powers should not be given.

We have had a lot of talk on both sides of the Committee about emergency; but there is a difference between the resolute handling of an emergency and irresolute panic. Really, it does not help the discussion of the emergency to say, "We want powers, but we have not the faintest idea for what we want them." Emergency does not justify that. I say to the Committee that nothing justifies a request to the House of Commons or to a Committee of the House for powers—and wide powers—of this nature other than a specific reason and a specific statement as to what is to be done with those powers once they are obtained. To do anything else, for the Committee simply to say to the Government, "You ask for powers, therefore you shall have them without the necessity of giving an explanation," is really abdication. After all, under our Constitution the power of legislation rests in this Committee and in another place, and it is only when the necessities of the situation can be proved irresistibly to justify handing over that power to the Government that hon. Members have, in their consciences and in their duties to their constituents, the faintest justification for handing over those powers. Not only has no such justification been given, but when a justification for that is requested, it is denied, and denied with some truculence, by the Lord President of the Council.

9.45 p.m.

If, after that reply, hon. Members are prepared, none the less, to go forward and to hand over their powers—for they are powers vested in hon. Members of this Committee—in such circumstances, then they are guilty of complete abdication of their authority as Members of this Committee. The only attempt the right hon. Member made to justify these powers was to say that similar powers had been given during the war. My comment on that is that in time of war there is a factor which, mercifully, does not exist at the moment, namely, the factor of the probability of physical disruption of the machinery of government. At the time those powers were given the full fury of the enemy fell upon this city, and, indeed, upon this Palace, and no hon. Member knew from one day to another whether it would be physically possible for the ordinary processes of legislation to go on at all. In those circumstances, when communications, when the physical necessities of government, and when the very lives of hon. Members were uncertain from one day to another, it would be reasonable to ask the Committee to give the Government power to carry on, even though the worst of disasters might fall upon this country. That is really the point of distinction.

Hon. Members opposite have seen fit to suggest that we on this side of the Committee do not want urgent and drastic action taken. That is a complete misapprehension. What we are concerned with is not to prevent the Government from taking action, but to stir them on by every possible inducement to take some action before it is too late. Where we differ from hon. Members opposite is in the method, and in particular the method proposed by paragraph (c), which is the method of delegated legislation, of letting Measures, great and small, go through without Parliamentary Debate without Parliamentary criticism, and at the mere wish of the Government; whereas we on this side of the Committee say that what is demanded by this situation is the full process of Parliamentary criticism and, where possible, Parliamentary support for the Measures of the Government. I agree with the hon. Member opposite who said that small Measures were insufficient for this crisis. But if large Measures are to be brought forward, surely it demands that those Measures should be dealt with by the House of Commons and not by the Government.

What we object to, in particular, about paragraph (c) is not that it may facilitate the putting forward of Measures, but that if it facilitates anything at all it facilitates those Measures being put forward in the wrong way. It apparently contemplates major Measures, of major social importance to this country, being put forward without the possibility of Parliamentary Debate and criticism. And who are the Government, of all people, whose ill-drafted Bills have been amended again and again by this Committee, to underrate the value of Parliamentary Debate, if only from the point of view of the efficiency of their own Measures?

It is no use the right hon. Gentleman saying, as he did, that these powers are subject to Parliamentary control. They are when Parliament is sitting, but it is surely material to consider that at the moment when we are asked to give this Government these powers, the Government are proposing to use their majority to send the House in Recess for two months, and during these two months it will be impossible to criticise in any way the smallest Amendments to any of their proposals. It is really eyewash, in these circumstances, to suggest that there is the slightest Parliamentary control available for the next two months. Let us all hope that the Government are going to do something during these vital two months. Let us get the point of difference quite clear. If the Government will bring forward their major measures one by one, we are quite prepared to sit here, discuss them, criticise them and pass them in the normal Parliamentary way, measure by measure, be it through the month of August, and the months of September and October. We are prepared to do that, and we are not prepared to allow our personal convenience or personal comfort to matter a rap. What we are not prepared to do is to go away for two months, having handed over to the Government powers to do anything they like with the persons, property and liberty of the people of this country.

The possibility of major action being taken, even by this Government, cannot be excluded. Would it be right to introduce, not only the direction of labour to which my right hon. Friend has referred, but such matters as nationalisation of major industries, complete alteration of the rationing system, or half a dozen other things? Would it be right to introduce these major changes in our social structure without the House of Commons being able to say one word? If hon. Members think that it would be right, then they take a curious view of the functions of the House of Commons and of Members of Parliament. They take a curious view if they think that hon. Members can be contentedly on their holidays while major measures of this sort are being put through by their delegated powers to the government of the day.

If it is the Government's intention to introduce measures of that sort, such as the direction of labour, nationalisation and so on, will they give us a pledge that as soon as they have done it, the House will be recalled in order that the matter may be debated, and, if necessary, a Prayer put down? I can see no objection from any point of view, not least from the point of view of the Government, to that. If the Government's measures are wise and right, full discussion will serve only to amplify the country's knowledge and appreciation of those measures, and if the measures are wrong and defective in any way, full debate will give ample opportunity for the House of Commons to improve them. Is there any conceivable objection to giving a definite pledge tonight that the House of Commons will be recalled to deal with any major measure which the Government deals with by order under this Bill? If the Government are not prepared to give even that undertaking; if they are not prepared to submit their measures to Parliamentary criticism and debate, and if they are prepared to deal with them in the hole-and-corner method of delegated legislation, we shall be convinced, and so will the county, that the Government have no policy for this emergency which they think can stand the test of Parliamentary criticism and debate. The Government will have an opportunity to come to terms with the House and say whether they are prepared to allow the House to perform its historic functions. If they are unwilling to do so, they stand convicted, out of their own mouths, of a totalitarian mentality which the people of this country have learned to despise, and for which they will never forgive hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Blackburn

The central defence which has been put forward by the Government on this point was exploded by the Minister of Health himself on 31st October, 1939, in the Debate on the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939. I will not go into the legal technicalities, but the Government have said, "These are sweeping powers, but this is a dire emergency. The Government have no intention, and cannot in any circumstances have any intention, of introducing any form of measure which can be described as totalitarian." I want to say, straight away, that I have the utmost confidence in the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade, because I am certain that not one of them would be responsible, in any circumstances, for totalitarian methods. The Minister of Health, speaking in that Debate on 31st October, 1939, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) was Home Secretary, said: The House is really not interested in what his intentions are but in what the powers are."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1939; Vol. 352, c. 1853.] The Minister of Health has fought many battles for freedom, among them being the battle against Regulation IAA. He was not prepared to have this regulation in time of war, and I am sorry that he is not here tonight to hear his own words coming back to him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), not speaking for the Tory Party, but for liberal-minded people in Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Well, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said it, and he ought to be in a position to express an opinion on this point. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford said, "What is the manner in which these powers are now being taken?" Are they being taken according to the principles being declared by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Grossman) or the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget)? Are they being taken in accordance with the principles enunciated by the hon. Member for East Coventry in his speech last Friday, when he said: This is not a question of dictatorship: It is inevitable in the modern world.…—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August. 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1834.] I do not take the view that dictatorship is inevitable in the modern world, either here in Britain or anywhere else; but apparently the hon. Member for East Coventry, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, and the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) take the view that if it is necessary—and in their view it is necessary now—all powers should be taken. I do not doubt that they are all completely sincere in their view that these powers will be taken in the interest of the people as a whole. I am quite sure that the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister would not be prepared, in any circumstances, to exercise powers which were totalitarian, but I believe that there are other Members, not only on one side of the Committee, but on both sides, who would, in the belief that they were acting in the interests of the country, introduce totalitarian measures.

If anyone reads "Science, Liberty, and Peace" by Mr. Aldous Huxley, he will have borne in on him the fact that modern industrial civilisation places more and more power in the hands of fewer people. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We are dealing with the width of the power given by paragraph (c). We have to take that, as the Lord President fairly said, in relation to the power to amend or the power to vary. It may be that every legal opinion uttered in the House bears the stamp of the political opinion of the individual who utters it—witness the remarks of Professor H. Laski in his book, "Liberty in the Modern State," which I recommend hon. Members on the other side of the Committee to read, in which he approved the dictum of Mr. Justice Holmes, that there is always an inarticulate major premise at the back of a judge's mind. I think that all who speak with deep political convictions in this House may be accused of failure to take a strictly independently view of the powers that are given. But I think that the words of Lord Atkin in relation to the previous Attorney-General, Sir Donald Somervell, in Liversedge v. Anderson have applied to the Attorney-General tonight. The argument which he addressed tonight might have been acceptably addressed to the court of the Star Chamber in the time of Charles the First. The same claim is advanced tonight which our forefathers died in order to protect, and it is vital that that issue should be understood.

Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)

If the hon. Member must quote the case of Liversedge v. Anderson and Another, he should quote it accurately. What Mr. Justice Atkin said was that his fellow judges were more executive than the Executive, and it was their conduct, and not the conduct of the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) and the Lord President of the Council which he characterised as being like that of the Court of the Star Chamber.

Mr. Blackburn

There are many lawyers in the House and I am sure many of them know that my words are correct, and they are quoted against the party opposite because they relate to the then Attorney-General. It is true that he also said: I regret the fact that some of my colleagues are more executive-minded than the Executive. In addition to that he said that the argument addressed by the Attorney-General might have been addressed to the Star Chamber in the time of Charles I, and it seems extraordinary that someone should seek to deny this which can be verified.

Let us refer to our election speeches. This is a most fateful issue before us tonight. This may lead to a constitutional crisis because anything within the mandate of the Labour Party is something which will no doubt come into effect. Anything outside the mandate may or may not come into effect, for reasons into which I need not go. Was it in the mandate of the Labour Party at the election to introduce a wide and sweeping power for the direction of labour? Let us read the exact words of "Let us Face thief Future." The Lord President wrote it, and I think it is a remarkable document, and one which I am now loyally standing by. Let us hear what he says: The Labour Party stands for freedom, for freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of the Press. The Labour Party will see to it that we keep and enlarge these freedoms"— and these are the operative words: and that we enjoy again the personal civil liberties which we have of our own free will sacrificed to win the war. Can anyone seriously believe that that did not include the right of anyone to work where he wants? Has a country freedom where human beings are dragooned and told that they must work in particular places? Let me put my construction on paragraph (c). Everyone is very annoyed with these "spivs." It is an unparliamentary word, but I think we all know what it means. The Government have powers under paragraph (c) to charter any area in the country because it is not available for productive uses and put it to any use they like. They have the power to direct "spivs" to work on it at a labour camp. Does that power exist or does it not? I challenge the Attorney-General, who has made speeches tonight, to deny that under the Defence Regulations the Government have power to requisition property for that purpose; and, secondly, to direct individuals to go and work on that property, in other words, to produce a labour camp. I challenge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to deny that.

Surely this is a matter of vital importance. Therefore, let him deny it. Did he or did the Government say in "Let us Face the Future" that after two years of government they would come to the House of Commons and say, "We want to have wide and sweeping powers to intervene in anything we like." I do not believe for one moment that the Labour Party as a whole would support a policy of general direction of labour, because that is utterly contrary to our beliefs. May I conclude in this way? I am absolutely convinced that this is an issue of immense constitutional importance, and something upon which the whole future of Socialism in this country will depend. We can either go in the totalitarian direction——

Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

Nonsense.

Mr. Blackburn

The hon. Member says "Nonsense." I must say that it is a strange and novel phenomenon in British politics to come across a pacifist defending totalitarian powers.

Mr. Carmichael

On two occasions already I have made it perfectly plain to this House that I was not a pacifist. Surely I do not require to continue repeating it to get it into the head of even the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn).

Mr. Blackburn

The hon. Member voted against military conscription.

Mr. Carmichael

Yes.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)

And so did you.

Mr. Blackburn

I do not want to enter into——

Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)

I hope the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) will not draw the deduction that Members who voted against military conscription were pacifists.

Mr. Blackburn

I do not. I am introducing an entirely new argument. It is a novel suggestion that Members of the Independent Labour Party are not pacifists. I always understood that they were, for they have opposed every war in which Britain has ever been engaged. It may be that it is their philosophy to fight for everybody except their own country. If so, it is a somewhat peculiar philosophy. Anyway, let me deal with the Member who voted against military conscription.

The Chairman

The hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) must direct his remarks more to the Amendment before the Committee.

Mr. Blackburn

I am much obliged and I will try to bring my remarks to an end. I most sincerely believe that the choice between totalitarianism and Liberal Socialism is now before us, and I believe that hon. Members will increasingly come to that conclusion. I have made it quite plain that I do not think there is the slightest intention on the part of the Government to introduce totalitarianism, but once the powers are on the Statute Book they are capable of being used by whoever, if even anybody, succeeds the existing Government. How would hon. Members on this side of the House like to have the powers utilised by the Tories? The Minister of Health wrote a remarkable yellow book, "Why not trust the Tories?" Now apparently he is prepared to trust the Tories with totalitarian powers. That is a strange metamorphosis in two years.

Mr. Beswick (Uxbridge)

The hon. Member said that under this Bill there are powers to direct "spivs" into a labour camp. May I ask the hon. Member if in his view similar powers existed under the 1945 Act?

Mr. Blackburn

I do not think that they do. I am expressing a purely personal opinion when I say that I do not think they exist under the 1945 Act because paragraph (c) did not exist under that Act. Paragraph (c), which is widely drafted, is capable of bringing anything within its ambit. That is the answer. The supreme distinction in my view is not between a party Government and a coalition Government. It is between Britain in time of war and Britain in time of peace. We are today doing something which we have never done before in time of peace. The very greatness of this Parliament, in which we are proud and privileged to be today, is that we have held forth the banner of Parliamentary freedom throughout the world, and it seems to me an intolerable thing that the Labour Party, with its great connection with all the millions of working people who believe that it stands for freedom, should produce the first Government in the history of Britain who are prepared to disparage the glory of our Parliamentary heritage.

Mr. Baxter

All sides of the Committee were very glad to hear the Lord President of the Council speaking with such good spirits and in such obviously good health. For that reason we are glad to look upon him and to hear his words, but beyond that I am afraid flattery cannot go. There was not a single word he said which in any way helped to elucidate the mystery of why this paragraph is included in this unfortunate and lamentable Bill. It is impossible for us on this side of the Committee not to begin to believe that because Socialism helped to create this emergency, this tottering Government now intend to use the emergency in the service of Socialism. The faltering hands of one Minister after another in this Government, an orchestra unattuned and led by a Prime Minister with a feeble beat, are playing every kind of music they can get hold of or none at all. As they face the coming crisis, so they are taking these powers now because as the point of collapse comes to them—as it will come—the Government will be able to introduce totalitarianism in a form that this country has never seen before. Otto Kahn, the American financier, once said, A nation that can stand against the centralised will of the British people has not yet been created. This Government have killed the centralised will of the British nation. They have created a centralised will of the Socialist Party. Everybody who travels about this country at this time must realise the dissension which is sweeping every part of the land. There is no longer one coherent voice——

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman's argument seems to be in no way related to the Amendment under discussion.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Baxter

I apologise, Major Milner, but I put it to you that this paragraph is still more substituting centralised action and control for what Otto Kahn called "the centralised will of the British people." Facing this crisis, the Government, it seems to me, would have done very much better to call upon people of every class and condition for a great voluntary effort rather than to direct everything from the centre. [Interruption.] I am sure that these remarks fall upon tired ears. I am sure that some hon. Gentlemen opposite are getting a little bored of the mention of the word "liberty," especially the liberty of the individual. I am sure, as I can see from their faces, that they wish to get on with this Measure, to clamp down the iron shackles upon the people and to get on with their holiday. On this side of the Committee we resent very much the Adjournment for the Summer Recess at this time. It would hurt me, for if this paragraph were passed we should be in readiness to deal with everything that the Government propose to do. It is not a good example for us to pass a paragraph like this and then to adjourn.

I feel very strongly about the condition of the country. We read this morning about the reception of our worker immigrants who went to Canada. That is a free enterprise country. The hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) talked about the cause of the workers. There was no interruption of her speech for some time. She talked as though workers were not part of the community but were something favoured and something above all the others, and as though the condition of the workers could only be secured under Socialism. She should read the account of how private enterprise welcomed those workers into Canada. It was in the "Daily Mail" or in the "Daily Express" this morning. The hon. Lady also talked with great bitterness of the Tory point of view, of private enterprise and of the employers. If her words are to be taken at their face value she is moving in her mind towards an undisclosed civil war in this country. How long it will be undisclosed I am not sure. I put it to the hon. Lady not to regard the Socialist Party as the State or the community, as paragraph (c) would make it, if it were misused.

We meet in this Committee tonight as freely elected Members of Parliament not only because of what the workers did in the war but, first, because of what the young pilots did in the war, who came not from the families of the workers or from the families of the aristocrats but from the suburban homes of the middle class. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Yes, very often he was the only son of an ex-officer of the last war whose parents could not afford more than one child. The hon Lady talks as though only the rights of the organised workers were important, at she said earlier in the Debate, and she suggested that Members of the House of Commons might be conscripted under this Clause, as indeed they could be. She looked with equanimity, and even with pleasure, upon the possibility that this House, which was never conscripted in war, should come under this paragraph.

Mrs. Braddock

It was only a joke.

Mr. Baxter

A joke is sometimes a very serious thing. I will close what I have been trying to say with this thought: I was in America last year. In America many things are wrong, although I deplore the way the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) spoke about America today. There is something about America which is very thrilling to anybody going from this country. One may talk to a taxi driver—you might as well talk to him, because in any case he will talk to you—one may talk to anyone in a humble capacity—Major Milner, this is apropos of what I have to say——

The Chairman

The question is whether it is apropos of the Amendment.

Mr. Baxter

What I have to say is absolutely pertinent to paragraph (c) and the Clause. The taxi driver, who is the great auditor and monitor of the times in the United States, will tell us that this is wrong and that the Government is crooked, which it is not, but he will say so. He will say that the local administration is crooked. He will make his case, perhaps in an exaggerated form, but then he will say, "But this is a fine country." They have the sense in America that they own the country. [Laughter.] Go on and laugh, on the other side. Here is an American who believes that an American citizen owns his country and that no Government and no section of the community shall dominate the country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have forgotten what that sounds like, but it is thrilling to come into contact with it. If a Clause of this kind were passed in America the American people would rise up and throw out the Government that dared to pass it. The time has come for this Government to resign and to hand over the government of this country to people who will trust the people.

Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)

On a point of Order, Major Milner. May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is in Order?

The Chairman

I am bound to say that the hon. Gentleman seems to be speaking rather wide of the Amendment.

Mr. Baxter

You are always the wisest and kindest of masters, Major Milner, but, with great respect, I claim that in discussing human liberty and the rebellion of free people against autocracy by the Government, I am discussing a subject which appertains very much to the Debate. This Clause is a negation of everything for which our ancestors fought. Since I have perhaps wandered round the globe rather like a goldfish, may I just say that I predict that when the misuse of this Clause begins—the misuse will come as surely as night follows day—the people of this country will rise up. I believe that this House will set the movement alight and that the people will rise up, and that there will be a cry to the Socialist party, "What have you done with Churchill's Britain?"—[Laughter.]—This cackling laughter is like pebbles strewn on an empty coffin. Remember that the outside world, in looking at this Clause and especially in looking upon this Government, looks back with pride and with the hope that the man who won the war will lead us once again.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

This Bill is introduced because of the crisis. The crisis is essentially a crisis of production. I would like to say a word or two regarding the actions of men particularly concerned with the question of production. Before doing so, I would make two remarks. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) opened his speech by repudiating what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said about his Tory friends in America. He concluded his speech with a malicious and unjustifiable attack on Arthur Horner. I repudiate that. I listened with amazement to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition declaring his indignation that we on this side of the Committee should use insulting language such as "spivs" and "drones." I wonder who converted him, for I have never known anyone who was so facile at coining vicious phrases to hurl at those he happened to dislike. I am certain that any term, however vile it may be, if it were in use against revolutionaries would be quite acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) is against direction of labour in this Bill, because, if there is direction of labour it will fall very heavily on the Tories—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—Why? Because the greatest number of "idleonians" are to be found among them. America is a free country, he says, but they are directing labour—they are directing Reds out of jobs in America, not into jobs. At the week-end I meet the shop stewards. Why has not someone on the opposite side had something to say about shop stewards, the men who have the responsibility in the factories for getting—

The Chairman

The hon. Member cannot go into so much detail and depart from the Amendment which is before the Committee.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

The Bill is introduced as a consequence of the crisis, and the crisis is a crisis of production. The men who have main responsibility for the drive for production have opinions on this Bill, and on this part of the Bill. If the Opposition want to get the feelings of the workers about this Bill, let them meet the shop stewards, and they will find that these men who have been asked to work longer hours, if necessary, or to work harder to produce more, want to know if the Government have the power, which is implicit in this paragraph, to make certain that the results of their greater efforts are not going to the profits of the few, but to the welfare of the country as a whole. They could read in the "Economist" the week before last of several big firms in this country making enormously increased profits over last year. Is that an encouragement for them to work hard and longer hours? No. So we say, the shop stewards say—I know the shop stewards, and as a matter of fact scarcely a week passes but I meet some of them—and——

The Chairman

I must interrupt the hon. Gentleman and ask him to address his remarks to the Amendment before the House. Shop stewards may have some slight relationship to this matter but we cannot go into all these details.

Mr. Gallacher

What is asked is that the Government should be given power to handle the resources of the country in the interests of the country. Who are producing the resources of the country? The men of the factories, not the "spivs" and "drones," not the people in the West End who are occupying the fancy hotels, but the men in the factories. The organisation of the men in the factories is built up on the lines of shop stewards. They are the men who are producing the resources and they are, surely, entitled to have a say as to how those resources are to be used. I am certain, despite what has been said by the people on the other side, that if you go to the people who are outside, if you go to the factories and discuss this matter with the people engaged in production, the people who are asked to work longer or harder, and if you ask them are they in favour of the Government getting these powers, the answer will be practically unanimous. The people in production have only one complaint of which I have heard so far and that is, not that the Government should not have the powers, but that the Government so far have not used their powers. And if the Government use their powers, however ruthless they might be in using them, to ensure that the resources of the contry are properly used and distributed, the whole mass of the working class will be solidly behind the Government.

Mr. Hogg

Of course, the ultimate question which the Committee must ask themselves about this Amendment is not whether shops' stewards think it is right, but whether we think it is right and the arguments to which I propose to direct the attention of the Committee are those which I find quite conclusive in favour of the Amendment and against the inclusion in the Clause of paragraph (c). I was not impressed, if I may be allowed to say so, with the speech of the Lord President of the Council, who at the end of his remarks resorted to exactly the kind of argument which makes it, to my mind, absolutely certain that we should insist upon this Amendment going through. The case the Lord President was making in substance was this: he said that the picture which has been drawn by hon. Members on this side of the Committee, both above and below the Gangway, of the various uses to which this Clause could be put, the picture drawn, for example, by the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn), is a fanciful one. He said: "We are speaking for the Government. We are not the kind of people to use these powers in this kind of way and, therefore, you ought to trust us to behave and not to draw fanciful pictures as to the way in which we would use them."

If that be true, I utterly fail to understand why the powers are wanted at all. The Lord President of the Council did not for a moment suggest that the picture painted by the critics of the Clause was a fanciful one because the powers could not be used under the Clause. On the contrary, he sought to persuade the Committee that it was fanciful because they would not, in fact, be used under the Clause. When he used that argument, it did occur to me that there was this, to my mind, quite conclusive reply to it. If in fact the purposes for which the Government intend to use the powers are less wide than paragraph (c), then we are right to ask them to define them less widely. If, on the other hand, they really intend to use the powers under paragraph (c), then the statement made by the Lord President would only be an attempt to mislead the Committee and for that reason I felt that the argument he addressed to the Commitee was wholly unsatisfactory. But I thought also he misled the Committee as to the real issue which the Committee has to decide on this Amendment. I thought, again, that in his opening speech—jaunty, eloquent, supercilious and I thought this afternoon a trifle ill-at-ease—the learned Attorney-General fell into the same error, because he sought to show that the Clause was a reasonable one by bringing out its terms generally to ensure that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and are used in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community. He went on from that to say that these purposes are altogether desirable and ought to be accepted without further argument.

That is not the issue before the Committee. I am bound to say that if it were, I, personally, should take exactly the same point of view as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), because I do not believe that a crisis ought to be used in general as an excuse for abolishing liberty, and such study of history as I have indulged in, leads me to support that view. But this is not the issue before the Committee. The issue before the Committee is not whether or not the resources of the community will be placed at its disposal for use in the interests of the community. The issue before the Committee is whether the Government shall have power to issue the orders and regulations for that purpose; that is to say, whether the determining power of what is in the interests of the community should be the Houses of Parliament acting in the ordinary constitutional method by means of Bills, or whether we should hand these powers over to the Government to say what is in the interests of the community and retain for ourselves only such powers as are given by the negative Prayers, when the House is sitting at hours at which Prayers normally come on.

I do not believe that a single valid argument has been presented by the Government in favour of that issue, and I am not comforted by the thought that the two Government spokesmen who have up to now sought to justify the Clause have sought to justify it upon an issue which was never really before the Committee and that, too, when the Government's own case is that the powers which they seek are already there under either the Act of 1939, as amended, or under the Act of 1945. Because it seems to me that if they have these powers, and if, in addition, they have the very wide powers given them by paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of Subsection (1), of Clause 1 of this Bill, if they have all these powers, the case for giving them, as distinct from retaining for ourselves the power of deciding what is in the interests of the community or not, is not made out. When we come to look at the use to which the Lord President and the learned Attorney-General have put that premise to their argument—and I think it is a completely wrong premise—we see how utterly destroyed their case would be if they were at once to admit that the true issue is not whether services or persons should be available for the interests of the community or whether they should decide what is in the interests of the community or not in its interests.

We do not think that this Government, or any Government, is the proper judge in time of peace of what is in the interests of the community. We on this side do not think even that Parliament is the only judge of what is in the interests of the community. We do not think a free community can be governed over its entire range by political means. We can see no kind of justification for that. The Lord President and the learned Attorney-General went on from that premise—which is a total travesty of the real issue before the Committee—to pursue a line of reasoning which is nothing more or less than a totally false analogy. They argued not only that the issue is whether goods and persons shall be at the disposal of the community, but they went on to say by an extension of argument that the precedents of 1939, 1940, and 1945 justified the extension now asked for. But they do not justify the extension now asked for, and I shall proceed to show why I, at any rate, have come to the conclusion that the argument is unsound and utterly fallacious.

I should have thought that it was patent that extensive powers already existing for the direction of labour and the requisitioning of property are an argument certainly not in favour of an extension of the powers, but, on the contrary, a conclusive argument against their extension, unless it is shown positively that there exists some distinct purpose for which they are required. But neither the Lord President nor the learned Attorney-General has been prepared to give these reasons and, furthermore, they have refused to give them. When we ask for one reason—just one reason—they say they will always refuse it. They do not believe in reason but in the argument of the dominance of the majority. Large powers have been given in the precedents of 1939, 1940, 1945 and, prima facie, that is a reason for not extending them. When we look at the reasons why we are asked to use these three precedents as reasons for extending the power we see an argument which is even more fallacious. The first two precedents cited were those of 1939 and 1940 and speeches have been quoted on both sides in support of one or other of these instances. But neither instance has any real bearing on the present case. Hon. Members have already insisted, and I agree with them, that a precedent in time of war has to be looked at with extreme care before it is adopted in time of peace.

10.45 p.m.

But the situation is not even that. The situation is this. In time of war we were dealing with the Emergency Powers Act under Mr. Chamberlain's Government or the Emergency Powers Act under the Coalition Government. Whichever one we were dealing with, both of them contained fairly wide powers, at first sight, not unanalogous to these powers. In each of those cases we had a Government, whether a party Government or a coalition Government, asking for powers for an object which was broadly agreed between the great parties of the State and the bodies of organised opinion in the State.

I do not ask hon. Members opposite to accept my politics, because if I did ask them they would say, "No." I ask them not to expect me to accept theirs, but only that they recognise the fact that they and I differ profoundly about this economic issue for the purposes of which these powers are required. That is all I ask. I do not think that a single Member of the Committee can doubt that such differences do exist. There is no justification whatever for claiming that a Bill introduced in time of war, when there is, broadly speaking, no difference of opinion about the purpose for which the powers are required, is analogous to a Bill introduced in time of peace, when the whole issue and the purposes for which the powers are to be used are the subject of debate between the three major organised bodies of opinion in the State, and in that I include the three major political parties in this country.

Therefore, neither the analogy of 1939 nor the analogy of 1940 will carry any conviction whatever. We are left with the supposed analogy of 1945. There again, I should ask the Committee to say that the Government's case has failed. The Committee will remember that in common with my hon. Friends I did not like the Act of 1945 in many of its particulars, but the argument which I address to the Committee is not based upon that dislike at all. That Act was confessedly an Act for an emergency, based upon a temporary transition. Opinions differed then as to the period for which the powers should be asked. We said two years; hon. Members opposite said five years and they won because they had the majority. But this much, at any rate, was common ground between the parties on that occasion—that these powers were asked for an emergency which was described as a "transition" and must, therefore, pass after some period of time of some kind.

But now we are embarking upon a period of crisis which has been officially desribed as "indefinite." The arguments both from the Front Bench opposite and from the back benchers have all amounted to this—not one word did they contain which could not have been equally applied to a Bill which was to last for ever, and, therefore, the analogy of a purely temporary Measure can hardly suffice to justify what they are doing now. Therefore, I am driven to the conclusion that this is a wholly undesirable Clause in the Bill. Had it been earlier I should have liked to give some examples of the way in which it could be misused; but as it is late and many hon. Members have spoken I do not want to do more than to say that if any convincing proof were required of the extreme danger of giving the Government powers of this kind, such proof could easily be found -by looking both at the Government's statement of the policy they intend to pursue and the Amendments on the Order Paper in the names of backbench Socialist supporters. Each of them makes it perfectly plain that the claim of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council that there is no deep, dark, dirty design behind this Clause and behind this Bill is utterly without foundation. If he really means it, his supporters do not, and if what he is claiming to introduce is power which can be used equally by himself and so by any rump of the Labour Party which may hereafter assume power when they have turned the present occupants out of office, it is absolutely and abundantly necessary we should look to the arguments and Amendments coming from behind the Front Bench as well as to the Amendments from the Front Bench itself.

In conclusion, I say this in reply to the remarks which were made by the learned Attorney-General in the course of his opening speech. The Attorney-General spoke of these powers as being necessary in order to support the policy and he twitted us with not having an alternative policy. But if there is one thing abundantly clear, it is that the assumption of power is no substitute for

a policy, and what we on this side of the Committee say to Members of the Government opposite is that not for the first time in the history of this Parliament they have succeeded in deluding the more simple-minded of their supporters into thinking that a transfer of wealth and ownership or assumption of power means a policy which will carry us home to prosperity.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William 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, 278; Noes, 136.

Division No. 374.] AYES. [10.53 p.m
Adams, Richard (Balham) Daines, P. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Herbison, Miss M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hewitson, Captain M.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Hobson, C. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, Harold (Leek) Holman, P.
Alpass, J. H. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) House, G.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Deer, G. Hoy, J.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) de Freitas, Geoffrey Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Attewell, H. C. Delargy, H. J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Austin, H. Lewis Diamond, J. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Ayles, W. H. Dobbie, W Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Dodds, N. N. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Baird, J. Driberg, T. E. N. Jay, D. P. T.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Barstow, P. G Dumpleton, C. W. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)
Barton, C. Durbin, E. F. M. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)
Battley, J. R. Dye, S. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Bechervaise, A E. Edelman, M. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Belcher, J. W. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Keenan, W.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon F J Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Kenyon, C.
Benson, G. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Key, C. W
Beswick, F. Evans, John (Ogmore) King, E. M.
Bing, G. H. C Fairhurst, F. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Binns, J. Farthing, W. J. Leonard, W.
Blenkinsop, A. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Leslie, J. R.
Boardman, H. Follick, M. Levy, B. W
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Foot, M. M. Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Forman, J. C. Lindgren, G. S.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Braddook, T. (Mitcham) Gaitskell, H. T. N. Logan, D. G.
Bramall, E. A. Gallacher, W. Longden, F.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Lyne, A. W.
Bruce, Major D. W. T. Gibson, C. W. McAllister, G.
Buchanan, G Gilzean, A. McEntee, V. La T
Burden, T. W. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) McGhee, H. G.
Burke, W. A. Gooch, E. G. McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Callaghan, James Gordon.-Walker, P. C. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Carmichael, James Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood) McLeavy, F.
Chamberlain, R. A. Grenfell, D. R, MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Champion, A. J. Grierson, E. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Cocks, F. S Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Mainwaring, W. H.
Collick, P. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Collins, V. J. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Colman, Miss G. M. Gunter, R. J. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Cook, T. F. Guy, W. H. Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Mathers, G
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Hale, Leslie Mayhew, C P.
Corlett, Dr. J. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Medland, H M.
Corvedale, Viscount Hamilton, Lt.-Col. R. Mellish, R. J.
Cove, W. G. Hardy, E. A. Middleton, Mrs. L
Crawley, A. Harrison, J. Mikardo, Ian
Crewman, R. H. S Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Mitchison, G. R
Monslow, W. Robens, A. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Moody, A. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Thurtle, Ernest
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Tiffany, S
Morley, R. Rogers, G. H. R. Titterington, M. F
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Tolley, L.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Sargood, R. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Moyle, A. Scollan, T. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Nally, W. Segal, Dr. S. Viant, S. P.
Neal, H. (Claycross) Shackleton, E. A. A. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Sharp, Granville Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Watkins, T E.
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens) Weitzman, D.
Noel-Buxton, Lady Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
O'Brien, T. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. West, D. G.
Oldfield, W. H Silverman, J. (Erdington) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Oliver, G. H Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Orbach, M. Simmons, C. J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Pagel, R. T. Skeffington, A. M Whiteley, Rt., Hon. W.
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Skinnard, F. W. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Smith, C. (Colchester) Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Palmer, A. M. F. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Wilkes, L.
Pargiter, G. A. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Wilkins, W. A.
Parkin, B. T. Snow, Capt. J. W. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Paton, J. (Norwich) Solley, L. J. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Pearson, A. Sorensen, R. W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Peart, Thomas F. Soskice, Maj. Sir F Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Sparks, J. A. Williams, W R. (Heston)
Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Steele, T. Willis, E.
Price, M. Philips Stephen, C. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Proctor, W. T. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J
Pryde, D. J. Stross, Dr. B. Wise, Major F. J
Pursey, Cmdr. H Stubbs, A. E. Woodburn, A
Randall, H. E Swingler, S. Wyatt, W.
Ranger, J. Symonds, A. L. Yates, V. F.
Rankin, J. Taylor, H B. (Mansfield) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Rees-Williams, D. R Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Reeves, J. Taylor, Dr. S (Barnet) Zilliacus, K
Reid, T. (Swindon) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Rhodes, H. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Richards, R. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Mr. Pearson and Mr. Popplewell.
Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
NOES.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Fox, Sir G. Marlowe, A. A. H
Amory, D. Heathcoat Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Marples, A. E.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Baldwin, A. E. Gammans, L. D. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Barlow, Sir J. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Maude, J. C.
Baxter, A. B. Glyn, Sir R. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Beechman, N. A. Gridley, Sir A. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Blackburn, A. R. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (C'nc'ster)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E
Boothby, R. Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V. Nicholson, G.
Bossom, A. C. Haughton, S. G. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Bower, N. Head, Brig. A. H. Osborne, C.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Herbert, Sir A. P. Pickthorn, K.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pitman, I. J.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Hogg, Hon. Q. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Byers, Frank Hurd, A. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Carson, E. Hutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow, C.) Prascott, Stanley
Challen, C. Jarvis, Sir J. Raikes, H. V.
Channon, H. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Rayner, Brig. R.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lambert, Hon. G. Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Lancaster, Col. C. G Renton, D.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Langford-Holt, J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Cuthbert, W. N. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Davidson, Viscountess Lennox-Boyd, A. T Scott Lord W.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Linstead, H. N. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklew)
De la Bère, R. Low, Brig. A. R. W Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas, Major Sir J. Smithers, Sir W.
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H Spearman, A. C. M.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Spence, H. R.
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Stoddart-Scott, Col M
Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Duthie, W. S. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Teeling, William
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Manningham-Buller, R. E Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) Ward, Hon. G. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey) York, C
Touche, G. C. Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Turton, R. H. White, Sir D. (Fareham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Vane, W. M. F White, J. B. (Canterbury) Commander Agnew and
Wadsworth, G. Williams, C. (Torquay) Major Ramsay.
Wakefield, Sir W. W. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 278; Noes, 136.

Division No. 375.] AYES. [11.4 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Durbin, E. F. M Longden, F.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Dye, S. Lyne, A. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Edelman, M. McAllister, G.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Edwards, John (Blackburn) McEntee, V. La T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) McGhee, H. G.
Alpass, J. H. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Evans, John (Ogmore) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Fairhurst, F McLeavy, F.
Attewell, H. C. Farthing, W. J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Austin, H. Lewis Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Ayles, W. H. Follick, M. Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Foot, M. M. Mainwaring, W. H.
Baird, J. Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Barstow, P. G. Gaitskell, H. T. N. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Barton, C. Gallacher, W. Marshall, F (Brightside)
Battley, J. R. Ganley, Mrs. C. S Mathers, G.
Bechervaise, A. E. Gibson, C. W. Mayhew, C P.
Belcher, J. W. Gilzean, A. Medland, H. M.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F J Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Mellish, R. J.
Benson, G Gooch, E. G. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Beswick, F. Gordon,-Walker, P. C. Mikardo, Ian
Bing, G. H. C Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Mitchison, G. R
Binns, J. Grenfell, D. R. Monslow, W.
Blenkinsop, A. Grierson, E. Moody, A S
Boardman, H. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Morgan, Dr. H. B
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Morley, R.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Guest, Dr. L. Haden Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Gunter, R. J. Moyle, A.
Bramall, E. A. Guy, W. H. Nally, W.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Neal, H. (Claycross)
Bruce, Major D. W. T Hale, Leslie Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Buchanan, G Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Nicholls, H R. (Stratford)
Burden, T. W. Hamilton, Ll.-Col. R. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)
Burke, W. A Hardy, E. A. Noel-Buxton, Lady
Callaghan, James Harrison, J. O'Brien, T.
Carmichael, James Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Oldfield, W. H.
Chamberlain, R. A Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Oliver, G. H
Champion, A. J. Herbison, Miss M. Orbach, M.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hewitson, Captain M. Paget, R. T.
Cocks, F. S Hobson, C. R. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Collick, P. Holman, P. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Collins, V. J. House, G. Palmer, A. M. F.
Colman, Miss G. M. Hoy, J. Pargiter, G. A.
Cook, T. F. Hudson. J. H (Ealing, W.) Parkin, B. T.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Pearson, A.
Corlett, Dr. J. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Peart, Thomas F.
Cervedale, Viscount Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Cove, W. G. Jay D. P. T. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
Crawley, A Jeger, G. (Winchester) Price, M. Philips
Crossman, R. H. S. Jeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Proctor, W. T.
Daines, P. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley) Pryde, D. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Pursey, Cmdr. H
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Randall, H. E.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Keenan, W. Ranger, J
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kenyon, C. Rankin, J.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Key, C. W Rees-Williams, D. R.
Deer, G. King, E. M. Reeves, J.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Reid, T. (Swindon)
Delargy, H. J. Leonard, W. Rhodes, H
Diamond, J. Leslie, J. R. Richards, R.
Dobbie, W. Levy, B. W. Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Dodds, N. N. Lewis, J. (Bolton) Robens, A.
Driberg, T. E. N. Lindgren, G. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Dumpleton, C. W. Logan, D. G. Rogers, G. H. R.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Stross, Dr. B. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Sargood, R. Stubbs, A. E. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Scollan, T. Swingler, S. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Segal, Dr. S. Symonds, A. L. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Shackleton, E. A. A. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Sharp, Granville Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Wilkes, L.
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Wilkins, W. A.
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E Thomas, Ivor (Keighley) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Thomas, I. O (Wrekin) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Thomas, George (Cardiff) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Simmons, C. J. Thurtle, Ernest Willis, E.
Skeffington, A. M. Tiffany, S Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Skinnard, F. W. Titterington, M F Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Smith, C. (Colchester) Tolley, L. Wise, Major F. J
Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Woodburn, A.
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Vernon, Maj. W. F. Wyatt, W.
Snow, Capt. J. W. Viant, S. P. Yates, V. F.
Solley, L. J. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Sorensen, R. W. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Soskice, Maj. Sir F Watkins, T. E. Zilliacus, K
Sparks, J. A. Weitzman, D.
Steele, T. Wells, P. L. (Faversham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stephen, C. West, D. G. Mr. Hannan and Mr. Popplewell.
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
NOES.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Gridley, Sir A. Pickthorn, K.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Pitman, I. J.
Assheton, Rt. Hon R Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Pensonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, A. E Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Barlow, Sir J. Haughton, S. G. Prescott, Stanley
Baxter, A. B. Head, Brig. A. H. Raikes, H. V
Beamish, Maj T. V. H Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Rayner, Brig. R.
Beechman, N. A. Herbert, Sir A. P. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Blackburn, A. R. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hogg, Hon. Q. Renton, D.
Boothby, R. Hurd, A Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bossom, A C Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Bower, N. Jarvis, Sir J. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Scott, Lord W.
Bracken, Rt. Hon Brendan Kerr, Sir J. Graham Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Lambert, Hon. G. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Lancaster, Col. C. G Smithers, Sir W.
Byers, Frank Langford-Holt, J. Spearman, A. C. M
Carson, E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Spence, H. R.
Challen, C. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Stanley, Rt Hon. O.
Channon, H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Linstead, H. N. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Clarke, Col R. S. Low, Brig. A. R. W Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Lucas, Major Sir J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H Teeling, William
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Cuthbert, W. N. Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Davidson, Viscountess Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Touche, G. C.
De la Bère, R. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Turton, R. H.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Vane, W. M. F.
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Wadsworth, G.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Manningham-Buller, R. E Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Marlowe, A. A. H. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Marples, A. E. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Duthie, W. S. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Maude, J. C White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T Williams, C (Torquay)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fox, Sir G. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M Morrison, Rt Hon. W. S. (C'nc'ster) York, C.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E
Gammans, L. D. Nicholson, G TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Orr-Ewing, I. L Commander Agnew and
Glyn, Sir R. Osborne, C Major Ramsay.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Peto, Brig. C H. M
The Chairman(Major Milner)

The next Amendment I propose to call is that in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell).

Major Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

On a point of Order. Is it intended to call the Amendment in my name, and that of my hon. Friends,—in page 2, line 11, at the end, insert: Provided that no regulation or order under this subsection may be made for the purpose of bringing all or any part of the assets of the iron and steel industry under public ownership. Or will the new Clause—(Save for iron and steel industry)—that my hon. Friends and I have put down, and which covers the same point, be called instead?

The Chairman

I cannot call the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I may conceivably call the new Clause in his name.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. David Grenfell (Gower)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, at end, to insert: subject to joint consultation with the appropriate representatives of industry, of local authorities and of Members of Parliament for the area concerned in the proposed transfer or location of industry. I wish to approach the written terms of the Amendment by saying first that I disapprove most strongly of the entire Bill. I believe it is quite unnecessary and unjustified in peacetime. I believe that this Bill is fraught with consequences not intended by those who drafted it, and that the departure from our accustomed way of legislating in this House——

The Chairman

I have called the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member and I must ask him to confine himself to the terms of the Amendment, and not to deal with the several aspects of the Bill.

Mr. Grenfell

I submitted the Amendment after I read the Bill, and I want to say why I wish to see it added to the Bill. So far from being a suitable instrument, this Bill is intended to add to the powers of the Executive, and I think it is highly dangerous that the Executive should be strengthened in the way that it is possible under the Bill—that is, by weakening the authority of the House and Parliament itself. This Bill does not in terms abrogate the powers of Members of Parliament, but it does derogate from the real power of the House and of the Members and of their standing as public representatives in this House.

I have put down my Amendment because I have a particular example of the ill effects of Government planning and the use of natural resources to which I must refer in order to make my point fully clear and to justify a change in the proposed legislation which the Government are now putting forward. I have tried to call attention in this House to a particular case on several occasions, but because of the absence of the provisions which I now propose in my Amendment, I have been unable to secure any effective attention to the subject. I am proposing, that before any change in location of industry or the proposed transfer of industry shall take place, joint consultation with the appropriate representatives of industry, of local authorities, and of Members of Parliament for the area concerned, shall take place. That is the only effective way of preventing a repetition of a case in my constituency which has very largely prejudiced opportunities of making full use of the resources of this country.

We are passing through not only an economic crisis but an industrial revolution, which it would be dangerous to ignore. There are now changes in production which only men who are in close touch with industry have observed. There is a great plan for reorganisation of the steel industry. An enormous sum of capital is to be expended. Large and powerful machines, previously unknown in the industry in this country, are to be imported from abroad. American machinery is to be imported into this country at great expense, and it behoves the House that we should now at this opportunity call to mind and direct our attention to the need for establishing a condition in which the machinery can be used to the best purpose and the expenditure, largely incurred abroad, equally justified. The particular project to which I have tried to draw the attention of the House I have endeavoured to bring before the Ministers on several occasions and this controversy, which began with no responsibility of mine on 6th May, when eight Members of Parliament presented——

The Chairman

The hon. Member must confine himself to the principle set out in the Amendment, that is to say, where a proposed transfer of industry is being decided, there should be prior consultation with public representatives and representatives of industry. That really is the only point for the Committee to con- sider. The hon. Member must not go into details which are only concerned with his own constituency.

Mr. Grenfell

They do not concern only my own constituency; they concern the whole country, and certainly the whole of Wales. The reconstruction of the whole steel industry is a matter of vital concern. The industry will never serve its purpose unless modernised, and the expense of modernisation is borne by the whole nation. It is, therefore, highly important that this House, which, after all, is the custodian of our industrial and commercial as well as our political interests, shall provide an opportunity by which those people who are most concerned and who are most knowledgeable of the industry and its conditions should be consulted. This Bill in every word and in every line so far confers greater powers on the Government bureaucracy. I have no confidence at all in them. They are ill-trained for the purpose of industry. They are being asked to take responsibility for direction here and there. They cannot direct industry because they do not know where they want to go. They have no technical knowledge. I protest most strongly against the suggestion that the industrial affairs of this country shall be handed over to those who represent very busy and very competent Ministers of this Government, who have to delegate their authority to civil servants, and wartime civil servants, multiplied by hundreds and thousands, who have no direct knowledge of the things with which they are dealing, and to my knowledge make very grievous mistakes with permanent ill-effects on the prospects of the industries of this country.

I am convinced that no Parliamentary right is worth anything unless it bears the right to participate to the fullest in the right development of all the resources of the country and in particular of the resources of the districts which Members represent. And it is only a pretence of democracy when Members of Parliament are denied the opportunity of knowing what Government officials are authorised to do in their constituencies. I claim that I know South Wales, below the surface and above the surface, as well as any man in the country. I am not making any boast when I say I know the topography, the natural features, the natural conditions and the character of the country better than most. But I have not been consulted. I have not been able to say a word. I have begged and prayed and petitioned for a chance to have some voice, not the final voice, but some voice, in the consultations which take place before a decision has been taken, yet I find that four Members of Parliament, myself and three neighbours, have been entirely ignored.

Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)

That is democracy.

Mr. Grenfell

It is not democracy as I understand it and it is not the democracy that I want. I am a democrat. I believe in democracy. In my view there is no democracy in ignoring the public responsibility of local representatives in the location of industry by which the whole South Wales population will have to live for decades to come and the capacity of this country for trade abroad is to be determined.

I think there is no difficulty at all about this. If the President of the Board of Trade, or whoever is responsible for this, feels as I feel about these things, he must agree that things should not be done in my Division without consultation or discussion of any kind. I know, Major Milner, that your ears are attuned to any words I may say and I do not want to be at variance with you, but there is a great tragedy looming in my Division. A large sum of money is to be spent on the rebirth of a revolution which came into South Wales 280 years ago when tinplate was first produced at Pontypool and which has gone down from valley to valley and has spread over the whole of our land in South Wales. I refer to the tin plate industry in my boyhood days. We have produced 90 per cent. of the tin plate of the world and we still produce nearly 25 per cent. Think of the contribution to Britain's export trade, but remember also that one cannot run an industry in a vacuum or in a place occupied only by civil servants. One must have technicians familiar with the industry itself, whatever industry it may be.

I have tried very hard to put my case but everybody on the Government Front Bench seems to be indifferent to my plea. I am speaking for the whole of South Wales in this, and I want to make it perfectly clear that I ask for no favour, but only that this particular problem and all similar problems shall be submitted to local committees and local authorities—for the local authorities are very much concerned with this—because no industry can exist without efficient local discussion and consultation. We must consult the workers, and I want the local authorities, the representatives of the trade, the technicians, the managers, and all the other people to be consulted. In this case, so far as I know, not a single one has been consulted. I have asked a Question about this, but the President of the Board of Trade gave a very clever reply to me the other week. He said he had talked to members of the Steel Trust who are in consultation with the local authorities and the workers' organisations, but he did not say that the advice offered him by the Steel Trust had been turned down. I claim that it is an abuse of the opportunities for public discussion by Question and answer in this House. The steel trade is against the site proposed by the President of the Board of Trade, and it wants to go on with the site on which £150,000 has been spent.

11.30 p.m.

The Chairman

The hon. Member must deal with the Amendment. He is proposing joint consultation and I must point out to him that the Amendment is not a peg on which to hang his argument about his specific case. He must confine his remarks to the Amendment as it is on the Paper.

Mr. Grenfell

A disastrous mistake is being made before our eyes and that can only be followed by judgment in this House. On this occasion, after a wrong decision had been taken, it was described as a final decision, but nothing is final in this world except good sense and good judgment which are the final arbiters. I repeat that a wrong decision has been taken and this development has been undertaken in a hole-and-corner way with blinds drawn and a steel curtain lowered down and with no consultation of any kind, and with disaster straight ahead. I am too old a Member of this House to ask for personal favours, even in the House, and I come back to this Committee unafraid and unashamed to beg the Committee to help to do the right thing for industry.

The steel industry is not the last industry to be reorganised. The country cries out for reorganisation. The figure required for the development of the coal industry is £150,000,000 and there should be a similar use of the resources of the community for other industries for the sake of the community. I hope the Committee will accept my advice because there is no party politics in the future industrial development of this country. I am a Socialist and I make no apology for that. All my life I have promoted Socialism, but I say to the Government "If you are going to apply your Socialism industrially, by gerrymandering and hole-and-corner consultations, it must fail." So I appeal for the widest possible consultations and the most direct assumption of responsibility by all parties concerned. If to that consultation we bring the wisdom and experience which this country offers, then I have no fear for the future of the industries of this country and the type of democracy we are entitled to maintain in this land.

The Attorney-General

Hon. Members must all have been impressed on this occasion, as indeed on every occasion when the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) speaks with force and obvious sincerity, with the views that he was expressing and with the feeling that he has about the particular case which has led him to put this Amendment down. I wish, if I may say so, that I could offer him something more than sympathy in regard to the particular case and could discuss the merits of it with him in the course of our proceedings here, and could follow him in that matter, but I cannot do that for two reasons. The first is that I know nothing whatever about the merits of the particular case and, secondly, I should be clearly out of Order if I attempted to discuss it. None the less, I am afraid we are unable to accept the Amendment. I just want to take a purely legal and drafting point in reply to the hon Member's speech. I am bound to point out that from the purely drafting point of view this Amendment is really quite inapt, since there is no reference in the preceding parts of the Bill to the transfer or the location of industry. The object of the Amendment is, no doubt, to ensure that there should be a full consultation before powers under the regulations, which might drastically affect industry, are used; but if there were the need for any legal safeguard of that kind the proper place for it would not be in this Bill in the terms of the Amendment, but in the Defence Regulations which might actually affect industry in that way. That, however, is a drafting point.

I want to deal with this Amendment on its broad merits. So far as concerns the exercise of the powers as they exist under the Defence Regulations and as they will continue under this Bill, whilst we strongly adhere to the principle and, indeed, to the practice of consultation in all possible circumstances, we cannot agree, in matters of this kind, which might sometime require really urgent action, that consultation, and consultations in the very wide and very general terms which are proposed in this Amendment, should be a legal condition and precedent of any action by the Executive. I can assure my hon. Friend that a provision in the terms of this Amendment would be most fruitful of confusion of a litigious character. As a matter of fact, only last month, we had two cases concerning the meaning and effect of a requirement that there should be Consultation, and consultation of a much more limited character than is contemplated by my hon. Friend's Amendment, before Executive action was taken.

Mr. Grenfell

My right hon. and learned Friend knows quite well that for over a hundred years no railways were built in this country without something like the procedure I propose.

The Attorney-General

There may be cases during the present emergency in which the Government will have to take action more expeditiously than was possible in the construction of railways over private land during the past 100 years. One of the purposes of this Bill, and one of its justifications is that there may be occasions where urgent action is necessary but, apart from the urgency of action, as I was saying, the provision of these terms would result in very great confusion as to who was to be consulted, what consultation really means, when it had to take place and so on—exactly the kind of problem that we have been discussing in two cases that have been before the courts during the past month. Modesty forbids me to say, why the Executive was successful in both cases but, even so, provision of this kind did result, and might result, in delay in cases where expedition is necessary and, in any event, cause disappointment and expense to unsuccessful litigants. For these reasons I am afraid that we are not able to accept this Amendment.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

I listened with some interest to the reply made by the learned Attorney-General. The first point which he made was that he would accept this Amendment, but that this was not the place to put it. He argued that the Amendment should be put into the Defence Regulation which affects the particular industry; but if you are going to put in an Amendment, it is much more important to have it in the Statute than to have it in any Defence Regulation, because it would then govern the Statute. That is the first important point. I can understand his resistance to its being put into the Statute, because you can then put what you like in the regulation.

The second point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made was that it may be necessary for the Government to move much more rapidly than they could if they were called upon to consult with the local authorities in accordance with this Amendment. That is the dangerous point. It is really transferring power to the central authority. That is what the hon. Member is complaining about. That is what this Bill does. The local authorities are to be ignored. They are not to be heard. Their interests are being pushed to one side. The only people who are to be consulted are the central authorities, the bureaucracy in Whitehall. Their view will be supreme. Whatever the local interest may be, that is not to be heard. It is going to be awkward for it to be heard. The learned Attorney-General makes that clear. His reply, if it means anything, means that the Government must have power to act quickly without being questioned by any local interest or local authority. For that reason, I hope that the hon. Member for Gower will press his Amendment to a Division.

Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)

I am in agreement in principle with the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) in the purpose underlying his Amendment, but while wishing to support it, I feel bound to register my surprise that for the first time, so far as I know, it has been suggested that in a Bill there should be a provision making it compulsory to consult a Member of Parliament before an executive decision is made. With great respect to his much longer Parliamentary experience, it seems to me that the hon. Member for Gower is proceeding on a wrong assumption. As I understand the duties of Members of Parliament, they are, first, to represent their constituents in this House, and second, to fight their battles with the central Government if, and when, their constituents' liberties or rights are threatened by the central Government. By making a Member of Parliament a party in general to the consultation when decisions are to be made by the central Government, it seems to me that the Member of Parliament is thereby being made to depart from his usual constitutional duties with, I submit, possibly unfortunate results.

Sir P. Macdonald

As I understood the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) he objected to the fact that no one in his constituency was being consulted. If confined to himself that would be a question of fact. The fact is that no one in the constituency of Gower is to be consulted if an industry is being destroyed by this Government in his constituency.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Renton

I think I may be able to reassure the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) by repeating that I am in general agreement with the hon. Member for Gower but have some misgiving about the inclusion of the provision for Members of Parliament to be consulted. If I might make a suggestion, it is that, on the Report stage, he might consider putting down his Amendment afresh and omit the reference to Members of Parliament, for that would be making a precedent.

I would elaborate further the case given by the hon. and learned Attorney-General with regard to new towns. Suppose there was a borough in any constituency in which there was the possibility—at the time a General Election was approaching—of a new town being built, it would confuse the issue for democracy. It would be a very great pity if, instead of the main political issue being discussed at the General Election, the attitude to be adopted by the Member in joint consultation with the local authority and the central authority as to whether or not there should be a new town became the main issue. It is that sort of situation that I feel we should avoid, while trying to gain the great benefit which underlies the rest of the Amendment. I would join with my hon. and learned Friend on the benches in front of me in disagreeing with the learned Attorney-General as to whether or not this is the appropriate place for this Amendment. It seems to me that not only is this clearly the appropriate place, but that the words chosen are in no way inappropriate to the circumstances. If I may briefly refer to the appropriate part of the Bill on page 2, line 8: and are used, in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community;". It might be in the view of the central authority that the manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community would involve the transfer of location of a particular industry. Therefore, the words chosen by the hon. Member for Gower in his Amendment would seem to be not inappropriate.

Mr. C. Williams

I would like, though not committing myself to every word of it, to support the Amendment. I do so partly because of the Amendment and partly because the hon. Member is a member of the Cornish Association. I was not satisfied with the rather casual way in which the Law Officer of the Crown turned down his Amendment. The speech of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) showed a great deal of character and determination. I am not going to take part in anything to do with internecine strife in the ranks of the Government. I realise the unhappy position the Leader of the House is in.

Let us look at the Amendment and see where it comes in. It comes in most appropriately after what we have just been discussing. If there is any order brought in fixing any particular district, there should be general consultations with the industry in the area—with both sides of the industry. It should be a full consultation with the representatives of both sides of the industry. There should also be some knowledge of what the local authorities think of the matter. That is a matter of sound common sense. The third point is consultation with a Member of Parliament. I think the Amendment could have been better worded. Before anything is done under the Bill, all Parliament should be consulted—and at four o'clock in the afternoon and not late at night. In those circumstances it would have been a first class Amendment If it could be re-adjusted in such a way, it would enable the Lord President of the Council to bring in all those great democratic principles which he has been chattering about today and in the past, and show that he really believes in Parliament. May I give one illustration? We have heard the question already put at one time today. Suppose the Government suddenly decide to take an enormous area and put all the "spivs" in there to do something suitable. Let us take an area. Suppose this was done to Plymouth.

Mr. Medland

There would be no one left in Torquay.

Mr. Williams

The hon. Member should not drag Torquay into this—he was not as lucky there as he might have been. The local authorities of the county and the local authority of the borough each would have to be consulted under this Amendment. They would resent it very much indeed and industry in the area would resent it as well. One side of the industry which would resent it would be the Admiralty, and unless this Amendment is accepted the. Government would not have even consulted the Admiralty on this matter. We have an instance in another way of their seizing great blocks of Dartmoor. One would then have a joining up of all Members of whatever persuasion.

I hope that there will be a Division on this Amendment. I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman has to laugh at. I think it could be put better but it does offer an opportunity to the Government to slip out of some of the rather foolish things done earlier in the day. It has not been offered by a wicked Tory, a Liberal or a discontented person but by one hon. Member who has given life-long service to the Government and supported the Labour Party. Surely when they get advice from that sort of quarter, and are asked to give this concession to democracy from an hon. Member with such a record, they should accept it. I would ask the Government on this occasion to meet the wishes of their own supporters. If only there had been a larger number of Members listening to the hon. Member for Gower's appeal to consult with the local people and with local industry, I am sure one would have had an overwhelming vote in favour of it.

Mr. H. Morrison

I was laughing at the hon. Gentleman opposite. I apologise to him but I just could not help it.

Mr. Williams

Was the right hon. Gentleman laughing at me? I thank him most sincerely. I am glad I was able to amuse him. After all, I have been trying to help him, and if he has a little light-heartedness in him, it will not do any harm after the very dull speeches we have heard from his associates.

Mr. Hogg

I really think the Government were less sympathetic than Government were less sympathetic than they might have been towards this Amendment. It is true, as it seems to me—and I think that the learned Attorney was quite right in making the point—that this is not a very well drafted Amendment, but what difference does that make? The learned Attorney-General has really precluded himself from relying on any bad draftsmanship the Amendment may contain, because he has made it plain to the Committee that, whatever alterations in draftsmanship were undertaken, either by him, or to meet any objections that might arise, he would still reject the Amendment on the issue of principle. Therefore, surely, the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) will be quite justified in putting this to the Committee as a question of principle pure and simple.

On that question of principle it seems to me that the learned Attorney-General did less than justice to the hon. Member for Gower; he rode the Amendment off simply by saying that under this Bill, and under the powers which we seek to give the Government—or, rather, which some of us are not seeking to give them, but which others are seeking to give them—the Government do seek to act in a hurry without consulting the local authorities and other bodies mentioned in the Amendment. But is that really so? The Amendment is precisely drafted so as to apply to the transfer or location of industry. Just let the Government explain—if they can, or if they will—where they can possibly allege that a great transfer or location of industry ought ever to take place without prior consultation, either with the industry concerned or with the local authorities concerned; especially when the proposition is not merely that it should take place without consultation with the industry or with the local authorities, but that it should take place without prior consultation with the House of Commons—namely, in the form of an Order in Council subject only to control by the House by the negative method of a Prayer, with all the inconveniences and ineffectiveness that that often entails. How can he justify that?

Let me put to him two examples. The hon. Member for Gower obviously had his own example very much in mind. I do not think that the learned Attorney-General answered it. On the contrary, he said he could not, because he did not know what the merits of that example were. Let us give him two others. Let us take the case of Jarrow. I quote it as an example simply because it is known widely throughout the Committee. There we have a decision taken with regard to the location of industry—laid, in fact, at the door of a particular industry. Are the Government going to justify, after experiences like that, action by the Government without prior consultation either with the area or with industry concerned or with the House of Commons, whereby whole areas can be ruined and other areas rendered prosperous? Is that what the Government are justifying under this Bill? If not, why do they reject this kind of Amendment?

Let me give another very good example. In my constituency, or adjacent to it are two large factories upon which a very large proportion of the industrial population depend for their employment. Are the Government going to direct the location of the Morris Works or the Pressed Steel Works away from Oxford—as many of the University authorities have asked them to do—without prior consultation with the local authority, with the trade unions or with the heads of that industry, or with the House of Commons? Where are the limits of what the Government are proposing in their rejection of this Amendment? We are entitled to ask, because the learned Attorney-General has made it only too obvious that what he has objected to in this Amendment is not only defect in draftsmanship, which might well exist, but the whole matter of principle underlying it, and that the transfer of industry should be made without proper consultation with the great interests involved.

12 m.

Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)

I want to assure the Committee that there is no conspiracy in this corner of the Committee in support of this Amendment, but I agree very substantially with the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) for one or two reasons. It will be very difficult for any Amendment really to cover the dangers of the situation. It would require a very clever Amendment to cover the dangers that exist at this moment, and I do not think that Members realise how considerable are the powers which the Government have to achieve direction of industry at this moment. I do not think that this Amendment would achieve what is desired if it were adopted in this Bill. In the last Parliament, towards the end of it, we had the Distribution of Industry Act. There was Clause 9 which Parliament so disliked that Members of every party were opposed to it, and in order to have the Bill approved before the General Election, that Clause was dropped. I think that action was welcomed by everybody, for Clause 9 gave the Government power to declare certain areas unsuitable for further development of industry.

I have pointed out in this Parliament—I think it was a regulation made under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act of 1945—that the Government had taken all the powers that Clause 9 had given them, despite the fact that every Member disliked it. It was never put to debate in this House. At this moment there are powers possessed by the Government to control the location of industry without any consultation with Members concerned. They can do it by positive inducement, but the most vicious feature is that it can be done without any consultation with Members of Parliament or any other people. They can do it by controlling material. They are doing that with the utmost regularity. I can understand the justification for it in many cases, but by granting licences to new factories in certain areas they are exercising the means of control over industrial development.

One recognises the need for it in certain cases, but how can Members of Parliament who ought to know what is happening really follow what is happening? We can find out from the "Board of Trade Journal" what industries have been directed or assisted to move into certain areas, but we cannot possibly find out what industries have been prevented or discouraged from moving into areas which badly need them and which it might be in the national interest to obtain them. We are in the grip of planners in this matter. However much we appreciate planners, they can make shocking mistakes, and such mistakes can be very disastrous to the country. I do not think that this Amendment will do the trick, but I personally support it, because I think it is a move in the right direction.

Sir P. Macdonald

I support the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) in his Amendment. I have not read the Amendment, but I have the greatest sympathy with his point of view. I can see myself that in my own constituency, if the Government tried to plan or impose upon my constituency without consultation—I do not say that I should be consulted, but my local authority should be consulted, or the local people should be consulted—I should have to bring it to the notice of the Government and I should be very angry, or, at any rate, very annoyed if I were not consulted. The hon. Member for Gower, who was a member of the last Labour Government, quoted what was happening in South Wales. There is a shocking state of affairs. I happen to know what is going on in connection with the transfer and direction of industry, because I am a member of the Estimates Committee of this House and of the subcommittee of that Committee whose duty it was to investigate this question. We reported to the House. Therefore, I am not out of Order in discussing what was reported upon. I am well aware of the powers of the Committee of Privileges and am afraid of infringing upon Privilege, but on this I am right. I will tell the Committee what is happening in these areas and what may easily happen tomorrow. In an area like South Wales, or maybe the Isle of Wight, the Government may decide to plant an industry or they may suddenly decide to destroy an industry. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) jeers.

Mr. S. Silverman

I do.

Sir P. Macdonald

The hon. Member is always jeering. That is all he does in this House. He is a hasty little jeerer. It is very possible for the Government tomorrow to decide either to remove an industry from an area on its own volition without consultation with the local authorities or the local members. First, they have to go to the Board of Trade, then to the Ministry of Supply, and then to five different Government Departments, and what happens? The Attorney-General is another jeerer; a miserable looking jeerer he is.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member should confine his remarks to the Amendment.

Sir P. Macdonald

I agree, Mr. Beaumont. I apologise. What happens is that five representatives of five Government Departments meet the Committee and they take evidence day after day, and all they do is to pass the buck from one Department to another.

The Deputy-Chairman

I really must ask the hon. Member to talk about the Amendment. He is talking about something entirely different.

Sir. P. Macdonald

I have been called to Order. Perhaps, Mr. Beaumont, you will tell me how I am out of Order.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is out of Order by not addressing his remarks to the Amendment.

Sir P. Macdonald

I wish someone would tell me why I am out of Order. They do not wish—the hon. Members on the opposite benches—to hear what I have to say. They do not like what I have to say on the question of the direction of industry.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Is the hon. Member in Order in repeating his defiance of the custom of the House in making his speech standing in the Gangway?

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member has been long enough a Member of this House to know what he should do. He should know that certain customs should be observed.

Sir P. Macdonald

On this question of the direction of labour, I would emphasis, first of all, its importance. It is all in the report which has been given to the House of Commons. It shows that in order to have an industry conducted so that it pays, one has to apply to these five Government Departments.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is now guilty of repetition.

Sir P. Macdonald

But it all deals with the direction of labour.

The Deputy-Chairman

I have already said that the hon. Member is repeating what he has said several times.

Sir P. Macdonald

If hon. Members have read the report they will find that after going to these Departments——

The Deputy-Chairman

If the hon. Member does not accept the Ruling of the Chair, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.

Sir P. Macdonald

I am sorry——

Mr. Nally (Bilston)

Might I ask it there is any rule whereby we can adjourn the Committee so that the hon. Member can read the Amendment to which he is referring?

Sir P. Macdonald

I am trying to point out that this Amendment is very important. I do not think that Members of Parliament should be given the powers asked for. If local authorities are consulted they generally, in turn, consult their Member of Parliament, and therefore I think that, before this Amendment is rejected by the Government, it should be very seriously considered because every hon. Member has the same problem, certainly from the industrial point of view. Under this Bill the transition of labour will take place, and we shall be consulted and, I suggest, we shall find ourselves on the carpet. Before this Amendment is rejected I think we should remember the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Gower.

12.15 a.m.

Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)

I want to bring a more serious note into this discussion. I also think the Amendment has been rather misguided, and I would like to suggest that the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), with the permission of the Committee, should withdraw his Amendment. While we on this side of the Committee all sympathise with the spirit and principles enumerated by the hon. Member for Gower, nevertheless after examining his Amendment, it must be admitted that it is undermining in reality the very principle of this Bill and the Clause to which it is related. If there is one thing that this Clause is attempting to do, it is to deal with the critical period in the country at the present time. It is attempting with the help of this House to give exceptional powers, but the Government require not only power, but speed. This Amendment undermines that principle of speed which the Government are attempting to embody in paragraph (c) of Clause 1. It is exactly for that reason that I think the, mover of the Amendment should seriously consider the whole question of withdrawal, rather than to invite this side of the Committee to vote against the principle that it is attempting to embody.

The whole theme of the speech made by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) was related to any particular action the Government might take in regard to taking over some industry. This Amendment is not dealing with that particular question of taking over an industry; it is a general Amendment not related to industry at all, but related to the Clause itself, and it would simply mean that whatever action the Government might take, whether it is dealing with one unit in a big industry, or with any kind of industry, is weakened. If this Amendment is accepted, the Government are still expected to consult workmen and all connected with an industry as to whether to take any action at all.

In this critical period speed is essential. Let us take any particular industrial unit which is accepted as vitally necessary for producing commodities which are essential. That industry might have several large units and there might be some dispute in one unit. A strike, perhaps an unofficial strike, or perhaps a lightning strike may have taken place in this vital unit, which is producing a tremendous amount of commodities essential for the country. If I understand it, this Clause gives the Government power to step into that dispute and to deal with it as quickly as they like. The Amendment does not relate to any particular big industry. It indicates what line of policy the Government must pursue in dealing with it. Therefore, to my mind, the whole thing is weakening on the question of speed and undermining the principle which we are attempting to get embodied in the legislation.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I want to explain the views which I hold and which I think are also held by a number of my hon. Friends. When I first saw this Amendment I must say I was in two minds about it. On the one hand, one thinks of the gross mistakes that are made by uncontrolled planners every day, and therefore any control is better than none. On the other, it was fairly obvious, and I think it is becoming more obvious in the course of the Debate, that the precise controls here are not the best, and, indeed, are not adequate, in my own view, to achieve their purpose. But I have been convinced, by listening to the Debate, that there is more to be said on the side of the mover of the Amendment than there is on the side of the Government.

I have been convinced, in the first place, by reason of the Government's failure to allow the Minister of Supply who could give us a practical answer, to speak, and, instead putting up the Attorney-General, who confessed that he knew nothing whatever about the problem. That did not seem to me a very good

start. We certainly did not get any practical reply from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The only answer we got was that in certain cases urgency might be such that you could not find time to consult. That, I understand, was the burden of the speech of the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay). Is it really conceivable that an important question on which the whole life of the district might depend for generations—a question of that kind is to be settled offhand at such speed that there is not time to consult the people who know? Really, I had a pretty poor view of the kind of planning going on just now, before I heard this discussion, but I am bound to say that I am shocked by the idea that haphazard, hit-or-miss planners of this kind are going to make or mar the whole future of many of our industrial areas. I really am shocked to think that any sensible people propose to conduct the nation's affairs in this way. Therefore, if the mover of the Amendment presses it to a Division, I feel that I and my hon. Friends would have to support it as a protest against the Government's proposition.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 233.

Division No. 376.] AYES. [12.25 a.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Maitland, Comdr, J. W.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W (Armagh) Fox, Sir G. Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Baldwin, A. E Gammans, L. D. Marsden, Capt. A.
Barlow, Sir J. George. Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Baxter, A. B. Glyn, Sir R. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Gomme-Duncan, Col A Maude, J. C.
Beechman, N. A. Gridley, Sir A. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T
Blackburn, A. R. Hannon, Sir P (Moseley) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Morrison, Maj. J. G (Salisbury)
Boothby, R Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V Nicholson, G.
Bossom, A. C Haughton, S. G. Orr-Ewing, I. L
Bower, N Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt Hon Sir C Osborne, C
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Herbert, Sir A P. Peto, Brig. C. H M
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pickthorn, K.
Buchan Hepburn, P G. T Hogg, Hon. Q Pitman, I. J.
Byers, Frank Hurd, A Prescott, Stanley
Castle, Mrs. B A Hutchison, Col. J. R (Glasgow, C) Raikes, H. V.
Challen, C. Jarvis, Sir J. Ramsay, Major S.
Channon, H. Lambert, Hon. G Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C (Hillhead)
Clarke, Col. R S. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Renton, D.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Langford-Holt, J. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E A H Scott, Lord W
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lennox-Boy., A T Spearman, A. C M
Cuthbert, W. N. Linstead, H. N. Spence, H R
Davidson, Viscountess Low, Brig. A. R. W Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Lucas, Major Sir J. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
De la Bère, R. Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Mackeson, Brig. H. R Taylor, Vice-Adm. E A (P'dd't'n, S.)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W. Maclay, Hon. J. S Teeling, William
Dower, E. L. G (Caithness) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Duthie, W. S. Macpherson, N (Dumfries) Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Touche, G. C Ward, Hon. G. R. York, C
Turton R. H. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Vane, W. M. F. Wheatley, Colonel M. J TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wadsworth, G. Williams, C. (Torquay) Mr. David Grenfell and
Wakefield, Sir W. W Willoughby de Eresby, Lord Mr. Emrys Roberts.
NOES
Adams, Richard (Balham) Gordon,-Walker, P. C. Paton, J. (Norwich)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Pearson, A
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Peart, Thomas F.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
Alpass, J. H. Gunter, R. J. Popplewell, E.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Guy, W. H. Price, M. Philips
Attewell, H C. Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Proctor, W. T.
Austin, H. Lewis Hale, Leslie Pryde, D. J.
Baird, J. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil
Barton, C. Hamilton, Lt.-Col. R. Pursey, Cmdr. H
Bechervaise, A E. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Randall, H. E.
Belcher, J. W. Hardy, E. A. Ranger, J.
Beswick, F. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Rankin, J.
Bing, G. H. C Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Rees-Williams, D. R.
Binns, J. Herbison, Miss M. Reeves, J.
Blenkinsop, A Hewitson, Captain M. Reid, T. (Swindon)
Boardman, H. Hobson, C. R. Richards, R.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Holman, P. Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) House, G. Robens, A.
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Hoy, J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Bramall, E. A Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rogers, G. H. R.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Bruce, Major D. W. T Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Sargood, R
Buchanan, G Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Scollan, T
Burden, T. W Jay, D. P. T. Segal, Dr. S.
Burke, W A Jeger, G. (Winchester) Shackleton, E. A. A
Callaghan, James Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Sharp, Granville
Carmichael, Jame Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Champion, A. J. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helene)
Chetwynd, G. R. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Collick, P Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Collins, V. J. Leonard, W Skeffington, A. M.
Colman, Miss G. M Levy, B. W. Skinnard, F. W.
Comyns, Dr L Lindgren, G. S. Smith, C (Colchester)
Cook, T. F Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Logan, D. G. Solley, L. J.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Longden, F. Sorensen, R. W
Corlett, Dr. J. Lyne, A. W. Sparks, J. A.
Cove, W. G McAllister, G. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Crawley, A McGhee, H. G. Stross, Dr. B.
Crossman, R H S McKay, J. (Wallsend) Stubbs, A. E
Daines, P. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Swingler, S
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. McLeavy, F. Symonds, A. L.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Mainwaring, W. H. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Deer, G. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Delargy, H. J Mathers, G. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Diamond, J. Medland, H. M Thurtle, Ernest
Dobbie, W. Mellish, R. J. Tiffany, S.
Dodds, N. N Middleton, Mrs. L Tolley, L.
Driberg, T. E. N. Mikardo, Ian Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Mitchison, G. R. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Dumpleton, C. W. Monslow, W Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Durbin, E. F. M Moody, A. S. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Dye, S. Morris, P (Swansea, W.) Watkins, T. E.
Edelman, M. Morrison, Rt Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Moyle, A. Weitzman, D
Evans. E. (Lowestoft) Nally, W. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Evans, John (Ogmore) Neal, H. (Claycross) West, D. G.
Fairhurst, F. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Farthing, W. J. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Wigg, Col. G. E.
Follick, M. Noel-Buxton, Lady Wilcock, Group-Capt C A. B.
Foot, M. M. O'Brien, T Wilkes, L.
Forman, J. C. Oliver, G. H. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Gaitskell, H. T. N Orbach, M. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Gallacher, W. Paget, R. T. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Gibson, C. W. Palmer, A. M. F. Willis, E.
Gilzean, A. Pargiter, G. A. Will, Mrs. E. A.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Parkin, B. T. Wilmot, Rt Hon. J
Wise, Major F. J. Yates, V. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Woodburn, A. Younger, Hon. Kenneth Mr. Simmons and Captain Snow.
Wyatt, W. Zilliacus, K
Mr. C. Davies

I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, at the end, to insert: Provided that nothing in this Act shall be held to authorise the suppression or suspension of any newspaper, periodical, book or other publication. May I say, Major Milner, that I deeply regret that, unfortunately, you could not call the Amendment as it stood on the Paper, which would have ensured that in no circumstances would action be taken to suppress the Press. I understand that, as drafted, that Amendment went beyond the scope of the Bill. I rather anticipated that might be your view, and, therefore, I handed in the manuscript Amendment which I now move.

If this Bill ever becomes law, then regulations can and will be made by the Government. It may be that the House will not have an opportunity of discussing them, but it is absolutely essential that the fullest publicity should be given to them the moment they become available. In these circumstances it is inconceivable that there should be any cutting down of the liberty of the Press in discussing these matters to the full. Already the Press has suffered severely from the action of the Government. I do not want to go into that matter now. All I say is that surely at a time like this, if Parliament is not in a position to discuss these matters, the fullest opportunity should be given for the Press to debate, discuss, and publicise them without running any risk whatever. I do not want to make a long speech tonight, because of the appeal that has been made. I am sure all right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have seen a letter in "The Times" this morning, written by one of their main supporters, who has done a great service to the Socialist Party. He asked that this Amendment should receive the support of all Members of the House, for the reasons I have very briefly put forward.

Mr. H. Morrison

May I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Committee that when the Government framed this Bill, they had no intention, by the introduction of this Bill, to seek or to authorise the suppression or suspension of any newspaper, periodical, book, or other publication. Therefore, as far as the meaning of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment is concerned, it is not in conflict with the state of mind of the Government or their intention in bringing in this Bill. We did not bring in the Bill to enable to be done what the Committee does not wish to be done. I know how sensitive hon. Members and the country are about doing the thing the right hon. and learned Gentleman seeks to prevent being done. When I was Home Secretary during the war, we had a Defence Regulation 2D, which was used to a very very limited extent, and it was a Very great power. I think it was justified in circumstances of war, but I certainly do not think it would be justified in circumstances of peace. Therefore, I have no quarrel with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment. I have still a strong streak of liberalism running in my blood.

Mr. C. Davies

It is getting thin.

Mr. Morrison

No, it is getting stronger and stronger as the right hon. and learned Gentleman's blood gets bluer and bluer. I have still, as I say, a strong liberal background, and a strong liberal streak in my blood, and I should like to demonstrate it tonight by intimating straight away that we are willing to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Bracken

There is a negative method of suppressing newspapers as well as a positive one, and before the Leader of the Liberal Party accepts the view given by the Lord President, that he has a streak of Liberal blood in his veins——

Mr. Morrison

A strong streak.

Mr. Bracken

A strong streak. He has some strong streaks, I agree, but I think that before the Leader of the Liberal Party accepts the Lord President's view, he should ask for an assurance that the Government will provide the power necessary and the paper necessary to produce newspapers.

Mr. Medland

Particularly the "Financial Times"?

Mr. Bracken

I ask the, Leader of the Liberal Party——

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is about to pursue the matter further on this line, but if he does, he will be entirely out of Order.

Mr. Bracken

I was not going any further than to assert that there is a negative and a positive method of suppressing newspapers. I was counselling the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party not readily to accept the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman that there is a very Liberal streak in his system. I was merely hoping that the Leader of the Liberal Party would not fall for this general assurance, and would make quite sure——

Mr. Morrison

Let the right hon. Gentleman not make trouble when we are getting on so well.

Mr. Bracken

—what is the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman. For the right hon. Gentleman said it was an assurance——

Mr. Morrison

I have accepted the Amendment.

Mr. Bracken

I say that the Leader of the Liberal Party should look this gift horse very closely in the mouth, because it claims a Liberal streak.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I want only to ask one question on the interpretation that the right hon. and learned Gentleman gives of this Amendment, which the Government have accepted, because it may be an interpretation of some importance. The Amendment says: Nothing in this Act shall be held to authorise the suppression or suspension of any newspaper. … That, presumably, covers both a direct stopping of a newspaper, and indirect action that will lead to the suspension of a newspaper. Am I right in concluding that, by the acceptance of this Amendment the Government have bound themselves not to stop publication of any newspaper by the withholding of newsprint?

12.45 a.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I speak from the point of view of an editor of a paper that has had the unique experience of having been suppressed by a Liberal Prime Minister. A Liberal streak in the present Leader of the House has emerged; he is steadily advancing on the road on which he will have no power at all to suppress any kind of newspaper, whether it be called Communist, Socialist, Liberal or Conservative. I believe that is a sign of strength and not of weakness on the part of the Government. This action of the Government, in accepting the Amendment, will be hailed as proving the sincerity of the Government in declaring that they do not intend to embark on measures of totalitarian repression.

During the first world war the attitude of the Government towards newspapers was far more drastic than the attitude of the Government during the second world war. In the first world war, the action of the Government under Mr. Lloyd George in suppressing "Forward" was one of the best things that was ever done in order to improve the circulation of "Forward" and to make it a power and influence on Socialist thought in this country. I do not want the present Socialist Government to make the same mistake and to make the "Financial Times" a power in the land. Nor do we wish to see any extra influence given to the "Daily Worker," or to any other newspapers. What we wish to see is the fullest possible expression of thought—and liberal thought. I mean "liberal" with a small "1". And let it be the survival of the fittest, and let the truth prevail. I, as a Socialist, have never believed that in these circumstances a Socialist Press cannot look after itself.

As far as books are concerned, surely at this time of the day it is ridiculous that we should be discussing the question of books being suppressed at all. I would regard it as a national tragedy if the books of the late Prime Minister were suppressed. The late Prime Minister has written very many interesting contributions to political history, and during the last war I think I read every one of them, every article and every speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), in order to compile a pamphlet and book for the purpose of attacking him, and I found it such excellent material that I would regard it as a great tragedy if articles were suppressed. The more books and articles that are written from the other side, the greater the quarry will be for those of us who wish to compile polemical litera- ture which we hope will annihilate the Conservative and Liberal Parties once and. for all.—[AN HON. MEMBER: "One party."] In the evolution of society, when society becomes intelligent enough to have only one party that party will be the Socialist Party. The time will come, too, when the Socialist Government will have to have a positive policy and a positive constructive policy on this matter, and the policy, I suggest, is that every newspaper that criticises the Government, or wishes to criticise the Government, should be allowed to do so, but that the Government should have an equal opportunity of making its reply.

When the present Opposition talks about the freedom of the Press, it is the freedom of the big business concerns run by the combines and big capital interests to control the Press in the interests of a small clique of people who have hitherto controlled and owned the industries and wealth of this country. That is not freedom of the Press. I would allow all these newspapers to have their fling, on condition that the Government of the country should have power to publish alongside a feature giving the case for the Government. Let each side have full opportunity to put its point of view, and then no one can complain of totalitarianism.

The whole issue underlying this controversy has been anticipated in a famous play by George Bernard Shaw; it is stated quite clearly in "Major Barbara," in the discussion in which the character named Andrew Undershaft, who is the fictional representative of the private ownership of iron and steel, declares: The government of your country? I am the government of your country. I and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend, you will do what pays us. You will make war when it suits us and keep peace when it does not. You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on these measures. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover my want is the national need. When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and the military. And in return you shall have the support and approval of my newspapers and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman. Government of your country! Be off with you, my boy! and play with your oppositions and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and the rest of your toys. I am going back to my counting house to call the tune. And it is because the principle underlying the action of the Government is that Undershaft and Lazarus are no longer going to control the destiny of this country, that the control of the great armaments concerns and iron and steel combines are to pass from the Undershafts and Lazaruses, to Democracy, that hon. Members opposite talk with such insincerity about the so-called freedom of the Press. The journalists know there is no more hollow-sounding phrase than "freedom of the Press," which has so long allowed the genius and ability of the rank and file journalists to be exploited by the Beaverbrooks and Rothermeres, and other people who speak for the vested interests whose power is now at stake. I am not saying that the present Leader of the House of Commons has been blameless in the past. During the second world war, I believe his action was open to criticism and I think——

The Chairman

The hon. Member must address himself to the point of the Amendment. I understand he is giving an address on the freedom of the Press in general, which is not quite the point at issue.

Mr. Hughes

All I wish to say, in conclusion, is that I am glad that even the present Leader of the House has exercised this discretion and that the House is not to have power to control the freedom of the Press. While I am not a lawyer—I have been the victim of lawyers—I am quite sure that from the Press of this country will go up a sigh of relief that we are going along the road to real freedom of the Press—the taking of power out of the hands of the small group of financial and capitalist interests who have exploited the Press of this country, and the ability of all who work to produce it.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)

We still have not had the assurance we asked from the right hon. Gentleman that plant and paper would be available, as well as the merely negative assurance. I think it would be quite within the Parliamentary discretion of the right hon. Gentleman to move a little way along the lines suggested. We all remember the suppression of "Forward" by the late Earl Lloyd George, but that was in the middle of war, and it was a position analogous to the occasion when the "Daily Mirror," which was of doubtful allegiance, was threatened with suppression if it went on in the way in which it was going. But in the other case, Mr. Lloyd George went a little farther and said to Tom. Johnson, "I am the last man to suppress a Socialist newspaper—and why are you laughing?" Tom Johnson replied, "Well, you suppressed 'Forward' yesterday, and I don't suppose you have suppressed another newspaper since." Whereupon Mr. Lloyd George burst into tears, and said: "What can one do with a man like that?"

I do not really think that "Forward" is under the control of Mr. Undershaft or Mr. Lazarus and, in any case, I think it exercises a useful function, because it is from "Forward" that we in Scotland get the ammunition with which to destroy the Socialist argument in the West of Scotland. I would be very much opposed to anything which tended to injure the circulation of "Forward," but I do suggest that the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman does not cover by any means the whole of the problem, and either now or on some other occasion, the mover of the Amendment should seek to find if it can be buttressed by some positive assurance that the influence of the right hon. Gentleman would not be used. I say this because when the weekly newspapers were suppressed during the fuel crisis, no executive suppression was brought into play, but before the editors of those papers knew what was happening, they found that their papers were not coming out. The streak of liberalism in the right hon. Gentleman is not such that the same powerful engines would not be brought into play, as were used at the time of the fuel crisis. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will regard this as an example of the watchfulness of the House of Commons. Believe me, the sign of grace which has been shown by the right hon. Gentleman is welcomed on this side, but we wish to make sure that on any future occasion we shall find sentiments such as those to which he had just given voice, and we shall try to see that no backsliding takes place.

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The Lord President of the Council has had ample opportunity to reflect upon the answer he will give to the interpretation which may be put upon this Amendment which the Government have accepted. I think we ought to be told whether he will prevent any order being made for restricting the supply of newsprint or for regulating the transport available to the newspapers.

The Chairman

That is a question which relates to something entirely different.

Mr. Bracken

It is not quite as easy a solution as one would think, because it is not always the supply of newsprint that prevents weekly papers from coming out. During last February a number of weekly newspapers did not come out, not because of an order given by the Government, but because an official in a Government Department, without any legal authority, as I understand it, said it was undesirable that they should come out, and they accepted that view. I would like the Lord President or the Home Secretary to give an assurance that no person in a Government Department would cancel publication.

Mr. Paget

On a point of Order, Major Milner. You have already ruled three times that a statement of intentions is irrelevant to this Clause. How much longer must we go on having this Ruling disregarded?

The Chairman

The hon. and learned Member must allow me to be the judge.

Mr. Bracken

I will say nothing about interpretation; but let me put my point to the Lord President. There is a newspaper called the "Economist" which did not come out through the great fuel shutdown because of a request made to it by a Government Department. I had something to do with the creation of the charter of the "Economist" 20 years ago, with Sir Henry Strakosch——

The Chairman

I am very doubtful whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order.

Mr. Bracken

If a Government Department makes a regulation for newspapers not to come out, I think that is a misuse of the Government's power and I would, therefore, be very happy if the Lord President would give us the assurance that we shall not have a repetition of what happened last February.

Mr. Medland

What has this to do with the Amendment?

Mr. Bracken

Last February, Government Departments prevented the publication of some of the most important weekly newspapers in this country. I hope no such request will ever be made again. If the Lord President will do that, he will please hon. Members by showing that he still has that great streak of Liberalism in him.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Byers

I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, at the end, to insert: Provided that—

  1. (a) any order, regulation or other instrument made under the powers conferred by this Act or the Act of 1945 or any Defence Regulation for the purpose of compulsorily directing any person or persons into any occupation shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made.
  2. (b) Any such order, regulation or other instrument as aforesaid shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of twenty-eight days from the date on which it is made, unless at some time before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolutions passed by both Houses but without prejudice to anything previously done thereunder.
  3. (c) in reckoning any such period of twenty-eight days as aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which either House is adjourned for more than four days.
I make no apology for detaining the Committee at this time of night on this important subject. I do not think this Amendment could have come at a better time since we have had the opinion from the Lord President of the Council that he has a streak of Liberalism in him. I make no secret of the fact that we believe that industrial conscription and the direction of labour is such an important matter that it should be dealt with by an Act of Parliament and by nothing less. But we cannot put that Amendment into this Measure as I understand it, because the Government already have powers to direct labour under the Defence Regulations made under the Act of 1945. Therefore, it would be out of Order to ask for an Act of Parliament or anything more than an affirmative Resolution of the two Houses of Parliament. I do not say that we consider that the direction of labour is something which ought to be dealt with by an affirmative resolution. It ought to be dealt with by an Act of Parliament but technically it is not possible to bring this in. I do not suppose it would be in Order nor do I intend to attempt to pursue the point. Our point is a much narrower one, namely, that before the measure of direction of labour is adopted by the Government, appropriate facilities should be given for Parliamentary discussion and control. I believe there are many hon. Members on the other side and many on this side who are willing to support me. There is only one Member of the Labour Party who feels that it is not an important matter and does not have to be dealt with.

Mr. S. Silverman

What the hon. Member said was that there are many Members on the opposite side who would vote for this Amendment.

Mr. Byers

I said nothing of the sort.

Mr. Blackburn

On a point of Order, I have just heard an hon. Member say there was "only one actual rat," referring to me in my hearing. I challenge him to say whether he said it or not. If he did say it, then let him be honest and admit it.

Mr. Driberg (Maldon)

Certainly I said those words, sotto voce, in conversation. I do not know why the hon. Member assumes that the cap fits him. If he thinks it does, I am quite prepared to accept it.

Mr. Blackburn

I do not desire to rise on a point of Order, but I regard this as a compliment from a contemptible Communist.

The Chairman

If the observation objected to was in fact made, the hon. Member who made it should withdraw it.

Mr. Driberg

I accept your Ruling at once, Major Milner, and withdraw unreservedly—and I hope you will extend a similar instruction to the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn).

The Chairman

I was not aware that the hon. Member made any observation which I should ask him to withdraw.

Mr. Driberg

With respect, whether hon. Members opposite who are friends of the hon. Member think he was justified or not—and no doubt they do think that—the hon. Member for King's Norton used the words "contemptible Communist." The first is a matter of opinion, the latter is most emphatically not a matter of fact.

The Chairman

Personal animadversions must be deprecated from whatever part of the Committee they come.

Mr. McAllister

On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman, will you now instruct the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) to withdraw the offensive expression which he used about the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg)—and let him be honest for once.

Mr. Blackburn

May I say that I am perfectly willing to do so. The hon. Member used a very offensive expression about me, and in the heat of the moment—— [Interruption.] The hon. Member has admitted it. If it had not been admitted that the expression was used about me I would have had nothing to say. I understand that it has been admitted that the expression was used about me. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I understood that the hon. Member had admitted it.

The Chairman

Will the hon. Member be good enough to address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr. Blackburn

As I understood it, the hon. Member admitted that the remarks were intended to refer to me. I am prepared to withdraw the remark which I used, but I want to make that clear.

The Chairman

I think honour is satisfied on both sides and that the Debate can now continue.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman, I want to know how far this Ruling of yours goes.

The Chairman

The hon. Member appears to question my Ruling. As I understand it, whatever observations were made have been withdrawn on both sides. Therefore I say that honour is satisfied on both sides and the Debate should continue. No further point of Order arises.

Mr. Silverman

On a point of Order——

The Chairman

No further point of Order arises.

Mr. Silverman

It does arise. I understand that you have ruled as out of Order a sotto voce remark made by an hon. Member while seated and not making a speech, and not directed to any hon. Member of the Committee. [AN HON. MEMBER: He has admitted it.]—I understand that you, Major Milner, have considered that that is a matter for a Ruling. I think that such a Ruling is entirely unprecedented.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is making a reflection on the Chair As I understand it, an hon. Member admitted he did make the observation in question. That observation the hon. Member very properly withdrew. I do not personally know to whom it was addressed, but the hon. Member concerned withdrew it. The hon. Member for Kings Norton also withdrew the remark which he made. I came to the conclusion, on that, that honour was satisfied.

Mr. Gallacher

I want to raise a point of Order.

The Chairman

Hon. Members are not entitled to use the raising of points of Order either to obstruct the Debate or to continue discussing a matter which, as far as I am aware, is closed. I must ask hon. Members to permit the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) to resume his speech.

Mr. Gallacher

On a point of Order. There was a reference made to a contemptible Communist!"

The Chairman

No question of Order arises there. Mr. Byers.

Mr. Gallacher

On a point of Order. I want to know——

The Chairman

If the hon. Member persists I shall have to direct him to withdraw. I have ruled that that question has been disposed of, and does not further arise.

1.15 a.m.

Mr. Gallacher

But on a point of Order, I want to know if an hon. Member is entitled to use such an expression as "contemptible Communist."

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman has been in the Chamber and has heard that the expression used has been withdrawn. That concludes the matter.

Mr. Byers

I am grateful for permission to continue with the logical development of my speech which seemed as if it were becoming only incidental to the Debate. I was—when hon. Members had their friendly argument—dealing with the question of the direction of labour and industrial conscription. I was hoping for the support of hon. Members in the plea that we should not debate the whole question of industrial conscription but that, before, any extension of industrial conscription in any form is undertaken by the Government, there should be adequate Parliamentary discussion and debate so that we can know exactly what we are doing.

I put this plea forward for this reason. The Government are asking for exceptionally wide powers under this Bill. Powers without a plan may well lead to disaster. Without committing ourselves on the principle of industrial conscription, we oppose it on technical grounds because it is a most inefficient way of moving people from one industry to another. I do not believe it is necessary. I believe it eats into our manpower and is a complete waste. Quite apart from that, if there is to be any suggestion of industrial conscription, I plead with the Government that they will make certain that there is adequate Parliamentary debate and discussion upon it. What is absolutely vital is that debate should enable the Government to be cross-examined thoroughly. I was not at all satisfied, in fact, I was shocked—and I do not believe there is a Liberal streak in the Lord President of the Council—to see on Friday that he said: And we are not going to be cross-examined in advance on what exactly we are going to do with the powers when we get them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1806.] We shall get direction of labour piecemeal, little bits, little regulations, one here, one there; you pray against this one, do not pray against that. I want to see this Government going forward with a properly co-ordinated plan, so that we shall know exactly what is being undertaken—[AN HON. MEMBER: "That is optimism."]—I agree, it is optimism. But if they are going to stamp on the liberties of the people in this country without presenting a proper Measure which can be debated, as the National Service Act was debated, I believe it will be a very dangerous thing from the point of view of democracy in this country. If the Lord President of the Council or the Attorney-General or anyone on the Front Bench opposite wants proof of this, I would refer to the interjection I made in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) when I asked him in which category he put the direction of labour, economic liberty or civil liberty. He said, "economic liberty"; in other words, one which ought to be surrendered. That wants discussing in this House and in this Parliament as a whole.

I would like to take one or two points to illustrate why we require proper debate on this matter. There is the question of the demobilised soldier. We have had the suggestion that there is going to be a limited direction of labour. This, unfortunately, is a difficult job. It is going to affect a large proportion of demobilised members of the Armed Forces. I want to see that thoroughly discussed in this House, and by all-night sittings if you like. I want to see this thing adequately discussed, and I hope I am making a case for hon. Gentlemen opposite to give us support. I suggest that the experience we have had with Bevin boys in the mines has proved that the direction of labour will not work there. And I suggest that the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) will want to take part in the discussion on the direction of labour to the coal mines. He has already made an interesting speech on this subject. Perhaps hon. Members will think for a moment of their own position. Some of them perhaps have no job. What happens at the next General Election if they come under this Bill? When it comes down to the personal issue——

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is discussing the question of the direction of labour. I have indicated that that question should not be discussed in detail. I understand that the hon. Member is proposing a certain form of Parliamentary procedure, and that is the matter to which he should address his attention.

Mr. Byers

I am sorry. I was honestly trying to keep within the Rules of Order because I was only putting forward the view that one of the reasons why we are so desperately anxious to see a particular form of Parliamentary debate is because it does affect the personal liberties of the people of this country. I was using a most homely example, the position in which some Members of this House might be at the next General Election. I believe that they then would have an entirely different attitude if they were suddenly told to go here, there or somewhere else. I leave that point now. I was merely using it as an illustration of how it can affect the lives and livelihood of the people of this country. Therefore, I believe that there is a case for an Act of Parliament, and there is certainly a case for an affirmative Resolution.

I would like to quote the peroration of a speech delivered by a prominent Member of the Government on the Military Training Bill of 1939. Speaking of military conscription, he said: Behind it all looms the spectre of industrial conscription. In the name of defence of liberty our liberties could be destroyed and the Members of the present Government are the very last people we should trust."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1939; Vol. 347, c. 152.] I think I am in order in asking that we should have this type of discussion before anything is done in this matter. I would point out that that was said by the present Prime Minister. Those were his sentiments then. We have used that power. Hon. Members opposite do not seem to recognise what their own Prime Minister says.

The Chairman

What the hon. Gentleman is saying appears to have no relevance whatever to the matter before the Committee.

Mr. Byers

I would never dream of disagreeing with the Chair, but that quotation refers specifically to industrial conscription.

The Chairman

The hon. Member must limit himself to the particular form of Parliamentary procedure which he is proposing should be adopted and must not discuss the question of the directing of labour. I must ask him to be good enough to refrain from discussing in detail any question of industrial conscription and to confine himself to the form of Parliamentary procedure to be adopted in the event of industrial conscription arising.

Mr. Byers

It seems to me the Debate cannot proceed on those lines.

The Chairman

I must again ask the hon. Gentleman to obey my ruling and to confine himself to the question of the form of Parliamentary procedure.

Mr. Byers

I think I am entitled to give reasons for this Parliamentary procedure. I quoted the words, In the name of defence of liberty our liberties may be destroyed. because I thought they were important in the Debate. I was saying that that, amongst the other reasons I have given, is another reason why there should be a proper, open Debate in the House of Commons rather than a negative Prayer, because this is a matter that touches the liberties of the subject. So I quoted the words of the present Prime Minister in the Debate on the Military Training Bill in 1939. I am sorry to persist in this, but I could see that the Debate might have become so narrow that it would be possible only to discuss the question, Are we going to have a negative Prayer or an affirmative Resolution? I was afraid I should be unable to give the reasons, with which, I hoped to persuade hon. Members that this is a matter on which to have the maximum of open Debate. I hope I can look forward to the support of hon. Members opposite in demanding that there shall be this particular type of Parliamentary debate before any measure of industrial conscription is undertaken by the Government.

Mr. E. Fletcher

The hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) cannot count on my support on this Amendment, because I find the argument that he has put forward entirely inconsistent with that put forward by the Leader of the Liberal Party when the matter was last discussed in the House of Commons. I am astounded by the inconsistency of Liberal Members addressing themselves to this Amendment. Let me remind the Committee, as I think is now admitted, that this Bill confers no new powers on the Executive. It merely states the purposes for which the existing powers can be used. I think it is also admitted that the power to direct labour is permitted under the existing Act of 1945. I understand that that is admitted by the hon. Member. The Bill adds nothing to the power to direct labour that exists today under the Act of 1945. We are not discussing tonight the merits or otherwise of the direction of labour, or the circumstances in which it may or may not be necessary. This power was given to the Executive for the direction of labour by the Act of 1945. Let me remind the Committee that when that Bill was considered in the House it was given a Second Reading without a Division. It was an accepted Measure. Incidentally, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Tory benches who spoke in the Debate disagreed with the Measure as a totalitarian Measure, and used precisely the same language about it that they have used today; but they did not vote against it on Second Reading. It was an agreed Measure.

Mr. C. Davies

The hon. Member cannot say that. He cannot say it was an agreed Measure. What we were agreed upon was, that during this transition period these Orders in Council made under the Emergency Powers Act should not suddenly come to an end. I am so sorry to interrupt the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)——

Mr. S. Silverman

It is quite unnecessary to do so.

Mr. Davies

I think, Major Milner, you called upon me, and not upon the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, who is interrupting with giggling or laughter.

Mr. Silverman

On a point of Order. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman entitled to make these very offensive comments upon a purely private conversation I was having with a colleague beside me. I was not directing anything I was saying to him at all, nor taking any part in the Debate. Why should I be dragged into this discussion?

1.30 a.m.

The Chairman

I must point out to the hon. Member that it is a Rule of the House that Members should maintain silence during Debate.

Mr. Silverman

I submit with respect that that Ruling would make Debate and every interchange of opinion and every private conversation——

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to argue with the Chair. He has made one reflection which I disregarded. I must ask him not to make further reflections on the Chair. If he will look up Erskine May, he will find that that is in fact the practice and procedure of the House.

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order, Major Milner, I definitely heard the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) after you had delivered your last Ruling, say, "I do not agree with what you say," and I heard him say now, "I do not, either." If we are to conduct our business with regard for the Rules of Order, may I ask that the hon. Member be asked to withdraw his reflection on the Chair?

The Chairman

I am not asking, nor can I compel, hon. Gentlemen to agree or to disagree with Rulings from the chair. What I ask is that they obey the Rulings of the Chair.

Mr. C. Davies

I was pointing out——

The Chairman

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman has dealt with the matter, perhaps he will allow the hon. Member to proceed?

Mr. Davies

I was pointing out, Major Milner, that the difference between us was the extent of the period during which this should operate. The Government were asking for five years and hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway were contending that it should not be continued more than two years, and we were saying that it should not continue for more than one year.

Mr. E. Fletcher

I am very much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that explanation. The position, I think, is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends are agreed upon delegating these powers for one year. It is agreed that the powers should be delegated. That is very important, in view of the eloquent speeches which he made today and on Friday last regarding Parliamentary democracy. I will quote what he said on the 1945 Bill. He said: In the first place, of course, the economic position in the country is critical, serious and precarious, more critical, more precarious and more serious than it has ever been in its long history"——

The Chairman

I cannot see what relationship that quotation has to the matter under consideration, which is whether or not a special form of Parliamentary procedure should be adopted.

Mr. Fletcher

I am endeavouring to demonstrate that these powers which we are now considering, the powers of direction of labour——

The Chairman

That is precisely what we are not discussing. We are discussing whether there should be a special form of Parliamentary procedure in a certain contingency. It is not necessary to discuss the contingency but only the form of Parliamentary procedure.

Mr. Fletcher

I was trying to illustrate the special powers giving a special form of Parliamentary procedure laid down by the House, and indicating the Parliamentary safeguards that would provide checks on the Executive. I was endeavouring to show, by a quotation from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech that the Parliamentary safeguards he then thought were appropriate are different from those proposed by his colleague in the present Amendment. I think that if I resume the quotation the relevance will be found to be self-evident. The right hon. and learned Gentleman on that occasion, in October, 1945, said: May I go further and admit at once that it would be impossible by successive Measures to pass the necessary Acts of Parliaments that would be required to enable these powers to be exercised? It can only be done in the way the Bill suggests, namely, by regulations made by Orders-in-Council. Thirdly, it is impossible to prophesy how long the abnormality will continue."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th Oct., 1945; Vol. 414, c. 854.] On that occasion members of the Liberal Party agreed that the Parliamentary checks appropriate were those contained in the Bill, namely, negative Resolution, laying the appropriate orders on the Table for 40 days and giving the House the opportunity to pray against them by negative Resolution.

Mr. Byers

Does the hon. Gentleman think that those powers of democratic check are adequate for industrial conscription?

Mr. Fletcher

My view is the same as it was in 1945. Grant this emergency and these abnormal economic conditions, and it is proper that the House should delegate to the Executive certain powers to deal with the situation, and the whole of those powers are set down in the Act of 1945. The reason why I support this Bill, and the reason why I resist this Amendment, is that the emergency that existed in 1945 certainly has not passed. The House then agreed that it was proper that the Executive should have these powers to deal with the emergency, and in these powers was included power for directing labour. Nothing that I know has happened since 1945 to make it necessary that a particularly different form of Parliamentary procedure should be introduced now to deal with some, as distinct from others, of the powers which can be used under the Act of 1945, as amended by this Bill. It has been suggested that the reason this Bill was opposed, and certain Amendments put down, was that the Government cannot be trusted to use the powers given by the Act.

Mr. Byers

I referred to our experience of the last two years of the administrative failures of this Government.

Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Member said "experience." On that, it has never yet been suggested, either in the House or elsewhere, that there has been any abuse by the Executive of the powers conferred on them under the Act of 1945. On the contrary, I think the reason the Government have been belaboured, as they have been in this Debate, is not because they have exceeded the powers delegated to them by this Government, but because they have been scrupulously careful that these powers have not been exceeded. On this occasion, when there was doubt about the extent of their powers under the 1945 Act, instead of assuming that their powers were watertight, they took the prudent course of coming back to the House, a course which will guarantee the traditions of Parliamentary sovereignty which the hon. Gentleman made so much of in his speech. I hope the House will not accept this Amendment.

Mr. Hogg

If any argument were required to justify this Amendment moved by the Liberal Party, it is the speech to which we have just listened. I could imagine every single argument put forward by the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher), being put forward to justify any abridgement of civil liberty during the last 300 years. I can well imagine him using this argument to support the September massacres or the October Revolution in the same calm, smooth voice, arguing against the liberties of the people.

This Amendment is fully justified and justified for the reasons which the Liberal Party have given. We are not arguing the merits or demerits of the policy of direction of labour itself. That is something which must wait until another occasion. We are arguing whether or not the direction of labour, if it be imposed, shall be subject only to the negative procedure of a Prayer, which has proved so ineffective a safeguard on so many occasions recently, or whether we should insist, as an exceptional measure, upon an affirmative Resolution of Parliament. That is the issue we are engaged in discussing. One thing which the hon. Member for East Islington never suggested was a single reason—not one—why there should not be an affirmative Resolution in relation to the direction of labour rather than a negative Resolution. He tried to make the Committee think that the matter had been passed two years ago; that it was all finished with. That is his game, as we see it, and it is not a very nice game either.

This Amendment leaves it open to us to discuss the matter upon its merits tonight, and it is more than significant that the hon. Member has not thought of one single reason to put before the Committee why, on the merits of the thing there should not be an affirmative Resolution every time a Resolution is made which involves the direction of labour in this country. I may be guilty, Major Milner, of repetition, but I must emphasise that throughout the whole of his calm speech we heard no word from the hon. Member as to why there should not be such a Resolution. Those who have put forward this Amendment have presented a case which is unanswerable and positive. They have drawn the attention of the Committee to the singular want of relationship between—[Interruption]—I must ask the hon. Member for Oldham to inhale rather than exhale.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)

If the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) with his usual courtesy, would speak a little more quietly, he would not wake me up at all.

Mr. Hogg

The constituents of the hon. Member for Oldham will no doubt observe the valuable contribution which he is making to our Debate. They will know that their chosen representative is giving this much attention to a Debate which deals with the direction of labour in this country, and I hope that before long he will have an opportunity to explain to the people of Oldham the facts about his somnolence and the reasons for his uneasy slumbers. I do not propose to moderate my tones in order to pander to the sleepers. I will not encourage those who sleep. On the contrary, I should like to awaken the dead.

Mr. Mitchison (Kettering) rose——

Mr. Hogg

I would like to awaken the dead in order that the dead might testify to this grave infringement of our civil liberties.

1.45 a.m.

Mr. Mitchison

When is the hon. Member coming to this Amendment?

Mr. Hogg

I am sorry if I should have been misled by purely irrelevant noises, but I was saying that I wanted to awaken the dead and call upon them to testify——

The Chairman

That remark was not relevant. The hon. Gentleman should proceed with the rest of his argument.

Mr. Hogg

I was about to say that this has the closest possible relevance, because if the dead could be awakened, they would see a grave dereliction of the liberty of the subject at the present moment. The reason I was about to adduce was the remarkable contrast between the way in which Members opposite treated the Parliamentary method of dealing with the question of military conscription and the Parliamentary method which they now consider to be appropriate to deal with industrial conscription, notwithstanding that in the past, at any rate, they have always suggested that industrial conscription involved——

The Chairman

I must point out that we are not discussing industrial conscription now: we are discussing the form of procedure.

Mr. Hogg

I am indeed confining myself to that.

The Chairman

The hon. Member will kindly confine himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Hogg

What I was endeavouring to argue was this. There are three alternative Parliamentary procedures by which issues can be raised in the House. The first is by Bill, in order to effect changes in the law; the second is that proposed by the Government here, that powers should be delegated to the Ministry to legislate by order, subject only to negative control by successful Prayer against the order after it has come into effect; and the third alternative is that you should have a positive Resolution before the regulation comes into effect. The argument to which I was seeking to draw the attention of the Committee was that the Government are seeking to choose the second and least effective safeguard, although when they were associated with military as distinct from the industrial direction of labour, they choose the method with the greatest safeguard—namely, procedure by Bill.

That is the argument which I have been trying to present all along, Major Milner. If I could not put that argument before the Committee, I hesitate to think what argument would be relevant. The truth of this matter is that the whole question which this Committee has to consider in relation to this Amendment is whether they prefer negative control in relation to the direction of labour, which has been rightly referred to as industrial conscription; or whether they prefer the positive control of an active Debate which the Government itself must initiate in its own time whenever it desires to do this thing. That is what the Committee has to consider. It is a gross reflection on the Government and their supporters that, in relation to military conscription they have chosen the method of a Bill, and in relation to industrial conscription they ask us to be content with a purely negative Prayer. For this reason—which I submit is wholly relevant—I shall support my hon. Friends below the Gangway in pressing this Amendment to a Division.

The Attorney-General

The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), not for the first time, has produced an entirely erroneous argument. There is really no analogy between the procedure which may arise under the Defence Regulations involving direction of labour here and there, and the general regulations under which military conscription is carried out. The National Service Act provides for the general calling-up of whole classes of the community. That is not the purpose of these regulations. What the Amendment would seek to do, and what no doubt the hon. Member for Oxford and his friends on the Front Bench opposite, who support him with such enthusiasm, would desire, is to make it necessary to have a debate in Parliament before an individual direction was given to an individual "spiv" that he was to engage in work useful to the community.

Hon. Members

What is a "spiv"?

Mr. Hogg

A Minister without portfolio.

The Attorney-General

Hon. Members opposite are so much more familiar in their association with, and knowledge of, "spivs" that I would not seek to enter into any argument about what "spivs" are, political or otherwise.

What I was advising the Committee about—and about this there can be no doubt I think, though I speak in this matter merely as what the leader of the Opposition quite accurately calls a hired lawyer—was the legal effect of this Amendment which is, unquestionably, that every time an individual direction is given to an individual, be he "spiv" or otherwise, to engage in some useful work for the community, the matter would have to be that subject of prior discussion and affirmative Resolution of this House. If that is what hon. Members opposite really want, they will no doubt say so.

Mr. Byers

May I clear up a point? Does the learned Attorney-General say that the Government intend to give orders to a collection of individuals in all parts of the country, be they "spivs" or anything else, without any Parliamentary debate at all?

The Attorney-General

I am not saying that at all. I was merely pointing out to hon. Members opposite, and to the hon. Member who moved this Amendment, that the effect of it, whether intended or not, was that not only could there be no general direction of labour in any particular industry or in relation to a particular firm unles it were subject to affirmative Resolution, but no direction of an individual could be made without its being subject to debate in the House.

Mr. Hogg

Will the learned Attorney-General give an answer to this?

The Attorney-General

I will give way once more.

Mr. Hogg

The point about the Amendment is that it applies to individual directions as well as general directions. Will the Attorney-General concede at once that the Government should accept the Amendment as regards general directions on condition that we withdraw it is regards individual direction?

The Attorney-General

I would be obliged if the hon. Member would let me develop my argument. I was going to say that, although I am merely a hired lawyer, whose duty is to call the attention of the Committee to the legal consequence of the Amendments which the Committee is invited to adopt, it is not for that reason that I am going to indicate to the Committee that we are unable to accept this Amendment. I am bound to say that although I was a little surprised at the support given to this Amendment by Members on the Benches opposite, I sympathise with the source from which it came and with the underlying motive of the Amendment, because compulsory direction of labour, although it may be, and as we think it is, justifiable in exceptional circumstances, is just as obnoxious to us on this side of the Committee as it is to Members of the Liberal Party.

After all, we on this side of the Committee have inherited a great love of individual freedom and hon. Members belonging to the party opposite have always jeered at it, as they jeer at it now. But we who have inherited, as many of us on this side are proud to do the great Radical tradition of our great Radical ancestors, have just as great a regard for the freedom and liberty of the individual as hon. Members on the benches below the Gangway. It was for that reason that, although no provisions requiring any kind of Parliamentary control had been inserted in the wartime legislation which provided for widespread direction of labour, we on this side thought it right in introducing the 1945 Bill, to include machinery which is there provided enabling orders for directions to be made the subject of negative Prayer.

The procedure which the hon. Member has suggested in this Amendment, by way of affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament, might quite obviously—and this, we think, is the reason Members opposite, in their desire to obstruct the implementation of Government policy in the present grave emergency are supporting this Amendment—delay the process of direction in exactly those exceptional and urgent cases in which alone His Majesty's present advisers intend to use this power and would consider its use justifiable. We do not contemplate any general or widespread use of these powers, but these powers exist already, and this is a moment of grave economic uncertainty and difficulty—this is a most serious period in our history—and it does not seem to be an appropriate time at which to restrict the use of the powers which Parliament gave to the Executive in 1945. If it turns out that in any general way these powers are being misused by the Executive, it will be for Parliament to use what I venture to think is the adequate and very effective machinery of the negative Prayer. These orders will be subject to that procedure, and we are unable to agree to an Amendment of the existing provision which would make them subject to an affirmative Resolution.

2.0 a.m.

Mr. Maclay

I apologise for not having been in my place at the beginning of the discussion on this Amendment. I agree with the Amendment and I agree, sticking strictly to the rule, that the subject under discussion is a procedural point. I agree with it because I think that procedure upon positive Resolution should be on a wider scale than in this Amendment. I had drafted a manuscript Amendment, and if I may comment on this, I would say that it really is most unfortunate, if one has the Second Reading of a Bill of this importance which finishes at 4 o'clock, the Table Office, according to habit and custom, should close at 4.30. It is almost impossible to consider carefully and draft a serious Amendment by 4.30, so that it should appear on the Order Paper on the Monday morning. Accordingly one has to draft a manuscript Amendment, which nobody likes, and run the risk of its not being called. If I drift slightly from the Amendment under discussion, it is for this reason.

What one wants to have established for any purpose for which this Bill may be used, and which are additional to those under the 1945 Act—there is the strongest possible case for all of them coming in—is the use of the positive Resolution instead of the negative procedure. We have heard arguments made often that these powers already exist. I am content to leave them to the negative Prayer of annulment, but when we come to additional purposes—we have never really discovered how the Government are going to use the powers they take—I would submit there is every possible case for the positive method. Does the Attorney-General really believe that when there are 122 orders on the Table of the House—that was the position on 2nd August—of which 66 come under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, that is a satisfactory method for Parliament to deal with them.

The Attorney-General

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Parliamentary system of this country could possibly go on if each of the 122 orders was made the subject of affirmative Resolution.

Mr. Maclay

I most carefully stated that I did not think that existing powers under the 1945 Act should be put under affirmative Resolution. I was saying that if it is intended to use the additional powers which are outlined in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)—if they are important—let us have the affirmative Resolution. I do not think that is unreasonable, and the powers are wide. As for the powers that exist, I accept that 119 out of 122 may be done by a Prayer of annulment, but there may be a small balance which ought to be properly discussed. I repeat the question I asked on Friday—how many hon. Members opposite have any idea of the existence of the Statutory Rules and Orders List? Let them have a look at it and chew it over, and then say if they have the slightest idea what 118 of the 122 are about. I have tried, and I say it is impossible to understand it. My own case is that we must not risk in the House of Commons some really important things slipping through in this welter, and I know no other way than working by affirmative Resolution. It is exceedingly difficult to draft an Amendment which would meet the point sensibly, but I really think that the Government should consider some modified wording of the Amendment to meet the case I have made.

Mr. Blackburn

I have been a little embarrassed by the course of the Debate, because having, first of all, agreed with the Liberals, I was then a little astounded that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) engendered the same heat as he did on another occasion, for a case in which there was no real substance. In effect, the narrow point of issue is this. Does the Committee regard direction of labour, dragooning of workmen, of sufficient importance to be prepared to go to the bother of putting it in an Act of Parliament? Does the Labour Party care for the working man or not? I have been absolutely astounded that here, at six minutes past two in the morning, the Attorney-General has behaved in a totalitarian fashion and has shown himself utterly unworthy of holding his position tonight.—[An HON. MEMBER: "Cross over."]—I will not cross over. I have not crossed over. I stand where I am. The Attorney-General will prove to be wrong on this issue and will be condemned in a fortnight by decent thinking people within the Labour Party. He says: "I cannot tell you for certain whether there is going to be a widespread direction of labour or not. I hope there will not be too much." Surely, if we care for the working man, we shall tell him at halfpast two o'clock in the afternoon, and broadcast it, whether he is to be dragooned or not I am expressing from my heart what has not been put by the Tories. It is within the recollection of the Committee that I opposed the Bill as an unprecedented totalitarian Bill before the Tories or the Liberals had even made up their minds about it.

Mr. C. Davies

No.

Mr. Blackburn

That is their answer to that one. It is very embarrassing to meet points which are unanswerable. Let hon. Gentlemen gibe and jeer if it is funny, but let them answer the argument. Let the Attorney-General give an answer and not refuse to give way as he did recently.

The Attorney-General rose——

Mr. Blackburn

I will not give way. I propose to give the Attorney-General a dose of his own ill manners. Doctors are people who can diagnose the condition known as hysteria. Hysteria is a condition in which ideation governs function. That is the technical definition. It is the condition in which people are prepared to introduce measures of profound importance to every human being in this country at six minutes past two in the morning.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

On a point of Order. Is this relevant?

The Chairman

I wish hon. Members would be good enough to leave that question to the Chair. I have already indicated a great number of instances in which irrelevancy has arisen.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)

On a point of Order. Is it not within the competence of the Chair to accept a point of Order or not? Hon. Members opposite seem to think they have a right to raise a point of Order, and that the Chair must accept it, whether the Chair wills it or not.

The Chairman

In reply to the hon. and gallant Member, the Chair decides what is and what is not a point of Order. It is a matter of courtesy to hon. Members to hear what their points of Order are.

Mr. Blackburn

The question has only to be asked, and requires no comment: Is it or is it not a proper thing that Labour Members of Parliament, who represent the working class of Britain, should be prepared to agree now that the direction of labour should be introduced in any other form than by a specific Act of Parliament for that purpose? That is the position I take—that we ought not to be prepared to do so. Is it the proper thing to introduce the direction of labour and to give people the power to direct labour, which involves, as I pointed out to the Attorney-General, who did not deny it—and on that point I was and am prepared to give way to him—the power to direct "spivs"? What about the definition of "spivs"? The Government have power to direct people anywhere they like. It is a fundamental principle of British liberty that one has the right to work where one likes. Yet the Attorney-General gets up at this time in the morning and says it does not matter very much whether we do it this way or that. All we can do is to have a Prayer, perhaps 60 days after the direction has been given. Meantime, people will have been directed. A whole class, perhaps, will have been directed. We are going away for ten weeks. So if direction happens soon, there must be more than ten weeks before we can do anything about it here. Meantime, one person, or a million people, or ten million people may be directed anywhere the Government like in the country. That is the power the Government have. The Attorney-General appears to suggest that that power can be exercised otherwise than by this House. I say he has betrayed the legal profession to which he belongs, and to which, as a very junior member, I have the honour to belong, also. I say he is unworthy to be Attorney-General.

2.15 a.m.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

The Attorney-General made one very important statement in the course of his speech. That important statement was that he and the Party behind him hate the direction of labour as much as hon. Members on this side of the Committee. I believe that to be true about a large number of Members on that side of the Committee. I accept it as being true of himself—that he hates the direction of labour. One of the most striking speeches delivered last week was by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) on the direction of labour to the mines during the war and he traced the inefficiency and the inability to produce coal in time of war and the high percentage of absenteeism to that direction. The direction itself proved inefficient for its purpose, even in time of war. How can it be suggested that that direction is going to be more efficient in time of peace than it was during the war when we were in peril of our lives?

If the Attorney-General hates direction of labour, as I believe, and as he has said, it becomes even more important that that direction should be discussed by affirmative Resolution in the House. A very striking difference in the Debate last week was between the speech by the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and the speech by the President of the Board of Trade. The speech by the Member for East Coventry, led back to the Platonic Republic with complete control by the wise men. The peroration of the President of the Board of Trade was an appeal for the Christian spirit—a very different thing, not control by the wise men, not the same theory as that represented by the Member for East Coventry, but the freedom of the individual. And if we are going to play with that freedom of the individual, is it too much for this Parliament to discuss even the life of one individual?

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that Paul directed the slave to go back to his master?

Mr. Hopkin Morris

He did, and he was a great philosopher without having understood the implications of his own Christian doctrine. The doctrine of free will, based upon the Christian doctrine, had not come into being in his day. That is the great difference between Western civilisation built upon that basis and the civilisation of the Eastern world influenced by Greek philosophy. Now we are reversing the process. It is one of the dangers and disasters facing Europe as a whole that that conversion has been taking place in the last 25 years. It is a great tragedy. I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, but I understand that his point is that we cannot devote time in Parliament to discussing these individual cases. But is there anything more important than the life of the individual, of the workman to be directed by the State? Is it argued that his case shall not be discussed by the State?

This is an important issue and the rejection of this Amendment would make nonsense of the peroration of the President of the Board of Trade. I believe that a large number of Members opposite are uneasy about voting for this Bill on that ground. I do not believe that anyone of them will get up and say that they are doing it with an easy conscience? I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) saying tonight that we stand at the parting of the ways. He takes his stand with the hon. Member for East Coventry. No greater truth has been uttered in this Committee, and no more solemn truth, than that this is indeed the parting of the ways. Are we to turn men and women, to be directed by the State, into serfs and slaves? It was a Labour Member who said last week that this has proved to be a failure in the greatest emergency that we have ever faced, and the embarrassment in the mines today is a result of that slavery. We shall not get out of this difficulty unless we do something to restrict that move.

Dr. Barnett Stross (Hanley)

I hate to detain the Committee, but a little while ago there was a call for the assistance of a doctor and a definition of hysteria was given with reference to the subject we are discussing. While I agree with the definition so far as it went, one has to assume that every hysteric is also an exhibitionist. We have listened to the very sincere and impassioned hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. I am quite prepared to believe that certain of the Liberal Party for a long time have held very steadfastly to those beliefs as sincere articles of faith, and freedom and liberty, so far as they understand them, mean something very real to them. I wonder if the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree With me that there is another way in which labour may be directed, apart from the dictates of the Government. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that in times of peace in the past, we who are still alive, and who are here, have seen direction of labour as brutal and conscienceless as anything in the world? Surely when we are considering this point, we should realise that low wages——

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order. We have all of us, Major Milner, incurred your displeasure at some time or other in this Debate because we have been told again and again that we are not discussing the direction of labour, and, indeed, not any other subject but the choice between two Parliamentary alternatives. Might I ask how the hon. Member is in Order now?

The Chairman

I was listening to the hon. Member and thought to intervene when necessary.

Dr. Stross

I am grateful to you, Major Milner, for giving me this latitude, and I will do my best to keep within the subject and scope of the Amendment. I think it would be reasonable to point out to the Committee that the forces directing labour in the past were the types of forces that gave us in the years between the two wars about 50,000 excess deaths in Wales and the industrial North of England a year—about one million dead in 20 years who should have lived. I leave that point with the Committee. I am sure the Committee wholeheartedly appreciates what I am now going to leave unsaid. I should like to remind the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) that it is dangerous to call on the dead to give testimony, especially for the course for which he and his party have stood for so long.

Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)

I am glad to see the Minister of Labour is here and I would like him to inform us which of these two procedures he considers the better for the discharge of his functions as Minister of Labour. He happens also to know the industry with which I am connected, the printing industry. He knows the very great difficulty of entry and of the long period of apprenticeship, and the extent to which the trade unions and employers are trying, without direction, to work out the industry's own salvation and to solve voluntarily, by traditions of amicable and freely negotiated agreements which that trade has honoured for many years, a very difficult and pressing problem. It seems to me that under 58A, which is very widely drawn, the Minister will have an additional function. In his ordinary function he keeps a conference table at which the two sides would meet and agree to the modification and improvement of conditions in order to meet the present circumstances. Under Regulation 58A as it is extended and amended, particularly by Clause 1 (c) it seems to me that the trade unions' restrictions on entry——

The Chairman

The hon. Member is going far beyond the Amendment, which has nothing directly to do with direction of labour.

Mr. Pitman

I was simply asking which of the two procedures would be the better for the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour in carrying out his duty, for, in addition to having his ordinary functions of which we all know, he has under this Bill the new function of directing a trade union to alter its long-standing rules covering entry into the trade. He has these two possible procedures to deal with and it seems clear that the one—the long-standing one—is much the better of the two, and I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to say which of the two he would prefer.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I desire to return to the learned Attorney-General. Unlike the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn), I propose to discuss not the interesting personality of the learned Attorney-General, but the less substantial, if more attractive, subject-matter of his argument. The learned Attorney- General sought to explain on the face of it the rather striking difference between the treatment of military conscription and industrial conscription by saying that military conscription involved the calling up of whole classes but that civil direction was not for whole classes. The power to call up whole classes is there, however, and if this be so, surely it is necessary to provide a procedure to deal with the power. If there is procedure where there is power to call up whole classes for military conscription, surely it is right that there should be provided similar procedure when there is call up of civilian labour.

The Attorney-General

The power in regard to military service was a power to call up whole classes at one time, and, similarly by statutory provision, effect is given under Defence Regulations for the calling up of classes of civilian labour. That I must point out to the hon. Gentleman has already been done by Bill, but now that these powers are put into operation, having already been enacted in a Bill, what is needed is affirmative procedure.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman, He is lucidity itself. When he talks of this having been done by Bill, he anticipates a little, as, in part, it is being done by this Bill The Bill deals to some extent with this subject matter, and what I am trying to say is that whereas now one is providing, as the Attorney-General now admits, for the call up of whole classes for industrial conscription, one is entitled (0 ask that there should be adequate safeguards. After all, on the analogy of military conscription there is by Bill, a very narrow limitation as to age. Military conscription affects men up to 26, but under this Bill there is no limitation as to age at all.

2.30 a.m.

The Attorney-General in his original argument went on to say that quite small numbers would be involved, and therefore it would be inconvenient to have the matter discussed on the Floor of the House. On that I should like to add my protest to that so eloquently made by the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris). Surely if the personal liberty of one Englishman is involved, it should be discussed on the Floor of the House. If you look at the long history of this House you will see case after case where the grievance of one man has been so discussed, sometimes at great length and with great passion. I must protest against this idea of the Attorney-General that it does not matter if you inflict injustice without recourse to Parliament, provided you take care to inflict it only on a few people. When he argued that it would be necessary to lay an order and have a Debate in the case of every "spiv" who is directed, is he really justified in so decrying the capacity of the Departments to draft orders to cover such cases? It surely should not be beyond the capacity of the senior Law Officer even in this Government to draft orders to cover a number of persons so that they may be debated together. Then he said that the procedure was laid down by the Act of 1945. It is refreshing to learn that in the opinion of the Attorney-General of a Socialist Government that procedure laid down in one Act of Parliament cannot later be questioned—though that apparently was not his attitude to the Trades Disputes Act of 1927.

There are two reasons why it should be reconsidered. One is that we have had great experience in the last two years of negative Resolution procedure—probably more experience than any Parliament ever had before, and in 1945 the Government repudiated the suggestion that they were going to direct labour and therefore it might have been academic to insist on such a safeguard as we now seek to insert today. Today the position is different. Not only do the Government not repudiate their intention to direct labour, but the Prime Minister has in fact announced it. I hope we have heard the last of the argument that because a procedure was set in 1945 it is beyond the capacity of this sovereign Parliament to alter it in the year 1947. I regret that the Attorney-General has objected to discussing these things by affirmative Resolution—things which affect the civil liberty of a great many of the King's subjects. Yet it is accepted as right solemnly to have an affirmative Resolution in cases dealing with the opening of cinemas on Sundays. At any rate, no one is compelled to go to the cinemas on Sundays if he does not want to—and soon it will not be possible to go at all but it is idle to suggest that the issue of local Sunday cinemas is anything like as important as the civil liberty of the subject. That civil liberty is of course involved in the case whether a man shall be free to work where he wants or where the Ministry wants him to go. If there is any sense of proportion in this matter, let the Government drop the Sunday cinema procedure but let us in this Committee insist that the direction of labour cannot and shall not be imposed by any Government without the full, free and well-informed assent of the House of Commons.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

I do not desire to add very much to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd Carpenter) about the Attorney-General's argument. I must say that I was a little nauseated by his remarks about liberty. There was a time when this House sat all night to consider any infringement of the liberty of any British subject in any part of the globe, but such has been the debasement of standards which has accompanied the growth of the Socialist movement, that now, apparently, these things are to be decided as matters of urgency overnight I am wondering what is the inner meaning of these declarations of policy by the Government that we need not bother about these things because they will only affect a few people here and there. The Minister of Labour has always been extremely careful not to interfere with organised trade unions or to encourage or direct a wages policy, let alone anything approaching the direction of labour. I am beginning to think that the Minister of Labour is going to see that organised labour is not touched by this direction but that those who do not matter a tinker's cuss——

The Chairman

We must set limits to this Debate. We are not discussing who shall, and shall not be directed.

Mr. Reid

I agree, and I was only replying as shortly as I possibly could without infringing the rules of Order, to the point which was stressed, that this would only affect a few people.

The Chairman

It will be within the recollection of the Committee that the Attorney-General referred I think, as I understood him, to a number of orders, not to a class or a number of people.

Mr. Reid

If I may try to clear this up without infringing the rules of Order in any way, the Attorney-General made a point of individuals being directed and we were to consider each individual case separately if we were going to comply with the requirements of this Amendment. He must have been contemplating a small number of people because it is impossible, administratively, to have half a million orders issued. The thing cannot be done.

The Attorney-General

I do not want to have any ambiguity about what I have said. I thought what I said was quite clear. I said that it was not contemplated, as I understood it, that there would be any widespread and general direction of labour. That, I think, was the phrase I used, but it will be in the OFFICIAL REPORT. But whether there is widespread and general direction of labour, or not, there has to be a particular direction to the individual concerned, and that particular direction, under the terms of this Amendment, would have to be the subject of an affirmative Resolution.

Mr. Reid

I do not think I would agree with that because the Amendment refers to orders, regulations or other instruments. I think we find the word instrument in our recent legislation. At any rate, it is quite obvious that the intention of the Amendment is to refer to orders, regulations and instruments of that character.

The Attorney-General

What the individual gets is a direction.

Mr. Reid

Of course it is.

The Attorney-General

And that is, too, subject to the regulation.

Mr. Reid

The learned Attorney-General does know a little more about Defence Regulation procedure than he pretends. He knows that there are three separate ranges, the Regulation, the Order made under it, and the direction made under the Order; and to pretend that this Amendment has any reference to individual direction is simply an attempt to confuse the issue because the right hon. and learned Attorney-General is not prepared to face up to that issue, He has told us that there is not to be widespread direction. I hope, Major Milner, that I am entitled, without infringing your Ruling, to say that that, therefore, means that organised labour is not to be directed. They are the people whom the Government regard as their friends.

The Attorney-General

I never said anything of the kind.

Mr. Reid

Of course the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not, but this must be in the mind of the Minister of Labour. I say that we must have every possible protection here, because it is plain that the Government are attracted to a procedure which will result in their friends getting off, and those whom the Government do not like being landed.

Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)

The learned Attorney-General has made a great deal of the form of this Liberal Amendment, and has raised the point with which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just dealt. It is essential that the Committee should be absolutely clear on what it is voting for when we come to the Division on this Amendment. The intention behind the Amendment is that before the Government make any general order for industrial conscription, or the general direction of labour, it shall come to the House of Commons and state exactly what the terms of that general order are to be. The intention is that the House of Commons shall have an opportunity to discuss those conditions before they become law. If hon. Members opposite reject the Amendment they are showing that they are prepared to give the Government powers of a general character to direct labour on a wide basis without the House of Commons having the opportunity beforehand to discuss what those conditions may be.

The hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) referred to remarks made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) during the Debate on the 1945 Bill. I have not the records before me, but the current of events has changed substantially since then so far as conscription, both military and industrial, is concerned. Since that date we have seen a military conscription Act introduced by a Government having no mandate for it; and now, judging by the learned Attorney-General's remarks, an unlimited prospect of industrial direction of labour appears. The Attorney-General has challenged the form of this Amendment. On behalf of my hon. Friends on this Bench I will say that we will withdraw the Amendment if the learned Attorney-General or any Member of the Government will give us an assurance that during the Report stage they will introduce an Amendment designed to ensure that the House will have an opportunity of discussing the terms on which general direction of labour will be introduced. I invite them to give such an assurance; but if no such undertaking is forthcoming, we will take this matter to a Division, and hon. Members who vote against this Amendment will have voted in favour of the direction of labour without the House having the opportunity to discuss the terms of such direction.

2.45 a.m.

The Attorney-General

I did indicate that I was not opposing the Amendment on a drafting point; no doubt the Amendment could have been drafted differently; but I was opposing it on its merits. The fact is that the House has already by the 1945 Act given the Minister of Labour powers of directing any person in Great Britain to perform any service he considers to be in the national interest. That is the existing power. What we are concerned with now is the operation of that power by new directions.

Mr. C. Davies

This is a vital matter, but I am not going to detain the Committee more than a very few minutes. I want to deal with the answer the hon. and learned Attorney-General gave just now. He says, "I am doing no more now, I am doing exactly the same thing, as under the Act of 1945." I have tried to keep this within narrow limits. The whole point is, which of the two Parliamentary systems will you use in this matter of the direction of labour? Either you get a positive vote of the House in favour of a regulation before it comes into effect, or you prefer to allow a regulation to come into effect and then pray that it should be of no effect. Which of the two should it be in the vitally important matter of the direction of labour?

A Bill was introduced for war purposes when the war broke out, but the Act of 1939 was found not to be of sufficient compass to deal with the new situation which was arising every day—the country was threatened with invasion. It was then made fuller in the Act of 1940, which deals not only with the direction of labour but with the direction of property and everything else. There was not one of us who dissented from it. Not one of us bothered which of the two systems should be used, and so we adopted the simpler one, the one the Executive always prefers, the one which usually the House of Commons—the individual members—dislike. The Government always prefer the simpler method of making the order first and allowing the individual to pray against it. Now the war has ended and it is necessary for all these Orders in Council under the war Act to come to an end, or are we to do something to get over the transition period? The Government have now introduced a new Act to continue the Order in Council on the same basis as during the war, and that Act, the 1945 Act, is still in existence with certain limitations. The Attorney-General is quite right—and so is the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher)—in saying that the power was continued of directing labour: I think it was in Regulation 58A, and the House assented to that. But can anybody stand up now and say that they expected the direction of labour to continue in effect for five years.

The Chairman

The hon. and learned Gentleman is now dealing with past history which has already been dealt with.

Mr. Davies

I am most anxious to keep within the very narrow limits of the discussion, but what I am pointing out is that we did not object to that form being continued at that time because one did not expect direction of labour to continue, certainly not for two or three years. It was only continued in this form, in that there were only two sets of people to whom it applied, and only in this form that they were not allowed to leave the industry in which they are for the time being. It was not that people were directed into industry. The only two were the mines and agriculture, and there has been talk, certainly even during the last few weeks, that those also were to be relieved of the stigma of remaining against their will. I say that all this talk about what was right in 1945 being right in 1947 is quite beside the point. What we are saying is that in time of peace, two years after the war is ended, the full powers of 1940 are being claimed for another three years, and instead of con- tinuing the method which we dislike, the proper method should be adopted of getting the House of Commons first to approve it before it becomes a regulation.

An hon. Member on the opposite benches has said that there are two ways of directing labour. I agree. One is by legislation, the other is by poverty and want. As far as I can see, with proper administration, there should not be anyone out of work in this country for a couple of generations at least. Would the hon. Member say even now, that there is a way of getting rid of unemployment by directing labour? There was greater unemployment in Germany than in any other country. That was caused by legislation

under Hitler. Would anyone like to continue that?

Mr. Maclay

Would the Attorney-General state whether there is anything under this Bill which will be subject to affirmative Resolution, or whether every order is to be subject to Prayer for annulment?

The Attorney-General

The general Orders under this Bill will be subject to negative Prayer procedure.

Question put, "That these words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 86, Noes, 207.

Division No. 377.] AYES. [2.54 a.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Gridley, Sir A. Nicholson, G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Amory, O. Heathcoat Harvey, Air-Comdre, A. V. Osborne, C
Baldwin, A. E. Haughton, S. G. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Barlow, Sir J. Herbert, Sir A. P. Pickthorn, K.
Baxter, A. B. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pitman, I. J.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Hogg, Hon. Q Ramsay, Major S.
Beechman, N. A. Hurd, A. Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Blackburn, A. R Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Bossom, A C Lambert, Hon. G Scott, Lord W.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Langford-Holt, J. Spearman, A C. M.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Spence, H. R.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Lennox-Boyd, A T. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Carson, E Linstead, H. N. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Challen, C. Low, Brig. A. R. W. Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Channon, H. Lucas, Major Sir J. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Clarke, Col R S. Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Turton, R. H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Vane, W. M. F.
Cuthbert, W. N. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Wadsworth, G.
Davidson, Viscountess Macpherson, N (Dumfries) Ward, Hon. G. R
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Maitland, Comdr J. W. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
De la Bère, R. Manningham-Buller, R. E Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Marlowe, A. A. H Williams, C. (Torquay)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Marsden, Capt A. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Marshall, D. (Bodmin) York, C.
Fox, Sir G. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton).
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Mr. Frank Byers and
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Morrison, Maj J G (Salisbury) Mr. Emrys Roberts.
NOES.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Callaghan, James Dumpleton, C. W.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Carmichael, James Edelman, M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon A. V. Champion, A. J. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Chetwynd, G. R. Evans, John (Ogmore)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Collins, V. J. Fairhurst, F.
Anderson, A (Motherwell) Colman, Miss G. M. Farthing, W. J.
Attewell, H. C. Comyns, Dr. L. Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington, E.)
Austin, H. Lewis Cook, T F Foot, M. M
Baird, J. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Forman, J. C
Barton, C. Corlett, Dr. J Gallacher, W
Bechervaise, A. E. Cove, W. G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S
Belcher, J. W. Crossman, R. H. S. Gibson, C. W
Beswick, F. Daines, P. Gilzean, A.
Binns, J. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Blenkinsop, A. Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Gordon,-Walker, P. C.
Boardman, H. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Deer, G Grierson, E.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) de Freitas, Geoffrey Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Delargy, H. J Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Bruce, Major D. W. T Diamond, J. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Buchanan, G. Dobbie, W. Gunter, R. J.
Burden, T. W. Dodds, N. N. Guy, W. H.
Burke, W. A. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Hale, Leslie Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Skinnard, F. W.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Morrison. Rt Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Smith, C. (Colchester)
Hamilton, Lt.-Col. R. Moyle, A. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
Hardy, E. A. Nally, W Snow, Capt. J W.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Neal, H. (Claycross) Solley, L. J.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Sorensen, R. W.
Herbison, Miss M. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Hewitson, Captain M Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Sparks, J. A
Hobson, C. R Noel-Buxton, Lady Stross, Dr. B
Holman, P Oliver, G. H Stubbs, A. E
House, G. Orbach, M. Swingler, S.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Paget, R T. Symonds, A. L.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Palmer, A. M. F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pargiter, G. A. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Parkin, B. T. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Paten, J. (Norwich) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Pearson, A. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Peart, Thomas F. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Tiffany, S
Keenan, W. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Tolley, L.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr, E. Price, M. Philips Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Proctor, W. T. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Leonard, W. Pryde, D. J. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Lindgren, G. S. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Randall, H. E. Watkins, T. E.
Logan, D. G. Ranger, J. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Longden, F. Rees-Williams, D. R. West, D. G
Lyne, A. W Reeves, J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
McGhee, H. G. Reid, T. (Swindon) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Richards, R. Wilkes, L.
Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
McLeavy, F. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Macpherson, T. (Romford) Rogers, G. H. R Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Mainwaring, W. H. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Willis, E.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Sargood, R. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Scollan, T. Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J
Mathers, G Shackleton, E. A. A Wise, Major F. J
Midland, H. M. Sharp, Granville Woodburn, A.
Mellish, R. J. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Wyatt, W.
Middleton, Mrs. L Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens) Yates, V. F.
Mikardo, Ian Silverman, J. (Erdington) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Mitchison, G. R. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Zilliacus, K.
Monslow, W Simmons, C. J.
Moody, A. S. Skeffington, A. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Hannan and Mr. Popplewell.

3.0 a.m.

The Chairman

The Amendment I propose to call on line 16 is on quite a limited point, namely, whether the power of revocation or variation shall apply to the purposes set out in the Subsection to which reference is made.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out Subsection (2).

I am not quite sure, Major Milner, that I appreciate the line that you have attempted to draw on the Debate on this Amendment, but I shall do my best to adhere to what I understand to be the spirit behind your Ruling. The question here is not so much a question of revocation of power but the power of variation which this Subsection contains. It is true to say that under the 1945 Act there was power to vary regulations in existence when that Act came into force for the purposes of that Act, and after debate in this House that power was given to His Majesty's Government.

Now, under this Subsection, power is sought to vary any existing regulation for the purposes set out in Subsection (1) and I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General a few questions about these variations. It has been emphasised during the course of our Debates that in this Bill the Government are taking no power to make any fresh regulations at all and that is clear from Clause 1. But under Subsection (2) they are given or are seeking to obtain power to vary existing regulations. The first question I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman is: Is there any legal limit to the extent of the variations on an existing regulation, or is there any legal authority for stating that there is a limit to the variation which would be intra vires and not ultra vires?

I should have thought, as a strict matter of law, it would be open to the Government to change any one of the existing regulations so long as it is described as being for one of the three pur- poses set out in Subsection (1). If that were done, I would at first sight be inclined to express the opinion that no court, having regard to the content of Subsection (1), would be able to say that that variation was ultra vires and consequently the regulation was of no legal effect. And if there be—and there does not appear to be in this Bill—any limit to the extent of the variation, then indeed the observations made from the Government benches last Friday and in the course of today's Debate, pointing out that they have not really taken any fresh powers to themselves to make new regulations, is not really an accurate statement, because variation would enable considerable new matter to be included in the existing regulations.

The point was made at one stage in our Debate that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), was wrong in saying that direction proposals could be dealt with by regulation under this Bill. If there is no limit to variation, it is quite obvious, I should have thought, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was right. I hope that in his reply the learned Attorney-General will be able to state what limit there is, if there is any limit, to the extent of variation and. if he says, as I apprehend he will, there is no legal limit in this Bill, I hope he will give an undertaking that something will be inserted so that it cannot be that an existing regulation by variation becomes a new one.

The Attorney-General

This Amendment would make it impossible for the Government to introduce any adaptations to any existing regulations, however minor in character, in order to enable them to be used for the new purposes. And for that reason we are unable to accept it. I want to make it quite clear, in answer to the question put to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the power of variation is subject to control by the courts and is, in fact, as I venture to think most hon. and learned Gentlemen will agree, even if the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) is not aware of the fact, a very limited power, the exercise of which is subject to control in accordance with well-known principles. You can do nothing where you have a power to vary which would in effect have the result of enlarging or altering the substance of the regulation. You can modify, you can adapt, but you cannot by using the power to vary, permit the scope of legislation to be increased or extended or enable those purposes to be fundamentally changed or altered in any way.

I will give one example, which I hope will make the point clear. If you have, for instance, a power to requisition land, you could vary that by providing that you could requisition only freehold land. That would undoubtedly be a variation. I do not want to express any final and conclusive view about it but if you had a regulation to requisition freehold land, and sought to vary that by providing power to requisition all land, that would be going beyond the mere variation. That possibly is a doubtful case but what is quite clear is that where there was a power to requisition land, you certainly could not extend it to include chattels as well. That would not be a variation, but an alteration enlarging the whole scope of the regulation. The power to vary is very limited indeed and it is used, and almost always has been used, for making incidental adaptations because of the new purposes which have arisen.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I am grateful for what the learned Attorney-General has said. There is nothing between us as to the interpretation which one would like to give to the word "variation" but I suggest that this Bill would be improved in its appearance if the limitation which he has expressed now, were incorporated in Subsection (2). There is a great deal to be said for making Acts of Parliament as easily understood by laymen and lawyers as possible, and I suggest that he should put in words showing that the right to vary is limited in the way in which he has mentioned. But, in view of the explanation which has been given by the learned Attorney-General, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)

I feel that I should express my views upon this Clause before we leave it, and ask one or two questions on points which we have not yet touched. I am opposed to the whole of this Clause because I do not think that the right way to tackle this crisis is the use of regulations without Parliamentary control. We face difficulties, and I am sure that the general view of the electors—whichever side of this House they support—is in the argument that it is time they were taken more fully into the confidence of the Government. But this Clause removes the opportunity for the Government to take the electors into their confidence. The electors have had little opportunity of learning what the Government's plans are, and we have heard nothing during the stages of this Bill, and we have heard nothing in broadcasts of what is to be done. When the Clause is in operation, the British people will hear nothing until they have a new order made under one of, the regulations, and even then, they will have no effective Parliamentary remedy against it.

My next point is to ask why, in this Clause, we have got a reference to agriculture. Quite clearly, agriculture has a very large and onerous part to play in trying to remedy the situation in which this country finds itself. But the Government have spent weeks and months passing the Agriculture Bill which gives the Minister power to deal, by regulation, with this very problem with which we are concerned tonight. Our experience in recent years in agriculture has shown that it is not direction and orders which will get extra production, but leadership and ensuring that the farmer receives the feedingstuffs. We have so far had no leadership and no feedingstuffs from this Government, and it seems that this Clause is extremely ill-drafted in including agriculture as one of the new purposes. Any representative of an agricultural constituency will agree that it is not direction which will win this battle for food, but, on the contrary, it is leadership and the telling to the farmer those -problems which he has to tackle.

3.15 a.m.

I object to this Clause primarily quite apart from those two facts, because I believe it is a very dangerous continuation of wartime policy. It may have been necessary in 1939 and 1940 that the Government should have delegated legislation. There was always a danger that those who were in the Chamber might suddenly disappear in a cloud of smoke and, therefore, it was a good thing to make provision to have this system of removing Parliamentary' control and governing purely by executive action. But now, when we are escaping from that, surely, it is a grave danger and the height of the danger is that this has been brought about by a party that describes itself as a Socialist Party. There have been in Europe other parties striving to be Socialist parties, with the intention to govern for a certain class but when they have come into power, instead of having Parliamentary control, they have decided to rule by diktat and by executive action. That was the origin of the National Socialist Party in Germany. I think that the Government and the party opposite are in very grave danger of following in their footsteps.—[An HON. MEMBER: "Gestapo."]—I did not use the word "Gestapo." If the hon. Member was thinking about that, he must have a reason for that: perhaps he knows about it from his party meeting.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member's remarks are exceedingly wide of the Clause.

Mr. Turton

I was led away from the strait and narrow path. In face of this grave danger I feel that we in this Committee should be reluctant to pass this Clause in its present form. These matters affecting industry or agriculture or the direction of labour should be dealt with by the proper procedure of the House—the procedure of the stages of a Bill. If that procedure is too long, then let committees in examining the question themselves advise special methods to deal with the problem and not abandon the whole of Parliamentary control. We should not go home to our constituencies and let the Government by executive action, wriggle out of the mess into which they have brought us. I deeply regret the introduction of the Clause that we are asked to pass now and I shall vote against it.

Mr. Hogg

It is not my fault that it is 3.20 a.m., and even if it were I should not offer any apology to the Committee for offering some further words on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." At least, in my view, this Bill and this Clause are of sufficient importance to demand that, whatever time of night or day they are debated, one or two general observations should be made. We are, in discussing this Clause, in a position to see, in a general light, the thing which we are being asked to do in relation to this Bill. One fact emerges, I think, beyond question. We are widely extending the powers of the Government. It is true that the form in which we are asked to extend the powers of the Government lies in extending the purposes for which existing powers may be used. But this is, of course, to extend the powers. It is trifling with words to pretend the contrary, and it is, therefore, material to consider whether it is right or wrong to extend powers of this kind, the power, that is, to legislate—subject to a control which is at the best negative and in the view of some of us is ineffective—by order instead of by means of the appropriate constitutional procedure. I have been greatly disappointed during the course of this Debate to hear the arguments with which these powers are sought to be supported. It is, I should think, now almost in the second half of the 20th century, rather late in the day to pretend that an existing crisis is really the reason to abandon liberty.

It would be possible for me to enumerate various instances in which this exact argument has been used before with results disastrous to the liberties of particular countries. I do not propose to do so. I only propose to say that, beginning from the 7th century B.C. and the tyrannies of Athens, down to the latest tyranny we have overthrown in Germany, throughout the whole of that period of history, there never has been a dictatorship—and I use the word deliberately—which has not sought to justify its exceptional powers in the first instance by reference to these arguments of crisis. Those who desire to preserve the liberties will do well, in my submission, to examine these very examples where a set of men come to a body of people, be they electorate or House of Commons, and say: "The country is in dire straits; we are the only people who can get you out; we can only do it if we are given exceptional powers which we must ask you to entrust to us and we propose to continue those powers for a considerable time." We should do well to consider that kind of argument with the very greatest degree of circumspection whenever it is proposed, because it is always that argument which has led civilisation after civilisation and state after state down the path which leads to tyranny, and dictatorship and, in the end, to disaster. And I am not at all reassured by the second set of arguments which have been used.

The Attorney-General, who has spoken more than once, has tried to reassure us by the use of derogative language, designed to make out that it is only traitors or potential traitors against whom these powers are aimed. That is the meaning of the constant introduction of the specialised language of abuse in relation to these regulations, for instance, the words "spiv", or "drone", or the other words which have been used by the learned Attorney-General and by other hon. Members. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said earlier in the Debate—and it seemed to me that his remark was deeply significant—it is part of the whole technique of dictatorship to introduce a series of specialised words of abuse in order to mislead the people of a country into thinking that the exceptional powers for which they ask—powers such as these asked for in the Bill—are to be used only to deal with potential traitors. Each dictatorship has its own terms of abuse. It is not for me to deal in detail with them. I would only mention in passing the Right Wing deviationists, the Fascist beasts, etc. Every kind of dictatorship specialises in inventing its own equivalent of "spiv". But each time we see people doing that, as we have seen the learned Attorney-General doing it yesterday evening and this morning, we may be absolutely certain that the member of the executive who does it, does it for a wrongful purpose; does it in trying to persuade the people of a country, or its legislators, to part with powers on the specious excuse that they are only required to be utilised against persons for whom no decent person would have any sympathy.

I say with great earnestness that if we are to preserve liberty in this, or in any other country, we must be as jealous for the liberty of the people of whom we do not approve, or whom we do not like, as we are for the liberties of the people of whom we do approve and whom we do like. We must be on our guard, above all things, against the specious use of derogative epithets and language such as this. I do not think any hon. Member can accuse me of using a single piece of abusive language against hon. Members opposite. If they can, they will have their opportunity in this Debate to prove me wrong. We must be on our guard against the specious creation of abusive epithets to justify departure from the rule of law and the introduction of the rule of the Executive, which is opposed at all times to the rule of law. I have a deep-rooted suspicion against this kind of argument for the use of exceptional powers. There has been an episode during the course of these discussions which has deepened my suspicion, and which, it seems to me, is relevant to this discussion upon the Clause standing part; that is the perfectly ungenerous attitude of hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite and of the Party opposite generally towards hon. Members of their own party who disagree with them. They have seemed to delight in insulting them and making, for instance, the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn)—

The Deputy-Chairman

I must point out to the hon. Member that that has nothing to, do with the matter before the Committee.

Mr. Hogg

We are discussing whether this Committee should part with powers and entrust them to the Executive. I must say that the perfectly ungenerous attitude towards those who disagree with them is not a——

The Deputy-Chairman

I have already informed the hon. Member that that has nothing to do with the question of whether the Clause should stand part.

Mr. Hogg

But you have not heard the finish of the sentence, Mr. Beaumont.

The Deputy-Chairman

I did not intend to hear the finish of the sentence because I had previously ruled that that matter was out of Order.

3.30 a.m.

Mr. Hogg

I was about to say that just because a sentence begins with the same words, in my respectful submission to the Chair, it does not mean it is going to end with the same words. I must ask you with deep submission and respect to hear the sentence I am about to utter and then rule upon it before saying it has nothing to do with the discussion. We are discussing whether we can part with exceptional powers to the Executive— supported by this majority. I do submit for your Ruling that it has a very great deal to do with the question whether we part with these powers, whether the persons in whose favour they are to be assigned, are persons who are in the least likely to use them properly or not. Even if I were satisfied to the fullest extent that these powers were necessary to deal with a crisis of the greatest magnitude, I must say the very last set of men to whom I should be prepared to part with these powers is the set of men I see opposite on the Government benches at the present time, and their supporters behind them. We are asked to part with powers of an exceptional character. I submit to the Committee that a Government who have forfeited the confidence of the community are not entitled to an extension of their already excessive prerogatives.

Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)

I have no hesitation whatever in supporting the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I am satisfied that in my constituency the miners and working men are not actuated by any fear as to their liberty as the result of the Clause standing part. On the contrary, they are much more likely to fear economic chaos and industrial decline as the cause of interference with their liberty, as they have known it in times past. The miners in my constituency I am certain, well remember what happened in 1926 and during the deflationary period which followed the last war, when unemployment and lockouts were the order of the day. There was not much liberty then. That is just what hon. Members opposite do not seem to realise. Naturally, a danger we have to watch against is that government by delegation, by Orders in Council, by administrative order, does not get too great. But anyone who has read, as I read some time ago, Pollard's "Evolution of Parliament" will know—it left a great impression on my mind—that the greater the complexity of a society, the tendency is for an increase in delegated legislation. I agree that it is, therefore, all the more necessary that there should be measures of safeguard. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where are they"?] Well, there is the negative Resolution. [Laughter.] Why this laughter? Have I not sat up many nights in recent months while hon. Members opposite moved Prayers? Certainly I have. I have been kept until this hour of the morning because of them. They have the means of stopping, and raising questions about, any action of the Executive to which they object.

I have felt during this Debate that I should like to know a little more about how the Government are going to use these powers. I do feel that they may have these powers and not know how to use them because there is not sufficient coordination between the Departments of the Government. I remember in the last Parliament during the war we had a similar kind of crisis arising from the need for war production on a big scale which we were not getting. After considerable debates we had appointed a Minister of Production for the purpose of co-ordinating the work between the Departments. It was felt that it was not going as it should. I remember, as a member of the Select Committee on National Expenditure, looking into the question whether the Minister of Production had justified himself. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Had he?"]—I will not go too far into that matter.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon Member has said he would not go too far. As a matter of fact, he has gone too far already.

Mr. Price

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Beaumont. I do feel that it is extremely important when giving these powers to the Government that they should be properly used and one of the difficulties is that there should be some co-ordination. We had the difficulty in the last Parliament, and one of the methods we adopted was to appoint the Minister of Production to see that there was co-ordination. I am not so sure whether the Government should not look into that point here and appoint someone for that purpose.

This Clause gives the Government power to deal with agriculture. The Prime Minister has told us that agriculture must produce another £100 million worth of produce by 1950. All I can say is we shall not get that. We might even get less if certain things are not done. I listened to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) when he was saying that the Government had no need of these powers, and that all they needed was foodstuffs. [Interruption.] I did not mean to say that precisely. He said that the solution was producing more feedingstuffs. Although I agree with what he says, that is not enough. It is vital that there should be greater and more efficient production of agricultural machinery at the present time. I came up from the country yesterday morning. During the week-end I had to grapple with the problem of harvesting. I and my neighbours are struggling with breakdowns of tractors and harvesting machines which cannot be got going because spare parts are lacking. Unless the Government use their powers to see that priority is given to agricultural machinery and spare parts we shall not get that extra £100,000,000. I believe that the farmers and farmworkers can produce more food, but they must have the tools with which to do the job.

Mr. Beechman

I have now listened for some 12 hours with great interest to the discussion on this Clause, and I must say, with respect to everybody who has spoken, that I have been most refreshed by the speech of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) to which we have just listened, because at last, apart from the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn), who has taken a line of his own, a Member of the party opposite has expressed a little concern that he does not altogether know how these powers are to be used. On Second Reading, I remember, the Lord President of the Council—we are glad to see him here at this hour of the morning—said the Government had no preconceived notions how precisely this Clause was to be used. That appears to be true. I recall the words of Walt Whitman, Forward, O Camarados, Frankly, I know not whither. I say it is a shame and a scandal for us in this Committee to whichever party we belong, to allow further powers to be accorded the Government, with not one of us knowing how they are to be utilised, it matters not to what Government such powers are given. We have our duty, and our duty is to know what we are about. It is true that the Attorney-General did give us some hint. I am grateful to him: he is the only Minister who has really given us any concrete idea of what may be in store as a result of the giving of these powers. He did say—I do not quite know what he meant by it—that there was going to be some direction of labour. He made that clear. We all ought to be grateful for the speech of the hon. Mem- ber for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman), because he did, at any rate, make the issues clear. He said we have to give up liberties for the sake of the greater liberty.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be making the speech he might have made on Second Reading. It is not appropriate to the Question "That the Clause stand part."

Mr. Beechman

I shall not take the greater liberty to which I was referring, Mr. Beaumont. I am very much indebted to you for your guidance. I should like to say that it is not only our duty to find out and to be informed how these powers are to be utilised, but that it is our duty—and the duty of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee—to remain here while this Clause is put into operation. To go away for a couple of months while a sweeping social and economic change takes place in our land seems to be a tragic and disgraceful procedure. It is clear that there are hon. Members opposite who say that this is the parting of the ways, that we are going to see a new world. Are they going to stay here and see the new world in, or are they going to the seaside or to climb up the hills? Will this new world come into being without their taking any part in it, without their having firsthand information, or without exercising any vigilance on the part of their constituents? We have to see that while we get leadership our liberties are not destroyed.

3.45 a.m.

Mr. Hurd (Newbury)

The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) referred to the part of this Clause which deals with promoting the productivity of industry, commerce and agriculture. We must assume from the wording of this Clause that the Minister of Agriculture wants to refresh his powers. There is a great danger in that, or there might be great virtue. The danger in it is that the big stick employed in agriculture today will not win that extra hundred million pounds worth that we must have. The big stick used in this Clause may be of very poor service to the country. If the Minister attempts to use this Clause for cropping direction, I fear from my knowledge of the state of mind of the farming community, that it will be followed by wholesale resignations from county agricultural committees. If these powers are used as the hon. Member for the Forest of Dear suggested they might be—to provide s means for getting extra production—then all will be well. The essential point is that the prices should be right to cover the ever-increasing cost of production. The second point is that there should be fuller provision for feedingstuffs. If we are to get this extra hundred million pounds of production, we must step up feedingstuffs.

The Deputy Chairman

The hon. Member is now developing an argument on agricultural policy which does not bear on this Amendment.

Mr. Hurd

I am following the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean in his interpretation in the use of powers to be taken under the Clause.

The Deputy-Chairman

I am doing, in the case of the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd), what I did in the case of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) and that is, stopping the hon. Member before he goes any further.

Mr. Hurd

Thank you, Sir. I will not attempt to follow that any further. But, in conclusion, I would say that this Clause might prove to be a grave handicap in the Government's hopes of getting extra production but, on the other hand, it might prove, if the powers are used rightly, and with a sense of vigorous purpose, to be useful. But my confidence in this Government's food production policy is not such as to make me vote this further refreshment of power when the Government are not using the power they have.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

There is an element of the paradoxical in this Debate. The country is not drifting but hurtling to an economic crisis of first magnitude, the greatest crisis in time of peace. All parties in the State are demanding bold radical action and a clear plan of action from the Government. All parties in the State, including the party opposite, are demanding a bold and radical policy and a plan of action from the Government, and yet here we are setting forth reasons why proposals in this Clause should be resisted. I tell the Committee quite frankly I have had some considerable doubts in my mind whether the Government should be resisted on their demand for these powers and although my own party voted against the Second Reading of this Bill, I personally abstained at that time. I have listened to the whole of this Debate and I have come to the conclusion that this Clause and Bill should be resisted. I think there is a case for granting exceptional powers to the Executive at this particular time, but on three conditions. And these three conditions have not been satisfied.

The first condition should be that every order made in the exercise of the exceptional powers should be subject to prior Parliamentary discussion. I think that is only fair in time of peace when you are asking for exceptional powers. The second condition should be that you should know exactly the extent of the powers for which the Government is asking. We have not had any indication at all of the extent of these powers. The Prime Minister in his broadcast last night indicated that they were not asking for any greater powers at all and the Attorney-General devoted the first part of his speech earlier on this afternoon to showing that they had already wide powers but then referred briefly later to the enlarged scope of the powers for which they were asking. Well, we should know exactly what that enlargement is. The hon. Member shakes his head. Does he mean it does not matter how large the powers are made? This House, before it parts with wide powers, should know exactly what these powers are. We have not had any indication at all on that point. The third condition should be that we should have been told by the Government the exact purposes for which these powers are required.

Mr. Mitchison

May I ask the hon. Member whether he has read the Bill, in which he will find the purposes?

Mr. Emrys Roberts

I read the Bill, three or four times. The purposes are not there at all. The purposes should be the policy of the Government to deal with this economic crisis, and I venture to say that the great majority of Members on the Benches opposite are not happy about that policy.

Mr. E. Fletcher

How does the hon. Member know?

Mr. Emrys Roberts

I venture to say—[An HON. MEMBER: "YOU venture wrong."] Members opposite are treating this in a spirit of levity. I do not put this forward in any party spirit at all.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member must address himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

I was giving three conditions on which the Committee would be justified in parting with these exceptional powers.

Mr. E. Fletcher

On the first point, the hon. Member will rem