Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [10th March>],
That this House welcomes the laying before Parliament of a survey of the nation's requirements and resources for the year 1947, is concerned at the seriousness of the situation disclosed, and will support the Government in all practical measures taken in co-operation with all sections of the people of the country to overcome the difficulties and to make secure the foundations of our industry so as to provide a high standard of living for our people."—[Sir Stafford Cripps.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from "1947" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:and, while recognising the ever increasing gravity of the economic crisis and willing to 1333 give its support to any practical measures to meet it, regrets that the full facts of the situation have for so long been withheld from the country; and has no confidence in a Government whose actions hitherto have served only to aggravate the national difficulties and whose proposals for the future are either inadequate or injurious.The problems which confronted the British nation on the morrow of their victory required the strength of a united people to solve and overcome. Instead of that, the Socialist Government, in their hour of unexpected success, set themselves to establish the rule of a party, and of a sect within a party. Having even then, as my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) reminded us, polled only 37 per cent. of the total electorate, they nevertheless deemed it their mission to impose their particular ideological formulas and theories upon all the rest of their fellow countrymen, regardless of the peril in which we all stood, regardless of the urgency of the work to be done, most of all regardless of the comradeship by which alone we had survived the war.
This was a crime against the British State and people, the consequences of which have hampered our recovery, darkened our future and now endanger our very life. In our immense administrative difficulty, the Prime Minister and his colleagues should have concentrated upon their immediate practical tasks, and left the fulfilment of party ambition and the satisfaction of party appetites, at least until we, and the rest of the world with us, stood on firmer and safer ground. Before they nationalised our industries they should have nationalised themselves. They should have set country before party, and shown that they were Britons first, and Socialists only second. They should have set the day-to-day well-being of the whole mass of the nation before and above the gratification of party passions. In this they would have found an honourable and worthy mission, from which lasting honour for themselves and their party might have been reached.
On the contrary, mouthing slogans of envy, hatred and malice, they have spread class warfare throughout the land and all sections of society, and they have divided this nation, in its hour of serious need, as it has never been divided, in a different way from that in which it has ever been divided, in the many party 1334 conflicts I have witnessed in the past. In less than two years our country, under their control, has fallen from its proud and glorious position in the world, to the plight in which it lies this afternoon, and with even more alarming prospects opening upon us in the future. That is their offence, from which we shall suffer much, and with the guilt and discredit of which their name and the doctrines of their party will long be identified in British homes.
For our part, when this Government first took office, although profoundly distressed by the vote of the electorate—[Laughter]—no one more than me—we immediately offered any services which we could render to the national cause, not only at home, but in the United States. I, and my leading colleagues did our utmost, against a good many of our friends here, in our party, to help the Government to obtain the American loan of £1,000 million, in spite of the disadvantageous conditions under which it was offered. I used such personal influence as I had in the United States, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows, to clear away American misunderstandings, so far as it is in the power of any private citizen to do any such thing. On every occasion hitherto, my colleagues and I have emphasised the importance of national savings, and we shall continue to do so, but I have an increasing feeling, in view of inflation, that at any rate the smallest class of savings might be linked to some permanent standard of values. We have voted with the Government in everything they have done for the sake of our country, but what has been the return? An aggressive party attack has been made upon us.
I am sorry to see, from the newspapers, though I am glad I was not here, that the Minister of Defence distinguished himself by showing that aggressive spirit last night. An unbroken stream of scorn and hatred has been poured out upon us, not only by Government speakers in all parts of the country, but from the official Government newspaper, the "Daily Herald." One would have thought that the ten million people, who voted for us, or with us, at the Election, were hardly fit to live in the land of their birth, although most of them were folks who had given a lot for the national victory.
The first and the gravest injury which our country has sustained is psychological. 1335 It is the injury to the spirit. I was the Prime Minister responsible, as head of the Government, for the present crushing weight of direct taxation including the almost confiscatory taxation of wealth. All this was done with a great Conservative majority by a Prime Minister of the Conservative Party and by a Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Conservative Party. I was also responsible, as head of the Government, for the controls and regulations of all kinds that were in force at the end of the war. We must not forget that afternoon in May, 1940—I was not here; I had to go to Paris—when the enormous Tory majorities in both Houses of Parliament voted into the hands of the Government, for the sake of our country's survival, practically all the rights of property and, more precious still, of liberty on which what we have called civilisation is built. That ought not to be forgotten when hon. Members opposite mock at us as exploiters, rack renters and profiteers. It ought not to be forgotten, nor grinned at, that Conservative majorities in both Houses of Parliament, in one single afternoon, offered all they had and all that they were worth.
Britain saved herself at that time. Perhaps it may be argued, in the light of history, that she saved the world. But what is so particularly odious and mean, and what has caused this deep schism in our island life, is that this sacrifice so nobly made for victory—not only for our own survival and self-preservation but for the victory of the world cause of freedom—should be used and exploited for party purposes and for the institution of a system of Socialism abhorrent to the mass of the nation, destructive of the free life we have known here so long, and paralysing to our native enterprise and energy. Advantage has been taken of the generous impulses of the nation and they have been used for the opposite purpose for which they were given. Rarely has there been such a distortion of trust or breach of ordinary British fair play. It is that malversation of wartime sacrifices, that "fraud on the power" which has riven the nation in twain and rendered it incapable, while the abuse continues, of overcoming and surmounting its many problems and difficulties.
I have hitherto dealt with what I call the psychological aspect. I now come to the material things by which we live—a 1336 lower level, but still essential for the continuance of existence. I will first deal with bread and coal. I shall be told, "You complained of too much regulation. You, Mr. Churchill, complained of too much regulation about bread, and you also complained of too little regulation about coal. Where do you stand upon control of these two fundamental supplies?" It may be asked—it is a perfectly fair question and I give hon. Members opposite an opportunity to cheer it—" Have you any central theme of thought in these matters, or are you merely taking points off a harassed Government as difficulties arise?" I will answer that question as bluntly as I have put it, but it will take a little while. There was no need for a bread shortage and there was no need for the breakdown in coal. I assert that the shortages which have caused us so much trouble and misfortune, both in bread and coal, are merely marginal and could have been provided against by reasonable foresight and prudence.
Of course, now that the crisis has come, all kinds of emergency measures may be necessary, but if we look back to a year ago, it would have been possible though not easy—many things are not easy nowadays—to maintain sufficient supplies to avoid the disasters which have come upon us. First, take bread. The whole of this process of costly and vexatious rationing, to which even in the crisis of the U-boat war we never had to resort, has only saved so far 290,000 tons of wheat out of a total consumption of perhaps 2,500,000 tons since bread rationing began. Why, then, did Sir Ben Smith give away 200,000 tons of our agreed allocation in April, 1946? Why did the Lord President, in May, waive our claims to another 250,000 tons of foreign wheat which His Majesty's Government had been convinced, and the Food Ministry had been convinced, our people needed? Here were 450,000 tons that we could have had for our under-nourished people which were whistled down the wind last year for reasons which have never been properly explained to Parliament.
Compassion, charity and generosity are noble virtues, but the Government should be just before they are generous. There is no virtue or wisdom in so far undermining the physical strength of our population that we ourselves have to join the ranks of those who were broken by the war and cease to have the power to help 1337 the world even to make the British wheels go round. There are international bodies of great power and force nowadays, and undoubtedly they will continue. We do not get very well treated on these international bodies, anyhow. We do not seem to be able to stand up for ourselves, for our own rights and our needs. Of course, when the new British Food Minister says that we are on the whole better nourished than ever before, not much sympathy can be expected from international bodies dealing with a number of countries who are not at all backward in making their claims and dilating upon their woes. Let me repeat what the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is reported to have said the other day:Already in this country the people are probably enjoying the highest standard of living in the world. We are not even suffering from as many shortages as people would imagine.What chance have we got before these international committees of making our case for the hard-working people of this island, when it is given away beforehand by the Minister? I affirm here this afternoon that the British people today are under-nourished. They are less well fed—[Interruption.] I have never heard much anger expressed, in my long experience, from the Left Wing and Radical quarters about anything which got more food to the people. It has always been a point they championed. But now the Government's Socialist policy comes first and the welfare of the people comes second. I say that our people are less well fed in this victorious but precariously balanced island, with its magnificent but at the same time delicate and ramshackle structure of wealth producing apparatus, than are the populations of Holland, Belgium and Denmark. They are three countries which have just emerged from long years of Prussian German Nazi rule.
I say there was no need for bread rationing with all its inconveniences and the additions to our clerical staffs and paper forms so dear to the hearts of the party opposite. I say there was no need for all this inconvenience if we had not needlessly and wrongfully given up the basic share to which our condition entitled us, which our ships could carry, and which our money, albeit borrowed, could last year and this year at any rate buy.
I challenge the Government directly and in detail, on this food issue. We are fre- 1338 quently informed that 2,400 calories is the minimum daily amount to maintain a human being in a state of health. It was only a few weeks ago that we were told in this House by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food—who is in her place and whose authoritarian demeanour would inspire all, if her agreeable personality did not somewhat discourage it—that our rations gave us less than 1,400 calories, and that from food bought on points, another 200 calories could be derived, 1,600 calories in all. Yet the Chancellor of the Duchy—he has gone—I did not mean to knock him out so quickly. The Chancellor of the Duchy was challenged because the Germans only got, as was said, 1,550 calories. He explained that this was merely the basic ration, and that two-thirds of the Germans were getting rations varying from 2,550 calories to 3,990 calories. I hope it is true. I would not begrudge anybody the food they can get, but how do the statements correspond with the arguments which are used to make us content with the diet which, without having committed great crimes in the world, our nation has now to receive?
We are told, of course, that our people get another 1,300 calories from foods outside the rationed types. Well, I should like to know where. To get 1,300 calories each, persons would have to eat 5 lb. of potatoes or 8 lb. of cabbage every day, and which of us, I should like to know, except perhaps the President of the Board of Trade, would do that even if we could buy such quantities of vegetables and could afford to pay the price which is being charged for them? I am quite prepared to take my share of whatever the British nation subjects itself to, but not necessarily to contemplate receiving with composure the consequences of the mismanagement of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. I repeat that the British people are under-nourished today. This lethargy in work and falling-off in individual output to which attention has been drawn from every quarter of the House, is only partly due to Socialist teachings. It is mainly due to a shortfall in the necessary calories in respect especially of the heavy manual workers. All this is quite apart from the dreary, dull monotony of diet which directly affects incentive. Let us put up a fight for John Bull's food anyhow—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He will make the sacrifices if he is called 1339 upon to do so, but to run him down as low as this, is a scandal and a shame.
In the whole business of purchasing food and other commodities the State, that is to say the Government officials and Ministers involved, have already shown a lack of foresight and judgment which plainly reveals their incapacity as compared with private traders competing with one another, animated by the profit motive, and corrected constantly by the fear of loss and by the continual elimination of the inefficient. That is a general principle. I say that the wanton and partisan—this is only an incident, but I cannot omit it here—destruction of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange will be for ever held against the distinguished record of the President of the Board of Trade as an act of folly and of pedantry, amounting to little less than bad citizenship.
Now I turn from bread to coal—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is the Minister?"] I am sorry that the Minister of Fuel and Power is not here. I intend to devote an important section of argument to the matter for which he is responsible. I cannot, however, consider that the Business of the House should be frustrated by the evidently calculated absence of the Minister concerned in any particular matter which it is necessary to raise. I will address myself to the Prime Minister as far as possible in this matter.
Here in the case of coal the argument is much clearer than in that of bread. The saving produced by all this stoppage of industry, with its measureless reactions upon our means of earning our livelihood in future years, and averting financial catastrophe, has been very small. What does it amount to? The only figure we had was given to us by the Prime Minster. He said there was a saving of 550,000 tons at the electrical generating stations. That is much less than a single day's output of the mines. How much should I add for the other direct saving: two, three, four days' output? The Government have not told us. Perhaps I should say it is four days—five at the very most. That is all we have saved by the whole of the inconveniences and hardship inflicted on the domestic consumer and the stoppage of industry, leading, mind you, to a rise in unemployment only just short of the previous high peak of unemployment, the last time a Socialist Government was in office in 1930.
1340 It is no pleasure to me to hit the Minister of Fuel and Power now that he is down—I do not know whether he is out or not, but he is certainly not here. I must, however, mark his total lack of foresight. The misleading statements which he made repeatedly are so notorious that I will not trouble the House by quoting them, though I have them here. They have certainly robbed him—I say this seriously to the Prime Minister—of the credence and confidence of the public. Everyone knows he is a very straight, honourable man in private life, but no one will believe his statements about the coal situation in future, and no statement that he makes will receive the slightest attention. It is a matter which certainly should be considered, and which perhaps explains his absence from our Debate this afternoon. He failed to persuade the Cabinet in good time or else they failed to persuade him—I cannot tell, naturally—but he failed to persuade the Cabinet of the calamities which would come upon us, if we ran short of the few odd millions of marginal coal which should be kept as a sacred reserve, as what is called the distributional minimum or, in the "Digest", distributive stock.
There were produced in the year 1946 189 million tons of coal. If we had had only 4 million or 5 million tons more, we could have got through without this disaster, and with something in hand. Five million tons extra, and we should have come through this hard, hazardous winter without a breakdown. The plainest warnings were given. It is remarkable, looking back, how often the figure of 5 million tons of coal was mentioned. Belatedly, the Minister of Fuel and Power himself realised it—What stands between us and success this winter?he asked on 26th September of last year.A matter of 5,000,000 tons of coal.On that coal, he said, depended the salvation of this country. And Mr. Horner—Comrade Horner—speaking at a coal production conference at Edinburgh on 6th October, said:For each 5 million tons of coal of which the industry might be short, there will be a consequential loss of employment to more than 1,000,000 people.There was certainly not any lack of warning from that quarter. Five million tons of coal. Why, the Government allowed its Minister of Fuel or its President of the 1341 Board of Trade to export 9 million tons, no doubt with very good reason, in this same war. No doubt the reasons were good but, nevertheless, 9 million tons of coal were exported in bunkering or otherwise during the year, and 5 of these 9 millions kept at home, or 5 millions imported in good time, would have saved us from a breakdown in the whole of our productive industry which will cost us directly tens of millions and, indirectly, hundreds of millions in the productive energies of our people.
It is no new topic. We watched the coal position vigilantly every year of the war. We took the necessary difficult decisions each year in good time. In January or February you must always make sure that you will be able, by the winter, to build up your stocks to the normal 18 million tons of coal or thereabouts, so that you do not drop below the distributional minimum on account of any extra winter consumption. All through the war, we succeeded in keeping this reserve intact. The President of the Board of Trade stated in his comprehensive speech two days ago that during the war we had steadily reduced our stocks. That is quite untrue.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Stafford Cripps)
§ Mr. Churchill
It is no good the right hon. and learned Gentleman shaking his head; he cannot alter his own "Statistical Digest," or what he calls his own "Statistical Digest," by shaking his head. Our so-called distributive stocks, parcelled out throughout the whole country for the daily consumption, in the winter of 1944, were larger than those in 1939. In the intervening years between 1939 and 1944 they were larger still. Why, then, did he say to the House that we had eaten into, or worn down, our reserve of coal during the war? It is quite inaccurate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman two days ago, with a great deal of emphasis, lifted up this book which I hold in my hand, and charged hon. Members that they had probably never read it or would not recognise it. He took it as a book for which he should have the credit—"Socialism gets things done"—as if he had published this book,' brought it out. Why, this very return, this "Digest," was brought into being at my wish, in the autumn of 1940, but, of course, in the war the figures could not be published. 1342 What the right hon. and learned Gentleman has done is to claim the parentage and the credit—if credit there be for such an obvious act, as to make it public.
However, while he has made it public, and lectured hon. Members of this House on not studying it with more attention, there are some facts in it which have at any rate escaped his omniscient eye. The first one is that there was no inroading of stocks under all the cruel, hard necessities of the war. The figures can be found on page 20. For the first time, in the dawn of 1945, the National Government of those days saw the red light. We have a record of what happened at the turn of that year. The usual coal scrutiny was made, as it ought to be made, by the responsible Ministers at the head of the Government, 10 months before the event. It was reported to me that we should have in April—April is the key month, because then we turn from the winter expenditure to the summer scale in the coal year—only 10 million tons instead of the normal 12 million tons which we had always considered the minimum, and therefore it would be difficult to build up to more than 16 million tons by the end of October. Look at that—January, 1945. Those were very rough days. The Von Rundstedt offensive which had been launched in the Ardennes was still in progress. We were preparing to cross the Rhine. Everything was being strained for that. Nevertheless, at that moment, rather than fall below the minimum precautionary coal reserve, I sent a minute, being well advised, to the Minister of Fuel and Power—my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd-George), the bearer of a famous name—stopping all further commitments to export coal, even to the Armies, without my express permission.
It is a very serious thing to run short of coal in this island when a matter of five million tons can save it. It can ruin the whole of one's war making capacity. What happened after I left office I do not know. By the winter of 1945 the Socialist Government had only built up our distributive stock to 13.8 million tons. Fortunately for them, industry was changing over and had not got fully into its stride. The winter was mild, so we got through to the spring without any major dislocation. That was a period for which we were jointly responsible. There was 1343 the National Government, followed by the Conservative Government at the beginning, and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite at the end. What happened then? In April, 1946, the so-called distributive stocks were down to less than seven million tons—smaller than they had ever been in this century. Surely, then the danger must have been glaring.
The National Government had taken extraordinary measures when our stocks dropped to 10 million tons; it was a very strong measure to check the supply of fuel to the Army when we were pushing a great operation. It is true we can always rely on them having a little up their sleeves. The quartermaster spirit is not lacking in the ranks of the British Army, but still the position was very serious. We took these extraordinary measures when the stocks dropped to 10 million tons. The present Government, however, who have been so busy with so many important intellectual exercises, do not seem to have taken any care, although the stocks dropped to 7 million tons. For a year it must have been obvious that, without exceptional measures, we should never reach the desired 18 million tons by the autumn. That was the time when the Government should have realised what impended. That is the time when they should have taken steps to meet the otherwise inevitable catastrophe—a catastrophe which would have happened, whatever the weather. The weather has added to the misery and discomfort of all our people, but it has not altered the march of economic events in a decisive fashion.
Why did not the Government do anything? I ask the Prime Minister to let us know tonight. We were not at war then. All our enemies were conquered. The seas were opened. I am told there is more tonnage afloat now than there ever has been. A little ordinary forethought and a little planning would have made sure that the necessary minimum of stocks in reserve was not lacking. I cannot understand the answer to this question. Why did the Government not buy more coal? If they could not get it in any other way, why did they not buy it? I am assured that it could have been bought. Five million tons would have done it, and more than done it. It might have cost £8 million or £9 million, but if we did not want it, we could have sold it again. We 1344 should have wanted it as it turned out, and we should not have sold it again.
Here are these gentlemen who are all so clever and eager to make an earthly Paradise, where all the work does itself, where all we have to do is to soak the rich—if any can be found—and hire more officials for control, if there are any unemployed. They had forgotten this elementary precaution. They were so busy planning Utopia, so ardent to score off their party opponents, that they forgot their duty, they gave away our bread, and forgot our coal. If 5 million tons of coal had been bought in the last 12 months, in America or South Africa, it would not have stopped this hard winter but, at least, we would have had the means to come through it without a collapse. It is not a very good advertisement for Socialist planning. In fact, a frightful injury, easily avoidable, has been inflicted upon the wage-earning masses and the unhappy middle class, which will lead to worse privation in the future. That is one of the justifications for the Amendment which I am moving.
Before I leave the subject of coal, there is one other fact upon which I must correct the President of the Board of Trade. On Monday I asked whether the rise in the consumption of electricity had not been offset by the corresponding reduction in the domestic consumption of coal. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer was:No, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. There has not been a corresponding reduction at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 981.]According to this "Statistical Digest," of which we share the parentage, in 1938, the last prewar year, the domestic consumers got 45,500,000 tons of coal. In 1946, they got only 31 million tons of coal—a drop of nearly a third. In the same period the consumption of coal for electricity works increased by about 11 million tons, from 15 million to 26 million tons. But of this, as the Secretary of State for the Dominions informed us in another place, only about one-third is to be reckoned against the domestic consumer. Thus, whereas the domestic consumer was cut by 14,500,000 tons of coal, and as his or her—the housewives come into this—increased use of electricity corresponded to less than 4 million tons, there was a net reduction of 10 million tons in 1946 as compared with 1938. 1345 which is the last prewar year. The population has not diminished. The ordinary people still feel the difference between heat and cold. They still have to use fuel sometimes to cook their dinner. Why, then, should there be this severe reduction in the supply of coal? I venture to think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should study more carefully than he evidently has found time to do, with so much on his hands, this Digest which he commended so ceremoniously to us the other day.
So much for bread and coal. I think I have answered that question—that the Government could have avoided both these shortages by taking reasonable precautions, and that any other Government which has ever sat on the benches opposite would, in the normal working of its affairs, have had the foresight to take these quite manageable measures in good time and not lead us where we are today.
I must say a word about housing. I am sorry that the Minister of Health is not here, and still more sorry for the cause. We are glad to know he is improving in health. We shall all be very glad to have him hack here, in order to bring home to him the position in which we stand. The destruction wrought by the enemy by the bombing of our homes raised the building and repair of our houses to the very first urgency after food and fuel. In nearly two years, in spite of all the regulations, penalties and paper forms, we built fewer permanent houses than were built every two months under private enterprise and Tory government before the war. Remarkable. In those two years, when it was really Operation No. I, fewer permanent houses were built than were built in the ordinary course of affairs, under private enterprise and a Tory Government before the war. [HON. MEMBERS: What about after the last war?"] I thought it was coming. We shall, no doubt, be reminded of Dr. Addison, now Lord Addison, K.G. We must, no doubt, be reminded of his failure after the previous war. It is quite true that he was a great failure; and he was dismissed by Mr. Lloyd George, with lively Labour approbation. It is no part o my duty to defend Lord Addison today. But the need of rehousing then, was not comparable with what it is at the present time, because the cessation of building was not so complete and prolonged, and millions of houses had not been damaged 1346 or destroyed by bombing. Besides, everyone should live and learn.
We improved a lot of things in the war which has just finished, from the mistakes made in the 1914–18 war. Certainly we ought to have rectified a lot of the mistakes made in the last peace, in the one which has now come to us. I am sure it would have been possible, with energy, ingenuity and good will, for the Minister responsible to set in motion again the vast, flexible, complete system of house building, both by private enterprise and by local authorities, which in the years before the recent war was producing houses of a good kind for letting or sale, at a rate four times as rapid as that of which the Government can boast today, after two years of peace and nearly 20 months of office. Socialist propaganda and trade union prejudice have attained a remarkable result in Lord Quibell's case. Here was a Socialist peer, a former and much respected colleague of ours, who tried to stimulate house building by a system of bonuses for the builders, through the number of bricks laid per hour. The builders liked this system, and responded to it. Up went the production rate. Well, we all know what happened to Lord Quibell's scheme. And this is typical of what is happening all over the country.
I turn to the national expenditure of money and manpower. I will mention only a certain number of items which might demand the attention of the House of Commons. First of all, instead of leaving the Germans to manage their own affairs and helping them as much as we could, as Christian men, while stopping rearmament, we are spending £20 million a year on trying to solve their problems when we cannot solve our own, in trying to teach them all to hate the Nazis and only succeeding in teaching them to hate us. Then there is Palestine: £82 million since the Socialist Government came into power squandered in Palestine, and 100,000 Englishmen now kept away from their homes and work, for the sake of a senseless, squalid war with the Jews in order to give Palestine to the Arabs, or God knows who. "Scuttle," everywhere, is the order of the day—Egypt, India, Burma. One thing at all costs we must preserve: the right to get ourselves world-mocked and world-hated over Palestine, at a cost of £82 million. Then there is all this silliness, amounting almost to lunacy, about the spending of the American loan. 1347 I must say, I thought it was to be used to re-equip our factories and plants, and to give us the essential food while we got on our feet again. But apparently far less than one-tenth—I am not going into smaller fractions—was spent on re-equipment and all the rest is subject to further decision.
Then there is the story about the dried eggs. Half the foreign exchange spent on dried eggs last year, if devoted to bringing in maize, would have given twice as much real nourishment to the British people, and there would have been the chickens as well. But no. The maize must go to the delightful people in Yugoslavia and Albania, who murdered 44 of our sailors a few weeks ago. Indeed, some of it may have gone to the Poles and Czechs who, I understand, are offering to export eggs and poultry to us. Then there are the Poles in this country. I would have had them all parked out suitably in Germany, far from the Russian or Polish lines, within six months of the end of the German war. It never occurred to me that anything else but that would have been done. Now they are with us here, eating I am told, in many cases, better rations than we are allowed to have ourselves. I am sorry for these men; they are brave men who have defended their country's cause. But presently the Government will have a bitter quarrel with them, a quarrel which has begun already. Surely, it would have been wiser, in principle at any rate, to have 180,000 Poles in Germany and 180,000 more Englishmen at home. Then, of course, we are told it might have offended Russia. His Majesty's Government have been very successful in not offending Russia. Perhaps they will allow me to offer my congratulations on that.
At the present time we have the pleasure of being administered by 460,000 more civil servants—double the size of the prewar Armv—than we had before the war began, at a cost calculated at £150 million a year. The Socialist ideal is to reduce us to one vast Wormwood Scrubbery. I do not wish to exaggerate it, because it is quite true that at Wormwood Scrubbs there is only one official to every four prisoners, whereas up to the present we have the advantage of only one official to look after every eight wage earners or producers. There is nothing like getting the facts accurately. I am looking at the expenditure of the year. I hope the 1348 Chancellor of the Exchequer will be following this discussion, for I am sure he cannot be entirely blind to some of the tendencies which I am indicating.
We come now to the Minister of Defence. As I say, I was glad not to have heard his quite unexpected performance yesterday. I have a regard for him, and I also think that a Minister of Defence should stand a little aloof from party and Parliamentary disputes. [HON. MEMBERS: Why?] Because he is supposed to run the Services, in which all parties take an interest from one point of view or another. Of course, I doubt whether he has improved his prestige and authority by the exhibition he made of himself last night.
I am bound to say, I hope the Service Estimates will be examined by the House with great care. Quite apart from the fighting strengths which have to be maintained—which I am not arguing today—I fear a very great degree of non-effective padding has been introduced into all three Services under a lax and incompetent political control. I should like to know, as the result of a searching inquiry, whether, for instance, in the Navy there is not a much smaller proportion of men afloat to men ashore, or of men afloat to the money we pay, than has ever been known before. I should like to see some figures on that. I should like to know whether, in the case of the Air Force, there is not an ever-increasing ground-staff compared with those who fly; and in the case of the Army, whether the proportion of fighting men—which is, after all, the end and object of military forces—is not getting continually smaller. It is the old story I have often told of the teeth and the tail. At the moment, I believe, the teeth are falling out and the tail is growing ever longer and fatter. Surely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House of Commons as a whole should take some interest in this aspect.
I suspect, moreover, that the military, naval, and the Air Force chiefs, for whom I have the greatest regard, are not sufficiently controlled in these financial aspects by the present Government. The control by Parliamentary Ministers of the Services is more important in time of peace than in time of war, when military views necessarily predominate. We have weak or absentee Ministers in all three Service Departments. All three heads have been 1349 changed in a year. There are new Ministers now. There is a new Minister of Defence, if he would not absorb himself entirely in politics. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the House of Commons to make sure that strict Parliamentary and financial control should prevent waste, and overcharge to the public. It is doubly important now to reduce redundant noneffectives—quite apart from strategic issues—when so many of our troops are abroad and, consequently, affect our limited foreign exchange.
There are two great topics with which I ought, certainly, to deal—agriculture and finance; but' I cannot trespass too long upon the indulgence of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] The first of these topics was dealt with last night by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler); and we shall explore, or ask to be allowed to explore, most thoroughly in the near future, the very grave situation in home-grown foods, and future plans for growing them. As to finance, I shall follow the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and reserve what I have to say on that dominating subject until the Budget, which is now not far distant.
The French have a saying, "Drive Nature away, and she will return at the gallop." Destroy the free market, and you create a black market; you overwhelm the people with laws and regulations, and you induce a general disrespect of law; you guillotine legislation in the House of Commons, and pass masses of Orders in Council. You may decree that a builder who builds a house without a licence is liable to seven years' penal servitude, but you will find that juries will not convict him. You may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is to increase poverty. In their class warfare, the Government have no right to appeal to the spirit of Dunkirk.
We were all touched and deeply moved at the gifts made by Australia and New Zealand in reducing their sterling balances by.£30 million or £40 million for the sake of the dear old Motherland, now in the mess and muddle into which she seems to them to have been thrown. But it was unpleasant to feel that this aid from our children from across the ocean was little more than half of the money racketed away by the postwar Army in Germany—£58 million in what the Secretary of State for War complacently called a "merry 1350 game" with N.A.A.F.I. cigarettes, marks and sterling. That is the simplest test, and to some extent the measure, of the demoralisation which "Socialism in our own time," for all the honourable wishes and intentions of its votaries, and for all their Pharisaical sneers at an honest profit motive—that is the measure of the kind of degeneration it has brought upon our decent people.
Are there not other needless squanderings and leakages of our life's strength? Is it true that, throughout this winter, nearly one-third of the total capacity of the electric generating production industry has been engaged on export orders? Is it wise, when our whole export programme is cramped through the shortage of generating equipment and of coal, that we should try to boost the export figures in this way? What is the truth about the export of this electric generating equipment and mining machinery at this time above all others? What was the quantity of this vital apparatus exported last year? What was its value? Where did it go? And what did we receive in exchange? The President of the Board of Trade told us that it was particularly for Russia. What then did we receive in exchange? [Interruption.] I took the trouble to look it up.
§ Sir S. Cripps
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me? I said that in the early stages during the war, we were having to manufacture a lot for Russia.
§ Sir S. Cripps indicated assent.
§ Mr. Churchill
I shall, then, not press my inquiry. But a very proper inquiry to make is, what did we get back in return for what was sent? Or when are we going to get it back? Are we going to get back any of the railway sleepers of which Russia has so many? The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the early days of the war. Have we been repaid anything, or have we given it?
§ Sir S. Cripps
The right hon. Gentleman asks questions about current manufacture. That is being paid for in the ordinary way. He knows all about these things.
§ Mr. Churchill
What I feel is this—and I shall look at it from this point and that point, and hon. Members ought to do the 1351 same. The 45 million who live in these islands cannot bear everything on their threadbare shoulders. None gave so freely from the beginning to the end of the war as we did. Now, in our exhaustion, we cannot be blood donors to every part of the world. Surely, there ought to be some sense of national self-preservation in the hearts of our rulers.
I read with interest, and not without surprise, paragraph 9 of the White Paper. The House, no doubt, has it in mind. The point that struck me was this:Our methods of economic planning must have regard to our special economic conditions. Our present industrial system is the result of well over a century's steady growth, and is of a very complex nature. The decisions which determine production are dispersed among thousands of organisations and individuals. The public is accustomed to a wide range of choice and quality in what it buys. Above all, our national existence depends upon imports, which means that the goods we export in return must compete with the rest of the world in price, quality and design, and that our industry must adapt itself rapidly to changes in world markets.The Leader of the Liberal Party must have been very pleased at this. It carries us back to the old days of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. It carries us back to the periods when the laws of supply and demand had some validity, and when the qualities of free enterprise, hard work, thrift, contrivance, and good housekeeping were said to be the sources of national wealth. This paragraph 9 of the Government White Paper might have been conceived by Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Bright. It might have been in the clear-cut language of Herbert Henry Asquith, in the days when the calm lamp of Liberal wisdom shed its refulgent gleam upon a happier world. I wonder who was the civil servant who wrote this for his Socialist masters. Out of the 2,000,000 we have at present, he should be the last one to be sacked. What is the meaning of this death-bed confession? It is the recognition that the life of this island people of 47 million cannot be maintained under the Socialist system. It is a confession that not only have we been deeply injured by all the Government's neglects and mismanagement of our ordinary daily affairs, but that the Socialist dream or the Socialist nightmare—which you will—for which so much of our great prosperity has been sacrificed, is false and foolish, and that it would not enable our present num- 1352 hers of people to inhabit this island or maintain the standard of life to which we have hitherto attained. Why, then, with a situation so complex, throw a series of nationalising spanners into this indispensable system, which is the "steady growth of well over a century"? Why do it wantonly at a time when external facts are so adverse, and all the resources so scarce?
Let me put this case in more general terms. In most cases, management by private enterprise is not only more efficient, but far less costly to the wage-earners, than management by the huge official staffs now quartered upon the producers. Let every man now ask himself this: Is it the interest of the wage-earners to serve an all-powerful employer—the State—or to deal with private employers, who, though more efficient in business, are in a far weaker position as masters? Is it the interest of the housewife to queue up before officials at public distribution centres, as Socialism logically involves, or to go as a customer to a private shopkeeper, whose livelihood depends on giving good and friendly service to his customers? Of course, the State must have its plan and its policy. The first object of this plan should be to liberate and encourage the natural, native energies, genius and contrivance of our race, which, by a prodigy, have built up this vast population in our small island, and built up a standard of living which, before the war, was the envy of every country in Europe. The first object, then, is to liberate these energies; the second stage is to guide and aid all the forces that these native energies generate into the right channels. The Government have begun the wrong way round. They have started with control for control's sake on the theory of levelling down to the weakest and least productive types, and thus they have cramped and fettered the life-thrust of British society. I have assembled and cited all these examples of the foolish misdeeds of the Government as an explanation and justification of why we have no confidence in them, and why we regard their continuance in office as a growing growing national disaster.
If I turn to the future, it is only for a moment. In considering the future, one is on much less certain ground, first of all, because we do not know all the facts, and it is foolish to prophesy unless they 1353 are known, and, secondly, because it is always difficult to strike the true note between giving a necessary warning and spreading despondency and alarm. I do not wish to emphasise unduly the various degrees and forms in which the crisis will present itself to us in the next 12 months. In the White Paper, the Government have certainly gone a long way in indicating some of our principal dangers and have not shrunk from confessing that much of what they have been teaching all these years to the wage-earning masses is false, or that the great hopes they encouraged and the promises they made at the General Election are falser still.
One thing appears to me to be perfectly clear. The Government cannot save the country and carry on the class warfare and a Socialist programme of nationalisation at the same time. They must choose between the two. Either they must go down in a measureless crash with their party flags nailed stoutly to the mast, and carry our country down too, or they must make an effort by dropping their Socialist legislation, by freeing industry and enterprise from the trammels in which they have entangled them, and by restoring, at the earliest date, the outraged sense of national unity, to get out of the troubles in which we are. That is their choice, and their only choice. We have not the power to control their decision. The choice is theirs, but on it our fate depends. Whatever they decide, we shall do our best to minimise the evils they have wrought. We shall inculcate obedience to their decrees wherever these affect the national safety or well-being, even though we dissociate ourselves from all responsibility for the ruin now facing the land.
We do not desire a Coalition. We do not grudge the Ministers their offices, and certainly not their cares. Nevertheless, we must earnestly hope that the Prime Minister and his principal colleagues will take the right turning at this grave moment in British history. The speech which the right hon. Gentleman made at Hanley to win party cheers on 15th February was ominous. It was not up to the level of events, nor was it worthy of the hour. I trust that tonight he will have the courage to strike a truer note of national leadership, and one more worthy of his wartime record in both the wars.
I have two convictions in my heart. One is that, somehow or other, we shall 1354 survive, though for a time at a lower level than hitherto. The late Lord Fisher used to say "Britain never succumbs". The second is that things are going to get worse before they are better. Before the glowing promises, by which the wearied and unthinking people were seduced at the General Election, have been atoned for, all of us, wherever we sit, will have much to endure. We are bound to give the warning while the time remains. It is right to arouse our people to the peril in which they stand. Only when they realise fully the decline and descent, psychological, social, financial and economic, into which we have fallen, and, in part, been thrust, since our glorious victory, will those forces arise in the land in which redemption and recovery can be found.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)
We have had a very brilliant Parliamentary performance by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, but. I am bound to say, a most unconvincing one. We must now get down to the issues which divide us. This Amendment is intended by the right hon. Gentleman as a Vote of Censure on His Majesty's Government. He means it: we accept the challenge. It is an attempt by the right hon. Gentleman to consolidate the serried ranks of his followers who dash hither and thither, without, so far as we have been able to find out, any objective. He is trying to rally his supporters, not on constructive proposals, but on their common hatred of the Labour Party. And let it be said that the right hon. Gentleman has far more interest in the political situation than in the economic situation. He does not like the political set-up, and, quite frankly, his object today—and I think it is perfectly obvious to everybody who has heard him—is to try to discredit it. I assure him now that the Division tonight will show that the Government, in pursuing their General Election policy, have behind them the unanimous support of their followers. I hope that hon. Members will look at the Division list in HANSARD tomorrow morning. The right hon. Gentleman has really done us a good service, in healing one or two little breaches which have recently appeared.
Let the right hon. Gentleman appreciate what he has done in his Amendment now before the House. He has rejected all the 1355 operative words of the Government Motion. There were three main points in that Motion. One was that this House welcomes the "Economic Survey for 1947." It asked the House to agree to support the Government in all practical measures to deal with our problemin co-operation with all sections of the people of the country…It asked for co-operation in order—I quote again—to make secure the foundations of our industry so as to provide a high standard of living for out people.In his Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, while agreeing to welcome the laying before Parliament of the "Economic Survey for 1947 "—the opening words of our Motion—goes on to say that he regrets that the full facts of the situation have for so long been withheld from the country. The whole facts of the economic situation of this country have never been put before it up to now. Our people have lived in a fool's paradise. High financial transactions have been conducted behind closed doors, and the full facts of the industrial, economic situation have never been known. I regret, much as the right hon. Gentleman regrets, that the full facts of the situation have, for so long, been withheld from the country. When did any Government in this country come so frankly to the House, and to the public, and put the grim economic facts before them? When has that happened before? Would a Tory Government have had the courage to do it? They would have hidden themselves behind clouds of words, and behind a spate of oratory from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. They would have covered up everything they could. Let it be said, to our credit, that we have "come clean," and told the people. Supposing that an adventurous Conservative Government had had the courage to tell the truth about things, would it have been in a position to hold out reasonable hopes to the people of this country of anything but jam in the far distant future, based on the fantastic and completely unrealistic hopes of the maintenance of the capitalist system? I think it is fantastic.
Secondly, we appeal in our Motion for co-operation with all sections of our people to aid in the solution of our diffi- 1356 culties. That is rejected by the Opposition; they propose to cut out those words. Is it their view that, should they succeed in defeating us—which is very unlikely—and if they gained the very temporary support of the people of this country—which is just as unlikely—they could proceed to put matters right without such co-operation? Is this point about co-operation with all sections on which emphasis has been put from these benches turned down? It obviously is. The words are excluded from our Motion by the Amendment. What is it then that hon. Members want? Totalitarianism in industry? Is that their case? Or is it the bread line and unemployment, with which to compel submission? They turn down co-operation. Therefore, it must be either the policy of totalitarianism or the policy of the bread line. I defy them to put up any answer to that question.
Or is it that they are very anxious about political co-operation? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition laid his hand on his heart, when he spoke about the outbreak of party politics. I think there were about six references in his speech, all pointing to the desirability of a new Coalition Government, with himself as Prime Minister. At the end of his speech, he said he did not want any Coalition. Well, as far as we are concerned, he is not going to get one. Political co-operation in war is one thing; political co-operation, when building a peace after a world war, depends upon the policy of a body of men who are fundamentally agreed in their political faith. That is what we are trying to do.
The third part of our Motion is cut out by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is the part in which we ask for co-operation to secure the foundations of industry so as to provide a high standard of living for our people. Am I to understand that hon. Members opposite are not concerned about the standard of life of our people? That concern is exclusively repudiated by them. They have cut those words out of the Motion, and they have included other words. In his Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman has withdrawn his support from propositions which, I thought, would have been generally agreed by the House. I imagine that he will live to regret the day that he ever lent himself to a proposal excluding from this Motion the con- 1357 struclive parts, without which this country cannot live. Instead of being helpful, the right hon. Gentleman came down flat-footed in favour of an unqualified Motion of Censure, which he supported with great cogency and force, and with great rhetoric, in his speech this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to prove in the Division Lobby tonight that the Househas no confidence in a Government whose actions hitherto have served only to aggravate the national difficulties and whose proposals for the future are either inadequate or injurious.Let me examine those two statements; they are very interesting. In what way have we aggravated the national difficulties? I was not impressed, and nor, I think, were my hon. and right hon. Friends, by the excursion which the Leader of the Opposition made into the field of economics. I like to hear the right hon. Gentleman speaking on politics, but I am afraid he is a very weak brother in the economic field. How were these difficulties from which we are suffering created? I leave aside for the moment, although I will return to it presently, the question of the cruel instability of the capitalist system, with its recurrent periods of depression and unemployment, its disregard of human considerations, and its ruthless exploitation of national resources for financial gain.
Leaving that aside for the moment, our national difficulties, which are only part of the world's difficulties, arise directly from the catastrophic economic effects of the second world war. It is true that in the West we did not suffer such grievous human losses in the last war as we did in the first world war, but the strain on the economic resources of mankind was far greater than it was during the period 1914–18. I need not enlarge on that matter, but I would point out that the old system, the system before the first world war, suffered a shattering blow from which it has never really recovered. In the second world war, our survival, the survival of liberty, and victory, were rendered possible only by the most drastic changes in the organisation and purpose of our economic system. My submission is that the structure of our economic life, and that of other countries, was fundamentally changed by the two world wars, and that it cannot be restored to meet the tests of reconstruction 1358 and to fulfil the hopes for the future set out in the Atlantic Charter, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was party, and indeed, of which he was part author.
I cannot see how a Conservative Government would, in 18 or 19 months, have successfully grappled with the problem of the breakdown of the old system. They could not have re-established the old system, and they would not have tried to begin to build a new one in harmony with modern needs. Therefore, I think it is just as well that we have inherited this difficult period rather than the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his friends. Apart from these broad, wide considerations, there is the battle with the weather. There appear to be two views about this problem. The first is that it is a divine punishment on our people, and indeed, on other peoples on the Continent, for having lived to see a Labour Government in this country.
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is a view which hon. Members opposite hold. The second view is that had there been a bold, efficient and vigorous Conservative Government, the ills from which we are suffering today, and from which we have suffered, would, in ways which have not yet been disclosed from the benches opposite, have been avoided—including the recent long spell of bad weather. This is just wishful thinking on the part of hon. Members opposite. Let us suppose the worst. Let us suppose that a Conservative Government had been returned in July, 1945. Would coal output have risen last year? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Would such superhuman efforts have been made by the miners, by the railway and other transport workers, by dockers, and by the merchant seamen in the little colliers? Would those efforts have been made in response to an appeal by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in peace time? The answer is, "No."
§ Mr. Greenwood
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will try to explain why. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman realises the part which organised labour had to play, and did play, in the second 1359 world war; but his own past, before the first great war, in the trade union field, his tragic determination, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to restore the Gold Standard, which precipitated the General Strike of 1926, the part which the right hon. Gentleman played in that struggle, his bitter and unrelenting efforts to shackle and crush the rightful aspirations of the industrial labour movement by the 1927 Act—these hard facts in his life did not mark out the right hon. Gentleman as a trusted democratic leader in the days following the second world war, a war in which he played so noble a part. Our thanks will always be gratefully given to the right hon. Gentleman for that, but as a peace leader his history is not such that the common people of this country would have trusted him. Therefore, the truth is that, had the Labour Party not been victorious in the summer of 1945—and the results of the General Election were not really so big a surprise to some people as they were to the right hon. Gentleman—this country would have lacked trusted leadership. Hon. Members opposite may not like some of us very much, but at least we can match man for man in the confidence we have from the rank and file of the people with anybody on the other side of the House.
The White Paper, which many people have talked about, but not everybody has studied with very great care, analyses the situation which arises from the flagrant shortcomings of the capitalist system over generations, accruing liabilities which started long before the first world war, the revolutionary effects of the last world war and the first world war on our economic system, the position in the world as regards shortages of vital materials, and so on, and then at the last hour, afflicted as we were by winter storms, we took account of what were the inescapable results of a long and hard winter.
The Leader of the Opposition, and perhaps some of his followers—I think he has got a rather doubtful body of followers behind him—think that the right hon. Gentleman as Prime Minister would be the country's fairy godmother, who, by a wave of the wand, would disperse all the economic miasma which has settled on the world, get rid of the snow and the ice, and bring the warm sun and the glow of a new prosperity. That view is nonsensical, 1360 and hon. Gentlemen opposite must know that that is so. The country is quite clear about it. This is not a new conflict. Ever since the Labour Party was established the people have known that we were a Socialist party. We are not ashamed of being a Socialist party. The word "Socialism" tastes nicer in the mouth than that ugly, hard and barren word, "individualism." The idea that we have no plan is absurd. Of course we have a plan. The trouble is that we are putting it into operation, and hon. Members do not like it. Where is the plan of right hon. Gentlemen opposite? I understand that there is some very high-powered official committee of the party, but there are also other people, unofficial, and there is no policy there.
What is our policy? Our policy is a definite policy of obtaining for the people of this country equality of opportunity, to which they are entitled in any democratic system, and a reasonable and rising standard of life, under condtions which are honourable to them as citizens, as parents, as workers and as individuals. We say that we cannot do it under this crazy old system which the right hon. Gentleman talks about and which had always lived on margins. When the right hon. Gentleman talks about the promises we made during the General Election, I would say that if he will read "Let us Face the Future "—it is in quite simple language, and would not give him half an hour's real trouble—he will find that we stated there explicitly that we were not offering the world on a plate to the people. We did point that out—my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade pointed it out. They were different from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who exuded more heat than light on the subject. We have never tried to mislead the people. Why should we try to mislead the people? We are born of the people, most of us; we have lived our lives among them. My life is a part of the lives of the old members of my party. If the people arc misled, they are misled by people who never understood what the life of ordinary working class people is. We do not mislead them. Now, after 50 years of struggle in the political field, we have by fair means won political power, starting with almost every man's hand against us. The Tory Party and the Liberal Party have always known what our policy was. We are executing 1361 it. We are to be trusted, within the five year programme, to adapt and to insert measures which in our judgment should be included in the five years work we have to do. That is the realistic view.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke about my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence being aggressive, and so on. I can never keep up with the right hon. Gentleman's adjectives, they are wonderful—"scorn," "hatred," "odious," "partisan." I think he referred to an "aggressive party attack" from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I think he used the words "scorn" and "hatred" about it. Whatever may be said about my right hon. Friend, hatred is not one of his personal defects—not that I have noticed, having known him for a long period of years. Who started this aggressive policy? What is all this talk about class Government and a class war, which the right hon. Gentleman has referred to on several occasions this afternoon? Who started it? Hon. Members opposite started it, and they waged it. I should have thought that their attitude a week last Monday in the House, when nobody on that side wanted to listen to me, disclosed their intentions. They mean, so far as they can, to prevent our programme being put on the Statute Book. I assure them they are not going to succeed. Then, because my right hon. Friend, quite rightly, made a few gentle remarks about the Opposition last night, here the Leader of the Opposition comes down in a state of high dudgeon, showing a certain amount of indignation which I am quite sure he cannot feel in his heart.
That is what this Debate is about. This Debate is not about the economic situation. This Debate is to enable the right hon. Gentleman to pull his people together—God knows, they need it—in the hope that he will get the country behind him with a view to defeating the further progress of this Government. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is taking the wrong line. We can have our own differences, as indeed the other party has its differences, but on an issue of this kind this party stands solid. There can be no challenge about that. We shall continue to stand solid. We shall play the Parliamentary game fairly; we shall do what we think is right in the interests of good and adequate Debate, but we shall not be deflected from our purpose and when, in 1362 a few hours' time, we go into the Division Lobby, I hope the Opposition will realise the strength and unity of this party.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
I have listened closely, as the whole House listened, to the speech which has just been delivered by the Lord Privy Seal. From start to finish it did not refer to the crisis which we are discussing. It answered no single question that has been asked throughout the whole course of the Debate, on either side of the House, and it indicated no line of action for the future. In those circumstances it is an extremely difficult speech to reply to. I think the best I can do is to leave it where it rests.
As the Amendment or Motion of Censure which I seek to support refers in its concluding passage to the actions, or lack of actions, proposed by the Socialist Government for the future, it is on that aspect of the matter that I want to speak. I am not particularly concerned about who got us into this mess, and I am certainly not concerned to argue about it this afternoon. But I am very much concerned, and I believe the country is very much concerned, about how we are going to get out of this mess, and it is to that aspect of the matter that I want to address my remarks. I will leave to other hon. Members the job of comparing the past Socialist promises with the present Socialist performances. I do so, not from any affection or tenderness for the party opposite, but because I believe that we are discussing something which is a great deal more important even than the future of the Socialist Party, and that is the future of this country.
My first criticism of His Majesty's Government is not of their past record or of the mistakes which they have made. All Governments make mistakes. I recognise that. We are concerned about what action they are going to take for the future. During this Debate a devastating indictment of their industrial, financial and economic policies has been delivered, and that indictment has, in the main, in no way been answered. I want to say how I think the matter should be tackled. If one tries to deal with the future in these Debates, one is bound to say things which may be used against one. I shall say things which may be used against me in Debate or against my party in the country, but knowing that 1363 will not deter me from saying them. If hon. Members opposite, and some on the back benches, would spend more time giving us the truth as they see it—and many of them actually do see it—and less time in worrying whether by saying the truth they might lay themselves open to attack by the Tories, we might get a great deal further. I understand that there is a great deal of freedom and frankness in their party committee. I wish that some freedom and frankness could be exhibited by them on the Floor of this House.
I recognise that the failure of which we are all today spectators is more than the failure of the Minister of Fuel and Power. It is much more than that. It is in part, at any rate, the failure not simply of the Socialist Government or of a Socialist Minister; it is in part the failure of a nation. For too long all of us in this country, of all parties, have had the idea—sponsored sometimes, I must say, by the propaganda of hon. Gentlemen opposite—that there was some easy way of recovery and that we could pull ourselves out of our difficulties without too much hard work or too many new ideas, or without abandoning too much of our party doctrine—to whichever party we belonged—or abandoning too much of the cherished industrial traditions upon both sides of industry. The country was wrong in holding that idea. It is held much too widely today. It will go on being held until it is made clear who, in fact, is governing the country.
Why was it that, a year ago, the President of the Board of Trade said that it was a wholly impracticable suggestion to introduce foreign workers into this country? That was the view of the President of the Board of Trade a year ago. Why was it that Polish miners were not introduced into the pits last summer when they might have been able to produce more coal? Why was it that the wage question was not adequately tackled? It seems to me that the reason for these things is that the Government are afraid on this issue of facing either the trade unions, the shop stewards, or some of the hundreds of thousands of men many of whom voted for the Government at the last Election. In many respects, strike action or the fear of strike action has become the substitute for policy. The pressure of industrial groups has taken on the rôle which ought 1364 to be discharged by Parliamentary majorities. These things need to be said. It is necessary to determine in the near future who is governing the country. Is it the trade union movement? Is it the Mineworkers Federation, or the Federation of British Industries, or the shop stewards; or a combination of the lot? Is it His Majesty's Government? I am quite clear who it should be. It should be His Majesty's Government, and the country looks to the Government to do it.
Now I would say a few words about the task ahead. The most frightening thing which I detect in the White Paper is not a note of warning; it is a note of complacency. If one looks at paragraphs 3 and 59, one observes that the Government claim what they call "a high level of industrial activity." When one examines the facts upon which that claim is based, one sees a really horrifying situation. Take the men who are in munitions at the present time. There are half a million men making munitions still for a million and a half in the Forces. I quite agree that the Minister of Defence last night, interpolating between a certain amount of talk on Munich and other irrelevant issues, tried to whittle down that figure, but I want to know what are those half million men making? Can we be informed at some stage of this Debate?
What about exports? The Government claim that we are now exporting 110 per cent. or 115 per cent. in volume over 1938. I should like to have the attention of the Lord Privy Seal for a moment. I want to ask whether that figure includes, as I believe it does, the export of war stores. Can we have an answer to my question? If it does, how is it that a million and a half men are making rather less in exports than a million men made for the war? Why is it that it is taking three men to do the job which two men did before the war? Is that what His Majesty's Government regard as a high level of industrial activity?
Take the question of re-equipment and maintenance. The Government pride themselves in the White Paper that a normal year's re-equipment was done in 1946, and that that will be increased by 15 per cent. in 1947. My right hon. Friend the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan) pointed out that that was rather an inadequate arrangement. The Government thought 1365 it over during the night, and came to the conclusion that he was right. What sort of planning is it that treats the industrial re-equipment of this country as a figure which they can change about over night? What is the plan for mechanising and re-equipping the whole of our industry? Have the Government any idea of the amount they will allocate to that important task over the next 10 years? I am not going to venture a prophecy, but I have seen estimates which ranged between £2,000 million and £5,000 million, to be spent over 10 years. Is the figure which the Government contemplate anywhere near the right figure?
Why is it that in the metal and engineering industry there are 600,000 more men, who are only doing a normal prewar year's work in maintenance and re-equipment? Why in that industry, as in others, is it taking more men to do a job which fewer men did before? There is just one further word on the question of the high level of industrial activity. At least one Member on the opposite side yesterday suggested that a tribute should be paid to the coal miners for the way in which many of them behaved during the recent crisis. I quite agree. I heard of the case of a man who fought his way to the pit and died of heart failure. I am not going to detract from one word of that praise. The miners are entitled, however, to the truth, and the country is entitled to the truth, and the truth is that, man for man, with more machinery, each miner is producing 50 tons a year less than he was producing before the war. That is the truth of the matter. It is no good trying to get out of it.
§ Mrs. Nichol (Bradford, North)
The hon. Member has given only half the truth. He has left out a very important thing—the age group of the men who are in industry at present, as compared with those who were in industry before the war.
I have heard that argument before. [interruption.] The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) spends so much time talk-in this House, that he might allow other hon. Members to make their speeches without intervening. The hon. Lady put a perfectly fair point. The age group in this country is far below that in the U.S.A., and they are certainly producing more coal there. I have dealt with the facts, and if that is what the Government 1366 call "a high level of industrial activity," there is very little hope indeed of this country pulling out of its difficulties. If my figures are right, as I believe they are, on the export side it will take not a 25 per cent. increase in productivity but an 80 per cent. increase to get the exports which the Government require.
That was the picture presented in the White Paper. In any event, it was presented before the crisis developed. The picture now, of course, is infinitely worse. The coal crisis was bad enough, but the Government themselves admit that the effects of the coal crisis will not be anything like as bad as the probable effects of a dollar crisis before we are very much older. That is the situation which confronts us. What are the Government going to do about it? I hope that someone on the Government side will give an answer to that question before the Debate is ended. I will not talk about their long-term policy except to say that I read Part I of the White Paper with interest. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) that one might have been reading any of the admirable policy statements produced by the Liberal Party—not in recent years, I should have said. One might have been reading "Design for Freedom," or any of the Conservative Party publications, the publication, for instance, called "Work," written by Mr. Henry Brooke, before the war. All I say to the Government is that they must make up their minds whether they intend in future to adopt Part I of the White Paper as their policy, which means making the capitalist system work, or whether they are to adopt the Socialist policy. Of course, the two are quite different. If they are going ahead with Part I of the White Paper, to keep capitalism in this country, and all the machinery of the compulsory system and profit motive, or if they are going to adopt Socialism as their policy, they should let us know. We have had so far somewhat divergent views from the Front Bench.
It is not a long-term policy that matters now; it is a short-term policy. What are we to do now? That is what the country wants to know from the Government. Anything which the Government do is bound to he unpalatable, and bound, in many respects, to cut across some of the principles of Socialism. It is bound to meat the abandonment of some of the 1367 promises made at the General Election. I think that the country expects unpalatable things to be said, but they would prefer the truth, and they would prefer to know it now. The Government have told the truth about the existing facts; what the country wants is the truth about the action to be taken upon the facts. They want an answer to this problem, and they do not mind whether it cuts across the principles of Socialism or Liberalism or those of any other party. They want an answer, and, so far as abandoning promises is concerned, I do not think that the country expects the Socialist Government to keep their promises.
Let me say what I think the answers ought to be. I think that the prerequisite is a sound financial policy. I think that unless we get that, none of the other things will work at all. The Government admit a gap of £1,000 million between the goods we are producing and the money we are spending. What are the Government going to do about it? We have not had an answer. We have had speech after speech from this side of the House, notably two brilliant speeches yesterday, one from the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) and the other from the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles). No answer has been given to those speeches. When I saw the Lord Privy Seal get up today, I thought that he was going to answer them. I realise that the Minister of Defence did not know how to answer them last night, or did not intend to, but I expected the Lord Privy Seal had been furnished overnight with a few replies. I must have been over-optimistic for no reply came.
I realise that in tackling the matter of inflation, we have to do tough and unpleasant things, which means reducing expenditure upon Government account. Are they prepared to do that; if they are, will they get up and say so? I know that it means a sharp increase in indirect taxation. No one likes that, but I think that it ought to be done. Will any hon. Member on the other side of the House get up and say that it ought to be done, because the country wants to know what the Socialist Party want, and where it stands in this matter? Above all, I think it means that, quite apart from the merits of nationalisation, we cannot go on churning out bits of paper called Govern- 1368 ment bonds and distributing them in exchange for fixed assets. That does not rule out the principle of nationalisation, but it does mean that we shall have to slow down the process, for financial reasons.
I know that the Lord Privy Seal has fought for Socialism all his life, very hard and well, and generally very fairly. I would assure him of this. If the Lord Privy Seal, or better still the Prime Minister, would get up at this moment and say that they still believe in Socialism, but they realise that they will not be able to do what they stated in the White Paper, because they want to put first things first, and they intend to drop nationalisation of the roads or of electricity—if he said that, I do not believe that his party would lose a single vote in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not expect hon. Members to take my advice, but I am at least free to tender it.
The financial policy is not the end of this matter. This is a human, material problem as well. I am not going to talk at length about coal. Plenty has been said about coal already, but I want an answer to the question which has been asked many times: Are the Government prepared to buy coal? Can we be assured that, before this Debate ends, we shall have an answer to that question? Five million or ten million tons of coal might make all the difference between success and failure in getting through the difficult 12 months ahead. For Heaven's sake do not let us prejudice our chances, for another five million tons of coal. We have done it once; do not let us fail a second time.
As to manpower, the British worker should be considered first. A 5 per cent. increase in output would equal more than three times the output of all the disabled persons we could get from the British zone in Germany. What will be done about that? The Government say in the White Paper that restrictive practices exist in the trade union movement on the employers' side. Is it now accepted by hon. Members opposite that restrictive practices do exist in the unions? I see that one hon. Member last night tried to challenge that contention. If anyone wishes to deny that restrictive practices exist, or if anyone disagrees with the White Paper, let him say so. We should make some progress by getting on record that these 1369 practices do go on, and are restricting output at the very moment when output is vital to this country.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Sweeping away the facts is always a very useful thing to do in argument. We agree then about both sides of industry, but what are we prepared to do about it? What are the Government going to do about it? It is not enough to put it in a White Paper and politely regret it. Are they prepared to have a public inquiry, into the dockworkers' industry and into the lamp rings? [HON. MEMBERS: "Are you?"] Yes, and I would carry every Member on this side of the House with me in saying, that a full public inquiry should be conducted as soon as and early as possible into the restrictive practices both in the dock world and in the lamp rings. I do not think that a single Member of my party would dissent from that. That is a fair, honest and open thing to suggest. Are the Government prepared to accept it? Can I have an answer to that before the Debate concludes?
I want to say a few words on the question of foreign labour. I think what is wanted is a clear cut decision whether these foreign men are coming in or not. I must say this, and I say it almost in parenthesis, that a great human problem is involved in this matter. There are thousands of displaced persons not only in the British but in the American zone of Germany without homes and without hope. Are they to be left there in the conditions under which some of them are living today, faced with the kind of futures which they can anticipate? I choose my words carefully when I say that history may judge that the gas chamber was the finer method of the two. There is a deep human problem in the case of these displaced persons. I have always pleaded and urged, as have some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House such as the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) and the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) as well as Members from the other side of the House, that some of these men should be brought in. I only want to say this: Bring them in, but do not let the Minister of Labour think that he can do any good by screening them. They have been screened by the Russian 1370 security police and by the Gestapo, and many of them owe their lives to the fact that they avoided the results of the screening by the Gestapo. If they have escaped the Gestapo and the Russian security police, is it likely that the Minister of Labour will succeed?
On this question of manpower I want to say a word about the Army. I am not asking that it should be cut down or that it should be increased. I have not enough information to speak on that. Only the Government and the Chiefs of Staff have that information. But I can say this that in war, in times of great emergency, the Army was used upon productive work, particularly in agriculture. In this year of 1947 we are going to have our backs to the wall as regards this matter. We need every man we can get. Agriculture is short by 33,000 men. The Army has got the men trained. Such units as the Royal Engineers can do any job, and they can build their own accommodation. Are we going to have a ruling that the emergency is so grave that the Government intend and the Chiefs of Staff intend to put productive work particularly in agriculture above technical training for this year? I think that that is a fair and possible solution, and it does not affect the size of the Armed Forces.
On the question of wages I say this. I know the difficulty of this wage question. I know that Government after Government have made appeals that wage rates should be related to production. I know it is true today that if we try to pay a building operative a bonus for piecework, we are practically certain to promote a strike. I know, too, if a body of workers comes along and asks for higher wages and a shorter working week, though it is unrelated to production, they are quite likely to get it. I know it is an extremely difficult subject to tackle, but I believe that the Government will be compelled to tackle it. I do not believe that it will be possible to allow that situation to drift.
I know that there are hundreds, indeed thousands, of members in the trade union movement, who risk their position, their popularity and all they have, in order to try to make some sense out of this policy, and to stand up against the demands and the pressure extended against them. I am not talking of those men. They are not heard of. They are some of the heroes of this situation. I know what happens to 1371 them; they keep hold of their position only for a few months. Then an industry clown the road, does not succeed in holding the position and the whole circle starts. The other factory demands and gets a 42 hour week and the others get it too. How is it going to be met? A nine months' moratorium on national increases of wage rates would do more than anything else to give the Government a breathing space at the present time. I know it and they know it. I do not believe that it is beyond the wit of man to reach an agreement with the trade unions on that point. I believe that something of the sort has got to be done.
But what have we got? Have they, in fact, faced up to these things? I listened to the whole speech of the President of the Board of Trade opening this Debate—two hours of it and none too long for so great a subject. I thought it was summed up very well next day in the headlines of the newspapers, "Fuel rationing, trains cut, tobacco saved." That is a terrible commentary. Supposing these headlines had read, "Britain to buy coal, the transport industry to be free to get on with the job, and a 200 per cent. tax upon tobacco tomorrow morning." The British people would, at least, know that the British Government for once meant business.
I do not misjudge the temper of the British people. I realise that somewhere or other in politics, no matter to which party one belongs, one has to make up one's mind about a fundamental issue, and that is the issue of whether we are a great nation or a small one. There are plenty of people who think in their hearts—they do not say it—that this country is somewhere near finished. They think that two world wars have proved too much for a small island of 47 million people. If anyone thinks that then for Heaven's sake do not bring any more workers into the country. Encourage emigration. At the present time I think the Government are doing both. These people look forward to a time when our foreign trade will be circumscribed in narrow channels. We must accept the fact that we cannot afford to pay for the tobacco we are getting from America. Some people would say that for all time we must live in that sort of a way. They see Great Britain like an old man creeping about the streets selling trifles a little 1372 above their cost, which are bought by those who remember him in the days of his greatness and prosperity and do not wish to see him perish in the workhouse. That is not my idea. I think we are a great nation and I think we are going to be a greater one. But if we are and if that is the view of this Government then let them tell the British people the truth not about the facts of the situation—because they are learning those now, and I am afraid are going to learn them even more clearly in the future—but about the harsh, unpalatable actions that have to be taken.
Let us get the men, and if necessary rip out restrictive practices, whether they be on the side of big business or on the side of trade unions. This question has been funked too much on all sides of the House of Commons. Let us face it and see if we can get rid of it, and make the supreme effort which is necessary in order to maintain some balance in our Budget. I know that there is a conflict between balancing your Budget and incentives, but if I had to choose—and I think, broadly, that one has to choose in these matters—I would say that the future of this country and its best hope lie more in the direction of sweat and tears, and less in the direction of nylon stockings for the miners' wives. I think it is on this kind of choice that the Government have to make up their minds. As I say, I think we are a great nation, and I am certain that the Prime Minister has a great opportunity—one of the greatest opportunities that has been extended to any Prime Minister in recent years.
After all, anybody can govern England when all is going well. Anybody can stand at that Despatch Box and, with a few tricks of oratory, describe a great series of victories or triumphs. It takes a statesman to stand there and describe disaster and defeat, and yet bring the people with him to new adventures. We had such a statesman once. The Prime Minister is to reply tonight. I say that I think he has a great opportunity if he will rise above the issues which have divided these parties in the past, and if he will not be afraid of telling the full truth of the situation to the people. If he will do that, I wish him well. I say that with all my heart, even though I know that if he had the courage, he and his party would govern England for many years to come. I hope he will, but if he 1373 will not, or dare not, then let him and his party go and make room for those who will.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Miss Colman (Tynemouth)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) into party politics, but to put three points to the Government as briefly as I can. It is very clear from the White Paper which is before the House and from the Debate which has taken place that the centre of our problems is our trade balance. If we are to pay our way as a trading country we have not only to produce the goods, but we have to find markets for them. Perhaps it has not been made sufficiently clear what an enormous difference there is in our trade position today as compared with before the war. In the years between the wars, from 1924 to 1938, the excess of imports of merchandise over exports varied from £464 million in 1926 to £263 million in 1935. We had this enormous deficit in imports over exports which we were then able to make up as the result of our shipping services, our income from foreign investments, and so on.
This year, we were told by the President of the Board of Trade on Monday, these invisible exports will amount to only £75 million. That means that, compared with before the war, we have practically to pay our way by exports of goods alone. As I said a moment ago, if we are to do that we have not only to produce goods, but to sell them, and we have to find markets for 140 per cent. over 1938. The three points which I want to put to the Government are these. First of all, are we being as ruthless as we should be in cutting imports? We read in the Press today, for instance, that caviar is being sold at ten guineas a pound, and we know quite well that expensive fruits are on sale in the shops and that we spend quite a lot each year in buying wine from abroad and so on. I am not suggesting that the total amount is large; it may be quite small. What I am suggesting is that the psychological effect of the fact that these goods are on sale in the shops is bad.
I have had criticisms on these lines in my own constituency. People say, "If we are so short of shipping space and foreign exchange, why are we buying these luxury goods from abroad?" That 1374 is the first thing I want to ask—that we should, as far as possible, cut down luxury imports such as I have mentioned. The second point I want to put is an obvious one but it seems to me that not very much time or attention has been given to it during this Debate. We must produce all we can in this country. I have in mind, particularly, shipping. The right hon. and gallant Member for North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam) mentioned this yesterday. I also represent a Tyneside constituency, and I know that while the prospects in ship building and repairing are good during the next two or three years, we do not know what the position is going to be after that. There is already on Tyneside a very considerable anxiety lest, after those two or three years of full production, we may go back to the conditions of the years between the wars, when unemployment in ship building was up to 60 per cent., when many of the yards on Tyneside were idle, and when Shipbuilding Securities, Limited, were in control. We are afraid we may go back to that, but we are determined that we shall not. It depends largely, I think, on Government policy whether we do or not. What I want to ask is this.
We know what the target is for 1947—one and a quarter million gross tons. We want to know what the prospects are beyond 1947. The ship building industry has suffered in the past and we want to be certain that we are not going back to the unemployment of the inter-war years, to the state of affairs when yards were closed down and many men put out of work. If we did we should not only be losing the work of a very important section of the people, but should find ourselves, as the White Paper points out, having to pay in foreign exchange for the carriage of our goods in foreign ships. From the point of view of employment and the saving of foreign exchange, which is vital to us, we must have all the ships we can and we do need to know from the Government much more definitely than we know so far the plans for the years after 1947.
My second point, therefore, is: Are we making adequate plans to produce all we can of goods which we can produce at competitive rates? In particular, are we doing all we can in ship building to save our foreign exchange by not having to pay for the carriage of our goods in foreign ships? We have got to expand 1375 our labour force. That is obvious. We have to get into production everyone we can. But in this connection I am rather worried about the suggestion that married women with young children should be attracted into industry. The hon. Member for the Hulme Division of Manchester (Mr. Lee) took the line yesterday that women with young children should be persuaded to come back into industry, and that day nurseries should be provided for the purpose. I feel very strongly about this. We had to do it during the war, but we should not do it now. If we had used up all our labour power and if it was being employed in the most economical way, then, if we were driven to it, I would be prepared to agree to women with young children coming into industry.
The fact is that at the moment there is waste of labour in producing luxury goods. and in providing luxury services, for example, in the more expensive shops and hotels. The first thing we have to do is to make sure that our manpower is used in the best and most economical way. One of our fundamental troubles is that the distribution of our labour is still related to the purchasing power of the people in the inter-war years, when there were great inequalities in the distribution of wealth. Things have changed today, and we should redistribute our labour force to meet this new distribution of our national income. That would give us economies in many directions, and it would give us a much better use of our manpower and womenpower.
There is another aspect of this question of bringing women with young children into industry. I take the view that it is on a par with the question of the raising of the school-leaving age. The Government rightly state in the Economic Survey that:The long-term loss to the nation would out-weigh the immediate gain from delaying the raising of the school leaving age. The education of children of this age suffered severely in the war, and their interests cannot be sacrificed.That was said in reply to those who thought the school-leaving age should not be raised at this time. I believe that women with young children should be at home looking after their children. We may derive an immediate advantage by bringing them into industry, but in the long run we shall lose, just as in the long 1376 run we shall lose if we do not raise the school-leaving age. Further, if we bring these women back, day-nurseries will have to be provided. That means we shall have to find staff. For example, the staff ratio to the number of children in one city of great importance is one to three. That takes into account matrons, nurses, cleaners and so on, and one is required to every three children. Is it worth taking these people out of industry to look after the children so that their mothers can go out to work? I suggest that the net gain would be very small indeed. I am not suggesting for one moment that mothers should not be able to go to work if they wish. I believe in freedom of choice in the matter. What I am against is embarking upon a campaign, as has been suggested in a number of quarters, to persuade these women with young children to enter industry. In conclusion, I would tell the Government that the people of this country will respond to the great needs of the time on two conditions. They will respond, firstly, if they are quite certain that the burden, the austerity they have to endure for rather longer than was expected is equally shared, and, secondly, if the facts are put plainly to them, and in such a way that they can understand and appreciate them.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George (Anglesey)
It is inevitable, I think, that on a Vote of Censure this third day's Debate on the Economic White Paper should have introduced an atmosphere of recrimination. I should like to follow the example of the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) and of the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Miss Colman) and return to the facts of the White Paper. As hon. Members have pointed out, and no one more forcibly than the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), the White Paper is out of date. It is out of date because it was prepared and was in the hand of the publishers before the fuel crisis developed to its full intensity. Another serious situation has since developed, one which may well upset many of the calculations that have been made in the White Paper, and that is in regard to the largest single item of our imports, food.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford said that the people of this country were undernourished. Great sections of the people of this country have 1377 been undernourished for a great many years. I believe it is still in the realms of possibility that we may in the face of the facts have to reduce our present rations. I believe we are very much in the same position in regard to food as we were in regard to coal at the end of last summer, and that unless drastic measures are taken, and taken in time, we may blunder into a food crisis. The situation has obviously deteriorated during the last six weeks. The blizzard has decimated our livestock. It has been estimated that one-third of this country's spring and summer foods have been lost through the great freeze-up.
Now these are hard facts which have to be faced. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said, on Monday, that agriculture was to be given high priority as an import saver, and the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth has just said that we were not cutting down our imports ruthlessly enough in certain respects. But I think that it may well be that we shall not only not be in a position to cut down imports, but may have radically to increase our imports, particularly our food imports.
There is another consideration to be taken into account. The blizzard conditions on the Continent will have affected the crop prospects in Europe, and the drain on the great wheat producing and stock raising countries of the world will be very great indeed this year. We shall, no doubt, have the facts later from the Minister of Food, but it looks from the newspapers as though, although he may have "talked turkey," he has come back with precious little else in his bag. There is, therefore, the possibility that we have to face a cut in rations, with all that that will mean. Throughout this Debate, and on every page of the White Paper, the vital importance of increasing output per man has been emphasised. Members on all sides have, rightly, pressed for increased rations for miners and agricultural workers. A cut in the present iron ration—for that is what it is—would have a serious effect on the health and morale of the people, and on the production of our workers. We have seen the effect it has had in the Ruhr, and in many other countries in Europe. This is a deficit which, I believe, must be made up in some way or other.
1378 I would like to know very much what plans the Government have to meet this situation. Are we to meet this crisis with the same lack of preparedness as we did the coal crisis? The agricultural industry is very short of labour. Last year, crops were left rotting on the ground, because of the lack of labour. This year, we cannot afford to lose one sack of potatoes or one stook of corn. What will be the position? One hundred and seventy thousand German prisoners of war will be leaving the industry; they are going out at the rate of 15,000 per month, and that rate will be accelerated at the end of this year. The shortage will then become critical. I would, therefore, urge the Government to take two steps immediately to meet this situation before it is too late. First, that they should defer the call-up of agricultural workers; secondly, they should offer them some of the inducements that they are giving, and rightly giving, to the men who go down the pits. They should give them priority for housing in rural areas, in order to attract young men on to the land.
There is another matter which is of vital importance, in face of the labour shortage. It is the question of machinery. Agricultural machinery has been exported from this country to the value of over £4 million in 1946. I am not sure that the figure is not even greater. Are these exports to continue while our own need is so desperate? Only a fortnight ago the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins), put a question to the President of the Board of Trade on this matter. He asked whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman would prohibit the export of agricultural machinery, particularly that type of machinery for which the demand exceeds the supply. The right hon. and learned Gentleman refused to consider such a suggestion. We would like to know, before this Debate ends, what the proposals of the Government are to meet what I believe will develop into a critical situation indeed in the coming months.
I would like to say a few words on manpower. The President of the Board of Trade said that the Government still believed that the target of 140 per cent. increase in our exports at the end of 1947 could he achieved. Where is that increase in manpower to come from? The Government are budgeting for an additional 300,000 workers, 100,000 foreign workers, 1379 plus those who will be demobilised, and women. Set against that, will be the loss of 130,000 prisoners of war and the loss due to the raising of the school-leaving age which, I believe, cannot be postponed in the long-term interest of the nation. We have had to wait for this reform for 20 years, since it was first put on the Statute Book in the Fisher Act. It is a reform for which we can no longer wait. How do the Government intend to balance their manpower budget, particularly when they come to the ultimate target of 170 per cent. increase which they have set themselves?
They have said, and said rightly, that they cannot direct labour. No Government in this democratic country could contemplate such a thing. But what they can do is to cut down the number of people on non-productive work. As has been pointed out, we have double the number of civil servants we had before the war. Some Members think that we may be in danger of becoming a nation of civil servants. There could, and should, be a cut there, and I believe that it could be effected without impairing the Service in any way; in fact, I think it might increase its efficiency. A cut should also be made in the Services. The Minister of Defence, among the other things which he said last night, said that he was prepared to go into the charges made about wastage and the uneconomic use of manpower in the Forces. That is all right so far as it goes, but a real cut in the Services can only be effected as a result of a major decision of policy, and a scaling down of our commitments. I am perfectly certain that we shall have to face that issue sooner or later, and we might as well face it sooner, than later.
There is a third source of labour on which the Government can draw, and will be compelled to draw, and about which we have heard extremely little in this Debate. That is the womanpower of the country. It would have been impossible, as all sections of the House will agree, for us to have reached the very high level of production during the war, had it not been for the work of women in the factories I believe it is going to be equally impossible for the Government to reach the target they have set themselves in peacetime unless they extend very considerably the number of women employed in industry. What has happened? In 1380 1945–46 over half a million women left industry. That is a very serious matter. I believe that if we could get back 250,000 women into the manufacturing industries in this country it would be the greatest single contribution we could make to the manpower problem at the moment. In the Debate yesterday, the Minister of Labour pointed to the need for workers in the textile industry. He said that 88,000 were needed eventually, 26,000 immediately, and 60,000 women and girls was the figure he gave for the woollen and worsted trades in the next five years. What inducement are the Government offering women to return to industry? They are not only asking them to work harder, as they are asking all other workers. They are asking women to do something which they are not asking anyone else to do. They are asking them to do two jobs. Do they really think they are likely to get women back into industry in great numbers, if they are not going to pay them the rate for the job? At the beginning of the war, it was computed that in industry a woman was worth four-fifths of a man. As in any other sphere, I believe that depends on the man. But, if that were ever true, which I doubt, it is certainly not true today. We have the authority of the Foreign Secretary in this matter. He was charged with the mobilisation of womanpower in the war, and he said the other day that as a result of the experience of the war output is now about equal, one for one. That is from someone who had a real experience of the actual work of women on a national scale during the war.
I would like to ask the Government two questions an this matter. It has been suggested that it is proposed to bring foreign male workers into certain industries in this country which are classified as women's work, and that these male workers are to receive, for female work, the male rate. That is completely indefensible. It certainly is not likely to influence women to enter industry. It is the Ministry of Labour which lays down conditions under which foreign labour works in this country. Can we have an assurance that that will not be permitted to happen? The second question is this: are the Government going to grant equal pay in the Civil Service, or are they going to say they cannot afford it? Are they going to say that it is going to start another infia- 1381 tionary tendency, if equal pay is given as a result throughout industry? This proposal has been on the agenda of the T.U.C., I believe, for the last 50 years, or more. During that time, wage rates of workers in this country have been revolutionised, but this injustice to women workers still remains. There have always been unanswerable arguments, and decisive reasons why this should not be done, given by successive Governments. I say to this Government that unless they give the rate for the job, they will not have the maximum incentive to women to return to industry, and the Government cannot hope to reach their ultimate target of 170 per cent. increase in exports without mobilising the woman-power of this country.
The right hon, Gentleman the Member for Woodford has moved a Vote of Censure this afternoon. In the days of narrower party majorities in this House, the logical corollary of voting against the Government was that you were prepared to replace it by the official Opposition. With the memory of 20 years of Conservative Administrations in this country before the war, that is not a prospect which can fill any of us on these benches with anything but despair. We believe that the Ethiopian has not changed his skin, in spite of the fact that some hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Monmouth, have gone in for a process of bleaching. Certainly we shall not find ourselves in the Lobby with hon. Members above the Gangway tonight. Then there is the Government Motion. Quite frankly, we cannot be quite happy with either. The terms of the Government Motion are quite unexceptionable. In fact, there is nothing in it. But we are not asked to vote on the Government Motion, we are asked to vote on the policy of the Government to meet the national crisis, and we believe that that policy falls tragically short of what is necessary. We shall, therefore, feel ourselves compelled to vote against the Motion. I may say that we do it more in sorrow than in anger. We do it without any of the hatred, envy, and uncharitableness about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke earlier in the Debate. Hope springs not quite eternal about the Government on these benches but it is quite prepared to spring a little longer.
I hope as a result of this Debate, and of the constructive criticisms which have come from all parts of the House, the 1382 Government will think again, and plan on a wider, more imaginative, and more courageous basis. I believe that one of the greatest disasters which overtook us in the years before the war was the failure of progressive parties in Europe to face the economic difficulties of that time. I do not want to see that happen here. But, let us face this fact, the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite and their policy are on trial. They have a great majority in this House, but that will not save them if they fail in facing up to the economic realities of the crisis. They will need the co-operation of the whole nation, of workers, employers, managers, and of the great mass of the people of this country. They hold in their hands the destinies of a great people. I still hope that they will rise to meet and defeat this adversity, which may also become, in their hands, an opportunity to save the nation.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Taylor (Mansfield)
I do not propose to follow the noble Lady on the question of equal pay for equal work. I was impressed by one remark made by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), to the effect that coal production per man-shift was less now than it was before the war. While there are many factors in this connection, the average age of the miner is now greater than it was before the war; further, the working faces are much further away from the shaft bottom than they were, and that represents an increase in haulage costs. I am sure that the hon. Member for Monmouth will look over those two points in the light of the statement that he made.
To turn to the White Paper, which has been the subject of much discussion, and sometimes of heated debate, I would say that it is certainly both an interesting and a sombre document. As I read and reread it, I was reminded of how devastating and how destructive are the circumstances of war. Let us, for one moment, think of our losses, both human and material. Our attention is drawn to them in the White Paper—losses in men, losses in exports, losses in investments, losses in capital equipment. In the last Parliament, I remember the right hon. Gentleman the _timber for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who was then Prime Minister, frequently coming down to the House, and telling us of the way in which our productive forces 1383 were being geared up. He used to describe to us how, in 1940, this process started merely as a trickle, and by the end of 1944 had reached a mighty crescendo. What was accomplished in that field during the period of the war was really tremendous and terrific.
May I draw the attention of the House to the deployment of our manpower in that period? The White Paper informs us that 42 per cent. of our manpower was engaged either in the Forces or in the supply of arms for them. Only two per cent. of our manpower were employed for the purpose of our exports, and only 8 per cent. on the maintenance of our capital equipment. What was accomplished in that period was a tremendous achievement, and it was certainly no easy job. But I submit that the unwinding process has been no less difficult, and that the Government, in this field, have done a remarkable job, and in my view have every reason to be proud of it. What has been the main task of the Government during the past 18 months? It has been to demobilise the force which was built up during the period of the war, and to set in motion our civilian economy. That has been done with a minimum of dislocation. The best proof of that is to compare the number of days lost at the end of the 1914–1918 war through industrial disputes, and the number that have been lost in this period. In paragraphs 31 and 32 of the White Paper hon. Members will find a clear picture of the switch from war to peace, and I congratulate the Government on the way they have done it.
I wish to make one or two observations about a topic which has been much discussed during this Debate, that is, the subject of coal. I make no apologies for this, not only coming from a mining division as I do, but having spent the major portion of my life working in the pits. First, I would say that of the many issues raised in the White Paper, none is more prominent, and certainly none is more important, than this question of coal. Our exports, our housing, our consumer goods, transport and distribution, all depend upon coal. It is basic and fundamental to our economic prosperity. I recall that many years ago, when I started work in the pit, as a boy, when we were going down the shaft and walking along the roadways, we used to sing 1384 a song. I have not heard it for many years but I would like to quote a few words now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sing it."] I am an Englishman, not a Welshman. The part I want to quote runs like this:Coal, precious coal,What would the world do without it?What would become of our ships on the sea?Our railways, our workshops and big factories?We certainly now know what it is like to be without coal.
I had the opportunity, in early January this year, of unveiling a notice board at the colliery where I started work, and where I was employed for many years. In a little speech, I said that, as a nation, without coal we have nothing, not even a future. In view of what has been said from the benches opposite during the past few weeks, and what has been written in many daily newspapers, I went on to say that the misdeeds perpetrated during the period between the two wars were responsible for the fuel shortage that we have been experiencing during the past few weeks.
Of what does the White Paper remind us? Take 1946. Coal production was not enough to meet our industrial and domestic needs. How many times have we been reminded here that last year, only 189 million tons were produced, but 194 million tons were consumed? The right hon. Member for Woodford had much to say in that regard during his dissertation on the coal situation. I submit that the reason why this commodity is scarce is not because the miners have not played their part but because there are too few of them. Why is that so? It is because the boys have refused to take up mining as a career owing to the treatment their fathers received in the period between the two wars. Mining was for too long the Cinderella of industries, the cockpit of the economic struggle. In my generation there have been three national stoppages. They were in 1912, 1921 and 1926. On each occasion the odds have been heavily against the miners. At the end of the last dispute, they decided to employ a new technique to enable them to achieve what they had been struggling for in these three national stoppages.
In a sentence, that new technique was that they gave no encouragement at all 1385 to the boys to go into the pits. I say sincerely, and with emphasis, to hon. Members opposite that the responsibility is theirs for allowing coalowners to do irreparable damage technically and psychologically to this great basic industry of ours. At one time, coal was plentiful. I recall the time when 400,000 miners were on the roads looking for a job. During this Debate we have heard much about restrictive practices. I well recall that in the middle 1930's there was a system of quotas established in the mining industry. When any pit turned out more than its alloted quota, a financial penalty was imposed on the owner. At that time coal-owners "scrounged" around trying to find a pit which was unable to produce its quota. They were prepared to buy the coal for half-a-crown a ton. If ever a wheel has gone full circle, it is this one. There are not too many miners, nor is there too much coal now. Instead, there are too few miners and too little of this precious commodity which the late Mr. Lloyd George used to describe as "black diamonds." They really are black diamonds. Without them—and this has been impressed upon us during the fuel crisis—industry would stagnate and die. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) said recently that the miners were the shock troops of the industrial army. I will put it in another way. In my view, they are the saviours of this nation. They hold in their hard, battered, horny hands the destiny of this country. It is my view that they will rise to the occasion.
The White Paper informs us that the 1947 industrial problem is fundamentally a problem of coal. Never were truer words spoken. The Government realise this, and they have put down only a minimum target which must be achieved this year. In that connection, I recall that only two weeks ago during the Debate on fuel distribution the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said that this was too low a target. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) said that it was too optimistic a figure, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said it was a realistic figure. Each of them gave reasons to prove his argument. Whatever their opinions were, and no doubt still are, I say that it is a 1386 necessary figure in order to fulfil our industrial and domestic needs for 1947. If our industrial and domestic needs are to be met, and we are to start next winter with a more reasonable stock than that with which we started this winter, I say to the right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench that by hook or crook, they must discover some means of improving the position. We must not start next winter, remembering the vagaries of our climate, with a lower stock of coal than 14 million or 15 million tons.
There are aspects of the mining industry which are peculiar. Accidents and industrial disease take their toll. In 1946, the wastage was 16,000. That figure is the equivalent of a pit employing 1,500 people going out of production every week. The incidence of wastage is really colossal. Silicosis, pneumoconiosis, nystagmus, dermatitis, fatal and non-fatal accidents, take their toll of the fine fit men employed in the industry. In the past too little attention has been paid to these difficulties. I hope that the Coal Board will give immediate attention to the problem. It is important that wastage should be reduced to a much lower percentage. I note that it is the intention of the Government to build up the personnel to a figure of 730,000 this year. If we take into account the wastage on the basis of last year's figures, that represents an additional recruitment this year of no fewer than 100,000 men. I doubt very much whether they can be found in the mining areas. Assuming that they can be found, it is wrong to expect that the mining communities alone will fill the gap. In regard to the remarks of the Minister of Labour yesterday, I say to him, in all seriousness, that if this target is to be achieved, his propaganda and publicity must be nationwide and not confined to the mining areas. Additional manpower is the key to the problem of this industry.
I would have liked to say one or two words about food, machinery and transport, but my time is limited. I would only make these observations about food. It has been stated that additional supplies are to be directed to the mining areas in the form of sugar, fats and tinned goods. Some of the mining areas are cosmopolitan in make-up and contain other workers instead of miners, and I hope that some means will be found whereby miners in those areas will get the food which is being sent to them.
1387 The miners of this country are behind the Government if for no other reason than that the Government have fulfilled their pledge in nationalising the mines. What has it done? It has rekindled their faith and brought them a new hope. I have a quotation for the benches opposite from an ex-Conservative Member of Parliament, Mr. Walter Higgs, speaking in New Zealand. This was reported in one of our daily papers on Monday this week. I would like to know whether it is the Tory policy:Empty bellies are the one thing that will make Britons work. Empty bellies will force the miners back to the pits. It is the only economic way.Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the privilege of allowing me to put these few points.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
I have listened to most of the Debate during the past three clays and I am appalled by the fact that the supporters of the Government appear to have only the slightest realisation of the terrible crisis which has come upon us—a crisis which is likely to get worse. I almost feel from the speeches we have heard from the Front Bench that the Government themselves do not realise how serious it is. The speech this afternoon from the Lord Privy Seal did not deal with the crisis in the slightest. The only one who appears to realise the crisis is the President of the Board of Trade. I cannot help hoping that we may have something more tangible from the Government when the Prime Minister speaks later today.
My first comment on the White Paper is that it is a year and a half too late. The White Paper says that this is a critical moment in our affairs. It is. But it was nearly as critical as in the summer of 1945. The White Paper states that it is the Government's determination to put first things first. It is nothing of the sort. The Government are not putting first things first at the present time, and they have not been doing so for a very long time. The White Paper also says that the Government are now calling for an increase of output per man-year. That is also a year and a half too late. That ought to have started at the end of the war.
1388 At the end of the war all our overseas investments were gone, the railways were worn out, our ships had been decimated, our industrial and domestic buildings had been destroyed, factories which had been doing war work were having difficulty in getting back to their peacetime occupations, and machinery of all kinds was worn out. We had the greatest difficulty in competing with America and the South American countries so far as manufacture was concerned, and we were more impoverished as a nation than at any other period of our existence. In such circumstances we needed two things as a nation. One was wise guidance by the Government and the other was hard work by the people; and we got neither. We had a General Election which gave the Socialist party a surprising majority. The Lord Privy Seal said this afternoon that the Socialist Party thought they would get in at the General Election, but I am sure everybody in this House was surprised by the majority.
Having taken office, the Government did not give wise guidance to the nation. They went crazy on a doctrinaire socialistic policy and no attention was paid to the critical economic position of the nation at that time. Instead of putting first things first, as they now claim to be doing, they introduced Bills to nationalise various industries and services, and now the crisis has come—not caused but precipitated by the Arctic weather. I emphasise that it is not caused by the weather. It would have come in any case. It has been coming for 18 months, but it has been brought to us a little quicker by the weather than it would otherwise have been done. We have got into this mess as a nation because the Government have wasted 18 months in pursuing socialistic ideas instead of attending to the important task of putting our economic position right.
I want to refer again to the statement in the White Paper that the Government now call for an increase of output per man-year. The Socialist Party's doctrine for the past three generations, the doctrine on which they climbed to power eventually, was: "shorter hours and higher wages"— it is difficult for them now to call upon the workers of the country to work harder. It was only natural that when the Socialist Party got into power in the summer of 1945 all the workpeople of the country should say, "Now we will have an easy 1389 time. We need not work so hard and we shall get higher wages," and that is what has gradually, day by day, brought this crisis upon us. Until the Socialist Party are ready to infuse every worker, man and woman, with the spirit of doing a little more work than they are doing at present, we shall never come out of the crisis. Everyone in industry knows perfectly well that there is not a factory in the country, a mine or anything else, where during the past 12 months and up to the time of the crisis, the amount of work per person done in each hour has not been less than it used to be. That is the result to the nation of the Labour Party coming into power.
Although we have had the White Paper, although we have had a speech from the President of the Board of Trade which was certainly sincere and realistically pointed out the serious position we are in as a nation, the Government themselves have not yet faced up to the crisis. The two great difficulties which have happened to us have been the lack of coal and the dislocation of transport. One would have thought at a moment like this that the two Ministers concerned would be devoting the whole of their time, the Minister of Fuel and Power to getting more fuel and arranging for the proper allocation of power, and the Minister of Transport to arranging for the transport of coal, food and various other things. What do we find they are doing? They are spending in Standing Committees three days a week, one on the nationalisation of transport, the other on the nationalisation of electricity. Not only are they doing it, but their officials have to do it, and there are 50 hon. Members of this House on each Standing Committee as well. Supposing a business had a crisis with which the directors and management had to deal, would they devote the whole of their time, attention, and thought to the matter until they had put it right, or would they sit down in the board room and consider plans for extending the factory in 10 years' time?
§ Sir S. Holmes
They would put first things first. The Government are not doing that, and you see history repeating itself in exactly the same way as Nero fiddled while Rome burned. So the Socialist Party, when this nation is in the middle of a crisis, and likely to have a bigger one, are using up their time, the 1390 time of the House and the time of their officials, to consider Bills for the nationalisation of industries which may have some effect in 10 or 20 years' time. I want to emphasise one thing; the only way we can get out of this crisis, the only way we can survive and maintain our standard of living is, first, by wise Government guidance, and secondly, by hard work on the part of all the people.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
I welcome the opportunity of this Debate for dealing with a few matters which caused me much concern, and, indeed, sometimes made me extremely angry long before I became a Member of Parliament. Hon. Members may wonder how matters that worried me at that time have anything to do with the subject which is being debated today, but they are most pertinent to that subject. May I first comment on the speeches of the hon. Member for Harwich (Sir S. Holmes) and various other hon. Members on the Opposition benches, who taunted us with carrying out doctrinaire Socialist policy? Indeed, the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) said that he did not think the people expected us to carry out our Socialist policy. One would expect that sentiment to come from a Member of the Opposition, because the people never expected them to carry out their policy, and they never did carry it out when they were the Government in this House.
It has been rightly stressed in the White Paper that the very life of this country depends on an adequate supply of coal. When I read that I thought what a change of values was portrayed there compared with the not long distant past, when miners suffered so much from unemployment and long months of strife. Indeed, it is a tragedy that it should take a crisis such as we are passing through to make the majority of the nation, and particularly members of the Opposition, realise the true worth of those men who do such difficult work in providing the raw material that is essential, nay, vital, for upholding the economic structure of this nation.
I am certain that we shall have difficulty in attracting the 100,000 extra men needed this year to get our target of 200 million tons of coal. I have no intention of digging too deeply into the past to find the reasons for this shortage of manpower, 1391 but we have first to find what are the causes of the problems facing us in the coal industry today, because, unless we do so, we shall never be able to solve those problems. Solve them we must and, I am certain, solve them we shall. One of the main reasons for the shortage of manpower is the suffering and misery caused by the mineowners in the past. I shall not deal with that now because I feel that that cause of the manpower shortage will be cured by the nationalisation of the industry. I say to those who tell us that we are more concerned with doctrinaire policy that, if we had not had nationalisation, we should have been much worse off for coal today than we are. I think I represent more miners than any other Member from Scotland and, going among them, I sense a completely different feeling—a feeling of hope, an awareness that at last the bad old days have gone. They feel they can now look towards an era of peace in an industry which, for so long, was rent with strife, and that they can expect a real recognition of their work. But nationalisation will not cure all the problems of manpower shortage in this industry, and I want to deal with two of the causes of this problem.
During the war there was in this country a very strong feeling against direction of labour. It was accepted by the majority of the people as inevitable if we were to win the war, but in mining districts there has always been the most insidious form of direction of labour. I ask the indulgence of the House in referring to the mining district which I know best, although what I say of this district is applicable to almost every mining district in the whole of Great Britain. In the north-east corner of Lanarkshire there is within a radius of about four miles, a number of villages the total population of which is 25,000. There is no other industry but mining in the whole of that district. What does this mean for the people who live there? For the boys in that district there has been no real choice of occupation. They have had either to enter the mining industry, or leave their homes to find other work.
It has been much worse for the girls and women in the mining districts. At the early age of 14 almost every daughter of a miner has to leave home to work as a domestic servant in one of our big cities. I used to feel heart-sorry for those 1392 girls before I came to this House. At night I would see those young girls from our, mining villages, during their afternoons or evenings off, in the Glasgow Central station on the mere chance of seeing and speaking with someone from their villages. This inhuman and intolerable form of direction of labour must cease, not only because it is unjust but because I know it is one of the reasons why today there is a shortage of manpower in the mining districts.
Many miners, even when they were not unemployed, left the district which I am describing to go to the cities, not because they wanted another job but because they were determined that their families should not be separated from them. They were determined that they would find some other work if they possibly could. Indeed, in that district, as in many mining districts, there was almost a mass emigration to America and to our Dominions. Almost every family in the village in which I live has some relation in America. What is the cure for this cause of manpower shortage? We must ensure that in a purely mining district, work is provided for the girls in that district. My people are perturbed, as I am, that, so far, the Scottish regional office of the Board of Trade has made no sign whatever of finding work in that district for the women. If we are to keep the men who are there and attract new men into the mining industry we must see that there is work for their daughters and women folk.
The second cause of the dwindling manpower in this industry is the fate of the disabled miner. We have on the books of our local exchange in that district, 451 unemployed men. I understand from the labour exchange manager that between 70 per cent. and 80 per cent. of those men are disabled miners suffering from miners' diseases or from having bean injured in the pit. Many of them have been unemployed for a very long time, and some of them are under 40 years of age. They are told that they are fit for any work but mining. What a fate has faced them so far, and what a fate is still facing them in that mining district. Those men are proud, as most miners are. They do not ask for charity or for unemployment benefit. What they expect from this Government is work. When they speak to me—and I see them frequently at weekends—I find they are beginning to be a 1393 little cynical. They see in the newspapers and hear over the radio that there is a manpower shortage in the country. They cannot understand it. There they are, willing to work, but it is not easy for them to leave these mining villages and go elsewhere because in many instances their sons are working in the mines. I say to the Minister of Labour, whom I am glad is here: There is an Act which was passed in 1944, the Disabled Persons Employment Act. We have been told in answers to questions from Scottish Members that six sites have been chosen in Scotland for factories. Surely, there are no more honourably disabled men than these miners. Something must be done for them—not only for the 400 of whom I have been speaking, but for those in the other mining districts in Great Britain.
If these two causes of dwindling manpower in the mining industry are tackled by this Government—and I am certain it is not beyond their wit to tackle them—they will not only keep the men who are already in the mining industry but, because of nationalisation and because the people in the mining industry see that they and their families will have a better future, further manpower will be attracted into that industry.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Colonel Lancaster (Fylde)
I hope it will not be taken as a presumption on my part if I congratulate the hon. Lady the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) on her speech. We have recently heard three constructive speeches, and most particularly that of the hon. Lady. Anybody fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, at this late stage in the Debate ought to decide whether his speech should range over the general matters in the White Paper, or whether he should confine himself to certain specific principles or matters as contributing to the discussion of the whole. In order to do justice to the problem, one should attempt an analysis of the position as affecting the points one wishes to make, because only by an objective approach will it be possible to view the problem in the proper context. In this three days' Debate, agreement has been reached on all sides on the fact that the underlying cause of the present dislocation and bottlenecks is the very factor which permeates the White Paper—the failure of the Government to put first things first. If we were to relive these 1394 two years I think no responsible Government would again fail to take every step in their power to see that at any rate the framework of our economy was secured. The failure to provide rolling stock, locomotives, generating power, steel—both by production and import—or to take the necessary steps in regard to putting the mining industry on a sound foundation was, I submit, the underlying cause of the situation with which we are faced today. It is easy to be wise after the event, but that so little was done where so much was required is the indictment we have a right to lay at the door of this Government.
I do not want to cover the ground which has been most ably covered by my right hon. Friend the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan). I shall attempt, in the very few minutes for which I wish to speak, to give my analysis of both the coal and the steel situation, for these two are so closely related it is purposeless to discuss the one without the other. I shall go back to the same year as that selected by the President of the Board of Trade, but I expect to place a somewhat different construction on events and my deductions will therefore be dissimilar. I select 1941 in particular because it is from that date that we recognise a definite trend of events which is germane to our consideration of the present problem. I shall deal with this, in the first instance, purely factually, and shall not attempt to give reasons. From 1941, as the House well knows, output fell steadily. It corresponded with the introduction of the Essential Work Order. The results were cumulatively adverse from that date; they continued so till the year 1945 when, with the termination of the war, there ensued a period of inevitable transition. Men left the pits; other men returned from the Forces; there were holiday periods, and all the normal dislocations which were inseparable from such a period. This phase continued to well on into the summer of 1946, and it was not till the autumn of 1946 that the industry began to pick up again. There were a number of reasons for that. The Essential Work Order was still with us, but had been modified; a lot of older men, who had given good service during the war, left the industry; there was a flow of young men back from the Forces, who brought with them an excellent effect in the pits; mining machinery was available 1395 in reasonable quantity, and a general tightening up process of the industry occurred.
I think the President of the Board of trade was perfectly right in saying that we should consider the present situation as arising out of 1945. Well, let us do so. We saw an improvement in 1946—I am not prepared to attribute much of that to psychological reasons—and by the late months of 1946 we had arrived at a production figure of 3,900,000 tons a week. Had it not been for the present weather difficulties, I think we should have attained a steady 4,000,000 tons a week by March of this year. We must anticipate a drop in the summer months, but if the same trend continues we should get on to a 4,100,000 mark in the autumn, with a steady rise subsequently. If that turns out to be the case, we will be getting somewhere towards the 200 million mark. If we are to obtain the 14 million or 16 million tons of stock which we require—and I think we want, that amount over and above what is necessary in the pipe line, another million and three-quarter millions—it means, in effect, we have to put by about one million tons every week of the summer period. There are only so many months in the summer in which, in fact, stock is put by. Once the holiday period arrives, it is very difficult to do so, and we are pretty well confined to the months of May, June and July. It will be a tremendously difficult task. There seem to me to be two things which should be done at this moment. First, the National Coal Board should give their estimate of what will be produced, area by area, and quality by quality. When I say "quality," I mean that coal which will be available for the railways, gas works, electricity undertakings, general industrial purposes or household purposes. Once they have made that estimate for the next four months—the Ministry of Supply should give a firm target for industry, because without that industry will be put in an impossibly difficult position. That is the first step.
Now, what is the next step? We on this side of the House have been taunted, from time to time, with taking the easy course of telling the Government where they are wrong. For a few minutes, I want to make a few constructive suggestions. I know they have been covered by other speakers, but they are none the 1396 worse for that. There is only one way in which we will get more coal immediately on a short-term policy, and it falls under three headings: We want more face room, more men, and more machinery. Now, it is sensible to set out more face room only if it is accompanied by concentration. In suitable cases, we must move men from less profitable seams and pits and concentrate them where they can do the most work. That should not be a very difficult thing to do. We ought to be able to set out the necessary face room, in my opinion, within two or three months. As to the men, it is not the slightest use pitching our estimates too high. We should get the normal recruitment of boys which enables upgrading to occur, and we want as many boys as we can get. If we are to aim at getting youths who can be put into productive work it is not the slightest use attempting to do so beyond the reasonable pace at which they can train them. In my opinion, 2,500 a month is the limit to the number we are able to train.
I must take up the time of the House for a few minutes in going into this in some detail, because it is, to my way of thinking, a most important aspect of our coal problem. The question of training men for coal production is something of which we have now got some experience. Ever since the Bevin boys and the optants came into the pits during the war, the industry has been able to concentrate on the question of training, and to obtain very valuable experience. I myself, when I came out of the Army, took a good deal of interest in this matter, and I was at one time associated with one of the biggest training schemes in the country, under which 1,000 optants and Bevin boys were being trained at one pit alone. Arising out of that experience, we developed a technique of training which came to be recognised by the Mines Department as being I think, the most satisfactory one there was.
The principle of it was that of attuning the man's mental and physical reflexes gradually to the task he had to learn. It was an orderly method taking him from the surface to the coal face by reasonable stages—a month on the surface, a month at the pit bottom, a month on haulage, a month on a loading station, a month on "back ripping" and then two months on a training face. By that means we 1397 were able to get that man on to a working face in seven and a half months. By the time he got on to working at the face he was able, in conjunction with a trained miner, to take his share of 15 yards of the ordinary face—the trained miner taking nine and the learner six yards—the apprentice's production being of the order of 75 hundredweight a day. The Ministry took this scheme seriously, and I was encouraged by the fact that when the new Parliamentary Secretary was appointed to the Ministry of Fuel and Power, he came down last September to investigate these methods. It was something of a disappointment that, when he did get there, all the things that seemed to me to be important he seemed to disregard.
§ Colonel Lancaster
I am afraid he spent a busy day approaching the matter from the purely psychological aspect, and failing to grasp the essentials of the technique. What is the result? On 1st January that system was discarded, and a new training system was substituted. The effect of this new system is, first, that it is going to take a month longer to train those men, and by the new methods they are setting out to produce no more from those men at the end of a further month than 60 hundredweight—a drop in tonnage and a month longer for their training.
I am sorry to have gone into this in such detail, but it is one of the things which, I think, is going to contribute very much to the prospects of our not producing 200 million tons—quite apart from our ever getting over that figure. If we train these young men properly get them on to a working face in the shortest possible time and let them play their part. Nothing detracts more from the keenness and morale of these young men than if they have to spend longer on their training than is necessary, and he is thus kept from getting the best wage available to him To disregard all that experience at this moment, and to go back to a scheme which is far less effective, seems nothing less than tragic.
Now, a word about machinery. We are at this moment 66 weeks behind in our requirements of roller bearings; we are 18 months behind in our requirements of heavy electrical motors; and we are five months behind in our requirements of 1398 rubber belting. These deficiencies must be put right; for these things are essential to coalmining. Why I linked coal and steel together was, that the two things are so complementary that if, in one direction, we are short of materials, then coal production goes, too.
Hon. Members may ask why I have waited until this moment to take some party advantage in producing these facts. I am at the moment employed by the National Coal Board in an advisory capacity. Unfortunately—and I say this in all sincerity to hon. Members opposite —nationalisation does not work that way. The National Coal Board is a mixture of checks and balances. The men comprising the National Coal Board, eminent men in their own line of country, are technicians concerned with setting up their own vertical control down through the division to the area, the divisional organisations are growing apace; immersed in detail; admirable and independent men, but quite inexperienced as far as this industry is concerned have been selected as chairmen of the divisions. They are overwhelmed with the details of their work, and complexities of the machinery of this ponderous organisation. What I am talking about is not an area matter. These are matters of national application. They are things which, if advantage is taken of them, can bring about some improvement in this great industry. But they have neither the time or in many cases the knowledge to take advantage of such advice as one can give them. This is not a personal matter, but it is indicative that the effect of nationalisation, and its limitations. Boards, national and divisional cannot see beyond the detail of what they are trying to struggle with at the moment.
Has anyone seen leadership by the National Coal Board during this crisis? No. It has all been taken out of their hands by the Minister. I do not blame them. But without leadership we are not going to get out of our troubles—leadership by the National Coal Board, by the Minister of Fuel and Power, by the Ministry of Supply, and, above all, leadership from the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the leader of my party said, and said rightly, that the Prime Minister had quitted himself like a man in two wars. He has. We have a right to look to him at this moment for 1399 the leadership which the country is not getting. Without that leadership we shall fail.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Speaking on behalf of my party, which, I regret to say, has been depleted by something like 33⅓ per cent., I take part in this Debate because I think that the challenge today is not a challenge to the weaknesses of a particular industry, but a challenge to the policy of the movement that is represented by the Government at this hour. The challenge is a challenge to both the theory and the practice of the Labour movement.
What is the first point in our Debate today? The issue of the White Paper. I gather from some of the comments that the Government, apparently, made a very serious mistake in issuing the White Paper, in that it declared the bankruptcy of the Government. I cannot accept that view. In my view, the White Paper is, quite rightly, a diagnosis of the situation presented to this country. I ask the House, is it really seriously intended by Members of the Opposition that, 18 months after a world war, with the dislocation arising during the war as a result of the mechanisation of the economic system, and with the sudden change over of the world's economy from war to peace conditions, any Government could solve the problems of the great masses of the people of this country? At least, there is this to be said for the White Paper—that it is a complete and well-examined statement of the facts of the economic situation of the country.
The second thing we have to consider is how to approach it. How are we to deal with this economic situation which the White Paper reveals? Theoretically, there are two ways. Either we can adopt the way proposed by the Government or that proposed by the Opposition, and one is entitled to examine the theories of the Opposition on the basis of their past records. I want to say here, as I said to a public gathering at the week-end, that we have to be honest with the Opposition, and, while recognising that there is no complete analogy between the two years, we must try to visualise a Tory Government in power today, with our knowledge of the times when Tory and capitalist forces were in power in 1921. What was 1400 the situation then? I have no desire to go into any particular industry, but I would say that I come from a city where, at that time, unemployment began to grow, and where it ultimately reached the extent that between 80,000 and 100,000 people were unemployed in that great city, and, at the same period, something like £3 million was being spent annually by the local authority in relieving the destitution. Whatever may be said today about the dangers of inflation and the grave economic dangers of subsidising foodstuffs, and while recognising all the very serious handicaps experienced in working class life, the working people, at this hour, are on a better foundation than they were at the end of the last war.
What is the immediate remedy? I have heard the speeches made in this House in the last two days, and from them it appears that the remedy is, first of all, to avoid inflationary wages. It is a nice way of putting it. In actual fact, it means reduced wages. Some of the speeches dealt with hours of labour, and the old economic argument was again being prescribed—"Reduce wages, increase hours of labour, reduce the cost of the commodity and you have a better opportunity of getting back your markets in the world." I submit that, in fairness to the Government—and I offer no apology for supporting the Government, because I see no other way of facing the situation—and recognising the situation with which the Government were presented, we must recognise what they have achieved in 18 months. They have nationalised the key basic industries of the country. It is suggested, apparently, that the Labour Government gained power by some political subterfuge. One might imagine that the electorate of this country was composed largely of people who were mentally defective. That is precisely the attitude of mind which has been exhibited today. The Government did not come to power in the last General Election. They have come to power through half a century of economic and political struggle, beginning in the well-established local authorities up and down the country, where ordinary working men and women showed themselves capable of surviving examination in their work by the electors of the country. Parliamentary Government is merely a supplementation of the work previously done.
1401 The nationalisation of the basic industries on a purely economic basis, in my opinion, is perfectly sound. So far as planning is concerned, I gather that, according to the Opposition, the Government have done plenty of planning without any plan. Let us be quite frank. This Government are carrying out the programme which they made known to the people of the country. Does anybody expect the results of nationalisation and the planning of the basic industries to be known at once? I put it to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench who are concerned with big business, if they established a new company, or even took over a company which was in a bad way, would they expect that, in the first few months, there would be prosperity? Not one of them could expect it. I understand from the President of the Board of Trade that we are going a stage further, and that there is going to be a co-ordinating plan at the centre. I want to make a plea to the Government that they will permit that plan to work its way right down into industry itself. I see the great trade union movement now as a creative organisation. I think it must still defend itself in many ways, but I think it is now a great creative organisation, and, because of that, the trade union movement must be brought more closely in touch with the management of the industrial life of the country. I am not suggesting that every man in the workshop should be on the board of management, but they must be brought more closely into touch with one another, and I think it can be done.
For many years, in many industries, trade unionists and workers in industry did not give of their very best. Why was that? The reason was that there was a constant fear that, as soon as they had finished the job they were doing, they would be on the streets. Let us make no mistake about that. Today, we are working in a planned age, and I say to the trade union movement that I believe that there must be an incentive in the various industries. I say to the workers in the building industry, and I hope my views will be heard sympathetically, that the future prosperity of the citizens of this country depends very largely on the efforts of the building workers, and, therefore, an incentive is necessary. Concerning the question of the contacts between the workers and their leaders. I think 1402 the old idea of holding union meetings miles away from the industry with which it was concerned is completely out of date. I think the trade union leaders must devise some means, with the help of the employers, if need be, to maintain contact with the men actually inside the industries. I am not suggesting that this should be done during working hours, but some arrangement has to be made so that time will permit these people to meet on the spot and be able to understand each other more intimately.
In such a situation, I am satisfied that one of the things against which we shall require to safeguard ourselves after a few years is over-production, because man today has the capacity to produce more than he can consume, and, with the great changes in the machinery of industry, and the improvements that will come about in the next few years in our transport services—and any director of a railway company will tell us that the machinery with which we are working today is obsolete in every direction—over-production will be the danger. Great praise has been given to the miners, but I think it has been a miracle that, during the last few months, our transport services have stood up to the great strain imposed upon them. One of the most amazing things is that no serious accident has taken place during the very severe winter. I think that is a credit to the people in the railway industry. When we have a complete overhauling of the rolling stock and big improvements in the transport services, what advantages will accrue to our industries, and what advantages shall we get from them?
I want to finish on this note. Politically and psychologically, it would be a complete disaster if the Labour Government ever contemplated, even in the smallest degree, either carrying out the Tory programme, as the Opposition desire, or, on the other hand, contemplating a Coalition on a National Government basis. That would be a disaster. But, economically, I think that there is no answer. Nationalisation of industry must go on. One hon. Member complained about the time being occupied in Standing Committees. Does he want a handful of Members of a British Cabinet to decide whether there shall be nationalisation, and to have no Standing Committees at all? If we are to have a 1403 democracy, then we must have some of its shortcomings. One of its shortcomings is, undoubtedly, the spending of time in argument until a solution is found. In my view, nationalisation has got to be carried on—and more and more nationalisation.
I hope that, at the end of this Debate, if there is a feeling in this House and in the country that there is something dishonest in the purpose of the working-class movement, or something shabby in its economics, that hon. Members opposite will not only debate the matter in the House, but will meet their constituents and discuss it with them. Let us face it quite openly in the places where we can get the people to listen to us, and to understand us. I shall go into the Division Lobby tonight with very great pleasure because, when I first saw the light of day, there was one single man raising his voice on behalf of the working class of this country. Keir Hardie was raising his voice, and was sneered at for the views he held. But, some 20 years later, a Motion was debated in this House on Socialism versus Capitalism. I think that the Lord Privy Seal is the only hon. Member in this House who took part in that Debate. Again, there was an overwhelming opposition to the theories of the Socialist movement. But, in face of all that, and in face of a tremendous propaganda, the Labour movement has come to power. I say to the Labour Party that they can only retain power, and make good their promise to the working class, if they continue to advance towards the socialisation of the economic things of this country.
§ 7.54 p.m
§ Mr. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
During the last two days, I have listened to or read every speech that has been made in this House, either from the Government benches or from this side. I have reached the conviction that hon. Members opposite have not yet realised the gravity of the situation which faces the country today. Many of them have an insight, and a great understanding of a certain part of the problem. But the whole tone of hon. Members opposite has been that we are merely passing through a transitory state, which is the direct outcome of two feet of snow and two months of hard weather. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I cannot emphasise too strongly 1404 my personal belief that this situation is going to get, not only worse, but very much worse before we are out of it.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
That is my opinion. I read with interest the White Paper, and I have also read the statistical review, which the President of the Board of Trade waved at us yesterday. I ask the Government, as did the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) earlier, where, not only the Cabinet, but also the hon. Members behind them, stand in this matter? When opening this Debate on Monday, the President of the Board of Trade said:We cannot afford increases in wage levels or shorter hours unless they increase productivity per man year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 10th March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 994.]I want to know if hon. Members opposite believe that to be a true statement of fact, and a true statement of the absolute necessity of the present times. The President of the Board of Trade also announced his own personal belief—[An HON. MEMBER: And the Government's."]— and possibly the Government's belief, in the necessity for the introduction of incentives into the working of affairs of today. I should like to know whether the Government and their supporters are also convinced of the necessity of that. The White Paper, which I feel is a good summary of the situation as it is today, approaches, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) said, the fence, and takes one look at it. Then the horse jibs. The Government have clearly stated the facts, but they have gone no further.
The problems are twofold. At the moment, we have in the world a sellers' market, but the time is fast approaching when that market will disappear, and then we, as a nation, will have to compete in cost with all the other nations of the world. Therefore, although it will work internally, if wages are put up, it will be impossible to compete with other countries. Secondly, it was mentioned in the White Paper that there are certain restrictive practices going on in the trade unions and on the other side of industry. The hon. Member for Monmouth asked the Government what they were prepared to do about that.
1405 I should like to reinforce his remarks. I ask the Government to state what they intend to do with regard to the restrictive practices on both sides of the industry. This crisis has come upon us at a time when we can ill afford the setback, be it temporary or be it not, in our industry and our economy. At this moment the country needs, above all else, from the Party opposite, and especially from the Prime Minister and his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench, a lead, and that is the one thing we are not getting today. We have had during the last 18 months an absolute spate of words of comfort from practically every right hon. Gentleman on the Government Front Bench. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in a speech at one of his weekend sallies into the country:There is no financial crisis. There will be no financial crisis.Technically speaking, he may be, or he may not be, correct. He has the figures, I have not; but there is no doubt that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by implication, was misleading the whole nation into believing that the financial structure of this country is perfectly sound. I submit that it is not. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council made a speech over the wireless entitled "Britain gets going." He spent about a quarter of an hour telling us how well we were getting going. In point of fact, we very nearly came to a standstill. If the right hon. Gentleman had contributed by stating what was wrong, instead of giving us a flow of words in which he told us how wonderful everything is, I think we might have been a lot nearer understanding the situation than we are today. Lastly, there have been the statements of the Minister of Fuel and Power. His statements have been so varied and so conflicting on all occasions, be it in the House or be it in the country, that I will not waste the time of the House by quoting them now. [Interruption.] I will do so if hon. Members so wish. I will give one quotation. At the time when this crisis started and the Press was making statements about cutting fuel, the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry, at his instigation or that of somebody else, brought out a statement that the electricity supply was not being "cut," hut was being "shed." If ever words of comfort were uttered where no words of comfort were merited, it was 1406 then. I would like to turn for one moment to the situation as it is now, and to the question of what is the cure. The coal situation calls, first of all, for more men. Even here we have the statement of the Minister of Fuel and Power, who, when speaking in Nottingham in September, said:It is completely erroneous conception that more men are required in the mining industry.The Government today are telling us that we need more men. I believe the Government arc right, but, apparently, the Minister of Fuel and Power does not. Does the right hon. Gentleman still believe in the statement which he made? One of my hon. Friends mentioned the need for more faceroom. All hon. Members fully realise that that is one of the limiting factors. Another limiting factor which has been mentioned is the shortage of machinery. We now know that £4 million worth of machinery was exported last year. It takes 18 months to get flame-proof motor generators for the pits. What are the Government doing about that? Have they made any strict, well-conceived plans in regard to that? Lastly, there is the problem of illness and disease in the mining industry. I hope the Government will do all that is in their power to go ahead with all possible schemes for the reduction of disease and injuries in the pits.
The Government have before them today an opportunity such as faced no Government since 1940. They can either create in this country a great nation, as part of a great Empire, or they can bring the whole house down about their ears. The Government must put production before prejudice, they must put their duty before dogma; if they do not, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal, I would say to them, "If you cannot govern, in God's name go."
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
There was no one in the House who listened with greater pleasure to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition than did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), but the whole build-up of his speech was based on an illusion, the illusion being that if the Labour Government dropped its Socialist policy and coquetted with the Tory Opposition, somehow or other this crisis would pass and 1407 everything would be all right. The Tories have got to understand that the crisis which confronts us is a deep crisis of the capitalist system which is hitting hard at this country, and it will, in a short time, stagger America. There is no possibility of getting out of the crisis unless there are fundamental changes in the whole character of the economy and social relations in this country. The Labour Government are not going far enough. We are short of modern industries—we have plenty of slums—we are short of equipment, short of food, short of fuel, short of housing—we are short of all these things —and to nationalise industries and create a mass of debt in the form of compensation will not help us to solve the problem. Those who are put out of industry should get a life annuity and nothing more, and all these millions of pounds that are going in compensation and the big profits now being made should go to modernise our factories, to get equipment, and to ensure that a new basis is laid to our economy.
In the White Paper, we are told, in paragraph 8, something about totalitarian methods and democratic methods. I consider that paragraph to be a beautiful example of ineffable twaddle. We cannot, under democratic methods, direct labour. I do not want to direct labour; want to attract it, which is more important. Women of this country are short of food, short of clothing, short of fuel and of homes. They have had a very hard and bitter time. We have got to do everything possible in order to bring aid and encouragement to them. Ministers tell us we have commitments abroad, that we have responsibilities here and obligations there. May I tell the Government— maybe they will pay attention to me and maybe they will not—that their first commitment, their major responsibility, their outstanding obligation is to the people of this country. Maybe they will tell me that they know that, but let us consider.
We cannot direct labour in the interests of the people of this country; our democratic methods will not let us. We cannot force a lad from Glasgow to go to work in London, we cannot force a lad from London to go and work in Glasgow, for our democratic methods will not allow us. But we can direct the lad from Glasgow and the lad from London to work in Greece putting props under the shaky throne of the German Glucksberg. We 1408 can direct lads from Glasgow and London Palestine to guard the pipe-lines running from the oil wells of Iraq. We can direct lads from London and Glasgow to India as watchmen of the Empire. I say to the Government that their responsibility is to the people of this country. Let them serve the people of this country instead of giving first service to the Imperialists.
I want to see Socialist planning in this country, I want to see it applied to Scotland, with a decision on Rosyth, a graving dock in the Clyde that could berth and service the biggest ships, and an aircraft industry so that Scotland could make a contribution to air transport. But how can we carry out Socialist planning in this country if we are going to be dependent on capitalist methods in what are called the world markets? It is an impossibility. Why have not the Labour Governments of New Zealand, Australia and Britain had a talk together about economic planning, about planning in the interests of the people—not Imperial preference in the interest of capital profit-mongers? Why do not the Labour Government meet with the Socialist Governments of Europe, with the Government of Poland, with the Government of Czechoslovakia, with the Government of the mighty Soviet Union, in planning to provide a tremendous future for the economy of this country and the economy of Europe? There is no sense in having economic planning here, if we are to be dependent on the vagaries of private enterprise in the world markets.
I would like to quote from the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and I would ask every hon. Member to think about this question. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was talking about hard currency, and the need to direct as many of our imports as possible to hard currency countries. He said:It would take too long to go through all the reason; against a policy of indiscriminate re-direction of our exports to hard currency markets, but perhaps I may mention one or two of them. We have a long-term problem of markets ahead of us, as well as a short-term problem, and it would be foolish to throw away, perhaps for ever, a good long-term market, it may be in a Dominion, for the sake of a purely temporary market in a hard currency country. Then there is the question of our responsibility which we cannot burke, for the supply to our own Colonial 1409 Empire of essential goods. Nor would it serve any useful purpose to divert our exports away from a good sterling market overseas to a dollar market if the vacuum that would thus be created were to be filled promptly by exports from a dollar country. One fact which is perhaps not appreciated is that the proportion of our exports going into hard currency markets has increased by about 1 per cent. per quarter during 1946, so the trend is in the right direction, but we must try to accelerate that trend. I have every confidence that exporters will treat this problem as really urgent, important and vital in the national interest." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1947, Vol. 434, C. 978.]I ask any right hon. or hon. Member on this side, how is it possible to carry out any Socialist planning at this stage, when we are faced with an attitude such as that? It is impossible, and so I say to the Government: Carry out Socialist planning—the Tory Party will never cooperate. The Tory financiers and Tory landlords will never co-operate. But let the Government carry out the Socialist policy of planning in this country, and carry it out in relation to the other planning countries. In that way, they will not only provide the opportunity for prosperity for all Europe, but will begin to build up prosperity here in this country.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Colonel Ponsonby (Sevenoaks)
I cannot follow the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) in the manner in which he has addressed the House. Here we are in the crisis, and we should all try to co-operate. I, therefore, propose to address most of my remarks to questions connected with the trade unions. Before I do so, however—and perhaps I shall get a good mark from the hon. Member for West Fife for this—I want to say one or two words about Russia. In two or three days, Mr. Speaker and the rest of the House will receive a delegation from Russia, and it may interest the House if for a few minutes I refer to the attitude of Russia to the basis of this White Paper, namely, work. As one of a delegation which went recently to Russia, I would pay a tribute to the wonderful improvements that have been made in that country. I would not say that their methods are quite as free as ours. But there is no doubt that under the leadership of Marshal Stalin they have made a wonderful reconversion of their industry and considering how they started, have improved out of all measure.
1410 In the U.S.S.R. they attach so much importance to work that it appears in their Constitution. This is what is said in the Constitution of 1936:Work in the U.S.S.R. is a duty and a matter of honour to every able-bodied citizen.On the principle that he who does not work, neither shall he eat. In the U.S.S.R. the principle of Socialism is realised:From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.I would like to tell the House, from our observations, how that is carried out in practice. We went through a large factory, and afterwards had a meeting with the directors and asked various questions. We asked what were the photographs put up on the wall of one side of the factory—I might mention that there practically all the work is piece work. They said that those photographs were of the Stakhanovites. Those are the people who have exceeded their norm or allotted task. On the other side were a number of other photographs. We said, "Who are these?" They said, "Those are the people who have not fulfilled their task. We put their photographs there and we put them in the local papers, to shame them." Then we asked how they dealt with absenteeism and sabotage. They shrugged their shoulders indicating that people who behaved like that were moved off to other places where no doubt the work was harder and conditions less congenial.
When we asked, "What about strikes?" they answered, "Strikes? They are impossible. That would be against the State." That is how they carry on. It is all coupled with perpetual appeals, as we are having here, to the patriotism of the worker, and to the individual to work for the State. The trade unions have duties which are not like those of trade unions here. The trade unions there have little to do with the fixing of the tasks and not very much to do with wages. Their main concern, which they carry out very efficiently, is with matters of welfare—libraries; rest houses and so on.
I come back to the main question of what the trade unions in this country are doing and are going to do to help the Government in the present crisis. Let me point out, in order to supply a background, that, in contradistinction to what 1411 was said by the Lord Privy Seal, this is not only a question of labour but a question of economics. It goes much further than the year 1947. I am aware that the White Paper refers only to the year 1947 and it refers a great deal to how we are to get our export trade going. In that document there is not a single line about the costs of production. Where shall we be in 1950? At the moment, we are, as it were, at the bottom of the hill. To get up the hill we shall have to climb hard during the next few years.
At the moment, as one of my hon. Friends said a short time ago, we are in a seller's market. Perhaps it is not such a vital matter at the present moment, but in 1950 we shall have, as competitors, besides the United States, such countries as France, Germany, Australia, Canada and India. There will be countries who can produce goods much more cheaply than ourselves. I wonder whether the Government have considered that matter, and why they have not mentioned it in the White Paper. How can our trade unions assist, so that we can get down the costs of production?
I turn to the question of the relationship between the trade unions and the Government. I am reminded of the Latin phrase: Post equitem sedit atra cura. I would translate that, "Behind the horseman sits black care". I wonder whether behind the Government sits the shadow of the Trades Union Congress. I wonder whether they are like Sancho Panza with Don Quixote. I would like to know whether there is friendly co-operation with the Government, and what the position now is. Between 1937 and 1939 there was a fear of trade unions, and it prevented the Government of the day from developing a very active policy on rearmament. That was one reason why we were not ready when the war started. I wonder whether it is a similar fear of trade unions which has hindered recently the recovery of the country. I would like an answer to that question. I wish there was a member of the T.U.C. present who could tell us whether trade unions are still inheriting an atmosphere of bitterness, distrust and suspicion. One feels that the trade union leaders are out of touch in some ways with the realities of the present day. I should like to know whether, in their dealings with the Government, the trade unions are ready 1412 to help, without trying to cash in on the situation, and imposing their conditions.
In regard to the relations between the trade unions and industry, I am aware that some industries co-operate well with the trade unions. The trade union delegates place their problems and difficulties before the managements, and the managements put their difficulties also to the delegates. In other cases, there is still distrust, suspicion and fear. It may be on the one side and it may be on the other. I am not surprised sometimes that there is fear and suspicion, from the point of view of industry. So often there appears to be a lack of discipline in the trade unions, leading to strikes that dislocate the whole of a business. It may be the responsibility of the shop stewards and it may be because of independent agitators. Those hon. Members who are engaged in business will know what it means when a strike takes place, very often about a very small matter, and very often unauthorised. I would ask whether the trade unions are prepared to co-operate with industry as well as with the Government, to take drastic action where a strike takes place and is unauthorised. In other words, are the trade unions prepared to control their own members?
I should also like to ask whether the trade unions are prepared to co-operate with each other? The other day in the case which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) the bricklayers were perfectly ready to go on working for "time target" bonuses, but the joiners would not co-operate. The building work was, therefore, entirely delayed, and this because there was not co-operation among the trade unions. Let me make a suggestion. We have heard about the coal target of 200 million tons, and hon. Members have mentioned that it was necessary to increase the number of miners at least to 730,000. I should like to suggest that some industries might be able to assist in reaching that number, by facilitating the transfer of some of their labour to the mines. This might be done by industries which are at present hampered by lack of coal. It might not be at all impossible to carry out this suggestion, but it is no use making it unless there is wholehearted co-operation among the trade unions.
The two other matters which I should like to deal with are hours of work and wages. In both those respects I am look- 1413 ing at the question of the costs of production between now and 1950. My hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) quite rightly mentioned that the amount of work done now was only, for various reasons, 60 per cent., or 75 per cent, of what it was before the war. A friend of mine, a works director, went to Belgium the other day. There he found a country which has been under the heel of the Nazis, but there the people are now working 100 per cent. The trade unions were helping in every way. When he asked them, "What about the 40-hour week?" They replied, "Don't waste our time. How can we get full production on a 40-hour week?"
I understand that in the middle of May the miners are going on to a five-day week. If the miners can get more coal in a five-day week, so much the better, hut I would like to know whether, if they work more than a 40-hour week will that entitle them to be paid overtime? If so, from an economic point of view that too will be adding to the cost of production. In view of the general position, can we afford it? I would like to know what the trade unions are going to do about that. About wages, in July, 1946, the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave an address to the National Joint Advisory Council. I will not quote it, because I have not the time, but he said that exports must be improved; that competitive prices in foreign markets meant competitive costs. He pointed out that wages have continued to rise, and he ended by appealing for the co-operation of industry to keep wages stable, as the Government were keeping prices stable. The President of the Board of Trade, in a speech just before Christmas, said something to the effect that a further increase in inducement wages leading to the spiral made him shiver. Yet what has happened? All through last year there were demands for increased wages and they were conceded. In other words, the economic point of view was not considered at all. Look what happened in the building industry the other day. Sixpence an hour increase was asked for. Hon. Members will realise that 6d. an hour means a £1 a week, and say £50 a year. There are 600,000 men in the building industry, and that would mean an increase of about £30,000,000 in building costs or about £100 per house.
1414 I would point out that if shorter hours are to be worked, and wages increased, or even maintained, we cannot produce goods to compete with the rest of the world. Hon. Members opposite, as well as those on this side of the House, will no doubt realise that that means factories closing and unemployment and with that how can we recover our war losses, repay our debts and maintain our standard of life? I am afraid that in 1950 members of trade unions may say that their leaders have led them up the garden path. I hope that the leaders of the trade unions will consider this. I hope also that they realise that there are a great many members of trade unions who are ready and willing to help. Perhaps there may be 75 per cent. of the workers who will help, if the matter is put to them in the right way. I end by quoting a letter to illustrate this point. One day last week I listened to a broadcast to factories belonging to a company where conditions are good, and where there is the closest co-operation between the management and workers. As a result of the broadcast, this letter, one of many, was received by the personnel manager:It has just, occurred to me that owing to the generosity of the firm during the present close down, also the great loss both to the firm and especially to production, some small measure of appreciation would be forthcoming from the employees if a reasonable suggestion was put to them. One suggestion I might make is that the factory revert to the 5½ day week with previous rotes of pay, for a period of three to six months. Another is that for a shorter period the factory could work a six-day week, including the Easter and Whitsun holidays. Maybe, Sir, you will think that these are rather unusual suggestions, but you will agree that drastic situations call for drastic measures, and I am sure you will not find the majority of employees lacking in the 'helping out' spirit if some such suggestion is put to them.That is a message of hope which I hope the trade unions will take to heart, and co-operate with the majority of their members in helping the country to get through this period of crisis, and prepare for a great and active future.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Hubbard (Kirkcaldy)
I welcome the opportunity, even at this late hour, of saying a word or two on this White Paper on the economic situation. Everybody agrees as to the seriousness of the position, and the Government, indeed have issued this White Paper because of the seriousness of the position. I would 1415 say at this juncture that this White Paper is not issued only to Members of this House, but to the whole of the people of this country. Indeed, the great importance of it is that the extent to which we will be able to meet the difficulties of the situation all the better and all the sooner will be determined by how the members of the public receive this White Paper, and are willing to co-operate in this matter. That will be the deciding factor.
Members of the Opposition have made it clear that they have not much time for plans. They do not like plans at all, but they seem to have a particular grouse, against this particular plan. The members of the public have awaited this Debate, because just as they were anxious to hear the Government's point of view. so they were anxious to hear the alternative put up by the Opposition. We have been told for over a week that the bulk of the people are opposed to the present Government because the plan has failed. If that were true they were probably all the more anxious to find out if at long last the Tory Opposition had an alternative. The nearest approach to an alternative which I have heard today is "Turn back the clock." I am satisfied that the people of this country will not be prepared to turn back the clock.
§ Mr. Hubbard
That is perhaps the sort of contribution one would expect from a Member on the opposite side of the House. They have turned back the clock on many Sundays. That is the nearest approach we have had from the opposite side of the House to a solution of the problem.
The Debate has centred round productivity. There is nothing new about that. I represent Kirkcaldy, a town in which was born, in 1723, Adam Smith; who gave to the world "The Wealth of Nations," and devoted the first three chapters of Book One to the productivity of labour and the division of labour. A great many things have happened since then. We thought that the productivity of labour had been solved. In the early 1930's we found, as a result of the introduction of machinery, and the application of science, that productivity went beyond itself. At 1416 that time there were no shortages. We were living in a period of abundance. We appeared to have solved the problem of productivity. But what did that abundance mean?
Abundance did not mean prosperity to the people at that time. It is true that every shelf in every shop was filled, and every factory was filled. But because they were filled and people could not purchase the commodities, the factories and the shops closed down. Even with Tory Governments, we admit that there was no shortage of coal. There were manmade mountains of coal at that time for the simple reason that the wheels of industry had stopped and the coal was not required. Is that what the Tories mean when they say "Turn back the clock"? Is that the solution they are inviting the people to accept in order to meet this extreme position? They have offered nothing else. We have known cases of men actually increasing their rate of production to find that at the end of the day they were faced with unemployment and everything that went with it.
I am satisfied that if the people have waited for the Tory Party policy to be declared on this great day when the Vote of Censure has been moved, not only will they be disappointed but, if there is to be any solution at all, it is not to be found with the people who do not believe in plans. If the plan is there, we must have some evidence that the Government intend to fulfil it. Of course, we will have difficulties. In my own constituency there is great difficulty. The President of the Board of Trade is to be complimented on setting up working parties to gather information for the purpose of planning industry. However, the Government must give some indication that they intend to do their best to implement the findings of the working parties. Hon. Members opposite have spoken about too many exports. I would point out that there are some imports which we require if we are to carry out the plans which will solve our economic difficulties.
The main industry in my constituency is the manufacture of linoleum, which cannot be done without linseed oil. The position has been made clear to the President of the Board of Trade. I went out of my way to stress the matter, as did hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must tell us as 1417 soon as possible what amounts of linseed oil he is able to make available for the linoleum industry so that they can plan sufficiently ahead. We know that there is a difficult situation at the moment. We must overcome difficult situations. I imagine that with the new season's crop in India he will be in a position to tell us very soon whether or not he can increase the allocation of linseed oil to all industries. In the linoleum industry at the moment many men are suspended. The manufacture of linoleum is of great importance not only to the domestic market, but, to a very large extent, the overseas market. Before the war, the industry depended on overseas trade in order to keep production in full swing. The longer we keep our industry short of the raw materials, the more likely are we to lose our foreign market for linoleum. The reasonable thing to expect is that we should not talk about the shortage of linseed oil but that we should explore every avenue. We shall not explore many avenues by turning back the clock. We shall only do that by moving forward; exploration means to go forward, not backwards. We hope that this problem will be solved.
My time is very limited. There are many other things about which I would like to have spoken. The question has been asked on many occasions during this Debate, "Can the Government solve this problem?" I suggest that they can and that the people of the country will respond to the appeal of the Government because the Government are inviting them to take part in the plan. This time they are included in the plan. On previous occasions, perhaps that did not apply. The success of a plan depends on how well the plan is known. On the other hand, the success of a plot depends on how little is known. Perhaps hon. Members opposite have plotted instead of planned.
It is because we have appealed to the public and given an assurance not only to the miners, but to the textile workers, the engineers, the shipbuilders and the workers of all kinds that increased production on this occasion will not mean increased unemployment, increased underemployment and lower wages. The only two suggestions put forward by hon. Members opposite for solving this problem are: increased hours and decreased wages. That is what they mean when they say, "Turn back the clock." The people of 1418 this country have had their answer in the form of this White Paper dealing with the economic survey, and I am satisfied that they will accept it.
In the past those who run industry have spoken of the importance of the miners, of the common people and of the working class only when industry was in a difficulty. Whenever it has been a choice of raduction of profits or of unemployment, it is not profits which have been reduced. We have been talking about the introduction of Polish miners into the coal mines, and we are reminded of an occasion when the Polish coalminers were competing with the miners in this country. The wages of the Polish workers were 45 per cent. lower than ours and that was used by the hon. Members opposite to support their argument that wages should be reduced in this country because of the keen world competition—[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Member opposite says, "Hear, hear "— an indication again that hon. Members opposite are very anxious indeed to see the miners reduced to a position where their wages have to be supplemented by charity. Whatever may be said in the closing speeches of today's Debate and whatever has been said in the speeches so far, the question will not be solved by right hon. Members in this House. The great public outside are the people who will solve this problem.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Will you tell us whether it is in any way possible to raise the question of the method of selection of speakers? I want your guidance in order to be able to reason out the matter. How can I raise the matter of hon. Members who have sat here for three days and have not been called?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That would not be in Order. The way in which the Proceedings of the House are conducted and the method of selection of speeches cannot he debated.
§ Mr. Scollan
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Are you telling me it would not be in Order for you to guide us as to how we should deal with that matter?
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. As this is probably the last speech on this side of the House, may I ask for your guidance to ascertain whether the Leader of the House or the Prime Minister can tell us if there will be any opportunity for the very large number of back benchers who have not been able to catch your eye to speak in a continuance of this Debate either this week or next?
§ Mr. Lindsay
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It has been proved conclusively in this Debate that very valuable suggestions have come from back benchers on all sides of the House, and the present moment—
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
I must ask the indulgence of the House and I think I shall have the sympathy of the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) in explaining that I am winding up this Debate on behalf of my party owing to the sudden illness of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) who, it had been arranged, should undertake this task. I am, therefore, in the rather unusual position in a House of Commons nearly every Member of which has wanted to speak, but has not been allowed to do so, of being the only person who did not wish to speak, and has been instructed to do so.
I will be quite frank with hon. Members, I confess that had I known this task was to be placed upon me, I should have listened with perhaps a little closer attention to the homilies which were read to us in the early part of the Debate—I must admit that I dropped off once or twice during the sermon—and I should, of course, have been more au fait with every detail of this situation. However, I have refreshed my memory by trying to study again the White Papers—even the famous "Statistical Digest" which has played such a role today—and have also fortified myself by reading the report of the past two days of this remarkable Debate. Owing to our sitting until eleven o'clock last night, I have not been 1420 able to read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence. I am bound to say that I think neither he nor anybody else will ever reread it, with anything except regret. Our affection on this side of the House—for that is not too strong a word—for the right hon. Gentleman, has been very great. We have come to regard him more as a nautical than as a political figure, and he has endeared himself over a long period to us all. But, of course, I suppose even admirals get a little peppery sometimes, and so we must just take his expression "piffle and poppycock" as a kind of Parliamentary form of some more expressive terminology to which he would otherwise have given vent.
But I cannot accept the absolute travesty of the account of international problems before the war which he presented to this House. Falsification of history may have done some benefit to the party opposite; it has done no benefit to the body politic. It is, of course, necessary to simplify; sometimes over-simplification is unavoidable; but deliberate misrepresentation, which is what the Minister of Defence made last night, is an absolute scandal. To say that the Conservative Party was responsible for the war is, I think, to be unfair to the memory of Hitler, who had something to do with it; and if there were mistakes made, and of course there were, they were made on all sides. I remember those days very well. I remember the peace ballot, the campaign against rearmament, the Fulham by-election. I remember a few weeks before war broke out, when the whole of the party opposite voted against compulsory service. No, we have been, I should have thought, through too much trouble and too many dark days during the last few years to start the kind of talk which the Minister of Defence raked up again last night. He is too old a friend and colleague of ours for this to be suitable; let him leave this kind of stuff to his new colleagues—I do not know whether they are his friends—the Minister of Health and the Minister of Fuel and Power who have been an equal liability to this country, whether in war or in peace.
The falsification of history has led to the fallacies of which my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) spoke so well, in his magnificent speech yesterday.
1421 These fallacies have prevailed and have been preached for so long; they have been so long the stock in trade of Socialist oratory, that they are now coming home to roost with a grim irony, even in Whitehall, even with the President of the Board of Trade—for, after all, he did not make his political reputation as a moderate. Indeed, he was so extreme that he was thrown out of his party for what I believe was then called "dangerous deviation to the Left."
These fallacies and untruths fall into many categories. Let us take the question of coal. I listened with amazement to some of the speeches which have been made about coal in the course of this Debate. We are told that the whole trouble, and the inability of the coal industry to produce sufficient coal, to produce anything like the amount that was produced in the years before the war, are due to the folly and improvidence of the coalowners. What are the facts? In the 20 years that I have been in the House of Commons between the two wars, at all times the argument against coalowners and the problem that presented itself was that they were producing not too little coal, but too much. All the schemes, the marketing arrangements, the rationalisation and so on, were somehow to overcome the onerous, troublesome productivity of the mining industry.
That may have been clue to the shortage of demand or to faulty monetary policy both at home and abroad. It may have been due, and I think was due, to the world deflationary situation which was allowed to follow the violent world inflationary situation after the first world war. There may be many people responsible for it. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal tried to fasten it entirely upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). He forgot, most conveniently, that the committee that recommended the return to the Gold Standard was set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the first Socialist Government and had the full support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the second Socialist Government. Whoever else was at fault, it was not the coal-owners' fault. They produced the coal. Those hon. Members opposite who went through that time will agree that the full pressure was for a reduction, and not for an increase in production.
1422 What is the second great fallacy which is now coming home to roost? It is all this "piffle and poppycock"—the profit motive. We are told that to seek profits is unethical and un-Christian; that enterprise and energy in the foundation of great businesses is wrong. We are asked to believe that those of us who have inherited or tried to carry on and honour these traditions, are doing something which is wicked and bad, that we are not benefiting but injuring our country because we have sought, through private enterprise, to build up our businesses at home and abroad. It is bad theology, incidentally, as well as bad psychology. But now there is a change. The profit motive is to be re-introduced, of course, under a more respectable name. I believe it is to be called incentive now. Incentive is to take the form of new privileges—a new privileged class, special rations, special exemption from taxation and all kinds of methods. But what do they seek? To what do they appeal? They appeal to man's desire for more money or better conditions, and to nothing else. Therefore, when this new privileged class comes—and it comes sometimes too quickly, and in rather dangerous ways—we shall rewrite the old line: "The commissar in his committee room, and the poor man at his gate."
The President of the Board of Trade, in a very wonderful exposition, which the whole House appreciated for its breadth and skill, made an appeal to us, setting out the difficulty and complexity of the task, to which we must all jointly put our hands, to try to find some method of making what he called "democratic planning" work, to try to make some middle way between the nineteenth century laissez-faire and a completely totalitarian society. Incidentally, I am surprised and gratified to find how acceptable the middle way is. It has not always been so well received. I agree; it is a difficult task, and if we are to set about it with any possibility of success, we must ask for some concessions to be made from his side as well as from ours. He and his friends are haunted by their past. They cannot now preach unity, national concentration and the Dunkirk spirit, and at the same time continue this propaganda, which is completely out of date and completely fallacious, against private enterprise. It is not a question where 1423 the line should be drawn. That has always to be settled upon technical and not upon moral grounds. If on one day it is said that the capitalist and the entrepreneur is a parasite, he cannot be called in and asked to act as a partner on the next. Whether hon. Members opposite like it or not, they must decide which battle is to be fought. Are they in the battle for production, or are they going on with the bitter battle of the class war? Let them make up their minds.
The Lord Privy Seal, who is not now in his place, was confronted today with a very difficult task. He had to follow one of the most formidable and massive indictments that has ever been made. What did he do? He made no answer. He made a few encouraging noises. As far as I could understand, he implied that the bad weather was a Tory trick, the last crime of Tory misrule. He then went on to say he had got a plan. But he had apparently lost those parts of his notes in which the plan was included. I am bound to say, I felt very sorry for him. He told us, with a certain charm which he always has for us: "Well, we have been running this movement for 50 years. We run it constitutionally. It has been a grand battle. We sprang from the people—most of us," he said, with a certain naivety. "Gradually fewer and fewer of us," he might have added. If I may judge from the latest appointments to the Ministerial bench, unless one has been at Eton or Haileybury one has no chance of getting into a Socialist Government. The right hon. Gentleman might have added: "We have come to the end of our journey. At last this time we have, not only office, but power as well. But at the end of it all we find that Socialism does not work "—with sad results for him. Naturally it has left him in a state of some emotion. We can only share, to the best of our ability, in his sorrow.
There are, of course, in this White Paper, as has been pointed out, many, many faults. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) pointed out in his excellent speech, it was much better done in the Coalition White Paper of 1944—better written and more explicit. Certainly, this deals with only one year: it was only a short-term policy. We used to be told that in long-term policy and planning lay the great strength of the 1424 party opposite. Of course, this White Paper deals with a lot of facts and figures which are made completely out of date by the first two months of 1947. There are no plans, no specific proposals. There is one definite proposal, and only one, and that is to set up again what was, I think, quite foolishly abolished at the end of the war—the joint planning organisation, set up by the former Minister of Production, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton). That is really all it amounts to—to go back to an organisation which served us very well, and which might well have been kept.
What this nation wants is something simple and clear. Men and women want to be told what they are to do. If we drift on from crisis to crisis, from the fuel crisis to a food crisis, from the food crisis to another fuel crisis, and then, at last, to a dollar crisis, leading to a starvation crisis—why, then, indeed, the anger of the people will be justified and will be severe.
There are one or two points which, in the time I am allowed, I should like to put. The past mismanagement of the fuel position has been castigated with such severity by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that there is little for me to add. It is certainly true that never before in our long Parliamentary history could a Minister have survived such incompetence. He has, at least, given us the benefit of his attendance at the end of today's Debate, though he is separated from the President of the Board of Trade by a solid phalanx doubtless as a protection from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's anger. But he has survived not by his position in the Cabinet, not by his position in the House of Commons, but by a kind of extra-Parliamentary power which he has mobilised; and if he had mobilised the fuel resources of the country half as well as he has mobilised forces to keep himself in office, we should have done much less badly.
As for the future, the 200 million tons are not enough. Can we have some guarantee, since coal is the very life blood, the basis, of all production, that we shall obtain, either by our own production or by purchase from abroad, the necessary amount to keep industry at full blast? 1425 What is the use of our going down to our works, and making great appeals to our men to work harder and produce more if, every odd day, we have to stand them off, because we have no power? The thing makes no sense. Coal is the very basis of our industrial life. We must have the coal, either by production or by purchase, if we are not to repeat next year the miserable performance of this year.
Secondly, I want to raise a point on exports. I cannot understand why we are exporting so much equipment. We are buying very little. We are spending only 3 per cent. of the American Loan on machinery and equipment, against 32 per cent. on tobacco. Why are we exporting so much equipment, and whither are we sending it? The hon. Lady, the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) made a very well balanced speech, in which she told us of the two rival parties and of how happy she would be with neither, if both dear charmers were away.
The hon. Lady made a powerful point that £4 million worth of agricultural machinery had been exported. Tractors are being exported. Where to? To hard currency areas, or to soft currency areas? What is the good of exporting the very instruments by which we can produce more food in this country, and then spending our dollars in buying food? Why are we exporting, not only agricultural machinery, but in January alone locomotives worth £300,000, railway wagons and trucks, £495,000, conveyor belting, £1½ million, electric power generators, £500,000? What are the answers to these questions? Unless I misunderstand this "Statistical Digest"—and it was painful to see how the greatest cross-examiner in England wilted beneath the criticism of it —I cannot follow what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. I think he told us that, only in the war period had we sent any electrical generating machinery to Soviet Russia.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The Trade and Navigation Returns for 1946 show that, in that year, electrical generating machinery worth £940,000 was exported to the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Macmillan
That is a very disingenuous statement to make to the House. 1426 The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that that was just a hangover from the year before. If this is the basis of the statistics on which the plan is made, I can now understand why we have got into such a frightful condition. I believe that there is a far better policy which will concentrate on keeping at home what is necessary to keep up production here.
Thirdly, are we going to have some reduction in the national expenditure? Are we going to face the effect of all this inflation, because, if not, it will carry us all away, and make any real re-deployment of our labour quite impossible, so that the whole national plan will be swallowed up in an inflationary situation? Are we going to tell the people frankly what they are expected to do? If we tell them that, they will make the sacrifice that is needed, but we must tell them frankly, with fair and honest reasons. What is the difference between the present time and the time of war, when we were colleagues together? What alarms me on this question is the verbiage of the language used. Let us take the famous directive—paragraph 136. Is it better, in the mining industry, the printing industry, the electrical and many other industries, to come now to a shorter week, a shorter number of days, and trust to get the higher production; or is it better, for a short time longer, to work longer hours? That is the problem that posed itself in the war, and it has posed itself again.
I have heard, in the same month, two Ministers of the Crown make two absolutely contradictory promises of what is likely to happen in the mining industry. The President of the Board of Trade, on 26th February, said:Taking it by and large, and with the five day week coming in, probably in the middle of the year, or whenever it is, we shall not be able to get much more than 200 million tons this year."—[OFFICIAT REPORT, 26th February, 5947; Vol. 433, C. 2117.]When the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that, with the five day week coming in, not more than this figure would be reached, he must have meant that the five day week would restrict production. Yesterday, the Minister of Labour told us that the Government had decided that they could only produce the amount if the present six-day week arrangements are modified, and, after all, we have, rightly or wrongly, to look to the manage- 1427 ment of this immense nationalised industry. What is the directive they have received? All they got was:The nation cannot afford shorter hours of work unless this can be shown to increase output per man year.Shown by whom? Demonstrated by what method? To whom, and by whom? Shown by a posteriori reasoning, or by a priori reasoning? What does it mean? Was that the kind of direction given to Field-Marshal Alexander? Were those the directions under which generals were asked to launch their campaigns? Were they told, "You will, on the one hand, be asked to attack the enemy, and, on the other, not to lose a man." What does it mean? What use is it? If one were sitting on the board—a non-political, ordinary man—and received this directive, would one say, "By Jove, this answers all my problems"?This is passing the buck" on a scale unique in history, and it is deplorably weak at such a time.
I have undertaken to leave the Prime Minister—and he will require it—a longish period in which to reply to the formidable indictment that has been made. I want to know what attitude the Government are going to take. What is the real final plan, that they are going to put before the people? And I would say this. Consider how far we have dropped from 1945. It is terrible to go out of the country, and to find what ordinary people abroad think of what is happening here. We know that it is not true; we know that we have the power within us still, to build ourselves again as a great people. We know that this is not really an economic, but a moral, problem. We cannot, of course, solve, altogether by ourselves, the problem of the balance of payments. There are pressing problems, but if we face them honestly, and do everything that we can within our own economy, then we shall be in a strong position to ask, if it is necessary, further aid from our American Allies. But if we do not take any action, and if we allow ourselves to drift along, what right have we to appeal to the further assistance of the world?
The problem of this Government is really this. They have had one great difficulty from the start: they never expected to get in. It has been a shock to them, from which they have not wholly re- 1428 covered. Faced with ever-deepening cares, some of them—and we much regret it—are breaking up under the strain. Some of them are just watching, knowing how bad the position is, and knowing, in their hearts, how much stronger remedies ought to be applied. But they cannot apply those remedies. They are imprisoned by their past; and they have made great mortgages to the future, and they have to let this thing go, to what looks like an inevitable crash. They cannot rouse themselves. The people are puzzled. Many of them are rather baffled. They do not understand what is happening. Unless they are overcome by a sort of creeping paralysis of apathy, and disillusionment, they will come to the end of their patience, and there will rise again the cry which I have heard in this House, and which was the prelude to the greatest Administration in our history:If you cannot govern, in God's name go.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I am sure the whole House will agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in regretting the absence from our Debate this evening of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), and particularly its cause. He has our sympathy, and so has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley, because the right hon. Gentleman is a very eminent exponent of planning, the middle way, and I am sure, if he had had more time, he would have been able to give us a very useful contribution to our Debate. It may be because, to use his own picturesque metaphor, some of his stock in trade may have come home to roost, but I thought he hardly did himself justice. I would only say with regard to his earlier remarks that I think he was too hard on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) because he condemned in the very strongest possible way a statement which he made and which was quoted by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. The trouble arose through the quotation of a statement by his leader.
We have had three days devoted to this very important question, the economic position of the nation. In old times it was quite customary in this House for a whole day to be spent, or two days, on the Motion to call attention to the state of the nation. I think it is a very useful thing that we should have one. Very 1429 thoughtful and helpful speeches have been made on both sides of the House. I could cite a number of them, but I will only mention three, and to be impartial, one from each party. There was a very notable speech by the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan). There was an extremely able and thoughtful speech by my hon. Friend the Member for the Hulme Division of Manchester (Mr. Lee), and there was a very interesting speech by the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George). I could have wished that the whole of these three days had been devoted to the general topic of the plan, but in this Debate the Leader of the Opposition has injected his Vote of Censure. Well, I do not complain of that at all; he had given us notice some weeks ago that he wanted a Vote of Censure, he had no particular reason for it at the time, but this seemed to be a very good occasion for bringing it in, and he likes this form of oratorical exercise. We all enjoy hearing him do his stuff, but I do not think he contributed very much to the serious side of the Debate, although there are some points with which I shall be dealing in the course of my remarks.
He always amuses me a little because he always gets up with such an air of injured innocence. He is always the man who is superior to party, yet we had not been in office for more than, I think, four months before he tabled a Vote of Censure, and he had the same cry then as he has today. His complaint is always this, "Why cannot you follow a Conservative Party policy, and then we will support you?" He always seems to regard whatever views he holds as essentially above and beyond party—an amiable characteristic that has carried him through a long and varied career. He complained rather bitterly that the "Daily Herald" was partisan. He is a great reader of the newspapers, and I am sure he sees all the anti-Labour Press. Those papers do not mince their words about the Labour Party. I would not say that they are entirely free from envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. It is a fact that there is a continuous stream of denigration. One expects that in party organs, within certain limits, provided that they have due regard to the good of the country.
I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman emphasised the patriotism of his party in 1430 accepting the Measure which I had the honour of introducing during the war for the control of all property and persons. He said that it was very patriotic. I quite agree, but it was equally patriotic for Members on this side to accept those restrictions. Surely, unless we think that property is more important than persons, the honours are even. Therefore, I do not see why there was any need for that exclusive claim.
I desire now to turn to the general course of the Debate and to look at some of the principal points that have emerged. I think the first two days showed rather a larger measure of agreement than might have been expected. Few, if any, voices were raised for a complete return to economic anarchy. The hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) will have to remain a lonely figure, roosting on a perch up there on the back benches.
§ Sir Waldron Smithers (Orpington)
May I remind the Prime Minister of a speech that I made 21 years ago? He has been compelled in the White Paper to confess that I was right.
§ The Prime Minister
I shall have to look it up. There has been general acceptance of the principle of democratic planning. There are no advocates here of the totalitarian State; at least, they were not vocal in the Debate. There were no advocates actually in the Debate—I had already referred to the exception—who believed that we could do away with all controls. I believe there was one unguarded reference by the right hon. Member for Woodford. "Away with controls," I think it was, more a flourish than an argument.
§ The Prime Minister
I would not pin myself to the exact words. It was thrown off by the way and was something like "Let us get rid of all these controls"; but I do not want to press it against the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The Prime Minister
I will bear in mind that point of unity between us. The right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), who has a great deal of experience of administration, pointed out the danger of trying to make too 1431 detailed and too elaborate a plan. I think he, therefore, rather answered the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), with his talk of blueprints. I think that the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery wanted something more elaborate. Especially is this true of a time of dislocation and resettlement, following a great war. Inevitably, in our planning, we must take account of many unknown factors. There must be a great deal of flexibility. The suggestion that we could get a complete blueprint, even before the war ended, woud have been rejected, I think, by any Member of the wartime Government.
There had to be a considerable amount of latitude in regard to the kind of conditions of that time. During those 18 months we had to have regard to the foreign situation, the delays over peace treaties, and the difficulties of occupation. All those affected the question of the Defence Forces, which we would like to keep as low as possible, but in the settling of which we have to have regard to our responsiblities, which we cannot get rid of. Then there was the long and rather anxious uncertainty about the American Loan. If we had not got the American Loan, we would obviously have had to plan on a different basis. Above all, we were planning at a difficult time, when there were many shortages, shortages of food and attempts to get food, not only for this country, but for many countries for which we are responsible, Malaya, India and Ceylon. We had to have many diversions of goods to get the food produced to help those people. All those things would cut across any blueprint plan put down long before.
Again, in the agricultural programme, we were hampered by inability to get hold of feedingstuffs, and in housing we could have a most wonderful plan, but we had to consider the timber situation. It was the same with transport. In transport we had the difficulty of getting sleepers. All those points had to be present in the minds of planners, and we had to adapt our plan to those circumstances. I think this is an overriding factor in the situation, which was very well brought out by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) when he said that much of the controls are necessary in the face of inflationary pressure, which must be kept 1432 in check. If we had abundance, we would not need these controls. That is perfectly true. It is the question of shortages that makes control necessary, and it is also true to say—there was a good deal of talk about purchasing power —that everyone in the wartime Government realised that if we were able to build up an impending mass of purchasing power, that might sweep down all barriers to inflation, unless very careful controls were kept on. In a time of shortage, unless we are prepared to let the strong get everything, and the weak go to the wall, we had to have rationing. But, if we had rationing, we must have it enforced, or an enormous black market. Therefore, if we are enforcing rationing, we must have swollen Government staffs. We would all like to see a reduction in Government staffs. Many of these staff increases are due to the aftermath of war, and many of them are due to shortages necessitating rationing. Some others are due to the taking over of functions which were formerly carried on by outside agencies.
I will revert for a moment to the question of shortages, because that brings me back to some of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. Those statements seemed to me to be based on misapprehensions of fact, or, perhaps, on a misunderstanding of statistics. He again repeated the old exploded canard about the Lord President's visit to the United States of America. That was very fully explained in the House. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was present. It was very fully explained at the time, but there crept into the right hon. Gentleman's statement a delusion that we were able to get what food we pleased, even if it were only with borrowed money. That is not the position in the world today. When we go to the people who have food, and allocations are made, we try to get what allocations we can. As a matter of fact, we got allocations for ourselves, but we also did not neglect the claims of others for whom we are responsible, for the Colonies and for occupied Germany. I must say I was rather shocked by what the right hon. Gentleman said. His comparison of the rations was, as I say, a mistake of statistics. He was comparing not like with like. He was taking the ration of a heavy 1433 worker in Germany as compared with the ordinary one over here. What did shock me rather was that he thought we ought to take everything for ourselves and let other people go hang. That has not been the attitude of either side in this House. We have been pressed over and over again that it is our duty not to allow starvation in Germany. We have a very hard task. This pressure does come down very heavily on everybody. We are endeavouring to maintain the strength of cur people but we cannot stand by in this country, and if the Government did not act the general public would. We are bound to relieve this suffering.
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman ever really knew what the condition of a great many people in this country was between the wars. I say he never knew because I know the right hon. Gentleman so well. He has an intense sympathy with suffering, and I am perfectly certain if he went over to any place for which we were responsible, and saw people suffering from lack of food, he would come back and demand that we should help them. I do not think he knew what the conditions were in the mining villages, in the depressed areas or in the East End of London, or he would never have suggested that people were better fed before the war than they are now.
Let us turn to coal. There, again, the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to appreciate the fact of shortage. He said, "Why do you not go and buy some coal? Get some coal from America." That is the nice old-fashioned way in which we were brought up, that if we had the money we could go to the shop and get it. At the crucial time we could not get coal from America. There were big strikes there, strikes in the coal industry, strikes in transport, and what little driblets of coal they had, of a very inferior quality, was going to the Continent of Europe. I was being appealed to by State after State to see if we could supply any coal because they were hard hit. That is why we could not accept that offer to divert to this country the coal which was going to the Continent, because we had to take into account the position of others. If we can get coal from abroad during this coming year to relieve our necessity, by all means we will do it. It is not very easy to get the coal, any more than it is 1434 easy to get the food, because there are very few places from which they can come, and they are being very carefully allotted.
The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) made an interesting speech in which he also raised one point about which I think he was misled. I think he was mistaken about feedingstuffs. Again, feedingstuffs are subject to allocation by international bodies. They are not our feedingstuffs. We have to get them, and there is a world shortage, and the allocations are made. Broadly speaking, all the prior allocations go to feeding human beings before chickens, even if they are Yugoslays. That is the position. The right hon. Gentleman was— I may say that I inquired into this—misled by the statement in the "Daily Telegraph." The statement was, I gather, that there were 5,000,000 tons of maize which we had refused. I understand that that is about the total exportable surplus. We are unlikely to get it all. As a matter of fact, there was no question of this 5,000,000 tons. We are getting what we can from them. The right hon. Gentleman was obviously misled by a mistake in a newspaper.
The fact is that in a world such as we are living in today, even if we have the money or we can borrow the money, we cannot get the goods. We are living in a world of shortages. It is in these shortages that we have to plan. I want to say just a word or two about planning. I agree so much with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley that it was a pity that during the Caretaker Government the machinery that had been set up for this was destroyed. I find in these last three days that there is general agreement on the type of planning which is suited to the economic and political conditions of this country. What we require are rot plans conceived by a Government in isolation, implemented by a Government by compulsion, but plans worked out in consultation with both sides of industry and willingly carried out under the general guidance of the Government. We are not blind to the difficulties of planning, but this is—and we recognise it—a great experiment. This is democratic planning.
We have been criticised because the Survey we presented is confined to 1947 and because we have not yet laid a long- 1435 term plan, a five-year plan. The fact that we have not yet laid a plan for five years does not mean in the least that we are not working on it. That plan takes a lot of working out. We have to ascertain and study the requirements of all our chief industries and bring the results of those studies together. Not until we have done that have we got the basic material for a long-term plan. That preliminary work is already advanced, but as soon as we have reached a certain stage we then need the help of industry as a whole in considering these problems. My right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade informed the House that we intend to suggest to the various organisations the formation of a small board working with the Government's planning staffs. That was taken in some quarters to mean that that was the only amount of consultation that would take place. Far from it. That consultation is going on all the time. We want the full co-operation of industry and of labour. One cannot substitute consultation through, a small board or a large board or one central organisation, for consultation with individual industries in regard to their own particular problems.
Let me say that when I heard, as I did hear, hon. Members stress the need for consultation with industry, I carried my mind back to the scorn with which the first proposals of my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade for working parties were treated. Yet they proved very successful. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sure if hon. Members have read their reports they have found them most valuable. A great deal of consultation has taken place on these lines.
There was some talk about the Monnet plan. I know M. Monnet. I have great admiration for M. Monnet. I am quite sure that M. Monnet did not proceed to evolve a plan out of various suggestions made by various groups. I am quite sure that M. Monnet had the general outline of his plan well in hand before he approached the various industrialists and workers to whom reference has been made. But even if that were so, we should be wise not to copy too slavishly the plan of another country where the conditions are very different from our own. I think I am right in saying that in France they have not got the kind of 1436 consultation between the two sides of industry that we have developed in this country over so many years. They also had, their whole governmental machine shattered by the occupation, and I would also say that there has been a certain discontinuity in French administration which rather militated against planning by a Government. We must proceed on our own lines.
May I remind the House of two things? For the first time in our history an attempt has been made to produce a plan of this kind in peacetime. In the planning that we did under the Coalition Government, in the planning we have done under this Government, for the first time in our history we are trying to plan for the whole of the people—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—for a standard of life for every one and for abolishing the submerged tenth or the submerged fifth, the existence of which was an essential feature of the economic organisation of the old days. In the old days they said that the machine worked itself, but when the machine was maladjusted, the trouble all fell on the people at the bottom. In such planning, it is difficult to avoid some degree of maladjustment. I am not going to pretend for a moment that there has not been some maladjustment. The success of demobilisation, the speed of the reabsorption into industry and the starting of industry, the housing and repair work, have made a very big demand for coal, bricks, steel and all the rest. The great pressure on all kinds of raw materials has undoubtedly overstrained our present production of fuel, and our resources in generating plant.
If we had not pressed on with our programme, we might have had enough fuel to keep those wheels going slowly—and a mass of unemployment, a reduced standard of life and generally a far worse psychology, than we have today. I can remember the psychology in the year and a half following the first world war. It is upon the industrial factor—the coal industry—that was grossly neglected and mishandled during the inter-war period that this strain has come. We are paying for past neglect. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not denying that a good deal of this was due to inevitable war conditions, the fact that we had no young men coming into the industry and that we had older workers, the lack of development and the lack of repairs and 1437 machinery in the war period. The fact is that, apart from anything with regard to the material equipment of the mines, the most serious hangover from the inter-war period, was the psychology of the worker in the mines.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), in a very clear and temperate speech, pointed out just what had happened in the mining areas, the fact that throughout the mining areas there was despair and that every one, teachers, parents and all, told people not to go into the mines. We cannot get over that psychology all at once, and I do not believe that any thoughtful person, looking at the events of the last 25 years, or looking even further back, can doubt that we should never get the psychology of the miners right, as long as We had the private ownership system in the mines. I think it was a pity that the tight hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) did not grasp this opportunity during the war. He put a ban on all schemes of nationalisation.
I think he was over-timid in regard to the party behind him. I think they have moved a good deal further than he has. I think he tended to look back to the past of the Conservative Party as he knew it years ago. If he had come forward boldly and said to his own party, "When the war ends, I expect to come back again, I expect to have the responsibility. We shall at once have this coal trouble. Had we better not deal with it in the war?"; if he had appealed to them, and said, "This is a vital factor. I have great plans for housing "—he had great plans for housing—" You cannot have all those houses unless you get fuel going"; if he had done that, he would have done a great and statesmanlike service by declaring for nationalisation. Yet, because we stand for nationalisation, we are told we are just following party ideologies. When, despite the clear facts of the situation, the right hon. Gentleman refuses to go in for nationalisation that, of course, is not party ideology. I do not believe there is anybody on the benches opposite who believes—
§ Mr. Churchill
It was the agreement on which the national Coalition was formed, that there should be no controversial legislation except on subjects necessary to the prosecution of the war.
§ The Prime Minister
I quite agree. We had to come in, and do all our planning, and all our work on the basis that the general structure must be kept on the Conservative lines. The right hon. Gentleman cannot complain if, now that we have come in, we want it done on our lines. I am sure he would do exactly the same thing. I am glad to see, as I expected, that he is taking a patriotic view. He says, in effect, "Just as you came in during the war, and agreed to accept a capitalistic basis of society, so now that in this House you have a Socialist majority, I am willing to support you in your socialistic endeavours."
§ Mr. Churchill
Of course, there was an overwhelming common cause in saving ourselves from destruction.
§ The Prime Minister
I agree, and the right hon. Gentleman gave us some very fine oratory today emphasising the fact that we have a common cause today. The fact is that that is exactly where the right hon. Gentleman has made his mistake—in thinking that nationalisation is a mere fad. He imagines that nationalisation is desired for nationalisation's sake. It is not so; it has never been so put forward in any Socialist writing; it is simply a means to an end. [Interruption.] It is a means to an end, and the ends of the Socialist movement have been set out over and over again, in various papers, and they are: a fine standard of life for all people, and putting the interests of the community before that of certain private property interests.
Therefore, looking at this weak point in our industrial structure, quite apart from the technical reasons which have been set out in Commission after Commission, for the psychological reason—and the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly stressed the importance of psychological attitudes—of getting coal, the right thing was to go ahead with nationalisation. If only we had done that during the war, we should have been in the position to get coal production going. Unfortunately, this difficulty has overtaken us of the great demand coming before reorganisation has gone to its full extent. Precisely the same thing applies to transport and electricity. Here may I refer to the bitter attack which the right hon. Gentleman made upon me? He referred to what he described as a very disgraceful speech that I made. It was not a widely reported speech. The only 1439 thing reported was that I said we wanted to continue to carry out our Socialist policy. I am sure that 40 years ago the right hon. Gentleman, speaking on a platform, would not have felt ashamed of saying, "I intend to carry out a Liberal policy," and five years ago, "I intend to carry out a Conservative policy." There is nothing wrong in saying that. I say today that this policy of ours is one in which we believe, not because it is a party fad but because we believe it is the best way of organising these particular factors in the economic life of the nation.
I have never yet failed to stress the difficulties of the present situation. I did not fail to stress them in a broadcast speech which I made at the Election. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities is probably too busy —I do not complain—to read speeches of Members of the Government in various parts of the country, but I have frequently used the simile—not the ice simile which the right hon Gentleman quoted—which I used at the meeting where I addressed a large gathering of trade unionists in Manchester, where the main theme that I used was that for years we had been fighting to see who should get the largest slice of the loaf, and that today the vitally important thing was to increase the size of the loaf because I believed we were now in a position to give everybody an adequate share. That is putting the matter in simple language. I have stressed that point very often. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think these things were never said. They were said constantly all through the day all over the country. With regard to the others, I am afraid I have not time to go through all of them. I thought some of them were truisms and some of them were fallacies. Some of them were half and half.
We have heard a good deal about the profit motive and the question of incentive. Of course, one must have an incentive. But incentive, I hope, is never one solely for private interest. Private interest and public interest should be mingled, and in our planning we are not suggesting that the profit motive should not operate at all. On the contrary, we have today two great sectors of industry. One sector is nationalised, the other is in private hands. What I was surprised to hear was that it was 1440 thought to be akin to profit to insist that there should be proper conditions of work in order to attract people into industry. Today, over and over again, we are paying the penalty of the past. Important industries were grossly reactionary in the past in their attitude towards labour conditions, as every good employer will admit. It has always been one of the troubles with the party opposite—not all of them, but a great many of them. They have always been afraid to deal with the black sheep because they thought they might kill the white, and for years and years they would not touch the slums because they were afraid of interfering with the rights of property. They were afraid very often to attack the worst conditions in industry because they were afraid it would be an interference with private enterprise. Today we have plenty of examples of thoroughly up-to-date people who understand the psychology of the workers and who know that the vital element in getting increased production is to get the right spirit and the team spirit among the workers. But it will take a long time to get some of these backward firms up to date.
I entirely agree with the statement made, and I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman cavilled so violently at what I think was a perfectly simple statement, quite obvious to anybody, with regard to hours of labour. We cannot afford shorter hours throughout this country unless we can get full production. But over and over again it has been demonstrated that in many instances shorter hours do lead to greater production.
Our object in putting out this economic White Paper is to set before the country —I think very fairly and clearly—what are the facts of the position. I am sorry that in some quarters it should be taken as a mere prophecy of disaster. It is not. It is a challenge to effort. The right hon. Gentleman talks about our position in the world. There are a good many people, who ought to know better, who go from this country to the United States, and elsewhere, and talk down this country. That was reported to me by Conservative friends of mine who deplored it. My final word is this. We are asking for an effort by the whole of the country, by the workers, industrialists and the Government—everybody.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."1442
§ The House divided: Ayes, 374; Noes, 198.1445
|Division No. 109.||AYES.||[10 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Deer, G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Allighan, Garry||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Irving, W. J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Delargy, H. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Diamond, J.||Janner, B.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Dobbie, W.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Dodds, N. N.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Donovan, T.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Driberg, T. E. N.||John, W.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Baird, J.||Dye, S.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Balfour, A||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Edelman, M.||Keenan, W.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Kendall, W. D.|
|Barton, C.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Kenyon, C.|
|Battley, J. R.||Edwards, 'W. J. (Whitechapel)||Key, C. W.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||King, E. M.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Kingdom, Sqn,-Ldr. E.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Kinley, J.|
|Benson, G.||Ewart, R.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Berry, H.||Fairhurst, F.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Beswick, F.||Farthing, W. J.||Lang, G.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Lavers, S.|
|Binns, J.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Follick, M.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Foot, M. M.||Leonard, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Forman, J. C.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Boardman, H.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lever, N. H.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Levy, B. W.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Gallacher, W.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gibbins, J.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gilzean, A.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gooch, E. G.||Longden, F.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Goodrich, H. E.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Bruce, Mai. D. W. T.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||McAdam, W.|
|Buchanan, G||Granville, E. (Eye)||McAllister, G.|
|Burden, T. W.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mc Entee, V. La T.|
|Burke, W. A||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Grenfell, D. R.||McGovern, J|
|Callaghan, James||Grey, C. F.||Mack, J. D.|
|Carmichael, James||Grierson, E.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Champion, A. J.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Chafer, D.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||McLeavy, F.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gunter, R. J||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Clitherow, Dr. R||Guy, W. H.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Cobb, F. A||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hale, Leslie||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Coldrick, W||Hall, W. G.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Collick, P.||Hamilton, Lieut. -Col. R||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Collindridge, F.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Collins, V. J.||Hardman, D. R.||Marquand H. A.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hardy, E. A.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Harrison, J||Mathers, G.|
|Cook, T. F.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Medland, H. M.|
|Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||Haworth, J.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Messer, F.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Herbison, Miss M.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R|
|Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Crawley, A.||Hicks, G||Monslow, W.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S||Hobson, C. R.||Montague F.|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Holman, P||Moody, A. S.|
|Daggar, G.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Daines, P.||House, G.||Motley, R.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hoy, J.||Morris, P, (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hubbard, T.||Mort, D. L.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hudson. J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Moyle, A.|
|Mulvey, A.||Scollan, T.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Murray, J. D.||Segal, Dr. S.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Nally, W.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Naylor, T. E||Sharp, Granville||Usborne, Henry|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Viant, S. P.|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Walkden, E.|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Shurmer, P.||Walker, G. H.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|O'Brien, T.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Simmons, C. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Orbach M.||Skeffington, A. M.||Watson, W. M.|
|Paget, R. T.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Skinnard, F. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||West, D. G.|
|Parker, J.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Parkin, B. T.||Snow, Capt. J. W.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Solley, L. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Sorensen, R. W.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Pearson, A.||Soskiee, Maj. Sir F.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilkes, L.|
|Piratin, P.||Stamford, W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Plaits-Mills, J. F. F.||Steele, T.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Stephen, C.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Popplewell, E.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Stokes, R. R.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Strauss, G. R.(Lambeth, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Price, M. Philips||Stross, Dr. B.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Pritt, D. N.||Stubbs, A, E.||Williamson, T.|
|Proctor, W. T.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Willis, E.|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Swingler, S.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Randall, H. E.||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Ranger, J.||Symonds, A. L.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Rankin, J||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Woodburn, A.|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Woods, G. S.|
|Rhodes, H||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wyatt, W.|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Yates, V. F.|
|Robens, A||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Thurtle, E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Tiffany, S.|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Timmons, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Royle, C.||Titterington, M. F.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. R. J. Taylor.|
|Sargood, R.||Tolley, L.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Grimston, R. V.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Crowder, Capt. John E.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Cuthbert, W. N.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Darling, Sir W. Y.||Harris, H. Wilson|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||De la Bere, R.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Digby, S. W.||Haughton, S. G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Head, Brig. A. H.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Herbert, Sir A. P.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Drayson, G. B.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.)||Hogg, Hon. Q.|
|Birch, Nigel||Duthie, W. S.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Eccles, D. M.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Boothby, R.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Howard, Hon. A.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Waller||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Bower, N.||Erroll, F. J.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Kurd, A.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Fox, Sir G.||Jarvis, Sir J.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Jennings, R.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Carson, E.||Gage, C.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Challen, C.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Channon, H.||Gammans, L. D.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Glossop, C. W. H.||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Glyn, Sir R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G,||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Grant, Lady||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Crookshank, Capt, Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Gridley, Sir A.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Snadden, W. M|
|Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Nutting, Anthony||Spence, H. R.|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Lyttelton, Rt, Hon. O.||Osborne, C||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Studholme, H. G.|
|McCallum, Maj. D.||Peto, Brig. C. H M||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Pickthorn, K.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Pitman, I. J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Teeling, William|
|Maclay, Hon. J S.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|MacLeod, J.||Prescott, Stanley||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Manmouth)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Raikes, H. V.||Touche, G. C.|
|Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Ramsay, Maj. S.||Vane, W. M, F.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Marples, A. E.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Marsden, Capt. A.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Renton, D.||Wobbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Marshall, S H. (Sutton)||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Maude, J. C.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclasall)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Medlicott, F.||Robertson, Sir D. (Strealham)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Mellor, Sir J.||Ropner, Col. L.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Sanderson, Sir F.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Winterton, Rt. Ron Earl|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Scott, Lord W.||York, C.|
|Mullan, Lt. C. H.||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Nicholson, G.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Nield, B (Chester)||Smithers, Sir W.||Mr James Stuart and|
§ Main Question put.1446
§ The House divided: Ayes, 371; Noes, 204.1449
|Division No. 110.]||AYES.||[10.12p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Burden, T. W||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Burke, W. A.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Callaghan, James||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Allen, Scholeneld (Crewe)||Carmichael, James||Dye, S|
|Allighan, Garry||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Chamberlain, R. A||Edelman, M.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Champion, A. J.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Chater, D.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Chetwynd, G. R||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Clitherow, Dr. R||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Cobb, F. A.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Cocks, F. S.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Coldrick, W||Ewart, R.|
|Baird, J.||Collick, P.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Balfour, A.||Collindridge, F.||Farthing, W. J|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Collins, V. J.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Colman, Miss G. M||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Barton, C.||Comyns, Dr. L||Follick, M.|
|Battley, J. R.||Cook, T. F.||Foot, M. M.|
|Bechervaise, A. E,||Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||Forman, J. C.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Fraser, T (Hamilton)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Corlett, Dr. J.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)|
|Benson, G.||Corvedale, Viscount||Gaitskell, H. T N.|
|Berry, H.||Cove, W. G||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Beswick, F||Crawley, A.||Gibbins, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S||Gibson, C. W|
|Binns, J.||Grossman, R. H. S||Gilzean, A.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Daggar, G||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Daines, P.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Granville, E. (Eye)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Grey, C. F.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Deer, G.||Grierson, E.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||De Freitas, Geoffrey||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Delargy, H. J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Diamond, J.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Debbie, W.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Bruce, Mai. D. W. T.||Dodds, N. N.||Gunter, R. J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Donovan, T||Guy, W. H|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Hale, Leslie||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Hall, W. G.||Marquand, H. A.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hamilton, Lieut. -Col. R.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Mathers, G.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Hardman, D. R.||Medland, H. M.||Solley, L. J.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Mellish, R. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Harrison, J.||Messer, F.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Haworth, J.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Stamford, W.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Mitchison, G. R.||Steele, T.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Monslow, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Montague, F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moody, A. S.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Hicks, G.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Hobson, C R.||Morley, R.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Holman, P.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth)||Mort, D L.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|House, G.||Moyle, A.||Swingler, S.|
|Hoy, J.||Mulvey, A.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hubbard, T||Murray, J. D||Symonds, A. L.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Nally, W.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Naylor, T. E.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Irving, W. J.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Thorneycrofl, Harry (Clayton)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Thurtle, E.|
|Janner, B.||O'Brien, T.||Tiffany, S.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Oldfield, W. H.||Timmons, J.|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Orbach, M.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Paget, R. T.||Tolley, L.|
|John, W.||Paling, Rt. Han. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pargiter, G. A.||Usborne, Henry|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Parker, J.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Parkin, B. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Keenan, W.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Walkden, E.|
|Kendall, W. D.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Walker, G. H.|
|Kenyon, C.||Pearson, A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Key, C. W.||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.|
|King, E. M.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Kinley, J.||Pepplewell, E.||Watson, W. M.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Weitzman, D.|
|Lang, G.||Price, M. Philips||Wells P L (Faversham)|
|Lavers, S.||Pritt, D. N.||Wells W. T. (Walsall)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Proctor, W. T.||West, D. G|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Westwood Rt. Hon. J|
|Leonard, W.||Randall, H. E.||White, C, F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Ranger, J.||White H. (Derbyshire N.E.)|
|Lever, N. H.||Rankin, J.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Levy, B. W.||Reeves, J.||Wilcock, Group-apt. C. A. B.|
|Lewis, A W. J. (Upton)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Rhodes, H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Richards, R||Willey, F. T (Sunderland)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Robens, A||Willy, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Lipson, D. L.,||Robertson, J. J, (Berwick)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don valley)|
|Longden, F.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Williams, W. R (Heston)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Royle, C.||Williamson, T|
|MrAdam, W||Sargood, R.||Willis E.|
|McAllister, G.||Scollan, T.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|McEntee, V. La T||Segal, Dr. S.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|McGhee, H. G||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Wilson, J. H.|
|McGovern, J.||Sharp, Granville||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Mack, J. D.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Woodburn, A.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Woods, G. S.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wyatt, W.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Shurmer, P.||Yates, V. F.|
|Maclean, N. (Govan)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|McLeavy, F.||Silverman, J. (Erdington),||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Zilliacus, K.|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Skeffington, A. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. R. T. Taylor.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Nield, B (Chester)|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Gridley, Sir A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Grimston, R. V.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Osborne, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O|
|Barlow, Sir J||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Baxter, A. B.||Haughton, S. G.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Head, Brig. A. H.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Beechman, N. A||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Prescott, Stanley|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. O. C. (Wells)||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Boothby, R.||Hollis, M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Bossom, A. C.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Bowen, R.||Howard, Hon A.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bower, N.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesoury)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hunt, A.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Renton, D.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col- W||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Jarvis, Sir J.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'flr'n W'ld'n)||Jennings, R.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Byers, Frank||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Robertson, Sir D, (Streatham)|
|Carson, E||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Challen, C.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Channon, H.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S||Lambert, Hon. G||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Langford-Holt, J.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Corrant, Maj. R. J. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Crosthwaile-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Spence, H. R.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Studholme, H. G.|
|De la Bçre, R.||MacAndrsw, Col. Sir C.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Digby, S. W.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A (P'dd'l'n, S)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Teeling, William|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G (Penrith)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Thorneycroft, G E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Drayson, G. B.||MacLeod, J.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Touche, G. C|
|Eccles, D. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Wadsworth, G.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Waller||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Maples, A. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Marsden, Capt. A.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maude, J. C.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Medlicott, F.||White, J. B (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Molson, A. H. E.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gage, C||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gammans, L. D.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||York, C|
|George, Mai. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mullan, Lt. C. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Mr. James Stuart and|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Nicholson, G.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.|
That this House welcomes the laying before Parliament of a survey of the nation's requirements and resources for the year 1947, is concerned at the seriousness of the situation disclosed, and will support the Government in all practical measures taken in co-operation with all sections of the people of the country to overcome the difficulties arid to make secure the foundations of our industry so as to provide a high standard of living for our people.