HC Deb 25 July 1949 vol 467 cc2121-55

Lords Amendment: In page 9, line 17, at the end to insert new Clause "B"—

  1. "(1) The Minister shall, within a period of six months after the general date of transfer, by order establish an Iron and Steel Prices Board (hereinafter in this section referred to as 'the Board').
  2. (2) The Board shall consist of the following members—
    1. (a) an independent chairman, appointed by the Lord Chancellor and being a person having legal or accountancy qualifications or such other qualifications as the Lord Chancellor may consider appropriate;
    2. (b) a member appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of the Corporation and its subsidiaries as producers of specified products;
    3. (c) a member appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of producers of specified products other than the Corporation and its subsidiaries;
    4. (d) a member appointed by the Minister, after consultation with the Iron and Steel Consumers' Council, to represent the interests of consumers of specified products;
    5. (e) a member appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of workers in the iron and steel industry; and
    6. (f) such additional members, not exceeding two, as the Minister may from time to time appoint, for the consideration of any particular matter.
  3. (3) No person who is a member or officer of the Corporation or a director or officer of any subsidiary of the Corporation shall be qualified to be appointed or to be the chairman of the Board. The members of the Board shall not at any time include more than two persons who are members or officers of the Corporation or directors or officers of any subsidiary of the Corporation. No person who is a member of the Commons House of Parliament shall be qualified to be appointed or to be a member of the Board.
  4. (4) In this section the expression 'specified products' means iron or steel products of any of the descriptions set out in the Tenth 2122 Schedule to this Act and such other descriptions as may be specified in an order of the Minister made under subsection (9) of this section, and the expression 'iron or steel products' means products wholly or mainly composed of iron or steel.
  5. (5) It shall be the duty of the Board to consider:
    1. (a) any representation, which may be made to them by the Iron and Steel Consumers' Council or by any other person who appears to the Board to be a person affected or representative of the interests of a class or classes of persons affected, with respect to the prices at which or the terms and conditions on which all or any of the specified products are sold or supplied by any producer or class or classes of producers of such products;
    2. (b) any matter which may be referred to them by the Minister for consideration, including without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, a review of the prices at which and the terms and conditions on which all or any of the specified products are sold or supplied by any producer or class or classes of producers of such products; and
    3. (c) any proposal for the making of an order under subsection (9) of this section specifying other descriptions of iron or steel products for the purposes of this section.
  6. (6) When the Board have considered any such representation or matter or proposal as aforesaid, they shall make to the Minister a report thereon containing such recommendations if any as they think fit.
  7. (7) Without prejudice to the exercise of any powers conferred by or under any enactment other than this Act, on any Minister of the Crown or Government Department, the Minister may from time to time, on receiving a recommendation in that behalf from the Board, make in accordance with that recommendation an order for controlling the prices at which and the terms and conditions on which all or any of the specified products may be sold or supplied by any producer or class or classes of producers of such products.
  8. (8) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with the requirements of an order made under subsection (7) of this section shall be 2123 guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable—
    1. (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for not more than three months or to a fine not exceeding five hundred pounds or to both such imprisonment and such fine; or
    2. (b) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for not more than two years or to a fine not exceeding whichever is the higher of the two following amounts—
      1. (i) One thousand pounds;
      2. (ii) Three times the amount of any benefits derived by him from the offence;
or to both such imprisonment and such fine.

(9) The Minister may from time to time on receiving a recommendation in that behalf from the Board, make in accordance with that recommendation an order specifying a further description of iron or steel products for the purposes of this section: Provided that the Minister shall not make such an order with respect to any description of iron or steel products, unless it appears to him that at least one third by weight of the iron or steel products of that description supplied in the United Kingdom are supplied by the Corporation and its subsidiaries.

(10) The power conferred by subsections (7) and (9) of this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and any such statutory instrument shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(11) The Board shall, as respects each financial year of the Corporation, make to the Minister a report on the exercise and performance by the Board of their functions during that year, and the Minister shall lay a copy of every such annual report before each House of Parliament, together with a statement of any action which has been taken by him in that year in consequence of any recommendation made to him by the Board.

(12) The Minister and any producer of the said products shall provide the Board with all such information and other assistance as the Board may reasonably require for the exercise and performance of their functions under this section.

(13) The order made by the Minister under subsection (1) of this section establishing the Board shall provide for such incidental or supplementary matters as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient to provide for the purpose of giving full effect to this section including provisions—

  1. (a) as to the procedure of the Board;
  2. (b) requiring the Corporation to provide for the Board such officers and office accommodation as appear to the Minister to be requisite for the proper exercise and performance of their functions, subject to the approval of the Treasury with respect to the number of such officers; and
  3. (c) for the payment by the Corporation of such remuneration and allowances to the chairman and other members of the Board and to their officers as the Minister with the approval of the Treasury may determine."

Mr. J. Jones

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

This Clause proposes that a board shall be set up consisting of an independent chairman; two producers, one representing, the publicly-owned companies and one the independent producers; representatives of consumers and workers in the industry and not more than two additional members. I refer to the constitution because it would be drawn from types of persons similar to those who will compose the Corporation itself. The duties of the board under the suggested Amendment would be to consider any questions of prices of specified iron and steel products referred to them either by consumers interests or by the Minister himself and they might be required by the Minister to undertake a sectional or comprehensive price review and to extend to the privately-owned as well as the publicly-owned companies. It is laid down that the board may make representations to the Minister and in accordance with their recommendations he may make an order controlling the prices at which iron and steel products should be sold.

We object to the proposed Amendment on the ground that it is inconsistent with Clause 6 (4, a) which gives the Consumers' Council the right to consider prices. I know that the Consumers' Council is beginning to be looked upon as something which has nothing to do, but it is definitely laid down in that Clause that the Council shall have the right to consider prices and without doubt it gives the Consumers' Council the right if they think fit to set up a committee or committees to deal with that important aspect of their work. Under the proposed new Clause there would be a control over the price at which independent producers sell their products. I make this point, because as the House knows my right hon. Friend has this control at present under the Defence Regulations. We would not seek to suggest that this should become a permanent feature, but it is desirable that iron and steel products sold by independent producers should be subject to statutory control.

Mr. Lyttelton

I want a little elucidation. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Government are in favour of that part of the Lords Amendment which relates to the statutory control of prices charged by outsiders?

Mr. Jones

No, I am not saying that. What I was saying is the Minister has control under the Defence Regulations, but we do not seek to make that a permanent feature. It is desirable that iron and steel products which are sold by outsiders should be subject to statutory control. It is desirable that there should be control at the moment and possibly for some period of time to come.

Under the suggested Amendment the Minister would be given no independent power of initiative whatever, because any order which he would make under the Lords Amendment has to be made in accordance with the recommendation. In other words, the Minister would be compelled under the proposed Amendment to make an order in accordance with the recommendation as to particular prices. We cannot find from the proposed Amendment on what principle it rests. Is it to be in the public interests, or is it to be on the basis of a fair profit for the independent producers or the maintenance of a fair profit for the Corporation or what? Is the Corporation to be forced to keep up prices to enable the independent producers to live? These questions are not answered in the suggested Amendment.

No doubt the Opposition would claim that the Bill itself does not answer these questions. I suggest that the Opposition look at Clause 3, where it is laid down that it is the duty of the Corporation to make Second Schedule products available at such price as may seem best calculated to satisfy reasonable demands and further the public interest. We recognise the supreme importance of price. It is one of the great factors which today is receiving the attention of every section of the House. However, we suggest to the House and particularly to the Opposition that, having regard to what we have laid down in Clauses 3, 4 and 6, that point is fully covered. Clause 3 deals with the general duty of the Corporation, while Clause 4 lays down the general obligation to give the Minister accounts and other reports of the Corporation's activities. Clause 6 deals with the Consumers' Council. We believe that in those three Clauses there is sufficient safeguard on the question of prices.

There is plenty of evidence that what the Opposition are seeking to set up is a body similar to the recently disposed or resigned Iron and Steel Board.

7.15 a.m.

We recognise and appreciate that the Opposition are just as anxious as we are to maintain the control over price, which is in the interest of the consumer, the producer and the public. The Bill combines ownership with supervision, whereas before we had supervision without ownership. That puts a different complexion on what the new Corporation can do compared with what happened under the Steel Board. We feel that there is no room inside the Bill for an additional supervisory body such as this.

Another point is that the consumers will have a predominant voice on the consumers' council. They will have the right to make representations to the Corporation or representations direct to the Minister. The Minister himself has the right to make directions to the Corporation about price. The Minister cannot fail at any stage of the work of the Corporation to know if there is any tendency for excessive prices which will be reflected in excessive profits or in money being placed to reserve. Price is adequately dealt with in the Clauses to which I have referred. There is no need for, nor would there be room for, a new body as suggested in the Amendment.

Colonel Hutchison

In the Clause relating to consumers, can the hon. Gentleman point to a subsection giving a complainant the right to have his case on price considered? He can put in a complaint, but there is nothing which gives him an automatic right to have it considered.

Mr. Jones

Clause 6 (4, a) lays down: The Council shall be charged with the duties … of considering any matter affecting the interests of the consumers (including prices). It goes on: A matter to which consideration ought to be given apart from any such representation, and, where action appears to them to be requisite as to any such matter, of notifying their conclusions to the Corporation. I made it very clear that the Council would have the right to make their conclusions known to the Corporation. Subsection (5) says: The Council shall send to the Minister copies of any conclusion notified or report made to the Corporation, and shall send to the Corporation copies of any report or representation made to the Minister. By that method they will be able to make known to the Minister and to the Corporation their conclusions arising from discussions they have had to ascertain the opinions of consumers' interests.

Mr. Lyttelton

This is an important matter because, with all these nationalised corporations, we have not yet worked out, especially with regard to prices, a machinery which is satisfactory to anybody on either side of the House. On this occasion the Joint Parliamentary Secretary made the best possible case from the Government's point of view, although he does not always do so, but we do not agree with it, in the main for two reasons. We think it is necessary to curb the Minister's powers. As we discuss the Bill it becomes more and more obvious that the Minister's powers get wider and wider, and they will be extremely difficult to carry out, especially in matters of detail. This is not really a party point at all. It is an administrative point of some importance. We think that the Minister's powers are too wide and will involve him in too much administrative detail.

Secondly, we entirely deny the competence or suitability of the Consumers' Council to act in the particular matter of prices. I hope I can say without offence to the Parliamentary Secretary that when he was addressing himself to this point he greatly over-simplified the underlying problem. It is not a matter of dealing only, or primarily, with the consumers' complaints about the price, shape, or size of the steel. It is something much more than that. There may be no complaints at all, yet the margin of profit may be too low to permit the nationalised Corporation to put sufficient sums to reserve to keep plant in modern condition or to keep them from getting their fingers into the taxpayers' pockets direct. Nor in the export prices is it desirable to keep materials at a price below the competitive price. We want to keep them at a competitive price to enable us to take the business. Government policy may involve the export of structural steel to the Colonies or for some development scheme which the Government has at heart. Neither on the matter of export prices, nor on the matter of the differentiation between various prices of steel, is the Consumers' Council the appropriate body.

I take a very dim view of the Consumers' Council in any of these functions. I believe that it is quite certain that they are wholly incompetent to deal with the profit margins which enable the industry to maintain the differentiation between one type of steel and another, and with the general export policy. Whatever the merits of the Consumers' Council they are not competent to deal with those matters. As an instance of relative prices may I take a distant example. I have seen myself, under planned economy in the United States, the largest livestock population on the hoof, and no meat available in the consuming centres, because the selling price was such that it never reached the market. The same kind of thing could happen easily in the case of steel and steel alloy. I have seen the high price of copper drive the consumer into using aluminium as a substitute. These are matters affecting the efficient operation of the industry, and no one can regard them as the appropriate functions of the Consumers' Council.

Mr. J. Jones

The right hon. Gentleman is suggesting that I was making out a case for the Consumers' Council fixing prices. I was careful to give illustrations of the type of persons likely to go on the new board, and from where they might be drawn. I made the point that it was the Corporation which fixes the prices and the Consumers' Council which had the right to complain about the prices.

Mr. Lyttelton

I am quite seized of the point. The point I am trying to make is that the price list of the steel industry is a matter of hundreds of thousands of different prices, and some expert body is required, other than the Consumers' Council, to take the burden off the Minister, and secure that the general relationship between all these prices, and the policy with regard to export prices, and with regard to profit depreciation and so forth—that all these functions are taken from the Minister, at any rate in the first instance. We think that the present system—if it can be graced with the name of a system—this airy-fairy idea that it will work all right on the day—would have some substantial basis if there were an expert body of this kind set up.

Some hon. Members opposite in the Committee stage described this proposal as another piece of bureaucratic red tape, and the whole business as quite impracticable. Yet it is a reversion to a system which has worked so admirably, in one form or another, since the introduction of the Import Duties in 1932 or 1933. If the Minister tries to say that this is impracticable I will produce the most positive of all proofs—that it has worked well over the last few years. It will turn out to be necessary to have some body of expert men to insulate the Minister from these small administrative details.

Nor is the Corporation the right body, holding as it does such immense control over the raw materials of so many other industries, and at the same time being in competition with a large sector of the steel industry under private enterprise. It is not sufficiently impartial to be charged in the first instance with this function. Therefore the Amendment their Lordships have sent down, and which follows a suggestion we made in Committee, is that this body should be set up to continue the system which has successfully functioned over the last few years.

Mr. York (Ripon)

I think I might almost claim the indulgence of the House, as this is my maiden speech on this Bill, and if I become a little unmaidenly, put that down to the hour of the night. [HON. MEMBERS: "Morning".] Technically it is still night. I think that perhaps a fresh mind ought to be brought to bear on this subject, and that I can usefully offer some sound advice to the House because my mind is so fresh, unlike the somnolent and almost sonorous minds which face me.

There are one or two points which particularly appeal to me in dealing with this Amendment, because unlike some of the others it is not couched in completely unintelligible legal jargon but is a straightforward principle that anyone can understand, however sleepy. It is also one on which the weight of argument is on our side. I was not the least impressed by the Parliamentary Secretary's case, as I understood it. That may have been his fault or mine, but I should say in general it is the fault of the Minister when his case cannot be understood by the House. He chided their Lordships with producing no principles on which the new Clause might be run. To defeat that argument he produced Clauses 3 and 4, with certain other embroideries. Search as I may, I cannot find in them any of those principles. That is the type of defence which the Parliamentary Secretary put up.

7.30 a.m.

The real point in the argument is that we do not trust the Steel Corporation. I am convinced that it has no possibilities of protecting the taxpayers, the citizens and the consumers. It is set up by a political coterie for a political purpose and the coterie will act as a political coterie always acts—it will provide more jobs for the boys. That is the first and most important reason why I think this method of settling principles by an external and independent body is far preferable to a combination of politicians and late politicians. We have experience of these corporations already. We cannot say we think the Overseas Food Corporation is a good guardian of the people's interests. It is squandering money right and left by bad administration and by lack of planning. We believe the Steel Corporation will be open to exactly the same direction. In the same way the Airways Corporations are being unsuccessful in their administration of our air affairs. Is there any reason, therefore, why we should allow another Corporation to be set up which may be inefficient and probably will be if this Government has the chance to mess about with it. We believe that the Corporation in itself is no fit and proper person to have the power of controlling prices, as is supposed to happen under the Bill.

This Corporation is a monopoly, but it is worse than a monopoly—it is a political racket. When these political rackets are set up by a political party for a political purpose, obviously they are going to rig everything, including the prices which come within their purview. This is the inevitable consequence of Socialism. Whatever else goes wrong in the economy of the country, those industries which have already been nationalised are not going to suffer through any lack of high prices. It is high prices we on this side fear. It is obvious that the Corporation and the Minister are going to be boys together. They are joining together in unholy matrimony for purposes of acquiring power. I said unholy matrimony, because I would never consider the Socialist Party capable of holy matrimony. Unholy matrimony is the same thing as living in sin.

I now want to consider the protection which the consumer has, because that to me is very important. Under the Bill the Government offers us this Consumers' Council. That is a body of, I believe, 30 to 40 people whose antecedents I have already described as very dubious. Whether any of them will have any knowledge of the steel trade is, at the moment, arguable. Perhaps some of them will. But, at any rate, it is a very large body. It will, presumably, for that reason be unable to meet frequently. It certainly could not, in times of crisis or stress, be in continuous session, as might be necessary for price movements. In general terms, as the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) has said, it is totally incapable, because of its constitution, of dealing adequately with prices. Under the Clause proposed by their Lordships, certain strong and important safeguards exist.

Today, at any rate, so far as my experience goes, the prices of the sorts of steel which I use are tending to ease. That is a very important thing for me as a consumer, although I am a very small consumer, using perhaps 30 tons a year. It might be argued that, consequently, price changes are not so important to me as they would be to a big manufacturing firm. But they are important to me, and I will give one brief illustration of how that comes about.

I have spent a good deal of time, with a friend of mine, developing a process for the erection of buildings—in my case, farm buildings—which would save about 25 per cent. of steel without in any way reducing the strength of the buildings. Suppose the Corporation comes along and, for its own nefarious purposes, or, it may be, for some perfectly good purpose like the national interest—which of course means the opinion of the Minister in charge—raises prices against me. The effect of that rise in prices, which to me would appear, and probably would be, quite irresponsible, would be that my attempt to save money on capital construction would be entirely overthrown by this action on the part of the Board. All I could do would be to find out where this Consumers' Council last set up its camp, and then send my complaint forward to that vast bureaucracy which, I am sure, so large a council will need to look after, if not its administrative work, at any rate its social work.

The question of the Consumers' Council has also been brought home to us by the National Coal Board and the coal nationalisation measure. All that I, again as a consumer, have got from that Consumers' Council is a continually undefended flank upon which the Coal Board, or may be the political reputation of the Minister of Fuel and Power, is steadily building in order to increase my costs of production. I believe that when one comes to deal with a great subject like the price of steel, which with coal, probably leads to the most important price discussions which take place in this country, there is need for a small, compact body of men chosen not because of their political connection, but because of real administrative ability. A small body, yes, but also an independent body; an independent body outside the Steel Corporation, and outside the Minister's powers.

Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)

Who selects this body?

Mr. York

If the hon. Member will read the Amendment, he will see. I would read out the Clause but I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that you would approve of that. But in our contention, the Minister, by himself, is no protector of consumers' interests. His political reputation is at stake in any decision he takes, and that is another reason why we agree with another place. It is far more in the public interest that this independent body—the price board—should first make the recommendation and, agreeing to certain circumstances, such as the proportion of output, which is under the control of the Corporation, the Minister should take the recommendation of the Board and act on it. The Parliamentary Secretary I thought made the point that the board would produce a lot of "red tape."

Mr. J. Jones indicated dissent

Mr. York

I thought that was so, but if he did not, I apologise; but my point is that this small and very select body would require no large staff, and as it would be able to obtain information from the Corporation, it would really be able to work with the smallest office which this Socialist Government, at any rate, has ever seen. For these, and the other reasons developed by my hon. Friends, I support this Amendment, and I hope that the Government having heard the new views put forward by an hon. Member who does not pretend to be an expert on this Bill, and who has not so far made any speech on the Bill, will accept my advice.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

My hon. Friend who has just spoken was wrong in only one point in the course of his long and interesting speech. It was Lord Pakenham who described this Steel Prices Board as "a piece of red tape," but the description, coming from a member of the Government, was rather typical of the attitude on this matter. Machinery is designed to protect the consumer against this great State monopoly. When one establishes a large monopoly, one of the things that has to be done is the creation of some such prices board as that suggested in the Amendment. I am surprised that the Government should have contested that position.

7.45 a.m.

The only argument the Parliamentary Secretary advanced was that the Board, if the Amendment were accepted, would be drawn from the same type of people as the Corporation. That is not true, and if it were true, what of it? It would make not the slightest difference. The point is that the members of the Board would be independent of the Corporation. It is not true because the Board, as detailed in this Amendment, contains persons representing all the consumers' interests. Earlier in our discussions, it will be remembered that the Government deliberately turned down the suggestion that anyone with special knowledge of the industrial consumer interest should be on the Corporation. There is a clear distinction between the two. It may be that the Parliamentary Secretary has forgotten what was said earlier on. I think that that alone disposes of his point.

The really important thing is that the Board would be quite independent of the Corporation. He said, what has been repeated time after time during our discussions last night, that the Consumers' Council would do this, and he referred us to Clause 6 (4, a). There is nothing in that subsection which gives the Consumers' Council power to fix prices. What is the point of a suggestion of that kind? It is an entirely different matter. This Amendment would, in fact, give some teeth to the Consumers' Council, because instead of making airy recommendations as to what they think a price might be, they could pass their recommendation to a body which, through the proper machinery, could get a Ministerial order affecting the price.

The most extraordinary thing about the Government is that whenever an Amendment is put forward with some teeth in it they reject it right away. If it is suggested that the consumer should have the right to go to the courts they say it is a monstrous thing, and any proposal to fix prices is entirely out of their ken. I think the country views with considerable disquiet what may happen to steel prices if ever the industry were put under the Corporation. I do not think the country would tolerate such a position arising. I think that this Bill will be turned down and the people who introduced it turned out.

What other precedents have we got? It is true to say that in the case of every nationalised industry prices have gone up steadily. The most interesting thing is where a nationalised industry has no price control, such as road transport. I had a letter put in my hands from a road transport firm which shows how they were treated by a monopoly. Their prices of transport within five weeks of nationalisation went up from 65s. to 94s. a ton for transport between Glasgow and Leeds and Leeds and London. There was no question of any consultation with them or any party. The Bill just came in and put the prices up, increasing them virtually by 334 per cent. That is what would happen in this case, too. The letter reads: The British Transport Commission or their various organisations do not let us know the charges have been increased or give us any explanation for the increase. There is nothing to prevent the British Transport Commission or the British Railways from increasing their charges a further 40–50 per cent., as they know full well there is no other means of the goods being delivered. that is the key. Give these people the monopoly and they do not even bother to apologise for the increase.

Mr. Cecil Poole (Lichfield)

Is the hon. Gentleman seriously asking the House at this time of the morning to accept his statement that there is no power at all to prevent the railways increasing their charges to any figure they like? That is utterly ridiculous.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The hon. Member is not listening to my argument. I was talking about road haulage. I said quite specifically that if we want to get a clear case and example, we should take the case of a nationalised industry in which there is no form of price control. It is quite true that the railways come under the Railway Rates Tribunal and the rest, but in this case the road haulage organisation have had their fares increased by 33⅓ per cent.

Mr. Poole

Will the hon. Member read the extract from the letter on which he bases his case?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Again? With pleasure, if the hon. Member wishes me to do so. After all, we can sit next Monday and Tuesday if necessary. I do hope the Patronage Secretary will not use it as an excuse for moving the Closure. I think I will go on to the next part of the letter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] All right, I will read it again. I will read the whole letter. There are eight pages of it. The portion of the letter I read states: The British Transport Commission or their various organisations do not let us know the charges have been increased or give us any explanation for the increase. There is nothing to prevent the British Transport Commission or the British Railways from increasing their charges a further 40–50 per cent., as they know full well there is no other means of the goods being delivered.

Mr. Poole

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that statement?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Certainly, I accept it. If the hon. Member had followed what has been going on, he would realise that is perfectly true. There are hundreds of thousands of traders in this country at the mercy of this great monopoly. They formerly sent goods by road haulage cheaply and they have—

Mr. Speaker

I do not think we can have a Debate on road haulage, because it is not in this Bill.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I fully agree with that. Had it not been for the intervention, my reference, which I was using for the purpose of illustration, would have been much shorter. Perhaps I may draw the lessons from it. Precisely the same position will occur in this steel industry. These steel firms will be taken over and the monopoly will have within their powers exactly the same power these other monopolies have. We shall have the same thing as has happened in coal. Quite recently I was talking to a man who was earning £6 a week and he said, "The anthracite for the kitchen stove arrived this morning and it is another 10s. a cwt." It is happening not only in the big firms but in hundreds of homes. Housewives are being penalised and the Government have the effrontery to whine on the wireless about the increase of prices.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Robens)

Can the hon. Member tell the House how long anthracite has been 10s. a cwt.?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It was increased by 10s. a ton; I am much obliged. But the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power need not sit back so self-satisfied at the increase of 10s. a ton at this time. The Government have the effrontery to say they are trying to keep prices down. If they want to keep prices down the answer is to stop establishing these State monopolies and continuing on this path of folly, and have a sensible board which charges prices to suit the consumer.

Mr. Eccles

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply did say price was all important. The trouble with the modern monopolies is not so much that they do not make excessive profits as they put up the cost. The old sanction we used to have when there was competition was that the consumer could change his supplier. When the sanction existed both sides of industry concerned in the level of cost knew they could not go too far. If the men asked for too much in wages they knew the business would go bankrupt. If, on the other hand, they were going to be given too low wages labour could not be hired. If costs were raised too much out of line with the rest of industry that firm went bankrupt; even the whole of the industry might go bankrupt.

Our problem is that the sanction is removed where there is a State monopoly. The long suffering and patient taxpayer is underwriting the rise in cost. It is essential that when a monopoly is set up some substitute for the ordinary play of the market should be put into the Bill. Under the iron and steel arrangements before the war, when private industry was the owner, prices came to be fixed. It was seen already in the years before the war that some kind of independent price fixing was necessary. That is why we had the Import Duties Advisory Committee operating the general notion that the industry could not get a tariff unless it justified its cost structure and the prices it was asking.

When we come to the Bill we find no substitute for the Iron and Steel Federation, afterwards the Iron and Steel Board and the I.A.C., to give protection to the consumer against rises in costs. It is where the Minister needs help. What are we to do about it? The Bill is quite unsatisfactory and that is why this Clause has been brought forward in another place. The cost has to be gone into all the time. It could not be done by the Consumers' Council. In the public interest prices should never be too far wrong; they should be looked at in advance. The Consumers' Council does not bring in an efficient substitute for the old organisation we had before.

8.0 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary talked about the only danger being that prices were to be too high and that nobody wanted too high prices. What is the principle upon which the prices of a monopoly should be fixed? He spoke as though a conflict existed between two principles—one, the public interest and the other, fair profits. That is a very interesting doctrine that there is such a conflict, but he will find that that is not so. If prices are too high and excessive profit is made, that is bad—we all agree about that—but if they are too low, then of course the Corporation has to come to the taxpayer for more money and it is not supposed to do that. "Taking one year with another," it must cover its costs and that means finding working capital as well. I do not think there is any conflict between the public interest and a fair profit.

My hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) mentioned what has happened with regard to road transport, but it is not only in his part of the world that that has happened. It is certainly so in my part of the world, and the general reason given for raising the price of road transport in my part of the world is that we are going to see that the railways are given a rather better show. The prices have been raised in order that the road shall not take everything away from the rail.

That just shows how dangerous it is to have a monopoly which has certain sections of its price schedules outside control, and which it can do what it likes with, in order to bolster up some other part of the monopoly. It might charge too little. I think hon. Members opposite will recognise that even chain-store businesses do the same as the Co-operatives and undercut other traders in certain areas in order to establish themselves there without using their own shareholders' money. That is a gamble which is a business risk and we cannot quarrel with that if we believe in enterprise.

But if they are using taxpayers' money to go into new lines of business and then undercut the producer who is a taxpayer himself, that is not fair and it requires some kind of price-fixing machinery, independent of the Minister. I think that is a very strong point in the new Clause that the Parliamentary Secretary attacked, as that new Clause is designed to protect consumers. One of the obvious reasons for the new Clause is to protect independent producers from prices designed simply to undercut them out of business.

That is happening, I feel, with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Robens). Does he know that in certain parts of the Southern Electricity Area when a firm gets an order from a customer to instal some electrical machine it must go to the local office of the Board and there get a permit to connect the house and supply the current. The moment that man comes to the office, the Board's representatives run round to the customer, having discovered who he is, and they say, "We will instal the machine for you more cheaply if you will drop your private supplier."

Mr. Tolley (Kidderminster)

It is not forced upon the consumer.

Mr. Eccles

That is the kind of thing against which protection is needed. Does the hon. Member think it is fair to get that information and then go round the corner and cut the other people's throat? That is a very interesting admission.

What is to take the place of the old price fixing machinery? We must have something. I do not know whether this Clause would work perfectly, but it is better than anything in the Bill at the moment. It is not right that the monopoly power of fixing prices should rest with the Minister. How on earth can he do it? It is not a question of looking at one or two prices; there may be a thousand prices or more. It is quite impossible for the Minister to oversee all that. He will have to have some sort of set-up to examine them the whole time as we did under the old Iron and Steel Federation, the Iron and Steel Board and the Import Duties Advisory Committee. Otherwise we shall have one more case of prices rigged either by ignorance or through sheer partisan reasons.

Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)

No explanation has been forthcoming of what will happen with regard to foreign competition if this Clause is not accepted, and if prices are not fixed here, taking into consideration the type of steel which it is necessary to use in this country in connection with certain industries, and which is produced abroad. How will these prices be affected unless a Clause of this kind is accepted by the Government?

During the war it was quite obvious to a great many consumers of steel that the variation of price, compared with what the prices were abroad, was having a very difficult effect on all the contractors who were treating with the Government, especially with regard to the United States. In that country steel prices are automatically fixed on account of the free competition. I listened to the discussion and I cannot understand the Government's objection to this proposal. It seems as if it is all in their favour.

I think it is a fact that the rise in prices is making the whole policy of nationalisation extremely unpopular in the country, and I should have thought it was the desire of the Government this time, in dealing with the iron and steel industry, to see that that does not occur. If this Clause is turned down, I take it for purely political reasons, it will have a boomerang effect on the Government. The Parliamentary Secretary did not convince me by his argument that suggestions made in another place were not such as to improve the working of the Bill from this point of view.

Some of us are interested in steel as consumers. I am connected with two concerns which depend entirely, in regard to competition abroad, on the prices for which they can get their steel. The House ought to know that the experts on whom we rely are extremely apprehensive as to the future of the shipbuilding industry in this country if we cannot get plates at prices competitive with other countries. Shipowners will not continue placing orders until the prices come down. We are seriously concerned about the effect on the workers. We cannot go on building ships at a price which the shipowners will not pay, and ships are being built abroad at highly competitive prices. If we cannot look forward with certainty to the price at which steel plates can be bought, it is quite impossible to enter into contracts with foreign shipowners. That matter will be protected to a great extent if this proposal is accepted.

Mr. Scollan

As to shipbuilders not being able to take on further orders, is the hon. Gentleman aware that John Brown and Company, of Clydebank, a week or two ago declared over £2 million profit this year?

Sir R. Glyn

I only hope John Brown and Company will have £2 million of profit to declare after this Bill becomes an Act. It is utterly impossible. If they have made a profit—I do not doubt the hon. Gentleman—it is because of the present system.

Mr. Scollan


Sir R. Glyn

What will be the effect on the workers of Clydebank? They cannot be employed if forward contracts cannot be made. The hon. Member must be as interested as I am in seeing that British shipyards do not enter into a slump, and surely he cannot deny that the most important factor in quoting forward for a vessel is the price at which one will obtain the plates. As long as that is in doubt, one cannot enter into the contracts with the same assurance as foreign shipbuilders.

There is another matter in connection with certain types of machinery. At present the propulsion machinery of many ships is undergoing considerable changes. Certain inventions are coming forward which will, I believe, considerably modify the existing type of turbine. That is entirely dependent upon our getting the very highest quality steel which can be produced. The United States are producing that steel; we are not producing it with the same success as the United States. That is because scientific development in this connection has cost British industry very large sums. In order to carry through those schemes, the development has to be tried out in the United States. That is a very unfortunate situation.

The Minister, whose acquaintance with these matters is intimate, cannot deny that if we are to succeed in retaining a lot of men in employment in certain types of industry which consume steel, the most important factor is to know with some assurance the price one will have to pay for the plates. Because there has been no satisfactory explanation by the Government, I very much regret that the Government have not seen their way to accept this proposal.

Mr. Attewell

I do not think I ought to apologise for taking the time of the House for what I have to say. The greater part of the discussion seems to have been a reiteration of what was said in Committee. I intervene because I was somewhat intrigued by the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York), who likened himself to a blushing maiden. I should have thought that the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) "a brazen hussey" or "a painted harlot" would have been a better description. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I did not mean the hon. Member. I am referring to his description. He came in from a sleep, and then departed to take the night cream from his face. He then gave us the benefit of his non-knowledge of the steel industry. When we read his speech in HANSARD, we shall find that not many speeches have got nearer to the knuckle in rather low criticism of another party.

8.15 a.m.

I want to turn the words "the socialism of the Socialist Government" into the actual fact, "the capitalist ownership of the steel industry." All the things the hon. Member said about the Socialist Government were done under private ownership of steel in the past. Who were the boys who had the jobs in the steel industry in the past? When there is talk of the racket which is likely to take place, what was the racket which took place in the steel industry which led to the setting up of the May Committee, which gave judgment concerning prices in those days. The weekly paper which deals with economics said that it was very difficult to find out just how the prices of steel had been fixed.

Everyone knows that charges about what the Socialist Government may do to the industry can be paralleled by what took place in the past. We could never ruin the industry more than the owners ruined it between the wars, when even the banks, with many of the companies on the verge of bankruptcy, had places in the offices of those companies for their own nominees. They were pawns in the hands of the banks. We shall never get as low as the steel firms when their shares were reduced to 2s. each.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Did the hon. Gentleman support a tariff on cheap imported steel in 1931?

Mr. Attewell

We can deal with that another time. I am doing my best to destroy the case of the hon. Member for Ripon. We have heard the arguments before. Every industry is brought in. The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) referred to electricity. Does he really want us to understand that when someone goes to the Electricity Board for permission to instal wiring he has to state the contract price?

Mr. Eccles

I never said that. I said that when they go for the permission, they have to go by Statute. That is the rule of the game. That means that the boards get information as to who wants a new immersion heater or a refrigerator, and they use that immediately to go to the person and try to get the business. Does the hon. Member think that fair?

Mr. Attewell

I do not think it is fair, and I do not think it is done. The point is that a report has to be made in the interests of safety. In the old days anyone with a knowledge of fixing wiring could go in and do it, and we can see the results of that wiring in some homes now. I do not think that the impression given by the hon. Member for Chippenham is correct, that when people seek permission from the boards, the boards send round touts to get the contract from them. The Opposition's proposal for a price committee is designed to safeguard and protect private interests, and to safeguard the firms which are outside the steel control. The Opposition have proved themselves to be supporters of one section of the community—the private section—against the interests of the mass of the people, to whom the Steel Board will be their salvation.

Mr. Frederic Harris

The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Attewell) has referred to my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. York). I must admit that he came into the House appearing very fresh—he must have had some sleep—and gave us the benefit of a very good speech. I must also admit that he went out of the House quickly again. But that is just one of those things. Most of us are a little sleepy and tired after what we have gone through.

This is an important issue, however we look at the Bill. Whatever the Government succeed in doing, if they should get the power, one must fully understand that they are changing one ownership for another. They have admitted that they have no plan for what they are going to do, and the effect will be, in the end, a question of price. Events have proved that once we start on nationalisation, administration becomes heavy and that prices tend to rise. When we tamper with things like transport, coal, and iron and steel, we tamper with things that affect nearly every manufacturing concern, and this affects prices which, in turn, have long-range results on our export trade and on the goods we can sell at home. On this issue price is the keynote of the whole matter.

I cannot see why the Government should not support any sensible suggestion—I think one can leave party aside, because the question of price is an internal issue—and why they will not accept the sound and commonsense recommendation one would wish to put into effect in any large-scale business. If this goes forward on the basis of the Government's present suggestions, we are going to have the Minister responsible in the end, and deciding the question of prices. That is an entirely improper responsibility for a Minister who, at the same time, has complete responsibility for the financial success of the iron and steel industry when the Government take it over. I do not see how it can be said to a Minister, "It is your responsibility to make a financial success of this, and not to come to the House and say that here is something else which under nationalisation has lost money," and at the same time give him complete power to decide prices. The obvious results would follow, and very serious results indeed.

The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles), and others, have made it clear how, in the case of coal, the price has gone up and the effect of that has been reflected in all our manufacturing costs Here, again, it would follow that after nationalisation we might well get administrative costs mounting, and immediately we should see the effect on iron and steel prices, just as we have seen it happen in the case of transport and coal. The results of that would be disastrous on our export trade, and would be very serious on the job we are trying to do internally. The result may easily be that in a few years we may have a surplus of iron and steel; it is a feasible proposition.

That brings in a very serious problem in regard to price. The Minister, in his desire to see the industry come out on the right side, would automatically chase after his prices, and the price of steel would go up. Where a Ministry comes into operation on a scale such as this a State monopoly cannot govern things. Look at the Post Office: prices have gone up, and people have to pay more. We cannot keep on supporting these burdens, and very shortly we shall have a day of reckoning—if it is not already here.

Surely the Minister should see the sense of this argument of having a small body of capable men to advise and guide him. All he has so far is the Consumers' Council. I think he has agreed—at any rate, the Parliamentary Secretary has—that they would not wish to refer to the Consumers' Council in regard to prices. Therefore, it falls back to the Minister. It is suggested that he should have a body of capable men, men of experience, who would guide him and be a safeguard to him in this whole question of watching prices. They would be sitting constantly, and on such an important issue that is vital today.

Manufacturers are having to keep an almost constant watch on prices. They are so peculiar, tumbling all over the place, first one rising and then another, that unless you do watch them closely you can easily come out thousands of pounds on the wrong side. This cannot be a more serious issue than it is at present. I say to the Minister, "Why will you not accept this sensible suggestion?" It is perhaps the most serious point of all if we are going forward with this Bill at all.

I have tried to put the case as I see it, not from a party point of view at all, but from a sincere, practical, commonsense point of view. Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that, even if he is much more capable than others may possibly think him, he will be able to guide iron and steel prices, with all their ramifications, through the years ahead? Does he believe any Minister could do it? Why is he denying himself the opportunity given him by this proposal? I sincerely hope the Government will think again, seriously, on such a sound suggestion.

8.30 a.m.

Colonel Haughton (Antrim)

The Lord President has said, more than once, that nationalised industries must justify themselves by performance. I think he would agree that at least three principal factors in success would be maintenance of quality, maintenance of price and maintenance of output, which should be in ever-increasing quantity at a time when we want more exports. I wonder how the great shipyards will stand under this Bill. Have the thousands of workers in the shipyards any right to imagine that the passing of this Bill and the creation of a monopoly will enable them, in Belfast and elsewhere, to obtain the quantities of steel they require at a price to meet international competition, and of a quality which will maintain British standards?

I thought the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) was unfair in what he said, although I do not think he wants to be unfair, by putting the gross profits of John Brown at over £2,000,000. I think it would have been fairer if he had gone on to analyse the main features of that balance sheet. He might have quoted that 52 per cent. went to taxation, the amount of money which went for maintenance, upkeep and repair, and the dividends which were kept at a fixed standard. I do not want to stray outside the Debate, but I think that the hon. Member will find one of the finest patterns of division of gross profits if he turns to last Tuesday's "Financial Times" and looks at the report of Cadbury's, which for four generations have ploughed profits back into their business.

Mr. Scollan

I read both with great care and interest. The difference between them is this: I have no criticism to make of Cadbury's because they have never been known to treat an employee shabbily. But I know a man who was for 50 years employed in John Brown's and the day he retired not even the manager came to say, "Thank you." He retired without a pension or a single penny. [An HON. MEMBER: "So did Lord Ammon."] He got the sack in 50 minutes.

Colonel Haughton

I accept the facts given by the hon. Gentleman. But I was dealing with the division of gross profits and I think the hon. Gentleman would have been fairer if, instead of dealing with the gross profits, he had dealt with the net profits. As I say, the Lord President said that nationalised industries must depend upon their own performance. If the Minister in charge of this Bill is going to reject this sensible Clause, would he give this House the same guarantee that this iron and steel monopoly will also be judged by its performance as regards quality, international competitive price and output.

Sir W. Darling

This Clause offers the Minister an escape from the very real dilemma with which I think he is faced. Under private enterprise the check of price is the competitive system and that, roughly, is good enough. But under a State monopoly what are the checks which society must have against the inevitable extortions and misuse of power by a monopoly? The Lords Amendment suggests that they have a care for the common weal which the Minister, up to now, has failed to show. How will the Minister arrange for the control of prices? He is throwing on one side the former price-fixing system which has been in use for something like 20 years, and has been a fairly satisfactory method of fixing prices for iron and steel, and intends to rely upon a management group to deal with this problem. This matter of prices is a separate and distinct factor. It is a consumers' factor, and the Minister must give consideration to what method, if any, he is going to use to fix prices.

As the Minister is aware, of the iron castings business, something like 80 per cent. is free of the management of the Corporation. Are the products of the important field of cast iron to go uncontrolled, so far as prices are concerned, except by the central management body? If that is so, it will be a serious matter for the building trades, who use a considerable amount of iron castings, and for the domestic users of these commodities. The prices of these commodities have been subject, generally, to great fluctuation over the last 20 years. There has been a price-fixing system to adjust that. But now there will be no price-fixing system.

The Minister is in a dilemma, which he must face. I doubt if anything would be as satisfactory, and would give as much public confidence, as setting up a separate committee as envisaged by the Lords Amendment. I feel that the whole trend of this Debate has shown a lack of plan, and a passion for the unity and streamlined planning which a central monopoly undoubtedly will give. But there has been evidence in speeches which I have heard from the other side of the House, as well as from this side, that there is some feeling that the consumers' interest is not being fully consulted. The Consumers' Council does not seem to satisfy public opinion.

I speak as one connected with the engineering trade. We buy thousands of tons of steel in the year. We look with apprehension at the proposed change in the method by which we have been able, hitherto, to get, by and large, the commodities we wanted. I very much agreed with the hon. Member who spoke for the shipbuilding industry, that there is anxiety and unsettlement, and the suggestion made in this Amendment would, I believe, establish confidence. If it were eventually found that the price-fixing machinery was not necessary, or was superfluous, it could be merged with the central management body. At the moment there is a public demand for some price-fixing machinery such as has been in existence, because it is felt that it is likely to be as necessary in the future as it was in the past.

This is an important matter, and this Amendment comes to us from another place where it was sponsored by men with quite as much experience in, and responsibility for, industry as have some hon. Members of this House. I think there is need for this, and until the Minister can put forward his proposals, I should be inclined to support the Amendment.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

As a comparative newcomer to this discussion I have been hoping to hear from the Government side of the House a sound, compelling reason why they do not want to accept this Amendment; hitherto, that has been lacking. What is the actual position? Up to now, for many years, the prices of steel products have been fixed by the Minister of the day on the advice of an independent expert body, and as far as I know, the recommendations of that body have been accepted by the Minister who has not, in fact, exercised his power to alter them. I think that has, breadly speaking, been the case. It is very difficult to understand why a comparatively tidy scheme like that which, after all, has worked successfully for many years, and which has resulted in the price of steel products comparing not unfavourably with those in other cheap steel producing countries of the world should not be continued. Why have the Government a sudden passion for changing this system, substituting the system set forth in the Bill? What is the effect of the system in the Bill? Up to now there has been one expert price-fixing body daily going into the costings of the various firms. Under the Bill there will be a comparatively chaotic state of affairs. The new Corporation will fix its own prices for two separate classes of products; under Clause 3, as drafted, the Corporation is instructed to have regard to the public interest—the phrase is always cropping up—in fixing the prices which it charges for Second Schedule steel products.

So far as any ancillary products are concerned, it is free to charge what it likes, subject only to a complaint by the Consumers' Council. But these two categories do not by any means cover the whole of the steel products from this country. There is a large range to be manufactured by the independent concerns, and so far as they are concerned the Parliamentary Secretary says the Government will set up another body within the Ministry to control these prices for the immediate future, if not for a longer period. So, instead of a single body dealing with all this, there is the Corporation fixing its own price, and some new, indeterminate body inside the Ministry fixing the price for the private individual.

Why set up these three different sets of prices instead of one? There can, in my view, be only one reason, and it is this. The Minister realises that in this case, as in other nationalised industries, the result of nationalisation is bound to

be increased costs. We saw it on the coal and electricity nationalisation Bills, when the Government refused Amendments to say that the object of the new Electricity Authority was to cheapen electricity. As we now know, immediately after nationalisation, prices went up. Now they desire to get rid of this independent expert body, which was able to decide a fair and reasonable price for the whole range of steel products. They realise that the Corporation will not be able to produce steel as cheaply after nationalisation as before because, otherwise, surely, they would have no objection to continuing this expert body, which has worked so well for many years.

8.45 a.m.

Finally, they suggest that it will be an adequate safeguard for the consumer to be able to appeal to the Consumers' Council. They do not say how the Consumers' Council will work, and judging from our experience with coal it is hardly worth setting up. We all know that the Coal Board has disregarded any views of the Consumers' Council, and has raised the prices not only to external consumers but also to our unfortunate clients overseas. It is perfectly clear that the only logical reason why the Government refuse to accept this Amendment is that they are afraid, with good reason, that one of the immediate results of nationalisation will be an increase in prices.

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, 242; Noes, 102.

Division No. 236.] AYES [8.50 a.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Binns, J. Chetwynd, G. R.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Blenkinsop, A. Cocks, F. S.
Albu, A. H. Bottomley, A. G. Collindridge, F.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Collins, V. J.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Cook, T. F.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Bramall, E. A. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)
Attewell, H. C. Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Cove, W. G.
Awbery, S. S. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Cullen, Mrs.
Ayles, W. H. Brown, George (Belper) Daines, P.
Bacon, Miss A. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
Baird, J. Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Davies, Edward (Burslem)
Balfour, A. Burden, T. W. Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Barstow, P. G. Burke, W. A. Davies, Harold (Leek)
Barton, C. Callaghan, James Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)
Bechervaise, A. E. Carmichael, James Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)
Berry, H. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Deer, G.
Bing, G. H. C. Champion, A. J. de Freitas, Geoffrey
Delargy, H. J. Levy, B. W. Sargood, R.
Diamond, J. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Scollan, T.
Dobbie, W. Lewis, J. (Bolton) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Dodds, N. N. Lindgren, G. S. Sharp, Granville
Driberg, T. E. N. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Shurmer, P.
Dumpleton, C. W. Logan, D. G. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Dye, S. Longden, F. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lyne, A. W. Simmons, C. J.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) McAdam, W. Skeffington, A. M.
Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) McEntee, V. La. T. Skinnard, F. W.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Mack, J. D. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Ewart, R. McKinlay, A. S. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
Farthing, W. J. Maclean, N. (Govan) Sorensen, R. W.
Fernyhough, E. McLeavy, F. Sparks, J. A.
Field, Capt. W. J. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Steele, T.
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Stokes, R. R.
Foot, M. M. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield) Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Mann, Mrs. J. Stross, Dr. B.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Stubbs, A. E.
Gibbins, J. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Swingler, S.
Gibson, C. W. Mathers, Rt. Hon. George Sylvester, G. O.
Gilzean, A. Mellish, R. J. Symonds, A. L.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Middleton, Mrs. L. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Mikardo, Ian. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Grey, C. F. Mitchison, G. R. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Grierson, E. Monslow, W. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mort, D. L. Timmons, J.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Moyle, A. Tolley, L.
Guy, W. H. Nally, W. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Neal, H. (Claycross) Usborne, Henry
Hale, Leslie Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Walker, G. H.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) O'Brien, T. Warbey, W. N.
Hardman, D. R. Oliver, G. H. Watkins, T. E.
Harrison, J. Orbach, M. Watson, W. M.
Haworth, J. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Palmer, A. M. F. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A. West, D. G.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Parkin, B. T. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Holman, P. Pearson, A. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Perrins, W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Horabin, T. L. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Wigg, George
Hoy, J. Popplewell, E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Hubbard, T. Porter, E. (Warrington) Wilkins, W. A.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Price, M. Philips Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.) Proctor, W. T. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Pryde, D. J. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pursey, Comdr. H. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.) Ranger, J. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Rankin, J. Willis, E.
Johnston, Douglas Rees-Williams, D. R. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Reeves, J. Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Rhodes, H. Wise, Major F. J.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Keenan, W. Roberts, A. Woods, G. S.
Kenyon, C. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wyatt, W.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Yates, V. F.
Kinley, J. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Rogers, G. H. R.
Lang, G. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lavers, S. Royle, C. Mr. Snow and
Mr. George Wallace.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Gates, Maj. E. E.
Astor, Hon. M. Cuthbert, W. N. Glyn, Sir R.
Baldwin, A. E. Darling, Sir W. Y. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Barlow, Sir J. Davidson, Viscountess Grimston, R. V.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Digby, Simon Wingfield Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)
Bennett, Sir P. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.
Bower, N. Donner, P. W. Haughton, S. G.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Drayson, G. B. Head, Brig. A. H.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Eccles, D. M. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.
Bullock, Capt. M. Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter Hope, Lord J.
Carson, E. Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)
Challen, C. Fox, Sir G. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Channon, H. Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Langford-Holt, J.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Gammans, L. D. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Spence, H. R.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Nicholson, G. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Linstead, H. N. Nield, B. (Chester) Sutcliffe, H.
Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Nutting, Anthony Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Lucas, Major Sir J. Odey, G. W. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Pickthorn, K. Touche, G. C.
MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Pitman, I. J. Turton, R. H.
McFarlane, C. S. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Prescott, Stanley Ward, Hon. G. R.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Ramsay, Maj. S. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Rayner, Brig. R. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Marlowe, A. A. H. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Marples, A. E. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) York, C.
Mellor, Sir J. Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Molson, A. H. E. Smithers, Sir W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Spearman, A. C. M. Mr. Drewe and Major Conant.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 247; Noes, 104.

Division No. 237.] AYES [8.57 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Diamond, J. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)
Adams, Richard (Balham) Dobbie, W. Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Albu, A. H. Dodds, N. N. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Driberg, T. E. N. Keenan, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Dumpleton, C. W. Kenyon, C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Dye, S. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Attewell, H. C. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Lang, G.
Ayles, W. H. Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Lavers, S.
Bacon, Miss A. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Lee, F. (Hulme)
Baird, J. Ewart, R. Levy, B. W.
Balfour, A. Farthing, W. J. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Barstow, P. G. Fernyhough, E. Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Barton, C. Field, Capt. W. J. Lindgren, G. S.
Bechervaise, A. E. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Berry, H. Foot, M. M. Logan, D. G.
Bing, G. H. C. Forman, J. C. Longden, F.
Binns, J. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Lyne, A. W.
Blenkinsop, A. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. McAdam, W.
Blyton, W. R. Gibbins, J. McEntee, V. La. T.
Bottomley, A. G. Gibson, C. W. Mack, J. D.
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Gilzean, A. McKinlay, A. S.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Maclean, N. (Govan)
Bramall, E. A. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) McLeavy, F.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Grey, C. F. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Grierson, E. Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Brown, George (Belper) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Mann, Mrs. J.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Burden, T. W. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Burke, W. A. Guy, W. H. Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Callaghan, James Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Mellish, R. J.
Carmichael, James Hale, Leslie Middleton, Mrs. L.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Mikardo, Ian.
Champion, A. J. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mitchison, G. R.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Monslow, W.
Cocks, F. S. Hardman, D. R. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Collindridge, F. Harrison, J. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Collins, V. J. Haworth, J. Mort, D. L.
Cook, T. F. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Moyle, A.
Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Herbison, Miss M. Nally, W.
Corlett, Dr. J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Cove, W. G. Hobson, C. R. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Crawley, A. Holman, P. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Cullen, Mrs. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Daines, P. Horabin, T. L. O'Brien, T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hoy, J. Oliver, G. H.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hubbard, T. Orbach, M.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Pargiter, G. A.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Parkin, B. T.
Deer, G. Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.) Pearson, A.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jeger, G. (Winchester) Perrins, W.
Delargy, H. J. Johnston, Douglas Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
Popplewell, E. Skeffington, A. M. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Porter, E. (Warrington) Skinnard, F. W. Warbey, W. N.
Price, M. Philips Smith, C. (Colchester) Watkins, T. E.
Proctor, W. T. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S) Watson, W. M.
Pryde, D. J. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Pursey, Comdr. H. Sorensen, R. W. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Randall, H. E. Sparks, J. A. West, D. G.
Ranger, J. Steele, T. Wheatley; Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Rankin, J. Stokes, R. R. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Rees-Williams, D. R. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wigg, George
Reeves, J. Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth) Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Rhodes, H. Stross, Dr. B. Wilkins, W. A.
Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Stubbs, A. E. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Robens, A. Swingler, S. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Sylvester, G. O. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Symonds, A. L. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Rogers, G. H. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morperh) Willis, E.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Royle, C. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Sargood, R. Thomas, George (Cardiff) Wise, Major F. J.
Scollan, T. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Shackleton, E. A. A. Timmons, J. Woods, G. S.
Sharp, Granville Tolley, L. Wyatt, W.
Shurmer, P. Ungoed-Thomas, L. Yates, V. F.
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Usborne, Henry Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Simmons, C. J. Walker, G. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Odey, G. W.
Astor, Hon. M. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Baldwin, A. E. Haughton, S. G. Pickthorn, K.
Barlow, Sir J. Head, Brig. A. H. Pitman, I. J.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Bennett, Sir P. Hope, Lord J. Prescott, Stanley
Bower, N. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Rayner, Brig. R.
Bullock, Capt. M. Langford-Holt, J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Carson, E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Challen, C. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Channon, H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Smithers, Sir W.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Spearman, A. C. M.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Linstead, H. N. Spence, H. R.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Cuthbert, W. N. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Darling, Sir W. Y. Lucas, Major Sir J. Sutcliffe, H.
Davidson, Viscountess Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Donner, P. W. McFarlane, C. S. Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.
Drayson, G. B. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Touche, G. C.
Drewe, C. Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Turton, R. H.
Eccles, D. M. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter Marlowe, A. A. H. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Marples, A. E. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Fox, Sir G. Mellor, Sir J. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) Molson, A. H. E. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Gammans, L. D. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) York, C.
Gates, Maj. E. E. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Glyn, Sir R. Nicholson, G.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Nield, B. (Chester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gridley, Sir A. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Major Conant and
Grimston, R. V. Nutting, Anthony Brigadier Mackeson.