Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 8, at end, insert:
The initial and subsequent appointments shall be so made as to secure the inclusion of at least three persons appearing to the Minister to have had wide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. G. R. Strauss)
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
Before I discuss this Amendment, or the others, which I know are exceedingly controversial, I should like to express a word of regret that we have not with us today the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan), who we hoped would be fully recovered by this stage in the proceedings on the Iron and Steel Bill, and whom we have missed so much in the earlier stages. I am sure I am expressing the desire of everyone on all sides of the House when I say we hope he will shortly recover fully. I understand that he has progressed well and I hope he will be restored to full health before many weeks are out.
Before dealing with this Motion, I wish to say a general word on the Lords Amendments. Normally, I intend to speak briefly, because most of these matters have been discussed over and over again at great length in Committee and on the Report stage. I propose to give reasons for the rejection of those Amendments which we think ought to be rejected. There are about 60 Amendments which have been moved in the other place, 28 of which the Government propose should be accepted. They are mostly drafting points. Some of them were moved by the Government in another place and some by the Opposition. Those which are drafting points are concerned with proposals which in no way conflict with the general intentions of the Government. We do not, however, propose to accept any Amendment moved in another place which, in the opinion of the Government, would make any material or significant change in the Bill as it left this House.
1828 There are 32 other Amendments which can be reduced to a group of about 12 and where we are suggesting to the House that the Lords Amendments be disagreed with. They can be divided into two categories. The first is concerned with fundamental principles which divide the Opposition and the Government and on which there is a gulf between us. Here we shall have no hesitation in asking the House to reject Amendments which, in the view of the Government, would completely destroy the value and benefits to be derived from this Measure.
There is a second category which concerns itself with less important proposals and which raises no question of fundamental principle but which, in the opinion of the Government, would make the task of the Corporation in running the iron and steel industry efficiently more difficult, or even impossible. We shall ask the House to reject these Amendments. Again, there are Amendments which, in the view of the Government, would harmfully and unreasonably confine the activities of the Iron and Steel Corporation and the publicly-owned companies to the detriment of the iron and steel industry and of British industry generally. These, also, we shall ask the House to reject.
There is a final set which embodies other restrictive proposals, apparently inserted on the assumption that the Corporation will consist of a number of ignorant busy bodies and that the Minister is an irresponsible nitwit right outside the control of Parliament. Those are propositions I am forced to reject and I hope the House will be with me in their rejection.
The first Amendment comes in this category. There is no question of fundamental principle, but I suggest to the House that it would be unreasonable and improper if we put in the Amendment which their Lordships have suggested. It requires that at least three of the members of the Corporation shall have had experience in the production of iron and steel. We discussed the composition of the Corporation at great length in Committee. I think we spent more than six hours discussing this and similar issues. I took the line the whole time—and still stand by it—that, having laid down the general type of experience 1829 we require on the Corporation, it would be quite wrong for this House to specify that there should be so many with this experience, so many representing that interest, and so many with some other specialised knowledge.
It must be left to the Minister and others responsible to select the best possible people within the categories laid down in the Clause. Once we started laying down details and saying how many should have this experience and what type of person we should have, we would get into great difficulty. We might suggest a certain age, for example that no one over 75 should be eligible; that would be just as reasonable to write into the Bill as is this provision. I understand that the argument used in supporting the Amendment was that it might be possible for the Minister to appoint someone with no experience of the iron and steel industry. Of course, everything is theoretically possible but this is so ridiculous that I do not think it merits a moment's consideration. There will obviously be on this Corporation a number of people, at least three, possibly more, who have had experience in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.
It would be quite unreasonable and improper and contrary to all precedent to write this sort of provision into the Bill. There is no such provision in any of the previous nationalisation measures, and there has been no suggestion subsequently that the commissions or boards established under the corporations concerned would have been better or more efficient if there had been a condition of this sort inserted in the relevant Act. In fact, as was inevitable, there have been appointed to all these boards and commissions men who have had experience in the industries concerned.
A very similar Amendment to the one we are now considering was discussed at great length in the Standing Committee, and after considerable discussion of the subject the Opposition withdrew it, agreeing that it was not necessary to press it in view of the explanations and the undertakings which I had given to them. For all these reasons I hope that the House will agree with me and disagree with the Lords in the Amendment which is now before us.
§ Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)
The attempt by the Minister to ridicule the idea about making reference in the Clause to people who knew about the industry, was a dismal failure. I hope that the bowling will be of a higher order than that. The issue at stake has certainly been narrowed by the admission of the Government that no one but an idiot would have a Corporation that had not on it at least three, four, or even more persons—I think those were the words of the Minister—experienced in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.
I wish to try to show the House why I think those words should be retained in the statute. The first reason is one upon which the Minister touched, an attempt by the Government to say, "This is a very wide power but you must assume that the Minister is a responsible and sensible individual." I do not feel at all sure that that assumption is one which should impress us greatly. Had we been legislating about the docks, would it have been an entirely justifiable assumption that Ministers would act in the most commonsense way?
It is really not enough in these days to say that everything will be all right provided that the powers are wide enough and that no member of the public is ever able to claim that the Executive are acting outside those powers, and that we can leave everything else to the best of all possible Socialist Ministers in the best of all possible Socialist worlds. I say that is not enough because acceptance of such a principle, if it ever was good, has certainly been vitiated by recent events. Legislation must be precise on a matter such as this. It is not our function in this House to give unlimited powers to the Minister and rest on the hope that he will use them in a sensible manner.
The second reason why I hope that this Amendment will be written in the statute relates to the matter of patronage. For some reason or other the word "patronage" has had an offensive meaning to many Members opposite. I hasten to add that I use it for want of a better word, and that in this instance I mean by it the power to appoint persons to offices of profit which rests in the hands of the Government. That is properly called patronage but it seems to be regarded as an offensive term. I am not making charges but merely stating facts 1831 that by the mass of this nationalising legislation the Government are day by day gaining greater and greater patronage now in a far wider field than any Paymaster-General in the 18th century ever imagined in his wildest dreams.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
That has nothing to do with the question. In the 18th century the term "industrialist" as we know it, did not exist.
It is possible to appoint a whole body of ex-trade union officials or men-at-arms or whatever they are, to posts like this. All the Ministers say, "We shall not do it." If the right hon. Gentleman will not do it, why not provide for at least three persons out of the possible ten who will form the Corporation to be people experienced in the production of iron or steel? To wave aside such a proviso seems to me to be high handed in the extreme.
Could one imagine a Corporation which is to deal with this vast agglomeration of capital and companies which did not contain at least three members experienced in the production of iron or steel? If the answer is "No," why not put that provision in the Bill? The moment that the Minister waves that suggestion on one side my usually unsuspicious mind begins to wonder who the members of the Corporation are to be. In these days when we have such Government patronage, which is ever widening, and when we have had experience of those who have been appointed under this ever widening system of patronage, one feels that safeguards which might not have been necessary in other days are becoming more insistent and urgent.
We are also discussing consumer representation—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am not sure whether that is included.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
On a point of Order. Are we discussing the first two Lords Amendments together or are they to be discussed separately?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Then I shall confine my arguments to the two points I have 1832 made. The first is that it would be quite unjustifiable for this House to adopt this laissez faire attitude. All our experience shows that on occasion Ministers do not act in a commonsense way. Instances of that are very present in our minds at this moment. Secondly, when the area of Government patronage is so large it is necessary to rid them so far as possible of the embarrassment of being solicited by their friends for jobs for which they would otherwise be disqualified. It is not a very reactionary proposal that at least three out of the ten people who are to be the board of this Corporation shall have some experience of the matters with which they will have to deal. I hope that the House will reject the Minister's Motion.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
I propose to try to deal with this matter in as uncontroversial a manner as possible. The most controversial thing which I shall have to say is that I was completely dissatisfied with the Minister's arguments in favour of disagreeing with the Lords Amendment, as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman expected me to be. On this matter, we should be able to start what I am afraid will be very controversial deliberations in a fairly amicable manner. The proposal of the Lords is that we should put on the board three persons:appearing to the Minister to have had wide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.I should not think that any Member of this House could conceive of this Corporation not having on it three persons who could be so described. Thus we start with a common ground of fact. I have carefully read the speeches made on this matter and I have not noticed that anyone has seriously disputed that proposition.
We are agreed, therefore, that the Corporation will have on it this number of people—I very much hope it will have more—who are so qualified. There are to be at least three of them. Then we come to the point of whether it is wise to put that provision in the Bill. It is to that question I propose to address myself, on the assumption that the Bill is a good one and that we wish to make the Corporation the best possible Corporation. I hate the Bill. I think it is a wicked, wanton and bad Bill at the present time, 1833 but for the purposes of this argument I shall assume that the Bill is a good one and that we want to make the Corporation the best possible.
The whole argument for nationalisation that has been put forward has been that by public ownership and control the public or the people are to have some say in the management of a great industry which has for too long—so it is said—been in private hands. If we are to have that public ownership and control, I suggest it is essential to have Parliamentary control of the operation of the industry. It is quite obvious, and experience has shown us, that in fact the amount of control which Parliament does operate over the workings of these industries is very small indeed. I am suggesting that in this particular instance we operate a bit of Parliamentary control in advance and lay down certain things, if, for example, the Minister should choose to constitute this Corporation in a particular way with which we do not agree.
There are very few opportunities for consideration in Parliament; it is extremely difficult to get at the Minister or to get a Debate and have these matters raised after the event as we have found in the case of other nationalised industries. Is it therefore not wiser and more expedient to exercise Parliamentary control in advance to see that this particular matter is dealt with in time? It is argued that we must not hedge in the Minister with all sorts of restrictions and controls. If that is the position, why did we say that the Minister should appoint such persons as seem to him right to run the industry? We have a long Clause dealing with a number of matters relating to the iron and steel Corporation. We choose the name for the Minister. We do not allow him to choose the name, and perhaps that is reasonable. We fix the numbers. Is not that a restriction on the Minister? If the Minister is to be a reasonable man who will do what is right and proper, why does Parliament say the number must be between six and ten? It is because Parliament, or rather at this moment the House, decided on a degree of Parliamentary control.
We deal with the question of disqualification. We deal with what is to happen to people who have financial or other interests who may be members of the Corporation. We say that the remunera- 1834 tion of the members of the Corporation is to be subject to Treasury control. It might be argued that no reasonable Minister would permit the paying of salaries not approved by the Treasury; but nevertheless we have thought it right to deal with certain specific matters in deciding what shall be the composition of this Corporation and what shall be certain matters ancillary to the appointment of the members, and so on. If that be the case, and we all agree that at least three of them are to havewide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or iron or steelwhy should we not put that into the Bill? It is dealing in a broad general way with the broad qualifications for membership and I think that the right hon. Gentleman is being exceedingly obstinate over this matter.
§ Mr. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)
I would ask the Minister this Question. Does he always intend to appoint at least three people to the Corporation who have had experience in the production of iron and steel? He is not even prepared to admit that. I should have thought there should always be a bare minimum of three with such experience, in which case it would be perfectly in order to write that in the Bill; but he is not prepared to give us even that assurance and it becomes absolutely essential to write it into the Bill. He is not prepared to give an undertaking to this House that there shall be three people on this Corporation who have any experience of the industry whatsoever.
The Minister claims that he must have Ministerial freedom. It has been shown throughout the passage of this Bill that the only thing with which the Minister is concerned is his own freedom in the matter. Private industry and what is left outside, shareholders and directors, can be restricted; but the Minister must have freedom. Yet he is not prepared to give an undertaking that there shall be three people on the Board who have hadwide experience of and shown capacity in the production of … iron or steel.The Minister goes on to quote what we are now familiar with; that it has not been necessary to write a similar provision into previous nationalisation Measures. But this is a different nation- 1835 alisation Bill. It is the first Bill in which the old structure of the existing companies is allowed to be retained. This is the first Bill in which we find there is to be a non-functional board. In Committee there was much discussion on what was a functional board and what was a non-functional board. The Minister ultimately convinced us that what he intended was a board with no day-to-day executive responsibility. That is well and good and it seemed a sound way to arrange the affairs of the Corporation; but since these men are not to have day-to-day executive powers they should have experience of the type of companies they will be called upon to control.
The Minister made great play with the fact that the subject was argued in Committee; but what is discussion in Committee compared with the importance of discussing the matter in the House itself? Many of my hon. Friends who did not have the opportunity of serving on the Committee will welcome the opportunity now of making their contribution on this most important principle. It may be said that the Minister is a man of wisdom and discretion. We have certainly seen many examples of his ministerial ability in one form or another, but we cannot expect that the Minister will always be the same person. Some of us shudder at the prospect of his understudy the Parliamentary Secretary having the opportunity of appointing members of the board of this Corporation, and we cannot allow this principle of unfettered freedom for the Minister in matters of this kind.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
The Minister rather disappointed us in his proposal to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment. All he says, in effect, is that we have never before found it necessary to write such a provision into a nationalisation Measure, and therefore there is no reason why we should do so. That is the weakest argument which the right hon. Gentleman could have used. There is discontent in the hierarchy of our nationalised concerns. There is discontent which is not confined to this side of the House, but is to be found on the other side as well. There is discontent with the men appointed to run the nationalised industries.
§ Mr. Rogers (Kensington, North)
Can the hon. Member mention one nationalised industry where the management includes only a few people experienced in that industry?
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman would have been wiser not to have asked that question, because shortly I am coming to a point which deals with that matter, and we shall see the necessity for the kind of thing which their Lordships are trying to do in this Amendment. It is perfectly true to say that there is all-round discontent with the functioning of the nationalised boards and with the type of people appointed to them. Therefore it is essential for us to insist upon taking very special care in deciding the composition of this board to manage the iron and steel industry.
The hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. Rogers) asked what industry could be referred to which had people on it who had no knowledge of production in the industry concerned. I have only to refer to the National Coal Board which should have been known to the hon. Gentleman. How many men are on the National Coal Board today who have had experience of the actual production of coal? I understand there were two. One resigned in disgust and a solicitor was appointed in his place. So far as I know, there is one member who is experienced in the production of coal.
Therefore we can say that here is an instance where a vital industry has been allowed to fall into the hands of solicitors, lawyers, accountants and indeed anybody except those who have experience in the industry, and that is a justification for supporting strongly the view which their Lordships have taken with this Amendment. I cannot understand the mentality of the Minister when he says that it would be wrong to specify people who know the industry. How can it be wrong to specify that there should be a minimum number of people who know something about the job they will have to do? Is it generally considered that a complete lack of knowledge of the job is a qualification?
§ Mr. Haworth (Liverpool, Walton)
On the London Midland and Scottish Railway, when that great combine was in difficulties, the job went to Sir Josiah Stamp who had never touched a railway and knew nothing about them. He was 1837 paid £15,000 a year and made president of the executive. He had never seen a railway before then.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman ought to address himself more closely to my argument. I know that Sir Josiah Stamp was paid £15,000 and I have no doubt that he was worth a lot more. The fact that he was called in as a consultant—
§ Mr. Shepherd
Yes. He was called in just in the same way as Sir Henry Thornton was called in by the Canadian National Railways.
§ Mr. Haworth
He was not called in as a consultant but as the boss of the railway—the head, the managing director, the president of the executive.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman ought to get his facts rights. Sir Josiah Stamp was never called in as managing director of the L.M.S. Railway Company. He was president of the executive. I hope it is not necessary to explain to hon. Gentlemen opposite the difference between functions of a managing director and those of a president.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
How much experience in production has the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan) had? I believe that he was a Glasgow solicitor.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I cannot understand why the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has such a loose mind. I do not say, and neither does the Amendment, that every member of the board shall be a person connected with the production of iron and steel. We are not asking for that. Our request concerns a very simple point which ought to impress itself even on the mind of the Minister. We ask that there should be a minimum number of people connected with the production of iron and steel. All our experience of the boards of nationalised industries since the last General Election points to the wisdom of approving this Amendment. I hope that hon. Members opposite will not be 1838 browbeaten by the Whips into supporting the Minister when in fact they know that the Government attitude is wrong.
§ Sir Peter Bennett (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
I rise because the Minister suggested that this question had been thoroughly threshed out in Committee. Many of us were not on the Committee upstairs. I am sure that the Minister would not deny that we have a perfect right to air our views now if we feel strongly on the matter. We may be asked why we did not take the opportunity of intervening during the Report stage. I have been travelling to and from America in connection with productivity and dollar earning, and I do not apologise for having been absent when the Report stage of this Bill was taken.
I returned to this country in time for the Third Reading and I said something then, but had I attempted to go into detail and to make some of the comments which I should like to make today, I should have been ruled out of Order. In spite of the fact that the Minister may have heard all this before, I intend to say it again. One of these days I shall be called upon to give an account of my stewardship to my constituents. It will be no use if I say that somebody else said all that was necessary. They will want to know what I did and said.
I feel very strongly on this matter. The Minister refuses to accept a suggestion which seems to me eminently reasonable—that at least three of the persons appointed by him should have had certain experience. His argument is, "You must leave that. You must not fetter the discretion of the Minister." Surely the Minister would not argue that three experienced men would be too many. He will probably say, "You can depend upon the Minister doing the sensible thing." If the present Minister could give a guarantee that he would always be in office, I would trust him. I believe that he would do the sensible thing. But having listened to some of the remarks of those who sit behind him, I shudder to think what they would do, or what they would think sensible, if any of them held office. The Minister may say that there is not much possibility of that, but when I think of the changes I have seen on the Front Bench opposite in my short experience, I begin to think that everything is possible there.
1839 In supporting the Amendment, we are not asking for very much. We are asking for a guarantee that at least three people appointed to the board should know something about iron and steel. I have conducted a good many business negotiations. Very often we have reached a stage when my colleagues have said, "Do not give way. We do not mind, but we want to keep freedom." My attitude has always been that if we agree, or if we do not mind, we should give way and get a little credit for it. I am sure that the Minister will make certain that three experienced people will be appointed, and I cannot see why he should not do the gracious thing and say, "We will give you the three, because in any case, we should see that three were appointed.,"
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
The hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) was wrong in what he said about the Coal Board. To the best of my recollection, the Coal Board started with four members who had intimate knowledge of the industry for many years. There was Lord Hyndley, Sir Charles Reid, who has now gone, Sir Eric Young and Mr. Ebby Edwards.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. I was speaking of people who have had experience in the production of coal. The Amendment refers to people who have had actual experience in the production of iron and steel.
§ Mr. Evans
I should have thought that the experience of these men would have adequately equipped them for membership of the Coal Board. However, I understand the motives behind this Amendment. I do not quarrel with them. My problem is one of definition. How should we determine who has had, in the words of the Amendment:… wide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.How should we determine whether or not candidates for membership of the board had those qualifications? For example, a very successful firm in the steel industry is the Richard Thomas organisation. For 30 years, their chairman was the secretary of the Prudential Assurance Company. I should like to ask the Opposition whether they think that a person with that background—including his ex- 1840 perience as chairman of Richard Thomas—would qualify for membership of the board. If a man has had a long period of service on the board of a privately-owned unit within the industry, would he be regarded as qualified for the job of director of the board?
When one considers the names of some directors, one finds that their activities are nearly as many and as diversified as the products of the industry they serve. On one board there are men who are directors of shipping and insurance companies and of financial trusts. They are concerned in various fields far removed from the production of iron and steel. I should like to know whether it would be taken for granted that a man on the board of such a company would be qualified to sit on this nationalised steel board. I am as anxious as anybody opposite about the personnel going to serve this dynamic and diversified industry. We do not want old-age pensioners either from the trade union movement or the Army or Navy or any other field of action.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Evans
We shall not. We do not wish to see appointments to this board made in the light of its being a nice hammock for somebody in the evening of his days. We want members with the rich red blood of ambition still coursing through their veins. I think everyone on this side of the House is just as jealous in this matter as the Opposition.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) asked how we would determine whether people had hadwide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or steel.His quarrel is not with us but with the Minister, for the words in the Clause as it stands are even vaguer than those we seek to introduce. If the Minister is content to accept that a number of the members of the board shall appear to him to be "persons who have had wide experience of and shown capacity"—then so are we. As for the kind of person willing to serve on this Corporation, I hesitate very much at this stage in the summer, with the prospect of one thing and another in the course of the next few months, to suggest any names. Most of the people I know in the industry 1841 would be very reluctant to put themselves forward for membership of a board which they know very well will never come into being.
As usual, the Minister has taken his right at the earliest possible stage to introduce the word "flexibility" into the argument. We had it in Committee, on Report, and on Third Reading, and I was interested to note that the spokesman for the Government in another place never introduced the word. He produced two reasons for rejecting their Lordships' Amendments, neither of which the Minister has brought up today. They were so irrelevant that I shall not weary the House with them. We insist that Parliament should have the right to act as shareholders of any company, whether large or small, should have the right to act and determine what should be the quality and what should be the membership of a board, without laying down too rigid rules; that it should lay down in general the number of persons, with a given quality and character.
We have constantly been told by the Government that if and when the iron and steel industry is nationalised the whole business belongs to the nation and Parliament becomes the shareholders on behalf of the nation. By that means democratic control is retained. Parliament, then, is absolutely right to lay down in broad categories who the persons shall be to dominate and control the industry on behalf of the public. In my submission, their Lordships are entirely right to insist that on a Corporation which, by and large, controls the great productive—and I emphasise the word "productive"—capacity of this vast industry, there should be a definite number of persons, a minimum of the Corporation, who should have had experience in the production of the material. While we accept the same degree of flexibility and agree that the board should not be a functional board to any extent, yet we consider that there is ample ground for saying that a proportion—three people out of ten, or one-third—[Interruption.] The Clause says:The Corporation shall consist of a Chairman and not less than six nor more than ten other members.If it were six it would be one-half, and even in the case of one-half, when the entire work of the board is associated 1842 with productivity, then one-half is not too great a proportion to lay down as to be composed of persons who have had experience in production.
I cannot understand how the Minister can refuse this simple right and reserve to himself in this essential the flexibility which he needs. We do not want a functional board. It is not to be composed of particular individuals—a solicitor, a financier, a productivity man and so on. We agree that is not to be the case. We also agree that the entire board shall not be composed, for example, of financiers or productivity men. That would be equally wrong. But surely it is reasonable and right that we should insist on having this proportion of, at most, one-half and at least one-third.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I can quite understand the case being put that all these persons ought to be technically qualified, although I should think it a mistaken case. Although I should think it an even more mistaken case, I quite understand that a case could be put that none should be technically qualified. I could understand the case being put that it would be better for all these people not to be prejudiced by any technical knowledge in the matter but to act above and through technical advisers and managers. But the case which is most difficult of all to understand is when the Minister says there should be a few, but there should not be obligatory provision of, technically qualified persons: suppose there are to be eleven or even only seven—that there should be not less than three so qualified is reasonable. I did not gather that that was denied by the Minister, only he denied that he should be under a duty to that effect.
The Minister now shakes his head, but he has only himself to thank if, on that point, we are not wholly positive because, from his opening speech, I gathered him to say—and he will correct me if I am mistaken—that it was not conceivable that any Minister would appoint less than three persons with this kind of qualification. On the other hand, when he was challenged a little later from this side of the House as to whether he would give anything amounting more or less to an undertaking that he would not appoint less than three, he refused to rise to that.
I think I am right in saying that his speech was on the basis that no Minister 1843 in his right senses, thinking either of the public interest or of the ordinary rules of common sense, could fail to do what we are seeking to make the Statute compel him to do. I think that was the argument. If it was not, perhaps he would correct me or some later speaker from the other side would correct me. That argument surely will not do. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), of whose presence we have the advantage this afternoon, is always a candid debater and perhaps he will think there is something in this point.
I have always, with all sorts of Governments—Coalition, Tory, Socialist and the rest—continually opposed Ministers who have said this of something or other: "Of course the House is right to expect us to do that. Of course we will do it. Of course it would be contrary to any sense and against the public interest if we did not do it. But we do not desire that there should be a statutory compulsion upon us to do it." All Ministers are tempted to use that argument. I think Socialist Ministers are more tempted than others. I think His Majesty's present Ministers use that argument far more than any previous administration has done. But some of us have always resisted that argument, whether we were supporters of Government or not.
This is a House of Commons matter. I ask hon. Members to think that once we get to the point to which I gather we got in the Minister's opening speech—a Ministerial admission that the thing ought to be done—then it is not a party matter; it is a House of Commons matter—whether something which, of course, the Minister ought to do ought not to be made statutorily obligatory upon him; where everything that he is going to be able to do or not do is being given him by a statute, then I say it is a House of Commons matter, whether the limitation ought not to be put upon him by the same force and rules as the powers. That is a House of Commons question, and a question which people ought not to decide according to their party affiliations. I think I have a right to say that because I am sure that I have said it over and over again when we have had governments of different colours.
1844 And further, this point brings us up against a technical question which the Government must face candidly if they are really going to expect what they call social democracy to survive. My own belief is that social democracy is as dead as a doornail now. That is my belief, and I think that pretty well everyone on the Continent, including those who call themselves Socialists, share that belief. But, the view of hon. Members opposite is that we are only at the beginning of a most glorious age after 20,000 years of Tory misrule, and that social democracy is going to lead us to extreme happiness very quickly, although for the moment it is held up by the holiday season and the stomachic derangements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is their view.
If they wish that view to be taken seriously they must face this technical question. How is Parliament or any other democratic assembly going to check what governments or corporations set up by governments do in the management of great industrial concerns? It is no use saying that the Minister can be trusted about this because he can be hauled up before Parliament. Even supposing that we could be sure of having one day a year on the iron and steel part of the Minister's Vote, the hon. Member for Wednesbury knows perfectly well how much of that day would be devoted to a question of this sort. Suppose that, in fact, there had not been technically qualified persons on the board, the hon. Member knows perfectly well that it would be impossible to get a vote against the Government on this matter. However badly the hon. Member for Wednesbury might think this appointing power had been exercised by the Minister, at some future day in the House of Commons he would not vote against the Socialist Government. If he did that would bring the Socialist Government down, because it would be made a matter of confidence.
Therefore, if there is to be any chance at all of social democracy working, it must come with clean hands. It must say that it is trying to do everything that can be done to give Parliament control over those things which Parliament can control. Here is an obvious case. Parliament is being asked to give immense and unprecedented powers to a Minister, and Parliament is asking to put this 1845 restriction on the Minister, that of the Corporation of Eleven to be appointed by him, at least three must have, in his opinion, in his own judgment, technical qualifications of a particular kind. I say that anybody who is not prepared to support that is really stabbing social democracy in the back. Personally I do not care where they stab social democracy, but I do not think that that is the decent or the logical way to do it: it is a pity to see the thing that was their idol reduced to a mere welter of blood and—I was going to say "guts" but there was never much guts about it—a mere welter of pale blood and slack sinews by a lot of little stabs of nonsense in the back.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) has raised a point of importance. The contents of this Amendment are agreed by the Minister himself. The Amendment seeks to ensure that there shall be appointed at least three persons upon the Corporation with experience of production. There is no dispute about the contents of the Amendment. The contents are agreed. The dispute is about the power of the Minister. In these days we are seeing the powers of Ministers enlarged increasingly at the expense of this House and of the representatives of the people. The contents of this Amendment would be the best way of placing a limitation upon the powers of the Minister.
Where should the power rest, especially when the industry is being nationalised? The power should either be placed in the hands of the Minister or kept in the hands of Parliament. Clearly it should be kept in the hands of Parliament. I can understand the restlessness and uneasiness of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). He sees the point. I agree with his argument; there is no difference between us. The difference here is constitutional, namely, whether the Minister shall be responsible to this House and whether limitation shall be placed upon his absolute power.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
I rise mainly from a sense of courtesy to the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). He is always courteous himself, and I believe that any question which he proposes deserves an answer. He has 1846 pointed out that it may be very difficult to decide who has had wide experience of, and has shown capacity in, the production of iron ore or iron and steel. But he has overlooked the fact that this Amendment really asks that three persons shall be appointed who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, those matters. There is no appeal from the Minister's judgment in this matter.
With reference to an interesting speech to which we have just listened from the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), I would point out that this Amendment which has been made by their Lordships still leaves very great power in the hands of the Minister. It asks that in making his appointments he should have regard to the matters here laid down. His judgment cannot be questioned in any court. It cannot be questioned anywhere, but he simply has to satisfy his conscience, and I should not think that that would be a very difficult matter. This is a very reasonable Amendment. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen has got right to the heart of this matter, as he so often does. What this Amendment seeks to do is to put a limitation upon the powers of Ministers. I believe that we shall find it a very good thing in the course of time to take appointments to public boards out of the hands of Ministers altogether; that will be in the interests not only of the country, but of Ministers themselves. It would be a very good thing for their peace of mind and for the efficiency of their departments if this power were put into the hands of some body analogous to the Civil Service Commission or something of that sort.
§ Mr. Thomas
It could be obtained by less direct means. Parliamentary accountability would be exercised by different and more traditional means. We have been through all this before in our constitutional history. There was a time when Ministers appointed all the Civil Service, but it was found wise to take that power out of their hands. I do not wish to develop that point because I might get out of Order if I did. It may be wise to take this power out of their hands, but the Amendment does not ask for anything so drastic. It asks the 1847 Minister to have regard to the desirability of including at least three persons who have had technical experience in the production of iron ore or iron and steel. Why should not the Minister make this concession? He implied that he will, in fact, do so. He will appoint three persons who have had this experience. In that case would it not be far better to have made the concession straight away. There is often a difficulty about where the onus of proof lies, and in this case I suggest it lies upon the Minister.
The Bill has come to us with these words included, and it is for the Minister to give us adequate reasons why he should not accept them. I cannot see any reason. We know that he is going to appoint three. If he appointed only seven persons in all—the chairman and six others—as a minimum and still wants to keep a few "jobs for the boys" he will still have four places after appointing three members with experience of the iron and steel industry. I have watched the matter fairly closely, and my own view in the appointment of the public boards so far is that these appointments have most justified themselves where there has been experience of the matters in question. Experience of these appointments has not been happy, and I suggest that the Minister should now give way and save further Parliamentary debate.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
This seems to be a thoroughly frivolous Amendment. It has been put forward on a basis which appears to me at any rate to have no foundation in the Amendment itself. The first claim for it is that the Minister should not have unlimited powers, but that his powers should be in some way limited. If that is the desire there is not a single word in this Amendment to bring it about. He will have under this Amendment exactly the same power as he would have without it, because all the Amendment asks him to do is to put on three persons according to his judgment, for which he will he answerable, according to the words of the Amendment, to nobody at all.
I see that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), who made a most interesting speech in support of the Amendment, shakes his head. I do not want to debate it at length, but I invite him quietly to read the words of the Amendment to 1848 himself, and ask himself what limitation those words would invoke upon him if he were the Minister and were asked to discharge the duties laid upon the Minister under the Bill. Without the Amendment, he would appoint members according to his discretion; with the Amendment, he would have to appoint members according to his discretion. There is absolutely no difference between them, except the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) that the Minister might not be likely to follow his conscience in the matter, unless an Act of Parliament directs him to do so, which seems a strange argument and one which hardly anybody else in the House would advance.
Another argument put forward was not merely that the Minister be limited, but that he should be answerable to Parliament. The words expressly are:… at least three persons appearing to the Minister to have had wide experience. …What kind of Parliamentary responsibility will it be? Someone puts down a Question and asks the Minister why did he appoint John Smith, and the Minister will reply that he appointed John Smith because he appeared to himto have had wide experience of and shown capacity in the production of iron ore or iron or steel.He might have been a company director, and he might have no association whatever with iron and steel for all the Parliamentary responsibility that will be involved in this Amendment. This seems to me to be a particularly atrocious example of an Amendment put in so as to waste the time of the House.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I intervene in this Debate for the first time on this subject. I feel it is only right that those who have far greater experience of the industry should make their contribution before I intervene but this is the last chance for someone who cannot possibly be thought to have any vested interests or anything of that sort, to say what he really thinks about this matter. I believe that when the Socialist Party put before the country the idea of nationalising steel, the immediate reaction in the minds of most people was, "I suppose that means that the iron and steel industry will be run on much the same lines as the Post Office is today." I suppose that that could be 1849 said of practically all the nationalisation measures put before the electorate in 1945.
The country has now learned the difference. There is a great difference between the way in which it is proposed to run the nationalised industries and the way the Post Office is run. In the Post Office we have a Minister we can cross-examine on day-to-day administration, but with the proposed nationalisation of iron and steel, judging by other nationalised industries, there will be very little chance of cross-examining the Minister on the day-to-day administration of that industry. For that reason we in this House should be very careful to see that when we give these powers to a Minister we make quite certain that the people actually running the industry should at least include those people who have a very thorough knowledge of the industry.
The Minister in this Debate is not contesting the idea of having experienced people in the industry on the Corporation. What he is contesting is being tied down to a specific number. His objection rests on the ground that if this Amendment were accepted, it would inevitably mean that certain classes of people would be ruled out. We should hear what type of people are supposed to be ruled out if this Amendment is accepted. My own feeling is that whatever may be held to be consequential on this Amendment, what we are dealing with now is the specific point of whether we want to tie down the Minister to a certain number of people who have real experience in the industry. That is only right, because Parliament will have so little control over the Minister or the industry when it is nationalised, that Parliament should insist upon a minimum number of people who know.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) asked the Opposition whether they thought that the type of person who was included in that category would be somebody who was a director of the firm in the days of private enterprise. That would depend entirely upon the purpose for which one man was being put into the Corporation. If we were trying to put him in for his expert knowledge of the industry, I think it is only right that he should be judged against others who have a working knowledge of the industry. It would be quite wrong for us 1850 today to try to lay down one ruling as to former directors. We should judge each person on his merits, and it should not be purely whether he had been a director any more than it should be a sinecure for getting on to it. We should judge these people on their merits.
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that it is essential for a Minister in a Socialist Government to have the power always to spring surprise in order to divert attention. That is one of the oldest techniques of tyranny. Ministers who have sponsored nationalisation Bills in this Parliament know very well that if they once surrender to an Amendment such as this, to lay down the minimum number of people who must know the industry, the power to put someone on to the Board and spring a surprise will be gone. I think my hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) was on very much the same point. There is tyranny tramping through this Bill, and it is because we on this side of the House will fight tyranny to the last, that we are going into the Lobby to support their Lordships in their Amendment. We believe that the Debates in another place have been marked with objectiveness, and that they have treated this particular subject with objectiveness—an objectiveness it would be welcome to see on the other side of the House occasionally.
I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will forget what he has been trying to keep to himself—the power of surprise—and will realise that if the industry is to be run properly it must be run by experts, and that if Parliament is not to become a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world, it must prevent Ministers from having tyrannical power, which is what the Minister is asking for now.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I have listened to the various points raised in regard to this Lords Amendment, and I think that the main arguments relative to it are the question of democracy, the question of a diktat, and the question of the spirit in which the Amendment was made. I think we have to realise that this is one of the important Amendments from the House of Lords, and when we talk about democracy, we do not appear able to set out a method of implementing 1851 democracy, judging by the way in which Amendments come from the House of Lords. Well, of course, it is rather peculiar that we should get such an Amendment as this, to implement democracy, from a Chamber which is undemocratic itself. It makes one think that the people who argue this point—
§ Mr. McKay
With regard to the spirit of this Lords Amendment, when we remember the atmosphere that surrounds this Bill and this particular Amendment, we are bound to admit that there is some degree of political manoeuvre about it, and to my mind the whole Amendment is rather a diktat of the other House. It is also an indication that they have no trust in the Government of the day, in the way they are laying down these Bills and attempting to implement their methods of work.
What does all this amount to in reality? As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) pointed out, in reality this Amendment gives no more power to Parliament. The Minister can appoint his three who have experience of and capacity within the industry, and that ends the matter. The House will have practically no more power than if the Bill had not been changed at all. There is very little in this Amendment indeed.
We have also to consider this. If this Amendment is not agreed to, is there any danger at all? What is likely to happen? Even the Opposition are admitting that in all probability there will be at least three men of experience appointed. It may happen that there will be four. The question arises, Can we trust the Minister to appoint the necessary people to carry on a necessary industry? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] After all is said and done, how can hon. Members judge? In considering this we must consider the question, Who is responsible for the Bill itself? Do those who are responsible for the Bill wish to have a successful instrument to work the steel industry? Are we sure of that? Why did they bring in the Bill? Was it not because they were particularly anxious—more anxious than 1852 anyone else—to see that the steel industry should work in a smooth, efficient manner?
Therefore, if there is anyone or any party in the House emphatically and sincerely anxious to try to get men on the Corporation to direct the industry efficiently, it ought to be the Minister sitting on the Front Bench and the party supporting him. Therefore, to my mind, the serious thing is to ask, who has brought in what I would call a "plant"? This Amendment seems to indicate that some people are anxious to throw the Bill out, and to make it ineffective.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
On a point of Order. Is not this suggestion a violation of the Rule in connection with another place?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not gather that the hon. Gentleman on this occasion was reflecting on another place. In any event, he must not do so.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I submit to you, Sir, that the whole trend of the hon. Gentleman's discourse is a continued series of reflections on another place.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think the hon. Member's reflections were directed rather to another portion of this House.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Is it in Order to describe an Amendment that has come from another place as a "plant"?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to impute motives either to another place or to Members of this House. I thought, if he will forgive my saying so, that he was rather tending in that direction.
§ Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)
Is it suggested, then, that we are to consider this Amendment in a sort of vacuum, as though it had no motive whatever behind it?
§ Mr. McKay
The whole point is this. This Amendment is one of those ineffective things. When we analyse it, we find it is simply an attempt to amend the Bill substantially. Is that so? We have already found that there is no 1853 really greater authority given to this House by this Amendment. What would be the effect of it in reality? The effect would be that the House of Lords would show the House of Commons how to deal with things, how to do its business, because it cannot trust this House to carry out what the Bill proposes. I do not want to take up more time, and will conclude by saying that I think the Amendment is unnecessary.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I hope the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) will excuse me if I do not go into every detail of his most interesting argument. I think that that is not a matter for me to deal with, but rather one for the Government, because he did manage to import so much into his argument to damage the position of the Government that, from that point of view, I think he ought to be dealt with officially rather than by some humble Member of the Opposition. I should like to say one or two words about the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who entered into one of those legal arguments of which he is so fond. As it is obvious from the fact that he is now leaving the Chamber that he does not like listening to criticism of himself, I will leave him alone. Quite clearly he was merely trying to waste the Government's time, a thing we ought not to do—at any rate not in a frivolous way.
My hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn)—who, I am glad to say, has a cleaner record than most in this respect—pointed out that he has continually protested against what the Government are doing by refusing this Amendment, which would effect what we wish to do in giving the House of Commons power to give directions to Ministers themselves. To my mind, that is the crux of the matter. I must congratulate my hon. Friend on doing at any rate one thing, and that is converting not only the Tory Party to this great principle, but also, judging from their spokesman the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), the smaller section of the Liberal Party. That is a very considerable achievement.
Let me now turn to one or two of the reasons which the Minister was careful enough to advance as to why he did not wish to have this Amendment. Whatever 1854 else we may say about the Minister, no one who has sat and listened and tried to understand him and this Government would ever expect them to wish to have in a Bill anything which laid down that they must choose people with experience. Such a thing would be wholly contrary to what the Socialist Ministers have so far done. But when he sees that these people are to have not only experience but also capacity, the Minister, who does not look at these things very deeply, shies off and says that we shall not have it under any circumstances. That is quite natural; we expect it of the Government. We have had that again and again. The Home Secretary, whom I am glad to see here, is as good at that job as anyone.
The fact is, we are not dictating to the Minister. As has been pointed out, the Minister will have power to appoint whoever he likes, and if a mistake is made we can question the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised in his own interests, and in order to strengthen his position, instead of refusing this Amendment to say, "All right, I wish to appoint people who have great knowledge, so I accept what the House of Commons and the other place says, and I will accept these simple words to show that my intentions are not only good but sincere." The right hon. Gentleman says he intends to do this, that and the other. He so often praises himself; no one else does it nearly so much. I would point out that he made one very interesting statement when he said he feared that someone might think the Government was not very sensible. Well, many people think that. Of course, I am not among those who, even if I were woken up in the middle of the night, could possibly say that the Government were not sane. The only people who can do that are those who know the Government very much better than I do.
In the light of what has happened in the last few days—which has not necessarily anything to do with this Amendment—I hope that we shall not have an appeal by the Minister on this or any other Amendment that we must expect the Government to do sensible things. Such a thing is so contrary to the views of those who know the Government well, that it would be a scandal for the Minister to waste the time of the House by putting forward that argument which no one believes—certainly one of the highest 1855 officials of His Majesty's Government did not believe it last week.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), whose excursions on these Bills we always enjoy, said that the speech of the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) had converted my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris). I would remind the hon. Member, who is usually more accurate about these things, that in the other place this Amendment was a Liberal Amendment, so that on this occasion the hon. Member is the converted party and I welcome his support.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I apologise if I seemed to cast any reflection on the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris). I did not wish to do so. I only wished to draw attention to the fact, which has now been amplified, that we on this side of the House are united in attacking the Government.
§ Mr. Granville
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), who always speaks with a great deal of common sense and candour on these matters, has captured most of the limelight in this Debate. He said in his interesting speech that he found it extremely difficult to discover how we could get a definition of men who had wide experience and had showed capacity in the production of iron ore and steel.
If this industry is nationalised—that is to say, if the Government are returned as a result of the next General Election—I have no doubt that the Minister of Supply, with the advice of his officers, will in his own mind have a pretty good, rough commonsense definition of men who have had wide experience in the iron and steel industry, because he has himself said that it is his intention to put such men upon the board. If and when that day comes—which will depend very much upon the General Election—I imagine that the Minister of Supply will have to sit down with a towel round his head and decide upon the 10 gentlemen who, in the light of our experience of nationalised industries, are to be put upon the Iron and Steel Corporation.
The right hon. Gentleman has got enough on his plate already, and if and 1856 when that time comes he will have a very difficult time. There is not the slightest doubt that there will be a lot of coming and going; the Minister will have to consult all kinds of people, if not interests. I have no doubt that a great deal of pressure will be put upon the right hon. Gentleman to say that this individual, or that interest, or this type of skill, or that type of management or experience of nationalised industries, ought to be represented on the Corporation. I should have thought the Minister would have accepted this Liberal Party Amendment with both hands and said, "This is the kind of thing that will strengthen my hand when the day comes, if it does, when I have to appoint 10 men to form this Corporation."
I believe that our limited experience of the conduct of nationalised industries has shown that, on the whole it is men who have had good, sound, practical production experience upon whom will depend the success or otherwise of these industries. In the case of civil aviation, all kinds of people were appointed to the Board who had nothing whatever to do with civil aviation and knew nothing about it. Whether an industry is under national or private ownership, or whether it is a monopoly, it will never be built up except by the work of pioneers who are prepared to give their lives to it. We have had a brief reply from the right hon. Gentleman and presumably we are to have a further reply from his hon. Friend. I appeal to the Minister to look at this Amendment again, which is not an Amendment to wreck the Bill as some one has suggested.
I am perfectly sure that when this Bill has been passed, the right hon. Gentleman will see that he has had a reasonable Opposition which has given constructive and critical advice. I do not think he can complain of the attitude of the Opposition during the Committee stage. It would be in keeping with the general feelings about this Amendment if he would give it further consideration. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said it was extremely difficult to know whether Parliament should have control or not. This great experiment is in its infancy, and I am sure that after a number of years it will be found, if we are to preserve our freedom and democracy, that eventually con- 1857 trol will have to rest in the House of Commons. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to set a good example, and if he is not satisfied with this form of words to find some other form of words to achieve the object in view.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
I hope I need not apologise to the House, as one of those who was not a member of the Committee which considered this Bill, for venturing to speak in this Debate. I would point out, however, that I am the only Member for a Scottish constituency so far called in this short Debate. I am fairly confident that when all the dust has died down and the people come to look at the action taken in the Palace of West-minister in regard to this Bill, they will say that it was another place which showed itself more truly as the interpreter of the wishes of the country.
I should not have intervened had it not been for something which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said. He deliberately chose to withdraw his presence when my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) announced his attention of dealing with what he had said. That seems to me to be a procedure which is far from the general practice of this House. To make a point in a Debate without sitting through at least one or two subsequent speeches to see whether it is taken up is one thing, but it is quite another thing to rise from one's place as soon as a Member has announced his intention to criticise what has been said and deliberately to walk from the Chamber. I do not think the point he made should be allowed to pass without comment.
I understood him to say that it would not be difficult for a Minister, if he were pressed at Question time as to why a particular appointment had been made, to say that the person had special knowledge in the production of iron and steel.
§ The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne must have a very poor idea of the conscience of Ministers, even of the present Government, if he thinks they are deliberately going to evade the intentions laid down in an Act of Parliament by appointing three members of the Corporation without special knowledge in the production of iron and steel and try to get away with it. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) spoke about not trusting the Minister. I would not go so far as that. It is not a question of trusting a particular Minister but of trusting Ministers who may come in five or 20 years' time.
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
Will the hon. Member deal with the point my hon. Friend made in regard to accountability?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
The hon. Member is not here to defend it. His point was that the Minister could get away with a bad appointment, or an appointment of some unsuitable person, by saying that he had experience in the production of iron and steel and that no one could say him nay. While the Minister might do that once or twice, I do not believe he would get away with it on the third time in view of his accountability both to this House and the country.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
I am completely unable to understand why the Minister, who has made it quite plain that it is the intention the Board shall consist of experienced people with knowledge of the production of iron and steel, should be unwilling to accept this Amendment. It appears to be entirely in line with the general intentions the Minister has announced, and I hope that even now he will be able to accept it.
§ Question put, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 299; Noes, 153.1861
|Division No. 218.]||AYES||[5.29 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Ayles, W. H.||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Binns, J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bacon, Miss A.||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Balfour, A.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Bottomley, A. G.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Barstow, P. G.||Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Barton, C.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Battley, J. R.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bechervaise, A. E.||Bramall, E. A.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Benson, G.||Brook, D. (Halifax)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Beswick, F.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hardy, E. A.||Peart, T. F.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Harrison, J.||Perrins, W.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Haworth, J.||Poole Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Popplewell, E.|
|Burden, T. W.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Burke, W. A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hobson, C. R.||Pursey, Comdr. H.|
|Callaghan, James||Holman, P.||Randall, H. E.|
|Carmichael, James||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Ranger, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Horabin, T. L.||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Houghton, Douglas||Reeves, J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hoy, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Chater, D.||Hubbard, T.||Rhodes, H.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)||Robens, A.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Collick, P.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Collins, V. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Robinson, Kenneth (St Pancras, N.)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Cook, T. F.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Cooper, G.||Jay, D. P. T.||Scollan, T.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Johnston, Douglas||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Crawley, A.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Sharp, Granville|
|Cullen, Mrs.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Daggar, G.||Keenan, W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Daines, P.||Kenyon, C.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Davies, Edward (Burstem)||King, E. M.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Kinley, J.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Kirby, B. V.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lang, G.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Deer, G.||Lavers, S.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Diamond, J.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Dobbie, W.||Leonard, W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Levy, B. W.||Snow, J. W.|
|Donovan, T.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Solley, L. J.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lindgren, G. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Steele, T.|
|Dye, S.||Logan, D. G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Longden, F.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edelman, M.||Lyne, A. W.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||McAdam, W.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||McAllister, G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McEntee, V. La. T.||Swingler, S.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Mack, J. D.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Symonds, A. L.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Ewart, R.||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Farthing, W. J.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Fernyhough, E.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Follick, M.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Forman, J. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Timmons, J.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Freeman, J. (Watford)||Messer, F.||Tolley, L.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Gallacher, W.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Mitchison, G. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gibbins, J.||Monslow, W.||Walkden, E.|
|Gilzean, A.||Moody, A. S.||Walker, G. H.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Mort, D. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Moyle, A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Grey, C. F.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Grierson, E.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||West, D. G.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||O'Brien, T.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Oliver, G. H.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Orbach, M.||Wilkes, L.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Paget, R. T.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Guy, W. H.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hale, Leslie||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Parker, J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hardman, D. R.||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)||Wise, Major F. J.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Williams, W. R. (Heston)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Willis, E.||Woods, G. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wills, Mrs. E. A.||Wyatt, W.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Head, Brig. A. H.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Odey, G. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hollis, M. C.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hope, Lord J.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Birch, Nigel||Howard, Hon. A.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boothby, R.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bower, N.||Hurd, A.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Keeling, E. H.||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Langford-Holt, J.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Challen, C.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Channon, H.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Linstead, H. N.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Low, A. R. W.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Spence, H. R.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stanley, Rt. Hot. O.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|De la Bère, R.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Donner, P. W.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Drayson, G. B.||McFarlane, C. S.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Drewe, C.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Teeling, William|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Eccles, D. M.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Touche, G. C.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Gage, C.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Marples, A. E.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Molson, A. H. E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||York, C.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Mullan, Lt. C. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Major Conant and|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Nicholson, G.||Mr. Wingfield Digby.|
Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 8, at end, insert:
The initial and subsequent appointments shall be so made as to secure the inclusion of at least one person appearing to the Minister to have had wide experience as a consumer of iron or steel for industrial purposes.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Jack Jones)
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
There is not much that can be said about this Amendment which has not already been said on the previous one. 1862 The principle which the Opposition seeks to press upon us is, of course, the same—to restrict the Minister to specific numbers of certain categories of persons or individuals in the composition of the Corporation. One could argue at length why this should not be so, but, as I have stated, most of this has already been said on the previous Amendment.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Will the Parliamentary Secretary say whether, in his view, the Minister will appoint to the board one person appearing to him to have had wide experience as a consumer of iron or steel for individual purposes?
§ Mr. Jones
I should not be prepared to express a personal view. As the hon. and learned Member, with his wide experience and his Committee work, knows, there is a Consumers' Council on which consumer interests will be able to represent their point of view very fully. At the moment, I am not prepared to say that a consumer as such will or will not be appointed to the Corporation.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
After the somewhat Delphic utterances of the Parliamentary Secretary it becomes more and more obvious that the second Amendment differs very greatly from the first. I hope to discuss this in a very uncontroversial atmosphere because I think it would be a very sanguine Member of this House who said that the interests of the consumers, in so far as they are affected by these nationalised Corporations, have been safeguarded in a manner satisfactory to anybody on either side of the House. In the course of his second sibylline intervention, the Parliamentary Secretary referred to the consumers' councils. I shall refer to them in expressing the view that this House ought to accept the Lords Amendment.
Under conditions of private enterprise, for better or worse—and I do not want to argue their merits at the moment—at any rate the directors or the management of every private enterprise concerned have to pay a great deal of attention to the consumer, not, of course, for idealistic reasons, but because if they do not they can go "bust." That is a motive which makes the directors of private enterprise companies always have an eye to the consumer, and it is not much good producing something very efficiently if the consumer will not buy it.
But when one gets down to a State monopoly of this kind, I think it will be common ground on both sides of the House that we really require the greatest safeguards for the consumer which we can reasonably have. Of course, it is quite true that the consumer has the safeguard of being a voter, but if he should belong to that part of the population which is no better than a "tinker's cuss," perhaps he would not be looked after by the Corporation. His safeguard as a voter is rather a remote safeguard, especially if he belongs to a party to which the present Government do not adhere.
1864 It should be common ground to try to protect the consumer as much as we can. Although I must say that consumers' councils are worth something—it would be ungenerous not to say that—I do not think they are worth nearly enough in the contest between the interests of the consumers and those of the State-owned monopolies. They will largely be councils which will listen to complaints after the damage has been done, and will try, perhaps, to undo some of that damage for the future.
But I suggest with great seriousness that what is required here is the consumer's point of view at the moment when policy is being made. Nobody would qualify more rapidly than the Parliamentary Secretary, with his wide experiences of these matters, for a place on the board under the Amendment he has just rejected, and I think he would agree that in all matters concerning the policy of production, the consumer interest must come in at the point where the policy is made. The object of this Amendment is to secure that out of the possible eleven people who are appointed to the Corporation, at least one should be appointed as a representative of the consumer's interest.
It is immaterial to me whether the man who represents the consumer's interests happens to be a shipbuilder or a bridge builder, but I think it is most desirable to bring specifically into the Corporation at the policy level—if I may use Civil Service jargon—somebody who has particular regard to the interests of consumers. That is very necessary in private enterprise companies, and that is why there are often on the boards of steel producing companies those who are less experienced in the production of iron and steel and more experienced in its consumption than others. I do not know why hon. Members opposite should think it very odd that a shipowner should be on a board of a steel company. I think it is a very sensible thing to do, although it seems to be the subject of some sneers from below the Gangway. However, I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary does not subscribe to those views.
The real point of this Amendment is that the consumer should come in at the policy level and should start looking after the stable before the horse is stolen. I 1865 very much hope that the Government will accept this Amendment. It cannot possibly do them any harm; it is only one person out of eleven whom we ask the Minister to choose as the special representative of the consumer interest. It is characteristic of hon. Members opposite, and not something which I applaud myself, to imagine that it is always the consumers who have to be protected. Nearly all of us are both producers and consumers, but if they really believe that the consumer has to have slightly the better of the deal—which I believe myself—then they ought to show it in this very practical way.
I do not think that the questions which are raised by this second Amendment are as wide as those raised by the first, partly because the numbers are much smaller and partly because we are here talking, not as we were on the first Amendment about the qualifications of the people, their skill and experience, but about somebody to represent the consumer's interest. I suggest, if it is not mere lip service which we hear daily about the consumer having to suffer, that this is a perfectly safe Amendment. I do not want to bring the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) to his feet on this occasion, because I am not arguing the same point. I merely say that it would improve the Bill very greatly to have a consumer represented at the policy level.
§ Mr. Erroll
I can hardly think that any consumer of steel in the future will have been cheered by what the Parliamentary Secretary has just said. He is not prepared to say whether there will be a representative of consumers' interests on the Corporation or not, nor is he prepared to say how the interests of consumers are to be safeguarded, except that he made some references to a Consumers' Council. We all know that consumers' councils have been a conspicuous failure under all the other nationalisation Measures of the present Government, so that to suggest that the Consumers' Council is going to take care of consumers' interests is to do less than justice to consumers as a whole.
The real point, of course, as my right hon. Friend has just said, is that consumers' councils can only look at matters after they have happened, and that what is required is that consumers' interests should be represented when policy is 1866 being formed. That is largely taken care of in the case of many of the principal steel companies today because they ensure that on their boards they have individuals, connected with the interests of the consumers. Such individuals are often jeered at by hon. Members opposite because they may not have an intimate knowledge of the iron and steel industry, but hon. Members opposite entirely overlook the fact that these persons help the firms concerned to evolve a policy which will ensure their markets in the future.
We have already witnessed in the case of every nationalised undertaking—the National Coal Board and the British Electricity Authority—very serious faults arising through complete ignorance of what were the consumers' true demands. I am sure that if there had been a housewife on the Board of the British Electricity Authority, there would not have been the absurdity of the winter surcharge last winter, and that if there were a consumer on the National Coal Board, there would be much cleaner coal than there is at present. The whole trouble is, of course, that under monopoly conditions the consumer's real interests get forgotten.
§ Mr. Harrison
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether he thinks there should be housewives on the steel directorates to advise steel companies in regard to the household requirements that he is talking so much of?
§ Mr. Erroll
Certainly. That necessity arises with the companies who purchase steel to make into household requisites. It would be absurd to have a housewife upon a heavy steel company which does not supply directly to housewives. We are asking that the Steel Corporation should contain a representative of the consuming interest, that is to say of the companies that use steel products. There are very few steel companies that sell direct to housewives, whereas in the case of the other nationalised undertakings coal and electricity, a very large proportion of their sales is made directly to housewives. I think my comparison was entirely justified.
We want to know whether the interests of the consumers will be represented on the Steel Corporation. We know that the consumers have very little representation in the Post Office, for the very good reason that a consumer's repre- 1867 sentative has no place in the Post Office hierarchy. The consumers' interest is carefully siphoned off into the body which, the Postmaster-General was candid enough to admit the other day, is practically moribund. The one thing that the nationalised corporations appear to have little regard for is an individual representing the interests of the consumer.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
This is a very interesting Debate. The Minister resists the Amendment on the ground that it is not necessary and that the consumer's interest is otherwise protected and provided for in the Bill. The argument in favour of the Amendment is that the consumer's interest is not adequately protected and that there should be full protection. This is the vital difference between private enterprise and Socialism. Under free enterprise there would be no argument about the consumer's interest. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members have cheered too soon. There would be no talk about protecting the consumer's interest because the consumer would determine production, the allocation of materials and the whole form of the industry. We have not had free enterprise in the steel industry for the last 20 or 30 years. We have had interventionism, which is a totally different thing.
Under Socialism, the consumer will have no place except the position which the Government are trying to give him. The consumer is completely displaced. The nationalised board will thus have no criterion for production, or for profit, or for determining whether the allocation of materials is properly made. The Government have to set up a board to provide an arbitrary criterion, in which there will be a proper struggle to provide protection for the consumer, who ought never to require protection. The desires and wishes of the consumer are the real test of the economic system, but they have been displaced. It is part of the gravity of the Bill that we should have to struggle for some sort of recognition for the consumer.
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)
The Parliamentary Secretary has made me realise that the idea I had developed about the type of man who answered a Gallup poll questionnaire with the 1868 words "Don't know," was quite wrong. I always imagined a weak vacillating little man who just answered sadly "Don't know." The Parliamentary Secretary does not answer to that description but yet he said "Don't know." I assumed that he would reply with his usual decisive energy that no board could possibly be complete without a consumer on it. I am sure he got up intending to reply in that way, but changed his mind on the ground that discretion was the better part of valour as his Minister was temporarily not there.
I cannot conceive the Corporation being complete without somebody of the kind described in the Amendment. If that is so, then the Amendment should be written into the Bill. Parliament is setting up the Corporation, and Parliament ought to lay down some guidance as to the kind of persons who are to be on the board. We should lay it down that the consumers' interest and knowledge must be properly represented. We cannot possibly have proper policy-making unless the Corporation contains people who understand the consumer problem. It is essential that the whole consumer knowledge should be adequately represented in a policy-making body, as tends to happen in private boards which contemplate operations of the scale to be undertaken by the iron and steel board.
I saw the Minister looking at me in connection with the question of the ability of the consumer to protect himself because of a remark of mine at another stage of the Bill, when I hinted that at a certain point of the trade cycle in the sellers' market, it was possible for certain producers to exercise favouritism about where their products went. Under free enterprise that tendency corrects itself straight away with astonishing rapidity, but under the Socialist system it will not do so. As the sellers' market comes to full flexibility, what happens can influence very strongly the interests of the consumer, who usually gets his own way. No consumers' council set up formally, in the way that is done in the Bill, can achieve that selectivity.
I will concede for the purpose of the argument that there might quite well be short spells of the ordinary trade cycle, as no one will convince me that a Socialist Government, or any other Government, will succeed in abolishing the 1869 trade cycle altogether. We might flatten it out a bit but it will never be abolished. The trouble with the proposed iron and steel organisation is that it is under the direction of the Government on certain matters at all stages of the trade cycle, and that the correctives of the market place cannot apply. That is why it becomes imperative that the consumer should come on to the Corporation. Somebody should be there to look after the consumers' interests, to make certain that that type of knowledge is in policy-making from its very earliest stage.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I would not allow that argument to pass without saying a word or two about it. As a Marxist, I have never heard anything to equal what was said by the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay). The idea that under private enterprise the consumer has some power of direction or determination is nonsense, unless one defines the consumer of whom one is thinking.
We had private enterprise 60 years ago. My father had £1 a week. How much determination or direction had he with that? When we had private enterprise, palaces and mansions were being built all over the country but tenements and hovels were being built for the workers. What consumers were considered? What consumers determined the character of buildings? There was every kind of luxury food, but Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman could say that 13 million people were living under the nutritional standard in this country. Who was determining the course of production or distribution then? A certain set of consumers, but not the consumers. There was luxury in the West End and poverty and misery in the East End.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
It may very well be—I am not denying it—that there was suffering in it, but the fact is that up to 1880, the standard of living in this country went up three times. Free enterprise made that possible.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I still say that in 1906 or thereabouts, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, after making a real study of the situation, declared that 13 million people in this country were living under the nutritional standards.
§ Mr. Gallacher
They had little to do with determining production. Reference has been made to the Coal Board and complaints by housewives. The housewives are the small individual consumers. The complaints of dirty coal come not from the big industries but from the housewives. We can always rely upon a national board, like a board of directors, to look after the big fellows. There is never any trouble about that. The big steel consumers will be well looked after. The people who will not be well looked after, whether it is the Coal Board, the Railway Board or the Steel Board, are the people who matter, the workers who produce the steel, and they are the people who should be on the board. I would not have one of the big steel consumers on the board. Every member of the board should be a member of the working class drawn from the industry. That is how we should get results.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I am associated with the steel industry in a modest way. The last thing we in the steel industry would think of doing would be to treat people in the way described by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). The object of the industry today is to raise the standard living of everybody associated with it.
In this matter I am surprised at the Minister. Throughout my association and pleasant companionship with the right hon. Gentleman I have always regarded him as a man of profound common sense. Yet he now refuses to agree to a proposal for a representative of the great consuming industry of iron and steel upon his Corporation. I am concerned very much with the industry in the Midlands. I am president of the National Union of Manufacturers, whose members represent a very large consumption of steel, and I am also associated with various private enterprises in which steel consumption is of profound importance to success. I am, therefore, astonished that the right hon. Gentleman cannot find room for one representative for the consumers of steel on the Corporation.
The nationalisation of steel is in a different category from all the other efforts at nationalisation, because it touches practically every industry in the 1871 land. In the City of Birmingham and the Midlands we have nearly 1,570 different classes of enterprise, and nearly every one has to depend to a greater or lesser degree upon steel. Who is to represent the consumers in the provision of steel and to protect their interests if the Corporation has no representative charged with that responsibility? His Majesty's Ministers, including the right hon. Gentleman, make continuous appeals to our manufacturers to intensify, stimulate and expand our export trade. There is nothing so immediately necessary to the expansion of exports as steel. Yet the Minister denies the right of the people who consume steel in the production of these articles in a competitive world to have representation on the Corporation, and quality. Why do the Government That seems the abnegation of statesmanship.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do something about this matter before the Bill passes from the control of this House and that common sense will prevail. This Amendment is far more important to industry in this country than the one which has just been rejected. The distribution and employment of steel in the thousands of trades in this country which depend for their vitality on the supply of steel, is of far more consequence from the point of view of representation on the Corporation than the productivity side. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will allow the Amendment to be made and thus give us a gleam of that statesmanship to which we have looked forward.
§ Mr. Harrison
I would remind the Opposition that more steel is used in the ancillary undertakings attached to the Steel Corporation than in any other parts of our industrial life at present. Therefore, these people in the industry have a far more intimate knowledge of consumer needs than almost any other industry. That completely answers the question raised on the Amendment.
§ Mr. David Eccles (Chippenham)
The hon. Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Harrison) seems to have given the case away. It is precisely because the people associated with the board are also consumers of steel in the ancillaries, that it is so very important to protect the private companies who are in competition 1872 with the publicly owned companies under the board.
§ Mr. Eccles
The Amendment seeks to give some representation of consumers' interests on the board. The first intervention of the hon. Member for East Nottingham was an interesting one. He said that there was no consumer representation in the old days, why should there be now. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) answered that very well when he said that under private conditions the consumer had a chance. He might not have had it in price for some time, but he certainly had it in service and quality. Why do the Government wish to preserve firms like Stewarts and Lloyds and others with their own names? Simply because those names and the identity of those firms have been an attraction to consumers, and the Government know that if it is simply described as "British steel" we shall not get so many buyers.
The real point is this, do we or do we not injure the consumer interest by nationalising an industry? Quite obviously we do. The greater the concentration of an industry in one hand, the weaker the power of the consumer over that industry to get produced the things he wants. In this Bill has enough been done to replace the free play of the market which has been taken away from the consumer? We say that the Consumers' Council is not enough and, therefore, we think that something should be done to bring the consumer on to the board.
Curiously enough, we are not the only people who realise that nationalisation is hitting the consumer hard. I think I am right in saying that in "Labour believes in Britain" there is a section which starts "A Square Deal for the Consumer." That shows that the party opposite realise that the consumer is not getting a fair deal under nationalisation. Why then are we refused one member on the board of the nationalised industry which is to be responsible for the widest range of products? It goes right down to bedsteads and kitchen utensils. I do not know anything about the father of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), but I am sure his mother used to choose carefully which frying pan or 1873 which other household article she bought that contained iron or steel.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Would the hon. Gentleman try to get into his head an idea of what a housewife with seven children could buy on £1 per week?
§ Mr. Attewell
I am trying to follow the argument and I wish that the hon. Member would read the Amendment. It says "for industrial purposes." Frying pans for the housewife are not for industrial purposes.
§ Mr. Eccles
It is for industrial purposes; for the manufacture of all that wide range of goods called household goods. I say that in future the woman who has only £1 a week will get much worse value for her money than she did before. Therefore if the Amendment is not accepted it seems to me to make nonsense of that section of "Labour believes in Britain" which talks about a square deal for the consumer. I do not believe for one moment that the Labour Party is sincere in its policy statement. When I read it I thought it was nonsense; now I have the proof, and if the Minister rejects this Amendment we shall know what to say about it.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) has given the game away. It is obvious to most of us on this side of the House that no substantial argument has yet been propounded by the other side in favour of this Amendment. The hon. Member referred to the wide range of consumer goods produced from iron and steel. That is precisely what makes this Amendment meaningless. If the hon. Member will read the Amendment he will find that it says:at least one person appearing to the Minister to have had wide experience as a consumer of iron and steel for industrial purposes.One person could not represent that vast range of consumption of iron and steel; he could not at the same time represent the shipping interests, the bicycle producing interests or the producers of the pots and pans about which we have heard so much.
The right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) in speaking on this 1874 Amendment made some play with the fact that under private enterprise the iron and steel concerns often had a representative of the shipping interests on their boards; indeed, he tried to give that as an indication of how much they were concerned with the consuming interest. Were the representatives of the shipping companies on the boards of the iron and steel companies because the latter invited them to come along and give the benefit of their advice on behalf of the consumers, or because they, as shipping interests, had a financial interest in that steel concern and were there not to look after the interests of the broad mass of consumers but of their company? One knows that it was a link-up of the financial interests, and the shipping concern was there to represent the direct interests of shipping consumers of steel against the other consumer interests. Quite obviously, if one, two or three members were there to represent the consumer interests with which they were connected, this would be a dangerous addition to the Bill.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas
The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) has tried to create a dichotomy between financial and consumer interests. There is a fallacy in his argument which is worth pointing out. It is the experience of mankind that a man devotes himself far more intently to an enterprise in which he is risking his own money—
§ Mr. Thomas
I shall have something to say to the hon. Gentleman in a moment but I leave him while I deal with his hon. Friend. That is one of the great virtues of free enterprise, and I have been forced to the conclusion that Socialism will not succeed because it does not give an adequate measure of personal responsibility to those who participate in it. The members of public boards do not feel the same direct interest in the success of their undertaking as do the directors of privately-owned concerns and the men who have worked up their business from the bottom—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)
The hon. Gentleman is getting very wide of the Amendment now before the House.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am trying to reply to the argument of the hon. Gentleman, but I think I have given an adequate indication of the answer.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Is not the hon. Gentleman giving me my argument that the consumer representative, assuming he comes from a shipping concern and has a direct financial interest in it, represents only that financial interest, and will not represent the broad mass of consumers?
§ Mr. Thomas
I am sure I am in Order in replying to that argument, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has reminded me of what he said. There is really only one consumer interest, and that is to get steel of the best quality at the cheapest price. That applies to all consumers of steel. The hon. Gentleman is quite right to point out the great variety of steel products, and superficially there might appear to be some cogency in his argument, but it is not so really, because the interest of shipbuilders is the same as the interest of frying-pan manufacturers, to get steel of good quality at low prices.
This is one of the main points that will emerge from our Debate and it is worth while giving some attention to it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have argued for nationalisation in the past, and I argued with them, on the ground that it would provide products of better quality at a cheaper price than under private enterprise. I think they were sincere in that argument. If I may give an example, no less a person than the Foreign Secretary so argued at the last General Election in the case of the coal industry, and most of us sincerely believed that nationalisation would result in a better deal for the consumer.
In practice that has not proved to be the case. The opposite has proved to be true, and possibly under pressure from groups of producers, nationalisation has been consistently against the interests of the consumer. To give a proof of that, let me refer to an interesting speech made last week at the annual meeting of the Finance Corporation for Industry by Lord Bruce who pointed out how it was becoming extremely difficult to find any worth while enterprises in which to invest precisely because of the enhanced prices of the products of nationalised industries. The very great increase in the price of coal, transport, power and the other pro- 1876 ducts of nationalised industries is bound to be of very great concern because, even if it is true that so far only 20 per cent. of industry has been nationalised, the products of these industries are essential to the whole of the remaining sector of private enterprise. Therefore, the question of the position of the consumer of steel is of the utmost importance.
In the light of the experience of the past few years I have been forced to the conclusion—the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) needed no convincing, because he was there already—that there is no adequate protection for the consumer except competititive enterprise. Only when the consumer has an alternative source of supply will he get real protection. But we must do the best we can in the Bill, and this proposal of their Lordships to have on the board a person who will be able to speak on behalf of consumers of iron and steel is better than having nothing at all, or better than the Consumers' Council which it is proposed to set up and whose effectiveness is bound to be illusory.
Let me turn to the argument of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). It might appear to him convincing that because his father had only £1 a week a long time ago—obviously, it must have been a long time ago for an industrial worker to have had only £1 a week—he had no real consumer's choice. What he forgets—
§ Mr. Gallacher
I said 60 years ago. After an hon. Member opposite had said that we did not have private enterprise during the past 20 years I gave 60 years as a time when we did have private enterprise. My argument is that my father and millions like him, with their £1 a week, had really no power whatever of determining or directing the course of production and distribution.
§ Mr. Thomas
The date is irrelevant. In his intervention, however, the hon. Member has now interpolated some words which are essential for my argument. He has said, not only his own father but millions like him. The argument of the hon. Member is fallacious. It is fallacious precisely because there were millions of men like the hon. Member's father, and like my own father. Individually they may have had only small incomes but collectively they were more important than any other persons.
§ Mr. Thomas
I pick up what was so truly said by the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen. All through this period, and, indeed, at least from the end of the Middle Ages, there was a steady and spectacular increase in the standard of living of the working classes; but that was a direct result of the system of private enterprise. The hon. Member must face the facts. There was a steady decline, for example, in the cost of food all through the 19th century.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Why was it that my father and millions like him had to get shoddy clothing, live in slum houses and get "ham ends" when all the others got the best of everything? How can it be said that they had any power for directing the course of production and distribution?
§ Mr. Thomas
Because the hon. Gentleman's father was living in better conditions than his grandfather lived in, and his father's son is living in better conditions than his father was. There has been a steady and most spectacular improvement all through. The condition which the hon. Member described has, in fact, been the condition of the great mass of mankind of all ages, and even now is the condition of the great masses of mankind in Asia and in Russia.
It is because of private enterprise and precisely because of its inequalities that the standard of living has continued to rise the whole time. We can still see the process developing. In my own lifetime I have seen the motor car become very common, the radio has become a household necessity, television is spreading into large numbers of homes, and today washing machines are ceasing to be the perquisite of a few luxury homes and are to be found in homes all over the country. It is consumer's choice that has made this process possible. That has been the mainspring of our economic system. That mainspring, unfortunately, is now being broken by the actions of the Government.
I should like to restore consumers' choice to its rightful rôle. The Government, I have discovered, do not believe in it. One of their Members—the Economic Secretary to the Treasury—in a book with a foreword by the Prime Minister, has frankly said that in matters 1878 of health and in nutrition, as in education, the gentleman in Whitehall really knows best. That is the attitude of hon. Members opposite, who will tell us also that in the case of steel the gentleman in Whitehall really does know best. We do not believe that.
What we should like to do is to give the consumer the only adequate protection that is possible, and that is the kind which comes from a competitive enterprise. But we cannot achieve that under the Bill; it will be left to the General Election to determine that issue. For today, we must do the best we can, and that is to try to ensure that on the Corporation there is at least one member who can speak up for the consumer.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
For some time past private enterprise, large and small, has found it convenient to have on its boards a representative of the consumer. I agree that in some cases this policy has been carried too far towards the direction of a vertical trust—I think it was a vertical trust which was in the mind of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) just now. In that case abuse does creep in; but that is by no means the general practice. There are firms like Richard Thomas, for example, who have on their boards of directors representatives of quite important firms which they do not control in any way; for example, Sir Robert Barlow, who is Chairman of The Metal Box Company, and Sir Andrew Agnew, who is Managing Director of the Shell Transport and Trading Company, Ltd. There is no financial link or sign of a vertical trust there. It is merely that, for a multiplicity of reasons, it is convenient to have on the board of a great manufacturing concern representatives of consumers of its products.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Surely, in the case the hon. Member has quoted, those people are bulk consumers of the firm's products and, therefore, it is in the interest of that particular firm to have those special consumers represented on the board. They represent no one more than their own firms.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
That does not destroy the principle. Obviously, a whole multiplicity of consumers could not be represented on a board of 10 or 12 people, and we are not asking for that now. We are asking in the Cor- 1879 poration for a representative of the consumer. Presumably, the man chosen would be one of the most prominent men in the country with great experience of firms which are important consumers of iron and steel.
We have not yet at this stage in the House debated the Consumers' Council generally. I think, however, that everybody is agreed that so far these bodies have been fairly ineffective. They do not appear yet to operate at all with gas and electricity, and so far as coal is concerned the industrial Consumers' Council has never yet made its voice effective in the production of coal. The price of coal to the consumer went up by five shillings a ton and afterwards jumped by another four shillings a ton, and at no stage was the industrial Consumers' Council consulted.
The point I am trying to make is that by setting up consumers' councils a lot of heavy artillery is brought to bear at a late stage, and conditions are set up for a long-range war between the Corporation—whatever it is, in coal, gas or electricity—and the Consumers' Council. The operations are far too extended and the time factor is too great. I regard the Amendment as designed to put an outpost, a representative of the Consumers' Council, on the Corporation in order to smooth out the difficulties and disputes before they begin to arise.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are always saying that we must iron out booms and slumps, stresses and strains. Here is an admirable chance to do so. Suppose that the Steel Corporation is going to raise the prices of steel. How much better it would be that in the early stages of the argument a representative of the consumer should be there on the Corporation to thrash out differences rather than that the board should decide upon policy, raise prices and then stage a gigantic battle which would appear, in the public and in the Press, to be a battle between the Corporation and the Consumers' Council. Surely that is very much better.
For all that it is desirable to spend a great deal of social capital on the iron and steel world, the Iron and Steel Corporation might carry that to undue lengths so that in time the prices of iron and steel are raised beyond the limit the consumer 1880 is able to pay. There might be a war between the Iron and Steel Corporation and the Consumers' Council which could be averted in the first instance if there were a consumers' representative on the board. He could say, "It is very nice to have a lot of new social capital installed at the great works being built, but I am beginning to fear that prices will rise unduly and that in due course my friends in the consumer side of the industry will suffer." Those instances are of the kind to warrant an Amendment of this sort being inserted and I hope at this late stage the Minister will agree to it.
§ Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
I hope the Minister has listened very carefully to my noble Friend the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). When the Parliamentary Secretary opened this Debate he said that the principles were the same as in the Amendment we had before us this afternoon. If the Minister has listened to what my hon. Friend has said, he will realise that underlying this Amendment are very different principles from those we discussed earlier because the basis of the principles in the earlier discussion was accepted by both sides namely, that in a production industry we should have on the board people knowing the production. Now we are discussing whether in a production industry we should have someone on the board representing consumers' interests. For the Parliamentary Secretary to say that the arguments are the same, is nonsense.
We have been watching the results of nationalisation over the years and we on this side of the House, and I think the majority of the people are convinced that consumers do not get proper protection under nationalisation. Later we shall be dealing with the Consumers' Council and I do not propose to go into that matter in detail now. In Clause 6, as the Minister knows, Consumers' Councils so far as the publicly owned companies are concerned, has practically no sanctions whatever. We are convinced that it is necessary to tighten up the protection of consumers' interests and for that reason we are going into a new avenue in supporting an Amendment to provide for a consumers' representative on the board. After listening to the arguments this afternoon, the Minister must realise that this is a new approach to the problem.
In Sheffield in the last week I have had three examples of what is happening 1881 to consumers. First, there is the case of someone who has been waiting for a telephone for three years and has now been told by the Postmaster-General that he must wait another three years. The second example concerns the coal industry, in which a firm has been complaining about the amount of water in the slack, which has gone up to 16 per cent., for which the National Coal Board expect to be paid and which, no doubt, is going into the coal target figure. That is not a small concern. An hon. Member said that large concerns looked after themselves, but this concern deals with 30,000 tons of coal a week. It will be seen that the Coal Board is making a good thing out of selling water to the consumer.
The third example was of someone wanting to get a machine from Manchester to Sheffield. He applied to the national haulage contractor and was told that he must pay £17 10s. and provide loading. By private enterprise the same job was done for £5. It is essential for the Government to realise that under nationalisation the consumer does not get better protection. That is why we are trying to strengthen the board by putting a consumer on it.
I have been making inquiries in the City of Sheffield, which makes a great deal of the steel of this country. There are a great many firms which depend for their livelihood on steel. They are small concerns and do not come under the provisions of this Measure, but they are all consumers of steel. Among these industrial consumers in Sheffield there is a great deal of disquiet, not only among the managements, but among the operatives, because they see the hammer of nationalisation coming down in the middle of their home town. I assure the Minister that there is a great deal of disquiet among the smaller concerns because, whatever hon. Members say, whereas previously those people could change their suppliers if they wished and go from one supplier to another if they did not get proper service, under this Measure they will come under the one monopoly of the State. No matter what name we call it, it will be under the direction of the Minister and the board.
I ask the Minister to reconsider this. It is not the same principle as we discussed earlier, but it is an attempt to protect the consumer as opposed to the 1882 powers of the producer. If the Minister has listened to the arguments, he must be convinced that there is a great deal in what we have said. If he is not prepared to accept the Amendment, would he be prepared to give an undertaking that there shall be a consumer on the board? That would go some way to meet us. The road to disaster is before us, but it may prevent us reaching the slippery slope for a short time. I ask for that assurance.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
I wish to reinforce the last point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts). When my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) asked the Parliamentary Secretary, after his rather inadequate-speech, whether he meant to put a consumers' representative on the board, his answer was "Don't know"—the old Gallup poll answer. It may be that the answer is "Won't say." Before we leave the Amendment we are entitled to know what the answer is.
§ Mr. J. Jones
The Parliamentary Secretary did not say, "Don't know." What the Parliamentary Secretary said, in answer to the request, was that he was not prepared to commit himself at the moment that one should be on the board, or that one should not.
§ Mr. Birch
I have never had the honour of representing Gallup polls on the doorstep, but I take it that if one asks someone if he is worried about the cost of living or not and he is not prepared to say, one puts him down as "Don't know." I think I have classified the hon. Gentleman. Possibly the Minister may know and, if he does know, he should tell us the answer. We are entitled to an answer on whether he intends to put a consumer on the board or not.
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) was talking of silk and shoddy and of the kind of consumers' choice his father had. How do hon. Members opposite think that people with small incomes will be helped by nationalisation, inefficient production and high prices? It is very curious, but no one can be helped unless wages go up in nationalised industries. The railwaymen may have something to say about that. I do not want to enlarge on it. It does not appear that they get particularly good wages, and everyone else, supposing they do not get 1883 good wages, in fact suffers. It is the people with the low incomes who suffer more than the people with the high incomes. Consumers' choice does matter, and I should think that it would matter more to a person with a small income than to a person with a large income.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that the arguments on this Amendment were the same as the arguments on the first Amendment. Surely that is wholly wrong. The first issue was whether we should have technicians, people with experience, on the board. This is quite a different thing. This is a question of whether we can do anything whatsoever to protect the consumers by having a consumers' representative upon the board. I think that the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) gave away the weak position of the unfortunate consumer by saying that a consumers' representative could not represent all the consumers. Nothing could be more true, but under the old system, as the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) pointed out, they had their say.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are bemused about the old slogan of production for use and not profit. But why does anyone ever make a profit? Surely because he produces things which other people want to use, at prices which they are prepared to pay. That situation no longer applies under this Bill. If anyone is to carry on business at all, anyone who is a consumer, he has to take exactly what he is given at the price at which he is given it. He has no choice of any sort, and if hon. Members think, because this is a Government body, that automatically gives the consumer protection, all I can say is that Lord Ammon's adjective should also be applied to that.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
I was astonished to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say that the arguments applied to the other Amendment applied equally to this one. I can only think that he was so anxious to get on with the Bill that he was not prepared to support arguments which can be applied to this particular Amendment. I wish to refer to the sort of individual whom we on this side of the House would like to see added to the Corporation. Let us take a hypothetical case. We know that the Corporation are charged, taking 1884 one year with another, with making both ends meet. Suppose, as is very likely, they fail, and therefore they have to do something about it; what is likely to follow. They would say, "In order to make ends meet we must raise our steel prices"—let us say, by 10 per cent.—and they proceed to try that out.
What would be the effect of raising the price of say, steel sections by 10 per cent.? The consumers' representative would say, "Wait a minute. If you start to raise prices by 10 per cent. it will have a very different effect on the shipbuilding industry from that which it has on the structural industry. One can bear it and the other cannot. The shipbuilding figures are such that they cannot stand any increase in costs." That is the sort of rôle which, as I see it, this individual would play. He is not a representative, as the right hon. Gentleman tried to make out, of any particular section of consumers. He is an expert upon consumer demand and the effect upon consumer demand of any particular action which the Corporation may take.
What is abundantly clear is that the sales management side of nationalised industry scarcely exists. If an industrialist is asked which is one of the most important aspects of industrialism, he will say that it is the sales management side. Those men go out and assess the public need; they assess the quantity and price and the subsequent demand which will arise for articles at a certain price and of a certain quality. Then they get the production people to produce at that price and in that quality. That does not exist at the present time.
Take the General Post Office, for example. There have been complaints for months on end about its unsatisfactory nature, but does a sales manager from the General Post Office ask us whether, if the price of postage were reduced to 2d., we would post more letters? Not a bit of it. The consumer has to take it or leave it. As I see it, the consumers' representative would organise the sales management side and be able to advise the Corporation on the effect of a reduction in price here or an increase in price there. That is quite different from the rôle visualised by the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore, I add my plea to the Government to make this appointment.
§ 6.45 p.m
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
A number of points have been raised during this very interesting Debate to which I would like to reply. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is perfectly right when he says that the principle raised in this Amendment is identical with the principle raised in the last Amendment, which I suggest is this. The Bill has laid down general categories from which persons shall be appointed to the Corporation. Are we to go on and say that there should be three men representing one section of the industry, and one man representing another; thus inevitably meeting a further demand that somebody should represent the trade union section of the industry and somebody else—as was pressed upon us during the Committee stage—to represent the scientists, and so on; until the total make-up of the Corporation is laid down and rigidly set out in the Statute? That is the principle which is raised in this Amendment and which was raised in the last one, and it is a principle with which I ask this House to disagree, because it is a bad one and not the way we should proceed.
§ Mr. Molson
In the Clause as drafted by the Government, in addition to this capacity for production, there is a special provision for those with experience of the organisation of workers. There is given an opportunity for the representation of the trade unionists, with a natural tendency to raise wages and costs. Would it not, therefore, be quite proper for the consumers also to be represented?
§ Mr. Strauss
Certainly, subsection (2) of Clause 1 lays down the types of people who should be on the Corporation. In the Amendment it is suggested that, within those general categories, we should lay down exactly what representatives of what sections of the industry there should be, and in what numbers.
§ Mr. Strauss
It is suggested that there should be three people who have experience in the iron and steel industry. The Amendment refers to somebody who has had experience as a consumer, but all the arguments have been that it should be somebody who should represent the consumers. If that principle is accepted, we shall inevitably get other classes of 1886 people who want representation on the Corporation. We have set our face against a representative Corporation from the very beginning. I think there was general agreement in the Committee, at any rate over a large section of it, that the Corporation should be non-functional and non-representative; that it should be a body of men working together, not representing any particular interests and therefore being in frequent conflict, but working together harmoniously for the benefit of the iron and steel industry and the consumers in that industry.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
The right hon. Gentleman is making a great point, as I understand it, that in his view—which I understand is disputed by my hon. Friends—there was general agreement in the Committee on this or that point. We are now in the House of Commons. Does it matter what the Committee agreed? There are many of us here who were not members of the Committee, and what we have to decide now is what the House of Commons wants, and not what the Committee may or may not have wanted.
§ Mr. Strauss
Of course, but I thought that it would be of interest to the House to know that in the Committee, where we discussed this Bill for 36 Sittings, there was fairly general agreement on the undesirability of having a functional Corporation or a representative Corporation. I merely repeat that fact to the House; I think that it supports me in the line I am taking.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
I am trying to follow the Minister's argument. Would he look at the Amendment and say how the person proposed in it would be more functional in the case of consumers than the person who has had experience of "the organisation of workers" would be functional in the case of workers. In neither case is the word "representation" used.
§ Mr. Strauss
If the hon. Member has listened to the speeches made by practically every hon. Member who supports this Amendment—
§ Mr. Strauss
—he will remember that they used some phrase to the effect that it is essential to have on the Corporation a representative of consumers to 1887 look after their interests, to see that prices are not raised against consumers, etc. I must take into account the arguments used by hon. Gentlemen opposite in supporting the Amendment. I take it that that is what they seek in supporting the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas
Does the Minister realise that Clause 1 (2) as drafted would preclude him from appointing anyone who had experience of consumer matters unless he also had experience under one of the other heads?
§ Mr. Strauss
Nothing of the sort. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary was perfectly right when in answer to the question which he was asked once or twice about whether there would be anybody on the Corporation who had experience as a consumer, he said that it is impossible at this stage to say. It is very probable, I put it no higher, that among the people who have had experience of the iron and steel industry will be someone who has had experience as a consumer of some kind or type of iron or steel. I refuse to bind myself at this stage by suggesting that there will be anybody who could be regarded as a representative of consumers because I believe very firmly that in principle we should not have representative corporations, bodies or commissions in control of these great industries. Therefore, my answer to the question about whether there will be a representative of consumers on the Corporation is definitely "No," but there will be someone on it who has had experience as a consumer of iron and steel.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Will the Minister define what he means by non-representative or non-functional? I do not mean someone who will represent consumers but someone who will represent their point of view. The Minister says that the Standing Committee decided on a non-functional Corporation. It is true that in the Standing Committee the Government changed their grounds very much under criticism but the Committee stage left me, and I think most of my hon. Friends, somewhat at sea as to what a non-functional Corporation and non-representative people sitting in vacuo meant.
§ Mr. Strauss
I think that there is general understanding of what a non-functional board is and what a non-representative board is. I do not think that we need to go into definitions on this occasion; we have plenty of work to do. It was understood in the Committee, as it is in this House, and as I am sure it is generally understood that if there are to be representatives of various interests sitting on the Corporation, it will become a very different body from the one which we have in mind. The Corporation will not consist of representatives but of people working with one purpose only, not representing any special interest but with the sole purpose of promoting the well-being of the iron and steel industry and of the consumers of the products of that industry.
I wish to make the point that those who have been arguing in favour of a consumers' representative on this Corporation apparently do not realise that for the first time, as a result of this Measure, the consumer will have a status. He will be able to express his views, not merely in print, with no effect, or through the voice of the chairman at a directors' meeting. For the first time he will be able to express his views and have his requirements recognised, considered, and, if reasonable, implemented.
Over and over again in the past there have been loud and serious complaints from the shipping and motor car industries, and many other industries, about the iron and steel industry. It was alleged—I do not intend to go into the merits of the matter—that the industry was not serving its consumers properly. Complaints were made, they may have been expressed in newspapers, but they had no effect whatever. No statutory result flowed from those protests because this House was debarred and Ministers were debarred from taking any action and from remedying such deficiencies as existed. Those complaints merely continued.
Here for the first time, consumers are to have a Consumers' Council on which they will sit as of right. They are to be able through this Council to make representations and suggestions, which will come to this House, where they can be considered; for the first time they can be effectively considered in Parliament. Previously no one has been responsible for doing anything. The representations 1889 from the Council can be put into effect by order of the Minister of Supply, who can be questioned about why he has or has not made some change which consumers have asked for. For the first time consumers are in a very strong position, indeed in a better position than ever before. That point should be appreciated. This House, the Minister and the Consumers' Council will effectively look after the interests of consumers better than they have ever been looked after before.
My final point, which is important, is that hon. Members opposite do not seem to realise that the Corporation is being set up to serve the national interest, and very high if not the highest, amongst national interests is the consumers' interest. The very purpose of the Corporation is to attempt by bringing about greater improvements, efficiency and rationalisation and by lowering prices and a whole host of other measures, to serve the consumer better than he has ever been served before. That is why we are setting up the Corporation. That is the duty which this House is putting on the Corporation. To suggest that on top of that one out of the six or 10 people on the Corporation must be a consumers' representative—there is to be no other representative apparently on this Corporation—is quite ridiculous when the whole purpose of all the six or 10 persons will be to serve the consumers.
For those reasons, and because of the full provision made in the Bill to protect the consumer if he should feel that under this Bill his interests are not being fully looked after—and I am confident myself that he will feel that his interests are better looked after than ever before—I suggest that we disagree with the Lords proposal that there should be a specific consumers' representative on this Corporation.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
If I thought that there was any real danger of this Bill becoming operative, and of this board of unlucky persons being charged with these immense and vast duties upon a non-functional, non-representative basis, I should take a very gloomy view of our future. Having heard the speech which the Minister has just made, I am bound to say that it is clear that he also thinks that this matter will be decided in another place, by which I mean the 1890 verdict of the people. The speech he has made has had little reference either to the discussion in the other Chamber, the words of the Amendment or the discussion here. It was a speech clearly directed more to the hustings than to the House of Commons.
The Minister gave us what I thought was a very inaccurate picture of the power of the consumers to make their feelings and views felt over the last period of years. It is true that, as the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) said, there has been a great change in the character of the relationship of the steel industry to its consumers over a period, and that in the period that followed the great slump after the 1914–18 war, the reconstruction period under the protective tariffs, measures were introduced by the Government which changed the old laissez faire position. Measures were introduced and carried out throughout that period for that very purpose, and with the most powerful of all weapons in the hands of the Government—the power to give or withhold the tariff. It was the Import Duties Advisory Committee which, at the very beginning of this new phase in the development of the steel industry, enforced upon the industry certain measures of re-organisation as part of the understanding on which it advised the Government whether or not a tariff was justified.
The Minister is wrong to say that this is a new factor for the protection of consumers. It has been operating throughout. I would say that it is operating now under the system of the Iron and Steel Board which seems to us to be carrying out with great success the function of what one might call the general control of industry without interfering with its day-to-day management.
The Debates in Committee were very long, and I hope that we shall not have to refer to them too often tonight. When the Minister recalled those Debates, I felt like saying that they were very obscure then and that they were nearly always broken up by the falling of the Guillotine. Most of the matters which we are to discuss tonight would not have been discussed at all had the Government had their way, but they are not able to 1891 Guillotine all the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament.
The Amendment we are discussing does not refer to representatives of consumers. No such word as "representative" is used. I admit that in the speeches made in support of the Amendment, the word "representative" was used in its broadest sense—not as the elected representative or someone specifically chosen for that sole task. The word was used in the broader sense of having somebody on the board who, in the words of the Amendment which we are asked by the Government to exclude from the Bill, would have:… had wide experience as a consumer of iron and steel for industrial purposes.I admit that had the Clause been so drawn that there would simply be a board set up and it would be left to the Government to choose the members, there would be a great deal to be said against inserting this Amendment. The Bill might have been drawn in that way, simply to say that a board shall be set up and that we should not make any directions in the Bill. It might be argued, "Surely, you can leave it to the good sense of the Government which, whether you agree with the system or not, clearly wants to make the scheme successful." It might be argued that we should leave it to their good sense to choose these persons without any specification as to their character. There would have been a great deal to be said for that, but that is not the Clause. The Clause says that they:… shall be appointed by the Minister from amongst persons appearing to him to be persons who have had wide experience of and shown capacity in …Then we get a number of qualifications:… the production of iron ore or iron or steel, industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration or the organisation of workers.As a result of our last Division we have left out the words:… production of iron ore or iron or steel.They were inserted in another place. Apparently the idea that among these seven people three should be people who have had some knowledge of the industry appeared to be something so terrible that no decent man could contemplate it. I do not understand why. However, 1892 there is still this list of people who have experience of industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration or the organisation of workers.
Yet in the argument which the right hon. Gentleman has just put forward, as he will see if he reads it in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, he gave as a reason for not making the category more precise the fact that someone might ask for trade union representation. In the Bill he has made it precise that these people shall be drawn from amongst those who have had experience or shown capacity in the organisation of workers. Out of his own mouth he condemns himself. If he reads HANSARD tomorrow—unless the wise provision of providence or Parliamentary secretaries is able somehow to alter it—he will see that he said that this was a dangerous principle because if extended there might even be put forward a demand that there should be a special representative of trade union interests.
There are to be appointed people who have had experience of industrial, commerical or financial matters, administration—which I suppose means administration in general—and the organisation of workers. If we are to have that category of people there is a great deal to be said for specifically including people whohave had wide experience as a consumer of iron or steel for industrial purposes.I thank the right hon. Gentleman for at least giving us a rather wider range of reasons than the Parliamentary Secretary thought fit to give. While I do not feel that events will make it of great importance, because I think that this matter will be taken into a wider range for public decision, yet I should have thought that in their own interests the Government would have been wise to have accepted the Amendment. That would have shown that the Government were prepared to deal with reason with Amendments which can be of no danger to them and which cannot in any way make their system less effective or upset their main purpose. I should have thought that in such circumstances the Government would wish to have met any reasonable proposal of this kind which could be put forward, especially when it was one of the very few Amendments pressed strongly in another place.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."1894
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 320; Noes, 154.1897
|Division No. 219.]||AYES||[7.10 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Diamond, J.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Albu, A. H.||Dobbie, W.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Dodds, N. N.||Keenan, W.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Donovan, T.||Kenyon, C.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||King, E. M.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Dye, S.||Kinley, J.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Edelman, M.||Lang, G.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Lavers, S.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Balfour, A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Leonard, W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Ewart, R.||Levy, B. W.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Farthing, W. J.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Barton, C.||Fernyhough, E.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Battley, J. R.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Follick, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bollenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Foot, M. M.||Logan, D. G.|
|Benson, G.||Forman, J. C.||Longden, F.|
|Berry, H.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lyne, A. W.|
|Beswick, F.||Freeman, J. (Watford)||McAdam, W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McAllister, G.|
|Binns, J.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||McEntee, V. La. T|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Gibbins, J.||Mack, J. D.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gibson, C. W.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Boardman, H.||Gilzean, A.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||McLeavy, F.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Gooch, E. G.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Goodrich, H. E.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Grenfell, D. R.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Grey, C. F.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grierson, E.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Burden, T. W.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Messer, F.|
|Burke, W. A.||Gunter, R. J.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Guy, W. H.||Mikardo, Ian.|
|Callaghan, James||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.|
|Carmichael, James||Hale, Leslie||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Monslow, W.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Moody, A. S.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hardman, D. R.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Chater, D.||Hardy, E. A.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Harrison, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.|
|Coldrick, W.||Haworth, J.||Moyle, A.|
|Collick, P.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Nally, W.|
|Collindridge, F.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Collins, V. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hobson, C. R.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Cooper, G.||Holman, P.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Horabin, T. L.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Houghton, Douglas||Orbach, M.|
|Crawley, A.||Hoy, J.||Paget, R. T.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hubbard, T.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Cullen, Mrs.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Daggar, G.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Daines, P.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Parker, J.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Pearson, A.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Peart, T. F.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Perrins, W.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Jay, D. P. T.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnston, Douglas||Popplewell, E.|
|Deer, G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Price, M. Philips|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Pursey, Comdr. H.||Snow, J. W.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Randall, H. E.||Sorensen, R. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Ranger, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Rankin, J.||Steele, T.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Rees-Williams, D. R.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||West, D. G.|
|Reeves, J.||Stokes, R. R.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Rhodes, H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Stross, Dr. B.||Wigg, George|
|Robens, A.||Stubbs, A. E.||Wilkes, L.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Swingler, S.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Sylvester, G. O.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Symonds, A. L.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Sargood, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Scollan, T.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Scott-Elliot, W.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Segal, Dr. S.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Willis, E.|
|Sharp, Granville||Timmons, J.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Titterington, M. F.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Shurmer, P.||Tolley, L.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Woods, G. S.|
|Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Usborne, Henry||Wyatt, W.|
|Simmons, C. J.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Yates, V. F.|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Viant, S. P.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Skinnard, F. W.||Walker, G. H.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Warbey, W. N.||Mr. Hannan and|
|Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Watkins, T. E.||Mr. Richard Adams.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Harden, J. R. E.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Headlam, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Neil, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Bower, N.||Hollis, M. C.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hope, Lord J.||Odey, G. W.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Howard, Hon. A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Osborne, C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hurd, A.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Carson, E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Challen, C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Channon, H.||Keeling, E. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Kendall, W. D.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Langford-Holt, J.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lindsay, M. (Solihull||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|De la Bère, R.||Linstead, H. N.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Donner, P. W.||Low, A. R. W.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Drewe, C.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Smith, E. V. (Ashford)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Eccles, D. M.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Spence, H. R.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McFarlane, C. S.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollock)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thorneycroft G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Marples, A. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Touche, G. C.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Turton, R. H.|
|Wakefield, Sir W. W||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)||York, C.|
|Walker-Smith, D.||Williams, C. (Torquay)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Ward, Hon. G. R.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Major Conant and Colonel Wheatley.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."1898
§ The House divided: Ayes, 322; Noes, 160.1901
|Division No. 220.]||AYES||[7.19 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)|
|Albu, A. H.||Deer, G.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Delargy, H. J.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Diamond, J.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Dobbie, W.||Johnston, Douglas|
|Attewell, H. C.||Dodds, N. N.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Donovan, T.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Driberg, T. E. N.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Dye, S.||Keenan, W.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Kenyon, C.|
|Balfour, A.||Edelman M.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||King, E. M.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.|
|Barton, C.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Kinley, J.|
|Battley, J. R.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Kirby, B. V.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Lang, G.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Ewart, R.||Lavers, S.|
|Benson, G.||Farthing, W. J.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Berry, H.||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Beswick, F.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Leonard, W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Follick, M.||Levy, B. W.|
|Binns, J.||Foot, M. M.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Forman, J. C.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Boardman, H.||Freeman, J. (Watford)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Logan, D. G.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Longden, F.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Gibbins, J.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gibson, C. W.||McAdam, W.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Gilzean, A.||McAllister, G.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||McEntee, V. La. T.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Gooch, E. G.||Mack, J. D.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Goodrich, H. E.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McLeavy, F.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Grenfell, D. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Burden, T. W.||Grey, C. F.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Burke, W. A.||Grierson, E.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Callaghan, James||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Carmichael, James||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Gunter, R. J.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Champion, A. J.||Guy, W. H.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Chater, D.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hale, Leslie||Messer, F.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Mikardo, Ian.|
|Collick, P.||Hardman, D. R.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hardy, E. A.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Collins, V. J.||Harrison, J.||Monslow, W.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Moody, A. S.|
|Cook, T. F.||Haworth, J.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Cooper, G.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mort, D. L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moyle, A.|
|Crawley, A.||Hobson, C. R.||Nally, W.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Holman, P.||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Cullen, Mrs.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Daggar, G.||Horabin, T. L.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Daines, P.||Houghton, Douglas||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hoy, J.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hubbard, T.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)||Orbach, M.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Simmons, C. J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Parker, J.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Parkin, B. T.||Skinnard, F. W.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Weitzman, D.|
|Peart, T. F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Perrins, W.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||West, D. G.|
|Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Snow, J. W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Popplewell, E.||Sorensen, R. W.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Sparks, J. A.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Price, M. Philips||Steele, T.||Wigg, George|
|Pritt, D. N.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Pursey, Comdr. H.||Stokes, R. R.||Wilkes, L.|
|Randall, H. E.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Ranger, J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Rankin, J.||Stross, Dr. B.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Rees-Williams, D. R.||Stubbs, A. E.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Reeves, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Swingier, S.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Rhodes, H.||Sylvester, G. O.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Symonds, A. L.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Robens, A.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Willis, E.|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Ross William (Kilmarnock)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Sargood, R.||Timmons, J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Scollan, T.||Titterington, M. F.||Wyatt, W.|
|Scott-Elliot, W.||Tolley, L.||Yates, V. F.|
|Segal, Dr. S.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Sharp, Granville||Usborne, Henry|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Shurmer, P.||Viant, S. P.||Mr. Hannan and|
|Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Walker, G. H.||Mr. Richard Adams.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wallace, G. D. (Chistehurst)|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Astor, Hon. M.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Gridley, Sir A.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Grimston, R. V.||Marples, A. E.|
|Beamish, Maj T. V. H.||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Marsden, Capt. A.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Birch, Nigel||Harden, J. R. E.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Bower, N.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hope, Lord J.||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Howard, Hon. A.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Carson, E.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Nicholson, G.|
|Channon, H.||Hurd, A.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Hutchison, Ll.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Odey, G. W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Keeling, E. H.||Osborne, C.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Kendall, W. D.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|De la Bère, R.||Langford-Holt, J.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Donner, P. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Prescott, Stanley|
|Drewe, C.||Linstead, H. N.||Price-While, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Low, A. R. W.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Fox, Sir G.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||McFarlane, C. S.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Spearman, A. C M||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Spence, H. R.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.||York, C.|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Touche, G. C.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Strauss, Henry (English Universities)||Turton, R. H.|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Studholme, H. G||Walker-Smith, D.||Colonel Wheatley and|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Ward, Hon. G. R.||Mr. Wingfield Digby.|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Walt, Sir G. S. Harvie|