Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Draft Clothing Industry Development Council Order, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th September, be approved."—[Mr. Popplewell.]
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Bennett (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
I had expected that we should 294 hear something from the President of the Board of Trade to justify this order being put before the House. Perhaps if I talk long enough, the right hon. Gentleman will come in. I should like to give him that opportunity, because this is an order on which some of us feel quite strongly. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman has now arrived, and I should like him to know that I have done him a good turn by keeping the Debate going.
When the Minister introduced the order for the jewellery trade, I supported him because, as I explained at the time, he had obtained the voluntary co-operation of a large majority of the employers in that industry, an industry with which the city in which I live is intimately acquainted. I told the right hon. Gentleman at that time that occasions might arise when I should not be in the happy position of supporting him, and this is one of them. On this occasion, the Minister has not got the co-operation of the industry concerned. When the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947, came into being, making these orders possible, the Minister at that time, who is now the Paymaster-General, made it perfectly clear that the Government had every intention of proceeding by agreement rather than by compulsion. That was on 3rd June, and it was repeated by the Government spokesmen in another place. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also said that the council would depend for the success of its efforts on the willing co-operation and support of all persons or bodies associated with the industry. I supported the Minister on that occasion because he had obtained this co-operation.
In the present instance he has not done so. So far as I can gather, the whole or the large majority of the interests connected with the manufacturing side are opposed to this Order. They say that this is not the class of industry to which it can usefully be applied. In fact, it is not an industry. It is a group of industries. I do not know how many sections there are. There are about 201 associations connected with this industry, and they claim that they get together and co-operate as and when it is necessary.
They say that to have one council and one organisation to handle everything from ladies' corsets to waterproofed overcoats, from machine-made clothing to bespoke tailoring, from all the small 295 pretty-pretties which ladies use, to the big heavy overcoats which men wear is an absurdity. There is no industry; it is a group of industries. Yet the Minister is taking advantage of the powers under this Act to force a development council upon a great many unwilling manufacturers after assurances were given that unwilling industries would not be compelled and that the Government believe in co-operation. They will not get co-operation. It is not possible to get willing co-operation by forcing on to a series of industries something which they do not want.
It is unfortunate that I had to start my speech before the Minister came into the Chamber. I would much sooner have heard his reasons. However, I am giving my reasons in advance, and no doubt he will give some sort of answer. Whether it will satisfy us, I do not know. He has not been able to satisfy the various associations in the clothing industry. Many of us have always urged that industries should put forward a voluntary scheme. On this occasion the Ministry say that it is impossible. I understand—I was not present, and I can only say what I have heard—that it was intimated by the Minister or his associates that it was no good the industry working out a voluntary scheme because the Ministry were not prepared to accept it. Why the Government are forcing this Order on an industry which does not want it, I do not know. No doubt, we shall hear. I can only believe that it is because there is pressure from the trade union side.
Here is an industry which is not organised in the normal way. There are many unions and groups, and my information is that only a minority of the workers in it are in any union at all. The large majority are outside. If, therefore, the minority of those employed in the industry are asking for something for which the majority have not asked, and the whole of the organisations representing the employers are opposed to it, I say that the Government are not carrying out their undertaking that they would not force this order on unwilling people and that they would look for co-operation. I shall be prepared to vote against this order when the time comes.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I do not propose at the moment to follow the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett), who nobly stepped into the breach, in his arguments about the extent to which this order is being forced on an unwilling industry, but before I conclude I hope to deal with that point at some length.
The Development Council Order, which is now presented to this House for approval in accordance with the requirements of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947, is the fifth order to be made under that Act, and it is the fourth order setting up a development council under that Act. It follows fairly closely in form the precedents set by the orders approved by Parliament last year under which development councils were set up for the cotton industry, the furniture industry and the jewellery and silverware industry.
Before I give the House an account of what the order provides for and, in accordance with our usual procedure in these Debates, a summary of the consultations that have taken place with the industry, I should like to remind the House of one or two facts about the industry. Obviously every member of the population is interested as a consumer in the products of the industry, the efficiency of the industry, the quality and price of the goods that it makes, as well as the contribution it makes to our export trade, and the demands it makes on our resources of manpower.
All these things are matters of national concern. I have no doubt the House is well aware of its importance in terms of production and employment. With a total production estimated at £300 million a year and a total manpower of between 400,000 and half a million employed on productive processes, it is one of our largest industries. Although its exports are still only a small proportion of the industry's output, they have grown in recent years, and in 1948 reached a little over £13 million of which nearly £4 million went to hard currency markets.
What is of great importance to this House in considering the proposal for a development council for the industry is the structure of the industry. There are in the industry 5,000 firms employing 297 more than 10 workers, and in the great majority of these the staff employed numbers fewer than 100. In addition, there are a large number of small firms employing 10 persons or less. How many of these smaller firms there are it is not even possible to say. In 1935 they were estimated at 20,000. Probably the number is somewhat smaller at the present time.
As the hon. Member for Edgbaston has said, it is an industry divided into a very wide number of sections and types of product and, of course, the loosely knit structure of the clothing industry is a natural consequence of its size and its rapid growth during the last century, and more particularly of the ease with which new firms can come into the industry. It is an extremely difficult one to bring together, and it is not surprising that there has been a tendency in the industry to set up separate trade organisations for each section, and for sub-divisions of these sections, sometimes without any machinery for joint consultation or common action.
As a result, it has been necessary in the course of negotiations about this proposed development council to consult altogether some 25 separate bodies, each of them claiming to represent substantial numbers of employers in the industry. Besides these 25 bodies there are a number of local organisations, some of which, but not all of which, are branches of the central organisations or are affiliated or federated with one or another of them. I do not think it can be claimed that the trade organisations which do exist are fully representative of the industry. According to information supplied by the Heavy Clothing Working Party, the total membership of all the central organisations does not appear to exceed about 6,000, which means that three-quarters of the firms operating in the industry are not directly represented by these organisations.
§ Mr. Wilson
I was going on to say that these 6,000 firms do, for the most part, include most of the larger firms in the industry, and therefore cover a larger proportion of the total production. I do 298 not think anyone knows what is the proportion. A certain proportion is claimed, but I do not think anyone has the accurate figure. The absence of figures in the industry is one of the remarkable things about it.
Despite the multiplication of these trade associations on the employers' side, the industry cannot be said to be fully and satisfactorily organised, and this is a fact which has made consultation and negotiation difficult in the past in connection with many other matters besides that of the establishment of a development council. Moreover, the absence of any single organisation covering the major proportion of all the various sections of the industry has prevented the industry from working out and pursuing a common policy and has been one of the main reasons why the evils from which the industry has suffered severely in the past—for instance, shoddy production and seasonal unemployment—have not been overcome and are likely to return when and if supply again exceeds demand.
I come to the proposals for a development council. First, may I remind the House that some kind of central body was recommended by all the three working parties which reported on the three main sections of the industry, two of them actually recommending a development council. The Heavy Clothing Working Party Report, which was submitted before the passing of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, proposed the establishment of a Council of the Heavy Clothing Industry under an independent chairman and including independent members and representatives of employers and workers in the industry. The report said this:We consider not only that the need for a central organisation is evident, but that the establishment of such a body to perform those functions which are not covered by the existing organisations, and which cannot, or should not, be undertaken by the Government is essential to the well-being and efficiency of the industry.It was recommended that a levy should be raised from the industry to finance the council in the carrying out of its functions and that a register should be compiled of all firms in the industry.
The reports for the other two sections of the industry were made when the development council pattern provided for in the Industrial Organisation and 299 Development Act was known to the members of the working party and each of the two working parties recommended a development council as the appropriate form for the central organisation to take. The Light Clothing Working Party Report said:We have come unanimously to the conclusion that the best solution lies in the establishment of a single Development Council, but on a federal basis, providing the maximum degree of autonomy for the Light Clothing and Heavy Clothing sections of the industry.The Rubber-proofed Clothing Working Party Report said:We think that the rubber-proofed clothing industry would have everything to gain from the setting up of a Development Council for the Clothing Industry, sharing in the benefits of any general work sponsored by it, and able to bring to its attention the special problems of the rubber-proofed clothing trade.… We recommend that, in any Order setting up a Development Council for the Clothing Industry, provision should be made for direct representation on the Council of the rubber-proofed clothing industry.The provisions of the draft Order, which require the Council to set up separate committees for the heavy, light and proofed sections of the industry, represent an attempt on our part to implement all those recommendations within the framework of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act. Since this will undoubtedly be the main point we shall be discussing tonight, I should like to give the House an account of the consultations which the Government have had with the industry in accordance with subsection (3) of Section 1 of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act. Discussions with trade associations in all sections of the industry on the subject of a development council began in November, 1947, and continued during December of that year—two years ago. On 13th January, 1948, I met representatives of all sections of the industry and proposed that a development council should be established for the industry to deal with the problems discussed in the working party reports.
I promised to circulate a memorandum setting out a draft scheme in some detail, though naturally in a tentative form, for comment by the industry, and this memorandum was circulated to the industry on 2nd March, 1948. In reply to this, the majority of the employers' 300 organisations—but not all of them—said that they were opposed to the establishment of a development council. Three substantial employers' organisations, however, and the two unions representing all the organised labour in the industry, declared themselves in favour of a development council.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
Would the right hon. Gentleman say which organisations were in favour of the development council?
§ Mr. Wilson
I will give the House that information before the Debate concludes. I have it here, although I cannot recall at the moment which they are. I can remember only one name. A number of leading manufacturers who are members of the opposing majority organisations have also expressed themselves in favour. A number of other employers' organisations expressed no views, presumably being neutral on the proposition.
In addition to the general expressions of approval or disapproval, a number of detailed comments on the proposals were received. All these points were considered during the summer and autumn of 1948 and on 9th November—almost exactly one year ago—I again met all sections of the industry and heard their views on the memorandum which had been circulated in March. I told them that I considered a development council was necessary for the well-being of the industry and that I would circulate draft heads of an order for their comments. This was done 10 days later and the comments received on the draft heads did not vary substantially from those received on the original memorandum, and the degree of support and opposition was unchanged.
The next step was taken in January this year, when the proposals were published as a non-Parliamentary publication. Attention was drawn to the proposals by means of Press notices and all persons likely to be affected by the order were invited to comment on them. The trade associations commented as before. Comments were also received from individual manufacturers, some welcoming the proposals, some suggesting detailed amendments and one objecting to the establishment of the council.
301 On 15th March I wrote to Sir Herbert Kay, who has been the principal spokesman for the opposing organisations, suggesting a further meeting. On 26th April my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary met representatives of 16 trade associations in the clothing industry. At the meeting he re-stated the case for a development council and said that the Government, having given very careful consideration to all the comments received, were satisfied that a council was desired by a substantial number of persons in the industry and that it would be a great benefit to the industry. He made a last appeal to the employers to co-operate in working out the detailed proposals to ensure that the order which would eventually be laid before this House operated fairly as between one manufacturer and another and one section of the industry and another. The answer to this last appeal for co-operation came after a joint meeting of the opposing organisations on 1st June. The meeting re-affirmed its opposition to a development council and declared that it was not prepared to discuss the structure or activities of the development council.
I have to inform the House that this Order, unlike those previously approved by the House, is not unanimously supported by the two sides of the industry concerned, though I think the record I have given of the negotiations covering a period of two years will show how much the Government have done to try and get the co-operation referred to by the hon. Member for Edgbaston and referred to in the quotations which he has read to the House. But the fact that this development council order is not unanimously accepted by both sides of the industry, as were the two previous orders we have debated, makes it therefore doubly incumbent on me—and I recognise this—to explain to the House why, in the Government's view, a development council is needed and why it is in the highest interests both of the industry and of the country, even though this means detaining the House a little longer than I should otherwise have wished.
§ Mr. Sidney Shephard (Newark)
Is the right hon. Gentleman now going to give us the names of those three employers' organisations which were in agreement with the proposals for a development council?
§ Mr. Wilson
I have them here and I will let the hon. Member have them before I sit down, but if I were to depart from my speech to turn over papers to look for them now it would delay us a little. I shall certainly give the information to the hon. Member. I know one was the Bespoke Tailors' Guild. I cannot remember who the other two were.
In the view of the Government, and in the view of the three working parties, and of substantial numbers of persons on both sides of the industry, the case for a clothing development council is well established. I have already quoted the views of the clothing working parties on the need for a central body for the industry. The reasons which brought them to this conclusion, and the reason why the Government, after long consideration, have come to the same conclusion—and after very full discussion with the interests concerned—are based on the existence of a number of problems of vital concern to the industry and, indeed, to the nation, which require the attention of some effective central organisation.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
I want to get this quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is a considerable number of people on both sides of the industry who are convinced of what he is going to tell us. Would he support that with some facts? Could he, for instance, say what is the substantial number of people on the employers' side who subscribe to these proposals?
§ Mr. Wilson
Yes, Sir. I have referred to the fact that in addition to the three organisations, and also in addition to the letters I have received, a number of individuals in the trade and in the associations that opposed the proposal, there has also been a number of leading figures who have made reference to this. For instance, I well remember at a gathering of the light clothing industry hearing one leading figure in the trade at that time make a speech in favour of a development council for the industry. Certainly, the impression that the whole of the employers' side is unanimous against this proposition would be completely false. At the same time, I would not suggest that those on the employers' side who are in favour of the proposal are anything but a minority of the employers.
§ Mr. Wilson
Now I can tell the names of the three organisations to which I have referred. They are the Master Ladies Tailors' Association, the Light Clothing Contractors' Association and the Bespoke Tailors' Guild. Those are the three that declared their support for the principle of a development council, but it is fair to say that the third of those organisations has subsequently—not declared its opposition to a Development Council—but in its reply to us been rather more non-committal, and is no longer in support of the proposals.
§ Mr. S. Shephard
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that two of the organisations he has mentioned are not organisations of manufacturers, but only sub-contractors? It is not a very fair argument to maintain that they are representative of the industry.
§ Mr. Wilson
I have not suggested that they claim to be representative of the whole industry. I suggest, however, that they have the same claim to be representative of their constituents as the other organisations. They are on the employers' side of the industry, and we must take as full account of what they say as of what any other group of employers in the industry says. I have not noticed the same interest on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the expression of views of the trade unions in the industry as they have shown in the views of the employers.
Now if I may revert to the point I was making—the problems of concern to the industry and to the nation which, in the Government's view, require the establishment of some effective central organisation. First of all, there is of course, the outstanding need in this industry, as in many others—the need of increased productivity. [Interruption.] I am certain that the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not an authority on this industry.
§ Mr. Wilson
I should prefer on any question in this industry to have the views of the authorities in this industry on both sides, and the independent views of the Working Parties, to the opinions of the noble Lord. But it is a fact, as the Working Parties suggested, that much can 304 be achieved by the improvement of technical efficiency in the industry, especially in the improvement of factory layout, machinery and equipment, lighting, and production methods. Of course, the most efficient firms and the most progressive firms in the industry have gone a tremendous way in this direction, and have done a tremendous amount to show the others—and, indeed, industries in other countries—what can be achieved. The working party reports make it clear that present conditions in the greater part of the industry leave a good deal to be desired, and especially they give the impression that research, investigations, and the dissemination of information and guidance by a central organisation would be the best means of securing an improvement.
Secondly—and I follow the working party report again, there is export promotion. In the present state of our national economy, any manufacturing industry which requires a labour force approaching 500,000 must be expected to make a considerable contribution by means of exports to our balance of trade. In the past quarter of a century the export performance of the clothing industry has been very small, though certain sections of the industry and a number of industrial firms have recorded tremendous achievements, not least in the dollar areas, in the last two or three years; and hon. Members of this House have played a leading part in missions to dollar areas to increase the exports of the clothing industry.
§ Sir P. Bennett
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the clothing of our own people must be a first necessity? They cannot do any work if they have not any clothes, and so a large proportion of the industry's output must go to our own people.
§ Mr. Wilson
I certainly agree, and I think that my preoccupation with the problem of finding clothing must show the hon. Gentleman that I can support his view on the question of providing clothes. But, at the same time, the problem of feeding our people is also very important, and the fact is that we have imports that have to be paid for, and it is certainly true that the clothing trade could do more than it is doing in that direction. I recognise that that would be 305 in the face of enormous difficulties, but no matter what those difficulties may be the building up and maintenance of a considerable export trade in made-up clothing on a much wider scale—by a much wider range of firms—must be regarded as one of the most important objectives of the industry. This will require a good deal of planning, guidance and advice such as can be provided economically and effectively only by a central organisation.
§ Mr. S. Shephard
Is this Development Council to supersede the right hon. Gentleman's own Department?
§ Mr. Wilson
No, Sir. The Development Council in the cotton industry has done an enormous amount for the cotton industry, as anybody connected with that industry knows, and yet it has not in any sense tried to supersede the Board of Trade. There is a good deal of work, as we have seen, in the cotton industry in Lancashire—and as I hope to see in this industry—that a central body of this kind can do, collaborating with the Board of Trade and other Departments concerned.
A third problem to which the working parties drew attention is that of seasonal fluctuations in production and employment, and short time working at particular seasons of the year. Both the Heavy and Light Clothing Working Parties regarded this as a most important task for the council to deal with, and they made certain suggestions as to the means which might be adopted to mitigate what anyone connected with the trade recognises has been a great evil in the past.
The House will not need to be reminded, I know, of the importance of the establishment and maintenance of proper standards of quality for the products of the industry, with a view, not to standardisation, because none of us seeks that in the matter of clothing production, but with a view to the elimination of shoddy production; and this point was also stressed by the working parties. The working out of suitable standards is a highly technical matter. We have made great advances on it during and since the war in the field of utility production, and it is one which a body fully representative of the industry would be specially qualified to promote.
306 There are, again, labour and training problems, because in the past the industry has been able to rely on a plentiful supply of cheap labour, and in the future it will have, undoubtedly, to work on a much more economical use of its labour force. Apart from a better utilisation of labour which can result from improvements of equipment and production methods, the working out and general adoption of a sound costing system, so far as possible uniform in the industry, should do much to render economies in the use of labour practicable. The training of workers and—no less necessary—the training of the management side of the industry is also capable of improvement.
§ Mr. Osborne (Louth)
Who is going to train the management? Who is going to train a man who is successful in business and who in a competitive world must keep his head above water? Who is competent to train him?
§ Mr. Wilson
I am certain that the hon. Gentleman knows the answer to that question as well as I do, and probably a good deal better. He knows the arrangements already existing in the matter of technical colleges and other means of training. [Interruption.] I suggest that the noble Lord should spend some time in Lancashire to see the arrangement made by the Cotton Board, not so much by way of direct training themselves but by a multiplicity of methods, through local education authorities and so on, in giving training on the management side. It is a fact that management in any industry does involve training, and it is certainly not in the best interests of this nation in the future, as in the past, that in many industries management should not be a question of training and ability but of inheritance.
§ Mr. Osborne
I think that is a very unfair observation because the right hon. Gentleman must know that in Lancashire there is an old saying, "Clogs to clogs in three generations." Most businesses in Lancashire have been built up by men who started at the bottom, as I did. It is an unwarrantable suggestion that those of us who run industries have done so because we inherited the position.
§ Mr. Wilson
I did not suggest that the majority of people in Lancashire got their positions by inheritance. I was suggesting that there are now facilities for training 307 those who want to climb up the industrial ladder themselves and who have had no training in certain technical matters. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and I are in agreement on that. My reference to inheritance was in answer to an interruption that not training but an experience of life was necessary for efficient management. Technicians, such as designers, constitute an important element in the industry, and their training and qualifications are matters of first importance. Again, in Lancashire we see a great deal that has been done by the Development Council there.
Hon. Gentlemen may well ask why these problems cannot be left to the existing clothing associations to solve. Frankly, the answer is this: In the first place, these associations have not provided these facilities, and we have not confidence—and I am sure the House will not have confidence—in these organisations being able, with the best will in the world, to deal effectively with all these problems which raise wide issues of social and economic policy, particularly in matters affecting both sides of the industry, such as training, seasonal employment, and so on.
As I have already said, in spite of the great number of employers' associations and their pretty fair coverage in terms of production, they represent in total only about one-quarter of the firms in the industry. Most people in the industry agree that the big problem in many of these aspects is the small firm who is left out of or has not come into existing trade associations. Since the first clothing working party report was published nearly three years ago, there has been no real evidence of any co-ordinated attempt on the part of the industry to face the problems which the working party then brought to light. Unlike the situation in other industries where the two sides are divided, in the case of clothing the industry has not made any proposal for an alternative body to a development council to implement the recommendations of the working parties.
In these circumstances the Government feel that it is essential to provide such an organisation, and that this organisation should be on a statutory basis, with the status, authority and finance necessary to enable it to deal effectively with the major problems of the clothing industry.
§ Major Gates (Middleton and Prestwich)
We have understood from the President's announcement that he was not prepared to receive alternative suggestions for a voluntary body to carry out all these functions. Did he in fact make such a statement?
§ Mr. Wilson
I did not make an announcement that I was not prepared to receive alternative suggestions for a voluntary body. Very late in the proceedings when we had had discussions on the question of the development council, it was suggested that perhaps the industry, left to itself, might work out a scheme for a voluntary body, and I indicated in reply that in my view a development council was desirable and that I was perfectly certain from the attitude on the trade union side that no voluntary body would receive the co-operation which would be required to make it work. I was hopeful then and I am still hopeful now that we shall get from the employers side the co-operation necessary to make this development council a success.
As the House knows, under the Act I am empowered to make recommendations to the House for the establishment of a development council, only if I am satisfied that it is desired by a substantial number of the persons engaged in the industry. I have in fact received the strongest representations that this is desirable by the organised workers in the industry. It is also desired by associations representing over 1,000 of the organised firms in the industry out of the 6,000 organised firms to which I have referred, as well as by a number of prominent individual manufacturers who have written to me.
Now I come to the form of the order. I do not think that I need to take too much of the time of the House in doing this since it largely follows the lines of previous orders, though I should be naturally glad to give any information or explanations if any points are raised by hon. Members. The order deals with the definition of the industry and of the membership of the council.
The council will consist of 18 members of whom 6 will be chosen as capable of representing the interests of employers, comprising three, two and one to represent respectively the heavy, light and rubber-proofed clothing sections of the industry; one as capable of representing 309 the interest of persons employed in the industry as managers or technicians; six as capable of representing the interests of other persons employed in the industry; four will be independent persons with no financial or industrial interest in the industry; and one will be chosen as having a special knowledge of the distribution of clothing. Managers and technicians although employed in the industry are given separate representation in this order because neither employers nor workers will admit them to their own ranks, each classing the managers and technicians with the other camp.
To deal with the sectional problems of the industry, the order provides that the council shall set up three committees to advise them in the exercise of their functions in relation to the heavy, light and proofed sections of the industry respectively. It will, of course, be open to the council to set up other committees to advise on particular aspects of their work.
Following the lines of previous orders the draft before the House goes on to provide for compulsory registration of persons carrying on business in the industry, and provides for the necessary finance for the work of the council. This will be done by a levy, imposed with the approval of the Board of Trade, but not exceeding a maximum of £300,000 in any period of three years or £150,000 in any single year. Such a levy would work out at no more than roughly 5s. per year per worker in the industry or about one-thirtieth of one per cent. of the turnover and clearly this will not increase the cost of clothing.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
To be paid by a levy on employers and unions or employers only?
§ Mr. Wilson
This is not a tax on employers only. It is a levy on the total production of the industry, and it may come from the consumer if we assume that there is to be no increase in productivity and efficiency, following the establishment of the body, which would enable reductions to be passed on to the consumer. The council has power to call for appropriate statistical returns and other information with the usual provision to safeguard the confidential nature 310 of information relating to the activities of an individual firm.
Finally, after providing for penalties in accordance with the main Act—I hope these will not be needed—the order lays down, in the second schedule, the functions which the council may undertake. I recognise that this order is different from other orders which have appeared before the House, but I am asking for support for a measure which I am sure the House as a whole will consider to be in the best interests of the industry and the country. It is a measure which will help the industry, which did so much for the country during the war, to reach the highest state of efficiency and organisation so that it can play its full part in the national struggle for recovery.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
The President of the Board of Trade, with a considerable degree of courtesy, has for a fairly long time endeavoured to defend what we on these benches consider to be quite indefensible. As this order is made under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947, I think it is relevant to remind the House that we on this side gave an unopposed Third Reading to that Measure. We did that for the reason which was set forth quite clearly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), in these words:… We want it to have the largest measure of support and the best chance of success, as its objects are those with which we all agree."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 97.]Since then, as the Minister has reminded us, three development councils have been set up and in each case support for them came from these benches. It is, therefore, not right to contend tonight that, in opposing this order, we are following the same precedent, or doing it for anything other than what we believe to be good and sufficient reasons. In Section 1 (1) of the Act, the purpose of the development council is stated thus:To increase efficiency or productivity in industry, to improve or develop the services which it renders or could render to the community or to enable it to render such services more economically.I think it is obvious that to accomplish these things it is necessary to obtain the co-operation of the whole industry—employers 311 and employed alike. We on these benches thought the Government clearly understood that; at any rate, that was certainly the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot when, speaking in the Debate on 3rd June, 1947, he said:I think it is the general opinion on both sides that these development councils will not be successful, and will not attain the objects we ought to have in view unless they are set up with the goodwill of all concerned.In expressing that opinion my right hon. Friend had good grounds if we consider what the Minister of Pensions, at that time the Paymaster-General, had to say:The Government have every intention of proceeding by agreement rather than by compulsion and does not wish to impose a development council on an unwilling industry.On the same occasion the then President of the Board of Trade, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:The success of the councils will, of course, depend very largely on the degree of co-operation given by both sides of the industry."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 53–4 and 92.]What is the right hon. Gentleman doing under this order? He is imposing, by compulsion, a development council on an unwilling industry—the very thing which his right hon. Friend said the Government did not wish to do and, incidentally, the very thing which the President of the Board of Trade himself said he would not do, at a meeting of employers and workers in the industry held on 13th January, 1948.
§ Mr. Wilson
What I said was that there was no question, nor could there be any question, of my establishing a development council unless I was satisfied that it was desired by a substantial number of persons in the industry. I did not say that if the industry was not unanimous I would not propose the establishment of a development council to the House—a very different thing.
§ Commander Galbraith
I have here the right hon. Gentleman's words, which were recorded at the time, and they do not quite correspond with what he has just said. However, the matter is not of any great moment, and we can leave it there.
I was saying that the success of the development council—and here I am 312 repeating the words of the Chancellor—very largely depends on the degree of co-operation from the industry. I suggest that we are right to carry the examination of this matter further than the right hon. Gentleman has carried it in order to see what degree of co-operation is likely to be forthcoming in this case. I make out the position to be very different from that which the right hon. Gentleman made it out to be. According to the Ministry of Labour Gazette of September, 1949, the number of insured persons in the clothing industry in July of this year is not between 400,000 and 500,000, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, but is 507,500.
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. and gallant Gentleman will recall that I said there were between 400,000 and 500,000 employed in productive processes. There is a difference between the number employed in productive processes and the number of insured persons in employment.
§ Commander Galbraith
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how many of the number I have given are not employed in productive processes? I stand by the figures I have given. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to dispute them, he had better bring forward evidence and lay it on the Table.
§ Mr. Wilson
It is quite possible, in fact, it is certain, that there are some insured clerical workers in the industry, which will explain the difference between the figure I gave to the House and the accurate figure given by the Ministry of Labour Gazette.
§ Commander Galbraith
I will accept the right hon. Gentleman's figure when he is good enough to give us details of it. I want him to be accurate; he ought to be accurate.
§ Commander Galbraith
When the Minister quotes a figure which is very divergent from the one I have given, he might be good enough to give us details. No doubt we shall be given the figure later, when I shall be willing to accept it. The latest available figure for membership of the tailoring and other clothing trade unions is 145,620, out of 507,500. From these figures it appears 313 to be probable that the trade union side of the industry, which the right hon. Gentleman consulted, represented less than one-third of the total number of insured persons employed. It is therefore probable that on the side of the employees the Minister can only claim at the very most that about one-third of those employed in the industry are in favour of this development council.
I should like now to deal with the employers' side. There are 16 organisations which between them, it is claimed, employ 80 per cent. of the total labour force in the industry. These 16 organisations are opposed to the establishment of a development council.
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us how many employers there are in the 16 organisations?
§ Commander Galbraith
No, I cannot give the hon. Gentleman that information. I am merely stating what I have discovered, to the best of my ability, to be the correct position—that these 16 organisations claim to employ 80 per cent. of the labour force, and I stand by that figure until I have it disproved to me. These organisations are opposed to the establishment of a development council. Of that fact the right hon. Gentleman has been aware for a very long time—I understand since he first announced his intention to set up a development council.
I should like to confirm what the right hon. Gentleman said about the course of the negotiations. I think it is something which should be put on record from both sides of the House. Following the meeting which the President of the Board of Trade had with the industry—with the employers and the workers—on 13th January, to which he has referred, and the issue of the memorandum by the Department as to their preliminary proposals, there was a meeting of the employers' organisations on 28th April, when it was agreed that no useful purpose would be served by setting up a development council and that accordingly it should be opposed. The Minister was informed of that decision, as he has told us. Following the further meeting with the right hon. Gentleman on 9th November and the issue of a further memorandum by his Department, the employers 314 met again on 7th January, 1949. They then reaffirmed their opposition to the scheme outlined in the memorandum as being impracticable for an industry so diverse in its make-up and composed of so many different sections. That meeting gave notice that the organisations there represented were not prepared to take part either in the formation of a development council or in its work if it were established.
Then there was the issue of the publication to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, entitled "Proposals for a Development Council for the Clothing Industry." That led the employers' organisations to meet again on 9th February when, having considered the proposals in that publication, they again reaffirmed their opposition to this project, and again the right hon. Gentleman was advised of their attitude. There were two further meetings after that date, one on 1st June of this year after the meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary, and the other on 14th July following the laying of the draft order on 5th July. At both these meetings resolutions reaffirming opposition to the establishment of a development council were passed unanimously, which decisions were again conveyed to the right hon. Gentleman.
During the proceedings in this House on 3rd June, 1947, my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) reminded the House that, when faced with opposition by a section of the employers in the cotton industry the then President of the Board of Trade, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, personally visited Manchester, argued the matter with these employers, and persuaded them to take development steps: he won them over to his side. Now, with all deference, I do not think that the present President of the Board of Trade did sufficient in that direction. It may be he felt that the task was beyond his strength.
According to my information—and here again I differ from the right hon. Gentleman—there were only two, not three, employers' organisations who were in favour of these proposals. I was very glad when the right hon. Gentleman corrected himself in that regard when he told us that the bespoke tailors had withdrawn. Therefore, the number which I have given—namely, two organisations 315 in favour of the proposals—is, I think, correct, and agreed on all hands. These two organisations represent sub-contractors. They do not own the principal materials used. They are, in fact, merely employees of the manufacturers. The situation is really this, that about one-third of the employees may be in favour of this order, while the employers' organisations, representing 80 per cent. of the industry, oppose it and say that they will have nothing whatever to do with it.
In spite of that, the right hon. Gentleman is asking the House to force a development council on an unwilling industry. He has given his reasons. Let me recapitulate some of them. He said that it was necessary to increase production, that it was necessary there should be research, that some one should give guidance to the industry, that the exports of the industry were too small, that seasonal fluctuations had to be looked into, that there were standards of quality to be considered and that there was a costing system and other matters to be taken into account.
As I understand it, a development council has little or no powers or authority other than to require information and raise a levy. Apart from that, it can only make recommendations. Surely an unwilling industry will not accede very readily to recommendations made by a body which it does not require and does not desire. In any case, these development councils are still in their experimental stage; they still have to prove themselves. In these circumstances, it appears to be highly injudicious, if not stupid, to endeavour to force such a council on an industry that is unwilling to have it.
If the work and value of these councils had been proved, is it really possible that a single council could be effective in the case of this so-called clothing industry, which in fact is not one industry but many industries? That, it seems to me, is one of the employers' principal objections. They do not believe that one council can cover effectively what is not a single industry but a wide range of industries. What can be further apart, from the manufacturing or any other point of view, than corsets and cloth caps? Surely there is little or no connection between them, and that applies equally to many 316 other sections of this so-called industry. Over and above that—and this is a matter into which the right hon. Gentleman did not go—they have very few problems in common. The single organisation of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke is quite impossible for an industry of this nature.
Let me give the House an illustration of the Minister's seeming inability to appreciate that point. I should like to quote the case of the bespoke tailoring trade which, as he said, is of the greatest importance in regard to exports. It is on the bespoke tailoring trade that the maintenance of the quality of all tailoring goods really depends. Its importance far outweighs the fact that it is responsible for 20 per cent. of the production of garments from what is classified as the heavy clothing industry.
To include the bespoke tailoring trade with the manufacturing of clothes is really akin to classifying horse breeding with the manufacture of motor vehicles on the grounds that both are a means of transport. As I understand it, the bespoke tailoring trade appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to provide in this order for the appointment to the development council of a person capable of representing their interests. That request was refused, and it was refused on the grounds that provision could not be made for the representation of every section of the industry. That the Minister can use that argument shows that he has failed to grasp the fact that bespoke tailoring is not just a section of the industry, but is a complete industry on its own.
I have no doubt that during this Debate criticism will be levelled at the employers for having failed to put forward any suggestions for a voluntary body in place of a statutory development council. I do not consider that such criticism, if it is made, can be justified, for two reasons. The employers, as I have endeavoured to show, are convinced that such a body is quite unsuited to the many industries which come within the comprehensive term "the clothing industry." On the Third Reading of the Bill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:The object is to get one responsible body of persons who can speak for all interests in the industry with a single voice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 90.]317 That body, in the diversity of this industry, the employers believe is quite incapable of attainment.
The President of the Board of Trade, according to my information, which again differs in a small degree from what he has told us tonight, throughout these negotiations plainly showed his unwillingness to accept a voluntary alternative. Again, according to my information, he made that abundantly clear at the meeting he had with the industry on 13th January, 1948. At the meeting on 26th October the Parliamentary Secretary admitted that in the circumstances which I have related a development council in this industry would probably fail and the trouble was that it would do a lot of damage in the process.
Apart, therefore, from the utility of imposing a development council on an unwilling industry, it appears to me to be little short of criminal in the nation's economic affairs to introduce an order which the Minister seemingly considered would do a lot of damage. If this nation is to be saved from the effects of an economic blizzard which will bring untold suffering to all of us, surely harmony, co-operation and unity are most essential and much to be desired. That the Government should choose this particular moment to take a great industry by the ears and produce dissension in its ranks, as well as risk a reduction in its efficiency and the volume of its production, is an action so frivolous and indeed so wicked that, other things apart, we on these benches are left with no other alternative than to go into the Lobby to vote against the Motion to approve this order.
§ Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
What did the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean when he said that the bespoke trade was the principal end of the clothing trade? As a matter of fact, the bespoke trade is applicable only to the people of this country and is not for export at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is only a small item.
§ Commander Galbraith
I did not say it was the principal pant of the industry. I pointed out that it produced some 20 per cent. of the heavy clothing industry output, and that it was most important because it maintained the quality of the whole clothing manufacture.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Sidney Shephard (Newark)
As is usual in these cases, I must disclose my interest. I have been engaged in the clothing trade for the past 30 years, and I think I can modestly claim to have gained a certain amount of knowledge of one branch of it.
When the right hon. Gentleman tried to make out his case for a development council for this industry, he did not complete the whole picture. I must remind him that when he met the representatives of the industry on 9th November last year, he was challenged whether he was conforming with the provisions of the Act. He said that he was satisfied that the establishment of a development council was desired by a substantial number of employers engaged in the industry. He went on further and said that he would also be satisfied even if no employers had been in favour of it. The fact that the trade unions concerned desired a development council was, in his opinion, by itself quite sufficient.
We have already heard in this Debate about the number of workers in the trade unions in this industry. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the proportion is approximately 30 per cent. So far as I know, there has been no ballot of those workers. Whatever interpretation the right hon. Gentleman may put upon the trade unions' being in favour of a development council, that decision is not altogether in the spirit of the Act. One must realise that during the passage of the Act the Minister in charge of it said that the Government had every intention of proceeding by agreement rather than by compulsion, and did not wish to impose a development council upon an unwilling industry. We can therefore see how far the Minister has now departed from that assurance and how he now rides roughshod over any person or any objection opposed to him.
I have disclosed my interest in this matter and because I know something about the industry I am convinced that a development council cannot serve the purpose for which it is intended. In the clothing industry there are 12 distinct trades. I am not concerned with the number of trade organisations but only with the number of actual trades. I ought to give them to hon. Members so that they can appreciate how diverse this 319 industry is in its composition. There is the heavy clothing trade making men's and boys' suits and overcoats. There is the women's costume trade making women's costumes, coats and skirts. There is the raincoat trade, the shirt and collar trade, the tie trade, the hats and caps trade, the men's, women's and children's underwear trade, the trade in ladies' dresses and blouses made from woven fabric, the children's frocks and suits trade made from woven fabric, the corset trade, the athletic shirt and shorts trade and, finally, the overall trade.
Even with some of these individual trades the same conditions cannot apply all through. Take for instance, the clothing trade. How can we say that the problems of a multiple firm like Montague Burton's are the same as those of a bespoke tailor in the West End of London. I am quite sure that all hon. Members will agree that there can be no common problem for many of these trades. Take suits and overcoats on the one hand and ladies' corsets on the other. What common problem can there be between those two. Take the production of hats and caps on the one hand and ladies' underwear on the other. Where is the common problem?
Let us see how the development council proposes to work. The right hon. Gentleman has told us about the constitution. There are to be three employers from the heavy clothing trade, and so on. I will not go through it all. Apparently there is no one to represent the interests of the shirt and collar manufacturers, the corset trade, the overall trade or the tie trade. When the order comes into operation the development council will appoint three committees which are to advise the council on matters relating to their particular trades. One to advise on matters relating to the heavy clothing trade, the second the light clothing trade and the third the proofed clothing trade. There is no mention of how the council will be advised about hats and caps, corsets, shirts and collars and so on. Those trades are not represented on the council, and it looks as if they will be the orphans of the storm.
§ Mr. Wilson
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent what I said. I made it clear that, in addition to the three committees referred 320 to in the order, the council is perfectly free to set up committees representative of any section.
§ Mr. Shephard
I agree. The right hon. Gentleman said that in his speech but there is nothing about it in the order.
I now turn to the second schedule, which defines the functions of the council. The first is the promotion of scientific research. Any man with practical experience would agree that it is quite impossible to apply scientific research to the industry as a whole. We should need to break down the research into 12 compartments. There would have to be 12 researches, and not one, to cover the industry.
The second function is:Promoting inquiry as to materials and equipment and as to methods of production, management and labour utlisation"—and so on. Here again, the methods of production are entirely different in each branch of the industry, the materials used are quite different and in many cases the equipment is different. Here, again, we come up against the same problem of how we are to apply this function to the industry without having 12 different approaches.
The third function is:Promoting research into matters affecting industrial psychology.I suppose we could apply that to the whole industry, but we think that it would be far better done by the Ministry of Labour. The fourth function is:Promoting measures for the improvement of design, including promoting the establishment and operation of design centres.The same thing applies here. We should need 12 centres. We should require 12 different approaches to the problem. We cannot mix corsets and raincoats with a design centre. It is not only that. A point which has been missed is that the clothing industry is spread all over the country. It is not restricted to Lancashire, Leicester, Nottingham or London. It is in every town in the country. Therefore, I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman had in view when he thought of setting up design centres.
I shall not bore the House by going through all the functions in the second schedule, but I say emphatically that in none of the functions are the problems common to the industry as a whole. The 321 only problem I can see which is common to the whole industry is the shortage of labour, and that is not included in the functions. My candid opinion is that a lot of these functions are complete eyewash and that it would be quite impossible for a development council to carry them out in the clothing trade.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think again. I want him to withdraw the order. Whatever may be the merits of development councils in other industries, in this case such a council can serve no useful purpose. It will impose an additional cost on the industry. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was only 5s. per employee, but we are all asked just now to reduce costs, not to increase them, and whether it is 5s., 10s. or 1s., it adds to the cost. It will divert the activities of busy men from their own duties and it will add a few more to that ever growing number of civil servants. I do not know what the chairman of this development council will be paid and I think the House ought to know, although it rests entirely with the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Shephard
I do not know how many scientists the clothing industry employs. I have pointed out that the clothing industry is split into 12 different units. I know only about my own unit and there we have no scientists, but I see nothing to suggest that the development council will employ scientists for this, that, and the other section of the industry.
§ Mr. Shephard
I am certain that it will not further the efficiency of this industry. The right hon. Gentleman is not a practical man, he is a man of theory, and he is always telling industry what to do. He is inclined, if I may use the phrase, to try to teach his grandmother to suck eggs. I urge him to accept the advice of the practical men in this industry and scrap the order. I know that with his majority he can get this order through. The employers 322 have said they will not co-operate but I dare say there will be a few Quislings prepared to do the dirty work. I am certain of that, but whoever he finds—⁁
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
If the hon. Gentleman is alleging Quislings, is he aware that the leader of his side tonight has made it quite clear that on the Third Reading the party opposite supported the Measure, so that the whole of the Opposition are Quislings.
§ Mr. Shephard
We supported this Measure when it came before Parliament and we accepted the assurance given then that a development council would not be forced on an unwilling industry. That is the point at issue. We have co-operated with the Government on all development council orders that have been brought here where the two sides of industry are in agreement.
§ Mr. Attewell
Let us be quite clear about this. The hon. Member will probably remember that I directed certain specific questions to the leader of my own Front Bench who made it quite clear that so long as the majority of the industry—not the manufacturers or the employees—decided on it, he would introduce the order.
§ Mr. Shephard
I thought the hon. Gentleman had been listening to me. I have been making out a case that the majority of the industry are not in favour of a development council. Some 30 per cent. are in the trade union. I am sure that the arithmetic of the hon. Gentleman is good enough for him to realise that it leaves 70 per cent. who are not in a union. If 70 per cent. are opposed to it, as they may well be—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why will they be?"] No one has been balloted on this question, not even those who are in a trade union. All the right hon. Gentleman has done has been to get his trade union officials round him and say, "Now look, boys, we want a development council in this industry and you will agree with it, won't you?"
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. Member has made a perfectly unwarranted allegation on the way in which I have conducted these negotiations. May I inform him that I have never met the trade union side of this industry except in the presence of the employers.
§ Mr. Shephard
Certainly I will withdraw if I have made an unwarranted accusation against the hon. Gentleman. I was picturing to myself what happens in these cases. If it is a fact that the right hon. Gentleman never met the trade unions except with the employers, then I accept it and I withdraw, but it does not make the position any better. Those employed in this industry have not been consulted, and for the right hon. Gentleman to try to make out a case on the ground that the trade unions have agreed to it, is sheer bunkum to my mind, and not only that, it is making a farce of the Act.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Parkin (Stroud)
I have heard some remarkable statistics in my time in the course of political controversy, but I have never heard anything quite like the argument put across tonight by those hon. Gentlemen opposite who try to calculate the force of the employers who are supposed to be in opposition to the order according to the number of workers they employ. The strength of 80 per cent. is based, apparently, on the number of workers in particular manufacturing units. Since we are told that the workers are not 100 per cent. organised, I expect we shall find when we examine details that it is in the larger units that the higher proportion of trade union workers are to be found. This curious sort of election in two stages, or the amassing of a kind of feudal vote with which to become armed to face my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, is not really very convincing.
I was amazed to hear the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard), with his lifelong experience and knowledge of the industry, the benefit of which he might have given us in greater detail, trying to put across the notion that there was no common ground in the different sections of the industry for which a development council could be useful. The hon. Member has, perhaps, assumed that everybody will have forgotten all about the working party reports. It is interesting to note that in the Heavy Clothing Industry Working Party's Report the first recommendation is that:Trade organisations in the industry with overlapping, functions and membership should consider amalgamation.324 In the Light Clothing Industry Working Party's Report, the first recommendation is that:We are of the opinion that it is in the interests of the Light Clothing Industry that a suitable organisation should be established to deal with those general problems affecting the industry which do not come within the scope of the activities of trade associations and to provide for the industry services of a kind which cannot be undertaken by the existing organisations.The recommendations proceed to cover point after point, some of which the hon. Member has slightly ridiculed and others of which he has completely ignored. Problems such as the seasonal variation of trade are, surely, common to many sections of the industry.
§ Mr. S. Shephard
I could have said quite a lot more. The hon. Member is talking about seasonal fluctuations in trade. It is quite impossible for a development council, however constituted, to regulate trade. That depends on supply and demand, and no development council will ever overcome that difficulty.
§ Mr. Parkin
Surely it depends on the supply and demand of particular items. In other industries means have been found to stabilise employment throughout the year. This is where we really want to get these dozen separate people, who do not know about each other's factory problems, together round a table to try to find the remedy.
§ Mr. W. Shepherd
As apparently the hon. Member has read the reports, he must have some idea of what the working parties had in mind to iron out the problem of variation of demand which results in seasonal employment. Perhaps the hon. Member would be good enough to tell the House how that is to be done.
§ Mr. Parkin
This is quite the wrong place for people to make precise suggestions. That, after all, is what a development council is for—
§ Mr. Parkin
In principle, yes—and such things as standardisation, where it can be achieved; the concentrating during a part of the season on work for the home market and for the rest of the season building up stocks for export, concentrating on certain types of goods which it is known will be in demand later in the year.
§ Mr. Osborne
Does not the hon. Member realise that those of us in the trade have been doing that for years and that the only reason we have avoided the Bankruptcy Court is that we have been doing those things as a matter of course? We do not want a development council to tell us how to do it.
§ Mr. Parkin
Of course, the hon. Member is successful, although he has already warned us that he expects his grandchildren will go back to clogs, and I was sorry to hear that. I hoped that, with the training facilities which would be provided by the development council and the general assistance offered by the welfare State, the descendants of the hon. Member might prove to have some ability to follow in the steps laid down for them.
The menace to the industry, as he knows perfectly well, and the menace to himself, is not that people like himself, and the most successful, cannot make their plans, but that so many people come in and out, and because of the immense variety in the types of factory. In this country we have the most modern and beautifully set-out factory contrasted with some old house in which the rooms have been knocked into one and which just manages to scrape under the regulations of the factory inspector. The hon. Member knows that that is the real danger to the workers' side of the industry and in regard to problems of recruitment and keeping employment stable throughout the year. However, I do not want to get involved in an argument on that point, and I see now that the ranks of the Opposition are considerably reinforced, adding to the experience of life recommended by the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke).
I wish to ask my right hon. Friend about one point which I did think provided common ground between different sections of the industry. I am sorry to see that in the draft under the Second Schedule he has not taken full advantage of the provisions of the Act. I searched the Second Schedule in vain to find any of the provisions which are made possible by paragraph 14 of the First Schedule to the Act giving a development council power to promote arrangements for co-operative organisations to provide materials and equipment.
326 I wish to ask one or two questions about the subject of machinery. Each of the reports refers to machinery and there is no doubt that the question of getting the most up-to-date equipment in the smaller, less well financed units of industry, where perhaps one or two adventurous spirits are striking out for themselves or struggling to keep a family business going, is most important, as they have not the necessary finance to expand or to re-equip. We do not want those people to waste the materials or labour which come under their control. I suppose there is no argument between us that that is one of the biggest problems in British industry, and I had hoped to see the Government giving a lead in encouraging the financing of new machinery, or perhaps making it available for renting, or through co-operative organisations.
I should like to see the Government itself lending out machinery on the same lines as those followed in the boot and shoe industry for many years, so that the most up-to-date can be available to those best able to use it. That is one of the most important points which keeps recurring and which I am sure is common ground in many branches of the industry. I hope hon. Members opposite are not going to attack on principle, throughout the night, the inefficiency and ignorance of Members of the Government who interest themselves in matters connected with trade and industry. If the Opposition do so, I am afraid the Debate is liable to degenerate into an exchange of observations about the less attractive aspects of this industry. I do not think we want to stress those tonight. Hon. Members opposite with knowledge of the industry know that there are many things in it about which they are not very proud, but also there are many things in it about which we have every right to be proud.
I regretted seeing somebody on the other side of the House laughing when the subject of exports was mentioned, but this industry has done a great deal towards the export trade in the recent past. We have other examples, too. The motorcar industry, for instance, laughed its head off when it was first suggested that it could expand in overseas markets, but it has found that it can do so. I have no doubt that this industry can also do so. We do not want to spend time picking out the worst in the industry. This 327 is an opportunity to insist upon the foundations for co-operation, and if we can get this order with the minimum of bitterness I am certain that the example will bring in the co-operation. The whole of the industry can set an example to other industries which are a little reluctant in this matter.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
I have listened with care to the speeches of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Parkin) and the Minister in order to try to pick out of what they said any justification for going back on the assurances which were given by a succession of Ministers on the Second Reading of the Bill. One of the examples has been quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith), but I would like to read two other excerpts from what eminent members of the Government said at that time. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer said:… to do things by compulsion is far less healthy and less effective than to do them by agreement. Even if agreement takes rather longer—as, of course, it must—it is, in the long run, more effective.It was followed by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade who said, about compulsion:It will not be lightly applied, because it would be an extremely foolish thing from the Government point of view.… Suppose the employers said that they would not co-operate. You would find it very difficult to get any kind of council to work, and we realise that as much as anyone else."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1947; Vol. 433, cc. 552–3, 644.]Added to what was quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok, we have an imposing array of Ministers singing the same song in unison. Indeed, it would need almost a photo-finish to find out which of the Ministers had arrived first to assure the industry that they were not going to have the development council imposed.
Following upon the working party reports of which the right hon. Gentleman has told us, there were a series of meetings about which he has been good enough to furnish us with a considerable amount of detail. But he never at any point, as I understood him, invited some form of voluntary organisation to be set up by the employers, or if he 328 did the employers were completely unaware that any such possibility lay before them. There is a very good maxim in the Army, and I believe in other occupations, too, that if somebody does not understand what you have been trying to tell him it is not his fault, but yours.
The employers were left under the very clear-cut impression that no form of voluntary body would be considered at all. I consider this is a complete change of front, a complete betrayal of all the implied and expressed pledges that this sort of action would not be taken. Here we have a Minister refusing to discuss or examine or compromise along the lines extolled by his colleagues.
Here we have a Minister acting in direct contravention of what has already been promised. Here we have him doing that foolish thing which was stigmatised by one of his colleagues. We are used to the Government doing foolish things, but they generally try to find a better reason for justifying them than the lame excuses which the right hon. Gentleman has offered to the House tonight. There has been no discussion, no examination, to see whether it was not indeed possible to get this agreement and, consequently, the efficiency which would come from agreement with the employers and the employers' organisations. It is, indeed, an example of the iron hand without even the courtesy of a velvet glove. It is compulsion for compulsion's sake.
Is it then surprising that the trade are puzzled, angry and unco-operative? Surely any reasonable man, relying upon these pledges which were extracted in this honourable House, would be annoyed, puzzled, angry and unco-operative when he saw such an unreasonable frame of mind. I shall not go over the long list which my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard) has already given to show what a variety of manufacturers go to make up this industry, but I shall quote the right hon. Gentleman's own words, used at the beginning of his speech this evening, in which he said it was "extremely difficult to bring all these factors together." If it is difficult for him to bring them together in consultation with the employers' associations, how much more difficult will it be for a development council, imposed upon an 329 industry without the co-operation of the employers, to get anything done at all?
This criticism of the Minister's highhanded action is supported not only by the trade but by such important bodies as the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of British Industries and the National Union of Manufacturers, all of whom appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to disrupt the industry until every possibility of co-operation has been examined and had to be abandoned. Let it be noted that the Act does not oblige the Minister to set up a development council and, in setting it up, he is only setting up friction. Compulsion can never achieve one half of what can be achieved by willing co-operation. Only the other day in this House we had the Chancellor of the Exchequer appealing to the country and to industry to show their team-spirit, which alone would get us through, and yet here we have the right hon. Gentleman destroying that team-spirit by imposing something to which the employers have never had a chance of offering counter-suggestions.
I want for a moment to deal with the arithmetic of the "substantial numbers" which the right hon. Gentleman said were in support of the proposals. It has been admitted that practically a unanimity among employers—with the exception of two very minor associations—are opposed to the development council, at any rate at this stage. Even admitting that the whole of the members of the trade unions may be in favour of the development council and that the remainder of the workers affected have shown no decided tendency one way or another, and if we assume that employers and workers have an equal interest in the industry—and after all, that is team spirit and partnership—then we find that one-sixth of those concerned in the industry support a development council.
§ Mr. Orbach
Would not the hon. and gallant Member agree that the two insignificant organisations, as he suggested they were, are composed completely of manufacturers—people who employ workers. Every individual who is a member of these two organisations is a manufacturer employing work-people. That is not true of the members of the 18 organisations which he says do not support the proposals.
§ Colonel Hutchison
The associations which the right hon. Gentleman himself quoted are, in fact, associations of subcontractors, but, even granting the hon. Member's statement, we are still left with the fact that 80 per cent. of those employed are employed by members of the associations which are opposed to the development council.
§ Mr. Orbach
Leaving the hon. and gallant Member's arithmetic for a moment, I should like to ask him whether, in the membership of the 18 organisations, there is not a great deal of overlapping? May not a man be a member of the shirt makers' association and, at the same time, a member of the heavy clothing association?
§ Colonel Hutchison
I do not want to pursue this point much further, but does that really matter when the total number of employees employed by the associations together equal 80 per cent. of the total employed in the industry? We have the 80 per cent. whether they overlap or not. We are not counting the same man twice. Anyhow, by no process of arithmetic can it be claimed, as I see it, that a substantial number of those in the industry are in favour of it. To say that a sixth or anything like a sixth is a substantial number is straining words as far as the Government have strained British economy.
This development council will not cost nothing. As has been pointed out, and as, indeed, is said in the order, something like £300,000 is to be spent upon the development council over three years, I understand. If the development council was going to do something which would be of real value to the trade we on this side of the House, as we showed on Second Reading of the Bill, would be in favour of it. We are all in favour of trade doing all it can to modernise itself, and to expand, and to help in the country's production and exports.
But what, in fact, is this development council going to do? The right hon. Gentleman said that the existing organisations were not competent to deal with all the requirements which the situation now demanded. Is it, then, intended that the development council shall set up something to take the place of such things as the D.S.I.R., the Factory Acts, B.E.T.R.O., the Incorporated Sales 331 Managers Association, and organisations concerned with training? What is this development council going to produce? If it is not going to set up new organisations, all it is going to do is to co-ordinate and link together organisations which already exist. Surely, that can be done by some voluntary body equally well and more cheaply.
The employers' associations, as I say, object to this measure, and they object particularly in the circumstances which have arisen to the representatives being Ministerial nominations. The Minister can only draw on a limited number of people to be appointed and who are supposed to understand all the facets of this industry. If there is not co-operation amongst the individuals from whom the right hon. Gentleman can get those to serve, the development council will fail, and must fail, to represent the views of the industry.
When the Measure under which this development council can be set up was before the House on Second Reading, it was stigmatised as a particularly vicious form of delegated legislation, and that has now been shown to be perfectly true. It is said that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said "No" three times it equals "Yes." We are now starting to learn the true form.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
In referring to the development council, hon. Members have spent far too much time in making it appear that the Minister who was in charge of the original Measure has broken Ministerial promises. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I suggest that if Members of the Opposition had good memories and remembered the discussions which took place on the original Measure they would realise that it is part of the Act that if there is not unanimity the Minister still has power to act. It must be agreed that that is in the Act.
I well remember specifically directing questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this particular point, and asking whether there must be unanimity on both sides; and I remember inquiring of the Minister whether, if the employees only desired it, that would amount to a substantial number of people, and whether it would mean, therefore, that the 332 Act could operate. We had an answer that "substantial numbers" meant substantial numbers of those engaged in the industry. That is quite clear. Hon. Members will remember my directing attention to that, because there was an idea that there need not necessarily be unanimity, and the wording was changed and revised, to appear as it does now, so as to make it quite clear that there need not be unanimity. It was to that that I directed my remarks. When the Minister said that compulsion must not lightly be applied, that meant that if it were necessary he would apply compulsion. There can be no other interpretation of that statement.
§ Mr. S. Shephard
If the hon. Gentleman will turn to Section 1 (4), he will find that it states:A development council order shall not be made unless the Board or Minister concerned is satisfied that the establishment of a development council for the industry is desired by a substantial number of the persons engaged in the industry.That has been the whole of the argument between the Government and ourselves. We maintain that one-sixth is not a substantial number.
§ Mr. Attewell
I asked what was a substantial number when we were discussing this matter before. A number of operatives is engaged. Each employer counts as an individual and, as far as being engaged in the industry is concerned, each employer can only equal one employee. If there are 16 organisations in the industry and, let us say, 100 employers in each organisation, it must mean that when the operatives give their vote they must outnumber the employers, and therefore the interpretation of "substantial number" is certainly carried out, because there are more employees in the industry than employers.
§ Mr. Attewell
I am quite satisfied, as a trade union officer, that each one of my members is equal to each one of the employers.
§ Mr. Attewell
If they are not members of a trade union, it does not automatically 333 mean that they can be ranked alongside the employers for the purposes of this Act.
§ Mr. Attewell
I am not talking about trade union leaders. They represent given numbers in the same way as the manufacturers' associations, when they are gathered round a table, represent their industry. When the employers of the industry met the Minister, they did not all go, but sent their representatives, in the same way as the trade union officers there were representing their members. Therefore, I fail to see how the Opposition can claim to be in favour of development councils—and they did not oppose them on the Third Reading of the Measure—and object when the Minister comes to apply a development council to an industry which is badly in need of that co-ordination.
§ Mr. Attewell
The hon. Gentleman says "nonsense," but I am telling him why I feel this industry is badly in need of a development council. If this industry is not in need of a development council, I wonder whether hon. Members opposite, who agreed with the Act, will tell me which industry is in need of a development council.
§ Mr. Attewell
I shall not bother to say "Nonsense" to that, because it is self-evident.
Development councils were introduced at a time when the whole House felt that there was a need for them to enable this country to get on its feet by assisting industry to reach peak production. The fact that the Opposition did not oppose the Third Reading of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act is some indication of that accord. This industry, with its overlapping sections, knows full well that in order to achieve co-ordination there must be a body which can speak for the whole industry, and can give advice on all those things which make for efficiency in industry. It is no use arguing that this industry is sub-divided. It is not the only industry which 334 is sub-divided: the boot and shoe industry and the building industry are both sub-divided. It would be foolish to say that because in the building of the new Chamber there are masons, carpenters and bricklayers there could not be a co-ordinating body. Can it be argued that there could not be co-ordination in the boot and shoe industry because there are different manufacturers for boots, heavy shoes, light shoes, ballet shoes, and slippers.
§ Mr. S. Shephard
They are still shoes, though, and there is not the same difference between them as between a corset and an overcoat.
§ Mr. Attewell
Well, I should have said they were both clothing. I cannot understand why, because sub-contractors take over parts of the work, they ought not to be classed as members of the clothing industry. The sub-contractor merely takes over a division of the labour; he does a certain part of the work, in many cases because those who take on the whole job cannot perform that part of the work as efficiently as the sub-contractor who, basing his organisation on a specialised part of the industry, can perform that part of the job more economically and much more cheaply than the main contractor. It is well known that in London many industries are sub-divided for that reason.
§ Colonel Hutchison
On that analogy, would the hon. Gentleman say that firms sub-contracting to supply, say, capstans to ships were also shipbuilders?
§ Mr. Attewell
I notice that there are not the normal leaders of the Opposition opposing this order, and it rather looks as though on this issue there are certain rebels going against the party line.
I should like to direct attention to the Second Schedule, paragraph 5 of which concerns promotion of the production of products of standard qualities. Surely a development council could do that very efficiently, and by giving a decision, after considering all aspects, could get agreement in the industry, thus enabling it to perform its functions efficiently. I do not want to go through them all. I do not think there is any case for saying that the functions described in the Second Schedule cannot be performed by this council. I very much doubt whether the 335 organisation has not got certain subcommittees which have dealt with some of these points even before this council has been formed.
The objection is, of course, to someone outside the industry, someone in the shape of the Government, coming into their affairs. That is the hostility on the part of all employers in these industries. It is the same in the case of my own industry, the boot and shoe industry. Let us see why it is absolutely essential that there should be independent people on this council selected for their knowledge and capability of determining what is best in the interests of the nation. If we did not have these co-opted members we should have the industry "ganging up" against the community. Fancy the trade union side and the employers' side sitting round a table and having the powers suggested here. It is obvious what would happen. The only safeguard is to have people who are not connected financially in any way with the industry to ensure that the public are protected.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
I trust that the right hon. Gentleman felt his head burning with the coals of fire heaped on it when my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard) said that after 30 years' experience in the trade he had some slight knowledge of part of it. I am very disappointed with the right hon. Gentleman. Sometimes he proves himself to be a practical man of affairs. Just lately he has been telling us that he proposes to liberalise British trade with Europe and encourage the importation of all sorts of products and commodities from Europe in competition with our own trades. At other times, notably tonight, he exhibits a narrow academic line of thought, which only puts into my mind the suggestion that the sooner he returns to Oxford the better, to resume, not the teaching for which he is fairly famed, but learning ab initio. He showed that he had a lot to learn about trade and industry from the practical point of view.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
He has a bit of Jekyll and a bit of Hyde, but tonight 336 he has been in the black mood of Hyde, and we all regret it.
I should like to know how the right hon. Gentleman can reconcile his attitude on concentration of industry with that liberality of industry and commerce when it comes to overseas trade. I do not think it is necessary to deal with what is contained in this document I dislike it so much that I would not have gone to the trouble of turning the pages to deal with the individual points detailed in print were it not for the fact that my notes are written on them; otherwise I would tear it up right away.
There seem to be four stages in the Socialist experiment. The first is trade organisation, then the working party, followed by the development council and finally, public control in the national interest. Something has been said about trade organisations. I do not know whether I go all the way with my hon. Friends in that matter. I have felt for some time now that there were signs of danger even in the voluntary formation of trade organisations in industry. In electricity supplies, telephone cables and so on, the indications are that too much of a monopoly is being created by voluntary effort.
This second stage of imposing a working party and following it up with a development council is no more than an expansion of the trade organisation idea. It is, in fact, an increasing degree of concentration in industry on both sides with Government approval and chaperonage, if I can use that word, and against the consumers' rights and interests. Now we are going to have established for the clothing industry this development council, and no doubt when five years have gone by, and when the fowl has been properly dressed and trussed and all differences in the industry smoothed over with a great deal of utility types of garments fostered and produced by the Government, the Lord President will come down to the House and say that the industry is ripe for nationalisation.
These stages in the process remind me of the four courts which tried the unfortunate patron saint of France, Joan of Arc. First of all there was the soldiers' court, which tried her for military indiscretions and offences. Then there was the 337 priests' court, which tried her for having destroyed the faith of the simple peasants in the countryside. Then there was the bishops' court, which proceeded against her on the grounds that she was a relapsed heretic and accused her of doctrinal inconsistencies. Finally, there was the Holy Inquisition itself, which tortured her soul and led her to the funeral pyre. That is exactly the plight in which some of us on this side of the House see the fallen figure of British competitive industry at the present time. It is a gradual process of gathering the forces of production together, bringing both sides of industry together, giving Government approval to an elaborate scheme of control, and, finally, it is taken over.
We have seen this process in other countries. The first thing that Dr. Schacht did when he was given charge of the German finances was to set about the process of controlling and regimenting private industry precisely on the lines of these development councils. It is no good the Minister talking about both sides of the industry having agreed to this process, or arguing that hundreds of letters of approval have been received from branches of the industry and from private persons. Of course, those on the production side are delighted with the idea. It is feather bedding the whole concern for them. They will get guaranteed prices, fixed margins and whatnot, but at every stage the quality of the goods produced will decline and the price will rise.
The Minister cannot cite one single example of any firm or industry brought into a development council in the last five years or as long as the process has been at work, in which quality has improved and prices have fallen. The consumer is being penalised by this gradual process of the concentration of power in the hands of the Government embracing both sides of productive industry. The Minister talks of the elimination of shoddy production, and says that products will reach the highest state of efficiency. What possible guarantees are there of that taking place?
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite amaze me. None of them sells anything at all. It is one of the weaknesses of the Socialist Party that there is not one commercial salesman on the Benches opposite. [Interruption.] If there is, he is not very vocal. We never hear his 338 views in this Chamber. The other point is that they have a blind faith in organisation and in close working under the aegis of Government. They have faith in that as a means of improving productivity, price and quality. Of course, it does nothing of the kind.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are up against human nature every time. If we put people into very close relationship and give them power, first of all through a development council and finally through Government guarantees of all sorts and kinds, the first thing they do is to slack, and the second thing is to produce cheaper quality goods. I believe that by far the greatest danger that civilisation and the consumer interests in this country face today is a new alliance against them by Government and by both sides of industry.
What Parliament ought to be doing at the present time is to go completely on the other tack and to enforce competition. We ought to be applying the anti-monopoly law to trade associations and to development councils so as to break them up and put them into competition as the only means of ensuring a fair chance to the consumer in quality and price. Parliament is taking the wrong function tonight and is not doing what it ought to be doing, which is to defend the consumer as the representative of the consumer. Instead, it is taking the line of Government against people. For that reason I deplore the paper that has been placed before us tonight.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Austin (Stretford)
Before I address myself to the main point which has prompted my intervention, I want to deal with two points made by the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). He referred to the trial of Joan of Arc and to the fact that four courts sat in judgment upon her before she was ultimately executed. Had anybody suggested a fifth court, a court of peers, of which the noble Lord was a member, Joan of Arc would probably not have got a hearing at all.
An element of condescension emanates from the noble Lord when he addresses the House, whether he is speaking to my right hon. Friend, or to any right hon. Member on this side, or to back benchers. He asked my right hon. 339 Friend to go back to Oxford and undertake training ab initio, in strong contrast to the erudition from which we benefit whenever the noble Lord addresses us. I ask hon. Members to contrast the wisdom and practical knowledge which my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Attewell) brings from industry and the amount of knowledge which is contained in his little finger, with the tremendous erudition in the noble Lord's noble cranium.
We have heard enunciated from the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard) a most dangerous principle and doctrine which has been advocated by hon. Members opposite from time to time since 1945. The hon. Member referred to that element in the clothing industry which was prepared to co-operate with the Government in the setting up of a development council as "Quislings." When the Opposition embark upon that line, the development is of a pernicious character and hon. Members opposite are on very dangerous ground. I was at the Tory Party Conference in 1947 when the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) moved a resolution in which he, too, deprecated that certain business men were prepared to take service in nationalised industries. He said, "We shall know how to deal with them when we get back into power," and referred to them in a term something like "traitors." We have had the same sort of comment made about those public-spirited people in the steel industry who are prepared to divest themselves of politics from time to time and take service in the industry for the benefit of their country.
Accordingly, if there are responsible elements among the Opposition—sometimes I doubt it—surely it is up to them in the interests of democracy to dissociate themselves from this process of intimidation of public-spirited business men who are prepared to serve their country, sometimes in uniform and sometimes in industry. I ask the next speaker from the Opposition to refute what was said by the hon. Member for Newark.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Osborne (Louth)
First of all, I gladly take up the point which has just been made by the hon. Member for 340 Stretford (Mr. Austin). I have seen letters written by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his own fair hand to business men friends of mine who have served for many years both the Coalition Government and the present Government in the very highest capacities in industry and have served the nation loyally and extremely well. I am proud to say that those business men friends of mine have received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressions of the warmest thanks for the patriotic work they have done. It does not need proving from this side of the House that we are as patriotic as hon. Members opposite claim to be. Where a law has been in force, we have loyally carried it out and done our best, and I am sure the President of the Board of Trade will bear me out in that.
I rather regretted one point made by the President of the Board of Trade. Twice he referred to shoddy production from this industry. I believe he will live to regret that. We are trying to export our manufactures abroad. Those manufactures will earn dollars wherewith we shall buy our foodstuffs and the raw materials to keep our people employed, and for the President of the Board of Trade twice tonight to proclaim to the world that what we are producing is shoddy is the greatest disservice he could possibly do the nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Look up HANSARD tomorrow—
§ Mr. Wilson
I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepresent what I said. I was not suggesting that what is being exported is shoddy. I paid a great tribute to our exports, but everyone knows that, particularly before the war, particularly before the utility scheme, and to some extent today, some trashy, shoddy stuff was and is being produced by the industry and dumped on the home market, to the detriment of the best interests of the consumer.
§ Mr. Osborne
That is a more reasonable statement than the President made originally. I was drawing this to the attention of the House and the President lest he make the same mistake and inadvertently and unwittingly do the country harm by saying that industry is producing shoddy goods. We are not. We are producing first-class goods in this country. The tragedy so often is, as the President 341 well knows, that owing to the necessities of the export trade the best quality goods have to go abroad and the cheaper and poorer goods are kept at home for our own people. I beg of him in future not to refer to the shoddy goods we are making. On the whole, we are making very good goods.
Before I go further, I ought to declare my interests. I am a director of one or two companies making textiles which will be affected by this order. There are four practical objections to the order. The first is that it is being made at an inappropriate time. The Government are at present quite rightly asking all sides of industry to make a great effort to produce more goods and to produce better quality goods and cheaper goods in order to fill the dollar gap. If that great requirement is to be fulfilled, both sides of industry must work together harmoniously. Now it is quite unreasonable to expect the employers to play their part in the export drive as well as they might do, if they feel that they are having put upon them through this order something to which they object violently.
May I put it to hon. Members opposite in this way? Supposing that an order of this nature were being brought forward by a Tory Government and 80 per cent. of the trade unionists objected to it, what would their reaction be? It would not be one of willing co-operation, it would be one of, "Well, what is done will be done grudgingly and not at all well." I beg the President of the Board of Trade to think of the overall problem of increasing our production today in order to meet the much more important requirement of filling the dollar gap.
My second objection is this. The real purpose of the development council is given in paragraph 1 (2) which says:… to increase as much as possible efficiency and productivity in the industry.That is quite all right as far as it goes, if it is possible. What method do the Government propose to employ to achieve that? It is proposed to set up a series of committees. My hon. Friend said there were only three committees, but the President at once jumped up and said, "Oh, but you can have lots of other committees if you want them." The tragedy in England today is that far too many businessmen are spending far too much time in committees and not enough time 342 in their own works. We are suffering from a modern disease that I call "committeeitis" and we are developing a type of businessman—I hate to have to admit it—who loves to go to a committee and talk about trade in general instead of staying at home looking at his own problems. Efficiency and productivity will be increased only if men stay in their own factories and I put it to the President that he will not get that increased productivity which he thinks he will get by setting up more committees.
My third objection is that in paragraph 6 (4) there is again talk of levies and £300,000 is to be raised. The President has said that it represents only a tiny fraction of the income of the industry. That is true, but at the present time the Government are insisting on rigid economy. Much as they hate it, it is economy, economy, economy everywhere. Yet here in an industry which could well do without this for the time being we are being urged to spend more money and to collect more money. I suggest that this £300,000 for three years will not be nearly enough. I put this to the President as well, that the £300,000 will be spent on non-productive labour and the productive industries are crying out because there is a shortage of labour. By setting up these various committees we shall drain the labour market still further
My last objection is this: Paragraph 9 (1) says that there will be a penalty of £50 and sub-paragraph (3) says that there will be a maximum penalty of two years or a tine of £100. There are quite sufficient penalties in this country already without concocting any more, and it is a pity to create further crimes that the industrialist may commit unwittingly. For those four reasons, I suggest that if the President of the Board of Trade wants to get the maximum production which the country needs, he would be wise even now to withdraw the order for 12 months and then bring it forward again, because the present is a most inappropriate moment.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Cobb (Elland)
I want briefly to direct the attention of the House to two points which have arisen tonight. I work in an industry which is also subject to seasonal fluctuations, but, unlike the industry we are discussing, it has a scientific background. The arguments I have heard tonight from the other side of 343 the House remind me of a visit I paid a short while ago to a Yorkshire textile factory, where I observed that all the machinery bore the date stamp of 1864 and that the electrical generating plant was a Siemens Schuckert job of 1871, about the oldest piece of work I have seen outside the Science Museum.
When I had observed that I thought a few jobs here and there could be mechanised, the ancient gentleman in charge of the place became "fed up" and said to me, "Young man, this process has been going on for 6,000 years and we have now reached ultimate wisdom." That was the attitude of that manufacturer. It is summed up by the attitude of hon. Gentlemen who have spoken tonight from the benches opposite. It is not surprising that that attitude is supported by the noble Lord the Member for Southern Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) with the feudal atmosphere which we always associate with him.
To the Opposition Members who oppose the order I should like to address two questions on research. It has been admitted that one large section of the industry does not employ a single scientist. It is this situation to which we on this side of the House object. British industry will not do its job to the community unless it alters its attitude in this respect.
§ Mr. Cobb
A trained technologist is a man who has been to a technical college or university and has been trained in one branch or another of technology. Alternatively, a scientist is a man who has been to a university and has come out with either a pass or an honours degree in science. It has been admitted by the Opposition that scientists are not 344 employed in this industry. I ask them now whether they have a research association. Apparently, they had not. It is just that attitude of mind of which we on this side of the House, the guardians of the consumer, complain. We do not believe that the industry will do its job by the community until it alters its attitude.
In 1945 I went to America. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would describe the American clothing industry as "go ahead." Whilst there, I bought a pair of pyjamas. They were subject to four different patents. That, however, is an idea quite foreign to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Americans have engaged in research and the firm in question, thinking they had better pyjamas than their competitors, patented them. I have never yet seen a pair of British pyjamas which were subject to a patent.
The other point which I should like to bring to the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite relates to our ideas for dealing with the question of seasonal fluctuation. I have worked nearly 30 years in an industry which is subject to this problem, and I know how it can be tackled. It is a difficult problem, on which there are two theories. One is the theory that the prime job of management—I am sure hon. Members opposite will not understand this—is forecasting and, flowing from forecasting, planning. I would suggest to hon. Members opposite that the most successful people in the clothing industry practise the difficult job of forecasting and planning. The unsuccessful, those the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) mentioned as beginning to view a pair of clogs with a little wistfulness, do not practise it and, in the long run, they go bankrupt. They may think that a good thing, but we do not think it is a good thing for the country.
§ Mr. Cobb
No, what I am suggesting is that it is not a good thing to get an amount of capital and labour in an enterprise which, due to sheer bad management, is allowed to go bankrupt. We do not think that is to the benefit of the community and that is why we want a 345 development council. The job of forecasting is very difficult and is funked by far too many managements. It is to decide 12 to 18 months ahead what a customer is going to want 18 months before the customer knows he wants it. This is one of the most difficult jobs of management, but it can be done, and is done. It is not done in a sufficient number of cases.
The alternative is what I call the theory of the fluid factory. One always hears inefficient salesmen and commercial managers supporting the theory of the fluid factory. The theory is that a factory is like a box with a number of keys on it. One presses "X" and 5,000 a week comes out. The salesman finds he is on a good thing and says "I do not want 5,000 a week, but 10,000 and I want it tomorrow." That is the alternative to forecasting. These are the reasons why we want a development council.
Turning to the question of technology and scientists, in America the United Garment Workers got "fed up" with their employers and engaged scientists and technologists whom they put in the factories in order to introduce modern methods. If hon. Members opposite continue their opposition, the trade unions here will do the same and we shall then see how they like it.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
I must confess I have some little difficulty in following the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Cobb). If I made an attempt to summarise his point of view, perhaps I might fairly say that he wants a development council in the clothing industry so that we can have patented pyjamas in Britain. It is true that different industries command and demand a greater number of technologists than others. In the clothing industry the greatest amount of research carried on today is not in the industries making up the garments, but in the industries concerned with the manufacture of materials which are used.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I cannot give the number, but, if the hon. Member casts his mind over the materials used by the textile industry and the enormous number 346 of firms engaged in the industry—some of the foremost in the world—he will realise that the diversity of materials is very considerable. The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Attewell), who made a speech which must have been of considerable embarrassment to the President of the Board of Trade, said that he thought the Opposition were tonight in the charge of rebels and that we were Trotskyist deviationists from the party line. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) has an engagement elsewhere. I do not know to what the earlier absence of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade was due; he did not tell us.
This Development Council Order is very different from any other order that has been before the House so far. We on this side of the House have adopted a consistent attitude towards development councils. We opposed the Second Reading because we were not satisfied about this compulsory element, and we sought to make many Amendments into the Bill. We supported the Government on the Second Reading because of the firm assurances we were given as to the Government's intention to pursue only a voluntary system and to avoid compulsion almost at all costs.
The objection which we raised when the Measure was still a Bill was that an enabling Bill was not a satisfactory means of carrying out this idea, and that that had been proved to the hilt. We see here and now that industries are so diverse in their make-up that it is impossible to carry out the Government's intentions through the medium of an order such as that which we are now debating. This discussion tonight is inadequate for the case which we have in mind. This matter ought to be probed much further than it can be in a short Debate such as this. The mechanism of an enabling Bill is quite improper for this purpose.
We on this side of the House are not opposed to development councils as such. We realise that there are many things that can be done in common by industries to the advantage of industry as a whole, and wherever it is practicable to do those things in common we want to see them done. Therefore, we are not opposed in any way to the concept of development councils. If any evidence is needed to 347 support that view, it is that we have, on cotton, furniture and jewellery, supported the Government in the development council orders that they have brought before the House. But we cannot support the present order for the clothing industry.
I hope tonight, even at this late hour, that the President of the Board of Trade will realise how unwise it is to persist with this order—unwise from the point of view not only of the industry but of the whole structure of development councils. If the right hon. Gentleman really believes that development councils are going to serve this country and industry well, he will do one thing tonight; he will announce that he is going to postpone the application of this order, because I know of nothing which is more likely to damage the concept of a development council than this order.
I should like to review one or two things which have happened. I ask this question specifically: Why did the right hon. Gentleman inform the industry at the outset in January, 1948, that a voluntary body would not be acceptable? Here was an industry filled with immense difficulties, and surely in this industry more than in any other a voluntary body might have solved the problem. I know that a compulsory body will not solve it. Why does the President of the Board of Trade say that a voluntary body will not be acceptable? We want an answer to this question. It is important to try to get behind the mind of the President of the Board of Trade and see exactly what he intends to do about this matter.
I should like to refer to the second meeting at which, according to my information, he made a most extraordinary statement on which this House ought to have an answer. He said that he was prepared to go ahead with a compulsory development council if all the employers in the industry objected to it. I want to know by what sense or reason the right hon. Gentleman made such a stupid and dangerous remark. I want to know why he was so foolish as to try to hold a pistol at the head of the industry and then imagine that afterwards he could get co-operation. If that is correct—and I invite him to say whether it is or not—it was a dangerous and stupid remark I see the right hon. Gentleman indicates 348 that it is not correct. Why, then, has he almost carried out what it is alleged that he threatened to do?
Surely he has had proof tonight that only a small proportion of the industry, a small proportion of the employers, will support a development council. It has been proved to the satisfaction of the House that only the smallest minority of employers are prepared to accept a development council. I do not know what is the percentage, but in terms of the productivity of the industry I should say that the number of people on the employers' side who are prepared to accept the development council does not amount to more than 5 per cent. of the total production. The President intends to impose a development council on an industry in which he knows that at least 95 per cent. of the employers are opposed to it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard), in an extremely able speech, pointed out how the very purpose of development councils could not be achieved in the clothing industry. The development council can succeed if there are within the industry certain clearly defined common purposes that can be served. In that case a development council can serve some very material purpose, but if there is, as in the case of the clothing industry, such a diversity of interests, then a single development council cannot function. Indeed, when the working party was set up, it was not a single working party to deal with the industry; there were three working parties set up. The Government itself, therefore, admits that this is not a single industry in the accepted sense of the term. We know there are no common functions which can be performed by a development council and that it is senseless to try to have a development council in an industry which has not sufficient common functions.
§ Mr. Charles Smith (Colchester)
Since the hon. Member has referred specifically to the reports of the working parties, is he aware that in the recommendations of the working party on the light clothing industry specific reference is made tocertain broad questions which concern both the light and heavy sections of the clothing industry349 and to the fact that it isessential that machinery should be provided which would enable those questions to be dealt with by and on behalf of both sections of the industry concerned, acting in concert"?
§ Mr. Shepherd
What the hon. Member must realise is that when we set up a development council in this way, in fact we put a levy on the industry; and if all sections of the industry do not receive an adequate return for the levy, there will be material discontent. That must happen in this case because there are 12 different sections, so that obviously six members—the total number allocated for the employers' side—cannot even represent all the sections. Obviously the whole thing cannot work, and if it could I am sure the trade would accept it.
In conclusion, I want to deal with the broader aspects of the question, which are perhaps more important than this immediate question. What if the right hon. Gentleman is foolish enough tonight to pursue this order and get an Affirmative Resolution? Presumably he has somebody in mind. I understand that the chairman-designate of this council is not prepared to go ahead under existing circumstances. As the thing stands, the first action of the President will be to throw over the chairman-designate and try to find another. What if he does set up this development council? I ask the House what conceivable good he will do to himself, to the country, to the industry or to the concept of development councils? I ask the House to consider what will happen. The development council has statutory powers only in respect of demanding returns of certain statistics and also in respect of the levy. No recommendation of the development council is binding upon those who have to pay for it, so that all that is likely to happen in the present circumstances is that the right hon. Gentleman will pursue his reckless and insane course of setting up this council and then find it absolutely marooned.
He can have his members of the council, his Quislings or semi-Quislings; he can spend an awful lot of the industry's money; and each and every one of the recommendations can be completely ignored in the industry itself. Is that what the right hon. Gentleman is setting out to do tonight? I can see nothing more likely than this happening. As 350 I said at the beginning of my speech, I can conceive is more likely to throw into complete disrepute the whole conception of development councils than what the President is trying to do tonight. If he sets up this organisation against the wishes of the trade, he will obviously do very material damage to the whole idea of development councils.
Let us remember that we are not here dealing with a well-tried instrument. I am ignoring for the purpose of this argument the Cotton Board, for circumstances in the cotton industry vary considerably. We are not dealing with a proven instrument, but dealing with a completely new idea which, in practice, may even fail. If this had been an idea that had been proved by experience, then the right hon. Gentleman would be justified in bringing this sort of pressure; but as the idea has not been proved by experience, he ought to proceed with the greatest possible caution, and aim to get the greatest amount of voluntary support for this scheme.
This Government is suspect so far as industry is concerned. Let us realise that. No one likes the executioner or the potential executioner. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member is found out."] That will be proved in a few months' time. To pursue the development council simply because a number of trade unionists want it is only to add to the suspicion which industry has, so far as this Government is concerned. Let us remember that the whole thing reeks of humbug and hypocrisy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I will tell hon. Gentlemen opposite why it does. I will give them one example to show how really hypocritical the Government are over development councils.
The first time I ever heard about development councils was when I was reading the second report on the white fish industry by my right hon. Friend the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A Duncan), who was Chairman of the Sea-Fish Commission. He recommended a development commission for that industry. That, I think, was the first time this idea was ever expressed in public. That commission was, in fact, set up in 1938. And what happened? In 1949—a few months ago—the Government abolished the development commission set up for that industry. Why did 351 they do so? They did so because the Ministry of Food have great power over the fishing industry at the present time. It seems to me that what the Government seek to do is to get the maximum control over industry in one form or another. If they can get it by abolishing development councils, as in the case of the fishing industry, they do so. If they can get it by establishing one, they also do that.
I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to try to get a voluntary council in this industry. A compulsory one must fail. If our appeal goes unheeded, as so many of our appeals have gone unheeded in the past, we must reserve to ourselves the right within a few months after the General Election has been held to look very carefully indeed at this attempt to impose a development council where one cannot possibly succeed. If we are returned—[HON. MEMBERS: "If."]—we shall review this matter in realistic fashion. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to place us in that position but to abandon this order tonight, and to try to get a voluntary council which I believe to be the only one practicable in the circumstances.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilson
If I may have the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like to reply to what the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) and others have said, because the argument we have just listened to is one of the most extraordinary I have ever heard. What the hon. Gentleman seems to have been saying is that the Conservative Party, or at least the Conservative Party in this House, is not against development councils in principle, but it will not support a development council in any case where the employers, whoever the employers may be, whether a crowd of progressive-minded employers or backwoodsmen, are opposed to it. In other words, the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that the Tory Party has abdicated all responsibility for deciding for themselves, and they will only support a development council in those cases in which the employers think it desirable.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The right hon. Gentleman is trying to misrepresent what I said. I repeat that we are not opposed to the principle of development councils, but where there is complete opposition by 352 the employers to a development council, we must consider the merits in each case. If we believe that the opposition is well-merited we shall oppose the order.
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. Gentleman has not in any sense satisfied our feeling on this side of the House about this matter. It is quite clear that the hon. Gentleman and the Tory Party have no intention at all, judging from what has been said tonight, of supporting any development council if the employers are opposed to it. Furthermore, the hon. Gentleman went on to forecast what was likely to happen in the clothing industry if, as we anticipate, this order is passed. He went on to suggest that the employers would not only continue in their policy of non-co-operation in this matter, but that individual employers—all of them presumably—would boycott the work of the development council and attempt individually or collectively to frustrate the will of this House as declared both in the Act and this Measure tonight. The hon. Gentleman dealt with other points and I shall come back to them in a moment.
First, I should like to say a word about the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). We got into a little statistical difficulty at the beginning. He quite correctly said that insured employment in the industry was 507,000. I gave the number employed on productive processes as between 400,000 and 500,000. There is no contradiction between those two figures. In fact there are a number of clericals in the industry estimated at about 10 per cent. which would fully reconcile all the figures which we both quoted.
The statistics which he and other hon. Gentlemen quoted about the numbers alleged to be in support of, or alleged to be opposed to, the development council did lead in my view to a considerable misuse of the figures put forward. It was pointed out—and I have not disputed this figure—that the total trade union organisations in the industry represent not very much more than 30 per cent. of the total number of workers employed in the industry.
Therefore, it was suggested that perhaps the remaining 70 per cent. are against the development council. If that 353 argument is to be used, I may also remind the House that only 25 per cent. of the employers, at a liberal estimate, have, through their organisations, expressed hostility to the development council. Are we therefore to conclude that the other 75 per cent. are in favour of it. We can only go on the precise figures that we know. The figures which I gave the House are, I believe, accurate, and they show that the workers in the industry, as represented by their trade unions, are completely in favour of the development council, and that the employers are largely, but not completely, against it.
The hon. Gentleman quoted a statement I was alleged to have made that I did not propose to set up a development council for this industry against the wishes of the employers. When I challenged him on that, he did not substantiate it. I repeat that I said nothing of the kind at the meeting. I have with me a note of the meeting, and the statement recorded in that note is exactly as I gave it when an hon. Gentleman courteously gave way to me an hour or so ago. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to say that even if this order is passed, it will be useless because the Development Council have no power and authority, apart from the power to call for returns and registers of persons engaged in the industry. They can only make recommendations which individual manufacturerers will be free not to carry out. I agree with the definition of the legal position of the development council, but once again I invite the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the cotton industry, where the Cotton Board have no more power or functions than are proposed in this order, and where the Board have been able to give a tine lead to the industry, and a large number of individual employers have been only too glad to avail themselves of the services of the development council.
§ Commander Galbraith
Surely the reason for that is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer succeeded in obtaining the help of the employers.
§ Mr. Wilson
That is one of the reasons I suggest that the employers in this industry are so misguided in opposing the development council.
The hon. Gentleman further argued, if I understood him correctly, that it was wrong to suggest that one single 354 council could cover the industry. He said that the proposal that there should be a single council covering the whole industry was one of the main reasons for the opposition of the employers. If that is so—and it was never put to me in the discussions with the employers—I ask him whether the employers would have been likely to support us if we had suggested, not a single body, but three, four or five development councils for the clothing industry? They had every chance over a period of two years to suggest separate development councils for separate sections of the industry. They have not made that suggestion. The hon. Gentleman poured scorn on the suggestion of having a single council for the whole industry.
§ Commander Galbraith
May I interrupt on this point, because it is one of considerable importance? The right hon. Gentleman, on 9th November, 1948, at the meeting with the industry said that in his opinion a single development council was appropriate and necessary. Surely if the right hon. Gentleman makes a statement like that, he means it, and therefore there was no use in the industry going ahead with other proposals.
§ Mr. Wilson
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman quote the words I used ten months earlier, when I said that I had an open mind on the particular form of the council appropriate to the industry and invited their ideas as to whether it should be a single council, a federal council or a series of separate councils. After ten months of non-co-operation and complete failure on the part of the employers to respond to that invitation, I naturally had to say what my point of view was. It is wrong of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to suggest that my statement of 9th November, 1948, means that the employers never had a chance to put forward an alternative suggestion. In any case, as I have already said, though individual Members of the House, including the hon. and gallant Gentleman, may pour scorn on the suggestion of a single council, the working parties themselves recommended a single council for the whole industry.
As to the noble Lord, the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), I do not propose to follow him in all he said tonight, particularly about Joan of Arc; but I liked his picture of what he called the valiant figure of British competitive 355 industry, although that figure was smirched a little by his references to monopolistic tendencies in certain industries. Seeing that he was specific in that, it was perhaps as well that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) was not here; but I would say that these industries are being investigated by the Monopolies Commission, which is the proper body for this purpose.
The noble Lord said—and here I agree with him—that the function of any organisation set up in an industry such as this should be to protect the consumer if both sides of the industry should gang up against him. I would remind the noble Lord that there is more provision for the protection of the consumer in these development councils than in the trade associations and cartels which grew up so much in many industries under the rule of the party opposite.
The main attack tonight has not been on the details of the order, nor has it been so much in terms of the conditions of the industry; the main line of attack has been on the question whether we should set up a development council in an industry in the face of the hostility of the employers. There was considerable quotation, and in many cases misuse, of certain statements made by my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends, in this House at the time of the passage of the Industrial Organisation and Development Bill. Perhaps, since they were partially quoted, it is right that I should give the House an account of what was said. On Second Reading my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then President of the Board of Trade, said—and I stand tonight by what he said then,… to do things by compulsion is far less healthy and less effective than to do them by agreement. Even if agreement takes rather longer—as, of course, it must—it is, in the long run, more effective. Agreement must, wherever possible, be by both sides of the industry, and the majority of both sides.I agree with that statement. Wherever we can get development councils by agreement, there is a much greater chance of success. Certainly no one can complain that I have rushed a decision. The matter has been debated and discussed with the industry for two years.
§ Colonel Hutchison
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he ever invited the 356 industry to put forward its proposals for a voluntary body?
§ Mr. Wilson
I will deal with that point in a moment. Let me now continue my quotation which reads:I cannot, and I do not pretend to, give any undertaking that, in the last resort, in some special case, it may not be necessary to impose a development council by order, without the consent of everyone concerned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c. 552–554.]That is the full statement which my right hon. and learned Friend made. The suggestions put forward tonight that this present proposal is a breach of the pledges given by him are a complete misrepresentation of the facts. As my right hon. Friend, the then Paymaster-General, said during the Report stage of the Bill:We wish to proceed by agreement rather than by compulsion.I have done that for two years. My right hon. Friend also said on that occasion:While my right hon. and learned Friend does not wish to impose a development council upon an unwilling industry, nevertheless the facts may be that the least progressive elements in the industry concerned might constitute the majority."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 54.]And during the Third Reading Debate, my right hon. and learned Friend said:In deciding which industries are suitable for the setting up of development councils under the Bill we shall take into account the views of both sides of industry, though perhaps with a bias in favour of setting up a development council where the two sides may differ in their opinions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 91.]The hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) in addition to saying that we have betrayed the pledges which were made, went on to say that this is compulsion for compulsion's sake, and that here we have the iron hand without the velvet glove. Let me repeat again what I have already said several times—that the employers have never offered an advisory council in this industry, nor have I ever stated that I would never consider the idea of an advisory council if they had done so.
§ Colonel Hutchison
The right hon. Gentleman is not answering the question. Did he ever invite the employers to discuss the advisory council? From the outset they were led to believe that it was not acceptable. All he is saying is that he tried to persuade the employers to agree to the development council.
§ Mr. Wilson
I proceeded by discussing with the employers the reports of the three working parties. Two of these recommended the establishment of a development council, and the third was very much in agreement with the proposal; and I naturally started with the proposition from both sides of the industry of a development council, because the reports were unanimous. There was no reason why I should have invited them to approve something different from that, which came from the two sides of the industry. I have never said that I would not consider it if they suggested something. But to say there will be no co-operation is not the best way to advance the setting up of the appropriate machinery in this industry.
§ Commander Galbraith
I do not want it to go out that there has been some deliberate misstatement in regard to the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter. It is clearly stated, on behalf of the employers' organisations, that he made it clear at the first meeting which was held—on 13th January, 1948—that a voluntary body was not regarded as suitable for the clothing industry.
§ Mr. Wilson
That is a very different thing from what has been attributed to me—that I was never prepared to consider an advisory council. It is a very different thing—[Interruption.] Yes, certainly. I made it clear to the industry that it was our view, as recommended in the working party's report, that there should be a development council for the industry. I said that I did not think an advisory council was the right way to proceed, and I must say that it seems that some right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been supplied with some information which comes pretty close, if I may say so, to a misrepresentation of the position.
§ Mr. Wilson
I have quoted the pledges given by my right hon. Friends in the House and I have shown that I have not departed from those pledges; I have shown that I have tried my hardest to get agreement over the past two years with the industry. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) says that this is not the right time to introduce this idea; but the industry, I would remind him, 358 could have had this proposition at any time within the last two years.
§ Mr. Osborne
Surely the right hon. Gentleman sees my point. He must admit that the economic crisis is greater than ever since 1947 and the need for exports is more urgent and greater than ever before.
§ Mr. Wilson
Yes, and the need for all these desirable objects under a development council are all the more urgent. The plain fact is that the employers in this industry, as in one or two others, have hardened their hearts against a development council as the General Election has got nearer. There was, in fact, a sudden change of heart in a number of industries in the winter of 1947–48, when a number of employers' associations, previously supporting the principle of a development council, suddenly turned against it. That sudden move I do not believe to have been a coincidence. It was not unorganised, and it was not unpolitical in its origin. But now the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok says that at this stage in the nation's economic affairs, and with the economic blizzard, there is need for national harmony and national unity, which he considers to be in danger of being wrecked by this suggestion.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow says this order destroys the team-spirit. Once again we have the sight of the Tory Party coming forward on a purely class policy, as this is, simply because employers in this industry are against a development council, and appealing for support for that policy in the interest of so-called national unity. I would like to say to them again tonight that it is their partisan, doctrinaire approach to this problem which is creating disunity. Are the Opposition really saying that because the employers do not want a development council in some industry, the workers in that industry are to be denied the great advantages a development council can bring? Are they saying that in every case the employers, for insufficient and doctrinaire reasons, should have the right to veto any proposition for a development council? We on our side entirely reject the view that only the employers should have any right to a say in the higher policy and the higher direction of their industry.
359 The employers in this case have never produced a reasoned case against this proposal; they have not produced any reasoned case at all, but have merely declared their unwillingness to co-operate. They have never produced a constructive alternative, and I am regretfully forced to the conclusion that the employers' objections
§ to this proposal are purely political, just as the opposition to this order is political, and I ask the House, in the interests of national unity and higher production, to agree to this Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 196; Noes, 77.361
|Division No. 269.]||AYES||[10.50 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Guy, W. H.||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Price, M. Philips|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Hale, Leslie||Proctor, W. T.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Pryde, D. J.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Ranger, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hardy, E. A.||Rankin, J.|
|Baird, J.||Harrison, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Barton, C.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville.||Robens, A.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Berry, H.||Herbison, Miss M.||Royle, C.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Hobson, C. R.||Scollan, T.|
|Binns, J.||Holman, P.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Sharp, Granville|
|Blyton, W. R.||Houghton, Douglas||Shurmer, P.|
|Boardman, H.||Hoy, J.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hubbard, T.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Snow, J. W.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Janner, B.||Steele, T.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Burden, T. W.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Stokes, R. R.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, R. H.||Swingler, S.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Carmichael, James||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Keenan, W.|
|Collins, V. J.||Kinley, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cook, T. F.||Lavers, S.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Cullen, Mrs||Logan, D. G.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Daines, P.||Longden, F.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McAllister, G.||Timmons, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McEntee, V. La T.||Tolley, L.|
|Deer, G.||McGhee, H. G.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Delargy, H. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Diamond, J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Vernon, Maj W. F.|
|Dobbie, W.||McKinlay, A. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Donovan, T.||McLeavy, F.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Watson, W. M.|
|Edelman, M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mann, Mrs. J.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||West, D. G.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Messer, F.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Ewart, R.||Mitchison, G. R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Monslow, W.||Wigg, George|
|Farthing, W. J.||Moody, A. S.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Follick, M.||Murray, J. D.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Forman, J. C.||Nally, W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Oldfield, W. H.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Oliver, G. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Gibbins, J.||Orbach, M.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Gilzean, A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Woods, G. S.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Pannell, T. C.||Yates, V. F.|
|Grey, C. F.||Pargiter, G. A.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Grierson, E.||Parker, J.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Parkin, B. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Pearson, A.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hollis, M. C.||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hope, Lord J.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Bowen, R.||Hutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. J. G.||Jennings, R.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Keeling, E. H.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Challen, C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Low, A. R. W.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Touche, G. C.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||McFarlane, C. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Drewe, C.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marples, A. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Elliot, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Mellor, Sir J.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Molson, A. H. E.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr T. D. (Pollok)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||York, C.|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Nicholson, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col A.||Odey, G. W.||Brigadier Mackeson and|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre A. V.||Osborne, C.||Mr. Wingfield Digby.|
Question put, and agreed to.
That the Draft Clothing Industry Development Council Order, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th September, be approved.