HC Deb 25 July 1949 vol 467 cc2155-216

Lords Amendment: In page 10, line 21, to leave out "May" and insert "July."

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I think it would meet the general convenience of the House if this and the following four Amendments, all dealing with the date, were discussed together.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is the Amendment to which, I understand, the Opposition attach the very greatest importance. We have been told by their spokesmen in another place that, whatever they may do in regard to the other Amendments that they have moved into the Bill when they are returned to them by this House, they are likely to stand by this particular Amendment, which postpones the vesting date from 1st May, 1950, which was the day in the Bill as it left this House, to 1st July, 1951. The House will remember that the date of 1st May, 1950, is not rigid, in the sense that the Minister has power to vary that date and to make the vesting date any date which he thinks proper and convenient within 18 months of the Royal Assent. What is it that the Lords propose to do in this Amendment? They say that in no circumstances will the public companies be vested in the Corporation until 1st July, 1951; that is just about two years from now. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that there will be a General Election between now and the vesting date to give the electorate an opportunity of recording a verdict on this Bill.

I and my colleagues feel very strongly that it is intolerable that the duly elected Government of this country, elected on a very specific mandate, including the nationalisation of this industry, should be told by the other House—which is not an elected body and which has no responsibility to the electorate—that this Bill may not be carried into effect unless and until the electorate have pronounced on it twice; once at the last Election and once at the coming Election. In brief, that is what the House of Lords are suggesting in this Amendment. They are demanding a double mandate from the electorate before the Bill is put into operation.

Quite apart from the merits of the dates of July, 1951, or May, 1950, I say that that is a position which this Government certainly cannot accept. I should have thought that this House of Commons, quite irrespective of party, would consider it intolerable that they should be dictated to in this way by the House of Lords and be told that a Measure they consider of vital importance to the country cannot be put into operation until it has been voted on twice by the electorate.

Under the proposal of the House of Lords, not only is this Government tied and unable to put into effect a Measure which it believes urgently desirable, in order that we may carry out our policy of employment and prosperity for our people, but the Government after the next Election will be tied. I do not know, but there may well be an Election in the early Spring of next year. I have no more knowledge of the date than anyone else in the House, but it is conceivable that it may be in the early Spring. If it were it would mean that it would be impossible to put this Bill into operation until 15 months after the date of the Election, and therefore the next Government—which undoubtedly will be a Labour Government—will also be tied by the Amendment proposed by another place which has no electoral responsibility in this matter whatsoever. I again say that that is quite intolerable, and it is an attitude which should be rejected, irrespective of party, by all sides of this House and not alone by this Government.

There is one other point I should like to make. I have always taken the view—and I think it is fairly widely accepted by hon. Members on the other side of the House—that once any great Measure of nationalisation such as this has been accepted it is highly desirable in the interests of the industry that that nationalisation should be implemented as quickly as possible, because the gap between the passing of the Act and its implementation is bound to be a period of suspense, if not actual dislocation. There will be a certain anxiety among boards of directors about the future of their companies, their development plans, and so on. We always recognised that there would be a small measure of suspended animation, which I did not think would be serious but would be inevitable between the passing and the implementation of the Act.

It is desirable in the interests of the industry that the delay should be as short as possible. We took the view that nine months was the maximum time required for the transfer, though it might be done more quickly if necessary. We believe that nine months is ample time for the Corporation to be established, to make the necessary contacts and establish the proper relationships with the publicly-owned companies and get the thing going. But under this proposal it may be we shall have a gap of two years between the passage of the Bill and its implementation. That again I say is an irresponsible action, and likely to bring about most severe damage to the iron and steel industry itself. Anything that is damaging to the iron and steel industry is damaging to the industry of the country generally. For that reason I very much regret the irresponsible action of those who moved this Amendment into this Bill.

I want to say this further. It may be that the suggestion or threat which has been made in another place to stand by this Amendment will mean, if it is carried out, that the Bill may appear to some to be either dead or moribund for the time being. I think it is right that the Government should make their intention perfectly clear as to the future and to all the companies in the iron and steel industry who are concerned. I, therefore, want to make this very specific statement, which I hope will be noted by those who have a direct interest in this matter. Should this Amendment, which we are considering now, be insisted upon in another place, with the consequence that the Bill is not passed in this Session, I want to make it perfectly clear that it is the firm intention of the Government that this Bill should be passed into law at the earliest practical date. In particular, I think it should be known that when the Bill is again presented it will contain the provisions concerning the disclaimer of agreements and leases, control of dividends, power to acquire securities of certain additional companies, the prohibition of the transfer of iron and steel works and the recovery of assets and other transactions resulting in the dissipation of assets. The Government will definitely adhere to these provisions and they will be retrospective to the same date or dates as those now provided for in the Bill.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Under the Parliament Act it should be the same Bill.

Mr. Strauss

I want to make this clear to those who may not be as fully aware of the constitutional aspects of this Bill as the right hon. Gentleman. There are many people in the industry who may not be fully aware of the situation, and it is right that they should know authoritatively from the Government that it is their intention to present this Bill anew with the same provisions as they exist today.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is it also Government policy to use the words that the new Bill may or may not come under the Parliament Act?

9.15 a.m.

Mr. Strauss

I was stating an obvious fact. It may or it may not. I used that phrase in reply to the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), who said that the Bill to come in under the Parliament Act must be exactly the same as that now before the House. It is desirable that everybody should understand the position of the Government. It is also possible that this Bill may be presented in another Parliament. That is conceivable, too, and it will also contain this provision of retrospective dates, which are contained in the Bill we are discussing today. I have made the position of the Government clear on this matter. The date has been discussed over and over again in the Commons. It has been discussed upstairs, on the Report stage and also on the Third Reading. I have indicated the attitude of the Government to the Amendment moved in another place, which we cannot accept and which we think is a really intolerable Amendment. I have declared that it is the intention of the Government to introduce this Bill again at the first possible moment, because we believe that it is absolutely essential if we are to plan our national resources in the common interest, and if we are to be in a position to carry out the policy on which we have set our hearts—to maintain full employment and prosperity.

Mr. Lyttelton

The "rosy-fingered dawn" has not brought any more reason to the Minister of Supply. He first of all has taken us upon a very extraordinary expedition into constitutional matters, in the course of which he proved himself to be an amateur. It is very unfortunate for the Government that it should take the final stages of this cynical and frivolous Bill, a week after the Chancellor of the Exchequer came down here and told us we were entering a very severe economic crisis. This industry has all along been beating its record, and only a man who is credulity itself would say that this expansion was due to the workers seeing the dawn of nationalisation in the distance. Apparently the Minister of Supply considers there is something improper—I think "fantastic" was the actual word he used—in the House of Lords delaying legislation. That is the function of the House of Lords.

Mr. Palmer

Its only function.

Mr. Lyttelton

I am glad hon. Members opposite realise what the Constitution is, but it is not the only function of the House of Lords. If hon. Members will look at the way in which the House of Lords have dealt with recent legislation, they will understand why Government spokesmen in this House have paid tribute to the way in which the Lords have carried out their constitutional duties. It is no good even the Minister of Food imagining that he can laugh off the Constitution. He cannot do so. There are such things as mandates which have become stale even if originally this was a mandate. The Government have no mandate for this particular Measure, and, as the lawyers say, that which falls within the mandate now is old and so many things have happened since it was put before the electorate, that it is right and proper that the electorate should pronounce again upon this matter. It is quite ludicrous to suppose that even if nothing very startling had happened, the mandate given in those particular terms in 1945 is still sufficient to enable so wide a Measure to be passed without further consideration by the electorate.

The Minister of Supply made some play with the long period which must elapse, if this Amendment were accepted, between today and the vesting date. What he should really have addressed himself to is the absence of any plan. During this Debate the one thing which remains sharply in my mind is that they have no idea what they are going to do with these assets. The only excuse for this Bill is that nothing is going to be changed. Then why change? Does not the record of the industry prove that case? The Government have no plan and they have now to form one. Prudent people would have formed a plan first and then fixed the vesting date so that the plan could be put into operation.

The Government could have formed a plan during the last year or two, but there is no possibility of a plan being formed between now and 1st May, 1950, and it is quite impossible even to get round the necessary personalities to make this thing work. They are to await the General Election which has got to take place between now and June, unless the Minister of Food thinks that is not part of the Constitution. Everyone is aware of that fact, and no one will be willing to serve on the Corporation, and give up his present job, until he is certain that this scheme is to be carried out. The only reason I can see why the Government have selected 1st May, 1950, is because they have no confidence whatever in their electoral prospects. That is the only explanation we can give.

Nothing is going to be prejudiced for the ardent nationaliser by allowing the Government time to formulate a plan and take the necessary steps where they can to get and select the men for the plan. On purely practical grounds it is absolutely necessary to have a longer period for formulating a plan and taking the necessary preliminary steps, so that when the vesting date comes the Corporation and the constituent companies have the greatest chance of working successfully. The Government have only one answer. They say "Although we are going to indulge in the financial operation nothing is going to be changed. All the directors of the companies are to carry on. We do not know whether there will be central finance. This matter will be worked out."

Mr. G. R. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman continually makes the statement that we do not know anything about central finance. It is all stated clearly and precisely in the Bill. The situation is made clear in Clause 32.

Mr. Lyttelton

I am aware of these temporary borrowing measures. I asked the right hon. Gentleman earlier in this Debate whether he intended to cancel individual borrowing and secure that the whole of the finances are made available from the central Corporation. We have never received an answer to that simple question.

Mr. Strauss

Subsection (2) of Clause 32 deals with it.

Mr. Lyttelton

No. The right hon. Gentleman has not taken the point. I do not think that the most ardent nationaliser would find his scheme prejudiced by putting off the vesting date until preliminary measures can be taken and the personalities chosen after they are sure that the Bill is going to become law. No one can be sure that that will happen now.

I now want to deal with the constitutional aspect. The Government, I may say, in these times, have not hesitated to upset the whole constitutional balance in order to get this Measure through. The sole argument is that the Government have a mandate for this Bill. It is only fair to examine that mandate. I think it is contained in "Let us Face the Future" under the heading of "Public ownership of Iron and Steel." There then occurs the following words: Private monopoly has maintained high prices and kept inefficient high cost plant in existence. Only if public ownership replaces private monopoly can the industry become efficient. Therefore, if the mandate exists it exists only on false promises and is based on false pretences because, first of all, the organisation of the iron and steel industry cannot be accurately described today in its present form as a private monopoly. Monopoly, if it is to earn the term, can only perform its evil functions by having control of its prices, by being in charge of its own development, and being able to prevent the entry of new companies. I do not think anyone would deny that the first is the main danger we have to guard against in all monopolies because when they own substantially the whole of the trade, they are enabled theoretically to charge what prices they wish.

Secondly, where a monopoly is entirely in charge of its own development then we can see the evils arising. The standard argument of the Government was that these large firms suppressed patents so as not to have inconvenient plant changes. That argument has been proved to be false by the Committee set up by the present Government. The iron and steel industry in its present form qualify for the description of a private monopoly because the price list in the industry is under the control of the Government, and we believe rightly so. The great cleavage is that we believe that the price list should be controlled by means of an expert board or the Ministry of Supply while the Government believes that it should be controlled by public ownership. The Government make a great mistake, for which the taxpayer will have to pay, by becoming responsible for the day-to-day administration and trading of this complex machine.

9.30 a.m.

It is well known that since the industry has been going at full capacity its prices are lower certainly than the American prices. The Government used to make the excuse that there was a subsidy, but even after subsidies have been removed, British steel prices are still strictly competitive. I do not want to go over the list again, but in April, 1949, when the subsidy stopped, British prices were below those of the United States in all the 12 principle categories of steel products except two. If the industry has maintained high prices, they are, to put it no higher, strictly competitive with world prices. It has kept inefficient, high-cost, old plants in existence. That depends very much on the purchasing power of money, the cost of construction and the general level of prices. It is characteristic of recent periods in industry that many plants which I should think are inefficient, are kept in existence, because the cost of replacement is so high as to make it uneconomic. Only if public ownership replaces private monopoly can the industry become efficient. I should have thought it is getting a little late in the day for Ministers still to claim that the steel industry is inefficient. At lunches and in their most expansive moments Ministers, including the Minister of Supply, have praised its record. "A splendid job" were the elegant words the right hon. Gentleman used. The record of the steel industry compares very favourably with that of any nationalised industry, not excluding civil aviation, to which the Government have set their hands. On all those matters the mandate fails. I very much doubt whether any impartial person would say the mandate existed at all, but if it did at any time, it certainly cannot be said to exist now. A long time has elapsed.

If this were so pressing, if the poor industries of Britain could not get on without the nationalisation of steel, why have the Government taken four and a half years to get round to it? They could not make up their minds among themselves that it should happen at all. Since it was decided, they have been searching about for a plan and they have not discovered it. They have taken refuge in the holding company technique. Their defence is that everything will be quite the same. The people will be the same and the names of well-known firms will not be dropped. Nobody abroad will find out that Dorman Long, and Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds are really part of the Government. But, we know, foreigners are not so simple as all that, and the Minister ought to know it, because he has had a lot of experience of trading abroad, as I also have had.

So that if the mandate exists, it is certainly so stale as to require renewal by the people. I make that point quite fairly, that if the Minister of Supply rests his case on requiring a mandate, and if he thinks that mandate is still fresh enough to put an experiment of this kind into operation, he has little idea of what has been happening all these years. It will be at least common ground that the world has seldom been in a more dynamic state than it has during the last four years. There are times when I am wearing my Russian decorations, when I find it difficult to believe the kind of things that an hon. Member opposite would say about the Russia of his day. No expansive imagination is required to see how the world has changed.

If the iron and steel industry is one of the great precedents, one of the clarion calls of the Socialist Government's, "Let us Face the Future", why have the Government waited four and a half years to introduce this measure? And why have they no plans? Why is the answer, "Flexibility; it will be all right on the day"? I think it will be a disaster to this country if the Lords Amendment to this point is not accepted.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

After hearing the exposé of my right hon. Friend, I think that any sober or temperate man would see the reasonableness of what is here proposed. Can it really and truthfully be said that there was a mandate to nationalise this industry, in the form in which this Bill puts forward, at the time of the last election? There was reference then to the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. But what, in fact, did that mean to the ordinary elector? I concede that there was a clear mandate on coal. That had been discussed for many years, and was in the forefront of people's thoughts. There was, perhaps, a mandate for the Bank of England and, maybe, for transport. And notice what failures two out of these have already shown themselves to be.

Nor was there any enthusiasm, I believe, at the time when we were first discussing the introduction of this Measure, and that enthusiasm has not grown. Was any mention made at Blackpool of the nationalisation of iron and steel? No. Every other excursion into the field of nationalisation was brought up and discussed. But iron and steel? No. Why was that? It was because those present were far happier trying to draw a veil over it. I have here a quotation from the "Daily Herald," of the 14th June this year, in which it is stated that at a meeting of the London and Essex District of the National Union of Railwaymen the secretary of the London District used these words—and very ominous words they are, After 18 months of nationalisation money is being squandered here, there, and everywhere. At the top of British Railways at the present time jobs have been created, and superintendents in every department you may go into have increased. Here is an industry which has been largely free from labour troubles in the past, which is almost unique in its record of freedom from labour troubles, and which has always had, in spite of what hon. Members say, a potential production greater than the potential demand, and which has, since the end of the war, when exports were so immensely important to us, always exceeded the target which the Government had set to be achieved.

There can be no justification, in the programme and the timetable which we are now aware of, for rushing this Measure through. If hon. Members opposite are sincere in their claims they can get a review and a reinforcement from the electorate in a very short time. But that is not what they are aiming at; they have adopted the Hitler method of retiring into a fastness, watching Europe—in our case, Britain—being reduced to ashes and to dust. They have adopted his motto, "If we are to leave power, we will leave as much industrial scorched earth behind us as we can." A près moi le deluge.

Mr. Eccles

The real point is whether the people, at the Election, ought to have another chance to express views about the nationalisation of iron and steel. I should not mind what date is in their Lordship's Amendment, provided it went just over the day when we are to have an Election. We are not afraid of change in this country. In the course of our history we have experimented more rapidly and to greater depth than any other country. But it is also true that the British people are practical and they like to proceed as a result of experiments. That is why we do not have a civil war very often although we are prepared to make substantial changes now and again in our policy.

We have had considerable experience of nationalisation and it has not been a success. It is implicit in this Bill that it has not been a success because this is new-style nationalisation. The technique of the holding company is something very different from the National Coal Board, and is as unthought out as the Coal Bill when it first came to this House under the old process. I spent days in trying to help make the Bill workable. We failed, and now we have a different principle of construction. Taking the purely technical point of view this is not going to work unless a very great deal more thought is put into it.

What is going to be the relationship between companies and the Corporation? Nobody knows. Although they are to be independent and keep their own names, their duties and rights must be defined in a Bill; otherwise, it is merely a matter of the Corporation having branches of wholly owned subsidiaries, which it will treat as parts of itself. All that is left out of this Bill. Nothing defines how the publicly-owned companies are to keep a measure of independence. It is a badly drafted Bill and will not work. The ordinary people, after looking at nationalisation, have decided that the first principle in the previous Bill is not working satisfactorily and they have probably not yet grasped that iron and steel nationalisation is on a new principle.

9.45 a.m.

It would be expecting a lot from the ordinary voter to suppose that he has studied the difference between the two kinds of nationalisation, but it is the duty of the House to see that he gets a fair deal. It is because we are here to look after his interests that we ought to take great care. My opinion is that it is not the British way to proceed with more nationalisation until we have made a better success of what we have done so far. This does not only affect our internal economy. I wish it were not so, but life is so arranged that the credit of a country depends not only on what it thinks of itself, but also upon what other countries think about us, and there can be no doubt that at the present time our credit is in considerable danger. We are having great difficulty in maintaining the pound, and our struggle for exports is affected by what other countries think about us. It takes two people to make an exchange rate, and there is no way of getting away from that.

The House must know, as a pure matter of fact, that nationalisation of the iron and steel industry is doing us damage abroad. We have a perfect right to nationalise the industry if we want to, but the question we have to consider is whether the damage abroad could not be allayed if we were to give the people another chance to look at this again after their experience with other nationalisation, and after what they have learned about this Bill. I am of the opinion that it is asking very little indeed. The vesting date is now May, 1950. It is only a matter of a few months—I do not know quite when the date of the election will be. It would at least give confidence that we were adopting our old traditional way of being practical, which I can assure Members opposite would have a considerable effect. In the hard times in which we live, wantonly to push this through, when it is only a question of a few months, and when we could raise our credit if we said we were going back to the people—after all, if this proposal were accepted and the party opposite won the election, they could change the vesting date by an amending Bill—

Mr. Palmer

Why is it that only a Labour or non-Conservative Government, is obliged to go back to the people?

Mr. Sargood (Bermondsey, West)

Have the by-elections no bearing on this?

Mr. Eccles

I will answer the second question first. It is now fairly clear that over 50 per cent. of the people are against the Labour Government, and if we were to take a poll on the nationalisation of this industry, I think the figure would be even higher. That has been proved by the Gallup poll—although I do not like these polls very much. In reply to the second question, I say that the same argument could be used against a Conservative Government.

Mr. Palmer

Would they accept it?

Mr. Eccles

They would be very unwise not to. Five years is a very long time to run in the drama of politics, and the snapshot taken at an election may really be no opinion at all. I should be very ashamed of a Conservative Government which did not take into consideration the experience of the first three or four years of its Administration and the state of public opinion at the time it was going to pass a big Measure of this kind. Furthermore, I think it is bad politics. I do not think that pressing on with this Measure is going to win the party opposite any votes. It is going to lose them votes. I think it would be good electioneering tactics on the part of the party opposite to put the vesting date a month after the final date for the next election, or alternatively, to give us an assurance that we are going to have an election before May, 1950.

Mr. W. Ross (Kilmarnock)

Does the hon. Member really mean that this is a long, long time, and that the policy enunciated the other week is not going to be carried out?

Mr. Eccles

I do not think that is relevant. We are talking about a series of experiments with a particular principle, which is nationalisation. The question is whether or not the hon. Member thinks that experience over four years is something which should be taken into consideration. I think it is. The hon. Member thinks not, and that we should go straight ahead, because five years ago there was a mandate to do something. He may be perfectly justified from the point of view of electioneering promises but I do not believe that is the way to govern a country well. I believe one governs a country by saying to the people, "This is what we intend to do by and large, but if experience shows that we have been stupid, we will not do some of the things." That is the only way in which this country has succeeded. If we are to be tied by a system of bargains struck by outside bodies at the time of each election that is going to tie us down for five years, and all the flexibility will disappear completely.

I do not believe this Bill to be in the interests of the people. I dislike very much having to bring in the instance of what a foreigner thinks of us, and I only do so because this is so serious a moment. I would like, for instance, the talks in Washington to go well in September, because I cannot see anything except disaster if they do not. Those are things which it is very wrong for the Government not to take into consideration. If the Minister wishes to handicap the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he should go on with this Bill without putting in the Amendment. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have their own informtaion about the Americans, but it is my view that we would make the talks go more easily, if the people abroad knew that at our next General Election, this Measure was going to be voted on again.

Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)

We have had two arguments so far presented from the opposite side. One each from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chippenham and the right hon. Member for Aldershot. The main argument of the hon. Member for Chippenham, as I understand it, was this. He said our credit was very seriously at stake just now and indeed it might be jeopardised if we proceed to fulfil the expectations of our own electorate.

That is what he said and nothing else. He said, in other words, once more, that we really should trim our sails according to the presumed desires of a foreign country. That is really what it amounted to and let us be perfectly clear about it. When he said it in the first place, it was disguised. He talked in a reasonable tone about exchange rates and the effect of other countries' opinion upon ourselves. But by the time he came to the end of his speech he was, of course, actually specifying Washington. And when he specifies Washington, he is not thinking of that vast body of American opinion which agrees with ourselves. He is not thinking of the C.I.O. He is not thinking of the voters who voted for President Truman. He is thinking of the secret allies, as he and his hon. Friends hope them to be, who are the obstructive force in America and on whom hon. Members opposite furtively rely to produce pressure to further policies they themselves are unable to get past their own electorate in this country.

The recent economic debate revealed only too often that there was this secret desire on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that by blackmailing the Government obliquely, implicitly, vicariously with the disapproval of a foreign power they could influence the Government to proceed along lines which would please hon. Members opposite but which they were not sent to this House to proceed along.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) expatiated on a different aspect of the matter. After listening to him carefully I do not think any hon. Member was surprised that immediately he had concluded his speech he fled the Chamber. [An HON. MEMBER: "Has the hon. Member been here all night?"] Yes, all night. The right hon. Gentleman who left precipitately after making his speech, dealt with the theory of the mandate, and showed precisely the same sensitiveness that hon. Gentlemen always display about it. They find it inconvenient because the whole theory of a mandate does imply going to the electorate and saying what one means to do: hon. Gentlemen opposite are understandably averse from telling the electorate what they mean to do; and we have seen a recent example of this, when, the force of events and popular scepticism having caused them reluctantly to produce a programme, every promise in it is hedged around disengenuously with escape clauses. Therefore, it is quite understandable that the right hon. Gentleman should be inclined to dismiss, pooh-pooh and belittle a mandate as specific as we have given, and try to pretend we had made no such statement of the kind to justify us in nationalising the steel industry. His argument to show that was a curious one indeed. He said we have promised to nationalise the steel industry but the reasons we adduced for making the promise were faulty and, therefore, the promise was not valid.

That is a very curious argument. I do not propose to debate the validity of our reasons for making the promise, because it is an infinite subject. Whether the reasons given for deciding to do this were good reasons or bad is not the point, It is precisely the same as if the right hon. Gentleman had said "I promise not to speak again during the course of this debate and the reason I give is that I am so powerful in dialectic and so devastating in debate that it would be unfair to the Minister of Supply." We might dissent and doubt the danger to the Minister, but the fact that he had produced the wrong reason would not invalidate the promise. Unless some less frivolous argument than these can be adduced, there is really no reason for the delaying over this amendment for another two minutes.

Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)

I think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will agree that what the American people think of us, and especially what they think of the Socialist Government is of the utmost importance. I am of the opinion that their confidence in this country was severely shaken when the Socialist Government was returned in 1945. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh—but I think that is so.

Mr. Ross

I was suggesting that for "America" in the hon. and gallant Member's point of view, we should read "British Toryism."

10.0 a.m.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

America is the greatest country for private enterprise in the world and that is anathema to the Socialist Party. It is a curious commentary therefore that, in order to pull their chestnuts out of the fire, the Socialist Government go to America, get a loan of £1,000,000,000 and then have Marshall Aid; and it is entirely due to America that they and the Dominion of Canada have the full employment for which they take all the credit but for which they deserve none.

I wish to take up a point in the speech of the Minister. When he was resisting the Amendment, he got very indignant, almost heated, about the fact that if the Amendment were carried, then the electors of the country would once more have to decide on whether iron and steel should be nationalised or not. I think that is correct.

The electorate may have given a mandate to the Socialist Party to nationalise iron and steel. As a matter of fact of course, the Socialist Party have an immense majority in the House of Commons, but so far as votes are concerned, they were in a minority compared with the votes given to the Conservative and Liberal Parties. I at once concede that having a large majority, they can pass through any Measure they please, but the point is that during the 1945 election, the electors were fooled. They thought that nationalisation was going to be in the interests of the country and in their own interests; it was something—they thought—which would be of great benefit to the country and to themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "So it is."] But now they have had much experience of nationalisation of various industries—coal, gas, electricity and transport—and they have learned a mighty good lesson from the results of the nationalisation of those industries.

What has happened as a result of nationalisation in this country is the same as in every foreign country. It has proved to be a failure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense!"] Why are the miners not satisfied? Does anybody suggest that they are? Is the country satisfied to pay some £5 a ton for its coal? Is that for the good of the industry and the consumer and the export trade?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)

The hon. and gallant Member is now going very much wider than the point of when this particular Bill should come into operation.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I shall try to narrow the gauge. I was trying to point out that the country has had the advantage of the experience of nationalisation of various industries and they have learned a lesson from it—there is no question about that. It does make an enormous difference. They may have been given a mandate for nationalisation in the 1945 election, but there has been an immense rise in the price of coal—I hope this is in Order—and in the price of electricity, transport and gas.

Their experience leads them to believe that the continuation of nationalisation and the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry is not, as the Minister has said, in the interests of the country. In what way is it in the interests of the country? So far as I know the Minister has never put forward any reason for saying that it is in the interests of the country. Who will benefit? We shall not get any greater efficiency in the industry. The Minister may disagree with me, but we shall not. It is a very important and diverse industry and it has many ramifications. I consider it is probably more difficult to nationalise than any other industry. I know little about the working of the industry, but I have a little common sense, and therefore I consider it quite right that the electorate should have another opportunity of expressing their opinion on whether they wish the industry to be nationalised or not.

I hope I have made out a case that the House of Lords have taken the right course, just as they did in the case of the Capital Punishment Bill. There has been no objection to what the House of Lords have done since a Socialist Government has governed this country. Now the Minister is endeavouring to find fault with their Lordships because after their experience of nationalised industries they have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary that the public should have another opportunity of expressing their opinion on this Measure.

The Government have no plan to carry out this nationalisation. There was no plan for the nationalisation of the coal industry. There has already been an allusion to the remarks made by the Secretary of State for War who, in one of his very candid moments he told the country that the great mistake of the Socialist Party was that they had no properly thought-out plan—[Interruption.]—but that is what he did say, and hon. Members opposite cannot get away from it. Hon. Members opposite, especially below the Gangway have become a heckling party, but they cannot get away from the experience we have had of nationalisation. The Secretary of State for War said there was no plan for putting into operation the nationalisation of the industries of this country. The Minister today has said that there is no plan for the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot, who knows all about the iron and steel industry, has pointed out that it would be impossible, between now and next May, for the organisation set up by the Minister to settle in, and, as we say in the Service, sling their hammocks and get acquainted with what they ought to do. The Docks Emergency Committee had to find out what they had to do, but they did not do very much. So far as the iron and steel industry is concerned, it is the most complex in the country, and it will take some time for that industry to sling its hammock. That is only common sense. In the country's interests it is essential that this vesting date should be postponed.

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), among other things, put forward a most extra-ordinary theory about mandates. He put forward something which I cannot believe he really means. His argument was that if a prospectus is produced, and even if its contents are "phoney," nevertheless those sponsoring it are justified in proceeding with the whole of the contents. We must assume that some people who voted for Labour did see this part of the prospectus dealing with iron and steel, and read it, but we have to take things as we find them. I have sat through all the Debates on this subject in this House, and we on this side have attacked the mandate steadily throughout on the grounds of fact. We presented our charges both in the House and in Committee, and we have never had any answer. The mandate has not been proved for one second, nor has the monopoly charge, the inefficiency charge, the charge of keeping high production plants in operation, and so on. Not a word has been said specifically in reply to the charges which we have made. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) has done the same thing today and, as on previous occasions, we have not had an answer. I cannot believe that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough believed what he said.

Mr. Levy

My argument was a very simple one. All I said was we could not properly ask to be absolved from specific promises, simply because the reason we gave for those promises have since become a matter of controversy.

Mr. Maclay

They are not matters of controversy. They have never been answered. Does the Minister state that the steel industry is inefficient? Does any hon. Member deny that it was possible for the iron and steel industry to put high production plants out of production between 1934 and 1939.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

There are large sections of the industry which are today inefficient, and it is the firm view of the Government that the only way to get this industry 100 per cent. efficient will be to put it under public ownership.

10.15 a.m.

Mr. Maclay

That might possibly be an argument, but I was coming to the astonishing final paragraph in the mandate, which says that only if public ownership replaced private monopoly could the industry become efficient. What has already been done in the industry shows that is not right. The Minister cannot claim that any of the experiments in nationalisation so far have shown tangible results of the kind expected over the whole sphere. I agree that two or three years may not be time enough to judge, but before the Government go ahead and monkey with the key industry in the country, one expects them to look for a little evidence that labour relations have been solved, costs have been lowered, prices have been prevented from rising, or that something has happened which is worth doing.

There is none of that evidence, and any responsible Government tampering with the key industry of the country—nothing can function without steel—would proceed cautiously in these circumstances. The Amendment is an opportunity to give the country a chance to express its view on the matter. The mandate argument is a serious one, and I urge the hon. Member for Eton and Slough to treat his argument seriously. As to his argument that one could go ahead even if there was doubt, people have "landed in jug" in other spheres for doing that kind of thing.

Mr. Levy

If the hon. Member gave a promise and, subsequently, the reasons which led him to do so were repudiated by him, would he then feel justified in repudiating his own promise?

Mr. Maclay

Is a promise of this kind really made in our system of electorate? There were four lines in the Labour Party policy. Basing it on 1945 figures, the voting on the Steel Bill was, for the Government, 12,371,272 and, against the Government, 12,647,121. Those figures are taken from the total votes cast in 1945 for the various parties represented in the House.

Mr. Palmer

Does the hon. Member believe in proportional representation?

Mr. Maclay

I was coming to that point. I do not expect to have full support from anywhere for the argument I am now going to make, because I do not know what the views of other people are. I do not consider proportional representation a suitable system for a democracy today. Theoretically, it is the only way of getting perfect representation in a democracy, but it has been proved not to produce stable Governments, and, above all, democracies must have stable Governments. On the constitutional issue, there are grave dangers in the case of a country which has not a written Constitution—a fact of which we are proud. We have an electoral system which can throw up a 200 majority in the House with only a tiny margin of electoral votes in favour. I am not referring to the figures which I have just given, because they related to steel nationalisation. In such a case, where there is no written Constitution, there is a very grave responsibility on the Government to administer their mandate with the greatest care.

I fully accept that the Government are entitled to govern—there is no question about that—but when it comes to taking a step which is the complete opposite of the economic structure of the country, they should be absolutely certain that they have much larger support in the country than they can prove at the moment. As a parallel to that, look at what has happened in two of the Scandinavian countries recently. There, they have Labour Governments with very narrow margins. The position is comparable to that here. Those Governments have taken a most responsible view of their position and have hesitated to do anything which is very difficult to reverse, as the nationalisation of steel would be, until they were certain that they had a very large section of the country behind them.

If we want our type of Parliamentary democracy to continue, we must have that sense of responsibility in a Government which finds itself in the position of the present Government, with a very large majority in the House and a very small electoral majority in the country, and on this subject, none at all.

Mr. Palmer

Is the hon. Gentleman putting up a double standard—a certain standard of electoral support for a Conservative-Liberal Government, and another for a Labour Government?

Mr. Maclay

I do not think it can be construed that I said that. If it is just the ordinary question of assuming the responsibility of governing then this system is right, but not when it is a question of doing something which cannot be reversed, at least not over a short period. On that basis, I do not even feel completely happy about asking for this Amendment. Obviously, the minimum the Government can do is to accept these Amendments and allow the electorate to speak again. Even this question might not necessarily be settled by the result. It is conceivable the same result could be obtained again.

Mr. Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

We have just had put before us two entirely new constitutional theories. The first is that in the fourth and fifth years of a Labour Government we must not introduce anything which savours of controversy at all.

Mr. Maclay

That is an absolute travesty of anything I said.

Mr. Chetwynd

I am not referring to the hon. Gentleman. I will deal with him later. If we accept that theory it makes nonsense of any Government programme put before the electorate because we put our programme forward on the expectancy of a five-year period of office. If we have to put everything controversial in the first three years it places enormous difficulties in the way of carrying through that programme. We could have put this Bill forward in the first year. Would the Tory argument now ranged against this Bill then be brought against the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act? Or do the Tories accept the position that it is all right for them, when they are in office, to have the full value of the five years without having to say to the people that belief in the programme they were elected upon has been lost, and therefore the people must chose twice in one period of five years what they want them to do.

The onus of proof in this case is on the Opposition. We were elected to carry this out, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) knows that the result at Stockton was sufficient proof. I spoke in the steel works in my constituency on this issue. I was elected and he was not. I should have been very foolish to stand in a steel constituency without dealing with this issue, and if he chose to ignore it, it was his funeral and not mine.

Major Beamish

How did the hon. Gentleman advocate the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry without having the foggiest notion of the form that nationalisation would take?

Mr. Chetwynd

If the hon. Gentleman thinks we went into every detail in an Election lasting three weeks, he is making a tremendous mistake. The people had no doubt what was meant by the general plan, and they returned us to implement that plan. When the Opposition can show an unbroken series of by-election successes they will have more claim for asking us to believe that the people have changed their minds. Until they do that they must accept the programme we have laid down—that this Bill goes through in this Parliament. If they wish to upset it, they will have to advance their claims at the next General Election, and if they should unluckily be returned, it will be up to them to fulfil their promises. We are pledged to carry this out. We see no reason why we should not, and no reason why a hereditary, non-elected House of Lords should block our will. I hope that we shall resist the Lords on this Amendment.

Mr. P. Roberts

All the arguments of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the other side seem to focus on this point—that in their election pamphlets, and in some of their speeches, they advocated nationalisation and, therefore the result of the Election showed that the people who voted for them wanted to nationalise the iron and steel industry. I believe something quite different. I believe that a large number of misguided people who voted for them voted on general principles, and you cannot say that they were all in favour of the various suggestions put forward in Labour pamphlets.

Mr. Orbach (Willesden, East)

They were obviously against all your principles.

Mr. Roberts

I am trying to develop the argument which rests on the assumption that there has been a promise by hon. Members opposite, which I accept; but they go further and say that behind that promise they have a large backing of their supporters. I am denying that. I am saying that a great number of Socialists do not wish to see the iron and steel industry nationalised. Let me remind hon. Members opposite that Mr. Lincoln Evans, a man who has great standing in the industry, has said that he does not desire to see political controversy in the industry at this time. I put it no higher than that. My argument is that although hon. Members admittedly have made a promise, they are not entitled to say that all their supporters are in favour of it. They brought forward one scheme which became completely unworkable. The hon. Member who has just spoken (Mr. Chetwynd) referred to the possibility of the Bill having been brought in in the first year. There was an attempt to bring in the Bill in the second year, which was an abysmal failure, so I doubt whether it would have been practicable to do it in the first year.

After a great deal of discussion in this House, and in the country, I believe that a large number of people now think that this suggestion of steel nationalisation is a mistake. If a referendum were taken at this time I am convinced that there would be a large number of people who would not wish to see steel nationalised, and a number of these people might well be Socialists. The Minister referred to this Bill as a reform. I should have said it was much more like a horrible disaster. He said that if the wishes of another place were carried out, it would mean that the Bill could not be implemented for 15 months after the date of the Election. Is that such a bad thing? It is admitted that a plan at the present moment is impracticable, and he also said it would need a very long time to produce a scheme to work easily. I should have thought it would be a very good thing indeed to put it off for another 15 months, even if hon. Members opposite are returned to power after the next General Election.

10.30 a.m.

I also wish to emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) with respect to the position of the country at present, which, I should have said, makes it imperative not to experiment with this industry at this stage—an industry whose products are responsible for 40 per cent. of our total exports. What about labour relations? The recently published figures of the Ministry of Labour comparing the coal industry and the steel industry over the last two years, show that the average number of days lost per 1,000 men was 920 in the coal industry but only 57 per 1,000 in the steel industry. Why, then, nationalise the iron and steel industry and bring to it all these apparently attendant labour troubles? The Minister himself said that anything damaging to the iron and steel industry is damaging to industry as a whole—one of the few enlightened statements he has made in this Debate.

There are considerable dangers from centralisation under the powers of the Minister—powers for which, as far as we can make out, he will not be responsible to Parliament. These powers which he is taking are extremely dangerous. We have seen what has happened in the coal industry, the gas industry, electricity and transport. When the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay) suggested that the prices of those commodities had gone up, I thought the Minister shook his head. Well, I can assure him that the price of coal has gone up; and I can equally assure him that, particularly in the North-East, the price of gas has gone up.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)

The hon. Gentleman must not go into details about other nationalised industries.

Mr. Roberts

I will not continue to introduce details, but the point I am trying to make is that, so far, nationalisation has not proved very successful or very economical. It becomes even more clear as we go through the Bill that the Minister will centralise control in Whitehall. We hear a good deal about decentralisation; we have even had a Clause referring to decentralisation; yet behind this Bill we see the Minister with his staffs, and I am regretfully forced to the conclusion that we shall see the iron and steel industry, which has been built up on local practice and local knowledge, centralised under the Minister.

I am convinced that as a result of this Bill, the consumer will suffer, so that it would be to the good if we could put off the coming into operation of this Bill until after the General Election, in order that the consumer can make his vote really felt. When I was at Cambridge, learning economics, my teacher—incidentally, a Socialist—said that when the consumer buys something, he casts his vote and in that way could influence the management of the industry whose produce he is buying. Under nationalisation as we have seen it, no longer will the customer be able to cast his vote; the industry will be a monopoly, the direction of which will be controlled by the Minister. I, therefore, maintain that at this time neither the industry itself, nor the consumer, nor the taxpayer wish to see this Bill go on to the Statute Book. Let it be put off until the General Election has been decided, in which case I am certain that we shall not see this Bill on the Statute Book at all.

Mr. W. T. Williams (Hammersmith, South)

When hon. Members opposite take it upon themselves to determine what the country is thinking and what the Government should do, and, in particular, what the country needs, it would seem that they are being presumptuous. Only one thing has emerged from their speeches: that the Tories do not want steel to be nationalised. The arguments with which they have supported that thesis have varied from confusion to deliberate misrepresentation. In earlier portions of the Debate the Tories have been most anxious that the industry shall not be confused, shall know exactly where it stands, and that the sword of Damocles hanging over its head shall be removed. Now, we are informed, all they want is that the sword of Damocles should take a little longer to fall—a month, three months, or six months. They say this in the vain hope of being returned at the next General Election, when they will throw the whole thing out, or, the hope that if we should be returned, the Government will have to go again through this long and uncertain business of passing this Bill into law.

Hon. Members

They would not.

Mr. G. Thomas

Oh, yes they would.

Mr. Williams

Three main arguments have been used in the Debate. The first is that we ought not to experiment with a key industry, because we are in a time of economic crisis. It is clear that hon. Members opposite have quickly forgotten that we have been in a time of economic crisis ever since this Government came into power. [Laughter.] It is also clear from that interruption, that the Tories are being characteristically dishonest in attempting to father that crisis upon us. Before we came into power, a letter was written by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) to Mr. Morgenthau, Secretary to the United States Treasury, describing Britain as a bankrupt country. That was the inheritance that we received. I dare say that hon. Members opposite will sneer when I say that the way this Government have tackled that crisis and, in part, the Government's policy of nationalisation, have prevented the crisis breaking in tragedy about our heads.

We have heard spurious arguments about the results of nationalisation, particularly of coal. I was brought up in the mining valleys and I can say from my own experience that, so far from the Tories being in a position to make cheap sneers, if the coal mines had not been nationalised, we should not be having coal at £5 per ton, but hardly a ton of coal at all. That being so, I suggest that if hon. Members opposite are as anxious as they profess themselves to be, in particular when they are talking about reductions in Income Tax, to re-establish our economy they should give credit where credit is due. Credit is due to this Government for the way in which, by their policy, which has been consistent, faithful to their promises and wise, they have averted tragedy that has overwhelmed many other countries in Europe which have also received Marshall Aid. Italy, of course, is a striking example.

The other argument which has been used frequently is that after four years, this Government have no mandate to pursue promises and policies that they declared they would pursue when they were first elected. That comes strangely from the lips of people who belong to a party who, 10 years after their mandate had elapsed, when they had been defeated frequently at by-elections, were still maintaining that they had the right to govern, and to govern according to the decisions of the Government of that time.

So far from allowing ourselves to be misled, for instance, by an argument such as that of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. D. Eccles) that it is essential that the Government should govern with an eye not on their mandate but on changed circumstances, I would suggest that it is quite frankly impertinence for hon. Members opposite to arrogate to themselves the right to determine in what circumstances we should change our mandate. It is the Government who have to determine whether or not they are entitled to regard circumstances as so changed as to justify them in breaking their promises. We do not, as a practice, on this side of the House, break promises; we leave that to those specialists in government.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

If that is so, could the hon. Gentleman explain why the Government have not set up a Ministry of Housing, which was promised far more explicitly?

Mr. Williams

If I may deviate to answer that question, the hon. Member for Chippenham said that the Government are entitled, in changed circumstances, to change their point of view with regard to their mandate. The Labour Party, before they were elected to power in this country, promised that they would build houses. They said they would be prepared, if necessary, to establish a Ministry of Housing. The Government are of opinion that they have fulfilled their pledge to build houses without the establishment of a Ministry of Housing, and of all people, the Tories should be the last to criticise the Government's housing policy.

The right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) made great play with the fact that the Government were not entitled to attempt to do anything with the steel industry because, he said, the arguments that Ministers and Government spokesmen have used for the nationalisation of steel do not apply as the industry is at present organised. I found that argument difficult to follow because the right hon. Gentleman is the spokesman of the party which believes in setting the people free. However, he did say that in this matter he believed in controls, and that he believed it was essential that the Government should maintain their control over the steel industry. It would seem to me that, in the interests of justice as well as of economic stability, it is more proper and right that the Government should take over finally, completely and absolutely for their own purposes the steel industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Their own purposes."] It is extraordinary that hon. Gentlemen opposite should jump upon every phrase without giving one an opportunity even to amplify it.

10.45 a.m.

Clearly, the purposes of this Government are to govern the country wisely and well, and one of the things that they plan to do is to maintain full employment. It is surely a proper and reasonable purpose of the Government to wish to nationalise the steel industry for their purposes if their purposes are for the good of the country, which I believe them to be. In those circumstances, surely it is right and proper and just, in the interests of justice and economic planning that the Government should finally and absolutely take over the steel industry for the purposes that have been mentioned, in order that the country and the industry may know where they stand and not be left to the uncertainty of not knowing when, if at any time, the controls would be taken off, as almost certainly they would be taken off if a Tory Government were returned to power.

All these things, then, seem to me to suggest that the Government are perfectly entitled to maintain, in the first instance, that they have a mandate and a right, after four years of government, to determine the terms of their mandate. They have the right to fling back in the teeth of the right hon. Member for Aldershot that there was a time, and there may quite easily be a time again, when the steel industry will not be organised as it is at present organised. There can be no doubt, certainly from the point of view of people who have lived, not among steel-owners, but among steelworkers, that the claim made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that there has been no trouble in the industry, that it has had no disputes for many years, and that the industry has been proficient for many years, is a hollow claim.

Mr. H. Fraser


Mr. Williams

It is not nonsense. I know it to be true, and I know it to be true from my own experience that during the inter-war years there were many—not hundreds, but thousands—of people in the steel industry who would take home something like 36s. or 38s. a week and who dared not complain. That is the reason why there have been no disputes in the industry; they dared not complain because they knew perfectly well that if they complained about 38s. they would soon be getting 26s. unemployment relief—

Mr. G. Thomas

Fifteen shillings.

Mr. Williams

—and that hundreds of thousands of people would be waiting to take their places.

I suggest, therefore, that before hon. Gentlemen opposite pursue an argument that is so clearly hollow, it would be good for them to remember that steel nationalisation is needed for the fulfilment of the Government's purposes. No argument that has been brought forward from the other side of the House is effective. On the other hand—and this is what should weigh very heavily with people who have proved themselves, at least since they have been out of office, so deeply concerned about the poor and the humble—it is important that the workers of the steel industry should at least have a right to speak in this matter, and with no uncertain voice. It is silly and blind of hon. Members opposite to pretend that they can speak with authority about the wishes of the steelworkers and to quote so-called facts and figures; statistics can be quite easily made to lie. There can be no doubt that the workers in the industry wish for nationalisation and are working now as hard as they are doing, because they believe that steel will be nationalised.

One does not expect from hon. Members opposite that they will concede fact, if fact conflicts with their theories. If steel is not now nationalised, although it may not be a living issue among the electorate, the disappointment will be so intense, in particular in steel-working areas, that there will be industrial unrest. I am certain that before hon. Members opposite can take it upon themselves to criticise industrial relations within the nationalised industries, they had better first ask themselves whether they believe that the problems in the nationalised industries would have been less if they were not nationalised, but under Tory control.

Brigadier Rayner

The real purpose of the Amendment is to give the electorate time to realise that they have been led up the garden path. The hon. Member for South Hammersmith (Mr. W. T. Williams) has obviously not realised that the electorate of this country are inclined to be progressive rather than otherwise and that this regimentation of one industry after another by the Socialist Government is entirely reactionary. Regimentation is a principle of savagery. Two thousand years ago, and even now in Central Africa, people had their whole lives regimented from birth to death by their tribal leaders and the whole process of civilisation down the ages has been the freeing of man from the control of men. This Bill is another deplorable example of Government regimentation. Some hon. Members will have been to Stonehenge and seen the large stones which were rolled across the mountains of Wales and through the Severn Valley on hunks of wood by thousands of men under the direction of the Druids. That was the first example of nationalised transport. This Measure, which we have discussed through the watches of the night, is another example of reactionary regimentation and this Amendment gives the electorate a chance to think again.

Mr. Nigel Birch

I wish to refer back to what was said by the hon. Member for South Hammersmith (Mr. W. T. Williams). He said that the object of the Amendment was to make hon. Members opposite go through the whole of this process again. Of course, that is not the object; the object is to ensure that the people—the whole people, not only steelworkers—shall pronounce whether they want this Bill or not. That is the simple issue and the whole process would not be gone through again. He went on to say that nationalisation was the only thing which stood between us and the crisis.

Mr. W. T. Williams

I did not say that. I said that the crisis was here before we came to power and that the Government's wise policy, including nationalisation, had prevented the economic collapse which afflicted the rest of Europe afflicting us also. Nationalisation played an important part in that.

Mr. Birch

I think the hon. Member is qualifying for a job on the Board. I would remind him that the effect of nationalisation has been to make it far harder for us. He might have given credit for about £2,000 million of dollars which I think have had a larger share in staving off the crisis. He talked about full employment, but we shall not keep full employment in this country unless we can keep down our costs. If we have no reserves that is the only possible hope. Yet it is absolutely certain that by this Bill we shall put up our costs. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) made the most extraordinary statement that the onus of proof in regard to this Bill rested upon hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. That is a staggering statement to make.

Mr. Chetwynd

I said that the onus of proof at the next General Election was on the Opposition to prove that the electorate did not want the Bill, as the electorate had proved at the last Election that they wanted it.

Mr. Birch

The onus of proof that the Bill is a good one rests upon those who bring in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman is justifying this Bill as an example of the unlimited mandate—that because one has something in one's original Election programme one has to carry it out whatever happens.

The one thing which was, perhaps, the most important feature of the contents of "Let Us Face The Future" and in almost every speech made by hon. Gentlemen opposite was "good relations with Russia." Given the circumstances, given the things that have happened, if the hon. Gentleman's argument had been pursued to its logical conclusion we should have had to truckle to Russia in order to preserve that good relationship, assuming that no attention was to be paid to changed circumstances. So far as a Ministry of Housing is concerned, however, the circumstances have not changed. They were the same on the day after the Election as on the day before the Election, and it was as sensible or as little sensible to set up a Ministry of Housing then as it is now. I have given instances in which hon. Gentlemen opposite have not carried out their mandate. They were probably right in not doing so in regard to a Ministry of Housing; they were certainly right so far as truckling to Russia is concerned. They have departed from their mandate because the circumstances have not allowed them to follow it; they were wiser in their second thoughts than in their first thoughts.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), who I think has deserted the stricken scene, took my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham very much to task, and said, becoming more British than the British, that my hon. Friend had said that we were to trim our sails to the presumed desire of a foreign State. I do not think that anyone is more unhappy than are we on this side of the House that our country is not independent. But why is it not independent? The policy pursued by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite has made it absolutely certain that we shall be permanently—

Mr. Frederick Lee (Manchester, Hulme)

On a point of Order. In referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough the hon. Member described him as "becoming more British than the British." May we be told what was meant by that observation about a man who did a remarkable job of work during the war?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)

I never presume to understand what hon. Gentlemen mean.

Mr. G. Thomas

Further to that point of Order. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) refer to my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough as "becoming more British than the British." We know what he meant by that offensive reference, and he ought at least to have the decency to withdraw it.

Hon. Members


Mr. Birch

I should have thought it was a compliment.

Mr. Beswick (Uxbridge)

Would the hon. Member for Flint at least explain exactly what he meant by that remark?

Mr. Birch

The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] If hon. Members opposite think that that remark of mine was offensive I will certainly withdraw it.

The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees said that no arguments whatever had been put up against the Bill, but the real point about the Measure is that the onus of proof lies upon the Government. They have never been able to tell us how they would organise the industry, how costs and prices would be reduced, or how they would constitute their board. They have no idea whatever. The simple answer throughout has been, "Don't know." The case is not documented. They are not wise, but foolish, after the event in view of what has happened in other nationalised industries. I have great difficulty in believing that the Minister, who is an intelligent man who made a lot of money in his day and paid the losses on "Tribune," does not know.

11.0 a.m.

As for this argument which was put up, to his discredit, by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently, and by the hon. Member for South Hammersmith a few minutes ago, that people in the steel industry are working because they think that the industry is to be nationalised, that seems to me to be the most fantastic argument of the lot. If the Government really believe that, why do they not prolong the delicious agony? It is perfectly clear that when an industry is nationalised there is no stimulus at all. If it is really this which is making people work, then presumably the longer the state of suspense goes on the better they will work.

The argument advanced by hon. Gentleman opposite is very weak. I do not think that they honestly believe it. I think that this is a crazy Bill. When Lord Ammon described the Front Bench opposite as crazy he meant, I suppose, weak and foolish and not very clear in their own minds. There is something more than that in this Bill. It is wicked to bring this Bill in at this time not thought out, undocumented, with no answers to any of the real problems, and supported by a lot of arguments which would not stand up in a small girls' school.

Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)

Hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to be rather sensitive on the subject of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy). I hope that they will not object if I criticise some of his speech. During that speech he talked about his power of dialectic. I am no judge of that, but I think that his speech today was more noted for its rhetoric than for its realism, because he chose to turn upon my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) and make a complete travesty of what he said.

He said that the whole of that speech was devoted to the bad effect the passing of this Bill would have on the talks at Washington, whereas in fact nearly the whole of my hon. Friend's speech was devoted to presenting very good reasons why it would be very much wiser to defer putting this Bill into action until after the people had had a chance of voting upon it. My hon. Friend did say, at the end, that he did not think that this would help those very important talks at Washington. With that I think we could all agree.

I have been to America a good many times recently and I have had the opportunity to talk with many of the Administration and many Congressmen. While I am quite certain that they do not mean to interfere in the political life of this country—and I think very clear evidence of that is the fact that they have so generously subscribed to a nation whose economy at the present time they must largely disapprove of—I am also equally sure that, having acted with such generosity for so long, they are now beginning to think that the time has come when they cannot go on paying out money to a country unless good use will be made of that money.

It seems to me that the rejection of this Amendment is a fairly clear evidence that hon. Members opposite have not got much confidence in Britain's belief in Labour. I would say that if the introduction of this Bill was an act of unwisdom, the refusal to accept this Amendment was an act of fanaticism. I will try to prove why I think that. On this side of the House we consider this particular nationalisation project much the most damaging to the economy of the country of any of the projects put forward by this Government, because it directly implicates the Government of this country in the running of a vital industry which is in direct competition with the industries of other countries.

I think it is for that reason that so many people in this country who are not of my party have opposed nationalisation of steel and are most apprehensive about it, even though they have not opposed the other nationalisation projects. In fact, I would go further and hazard the guess that many thoughtful Members on the other side—and with my usual politeness I am determined to believe that there are thoughtful Members opposite—would agree that nationalisation of steel was not going to increase output in the immediate future or to lower prices. I think they would agree that it was done partly in order to lay long-term plans to produce more steel than was immediately economically desirable. That might be very wise under one set of conditions, but most unwise under the conditions of today when our resources are so limited that they must only be used for immediate purposes.

There are many reasons why hon. Members opposite are so intent on this, but I think many of them would agree that their real reason is a political one, which is to avoid a split in their own party and to avoid any accusation that Socialism is only a fair weather policy which could not take on the nationalisation of steel in difficult times. They thought that this Measure, although not economically wise, could be carried owing to the wealth of the country.

I suggest that hon. Members opposite now mainly realise two things. First, they realise the immense difference between this country, which is dependent to a degree that no other great nation has ever been dependent before upon food and raw materials coming from abroad, and self-contained countries like France, America or Russia which can undertake projects with impunity that would for us be disastrous. I believe that the major blunder this Government made was in not realising that fact. Secondly, I assume that what I might call the "Mayhew phase" is over; they no longer believe that all Britain's economic difficulties are over, as the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said in New York a few months ago, and when the Minister said that the only mistake his colleague made was to blurt out the truth at the wrong moment.

We have had constant complacent assertions from hon. Members opposite, and from the Government Front Bench. All that is a thing of the past, or is it? Perhaps I attribute too much thoughtfulness and capability to hon. Members opposite when I say that they realise these things now. It is perhaps not surprising that the Government who the week before last produced that disastrous statement showing no positive policy at all for dealing with the dollar crisis—the Government who so mishandled the dock situation—should be rushing us into this disastrous experiment which could so easily and with so little cost to themselves be put off for a few months.

It is indeed disturbing that this country should be in the hands of a set of people who are being driven in this disastrous way. It may be that it is due to their physical exhaustion, for which we can sympathise with them; or it may be that it is due to their incapacity to stand up to the strain, in which case it is indeed a very tragic outlook for this country that, at this particular moment in its history, it should be governed by these men.

Mr. Erroll

When introducing his rejection of this Amendment, the Minister referred to the Bill as a Measure of vital importance, and with that we are all very much agreed. I thought he was less than fair, however, when he referred to our "irresponsible action" in opposing his proposed disagreement with the Lords Amendment. We are feeling very far from irresponsible in this matter; we feel that this is the most important matter in the whole Bill. We resent very much the charge that we are behaving irresponsibly in begging to differ from the Minister and even from the hon. Member for South Hammersmith (Mr. W. T. Williams), whose pretty lecturing of us we all appreciated very much on this side of the House.

The Minister asked why the electorate should have to vote twice on this issue. Surely it would be an act of very great statesmanship if they were given the opportunity of voting a second time. What votes will the Government gain at the next election through having forced the Steel Bill through at the tail end of this Parliament? What will they gain from the point of view of time?—only a matter of a month, or perhaps two months, in the passing into action of a Measure which has been delayed for four years. The loss of time would be negligible. But if they have confidence in themselves the advantage would be immense because they would then show that they were prepared to put this matter to the country once again when the country was more fully aware of all that was involved.

Of course, we know why they are not prepared to do that. It is because, despite the by-election results, in which they take a remarkable pride—[Laughter.] I notice hon. Members opposite always giggle whenever it is suggested that we might win the next General Election. Perhaps they will remember that cheap giggling after the results have been declared; it may not go so well with them, despite their apparent chain of successes in by-elections. There are other changes at work behind the façade of those successes.

The fact is that, if the Government were returned at the next General Election they would be able to proceed with their implementation of this Measure knowing that they had been refreshed with the confidence of the people, whereas, at the present time, if they are determined to pursue the policy which they have enunciated, they will go ahead in an uneasy frame of mind, despite their outward assurance, trying hurriedly to implement a Measure which they know will be utterly rejected if they are not returned at the next General Election. They cannot, therefore, proceed with this Measure for the nationalisation of steel on a really sound basis. There must be an atmosphere of hurry and panic and uncertainty. By delaying a few months, as this Amendment would provide, they would be able, if they are successful at the next Election, to proceed at the right pace for the nationalisation of the industry, instead of at the hurried pace which will be inevitable at the moment.

If I have taken down his words correctly, the Minister said that the Government intend to vest the industry as soon as possible after the passing of the Act. I submit that it will be impossible to set up the Corporation as quickly as he envisaged. In all the nationalisation Acts so far, we have seen the controlling body set up far too quickly after the passing of the Act. It is quite obvious now that the National Coal Board came into being too soon and that the vesting of the ownership of the mines in the Coal Board on 1st January, 1947, was too soon. If it had been 1st April it is generally agreed that that would have given the Coal Board a much better chance to set up its headquarters organisation. The same may be said of the Electricity Authority. On the evidence of the members of the Authority themselves, they were not given sufficient time to work out their organisation before they were saddled with the day-to-day task of administering the industry.

Mr. Palmer indicated dissent.

Mr. Erroll

The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) can never see evidence which does not suit him. If I went into detail on the matter I should be ruled out of Order, but I should be very glad to do so, were that allowed.

11.15 a.m.

Mr. Palmer

The hon. Gentleman has introduced the matter of the British Electricity Authority. I challenge him—and I hope he will take the challenge seriously, because he has made this statement before—to produce the evidence for the remark he has just made, now or on some occasion.

Mr. Erroll

I shall be very glad to do so whenever I have the occasion. I should have difficulty now in doing so if I am to keep within the Rules of Order. Not only will the Corporation have very great difficulty in assimilating its functions after vesting takes place as soon as the Government intend, but also the Minister will have very great difficulty in getting men to join the Corporation, because of the present uncertainty. If invitations are sent out now to join it, senior executives and trade union leaders—because doubtless they will be invited as well—will have to decide whether or not to show their colours now in advance of the General Election, and if men who do not favour nationalisation reject the invitations to join the Corporation and a Labour Government are returned at the next General Election, those men will be marked men, known to be against nationalisation, and, therefore, they will have no chance in the industry in the future.

I submit that it is placing an impossible choice on the leaders of the industry, that they should be invited to join the Corporation before the result of the next General Election is known. It is well known that feelers are already going out to leaders of the industry, and I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is full of hope in the matter himself. I am sure he would make a very worthy member of the Corporation, and would work as hard in it as he has worked in the Government.

Mr. Attewell

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He knows how closely I have been following what he has been saying. I wonder, seeing that he is now advising the House of the great difficulties the Government will have in selecting the right personnel for the Corporation, if the hon. Gentleman will explain why he supported the previous Lords Amendment.

Mr. Erroll

Without wishing to digress too far, I will answer that easily. The whole object of that Amendment was to prevent the assumption of executive responsibility, which has been such an embarrassment of the other nationalised industries, and to make sure that the Corporation should have time to work out detailed plans before being saddled with day-to-day responsibility.

I am trying to deal with the Minister's case, because he made many points of great interest. He made a special statement for the benefit of the industry. It was interesting to listen to that special statement, because it was a reiteration of what is in the Bill, and, as I heard him, I understood that he was just continuing this shabby vendetta against the directors of the iron and steel industry. These Clauses are a part of that vendetta. There is not the slightest evidence that any member of any board or anyone else in the industry intends to behave as is envisaged by these repulsive Clauses. This was a cheap and shabby attack on those fine men, and another thinly veiled warning to them. When we sought by Amendments at an earlier stage to safeguard these men, we were told by the Minister that they knew already pretty well what was in the Bill, and that they did not need our Amendments. Now, when there is an opportunity to score off them, they are once again hounded, dragooned, and warned.

The Minister protested very laudably that the industry should be 100 per cent. efficient. That sounds very good as a platform point. What, however, does the right hon. Gentleman mean exactly by 100 per cent. efficiency? Does he mean that the whole industry should have spent less in the last three or five years, or that its plant of those years should be replenished? Or does he mean what we understand by 100 per cent. efficiency, that the plant of the whole industry should be turned over regularly so that plant which is obsolete shall be replaced only when its useful life has been past?

If the Minister means by 100 per cent. efficiency that the industry is suddenly to be equipped with completely up-to-date plant, it is going to be a very expensive industry indeed, with its costs way above world prices. The only way to have a competitive steel industry is by making use of our plant, both new and old. I hope we shall not fall into any misunderstanding about over-modernising the industry. Part of the plant must be obsolescent, and it should be replaced only when it is fully obsolete. It does not mean that if plant is not the most modern it results in inefficiency, which Members opposite seem to think. What plans have the Government for this industry?

Mr. Speaker

This Amendment deals with the date and not with plans.

Mr. Erroll

I agree that it may seem rather wide of the subject. But as the Minister referred to plans in his opening speech, I felt it would be in Order for me to reply to that point. Perhaps I may remain in Order by referring to what he said, and then pass on, because the Minister did state that he intended through the immediate operations of the Corporation to plan the resources of the industry.

I should like to know how they are going to plan the resources. Why is it so necessary to do it right away? The fact is that this is not a Bill to nationalise the iron and steel industry, but a Bill to enable the State to enter into competition in the whole field of private industry. In that respect it is a fraud on the electorate, who should be given another chance to vote on the matter. A few more months will not matter. There has been plenty of delay already while Ministers were making up their minds what they would do with the industry.

Mr. H. Macmillan

This important series of Amendments, upon which the Acting-Leader of the House indicated that we might soon reach a decision and then have a temporary break in our labours, have at least had one agreeable result. After the long slumberings of the night, with very few Members supporting the Government adding anything to our Debates, some have returned and have spoken on this series of Amendments. I do not complain of that; I welcome it. But they have had the advantage, which we have not had, of refreshment and sleep. I thought it was a little ungenerous of the hon. Member who was educated at Repton but, alas, represents Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) to reprove my right hon. Friend for having left the Chamber after having spoken. It is within the recollection of the House that my right hon. Friend has been in his place and has conducted a leading part for more than 20 hours. I thought that when the hon. Member used the words "precipitated defeat" it was an, ungenerous and offensive observation.

Mr. Levy

I did not use those words I said "precipitatedly fled." I reassure the right hon. Gentleman, who was not in his place, that I certainly did not criticise him for not waiting for the bouquets. I think it was very sensible of him. I am sorry to have interrupted the right hon. Gentleman, because we enjoy him, especially in his more pompous moments.

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Member has been offensive once more. My right hon. Friend asked me to apologise to the House for his temporary absence for a wash and a shave. I think that those who are more fortunately placed ought to be a little more generous.

The hon. Member felt under a promise from which he could not get absolution. He said that the promise had been made to the electors that the steel industry would be nationalised, and he felt that he could not, in conformity with his conscience, be absolved from that promise. But I do not think that the nation will worry very much if it is given a second chance; if it wants it can confirm the decision, or if not it will welcome the opportunity of a second chance. There are other matters in which the hon. Member's conscience was not so careful. All sorts of things were contained in this document. Perhaps I might read him two: There should be a Ministry of Housing and Planning combining the housing powers of the Ministry of Health with the planning powers of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. Has the hon. Member's conscience been bleeding all those four years? I have not been aware of the terrible feeling in the party opposite that they were guilty of a terrible deceit on the electors because they did not carry out this reform. I have no doubt that they were, however, and the wiser ones who studied the matter with us in the Coalition Government probably reached the view that the instrument available was quite satisfactory. Anyway, it was an instrument which they have misused just as much as they would have misused the new one.

I want to call attention to another promise. The Foreign Secretary is not with us, for reasons which we deplore. Here is another promise: We must consolidate in peace the great wartime association of the British Commonwealth with the United States of America and the U.S.S.R. Let it not be forgotten that in the years leading up to the war the Tories were so scared of Russia that they missed a chance to establish a partnership which might well have prevented the war. Who is scared of Russia now? Who attacks Russia every day now? Who says that Mr. Molotov has double-crossed him? The Foreign Secretary. Who is scared? Who looses the most violent anti-Soviet propaganda from those benches? The present Government. There are many other sins in which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough is equally guilty.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) on his speech. I would remind him of one thing. He made the nationalisation of iron and steel a major plank in his campaign in 1945.

Mr. Chetwynd

One of the most important.

11.30 a.m.

Mr. Macmillan

There were certainly others which I observed, in relation to which the Secretary of State for War in the course of the campaign made remarks, most of which were a vitriolic personal attack on me and my wife, which, I think, did him a bit of harm. Let me tell the hon. Member this. He is young in this experience. Of course, he has a perfect right to crow over his defeat of me. I have fought six elections in Stockton. He has fought one. I have won three and lost three. I will make him a bet that when he has fought six his average will not be better than mine.

Mr. Chetwynd

When I am the right hon. Gentleman's age perhaps I shall be able to take him on.

Mr. Macmillan

I shall expect the hon. Gentleman to pay it to my heirs and successors.

I now come to another election hero who has served long enough no longer to enjoy any immunity, the hon. Member for South Hammersmith (Mr. W. T. Williams). When he made his maiden speech we received it with the grace called for. Now he makes rather elaborate lectures to us, and we are prompt to answer them. The only argument which I could understand in the doctrine which he elaborated was that the Tory Party had been guilty of carrying on a Government for 10 years from 1935 to 1945 without refreshing itself by going to the people. It may have escaped his notice—I do not know how he was employed during that time—that quite a lot of events took place during those years.

If he says that it is a serious charge against the Government of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was the head and of which distinguished Members on the Front Bench opposite were members that we passed an Act to prolong Parliament from 1939 to the end of the war, I do not think that it is one which this House will sustain, and it will certainly not be sustained by right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite who were parties to the whole of that legislation. That was the only real point he made, and it was a bad one. Mr. Disraeli once said of a foreign gentleman that he had only one idea and that was wrong. That might be said of the hon. Member for South Hammersmith. In the fluctuation of opinion of which I warned the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees it may easily be that South Hammersmith will be one of the first victims. The hon. Member had a very narrow margin.

The right hon. Gentleman who, some hours ago, asked us to disagree with the Lords in these Amendments did not quite do himself justice, but he has had a very heavy night and I quite understand his reluctance to deploy a very long or carefully prepared argument. He produced only two arguments. He made what seemed to be a rather mysterious threat to members of the steel industry. He said, "Remember that if the Bill has to be brought in a second time it will contain all these Clauses under which, if you do not watch them carefully, you may suffer." That was not a great act of science and statesmanship. If the new Bill did not contain exactly those Clauses, it could not be passed under the Parliament Act. If there was any change it could not be passed under either the old or the new Parliament Act. We were even going to change the Constitution for the purpose of the elaborate arrangements made between the two sections of the Government. The Bill must contain the same Clauses, so there was not very much in that.

Then—it probably slipped out because he was rather alarmed at doing something which rather amounted to blackmail of the people concerned—he said that they might not know the law. The gentlemen who preside over the great industries possess the means of finding out the law. They have professional advisers who know the law. It is within their competence to inform themselves of a fairly simple thing like the Parliament Act procedure. Though I am sure that they would be grateful for the warning, I do not think it is one which would really make much effect upon their judgment because they would not be conscious of it.

His next argument was that my noble Friend the leader of the Conservative Party in another place had been guilty of a great act of irresponsibility in advising another place to oppose these Amendments. There are all sort of views which might be held upon this main problem, which is whether it is to be settled now or whether, so near to an Election, there is to be another opportunity for the people to judge. But I should have thought that here was one epithet and one word which could never be used of my noble Friend, and that was the word "irresponsible." I should have thought that hon. Members who served with him in this House and have watched his career in Governments and his management of the extremely delicate and difficult task of leading the Conservative Opposition in the House of Lords would never wish to characterise him as irresponsible.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

I was using the word "irresponsible" in the direct sense. He is responsible to no one but himself, and not to the electorate.

Mr. Macmillan

I do not think that is sound constitutional law. Both Houses of Parliament are summoned here by the Crown. We are all subjects of the Crown and in the different ways in which we serve—

Mr. J. Jones

Who is being pompous now?

Mr. Macmillan

Does not the hon. Member believe in the Crown? I say we are summoned here to sit by the Crown. We are all servants, subjects and citizens, whether we sit in one House or the other. Each is equally responsible and there should be equal rights. If the record of service of my noble Friend and of his family over a great number of years is compared with that of the right hon. Gentleman who made the observation. I think it would leave my noble Friend unassailed.

Now we come to the great doctrine or mandate to which I must devote a word or two, although we are getting beyond the witching hour—but it is a movable feast. It is contained in this famous phrase which comes under Section IV, paragraph 3 of "Let Us Face the Future": Public ownership of iron and steel.—Pribate monopoly has maintained high prices and kept inefficient high-cost plants in existence. Only if public ownership replaces private monopoly can the industry become efficient. That great phrase which weighs so heavily upon the conscience of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough. Day by day he has been suffering all these years wondering whether the Government will stick to this tremendous expression or whether they will run away from it. How terrible for him when it was common knowledge that the Cabinet was running away from it. We had to get rid of the last Minister of Supply because he would not agree to it. That is why he was sacked; everyone knows that—[Interruption.] Oh, yes, that is common knowledge. The P.R.O.s which are employed so freely by hon. Members opposite sometimes let out the truth.

I do not think this great doctrine could have been swept away more expressively than it was in another place by a man not of my own party but with whom I find myself very often in agreement—a very distinguished statesman with a long record in this House and the other, Lord Samuel. He swept it away in a speech in which he made it clear that it was absurd to suggest, because there was this particular phrase which he described as such a very long way down and coyly hidden at the end of the queue, that this was a sort of moral obligation on this House of Parliament to carry it through. It is an enormous change at this time when so many things have happened during these four years. Surely, that is pressing a sort of political argument to an absolute absurdity.

Is no account to be taken of changing events? The party opposite before 1939 were pledged against conscription. They voted against it as late as 1939 after the Anschluss, after the occupation of Prague, after war become an absolute certainty. When war was declared, they, quite rightly I think as Members of the Coalition Government, did not dissociate themselves because of some mad thing they had once said to the people in 1935 when opposing conscription. Indeed, the people must be very confused about what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have told them about conscription because the Government are confused themselves; they change from 18 months to a year within a fortnight, so that the people must be almost more confused than they are themselves by their promises and also by their performance.

The truth is that there are all sorts of reasons which led people to cast their votes at the last General Election. Of course, there will be a General Election very soon, although the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us when; he knows almost everything, but he does not know that. Nobody knows when. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite would like to have it in October; they are those who hope to get in. Others want to delay it till July; they are those who know they will be out. A very ingenious compromise of all these conflicting views was arrived at by the Lord President of the Council, because the date in the Bill for vesting date is May, 1950. That was obviously chosen by the greatest political manager of our time; the greatest in the Old World, certainly. There may be some better in the New World.

Certainly the right hon. Gentleman's colleague the Minister of Health said that there had been better Tammany bosses in the New World, and he called him only third-rate. That was very unfair: he is absolutely first-rate. I will not go into the relative excellence of his performance. He so arranged it that those who wanted the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry in this Parliament, those who wanted to make certain of it, were told "You are all right. You have got your way because it is going to be carred out in this Parliament." On the other hand, those who were a bit uncertain and said "You know, this is rather a big step. It may have bad repercussions. You had better be careful," were told "Oh well, it is not coming into force till May, 1950, and the Election will be in May or June, so you can always comfort your consciences by that." So everybody was pleased.

All we are asking is that the people of this country should be allowed to judge this issue. That is all. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have confidence in their judgment I cannot see why they cannot accept these Amendments. I am certain that if they refuse these Amendments the country will draw the only possible conclusion: that the Government have not confidence in themselves, that they wish to use the Parliamentary method and have not even shrunk from changing the constitution, as it was settled in the great dispute between the two Houses over 30 years ago, and that even at this most serious time in our history they are determined to press this matter through. The only judgment the people will form is that the Government are determined that the people shall not have the opportunity to judge.

Mr. J. Jones

I am sure the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) will not expect me at this hour to follow him through all the various phases of his speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Well, he referred to Molotov, and if I were to relate what Molotov had said, particularly about the Tory Party, I should have to speak for much longer than I intend. He made some play with the result of the next General Election, and then told us what Disraeli had said. I am no historian, but I well remember that on one occasion Disraeli said that the Tory Party was organised hypocrisy. I do not blame him. The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about Tammany bosses, although what Tammany bosses have to do with this Iron and Steel Bill I do not know. The whole speech of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be based on whether he or someone else shall decide who is to be in this House as a result of the next General Election.

11.45 a.m.

As good Socialists and Democrats we are willing to leave the result of the next Election as we left the result of the last Election, to the people, and to abide by their decision. One decision has been made clear: if the Tories are returned they will throw out this Bill. That is exactly what we would expect them to do, because of their vested interests and the privileges they have enjoyed for the last 60 or 70 years. We would expect them to retain them in their own interests. The will of the people will decide.

We have now had a Debate extending exactly 20¼ hours. If the Leader of the House were here—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—he would probably use his well chosen phrase: "A good time has been had by all." I would like seriously to express our gratitude to the Opposition for the way in which this Debate has been conducted. There has been good humour, and many valid points have been made. There has been, as the steel trade would say, an occasional ebullition of the metal. I could put that into steel-smelter's language, but I doubt whether the Chair would regard it as entirely in Order.

The right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) has talked about prices and efficiency. I make no complaint. If I had the time I could give to the House the historical development of the wages structure in the industry and prove that, by their 1905 agreement, those to whom I shall never refrain from referring to as fine men would now be earning £9 or £10 per week more than they are now getting, which is the measure of the sacrifice they are making. Not so long ago, the industry were asked, through the Opposition, to present their plan, and they put in a plan for £168 million worth of capital equipment, which, at present prices, would be more like £250 million.

Great play has been made with the Idea that the Government have no plan. The Opposition seek to compel my right hon. Friend to put into the Bill the technical details of a plan. That has never been, and never should be, done. Technical details and plans are never contained in Bills. Statements were made by the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Mr. P. Roberts), whose opinions I value, and who, I know, is respected by many steel workers in and around Sheffield, where he is privileged to serve some of those fine men, although only a few of our people.

The hon. Gentleman made reference to the General Secretary of the British Iron and Steel Trades Confederation. I am getting rather tired of references to personal opinions. References should be made in this House to the accredited, democratically arranged—[An HON. MEMBER: "Democratically what?"]—arrived at opinion of the whole of that industry. It was put forward in no unmistakable terms on the day I made my Second Reading speech from this Box—a recognition of their demand for nationalisation since 1932. I would prefer the Opposition to refer always, not to the personal opinions of individuals, but to the accredited opinion of the organisation responsible in the main for production in the iron and steel industry.

I do not want to go into all the details of what was said. I thoroughly enjoyed the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) who himself gave great service to our country on a nationalised ship inside a nationalised industry, and I pay a tribute to him. As is usual, the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) took delight in having a dig at the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. A few weeks ago I was asked to define the hon. Member in a few words, and I said that I always looked upon Fred of Altrincham as being fair of face, fine of form, but always devoid of fact. The hon. Member tried to make a sneering reference to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary by suggesting that I would make nothing but an ornament on the Steel Board. Well I was an ornament in front of a steel furnace probably before the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale had left his mother's knee.

What we really want to tell the Opposition is that this Government have decided what course this Bill shall take. By that decision this House will stand. Following upon that decision—

Mr. Lyttelton

Say it again.

Mr. Jones

Yes, I will say it again because it is worthy of repetition—by that decision this House will stand—

Mr. Macmillan

And fall.

Mr. Jones

Finally it has been suggested that this will be one of the focal points, one of the most interesting features of the pending General Election whenever that may be. I do not know and, what is more, I personally am not one whit worried. Whenever that election comes

we, as good Socialists, as good democrats, shall gladly abide by the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box.

I want to congratulate my own Minister, my right hon. Friend, who has gone right through this long Debate without loss of temper—though with loss of sleep—with kindness and with efficiency—[HON. MEMBERS: "Steel Board."] I want to tell the Opposition that the stratum of society from which I come always pays credit where credit is due, and I want to pay here and now a public tribute to the way my right hon. Friend has gone through this Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Steel Board."]—and to say finally that these decisions can safely be left with those people who, after all, are the final arbiters in this case. I ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Whiteley rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 141.

Division No. 238.] AYES [11.55 a.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Cluse, W. S. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Cocks, F. S. Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Albu, A. H. Coldrick, W. Gibbins, J.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Cooper, G. Gibson, C. W.
Alpass, J. H. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Gilzean, A.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Corlett, Dr. J. Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Attewell, H. C. Cove, W. G. Gooch, E. G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Crawley, A. Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Awbery, S. S. Cullen, Mrs. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Ayles, W. H. Daggar, G. Grey, C. F.
Bacon, Miss A. Daines, P. Grierson, E.
Balfour, A. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Barstow, P. G. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Barton, C. Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Battley, J. R. Davies, Harold (Leek) Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Bechervaise, A. E. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Guy, W. H.
Benson, G. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Hale, Leslie
Beswick, F. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Deer, G. Hardman, D. R.
Bing, G. H. C. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hardy, E. A.
Binns, J. Delargy, H. J. Harrison, J.
Blenkinsop, A. Diamond, J. Hastings, Dr. Somerville.
Blyton, W. R. Dobbie, W. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)
Boardman, H. Dodds, N. N. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Bottomley, A. G. Driberg, T. E. N. Herbison, Miss M.
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hewitson, Capt M.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl Exch'ge) Dumpleton, C. W. Hobson, C. R.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Dye, S. Holman, P.
Bramall, E. A. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Brooks, T. J. (Rathwell) Edwards, John (Blackburn) Horabin, T. L.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Houghton, Douglas
Brown, George (Belper) Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Hoy, J.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hubbard, T.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Ewart, R. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Burden, T. W. Fernyhough, E. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Burke, W. A. Field, Capt. W. J. Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)
Callaghan, James Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Carmichael, James Follick, M. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Forman, J. C. Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)
Champion, A. J. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Chetwynd, G. R. Freeman, J. (Watford) Johnston, D. H.
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley) Noel-Baker, Capt F. E. (Brentford) Stokes, R. R.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) O'Brien, T. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Oldfield, W. H. Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Oliver, G. H. Stross, Dr. B.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Orbach, M. Stubbs, A. E.
Keenan, W. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Swingler, S.
Kenyan, C. Palmer, A. M. F. Sylvester, G. O.
King, E. M. Pargiter, G. A. Symonds, A. L.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Parker, J. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Kinley, J. Parkin, B. T. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Kirby, B. V. Pearson, A. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Perrins, W. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Lang, G. Piratin, P. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Lavers, S. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Popplewell, E. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Porter, E. (Warrington) Thurtle, Ernest
Let, Miss J. (Cannock) Price, M. Philips Titterington, M. F.
Leonard, W. Proctor, W. T. Tolley, L.
Levy, B. W. Pryde, D. J. Usborne, Henry
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Pursey, Comdr. H. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Randall, H. E. Viant, S. P.
Lindgren, G. S. Ranger, J. Walker, G. H.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Reeves, J. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Logan, D. G. Reid, T. (Swindon) Warbey, W. N.
Longden, F. Rhodes, H. Watkins, T. E.
Lyne, A. W. Richards, R. Watson, W. M.
McEntee, V. La. T. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Mack, J. D. Robens, A. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) West, D. G.
McKinlay, A. S. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edin'gh, E.)
Maclean, N. (Govan) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
McLeavy, F. Rogers, G. H. R. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Wigg, George
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Royle, C. Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B.
Mann, Mrs. J. Sargood, R. Wilkins, W. A.
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Scollan, T. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Shackleton, E. A. A. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Mathers, Rt. Hon. George Sharp, Granville Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Mellish, R. J. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Shurmer, P. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Mikardo, Ian Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Mitchison, G. R. Simmons, C. J. Willis, E.
Monslow, W. Skeffington, A. M. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Moody, A. S. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Morley, R. Skinnard, F. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Smith, C. (Colchester) Wise, Major F. J.
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Woods, G. S.
Mort, D. L. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Yates, V. F.
Moyle, A. Snow, J. W. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Nally, W. Sorenson, R. W.
Neal, H. (Claycross) Sparks, J. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Steele, T. Mr. Hannan and
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Mr. George Wallace.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Digby, Simon Wingfield Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Dodds-Parker, A. D. Head, Brig. A. H.
Baldwin, A. E. Donner, P. W. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.
Barlow, Sir J. Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Herbert, Sir A. P.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Drayson, G. B. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Bennett, Sir P. Drewe, C. Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)
Birch, Nigel Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Hope, Lord J.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Duthie, W. S. Howard, Hon. A.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Eccles, D. M. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)
Bullock, Capt. M. Erroll, F. J. Kendall, W. D.
Butcher, H. W. Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Langford-Holt, J.
Carson, E. Fox, Sir G. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Challen, C. Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Channon, H. Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Linstead, H. N.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Gammans, L. D. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Gates, Maj. E. E. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Low, A. R. W.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Glyn, Sir R. Lucas, Major Sir J.
Crowder, Capt. John E. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
Cuthbert, W. N. Granville, E. (Eye) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
Darling, Sir W. Y. Gridley, Sir A. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.
Davidson, Viscountess Grimston, R. V. McCallum, Maj. D.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Harden, J. R. E. Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)
De la Bère, R. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) McFarlane, C. S.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Sutcliffe, H.
Maclay, Hon. J. S. Pickthorn, K. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster) Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Raikes, H. V. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Ramsay, Maj. S. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Marlowe, A. A. H. Rayner, Brig. R. Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.
Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Touche, G. C.
Maude, J. C. Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall) Turton, R. H.
Mellor, Sir J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Ropner, Col. L. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Mullan, Lt. C. H. Savory, Prof. D. L. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Neven-Spence, Sir B. Scott, Lord W. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Nicholson, G. Smithers, Sir W. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Nield, B. (Chester) Spearman, A. C. M. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Spence, H. R.
Nutting, Anthony Strauss Henry (English Universities) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Obey, G. W. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Mr. Studholme and
Brigadier Mackeson.

Question put accordingly, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 137.

Division No. 239.] AYES [12.5 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hewitson, Capt. M.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Hobson, C. R.
Albu, A. H. Davies, Harold (Leek) Holman, P.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Alpass, J. H. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Horabin, T. L.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Houghton, Douglas
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Deer, G. Hoy, J.
Attewell, H. C. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hubbard, T.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Delargy, H. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Awbery, S. S. Diamond, J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Ayles, W. H. Dobbie, W. Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)
Bacon, Miss A. Dodds, N. N. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Balfour, A. Driberg, T. E. N. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Barstow, P. G. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)
Barton, C. Dumpleton, C. W. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Battley, J. R. Dye, S. Johnston, Douglas
Bechervaise, A. E. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)
Beswick, F. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Bing, G. H. C. Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Binns, J. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Blenkinsop, A. Ewart, R. Keenan, W.
Blyton, W. R. Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, C.
Boardman, H. Field, Capt. W. J. King, E. M.
Bottomley, A. G. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Bowden, Flg. Offr H. W. Follick, M. Kinley, J.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Forman, J. C. Kirby, B. V.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.
Bramall, E. A. Freeman, J. (Watford) Lang, G.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lavers, S.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.
Brown, George (Belper) Gibbins, J. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gibson, C. W. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Gilzean, A. Leonard, W.
Burden, T. W. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Levy, B. W.
Burke, W. A. Gooch, E. G. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Callaghan, James Gordon-Walker, P. C. Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Carmichael, James Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Lindgren, G. S.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Grey, C. F. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Champion, A. J. Grierson, E. Logan, D. G.
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Longden, F.
Cluse, W. S. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Lyne, A. W.
Cocks, F. S. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) McAllister, G.
Coldrick, W. Guest, Dr. L. Haden McEntee, V. La. T.
Cook, T. F. Guy, W. H. Mack, J. D.
Cooper, G. Hale, Leslie Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. McKinlay, A. S.
Corlett Dr. J. Hardman, D. R. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Cove, W. G. Hardy, E. A. McLeavy, F.
Crawley, A. Harrison, J. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Cullen, Mrs. Hastings, Dr. Somerville MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Daggar, G. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford) Mann, Mrs. J.
Daines, P. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Herbison, Miss M. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Mathers, Rt. Hon. George Rhodes, H. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Mellish, R. J. Richards, R. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Mikardo, Ian. Robens, A. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Thurtle, Ernest
Mitchison, G. R. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Titterington, M. F.
Monslow, W. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Tolley, L.
Moody, A. S. Rogers, G. H. R. Usborne, Henry
Morley, R. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Royle, C. Viant, S. P.
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Sargood, R. Walker, G. H.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E) Scollan, T. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Mort, D. L. Shackleton, E. A. A. Warbey, W. N.
Moyle, A. Sharp, Granville Watkins, T. E.
Nally, W. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Watson, W. M.
Neal, H. (Claycross) Shurmer, P. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Silverman, J. (Erdington) West, D. G.
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Simmons, C. J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
O'Brien, T. Skeffington, A. M. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Oldfield, W. H. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Whiteley, Rt. Han. W.
Oliver, G. H. Skinnard, F. W. Wigg, George
Orbach, M. Smith, C. (Colchester) Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Wilkins, W. A.
Palmer, A. M. F. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Pargiter, G. A. Smith, S. H. (Hull. S. W.) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Parker, J. Snow, J. W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Parkin, B. T. Sorensen, R. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Pearson, A. Sparks, J. A. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Perrins, W. Steele, T. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Piratin, P. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Stokes, R. R. Willis, E.
Popplewell, E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Porter, E. (Warrington) Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Price, M. Philips Stross, Dr. B. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.
Proctor, W. T. Stubbs, A. E. Wise, Major F. J.
Pryde, D. J. Swingler, S. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Pursey, Comdr. H. Sylvester, G. O. Woods, G. S.
Randall, H. E. Symonds, A. L. Yates, V. F.
Ranger, J. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Reeves, J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Reid, T. (Swindon) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Hannan and Mr. George Wallace.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Baldwin, A. E. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)
Barlow, Sir J. Gammans, L. D. Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Gates, Maj. E. E. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Bennett, Sir P. Glyn, Sir R. Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Granville, E. (Eye) Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Cot. W. Gridley, Sir A. Maude, J. C.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Grimston, R. V. Mellor, Sir J.
Butcher, H. W. Harden, J. R. E. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.
Carson, E. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Challen, C. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Channon, H. Head, Brig A. H. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Mullan, Lt. C. H.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Herbert, Sir A. P. Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Nicholson, G.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Nield, B. (Chester)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hope, Lord J. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Crowder, Capt. John E. Howard, Hon. A. Nutting, Anthony
Cuthbert, W. N. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Odey, G. W.
Darling, Sir W. Y. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Kendall, W. D. Pickthorn, K.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Langford-Holt, J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
De la Bère, R. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Raikes, H. V.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Ramsay, Maj. S.
Donner, P. W. Linstead, H. N. Rayner, Brig. R.
Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Drayson, G. B. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)
Drewe, C. Low, A. R. W. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lucas, Major Sir J. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Duthie, W. S. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Eccles, D. M. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Ropner, Col. L.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walte McCallum, Maj. D. Savory, Prof. D. L.
Erroll, F. J. Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight) Scott, Lord W.
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. McFarlane, C. S. Smithers, Sir W.
Fox, Sir G. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Spearman, A. C. M.
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Spence, H. R.
Strauss, Henry (English Universities) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Studholme, H. G. Touche, G. C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Sutcliffe, H. Turton, R. H. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Thomas, Ivor (Keighley) White, J. B. (Canterbury) Commander Agnew and
Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) Williams, C. (Torquay) Colonel Wheatley.

Question put, and agreed to.

12.15 p.m.

Lords Amendments disagreed to: In page 10, line 22, leave out "fifty" and insert "fifty-one."

In page 10, line 23, leave out "passing" and insert "coming into force."

In page 11, line 11, leave out "May" and insert "July."

In page 11, line 12, leave out "fifty and insert "fifty-one."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That further consideration of the Lords Amendments be adjourned."—[Mr. Joseph Henderson.]

Mr. H. Macmillan

Since this proposal was made from this side of the House some eight hours ago, I welcome the fact that the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House has now thought fit to grant us what was then refused. I welcome the fact that the Leader of the House, no doubt judging from his experience of this Debate, has allowed us to have the Adjournment which was then refused. We thought all the time that it was not reasonable to ask the House to deal with these immense subjects in a single Sitting, and we have been proved to be right. The House should have been given two Sittings for this work. Therefore, we shall certainly not oppose the Motion. We hope that all the Motions which we move will afterwards be accepted by the Government, and as this is a good omen that they will accept our other Motions, I shall ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to agree, and not to stand in the way of the House now refreshing itself.

Major Beamish

I hope the fact that we are not opposing this Motion will not be taken as proof that any of us on this side are in the least bit satisfied with the way in which the Debate has been conducted. I want to protest in the strongest possible terms against the way in which the Guillotine has been used. I see that the Leader of the House is in his place—

Mr. Speaker

The only question which is now in Order, of course, is whether or not we shall adjourn the discussion on the Lords Amendments. One cannot go back and discuss what happened in the House previously.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

Would it not be in Order, Mr. Speaker, to say that one's vote on this question depends on the way the Government propose to make use of the Closure?

Mr. Speaker

Oh, no; that has nothing to do with the Motion before the House.

Lords Amendments to be further considered this day.

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