§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
I beg to move, in page 12, line 12, at the end, to insert:21. Promoting the establishment of machinery for securing more effective consultation between managers and administrative, technical and production personnel in matters affecting the better organisation of production and the welfare of persons employed in the industry.This Amendment seeks to achieve the same objective as one which was put down on the Committee stage, and which the Parliamentary Secretary gave an undertaking to consider. I understand that it has not been found possible for the Government to incorporate in the functions described in the First Schedule, a function covering the point raised in this Amendment, and for that reason it has been put down again. The purpose of the Amendment is to provide that development councils shall encourage the formation of what are generally known, by a generic term, as joint production committees. While it is quite clear that the 84 precise form and method of operation of joint production committees must be a matter for discussion between representatives of employers and workers, it is also desirable in the view of those supporting the Amendment that the development council as such should have placed upon it the responsibility of encouraging the formation of joint production committees and their general adoption throughout the industries with which they are concerned.
Some of us regard this as a very important addition to the functions of development councils, because here is an opportunity of getting the principle of cooperation between the two sides of industry down to the roots of industry itself. It is not going to be very much use if all the co-operation is at the top, and there is no reflection of that co-operation where production actually takes place. During the war we had experience of the working of joint production committees. Some worked extremely well, while I am afraid others had very little to do with production. It is important that when joint production committees are being fostered, care should be taken that what is fostered is a form of co-operation which is concerned, not merely with petty grievances in industrial establishments, but with the actual processes and organisations of production.
We are concerned with the question of whether the workers are to have a real voice in the organisation of production. Is the lip service which is being paid today to the right of the workers to have a say in the running of their industries to be translated into reality? By giving this official sanction in the Bill to the conception of the need for, and the value of, joint production committees, we shall be taking a long step forward towards overcoming the resistance of some of those backward employers who still show very little enthusiasm for promoting such organisations. It is perfectly true, as may be said by the Minister in reply, that discussions are proceeding at present between the two sides of the industry on this matter. But it is also true that a good deal of reluctance, to say the least, is being shown by some sections of employers—reluctance even to encourage the formation of joint production committees. With a view to overcoming that reluctance, and making it clear that the formation of joint production committees is 85 regarded by the Government and should be regarded by the development councils as an essential part of the promotion of co-operative planning development of industry, this Amendment has been put down.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I beg to second the Amendment.
The question of joint production committees goes to the very root of industrial democracy. During the war they undeniably had a very considerable psychological effect which in turn had the result of stimulating production. I recall how my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who was then Minister of Aircraft Production, was actively concerned in promoting joint production committees in factories. I remember attending a meeting in a factory when he said that the function of these cornmittees was not to usurp the function of management but to act in a consultative capacity. It should be stressed today that so long as these committees function in a consultative capacity, they have as useful a task to perform in peace as they had during the war. The joint production committees should be to the development council what a local authority is to Parliament—a manifestation locally of the all-over industrial democracy which is our aim. For that reason I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not, by leaving out joint production committees from the schedule of functions of the development councils, perpetuate a divorce between the joint production committees and the development council. There seems a direct and natural link between these committees and development councils.
At present the Minister of Labour is most directly concerned with the joint production committees, both from the employers' side and the workers'. But there has lately grown up a feeling among employers and officials that the joint production committee is neither necessary nor even desirable, but is rather a luxury or a nuisance. That attitude has gained considerable ground. If my right hon. and learned Friend can include joint production committees within the scope of the interests of development councils he will do a great deal to renew the efficiency of this most valuable instrument of industrial consultation. Only yesterday in my constituency I was present at a meet- 86 ing of a joint industrial committee of one of the biggest aircraft firms in the country. The stimulus to production as initiated by that joint production committee was something which, if widespread throughout the country, would cause an immediate and considerable rise in output.
It is quite certain that the joint production committee has a definite value which my right hon. and learned Friend would amplify if he would enlarge the functions of the development councils to cover the workings of those most important organs of industrial co-operation.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir S. Cripps
I do not think that anyone will accuse me of lack of interest in joint production committees of all kinds, nor the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) who, with me, did a great deal during the war to try to stimulate the setting up of these bodies. However, I do not think that this is an appropriate place to deal with them in order to give the maximum encouragement possible to the propagation of the idea. The House will remember that the origin of joint production committees was an agreement between the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Employers Federation, and they still continue in the engineering industry to be based upon that agreement, which lays down their constitution and sphere of operations. As a result of the Government's desire that a much fuller use should be made of this device for the purpose of stimulating production, the matter has been discussed, as has been said, quite recently in the National Joint Advisory Council, under the aegis of the Minister of Labour, with a view to seeing if something could not be done on both sides of industry to stimulate the formation of joint production committees. Agreement, has been arrived at in that body with a view to the steps that should be taken.
That is a different chain of responsibility to that of the development councils, and we believe that if we were to insert this Amendment it would not encourage the setting up of joint production committees but would rather discourage those who at present are, we hope, actively engaged in trying to spread the area of this type of organisation. So far as regional matters are concerned, which my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) has mentioned, 87 there is, of course, a direct link between joint production committees, district committees and regional boards of industry, and we do not want to disturb that link. Many of these matters can be dealt with better on a regional basis than on an industrial basis, that is, on the basis of a particular industry spread over a great many regions of the country. We believe, therefore, that in furthering the desire, which we share with my hon. Friend, to do all we can to stimulate the movement towards the setting up and the active use of joint production committees, we shall be doing a greater service by not including this matter in the duties of development councils, but by leaving if to be dealt with by the National Joint Advisory Council and the various bodies I have mentioned, and leaving with them the responsibility for stimulating this movement.
If we were to divide that responsibility the result might be that it would be carried out by neither body, and it might lead to disputes as to which was the proper body to carry it on. It is quite clearly a border-line case. The development councils will not be charged with matters concerning wages or conditions of work. It might be said that this is an area into which they could penetrate, or it might be said that this is an area which should go with wages and conditions of work. As it has hitherto been organised it has gone with wages and conditions of work, and is being so dealt with at the present time. We feel it is wiser to leave that line of responsibility where it is rather than try to mingle with it another line of responsibility. I hope that with that explanation my hon. Friends will be prepared to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. Shackleton (Preston)
The President of the Board of Trade has excelled himself in the almost legalistic quality of that reply. I agree with him that there can be no doubt in this House as to the value of joint production committees, but I do not think that that is the issue, nor do I think we need to debate that. Hon. Members of the party opposite, in the Tory "Industrial Charter," have themselves emphasised the need for joint production committees. The question is whether development councils shall be used as an instrument of propaganda for promoting the setting up of joint pro- 88 duction machinery. I feel it is a rather hair splitting argument that we cannot divide responsibility in this matter. Surely, in democratic planning, which are the words which are now rather popular in describing this kind of legislation, it is essential in a matter of this sort to operate through the agencies that are available. We are not asking that development councils should impose joint production machinery. They are not in a position to do so. We are asking that they should supplement the action of the National Joint Advisory Council by putting out propaganda, by providing opportunities for employers and employed to understand the advantages of joint production machinery. The matter is one of such vast importance, and the whole situation of the nation industrially is so urgent that I urge the President of the Board of Trade at least to consider some way in which development councils can be used as an additional channel through which propaganda for the setting up of joint production machinery can be made. It is a delicate matter, but I feel that we are treading almost too delicately. I do not think that we need to imitate Agag to that extent in a matter on which the future prosperity of the nation depends.
§ Mr. Sparks
We need to lye very careful that we do not impinge upon the policies with which the trade union organisations are concerned in this matter. This is not mainly a political question; it is largely an industrial question, with which the trade unions are intimately concerned. The President of the Board of Trade himself told us just now that the joint production committee is the result of an agreement between the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Employers' Federation. I believe that joint production machinery must be evolved through that channel. Efforts are being made by many trade unions to evolve an organisation adaptable to their own industries and peculiarities of those industries, because not every industry to be covered by a development council is quite in the same category as the engineering industry. I think a case can be made out by the President of the Board of Trade for rejecting this Amendment which seeks to impose upon development councils the obligation to carry out what is essentially an industrial purpose and function, in which the trade unions are closely concerned.
89 I agree, as I think every hon. Member agrees, on the importance which joint production committees can achieve throughout the length and breadth of our industrial undertakings in this country. If we leave the matter where it is, with the trade unions and the employers' organisations, it will be the most satisfactory way to deal with the Matter. I can see all sorts of complications arising, if development councils are charged with this job. Some trade unions and some employers might consider it an interference in matters which are linked with wages and conditions. We should leave well alone, and not try to duplicate the machinery which already exists, and the avenues which already remain open, for developing this most valuable incentive in industry—not in one kind of industry but all kinds, to bring workers and management together, with a view to stimulating and encouraging productivity throughout their undertakings.
§ Mr. Warbey
I should like to make it clear that this Amendment has not been put down without some discussion with persons who are intimately concerned with the trade union movement. I am assured that some trade unions are very anxious that some kind of semi-official approval should be given to the formation of joint production committees. I appreciate the difficulty of the President of the Board of Trade in regard to the negotiations now taking place. I wonder whether he would be prepared to meet us half way by agreeing that the provisions of Clause 1 (4) might be extended at a later stage to cover this matter. Subsection (4) provides thatA development council order may provide for any incidental or supplementary matters for which it appears to the Board or Minister concerned to be necessary or expedient to provide.Among the functions mentioned in the First Schedule is thePromoting or undertaking inquiry as to materials and equipment and as to methods of production, management and labour utilisation …Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that the encouragement of joint production committees might be regarded as a function ancillary to those mentioned? If he would undertake to consider putting into future development council orders, a provision covering the encouragement of joint production committees, I should be prepared to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Sir S. Cripps
It would hardly be honest if I were to promise to extend Subsection (4) to cover this specific point. Hon. Members will have it in mind that there is nothing to stop a development council interesting itself in this subject The question we are debating is whether it should be given them as a specific job. If both sides on the development council want to encourage joint production committees, there is nothing on earth to stop them. No doubt they could do very useful work. But once one assigned this job to them, then the other bodies now dealing with it would think it was no longer their job, and we should get a complete lack of drive, as the points where we want it today. We do not want to trespass in any way on the work which we hope will be done by the other bodies. We do not want to put this in as a specific job for the development councils, but there is nothing to stop them from taking an interest in it, and in doing all they can to help.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Stafford Cripps)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
This Bill has had a smooth and rapid passage through the House because I think that, broadly speaking, its principles are in accordance with what hon. Members on all sides would like to see carried out. It arises very largely out of the recommendations made by a number of working parties on the method that should be adopted, for the development and organisation of the various industries into which they have been making inquiry. The Bills lays down a procedure whereby, subject to the future consent of Parliament, councils can be set up for various industries, with largely advisory functions and composed of representatives of both sides of industry, together with such independent persons as are thought desirable in any particular case.
The object is to get one responsible body of persons who can speak for all interests in the industry with a single voice and who, in their considerations of the interests of the industry, will have in mind as well, the interests of the nation and of the consumers of the industry's products. It is the intention of the Government to give great weight to the recommendations of these bodies when they 91 are set up, and to use them in a large degree for that liaison with industry which is now such an essential part of any national planning or the execution of any plan which is made. As I stated on an earlier occasion we do not wish to make this a rigid or inflexible form of procedure. Our object is to assist industry in every way we can. That is why the Bill has been drawn in a permissive form, to enable us to have plenty of latitude and variety of form. What is suitable and desirable for one industry is not necessarily desirable or suitable for another. Therefore, we do not intend to enforce this pattern rigidly upon all industry. We hope and expect that most important industries will be willing to conform, to some extent, to the pattern here laid down.
In deciding which industries are suitable for the setting up of development councils under the Bill, we shall take into account the views of both sides of industry, though perhaps with a bias in favour of setting up a development council where the two sides may differ in their opinions. We hope that by negotiation with both sides, we shall reach a measure of agreement on the precise form of the council and what its functions should be. The functions set out in the Schedule which can be conferred upon the councils cover a very wide range. We do not expect that all of them will necessarily be appropriate in every case. Indeed, whatever steps we now take must be considered as in the nature of experimental steps. We must be prepared to alter and adjust the functions whenever it appears advisable so to do.
As the House knows, Orders setting up a council will require an affirmative Resolution. As the matter is experimental and as I am anxious to get the best possible results, I propose in the initial cases, to take the somewhat exceptional step of publishing, in advance, a summary of what we propose should be inserted in the Order before it is made, so that there will be time and opportunity for interested persons to let me have their views upon it which can then be considered before the Order is passed. I hope that that procedure will assist in getting the cooperation not only of those in the industry but of interested Members of Parliament as well. I should like to emphasise the necessity for the fullest consultation with industry upon all these matters because 92 the success of the councils will, of course, depend very largely upon the degree of co-operation given by both sides of industry. I hope that neither side of industry will be nervous or anxious as to the development and the outcome of the setting up of development councils. They have the knowledge that what they are being asked to embark upon is an experiment which the working parties, on which they have been well represented, and others who have studied the situation, consider to be a hopeful approach to the coordination of private enterprise industries with the planning and control necessary for organising the national economy. We want to give both sides of industry the fullest opportunity of influencing Government action in a sense favourable to their own efficiency, and to their maximum contribution to the nation's welfare; and we believe that the devices laid down in this Bill represent the best way of accomplishing that objective.
Perhaps I should interpolate a word or two on joint consultations, the subject which was raised on the last Amendment discussed during the Report stage. The Government are convinced that one of the most important factors in obtaining full production, and, therefore, full employment, is the most complete system of joint consultation between workers and employers at every level. It must be at every level if it is to be successful. During the war, we established joint consultation to a degree never known before. There was the National Joint Advisory Council, on matters of wages and conditions of working; there was the National Production Advisory Committee on Industry, on matters of production, and, now, there is the Joint Planning Board, to cover the top levels of industry and the trade unions. There were also the Engineering Advisory Council, the Shipbuilding Advisory Council, the Cotton Board, the joint Industrial Councils and other bodies dealing with consultations for particular industries. It is at this level that the new councils, under the present Bill, will fill a gap which at present is very visible. In addition to the top level central bodies which I have mentioned, joint consultation on joint production matters takes place regionally in the regional boards and in the district committees, where these exist. Indeed, it is our desire that the whole country shall be covered adequately by district committees as soon as possible, 93 but it is essential that all this high level joint consultation should be backed up by joint consultation in the factory and the particular units of production in such a way as to penetrate right down to the floor of every shop.
We are building a structure of joint consultation which depends for its ultimate efficacy upon its completeness. It must become an integrated scheme, in which every branch and unit of production shall be able to contribute its full value. That is why I attach particular importance to this Bill, which enables us to fill up one of the most important gaps in the present organisation of industry upon a consultative basis. I hope that all those concerned will appreciate its objective, and do their utmost to help to make that success of the councils which we seek today. Broadly, the principles which it seeks to establish are those which we have been able to secure from consultation with employers and workers. I believe that this Bill is an important contribution to the efficiency and productiveness of our private enterprise industry, and I therefore ask the House to give it a Third Reading.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)
My gratification in seeing the right hon. and learned Gentleman in his place to move the Third Reading of this Bill is somewhat marred by the fact that today is the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Trinity College, Cambridge, to which I am attached by long ties of tradition and affection. I entirely absolve the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who is a Wykehamist and late Rector of Aberdeen University, from any responsibility in the matter but I must say that I should have found it more pleasurable, and he may think more profitable, if I had spent this afternoon on the banks of the Cam. Having said that, I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for having accepted, in a spirit of compromise, many of the Amendments which we have put on the Order Paper.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made a very agreeable speech. I found it difficult to follow because it was couched in those emollient terms that might mean anything or nothing. The reason which he advanced for this enabling type of legislation, which covers almost everything, was that we must maintain 94 flexibility. It would not, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, be the aim of the Government to enforce this in every case, because the provisions of the Bill were not appropriate in every case. It is very agreeable to us to hear that, but, unfortunately, once we take this blunderbuss power and shoot into the air, the slugs are often liable to land in the pants of those for whom they were not originally intended.
Our main objection to this Bill, with the main purpose of which we are in entire sympathy, is that it is too wide, and gives to Ministers powers which can be extended in almost every direction. It is not much consolation to hear that these very wide powers arc taken because of the desire to have flexibility. That is really a very disingenuous argument. If the House wishes to have an example, let us look at Clause 1 (4):A development council order may provide for any incidental or supplementary matters for which it appears to the Board or Minister concerned to be necessary or expedient to provide.With the Parliamentary draftsmen so hard worked, we understand why that sort of thing is put in. It just enables the Minister to include anything regarded as expedient in a development council order. I think these are very grave defects. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the concession he has made regarding the independent members. I think there were grave defects in the Bill as it stood previously. It would have enabled any Government to pack the development councils with independent members, without going to either side of industry, either singly or in combination, and I am particularly gratified that he has met us on that point. He has met us on another point—the matter of the disclosure of the remuneration to be given to the independent members. Until today, I have been making some rather sour criticisms of the Board of Trade, on the ground that one section was rather anxious to follow the recommendations of the Cohen Report in regard to the remuneration to be paid to directors during the time they held office and making statutory the disclosure of any emoluments, or pensions which they might afterwards receive. It was a little curious to us to see that what the right hon. and learned Gentleman's right hand was doing was unknown to his left, because, in drafting this Bill, 95 the Board of Trade never provided for the disclosure of the remuneration to be given to the independent persons. He has now met that by seeking, in the modern jargon, to secure the proper liaison between right and left. He now tries to bring this matter, under this Bill, up to the standard of the best commercial practice. I hope that the powers taken under this Bill are not going to be used in competing for the shrinking supply of country houses, and that any that are left over by the National Coal Board will not be snatched up by development councils. I trust that none will be used for keeping the new rich in comfort, while cluttering up industry with a great mass of paper which can only be used at the expense of the free Press.
However, I am here on this hot afternoon in an attitude of blessing rather than of cursing, and my anxieties are somewhat allayed by the number of Amendments which the Government have accepted. I should have been glad if they had given us something further on the principle of consultation, but at least we have had some very solemn assurances—although, I admit, they are not expressed in the Statute—about the nature of these consultations. I should also have been glad if the Government had accepted the Amendment which sought to exclude from Clause z conditions of employment and wages. Later in the Bill there, is an Amendment which excludes wages and working conditions from any amendment to a development council order. In discussing this matter, the Parliamentary Secretary said that the reason why it was not included in Clause 1, was because the Schedule specifically excluded wages and working conditions. That, I feel, is not quite accurate. Paragraph 2 of the First Schedule says that the functions which may be assigned to development councils are:Promoting or undertaking inquiry as to materials and equipment and as to the methods of production, management and labour utilization…Paragraph 9 says:Promoting the adoption of measures for securing safer and better working conditions…Paragraph 11 says:Promoting or undertaking arrangement, for encouraging the entry of persons into the industry.96 Paragraph 15 says:Promoting the development of export trade, including promoting or undertaking arrangements for publicity overseas.I find great difficulty in entering into a discussion on any of these subjects without bringing wages and working conditions into it. I should have preferred its specific inclusion in Clause I rather than to be told, by means of assurances, that these matters are not to come within the purview of development councils. I am genuinely anxious not to see the voluntary machinery for negotiating wages and working conditions. overlaid or overlapped in any way by statutory bodies. We in industry take a pride in the way these voluntary bodies have worked. By and large, they have worked greatly to the advantage of industry as a whole, and I recoil from the idea of statutory bodies being introduced which would overlap these functions. I must say frankly to the House that I am somewhat relieved 1?y the assurances which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given to the effect that there is no intention of abrogating those functions. I was a little surprised at one or two hon. Members, who are trade unionists, adopting an almost menacing attitude during the Committee stage when they said that there was no need to worry about the trade unions because they would look after. themselves. But once a law is passed by this House, even the trade unions are expected to obey it. Apart from the assurances which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given us, there are many instances where, if the provisions of this Bill are loosely applied, the development councils might abrogate the functions of the voluntary negotiating bodies.
I am very grateful for the "fair principle" Amendment which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has introduced, and for the subsequent explanation which he gave. That relieves another anxiety, and is a great improvement to the Bill. If it is properly administered, more good than harm is likely to come out of it. But I cannot help regretting the handing over of such wide powers to eight separate Ministers. The First Schedule is very wide indeed and there is a great danger of duplication and overlapping. I still think it would have been better to have had ad hoc legislation which would deal with groups of industries or even with 97 individual industries. I also think it would have been better to have had the unusual experience of having not only a competent Minister—which, in this instance, we have—but also a competent Measure, designed and defined to fulfil this or that object, instead of a blunderbuss Measure. If the levies are open to considerable objection, these represent the disadvantages of trying, in one Bill, to cover such a complex field. But we shall not divide against the Third Reading of the Bill because we want it to have the largest measure of support and the best chance of success, as its objects are those with which we all agree.
I only hope that we may not live to regret the decision. Administration is not the Government's forte. Development councils are really very much wanted inside the Government itself, and I suggest, in a spirit of great seriousness, that the Government might consider the setting up of a development council in an endeavour to attain a greater measure of efficiency and co-ordination in Government Departments. In their own language, those who live in vitreous mansions should not be lithobolic, or, in plain English, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Under this Bill, the Government have very great powers for throwing stones, and all the gracious speeches of the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not detract from the plain fact that they have the right to throw a great many stones through other people's windows. It would be much better if they concentrated their attention more upon their own affairs than upon those of other people. As I have said on more than one occasion to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it is quite possible that those who have devoted their lives to these industries may know more about them than his own Department or even himself. I hope that this Bill will be administered in a way which will be helpful, and which will, as far as possible, release 'individual genius and enterprise, and that private enterprise industries will not become further victims to the increasing bureaucracy.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will not be unduly perturbed by the rather small stones which the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) concealed in 98 the bouquets which he flung across the Floor of the House today. Throughout the different stages of this Bill—Second Reading, the Report stage, and the present stage—we have had what I believe the right hon. Member for Aldershot once described upstairs, as "quite a happy family party." I can well appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman is, perhaps, not very greatly alarmed by the provisions of this Bill. It is, indeed, rather a modest Bill which, no doubt, in course of time will do a fair amount of good, but some of us on this side of the House, while welcoming the Bill as a step forward, have been a little disappointed to find that it has not contained within it the fulfilment of the promises which the President of the Board of Trade himself gave, particularly in his speech this afternoon. He did say, I think, that it was to be regarded as establishing machinery for the co-ordination of the private enterprise industries with national planning. In other words, it was to be a link in the chain of economic planning machinery which we arc now seeking to build up in this country.
Same of us, in Committee and subsequently, have tried to define a little more precisely;the links between the proposed development councils, the Government Departments and the central economic planning machinery. I am not in the happy position of the right hon. Member for Aldershot in being able to thank my right hon. and learned Friend for accepting Amendments, and I must say that I had hoped to have, especially at this stage, a rather clearer picture of how the Government themselves envisage the way in which these development councils will work and the way in which they will play their effective part in our overall planning machinery. What is to be the means of co-ordination between the central Departments and the development councils? We have been given no clear picture of that at any stage in this Bill.
I put this question to the Minister: Are the development councils to be regarded as the main means by which the private sector of industry is integrated into the overall national planning machinery? What is to be the scope of the development councils? Is it intended that they shall be extended as widely as possible in order to cover, in course of time, all the main sections of private industry? Is it 99 intended, for example, that they should cover the very important field of the modern engineering industries—the motor car, precision instrument, electrical equipment and machine tool industries, and other modern industries such as the chemical industry, on which a great deal of the economic future of this country will depend, including very much of the expansion of our export trade which is vital to our success in the future? Are development councils going to be established for these industries, and are these industries, through the development councils, to be properly integrated with the national plan? How is the attention of development councils going to be drawn to the requirements of the national plan? If the central planning office lays down certain targets—production, investment, manpower and export targets—how are we to see that each individual industry is playing its part in the realisation of these targets? Are the development councils going to be used for that purpose, and if so how?
In Committee, some of us proposed Amendments by which this integration could take place. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that, in his view, the function contained in paragraph 19 of the First Schedule would cover the coordination between the development councils and the Ministries concerned. That paragraph says that the development councils shall have the function ofadvising on any matters relating to the industry (other than remuneration or conditions of employment) as to which the Board or Minister concerned may request the council to advise …Will that function be the main means of contact between the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Supply and the individual industry? Will it be the means of contact between the Lord President of the Council, or the Postmaster-General, or whoever is responsible for our central economic planning, and the individual industries? How are these things going to be worked out in fact? Some of us are really concerned about that matter. In other words, is this Bill really an instalment of Socialist economic planning, or is it merely an example of that pseudo democratic planning where certain vague and general targets are set by the Government, and private industry is left to get on in its 100 own way and with its own sweet will, with the hope and prayer that it will fulfil what is required of it? That is the kind of thing that some of us would like to know before we part with this Bill.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)
We have had this afternoon the Third Reading of this Bill advocated by the President of the Board of Trade with all that persuasiveness of manner which he possesses, perhaps, to a greater degree than anyone else on the Government Front Bench. Listening to his advocacy of the Bill, it would be difficult for us to have any fears at all about its future success. One thing I was particularly pleased to hear the President of the Board of Trade say was that it was his intention to publish an advance copy of any proposed order which he might bring to the House, to give industry an opportunity of considering its contents. That is an extremely valuable concession, and I am sure that industry will appreciate it very much.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to this Bill being flexible and experimental, as indeed it must be. I think that largely answers the numerous questions that have been addressed by the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey). However, it is not for me to say how he should be answered; I leave it to much more capable hands on the other side of the House. I agree most heartily with the President of the Board of Trade when he says that if this Bill is to be a success, co-operation of the most friendly type is essential, not only between employer and worker but also with the Government as the third partner, because, whether we like it or not, we are bound to look forward to the future when there will be a closer partnership between the Government, employers and employed. It is recognised that there cannot be trade expansion and full employment in the world unless many governments co-operate with each other. One country alone cannot do it. For that reason alone, there must be a partnership in the right way between the Government and industry, greater than there has been in the past. Therefore, co-operation between all three partners is absolutely essential if we are to bring about our industrial recovery.
Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the value he attached to 101 what he called "joint consultation at every stage." That moans, from the board-room and management down to the shop floor. I am a believer in consultation, and one of those employers who practise it. But I would make this reservation. I would say that joint consultation, if it is to be introduced and become effective, must be pursued cautiously, because what may be practicable and beneficial in one works, and very suitable for that works, may be very difficult to apply in another. Therefore, in these matters, one has to feel one's way, and not try to act too precipitately. I think one of the important hopes for our industrial recovery will lie in securing, not so much the interference of the Government, but better relationships between employers and employed, between management and men. There is room for greater understanding in many industries than exists today, and I am quite sure much can thus be brought about. I take every opportunity myself, when I meet employers in every part of the country, of emphasising the tremendous chances there are if only time and trouble are taken in calling the employees together and in explaining to them such things as, why that policy is being changed, or that design is being modified, or why, for a few weeks, the change Will mean less work for that shop, but that, in four or five months' time, that shop will be busier than ever before; if there are intelligent questions from the men, and satisfactory answers given, perhaps, to a man who has great influence among his fellow work-people. If such a man says, "I am entirely satisfied with the explanation that you have given," the effect among his fellow workers will be far greater, perhaps, than that of anything said on the part of the management. Therefore, I am a great believer in joint consultations, provided that they are proceeded with cautiously, until there is an atmosphere of trust between one side and the other; so that the consultations are not merely idle talks, but talks for the benefit of masters and employed, and so for the benefit of the nation.
I must confess that industry—at least, those industries That I know—has been very nervous since this Bill was first printed. I have here in my hand a batch of communications from industrialists all over the country expressing their anxiety as to how the Government propose to 102 operate this Bill. I am satisfied myself that everything will depend upon how wisely and how reasonably the Government exercise the powers which they will get when this Bill reaches the Statute Book. If the Government act reasonably. and well, I think this Bill will prove, in time, to be of great benefit to our industrial prosperity. On the other hand, if it is not exercised reasonably, wisely and well, then the reverse results will follow.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Burslem)
I welcome the opportunity to wish this Bill a speedy passage into operation, so that the economic life of the country may have the benefit of its provisions. For the last couple of years we have had working parties in several of our important industries, not least among them the industry with which I am closely connected, the pottery industry. I know that there is a long felt desire that some of the excellent advice that has been given by those working parties should be implemented at an early date. It was most encouraging and illuminating to hear the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley), who occupies so very distinguished a position in the world of business and commerce, say he recognises that today the Government have to play an increasing part in the economic life of the country. But he went on to produce a sheaf of papers which expressed the apprehension of his colleagues in the country. I think the Opposition do well to welcome this Bill, because some of us feel that it might perpetuate the state of private enterprise in some industries too long. Whether my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) is satisfied or not in his queries, whether the industries left under private enterprise will help themselves, or whether this is the first measure of socialised planning, there is much to be said for what it intends to do.
I do not know and I cannot say for certain, but I hope this Government will remain sufficiently long to extend their influence in industry, and I believe they can rightly do so for many considerations. We must recognise that for toe long many of our industries have been in a condition of backwardness, and in a condition which has called for very radical attention and reorganisation. If this Bill has the effect of bringing the 103 workers and the employers and the independent members together it will do good. I do not share the apprehensions about the independent members which were expressed in the Committee, because I believe that a new slant brought from outside an industry—from the engineering, distributive, or design points of view—may be useful. If these joint interests can be brought together, I believe much good can be done, with the assistance of the Government, which will be valuable in improving the economic life of this country, which has to be improved it we are going to take our place in the economy of the world as one of the great trading nations. It would not be appropriate at this stage to discuss the relative prospects of this country vis-a-vis America or some of the other trading competitors who are likely to emerge in the future, but it goes without saying, I think, that we have to put our own house in order; and I believe this Bill does much to that end.
I do not share the apprehension which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) seemed to have in his mind in the Committee and in the speech he made a few minutes ago in regard to the abrogation of functions from the authorised, organised trade unions, on the one hand, and the employers on the other hand, when matters relating to pay and conditions of employment are under consideration. I will agree that some of the functions as outlined in the First Schedule are rather indefinite, but they must be indefinite for the very good reasons which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport, unlike his right hon. Friend, brought out—that is to say, that this is an enabling Bill; that, instead of having a Bill to implement every working party's report and for every industry, here we have a Bill which—in general terms, and only general terms—can be adapted to the particular needs of an industry or an occasion. I take it that as we consider the various industries there will be a deletion or extension of the functions set out; and therefore, quite rightly, matters incidental and supplementary to the functions set out in the Schedule could fall within the power of the Minister and be incorporated in the Order.
I am glad that provision is made for research in industry. My hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Cobb) is not here at the moment. He could speak 104 with greater authority on this matter. Fundamental research, as distinct from that research which individual manufacturers have to consider—and have considered in times gone by with good results—will be one of the considerations of the development councils under this cooperative organisation, and I believe great good can emerge. In matters relating not only to the scientific composition of the article, but to questions such as the., marketing and distribution of the product, much useful service will be done by this Bill. Quite obviously, the Bill could not cover all the problems which are likely to arise in the several industries. In the pottery industry, of which I have some knowledge, it is important that attention should be given to the local by-laws; for example, in reference to the type of building which is erected, because the type of building has such a great effect upon the health, and so on, of the occupants. It might also be felt quite competent to include matters such as Income Tax relief at a later stage, and certainly factory regulations of all kinds. We should not regard consideration of these things by a development council as transgressing upon the ground previously occupied by some other unit such as the trade unions. We should feel that we here have matters of mutual interest which could be helpful to all engaged in the industry. For that reason, I am glad the Bill is sufficiently flexible to permit of all those things being done in the future.
In my view, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, whose absence today we all regret, who dealt with this Bill in. Committee, did a good job of work. There was good feeling in the Committee, and I believe that hon. Members in all parts of the House will feel that the good industrialists will have a measure of protection in this Bill against the poor industrialists. Many good industrialists were prepared to pay decent wages and to provide good conditions for their workers, but they were unfairly handicapped because some of the less well-disposed people in the industry were not prepared to foot the bill and 'provide decent conditions. Because of that I believe the more enlightened sections of industry will welcome the Bill. I wish the Bill a happy landing, and hope that we shall feel the effects of it in industry without too much delay, and particularly in my own industry in 105 which a working party was set up in October, 1945, and in respect of which we believe a good job of work was done. Many manufacturers were suspicious of the working parties when they were mentioned. The name of my right hon. and learned Friend was looked at askance, but when he came down with his charms, and what my hon. Friend described as his emollient words, they were persuaded, and in the end they almost stayed to cheer. When the working party reports were made public the former impression of so-called Government interference was changed completely. I think that has been a common experience, wherever working party reports have appeared, and I believe that will be the experience under this Government when this Bill becomes fully operative.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Sir John Barlow (Eddisbury)
I take particular interest in this Bill, because during the Second Reading the President of the Board of Trade referred, so rightly, to the Cotton Board; he suggested that because the Cotton Board had been a success it might be used for many other industries, and that this Bill was largely based on that idea. Before the Cotton Board was brought into being there was considerable discussion in the industry as to whether it would be advisable for them to have it. I took part in that discussion and heard a great many of the criticisms at that time. I was a member of the Cotton Board for a time and naturally saw a great deal of its inner workings. I think that on the whole it has done a fine job of work; I would, however, point out one difference between the Cotton Board in its present set-up and the proposed new councils. The Cotton Board is made up of people representing different interests; that is to say, people who are experts in different jobs, with an independent chairman. In this case three groups of people will be set up: those representing employers, employees, and independent members, the chairman being one of the independent members.
I dislike the introduction of a substantial number of independent members. I know they have been recommended by different working parties, but that does not convince me that they will be really useful on these councils. In my experience of the Cotton Board, representing a very large industry composed of many different 106 industries, I was astonished at the ignorance of one part of the industry concerning different sections of that industry. For instance, the spinner knew nothing in many cases of the cloth merchant and his problems; the worker knew nothing of the difficulties and problems of the different employers. More than once I was astounded at that complete ignorance, and on one occasion I went to great trouble to collect detailed costs to prove to a friend of mine, who was representing the labour side, that profits were nothing like as much in a particular section as he—and, for that matter, many other people —had thought. That is the sort of ignorance which probably people outside the industry do not realise exists. 'I was astonished to find that ignorance, not only in one direction but in different directions, and it would be for the good of the industry as a whole, and everybody engaged in it, that the mutual suspicion and distrust created by that ignorance should be removed as quickly as possible.
I must confess that I dislike certain aspects of this Bill. I dislike having one large enabling Bill by which these industrial councils can be imposed comparatively easily. I think it is unnecessary that eight different Ministers should have this power. Most of the rest of this week will be taken up by the Minister of Agriculture with a most important Agriculture Bill, which will give him great powers in his particular industry. I do not see that it has been proven to be at all necessary for all the Ministers mentioned in this Bill to have the powers which it gives them. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade, in his eagerness to get these organisations started, will not try to impose them too quickly. We all know that there is a great deal of criticism from inside each industry, which perhaps does not understand exactly what these organisations can and may do. Possibly, if they are started fairly slowly they will start on very much firmer grounds. Although I know the right hon. and learned Gentleman is most anxious to get some of them started, I hope he will not try to start them too quickly. It is much better to get them started with substantial support and co-operation, than to have suspicion creeping in because they have been imposed too quickly.
The President of the Board of Trade has told us that the chairman is to be one 107 of the independent members, but I am not clear whether the deputy chairman is also to be one of the independent members, or whether he can be chosen from those representing the other sections. There is one other aspect to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister. With the different Ministers having the power to set up these organisations in their different spheres, there is the possibility of an enormous increase in patronage. I am not suggesting that the President, of the Board of Trade will do anything which we would wish to criticise, but there is this possibility in view of the tremendous powers Ministers will have. The President of the Board of Trade may smile at this now, but it is a real possibility at some time in the future.
The Public Accounts Committee, which have power to investigate expenditure of public money, will not, I am informed, review the salaries paid in this direction. In view of the fact that an enormous number of people will be receiving Government patronage, I should like to see a counterpart to the Public Accounts Committee set up to investigate those salaries and appointments. I know the drawback to appointing more committees, but the fact remains that there should be the most careful check of these vast numbers of people.
In conclusion, I would urge the Minister to proceed slowly with these organisations. They are capable of great work, but much will depend how they are brought into being, and how they are initiated in the first year or two. In the early days they will be made or broken, and much, therefore, will depend on the organisations first set up. One of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's supporters has wished him happy landings, but I would warn him not to take his fences too fast.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnet Stross (Hanley)
There is so much in this Bill which is agreeable and stimulating that it is impossible for me not to welcome it wholeheartedly. I am referring in particular to the functions of development councils defined in the First Schedule. It gives us confidence and courage that the future of the industrial areas will be very much better than the past. It is appropriate that I should speak so soon after my hon. 108 Friend the Member for Burslem (Mr. Edward Davies), because I come from a neighbouring division and am associated with an industry which depends on quality and design more than anything else. I am deeply interested in some of the provisions in page 11. I am particularly interested in paragraph 4 of the First Schedule, which deals with the promotion of improvements in design, and also includes the establishment and operation of design centres. The promotion of design centres is very near to the hearts of those associated with plastics and plastic art of any kind. We are under no illusion in my area that, although we lead the world in quality and, to some extent, in design, there was a time in the eighteenth century when they were better. We look forward to the stimulation which should come from this type of encouragement, so that we can give to the world the pottery and design it wants. We turn out nothing which is bad today, because it is all plain white and cheap, and if it is chipped after it is first used, there can be no fault attributed to us. When the new products are seen, I think the public will be content and satisfied with them.
I am a little disturbed when we, come to paragraph 3, because I do not know what is involved. It speaks of promoting research into matters affecting industrial psychology. I am wondering whether the President of the Board of Trade views this in a narrow sense, or whether he is prepared to look at it broadly in conjunction with paragraphs 9 and 10, which are associated with the adoption of measures for securing safer and better conditions of work. Paragraph 10 speaks of researeh in the prevention of industrial diseases. All these matters are intimately linked up with paragraph 3, if it is to be fully and properly understood. A narrow understanding of industrial psychology would suggest the study of wages and how best to co-ordinate muscular movements to secure the very last ounce out of the workers. I should be surprised if that is all that is involved. If we take a wider understanding, it means the study of the relationship between the workers and the employers, the psychological effect of the environment of workers, proneness to accidents and friction between management and workers, and between different classes of workers. I should expect some use to be made of the psychological knowledge obtained during the war. What 109 excellent work was done at Tavistock Clinic. Does the President of the Board of Trade propose to introduce into industry the same type of psychology which was used for officer selection in the Army, to fit people into jobs they can do and prevent an enormous amount of wastage of production?
It would be possible to give many instances of how an understanding of a man's situation and temperament can turn him into an excellent and skilled worker. One instance comes to my mind, from my own area in the potteries, of a miner who had fractured his spine. Owing to the collapse of one of the vertebrae, he was totally incapacitated. He sat at home in a chair, unable to work and scarcely able to walk. As nothing was being done for him other than payment of compensation, his wife suggested that he might occupy his mind by learning to knit. He learned to knit appreciably well, but became bored. His wife thereupon suggested—and this is an example of true industrial psychology—that he should learn to ice a cake. He laughed at her at first, but he was eventually persuaded to try. To his astonishment, and hers, it was a remarkably artistic effort. It was shown to the neighbours, whereupon steadily, but regularly, orders began to come in to this remarkable man. A little while later he went to his solicitors and said, "I want you to settle my claim." They said, "You must not accept less than £1,400 or £1,500," but he said, "I have a contract for the next five years at £400 a year with the biggest firm in the country, to Mach young women how to ice cakes, because I won a national competition against all corners." That is the sort of thing we want to see if industrial psychology is to be used properly. We know that it hinges on rehabilitation, but rehabilitation is not in a watertight compartment.
Lastly, industrial disease in some areas has been appalling. In North Staffordshire we have been able to conquer lead poisoning as a scourge until it no longer threatens us. Nineteen years ago many industrialists and their advisers told people like myself that there was no such thing as silicosis. We are now showing definite ways in which we shall free ourselves from that tomb. I beg the President of the Board of Trade and other Ministers, whether they be concerned with mining, pottery, or agriculture, not to take heed of those who say, "Go slowly. There is 110 much good in what you are doing today, but do not hurry." We cannot afford to wait when we are concerned with the health and life of the people, and I hope we shall be told that the Government will hasten as quickly as possible.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Roberts (Birmingham, Handsworth)
On the Second Reading of this Bill I thought it right to express my grave doubt of its value. Not only was I in a minority in the Lobby, but I was duly punished by being sent to serve on Standing Committee C, which had to go into the details of this Measure. Careful listening to the Debate today has not convinced me that the Bill is a good one or that it will confer any real benefits on industry. I agree in part with those who have said that a good deal depends on the spirit in which the Bill is worked. That is true of all legislation, but we have to remember that Ministers and Parliaments are very ephemeral, and that in all these matters it is necessary to see what is said by the Act.
I can well understand that industrialists regard this Bill with some misgiving. What does it provide? That the Minister may set up development councils, which are to be corporations with a common seal and are to have power to hold land. They are to have a number of very large and rather indefinite powers. They are to have power to make levies on industry of a specified amount and to engage and dismiss employees whose remuneration they fix. We are told that there are to be checks on these powers. They have extensive powers to demand from manufacturers the most intimate details of their business. They have power to demand details of costing organisation, expenses, output, and so forth. Manufacturers are liable to furnish this information under the penalty of a fine up to £100 and two years' imprisonment. When that information is given it has to be kept confidential, we are told. But confidentiality does not extend to the information being imparted to the Minister, and manufacturers know that the Minister will, in the vulgar phrase, "have them in his grip," by having the fullest and most intimate knowledge of all their affairs.
It is not a very encouraging prospect that one finds references to integration. The hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) talked about the integration of 111 industry. It may be due to my rather morbid turn of mind, but that phrase makes me think of nothing so much as a man who, catching his coat in moving machinery, was integrated into the machine. I should be the last man to accuse the President of the Board of Trade of insincerity, but he told us with the utmost candour that his approach was toward the integration of industry, the coordination of industry with a national plan. He referred to the planning and control necessary for the national economy. He said that there must be integrated schemes as a contribution to the efficiency of private enterprise. That was the very honest and straightforward approach of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to all these problems. But he is only one of a large family. There are many people who think that what is required to restore and improve British industry is more planning, more control, more interference from outside and a tidying up from without. That is a big assumption. Not only is there no vestige of proof of it, but the record of the would-be planners is not such as to inspire any remarkable degree of confidence in their ability to plan other people or things successfully. One thing which is certain, however, is that the passage of this Bill will at once impose a further overhead charge on certain industries. It will create "jobs for the boys" in large numbers,. indeed, in indefinite numbers, because the employees of the corporations are to be within their control, and not under the control of this House at all.
What are the safeguards against Ministerial irresponsibility—consultations? I think that by now we know pretty well that they have very little value against a determined Minister. We have been told in effect that the right hon. Gentleman was able to "talk the bird off its perch" in 'Lancashire. I do not doubt it. One of the leading advocates of the day would, I am sure, be able to do so. I doubt whether in its true sense that could he called consultation. Then we have the safeguard put up for us by the Minister dealing with the matter this afternoon that the matter is to pass before both branches of the legislature. The way to stop things from going through the House of Commons if you do not like them is to pray against them. In this Parliament there have been so far 40 112 Prayers and not one of them has been successful. In other words, if a Minister decides on a scheme that scheme will be run through this House. Then, of course, there is another place, and it has been delicately hinted that it may not be entirely in accordance with the spirit of this House. It was suggested ingenuously from the Front Bench that what the Minister of Fuel and Power would call a great constitutional crisis is likely to be promoted by something of that kind. If it is supposed that certain people somewhere else are going to poke their fingers into the machinery in that way, I doubt it. These alleged securities are not securities. If we pass this Bill we are giving unlimited power to the Executive in the last resort to control industry. I share the view of all who have spoken that the powers when given, will, I have no doubt, be wisely exercised, but if I am asked whether on balance I consider that the good to be done to industry by this Measure will outweigh the harm caused by further regimentation and control, I am not convinced of the merits of the Bill.
§ 7.34 p.m
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
I was not a member of the family party in Committee upstairs, but I hope that I will be excused for saying a few words. I want to talk about certain dangers which I can see the Government running into in connection with this Bill. What the Bill does is to set up permanent working parties. We may, therefore, assume that when these working parties are set up, they will share some of the defects of the working parties whose reports we have all read. The main defect of the working parties was their parochialism—the one-eyed view which they took of matters, and the danger that if that one-eyed view is taken in industry, it may lead to a distortion of the national plan—assuming that there is a national plan. To give a rather ridiculous instance from a working party's report to show what I mean—and I give this instance because I think it is a good one and shows the extraordinary state in which people's minds can get when thinking of only one thing—in the hosiery report, these words appear:Few things occupy a more prominent place in our national life at the present time than stockings.That is a rather astonishing statement. It may be so. I do not think that there are 113 any female Members in the House at the moment, and the foreground of their minds may be filled with these things, but I think that on this side of the House the foreground of our minds is not occupied with stockings. That is ridiculous in itself, but it leads to certain dangers. For instance, every working party report has recommended that there should be unlimited capital re-equipment of the industry of which they were talking, and, with the exception of cotton, none of those industries was a basic industry, It is obviously impossible that that can all be done at the same time, but it is recommended that they should all try at the same time. We are near a balance of a payment's crisis. We have an enormous shortage of consumer goods, and to advocate now a wholesale policy of re-equipment would cause an enormous expansion in our capital goods industries and a further distortion of our national economy. That is contrary to Keynsian ideas and against common business prudence. That is the type of thing that may happen if we get these development councils.
Everyone who has spoken has attributed the fact that a great many people in industry are in favour of these development councils exclusively to the charms of the President of the Board of Trade. He has been represented as a sort of super-principal boy, which throws rather a new light on him. There may be one other reason for people being in favour of development councils apart from the charms of the President of the Board of Trade. It may sound rather cynical to mention it, but it is very real. Where there is a development council there is a foot in the relevant Ministry. If any hon. Member asks an industrialist how he spent last week, he will find that nine times out of ten his time has been taken up in wrestling with some particular Ministry, trying to get some permit, licence or permission. If industry has a development council, it will probably get more favour than if it had not a development council. The influence of industries which have development councils may lead to a distortion of the national plan. Many of these industries which will get development councils are not basic industries, and if they are to have preferential influence because of these councils there will be more muddle than there is at present, and that is saying something.
114 The right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) gave a qualified blessing to the Bill, but I hope that these development councils will not be too freely set up because I think that in many cases they will tend to retard rather than to stimulate our recovery. Sir Norman Kipping at the F.B.I. Conference on exports said:There is, I think, too hasty a tendency on the part of both Government and industry to stimulate the creation of new organisations each time some matter arises a little outside the existing functions when the need might be met more economically and efficiently, and with far less friction, by adapting some existing body.I think that there is a great deal of truth in that. The President of the Board of Trade and other hon. Members have mentioned a great many organisations now existing which are already on the job—the National Production Advisory Council, the Council of Industrial Design, the Board of Trade Production Efficiency Branch, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and the whole machinery of joint consultation, which is better in some industries than in others; and, above all, such joint industrial councils as were set up with the terms of reference suggested by the Whitley Committee—terms of reference very similar to those of the development councils. I think that in creating this new machinery there may be a danger of overlapping in industry. The danger is that we will lose sight of the essentials.
I wish to give one further quotation. Sir John Woods of the Board of Trade said something at the same conference, at which Sir Norman Kipping spoke, which I think is extraordinarily true. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will read it again. It was published in the Press. This is what he said:The primary business of industry is to design, manufacture and sell, and in so doing to give the best service it can to its customers while at the same time making a profit.That is simply put, and it is fundamental. The danger in the Bill is that we will draw men away from that task to attend yet another committee which may very well be otiose and do very little good. The right place for a leader, whether of labour or of industry, is at sight of the work itself or in the market place, and not sitting upon endless committees. If the answer is that the best men will not sit upon the development councils, that 115 makes the position worse. We shall merely be endowing the Socialist peerage.
I hope that, as we are now accepting the Bill, the Government will guard against the dangers to which I have referred, the danger of setting up unnecessary machinery which will confuse and retard our recovery; the danger of the Government weakening their own central planning by allowing privileged councils to get more than the share they should have according to that national plan; and, finally, the danger of taking good men away from the work that they ought to be doing.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Shackleton (Preston)
This Debate has provided quite an agreeable contrast to the Debate on Second Reading. Only the last two hon. Members who spoke, and particularly the hon. Member for Handsworth (Mr. H. Roberts), have struck a hostile note. A particular contrast is that between the speech made by the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) today and the speech he made upon the Second Reading, in which he damned the Bill in no uncertain terms. His speech today gave it a rather qualified blessing.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Member will no doubt acknowledge that the Government have learned a good deal during the progress of the Bill.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I was rather expecting some such remark. The Government have made no concession of principle on the Bill. They have accepted a number of minor Amendments, but the principle is exactly what it was when the Bill was first introduced. The speech of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) raised points which involve the principle of the Bill, but this is not the time to re-argue the whole case for the Bill. The purpose of the Bill and the terms in which it is drawn are such that I cannot see that there is a danger of industries getting themselves into an unduly privileged position in relation to the national plan for investment. I entirely agree with the hon. Member that if there were such a danger as, for example, the hosiery industry saying that more stockings were in the best interests of the country, it would be undesirable, but obviously each industry will make the best case it can. Where there is need for 116 a properly constituted body, it should be constituted along clear and definite lines, with limited functions. This is what the Bill does. I do not see that there is any particular danger of the silver tongue of the President of the Board of Trade talking business men into something against their best interests. I can assure the hon. Member for Handsworth—I am sorry he is not here at the moment—that Lancashire is a much tougher nut to crack than he may think. If the President of the Board of Trade has succeeded in selling this scheme to Lancashire—it took a bit of selling to both sides of the industry—it is because of its intrinsic merits, and the advantage to the cotton industry of its proposals. The Bill is the basis for carrying out those proposals, which commended themselves to the industry of Lancashire.
There is a danger when it comes to finding men for the councils. We should avoid taking too many efficient business men out of the private sector of industry and putting them on to development councils. That point should be borne in mind. Obviously, there is a limit to the number of able leaders.
I should like to refer to a point made by the hon. Member for Flint when he quoted the head of the F.B.I. as saying that existing organisations could have taken over these duties. Existing organisations are the trade associations, and it has been clearly shown during the discussions on the Bill that those associations are not entirely suitable for the purpose. It is necessary that the labour side should be fully represented, if we are to get the maximum utilisation of our resources particularly in the utilisation and development of labour. Trade associations are obviously not suitable for that purpose, quite apart from the fact that they are not always fully representative of the industries to which they are related.
I am glad that the Paymaster-General is to reply, because I would put to him two points, one of which concerned him in his previous capacity at the Department of Overseas Trade. I hope he will be able to answer them. The first point relates to export research and other forms of export promotion. I hope that full use will be made of existing organisations and that the danger of duplication will be avoided. There is a perfectly good national organisation available, namely B.E.T.R.O., and if it is not 117 the right one for the promotion of export research then whatever organisation there is should be used. There obviously must be a limit to the extent to which individual industries can set up their own export promotion research departments. The second point is that which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey). We would like to know how the Board of Trade propose to administer, to exercise supervision and to give advice to a large s number of development councils. That will be a very serious administrative problem. I know it has not yet arisen because the development councils are not there. But it will not be possible for every development council to work on the basis of the Cotton Board by personal letters going between the President of the Board of Trade and Sir Raymond Streat. That is an admirable way of dealing with a special problem but there will be many industries concerned. It will be very interesting for the House to know how the Board of Trade intend to supervise, to ensure there is no overlappng and no waste of resources.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
I think most Members will agree that great progress has been made for a long time past in co-operation in three particular respects. These are co-operation among industries, between industry and the workers, and between industries and the State. Any scheme, to be successful, must contain those three facets of co-operation. The test of the Bill, when it becomes law, will be whether it really promotes all that co-operation or merely acts as a drag upon it. There is one point about the Bill which I felt, thoughout the Committee Stage, to be obnoxious because of the responsibility of abuse. It is that these schemes do not have in them sufficient of the voluntary element. I appreciate that in the setting-up of development councils, the President of the Board of Trade or the Minister concerned, will consult the proper parties.
I ask the Minister whether he has entirely closed his mind to the possibility of persons appointed by him being, in fact, elected by the interests concerned. I suggest that that is particularly important, so far as the workers' side is concerned. There are obviously difficulties to be overcome on the side of industry itself, 118 but a system of Voting might easily be worked out. It would, I think, have to be a mixed system based on the interests and importance of the concern, and weighted possibly in accordance with regions and such like considerations. It obviously could not be a numerical system, because the smaller factories would completely outweigh the bigger ones, in numbers, while if it were based entirely on interests, the big factories would dominate the development councils. I ask the Paymaster-General to give some consideration to the important principle of the development councils being elected.
There was another factor on the Bill which I, personally, disliked. That is the penal Clause and the provisions for audits by the development councils. We have in this country a body of men who have gained a very great reputation for integrity, namely, chartered accountants. I should have thought that a chartered accountant's certificate would have been adequate in this regard. I can see that in the early stages, the problem will be to keep the co-operation of all units in any industry, just as in the later stages it is going to be the maintenance of the influence of these development councils without tightening up their control, as occurred to the case of the Merchant Guilds in the Middle Ages. If a regime is not imposed compulsorily on industry in the early stages, then I think this Bill will have a great future.
There are one or two other questions which I should like to ask. One follows very closely on what has been said by the junior Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton). It relates to the bodies or persons with whom the appropriate Minister is to consult, before he grants the renewal of the charter to a council, which is to be done after three years in the first instance and after every five years in subsequent reviews. With whom does the Minister propose to consult? Has he in mind the setting up of a body of independent experts, be they lawyers, economists, engineers or accountants, who will be recruited after a certain experience in industry and who will not have a purely Civil Service background? Will he have a panel of these to consult; and will they, in turn, be capable of being appointed to the development councils as independent members? Is that how he intends to work the scheme? 119 Or has he in mind a panel of all chairmen of development councils which have already been set up to give advice to him; and how is the public interest to be looked after when it comes to renewing the charters after the first period of three years, and for a subsequent period of five years.
Finally, as I have said, this Bill is the culmination of a period of progress and co-operation, and it seems to me that its future will depend on the extent to which industry is allowed to govern itself, and central control is avoided. It is obvious, of course, that what we have to obtain is compliance with the over-all State plan, while at the same time maintaining initiative in industry. For that purpose automony of industry is essential in my view for the maximum amount of initiative to be maintained within industry itself. This generation has a great urge to get things done, and to see things work. It is prepared to experiment on how things should be done. There are, however, pitfalls to be avoided, and I think that the principal pitfall will prove to be too much interference in the affairs of a particular industry. If we can achieve co-operation in industries without controlling them politically root and branch, I think this Bill will work, and will be of great benefit to the nation.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Sparks (Acton)
I am very glad to have this opportunity of saying a few words in support of the Third Reading of this Bill. I was a Member of the Committee upstairs, and I think it is true to say that both sides found the passage of this Bill through Committee of very considerable interest. I think the House will agree that this Bill is of outstanding importance, because it endeavours to set a guiding principle in industry, which we have never yet so far attempted to establish in legislation. As one who has considerable experience of trade union work, I realise now significant and how important it is that we should have provisions which arrange for the worker, whose labour makes production and output possible, to be found a place in industry with the employers and the Government where he can accept some measure of control and responsibility for his own industry.
Too often in my experience have employers taken the view that the worker is 120 just a commodity item, which is bought for a wage. He is expected to do what he is told and apart from that he is not expected to have a voice in the welfare, interest and future of his industry. That day is past and gone. I believe we are living in an entirely different world from that in which we have been living in during the last century. I am very glad that hon. Members opposite recognise the changing conditions of our time, and realise that the worker has the same rights as the employer in regard to industrial development. If this Bill is adopted and operated in the right spirit, the spirit of which we have heard so much from the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley), I believe it will be of great and lasting interest to the welfare of our country and people.
In my own constituency, where we have over 500 factories and a large industrial working population, I recently sent to some of my friends in a well known factory the report of discussions in Standing Committee on this Bill. As a result of their reading that report the workers' side of the joint production committee approached the management and asked if it was possible to have a conference of the whole works, in order to discuss the policy of the factory and give some indication to the workers of what the future policy was. More than 300 workers in that factory stayed for an hour and a half during their own time to listen to the managing director explain the policy of the factory and what its future development was hoped to be. There were also spokesmen from the workers as well, and afterwards many questions were asked and answered. That is an indication of the spirit which exists in most of our factories and enterprises today. If the correct and proper approach is made, the workers will respond, not only by taking an interest in the main essentials and needs of the industry, but by showing that spirit about which we have heard so much in regard to co-operation between the workers the managements and the Government.
The hon. Member for Stockport asked that we should endeavour to bring about he closest co-operation between the Government and the masters and workers. I feel that he made a slip of the tongue because the day of masters and servants has passed, and I think that, psychologically, the relationship of master dictating 121 to servant is one that we might usefully relegate to the Victorian age. We must realise that, in facing the problems in front of us, it is not the master-and-servant relationship that is needed in industry, but rather a partnership between management and workers in a joint enterprise. If the workers are approached in that spirit, they will respond, to the benefit both of industry and the nation. I would like, in passing, to make a comment upon paragraph 14 of the First Schedule, which in my view describes one of the most important functions which the development councils are to undertake. It provides forPromoting arrangements for co-operative organisations for supplying materials and equipment, for co-ordinating production, and for marketing and distributing products.If that function is carried out by the development councils, it will be of great assistance to the smaller industries and enterprises. It will be of inestimable value in placing at their disposal a cooperative organisation for supplying materials and equipment. With regard to co-ordinating production, and marketing and distributing products, that is a prime function of the development councils. On this side of the House we understand too well the state of industry in the period between the two wars. Industry went along its own blind course, experiencing under-production, overproduction and unemployment as well, and there was a lack of any national co-ordinating plan. As a consequence of anarchy in industrial production, we found ourselves in a morass of booms and slumps from which it was very difficult to lift ourselves. I believe this Bill will give valuable guidance to industrial undertakings; greater knowledge and more facts to the individual industrial enterprises. I believe it will go a good way towards avoiding slumps and depressions in the years ahead and will enable industry to plan more securely and effectively its enterprise in the years to come. I would like briefly to comment on paragraph 8 of the First Schedule, which provides forpromoting the training of persons engaged or proposing engagement in the industry, and their education in technical or artistic subjects relevant thereto.There is in my constituency a famous technical college which serves a great part of the North-West London industrial concentration. At the present time that 122 college has not sufficient accommodation for all the young men and women who wish to equip themselves with scientific and technical knowledge in the service of industry. We are living in a time when the tempo of scientific knowledge and discovery is increasing by leaps and bounds. Men were content for 4,000 years to accept wind as the motive power of sea transport. It was barely more than 100 years ago that that motive power changed to steam.
§ Mr. Sparks
We are living at a time when the momentum of scientific and technological development is increasing very rapidly, and if we are not careful we shall find that industry will be left very far behind. The war has brought in its train very considerable scientific discoveries; to mention only one, there is the emergency of atomic energy, with all its possibilities when harnessed to industry and production.
Therefore, it is most important, in facing the problems of the future, that we should see to it that there is the highest standard of scientific and technological knowledge among the men and women who are entering industry. Unless we are prepared to march in step with new discoveries, inevitably we must lapse into stagnation, and stagnation ultimately means death. I hope the development councils will pay special regard to the recruitment and training of persons engaged in industry. I hope they will not limit this training and knowledge to the mere humdrum, everyday affairs of an enterprise. There are men and women from humble walks of life who possess the ability, given the opportunity, to undertake the highest responsibilities in industry and management. Every effort should be made by the development councils to provide a means of training and education to the ordinary workman and workwoman in industry who possesses the ability to develop that ability and to take managerial and directive responsibility in industry. I hope the development councils will provide that opportunity.
My right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in moving the Third Reading, said that he regarded this Bill as being very largely of an experimental nature, and he said that 123 it had arisen very largely from the reports of working parties and was very closely linked to the industries in which working parties had already been established. I hope my right hon. and learned Friend will go wider afield than that. I hope he will endeavour to spread the principle of this Bill not only to industries where working parties are established, but to other industries as well where there is a general acceptance of this principle. What we must do, in the struggle for production ahead of us, is to co-ordinate our industrial undertakings, particularly the smaller units, in a nationally constructive line of policy so that they can act and work together with the full knowledge and information which they need not only to develop maximum production, but also to market those products when once they have been produced. I welcome the Third Reading of this Bill and I feel sure that if it is accepted in industry—as I believe it will be—it will bring a better understanding, promote that spirit of co-operation which is so vital, and equip industry the better to face the problems of the future and to give the nation the maximum of benefit from their energy and enterprise.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
Like the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) I have followed the progress of this Bill through its various stages. We now come to what is the final stage so far as we are concerned. I am afraid that the hon. Member for Acton was guilty of an error in his approach to this Bill—an error which I hope will not actuate Members of the Government when they come to put it into operation. Neither this Bill nor any development council is a substitute for individual effort and enterprise. Nothing that can be established in the form of an industrial council will take the place of the drive and energy of men in industry. If hon. Members opposite think that it is possible to devise some piece of legislation which will take the place of the spirit of adventure and enterprise which has established the industrial greatness of this country, they are sadly mistaken. The hon. Member for Acton very rightly pointed out that we are experiencing in this century a growing social consciousness. There is a desire, on the part of all sections of the community, that the interests of the ordinary man 124 should be regarded as paramount, and that industry should serve the interests of the mass of the people. We on this side of the House are just as sympathetic towards that view as those who sit opposite.
It may be that there is something in this idea of development councils which will help to bring about that state of affairs. We have been searching for the past 30 years for some method of coordination between the State and industry. We have amassed a host of organisations, and one of our criticisms of this Bill is that it adds one more organisation to the already difficult and complex pattern of links between the Government and industry. Nevertheless, as I have suggested, there may be something in this Bill which will serve as a link between the State and industry, and help to ensure that industry serves a social purpose. At any rate, this is a better idea than the stale, barren and unprofitable idea of nationalisation, and we accept it in that spirit.
The Government have been wise in excluding Government representatives from the development councils. I know that there has been considerable pressure brought to bear by their own supporters to suggest that the councils should include representatives of the various Ministries concerned, and I congratulate the President of the Board of Trade on resisting it, because I am certain that the conception of a council which can be effective would be destroyed if the councils themselves actually included Government representatives. These councils may be very successful, or they may be complete and utter failures. They may be discarded pieces of machinery in three or four years' time. Whether or not they are successful depends upon a variety of things. If they are to be successful, we certainly have to capture in some way, the spirit of the guilds to which an hon. Member on this side referred a short time ago.
We still object very strongly to the compulsory nature of the powers which the President of the Board of Trade has thought fit to take to himself under this Bill. We still believe that nothing can be done through compulsion so far as development councils are concerned. We believe that the overwhelming principle must be a voluntary one, and it would have been worth while had the President of the Board of Trade sacrificed some of 125 his powers in order to convince industry generally that there was in fact a desire to work on a purely voluntary basis. There has been some talk by hon. Members opposite about this being the second layer of nationalisation. I hope that the Paymaster-General, who is to reply, will make it clear that that is in no way the conception of His Majesty's Government. I hope he will make it clear that this Measure is an attempt to improve—if it can be improved—the private sector of industry. Whether, after Margate, the Paymaster-General or the President of the Board of Trade will be capable of damming the tide I do not know. It seems to hon. Members on this side that they have established a Frankenstein monster which has developed an insatiable appetite, and that they may not be able to resist demands for further encroachment on what we must regard as the private sector of industry. At any rate, if we are to have definite sectors of industry, one operated by the Government and another by private organisation, it is essential that there should be a clear understanding of the lines of demarcation, because unless industry has confidence in its own position and security it cannot go ahead.
During the Second Reading Debate we said that we did not like the idea of an enablement. We thought that a separate Bill to deal with each industry would have been more desirable. We still hold that view, and it has been strengthened by the innumerable occasions upon which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has had to give vague assurances. Indeed, in moving the Third Reading today, the President of the Board of Trade himself said that legislation which would be suitable and desirable and necessary in one industry might not be suitable or desirable in another. We are certainly not satisfied with the old sedative of an affirmative Resolution because we know very well that we are unable to amend it in any shape or form.
I want to know from the Paymaster-General what exactly is the position of the development councils in the economic plan—always assuming that we have an economic plan. We are told that we have, but what it is no one really knows. However, assuming that we have one, we want to know what is the relationship between the development councils and the 126 Government, the various national bodies, the Council of Industrial Design and the Council of Industrial Psychology, More important still, what is to be the relationship between these development councils and the trade unions and trade associations? In the unfortunately close relationship which exists between industry and the State at the moment, many communications go from the Government to the trade associations. What is to be the channel of communication under the new regime when these development councils are set up? Are there to he duplicate sets of instructions and advices sent to the trade associations, the trade unions and the councils? We should like to know exactly how the development councils fit in with the general economic plan, and to what extent they will impinge on the territory of the trade associations.
I turn now to one or two points of detail. The first is, will the Paymaster General tell us why the Admiralty and the Ministry of Food are designated as appropriate authorities? There may be some justification for the other six mentioned in the Bill, but it is difficult to imagine why it is necessary to bring in the Ministry of Food and the Admiralty. Secondly, there is that iniquitous Subsection (4) of Clause 1, which says that a development council order may provide for any incidental or supplementary matter. The danger of that was emphasised in this House this evening, when the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) suggested to the President of the Board of Trade that he should insert into this Bill a provision which the President of the Board of Trade very rightly said belonged to the Ministry of Labour. That indicates the danger of having such a wide Clause in this Bill. Indeed, it seems hardly worth while having the Bill at all with such a Clause in it.
Much has been said about independent members, and there is obviously a difference of opinion on that subject between the two sides of the House. Independent members obtained some prestige in the eyes of some people as a result of the working parties, but there is a very material difference between the functions and purpose of an independent member of a development council and those of a member of a working party. The working party was a brief survey, and it is 127 true that independent members of such parties proved valuable, but an independent member who is permanently attached to a development council ceases after a short time, to be an independent member; he becomes steeped in the industry and has a part in its advantages and disadvantages. We on this side of the House say very firmly that the selection of these independent members will have to be made most carefully. There is no room, in the ruthless battle which we will have to fight for production, for passengers. It does not matter whether they are passengers from the City of London in top hats, as my right hon. Friend said in the Committee, or whether they are gentlemen who affect the disordered appearance of Left-wing intellectuals. Neither class is desirable at the present time. Moreover, the trade union element would object to that kind of independent member, as the President of the Board of Trade ought to know, because they have objected to him several times and have regarded him as a kind of independent member. I hope that in appointing these independent members due consideration will be give to the need for getting sound men who can serve a useful purpose.
There are one or two items in the Schedule to which I wish to refer. The first Schedule is like Noah's Ark in that it contains something of everything. But it also deals with one or two important points, and of those the one with which I wish to deal is research. This country is very rapidly becoming research conscious, a thing of which I think most hon. Members on both sides of the House will approve. There is however a very real danger that we shall rest upon the idea of centralised research, that we shall neglect individual research and come to depend upon a central organisation. In research, as in every other field of human activity, individual effort is the most important thing. If we had 30 or 40 separate research organisations in an industry, each pursuing its ends, we should be likely to get more results than if we had one large central organisation. The danger which my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) pointed out, that we are going to take from industries which are maintaining large research organisations such sums of money that they have to cut down their own organisations, is a very real danger. The 128 President of the Board of Trade was reassuring up to a point, but I hope that the Paymaster-General will be able to say that in assessing the levy upon firms which are already conducting large-scale research account will be taken of what they are spending.
There is one point in connection with the Schedule which I want to stress, and that is that the councils will be concerned with the training of personnel for industry. I hope they will pay particular attention to the training of foremen and charge hands. One of the weaknesses at present is that foremen and charge hands are not sufficiently trained; often they are men who are capable of doing their job very well, but they have none of the qualities of leadership and no conception of organisation. A great deal can be done in improving the quality of these N.C.Os. of industry, and that is a task which may very well be put into the hands of the councils.
By this Measure I believe we may well do something to improve our industry. It is true that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have now said that they do not propose to do anything to rock the industrial boat, a process in which they have been actively engaged for a large number of years; they now are, or pretend to be, reformed or semi-reformed characters, but industry is still suspicious of the overnight change, almost as suspicious as their own supporters. It is essential, in my view, that they should apply this Bill in a manner which leaves no doubt as to. their intentions. If this Bill is implemented in a way that shows a clear desire to take advantage of and improve private industrial organisations, it may well be of some service, but if it takes the form of a threat, if there is a background of Margate mutterings, it may well do much harm to our industrial organisation.
As in the past the real industrial progress of this country is dependent upon the drive and energy of individual industrialists, and if this Bill does anything to kill that it will do something to kill British industry. If it is implemented in an enlightened way, if the division between the private and public sectors of industry is clearly made, if the Government show their intention to co-operate, I am sure it will do something to create improvements. There is among industrialists a growing feeling of statesman- 129 ship; I am sorry that among the Government there is not a corresponding spirit of business experience. If there were, then we could look for very great results from the future. I hope that in the implementation of this Bill wisdom will prevail, because it can be either a great success or a complete failure, and that will depend not on industry but on the actions of His Majesty's Government.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ The Paymaster-General (Mr. Marquand)
The Bill has had a general welcome from both sides of the House with, I think, one solitary exception. As it has already been explained at some length by my right hon. and learned Friend when he moved the Third Reading, I feel sure the House would not wish me to take up a great deal of time. Nevertheless, a great many points have been raised tonight on which I feel I ought to comment, though really I ought not to be at this box at all. We all regret, and I regret as keenly as anybody, that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is not here to wind up the Debate on this Bill on which, as has already been said, he has done a great deal of valuable work in Committee. I am sure we all wish him a speedy recovery from the indisposition from which he is suffering.
I cannot, of course, answer all the interesting points and all the numerous questions which have been put from both sides of the House. I give what is a usual undertaking on these occasions and I give it very sincerely, that those questions which I do not answer and those suggestions to which I am not able to refer in this short speech, will be carefully studied by my right hon. and learned Friend and his Department and by the other Ministers who are responsible for this Bill. I cannot be tempted by the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) into giving a list of the industries which will never be nationalised. He asked me to draw a line between the public sector and the private sector of industry. If I attempted to do so, that is what I should be drawn into. The intentions of the Government in promoting the Bill were clearly explained by my right hon. and learned Friend when he moved the Third Reading, and I do not wish to repeat, or attempt to amplify anything he said. I have no need to refer again to the reiterated objection of 130 the hon. Member for Bucklow to compulsion. I have said something already on that point and I need hardly repeat that we have no desire to impose development councils upon completely unwilling industries. Nor can I usefully add anything to what I have tried to say about the qualifications of independent members. We want them to be people who are acceptable to the industry and qualified to give sage advice.
He asked why the Ministry of Food and the Admiralty were included in the list of Departments concerned with the development councils. The answer is that they are both production Departments for certain industries. The Admiralty is responsible for the shipbuilding industry, and the chain cable industry, and the Ministry of Food for all food manufacturing and processing. Development councils might be set up for some of these industries.
I must say another word about an objection which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) still apparently feels somewhat keenly—that there is a danger in the functions described in paragraphs 2, 9 and 11 of the First Schedule. The danger, he suggests, is that the development councils may interfere in matters concerning labour relations which are normally dealt with by other bodies. I should like to say again, as my right hon. Friend has already said, that we have every intention of trying to secure that the appropriate machinery is used in each case. We felt that the insertion of an express exclusion of such functions, as suggested in an Amendment on the Order Paper, might throw doubt on the way in which the development councils should exercise certain of their functions. It might hamper them in seeking to promote safer and better working conditions because they relate to conditions of labour and may affect remuneration.
The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. A. Edward Davies) said, no doubt speaking with good authority from his experience of the pottery industry, that the trade unions would welcome the help of the development councils in matters relating to conditions with which they did not happen to deal. Some of the existing voluntary bodies deal with a very wide range of activities. Others deal with a smaller range. Where they deal with a smaller range and the development 131 council can help by undertaking some study or inquiry and making recommendations and representations, surely it should be allowed to do so? Moreover, as my right hon. Friend has already said, where the joint industrial councils or similar bodies exist, they will be invited to nominate One member from each side, to serve on development councils for the express purpose of securing—I almost hesitate to use the word "liaison"— liaison and preventing overlapping.
The hon. Member for Eddisbury (Sir J. Barlow), in an interesting account of his own experience in the cotton industry, referred to the suspicion and distrust which can exist in industry between employer and the employed, and pointed out that this suspicion and distrust frequently arose from lack of information, and might be dissipated by the giving of proper information. I entirely agree, and I was surprised that he seemed to be suspicious of the value of independent members on these bodies. Surely independent members looking with a detached eye on the industry, can help in this way to disseminate the full facts regarding each side to the other side, and thus improve the feeling of trust and confidence which is essential if these councils are to work? May I express the hope that when a development council is established, the members will not think of themselves always in terms of two sides. This division into two sides, which frequently takes place in discussions between employers and employed, may be very appropriate when wages or profits and other matters are concerned. But when the mutual improvement of the industry, the increase of its output and efficiency, are under discussion, I hope that, to some degree, that feeling of belonging to two separate sides will disappear and members will contribute of their knowledge and experience, though of course they derive their experience from different types of occupation in the industry.
The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Niall Macpherson) asked whether the members would be elected. I should have thought not. I should have thought it unwise to go in for election in that way, because that might do the very thing which would contribute to the feeling of "sides" in the industry. The selection of people from a panel of nominees put forward by each side, would be the best 132 way to create that co-operative feeling, and that feeling of unity for the 'special purpose of the development council.
As I said just now there was a solitary voice of protest against the Bill. It came from the hon. Member for Hands-worth (Mr. H. Roberts) who is not now in his place: I will only say that it seemed to me to be a voice from the past. He expressed fear of the disclosure of information and fear of persons whom he described as planners. Surely the information that will be asked for under the provisions of this Bill, is information to be given to the industry as a whole? The industry itself, through its workers and employers, will be the planner in this case. The answer to the hon. Member for Handsworth had really been given before he spoke, by the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley), whose wise and valuable speech I greatly welcomed. He laid emphasis on the desirability of the spirit of friendly co-operation in these industries and alluded to the necessity for freely given information in order to create that impression. He specifically alluded to the desirability of explaining all the time, and I quite agree with him that people need to have things explained to them. British people do not like to take orders from somebody up above, without an explanation of why the orders are necessary. We must explain to the men in the workshops the need for particular industrial schemes, for particular allocations of materials and for the production of new equipment for export as against home trade.
All that kind of thing needs to be done even more fully than we have been able to do it up to date. We are applying our minds very carefully indeed to seeking ways and means of explaining more and more, and we hope that the development council will be a piece of machinery for explaining, as the hon. Member for Burslem said. The experience gained in the working parties proved the success of this method of collaboration, this tripartite system of organisation in industry. I am sorry to notice that the face of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot—who is leading a praiseworthy campaign for the improvement of our language on these occasions—pales at the rather cumbersome word "tripartite." But a triangle suggests domestic discord, so I feel we must stick to the word "tripartite" on this occasion.
133 The hon. Member for Stockport said we must be cautious in consultation. In these matters, he said, if one is wise, one feels one's way. I agree. At the same time one is all too conscious of the fact as the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) said, that time is short. There must be some speeding up, some slight danger incurred, perhaps, in pursuing this method of organisation because it is so necessary at present, and because the job which we want it to do is so urgent and necessary. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) asked—and the hon. Member for Bucklow repeated the question later on—how will the development councils help; economic planning? How will they fit into the machinery for devising a national plan and carrying out that national plan, explaining that national plan? How, asked the hon. Member for Luton, are we to give each industry its target, make the target known and see that the target is hit? Is the function, described in paragraph 19 of the First Schedule to the Bill, he asked, the instrument for this purpose? I can only say that some of his questions go too wide to be debated now; this is not the place to attempt to describe machinery for planning the whole of industry in Great Britain. All I would say is that, clearly, the method of conveying any information relating to planning, must vary from industry to industry. It would be most unlikely that the central planning organisation would reject an instrument which lay ready to hand and, when the development councils are established, they will be appropriate instruments undoubtedly, and must be used for this purpose of giving information, but not necessarily in every case for the purpose of implementing a plan.
In that connection I should refer to the valuable remarks made by the hon. Member for Burslem about the necessity for research and for expansion of some of the industries in which the councils will be established; also to the remarks of his colleague in the representation of the pottery area, the hon. Member for Hanley, who made some most interesting remarks which I shall certainly study in detail later, about the importance of human relations aad industrial psychology. I agree. That is the kind of function which these development councils can best perform, and in conducting research into psychology, into exports, into all the other 134 things mentioned, they will surely be playing a valuable part in the general economic plan.
The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) felt that somehow the existence of the development councils would spoil planning by over-emphasising the importance of stockings. Referring to the development councils, he said that if industries have preferential treatment because they had these councils, we shall get into a muddle. Of course we shall, but I do not see any reason, and I was unable, any more than my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton), to find any reason why the existence of a development council should lead to the giving of preferential treatment in the allocation of supplies, labour or equipment, to any industry. He urged us not to create too many organisations, but rather to adapt the old and existing organisations to our purpose. I entirely agree. One does not want forever to create new organisations every time a new problem arises, we want to use the existing organisations, and my right hon. and learned Friend has no intention of setting up a large number of development councils very quickly. I asked him this question specifically before he had to leave the House, and he gave me that answer. Therefore, I agree with the hon. Member for Flint and the hon. Member for Preston who asked that we should not create in these new organisations something which would overlap existing bodies. The hon. Member for Preston mentioned B.E.T.R.O. which may already be doing valuable research work. The Ministers responsible will have to watch that very carefully indeed when they draft their orders. I am sure that hon. Members will not lose the opportunity given to them, when the orders are placed before Parliament, of seeing that such overlapping does not occur. I hope I have answered some of the more important questions put to me. If I have failed to satisfy hon. Members' curiosity perhaps they will forgive me, since I have not been so closely concerned with this Bill as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Collins (Taunton)
I apologise for interposing a few remarks at this late stage, but I do so because of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Buck-low (Mr. Shepherd) that there was little or 135 no experience of these matters on this side of the House. It so happens that for the last five years I have been chairman of an advisory committee which has exercised most, if not all, of the proposed functions of development councils, and some of the experience I have had in this matter may therefore be of interest. In 1942, with the approval of the Ministry of Supply, this purely voluntary body was set up consisting not merely of manufacturing interests, but also of the producers of raw materials in this country, the importers of raw materials, the merchants, in fact every single interest connected with the production of the goods with which we were concerned. The Committee involved the organisation of every single employer in the country to a total of some thousand, and the concentration on a particular type of product needed for the war effort. The Committee had no statutory functions but was able to exercise certain sanctions by reason of the fact that it controlled the importation and the distribution and the home production of all the raw materials.
Now those functions are continuing although the war is at an end, and they are continuing by the desire of the members of the Committee and of the whole industry. In my experience the vital importance of that Committee and of the development councils which are to be set up under this Bill when it becomes an Act, is that they must communicate with and have relations with every single employer in the particular industry with which they are concerned, and somehow get that information down to the individual work-people in the industry. If they can do that, they will be a big success; if they do not, then they will fail.
Today we have exhortations and slogans on the hoardings, but they do not reach the individual workman. They do not even reach the individual employer. A suggestion has been made largely from the other side that the future depends so much on the initiative and enterprise of individual employers. The hon. Member for Bucklow said rightly that there is no substitute for individual effort, but he was wrong in implying that enterprise is lessened, or at an end, when people act in concert. The whole experience of 136 people engaged in development councils is that improvements are enormous when people act together, whereas where industry is disintegrated and employers are acting as independent units, cutting each other's throats, industry goes down, and continues to go down. What the hon. Member calls the stale idea of nationalisation, has been found to be the only remedy to save those industries which have got into such a situation. The only possible way in which development councils can assist in getting information, and in getting the message down to the individual, is through the encouragement of works' councils. Probably they will encourage joint production committees, but if they are on an industrial level, the main objective will not be achieved. They must be in the workshops.
I have been chairman of a works council on which only four of the 14 members were ex officio, and the other To were elected. They have complete executive powers in running the business, and the effect on production in such cases is indeed remarkable. It is the only way in which necessary information can be got down from council level to the level of the people engaged on the job. In the last 16 months it has been my experience in the council with which I am connected that production has been quadrupled, and that rests entirely on the fact that each individual understands his part in the industry. If only development councils can introduce that kind of spirit throughout their industries, they will be able to play the part in the production effort for which they are designed. I feel this Bill has been framed on the right lines. But whether it is to be a great success, depends entirely on the way in which it is implemented, and on the spirit with which it is received. If there is sufficient enlightenment among employers' organisations they will be queuing up for powers to get development councils formed under this Measure, and in that spirit I welcome the Bill.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Snow.]