§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Address, at the end, to add:But humbly regret that the only contribution in the Gracious Speech to the solution of the grave financial and economic problems which confront the nation is to make permanent the wartime powers of control by regulation already enjoyed by the Government, and to extend still further the State ownership of industry, instead of using their powers to halt the process of depriving the road hauliers of their livelihood and their customers of their services and to defer the vesting date of the nationalisation of iron and steel at this critical time.We have reached the concluding stages of our Debate upon the Government's programme for the forthcoming Session. We felt that it might be for the convenience of the House if we set down an Amendment in wide terms in which we could outline what we, at any rate, conceive to be the Government's main sins of commission and omission in the Gracious Speech. Speaking from this unaccustomed position at the Despatch Box, I am most anxious to start, at any rate, on the most uncontroversial note. I am very far from criticising all the proposals in the Gracious Speech. If I were a salmon or a sea trout I should be well satisfied with the efforts His Majesty's Ministers propose to make on my behalf. Should anyone seek to pollute my river or to poach me on a dark night, I am well satisfied that all the legislative and administrative machinery envisaged by right hon. Gentlemen opposite would be put into effect on my behalf.
We feel that, in the few hours that remain to us, we should be considering, 826 perhaps, some of the graver issues that are raised, and I think that, whatever else we may differ about on the two sides of the House, there is one matter referred to in this Amendment on which we should all be agreed, and that that is the gravity of the present situation—the gravity of the economic problem which confronts us, the difficulty of financing rearmament in an economy already stretched a long way. the gravity of the foreign problem, as to how we can rally the Western Powers to meet the threat which is deployed against them, and, not least, the moral problem of how we in the West can provide an alternative to that Communism which is already the effective master of very nearly the whole of Asia. I would say this, that if we failed in that last, I think we should fail in all else, too. We should be condemned to fight an endless rearguard action against the doctrines of Karl Marx, and Western civilisation and Western culture would have abandoned the possibility of giving to the world the leadership and government that it demands.
It is against that background, we believe, that the terms of the Gracious Speech should be examined, and I feel bound to say that, judged against that background, the proposals are miserably inadequate. No one could find in the terms of the Gracious Speech a very inspiring answer to the challenge of our times. Apart from a few reforms of a minor character, the main proposals are to perpetuate certain controls which the Government already possess and to extend their universal panacea of nationalisation to sugar beet refining. I believe that there are hon. Members on the benches opposite who also are disappointed with the terms of the King's Speech. They find it a somewhat timid venture into the realms of Socialism. At least, I believe I express their views when I say that. It 827 may be that they are, in part, satisfied with the intention of the Government to go ahead with the great programme of steel nationalisation, and also to go ahead in hounding the remaining free hauliers out of business.
A lot can be said, and no doubt will be said, about the details of the individual proposals. I intend to say something about the details of them myself. But I think that their real importance—and certainly the reason why we have brought them together in this Amendment—is not so much their individual or intrinsic merits, as that they are signposts which indicate the road which the Government are inviting us to travel. I thought that it would be convenient if at the outset of my remarks I said, very shortly, and as concisely as I could, what I think are the alternatives in front of us at this moment, and that then I could use these various illustrations—the road haulage situation, the question of controls, the matter of steel nationalisation—to illustrate my argument.
It seems to me that there are two courses open to us. I wish to state them as objectively as I can. There is, first of all, what I may call the traditional policy of this country, which hon. Members may disagree with but in which they would acknowledge that honourable men hold a belief. We hold it on these benches. We believe that the main basis of our society should be the capitalist and. broadly the competitive system: We think that private property is a respectable institution. We think that the profit motive is a useful and desirable incentive. We think that competition has an important part to play in keeping down prices. We think that monopoly, whether it is State monopoly or private monopoly, should be checked by appropriate institutions.
We think that the maximum amount of control should be exercised through the Budget and the minimum amount of control by administrative measures at the periphery. We believe that all controls and priorities ought to be under the constant supervision of the House of Commons; we should have regular opportunities of examining them and checking them, and if necessary of amending them. We believe that the proceeds of production should be widely shared, not only to support the State-run social ser- 828 vices, but also to encourage thrift over and above that.
A few weeks ago some of my hon. Friends published a book called "One Nation." That book dealt, if I may say so with respect, very fully and, I think many hon. Members would agree, in a most interesting manner with many of these matters which I am discussing. In that book they used a quotation which I should like to read because it is particularly appropriate to this theme. It was a quotation from Lord Randolph Churchill, who said:Public and private thrift must animate the whole"—that is the whole of the body politic—for it is from public thrift that the funds for these largesses can be drawn, and it is by private thrift alone that their results can be utilised and appreciated.That was the epitome of Tory democracy at that time, and it remains the epitome of Tory democracy today. I apologise for giving that quotation, but I think it is as well to get the background of this thing clearly in mind.
I would be the first to acknowledge that there are other views than that. There are honourable men who sincerely hold a different view of our society. Many of them are on the benches opposite. There are men who sincerely believe that the capitalist system degrades humanity: who genuinely believe that the private sector of the economy is not something to be praised and encouraged, but something to be tolerated only temporarily as a rather bitter and odious necessity: who feel that as soon as may be the privately-run industries, or most of them, should be replaced by public boards and run by public servants of distinction, varying in their composition to suit the needs of the particular industry; who think that public thrift is very often a bit of nonsense put up by the Tory Party as an excuse for cutting the social services, and that private thrift is in any event not now so much of a necessity in the Welfare State, in which everybody is looked after from the cradle to the grave.
In any event, those men who hold that view—and I say they are honourable men, and it is a view which is and can be held sincerely—wish to see the existing economic system altered as soon as may be, and the whole replaced by a Socialist economic system.
829 It is possible to hold either of those views, but I think it is important for political parties to make up their minds which of the two views they hold. Again, I say I believe that the majority of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are prepared to say where they stand in this matter. I believe—I hope I am right—that they believe in their Socialist economy; they want a Socialist economy in this country; I believe that they have not lost faith in nationalisation; I believe that they certainly would, if they were asked, say that they wanted to go on with the nationalisation of, say, cement. insurance, sugar, steel——
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I am much obliged —and of chemicals. I think that if I were to put the question to hon. Members opposite, none would rise and say that they wished to call a halt to that particular process.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies to the Debate, will give us his views about that. I should like him to say quite plainly—because after all, these matters will be challenged and fought out under our ordinary democratic system—where he stands in that matter. If, as I believe, he wishes to go forward in the way that I have described—which appears to have met with certainly general approval on the benches opposite—he will be in good company. Perhaps not good company, but at least he will have some doughty companions on the road, because of course Mr. Harry Pollitt would wish to go along that road as well. It would be at any rate interesting if the right hon. Gentleman would in reply indicate to us at what point he and Mr. Harry Pollitt would in fact part company. I have not the slightest doubt that he might, and I hope will, address a most interesting argument to the House about how he differs in the methods whereby the Socialist economy is to be attained.
But is there any, and if so what, difference in the end at which he is driving? If so, I should be very interested to hear it. Certainly it was not the view of the Minister of Health when he said at the Margate Conference that his case was "Let us do our own Socialist job ourselves." He regarded the Communist 830 Party, not as an organisation that was aiming at a different end, but as a rival in the process, and I wonder whether the Minister of Town and Country Planning will take the same view. At any rate, I hope he will tell us what he thinks about it when he replies.
If one wanted to know the general direction in which the party opposite was moving, I think one could not do better than study what they themselves were saying at their party conference. I believe it to be true that what parties say at their conferences the leaders of the party say, perhaps not then, but maybe next year or the year after. I think that will carry general approval. In the course of our Debate a great deal of criticism has been made about the way in which the Tory Party was supposed to have been stampeded into a resolution on 300,000 houses. The resolution on 300,000 houses at the Conservative Party Conference was chicken feed to the sort of resolutions which came out of the Margate Conference.
Let us take Willesden, East. Willesden, East, called for "a bold programme of nationalisation and socialisation." Is that what the right hon. Gentleman thinks we ought to have? I hope he will say. Then there was Salford, which wanted the introduction of "real Socialist planning"— none of this airy-fairy stuff in which the right hon. Gentleman indulges—by bringing the land, iron and steel, engineering, building, cotton, the banks and the other basic industries under State ownership.
§ Mr. Daines (East Ham, North)
The hon. Gentleman referred to the relationship of the party to its leader. Will he take it from me, as one who was present at Margate for most of the week, that the leader of our party stayed on the platform and listened to the debate? Will he also take it from me that the leader of our party did not find time to go to Newmarket to observe the racing.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I am interested to know that the Prime Minister was not at Newmarket. Indeed, I understand he has not got a horse. If, however, he listened to the debate it will be interesting, when the Minister rises to reply, to see what happened from that debate, because no doubt he will have been instructed to tell us how far it is proposed to carry this policy.
831 Let me proceed with these resolutions. Bristol, West, said that the party must either move forward or decline. It called upon the National Executive Committee to formulate a Socialist policy with which to fight and win the next election, and not to woo any particular section by pursuing the middle-of-the-road policy. I would be the first to concede that the party did not get all that it asked for. It cannot say that it is going to nationalise cotton, engineering, and the banks, but I suppose that hon. Gentlemen go about their constituencies saying: "We may not look like very good revolutionaries, but, by heavens, we have got your sugar beet refineries by the throat."
I would, however, like to say a particular word to the constituency party of Bristol, West. I do not think that they need worry themselves too much about the danger of the Socialist Party pursuing for any length of time a middle-of-the-road policy. I know that there have been individual members of the Government Front Bench who have talked about a mixed economy. The Lord President of the Council has often done it—how there was a sector for private enterprise and another sector for public enterprise.
I do not think that hon. Gentlemen opposite need worry themselves that they are going to have that mixed economy for very long. After all, what did the Minister of Health say? I know that the right hon. Gentleman sometimes says rather irresponsible things. I think that the right hon. Gentleman may agree with me about that. Here I am not accusing him of irresponsibility. He was winding-up on the official policy resolution of his party, with the full approval of the National Executive and of the Government. He said:We are on the way to Socialism, but we have not arrived. Eighty per cent. of the national economy is still in private hands and the whole public sector is poisoned by the miasma of private enterprise surrounding it everywhere.Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not worry about the mixed economy. They heard his speech, and they elected him by a record majority at the top of the poll. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with that view of the mixed system in this country? It was a speech well worth study, because the right hon. Gentleman 832 described the Labour movement as the accoucheur of the new society. Anyone who, like myself, has studied the right hon. Gentleman's views about painless birth would hesitate to employ him in any such intimate relationship.
I would not like the House to think that I am taking special or partial quotations from His Majesty's Ministers. There was The Secretary of State for the Colonies, who said that Socialists knew that the only effective way of controlling surpluses was by public ownership. Of course, they are controlling surpluses in the transport industry already by public ownership. There was no surplus left to worry them. They have satisfactorily got rid of that one.
§ Mr. Poole (Birmingham, Perry Barr) rose——
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of interrupting me when I come to talk about the road haulier, if he can contain himself that long. The official view expressed by the platform undoubtedly was the view which hon. Gentlemen have already expressed this evening, namely, that the party should move as fast as may be and as fast as electoral possibilities will allow towards the Left.
I now want to illustrate the general point which I have been making from matters which are specifically referred to in this Amendment. Let me say at once that I do appreciate the difficulty in which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have found themselves in the matter of this control policy. After all, the right hon. Gentleman has to build an election platform on something. He is no doubt considering the possibility of sending the Chancellor of the Exchequer round the country to explain that the rising cost of living is a popular illusion not supported by a scientific study of the facts. I imagine, however, that he has rejected that course.
Equally, it would be possible to send the Minister of Health round the country to explain why people cannot have more than 200,000 houses. But then, heaven knows what else he might say. I do appreciate their difficulties. I feel—and I say this frankly and fairly—that the policy pursued by the Socialist Party at the last election of gagging the right hon. 833 Gentleman, or, at least, of keeping him in South Wales, was, on the whole, a wise one.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have. I think, thought of something that is most ingenious. I compliment them on the handling of this control issue. They wish to paint to the country the following picture: They say that the choice that lies before the country is a wisely governed, carefully planned central organisation or Government, done under the aegis of great and wise statesmen—looking something like the right hon. Gentleman no doubt—or economic anarchy under the Tories. This particular theme does suggest obvious advantages. One is that they do not have to talk about Socialism at all. Socialism, on balance, has proved to be a rather unpopular issue in the country. It has another advantage —it is a theme which can be easily understood by the right hon. Gentleman's back benchers.
A member of the party to which I have the honour to belong has only to rise in his place and to suggest any possible action by the Government, and it will be met by the shrill girlish screams of the assembled ranks of economists below the Gangway, crying, "That means control, and you cannot do that." I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the way in which he has put this over. I will not insult him by suggesting that he really believes the story. It is perfectly plain to me that while we are, no doubt, confronted with many great difficulties in the months and years which lie ahead—with the problem of the rearmament campaign and all the rest—the danger of having too few controls would not rank very high. I should like to make this assurance to hon. Members opposite: If, at any moment, the Conservative Party found it necessary to get more power or to exercise more control by specific controls for the implementation of some facet of its policy, it would not hesitate to come to the House of Commons and ask for that power.
May I also say this: I think that we ought to be clear about the general principles which should govern us in this matter. We believe that in great matters it is right that laws should be made by the Legislature and not by the Executive. If I am asked what I mean by great matters, I mean things like the direction of labour. We should find it intolerable 834 if the Government were to ask for permanent powers to direct labour in peacetime. That is a thing which we think should not be tolerated, and in that I think we are supported by the overwhelming majority of the British people. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, to give the House an assurance on that. [An HON. MEMBER: "It has been given in another place."] I am not concerned with what happens in another place. I ask that we shall have the assurance. I know that the Lord Chancellor has expressed the view of something he thought should be done, but I want an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman on what he knows will be done, and in the clearest and most specific terms.
The other point about controls is this. We believe that the House of Commons should have a regular opportunity of checking the controls and the powers which are granted, and of curtailing them if necessary, and of demanding from Ministers an account of how these powers are exercised and why they want them continued. We should certainly like to have the right hon. Gentleman's views upon that matter. We believe that the right place to take a dispute, as between the subject and the Crown, is the courts of justice, not some tribunal which, in the words of the Attorney-General, is an excuse for "blowing off steam." If I may summarise my remarks, we say that lawmaking is a matter for the Legislature, and that the judicial processes are a matter for the King's courts. That is the constitutional principle for which we stand.
We feel that this desire for centralised controls is part and parcel of the same process that is going on with nationalisation. We believe it is a desire to build up a Socialist economy. There is nationalisation of the sugar beet refineries, but I do not think I need say a great deal about that. The "Economist" summed it up rather well, when it said that it is a ridiculous gesture in support of a bad principle. There is the continued intention to nationalise the steel industry. That is a Marxist solution, and all the reasons which are advanced are Marxist reasons, namely, to attain economic power. Why should we go on doing the things which please the Russians? If anyone were to ask the Kremlin what policy they would like us to pursue with 835 steel, I have not the slightest doubt they would say that we should put it under a public corporation, one member of which has been a Communist agent in this country for 10 years, and no member of which has had any experience at all in making steel.
I want to quote, as an illustration of my argument, what has happened in the case of the road hauliers. It is possible to see here, not as a matter of theory but of practice, what Socialism really means. It will be within the recollection of the House that under the Transport Act an artificial limit of 25 miles was placed upon the field of operations of transport hauliers, and that beyond that they were not allowed to operate without the permission of the British Transport Commission. Notice has just been served on no less than 5,300 of these hauliers that these permits are to be revoked. Virtually, their business will be halved, and probably the majority of them will be driven out of business. They will have to choose between competing either within the narrow confines of the 25-mile radius, or applying to be acquired by the British Transport Commission.
I want the House to notice the way this is being done. First of all, there is the picture given by the Government of what is happening—the British Transport Commission, a large responsible organisation with a great public servant at its head, with its judicial decisions taken after weighing the needs of the public, on the one hand, and the question of justice, on the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is not what is happening at all. What is happening is that the British Transport Commission has abdicated its responsibilities in this matter, handing them over to the Road Haulage Executive.
I have here a circular which has been sent down to the local group managers. They are invited to draw up a list of the permits which are to be granted and those which are to be revoked. These are men who are in direct competition with the hauliers concerned, and that is where the responsibility lies at the present time. Instructions are also given in this circular, in the clearest possible terms, that the majority of the permits are to be revoked. The only circumstances in which one is to be granted is that, for one reason or another, the traffic is so 836 unremunerative that it could not be carried by the British Transport Commission at a profit. I say that this is a complete abdication of the responsibilities of the British Transport Commission.
Moreover, the matter does not even end there, because, with the removal of all competition from independent hauliers, there is no limit at all upon the amount to which the road rates of this nationalised monopoly can be raised against the consumer. If there is any limit, I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to tell me what it is. I am willing to give way for him to give the answer. The only answer may be the transport tribunal, but it has no jurisdiction. At this moment, they can raise their road rates to any height they like. The Lord President of the Council tried to say the other day that there was the consumer councils, but even if they were any good, they have not yet been set up.
By the Transport Act, the British Transport Commission has got into its hands an unfettered monopoly. There is no machinery whatsoever for protecting the consuming public against the exercise of these monopolistic powers. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to name anyone that can help them in this matter. One can argue these things upon their intrinsic merits. I find it difficult to speak of these road hauliers without a feeling of anger at the way they have been treated, but I have had other opportunities of speaking about transport.
Tonight, I say that what is happening in transport is a practical illustration of Socialism. This is what it really means, and people in other industries will do well to look at what is happening in the field of transport. The issue which divides us is not a mean one; it is whether we wish to go forward with the Socialist conception of society, or whether, on our part, we should hold to what we regard as the more traditional methods. We think that when a great nation begins to accept the ideas and institutions of its enemies, it begins to totter to decay. We say, stop borrowing your ideas from the East and your political philosophy from a German political economist. We have a great Imperial tradition. We have taught half the world the meaning of democratic government. That is not a tradition we should lightly squander and cast away. We, for our part, intend to remain true to it.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
The House would wish me, and I gladly do so, to congratulate the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) upon the speech that he has just delivered from the Despatch Box opposite. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it was an interesting utterance. At the outset the hon. Gentleman stated some of the general points of difference which exist between the opinions held on the Government side of the House and the opinions held by the Opposition. He set them out quite accurately and effectively. He said, for example, that there were hon. Members on this side who regarded a capitalist society as a degrading form of society, and that upon that question there was a vital distinction between the opinions held on this side and the opinions held on the other side of the House. What do we say about that? We say that upon the evidence and the facts of history, capitalist society, when permitted to develop under its own steam and by its own methods, did prove itself to be a degrading society, which is the reason why we are here on this side of the House, and in such large numbers.
The hon. Member also referred to the fact that the Opposition were against any form of monopoly. He appeared to preach a kind of distributism. But, again, the capitalist economy of this country developed steadily in the direction of monopoly under the control and dispensation of hon. Members opposite. While that development was going on, and as the capitalist economy became more and more monopolistic and tyrannical in its effect, no kind of protest was made by the party opposite. On the contrary, they saw the process as a digging in of their power. They saw in it the creation and development of their opportunity. What do we say on this side of the House? We say that if monopoly there is to be—and present technical processes in large part demand monopoly—let it be a public monopoly, controlled by the people of the country exercising their sovereign powers in Parliament. After all, in the case of the nationalised industries the Minister responsible is answerable to Parliament.
Again, the hon. Gentleman—and I repeat, his was a speech which I greatly 838 enjoyed—referred to resolutions which came before the Labour Party Conference in Margate. In doing so, he put his finger upon an excellent feature in our party organisation, which distinguishes us from the Conservative Party. It may possibly be that some of the resolutions put up at the Labour Party Conference are somewhat inexpert in their expression. But they are the authentic, democratic views of the members of a democratic party, and they develop the policy for all of us. In the last resort, our policy is formulated and developed out of the resolutions which come from local parties representing local opinion. That is not the case with hon. Gentlemen opposite. Their policy is imposed from above by their Leader, and it is a policy on which Lord Woolton has to spend a few uncertain moments in determining whether to accept it or not. In deciding to accept it, he has landed the Conservative Party in a situation which, as it develops, may confront them with great difficulties.
The Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Monmouth shows the fundamental distinction which will exist between the Labour and Conservative Parties in the coming months and years. We believe in the necessity for substantial controls. As quickly as possible they want to get rid of controls. On this subject of controls, I venture to put the point that any effectual development of a housing policy demands and requires controls and even an extension of controls. What I object to in the outlook of the Conservative Party is that one day they are presenting insubstantial arguments to defend the target of 300,000 houses, and the next day are arguing against those very controls which are necessary to ensure that that number of houses, or anything like it, are built for the people who need them. We say that extensive and effective controls—the subject of the Amendment—are an absolutely fundamental necessity to any effective housing policy.
We are not accepting 200,000 houses per year as a final target. There is all the difference in the world between a realistic statement of what we hope to achieve with the economic resources available under the circumstances of the time, and an attempt to get a greater number of houses built. We can only do it by methods of control which hon. Members 839 opposite, in the Amendment, are decrying. For my part, if I may develop this theme in a very few sentences, I want to see the creation of special areas for housing, in which special emergency measures will be taken. I want to see the boundaries of these special areas established and their limits determined by reference to the ratio of the number of applications for houses in the locality and the number of houses being built. Where the number of houses being built is below a certain proportion of the applications on the housing list I want special areas to be created where special measures can be taken.
§ Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)
Would the hon. Member say what percentage he has in mind in relation to the number being built and the number of applications on the waiting list?
§ Mr. Irvine
I can understand the hon. Gentleman's desire for a percentage, and my candid answer is that I have not got the material available with which to give him a definite answer. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has all the facts, but I cannot give the hon. Member a particular proportion. I could if I had all the information the Minister has.
It may be said that the method I have suggested, of determining the boundaries of these special housing areas, is unsatisfactory. Objections can be raised to it, but it is easier to raise objections than to build houses. I know of no better method. It can be said that the list of housing applicants is not necessarily a sound test of local housing needs, but I know of no better test. It can be said, if a special area is defined in the way I suggest, that the people situated just outside the area will be unfairly treated in comparison with those situated just within it. No doubt these are real difficulties, but I would still have these special areas created.
When I turn to consider the policy which I would apply to these areas I find that under every head I require directional control. The first thing I would do would be to place a veto for two or three years upon commercial, non-industrial building in these areas—a total veto. I say "nonindustrial" because I believe that a job is just as important for a man as a house, and I am not willing to cut down factory 840 building or anything that will affect the maintenance of full employment. The building of shops, stores, dance halls, cinemas or amusement palaces in those areas should be vetoed altogether. That would involve a complete control. The National Production Authority of the United States has placed such a ban upon pleasure palaces and places of amusement and what they describe as "dude ranches." There is the great, private enterprise economy of the United States placing a ban upon that form of construction, because shortages of materials exist. I should have thought that that would have recommended itself to hon. Members opposite.
I would also like to see the local authorities in those special areas given power to control the letting of houses that fall vacant. That would involve directional control. I will be told by hon. Members opposite that that is an unwarrantable interference with liberty and with the rights of property. That is what the neo-Liberals of the Tory Party say.
But I reply that, like other hon. Members, I have constituents who fought in Burma, Africa, France and Germany, and who are still without a house. With their children, they are sleeping five or six in a single bedroom. They are lucky if they have two beds in the room. There may be a tuberculosis sufferer among them. Many hon. Members have that kind of thing in their constituencies, but I have it perhaps particularly badly in my division. I cannot too strongly emphasise the extent of the hardship which is being imposed upon those families as the result of existing housing conditions. Compared with that suffering, the interference with property rights involved in a local authority's taking control of the letting of houses falling vacant is a very small matter.
My point is that the policy which I seek to develop requires controls, and is, therefore, hostile to the spirit and intention of the Amendment. In those special areas—here, quite frankly, I differ from many of my hon. Friends—I would accept a carefully controlled modification of housing standards. The Minister of Health is dead against that and so are a great number of my hon. Friends. It is a matter upon which different views can be held. It is a fact that my divisional Labour Party unanimously support me in 841 this controversial view I am expressing about standards of housing. If the consequences of modifying those standards were to increase the availability of houses, I would be prepared to accept some carefully controlled reduction of standards in these special areas.
In passing, let me say that this question of housing standards really poses a false dilemma. I should have thought that the army of architects, designers and experts which the Minister of Health has at his hand could easily develop a house capable of accommodating two families for a period while this extreme shortage exists, which could be reconditioned later, at small expense, to house one family in happier times. I would have an extension of the exercise of the powers of requisitioning of unoccupied houses. Here again, the proposal, which I regard as of great importance, is contrary to the spirit and intention of the Tory Amendment, but I think it is demanded by the crying need of these families. If I am told that requisitioning is an invasion of property rights and individual rights, once again I say that that inconvenience is as nothing compared with the sufferings of the overcrowded families.
Finally, I believe it would be possible in the special areas to develop model incentive schemes for building workers. The schemes might not be immediately acceptable to the country as a whole, but in those areas they could be experimented with and developed. In that way, I would seek to develop an expanding building programme. On this Amendment, my point is that every feature demands and requires some measure of directional control. It is upon that issue that this House and the country have to make up their minds. Yesterday, many of us heard the inspiring speech of the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George). She made a speech in the true Radical tradition, which made it abundantly plain that in the Liberal Party there are still some—I am afraid they are in a minority—true Radicals left. I had great hopes of the Chief Liberal Whip, who is an old friend of mine, but he went into the opposite Lobby. He shuffled down that Lobby with the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), in a lurid procession of reactionaries.
Hon. Members opposite are always trying to woo the Liberal Party on this 842 issue. I see opposite me the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). He has often spoken upon the matter of the direction of labour. Never was there such a diehard wolf in a Liberal sheepskin as he. Although I am inclined to agree with him upon the particular issue of the direction of labour——
§ Mr. Irvine
I would not exclude the possibility of circumstances arising when it might be advisable to keep that power in reserve. There is certain to be an extension of defence establishments, military, naval and air force, in the country as the result of our programme of rearmament. That might involve the diversion away from Merseyside—to take that as an example—of valuable building labour and material. I am only going the length of saying that the labour position in such an event would deserve careful and conscientious study. I am not going to permit anything to occur which will have the effect of cutting down the already inadequate steps being taken to house the overcrowded families in Liverpool and in my constituency.
The issue which I have attempted to describe is a clear one and I am glad that in the King's Speech the Government have made it abundantly clear where they stand upon this momentous question of our times.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
I hope that the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) will forgive me if I do not follow the many interesting arguments which he has put before the House about housing, Socialism, and Conservatism. I wish to confine my remarks to the case of the 5,300 road hauliers whose original permits are being revoked in four to six months' time and whose operations will thereby be limited to a 25 miles radius, as provided in Section 52 of the Transport Act, 1947, and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) alluded.
I hope that this honourable House consists of men and women who are practical people and who deal with practical matters in a practical way but it is no bad thing if, now and then, they cast 843 their minds back to the more theoretical arguments of politics and consider for a while the sort of arguments which used to be discussed thousands of years ago by Aristotle or Plato, and some of which still hold good. In considering the very practical problem of the 5,300 original permit holders whose permits are being revoked, I would ask hon. Members for a moment to remember the old argument about the difference between deductive and inductive thinking and the dangers of deductive thinking.
Deductive thought may be described as the fixing of one's general principle first and deducing from it how to act in a given circumstance; such as saying that all men are equal, that one man is, therefore, as good as another and that if I have the toothache I might just as well go to the blacksmith as to the dentist. On the other hand, inductive thought is quite the reverse. It means starting from one's experience and building up one's principle from it; to take the example which I took, saying that a dentist has more practical experience than a blacksmith in dealing with teeth, and, therefore, that all men are not equal on all occasions.
It seems to me that ever since the Transport Act, 1947, many hon. Members opposite, and the British Transport Commission in particular, have been guilty of deductive thinking of the very worst kind in connection with the Act, because they have picked on one word in Section 3 of the Act and elevated it into a principle by which they seem to be deducing all their actions. The word is "integrated" and occurs in the phrase:… properly integrated system of public inland transport.…That word seems to have been made into a principle, or even a magical formula, by which any absurity can be perpetrated.
In the name of the blessed word "integration" all sorts of most extraordinary things have been done in the transport world. West countrymen have been promoted and sent to the Scottish Region quite regardless of what is to become of their families under the wonderfully improved housing system about which the Minister of Health is so proud, and quite regardless of the fact that such men, when taken to Scotland, are just as much in a foreign country as 844 if they had been taken to Timbuctoo. To give another example, in adopting standards of signalling on railways an average appears to have been taken rather than the adoption of the best practices. Certainly, as far as the Western Region is concerned, practices have been introduced in connection with permanent way checks which many experienced drivers regard not as the safest but as a derogation of safety practices.
The same sort of thing seems to me to happen in the name of integration to the transport drivers on the road. Section 53 of the Transport Act appears to be interpreted as meaning that there is a duty upon the Transport Commission, through their deputies, the Road Haulage Executive, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of original permit holders. If hon. Members would look at the wording of the Act they will find that that is a broad interpretation of what is there written but that it cannot really be interpreted in that way. It seems to be thought that this slaughter should be carried out at the earliest possible moment regardless of whatever may be the consequences on the hauliers or their customers.
There are about 12,000 original permits, and of that large number only 3,800 are to remain, 2,700 are to be modified and 5,300 are to be revoked. Can it possibly be said that the Road Haulage Executive can provide an alternative public service cheaper and more convenient than that provided by the 5,300 road hauliers whose businesses are being written off at the stroke of a pen? If it can, why is it that these businesses are still in existence, because they have been in competition with the Road Haulage Executive for some time?
Although one could understand a number of businesses which were uneconomic and were running at a loss carrying on for sentimental reasons one cannot imagine such a large figure as 5,300 businesses being carried on, especially when one hears that they involve something like 25,000 vehicles. Is this an attempt to provide the people of this country with a better service, or is it merely an attempt to make a bigger and better monopoly? It is true that the displaced persons, if we may so describe them, have certain rights under the Act. They can require notice of acquisition to 845 be given by the Commission under Section 54, but only if they can prove substantial interference. The Section reads:Substantial interference with the carrying on by the applicant for or holder of the permit of some activity which was, before the twenty-eighth day of November, nineteen hundred and forty-six, being carried on by him or by his predecessors in, or in any part of, his undertaking, and has, up to the time of the refusal, the imposition of limitations or conditions or the revocation, as the case may be, continued to be so carried on, with only such intermissions, if any, as are incidental to the nature of the activity.That is a long and complicated sentence and it is obvious that it is a long and complicated provision to prove. I can imagine the field day which lawyers in the courts or at tribunals will have in trying to decide what is a "substantial interference" in any particular case. True, if acquisition is obtained by the Commission, then compensation is payable to the road haulier. But surely, after our experience of this Act, we have realised by this time that its compensation clauses are somewhat cumbersome. To return to the simile of the dentist, the compensation provisions of this Act seem to me as if we are asking the blacksmith to make a dental extraction with his tongs: they seem only too likely to be cumbersome, painful, slow and ineffective.
A large number of road haulage businesses have already been nationalised. From time to time we on this side of the House have asked how many of those have been paid for and the transfer completed. I am not talking about those who did it by negotiation, but about those who resisted and were forcibly nationalised. I do not know the most up-to-date figure, but the last time that question was asked there was a substantial number of cases still not settled. I know of one case in my division of a man whose business was nationalised compulsorily in April, 1949, and he has not had his final payment yet. That is the way in which, and the pace at which, these compensation provisions work.
It may not be the fault of the Commission in all cases. No doubt some of these men who have been nationalised are rather difficult customers. I do not suppose they are pleased about it. Nevertheless, the compensation provisions are extremely complicated and it is not sufficient merely to say, "They will get compensation."
§ Mr. Poole
Is it not a fact that the compensation is based, first, on the value of the assets taken over and, second, on the net profits of the undertaking over certain years? The first, I imagine is easily ascertainable by the normal methods, but is it not the case that, wherever difficulty has arisen, it has been through the failure on the part of the operator to keep proper books or, in some cases, to keep two sets of books?
§ Mr. Wilson
There may be such cases. Certainly, there have been many cases of delay. The point is that if we take away a man's business, he must have his compensation within a reasonable time.
We ought to consider who are the people who are to have their licences revoked, and what they think about it. Of course, if they do not apply for compensation, do not seek to be acquired, but seek to continue to carry on their businesses within the 25-mile limit, it is still open to the Railway Executive or the Road Haulage Executive to have a shot at them on the next occasion on which they come up for a licence. The experience of road hauliers often is that they get both barrels of the gun: they are attacked by both Executives and have to carry on a two-to-one fight against them.
Many of these 5,300 are small men and sometimes women, some have a number of lorries, others have only one. Some of them are one-man businesses, similar to the one-man business referred to in the housing debate yesterday. They have built up their businesses out of their own savings, with nothing but their own skill and ability. I have here two specific examples, neither from my own constituency.
The first is an extract from the "Yorkshire Evening Post" of 27th October, 1950. It says:Grey-haired grizzled Jim Barker, of Leeds, has just received a letter which, in one sentence, destroys his 30-year-old one-man, one-vehicle, haulage business. 'A lifetime's work gone,' said Jim, who lives in Greenmount Street, 'just because the Socialists can't stand up to competition.' Jim is one of the hundreds of small road hauliers in the Leeds area who have had their permits to operate outside a 25-mile radius revoked by the Road Haulage Executive of the British Transport Commission. He faces disaster through the decision. Revocation of his permit means that 90 per cent. of his trade now stops. 'There is no hope of getting short-distance work,' he said 847 today. In 1920, Jim sank his savings in an old Army truck. Now, at 56, he has a shining new five-ton truck.The second is a letter from a widow:Dear Sir, Could you please advise me what to do, this business is all I have to live on, all my savings are in this business, my late husband died in May, 1948, we both worked hard together to keep this haulage going, we have been 20 years contractors to the Atlas Stone Company, Whaddon, Royston, Hens, and I am still their contractor. Surely, they won't take my living away.As to how these people are thought of by some of their customers, let me read an extract from a firm which employs small contractors:We recently had our attention drawn to a flagrant instance of wastage. A driver in a nationalised concern was given three days to do a journey which a little man of our acquaintance would, by setting out very early in the morning, have done in one day.
§ Mr. Pargiter (Southall)
The letter does not say, of course, whether the little man who would get up early in the morning would preserve the conditions of the Road Traffic Act?
§ Mr. Wilson
That is a point, but I was showing that these small businesses have continued because they have given service. Had they not given such a service, they would have disappeared long ago and their forcible removal is to be deprecated. These are the sort of people whom it is sought to displace.
All my connections have been with the railways. I have no connections with the road haulage business and I believe in the future of rail transport. I would like to see it continue to provide cheap and convenient transport for the public and a decent living for the men who have grown up in that industry. However, I feel sure that all railwaymen would agree with me that they would not wish to bolster up their own industry by filching halfpenny packets of traffic from other concerns, if it means taking the bread out of the mouths of widows—and that is what is happening in this case.
In supporting the Amendment, I appeal to the Minister of Transport to have another look at this matter and at the actions that are being taken by the Road Haulage Executive in the cancellation of permits. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not give a direction to modify the policy that is being pursued. After all, it is a great maxim 848 of our country that not only should justice be done but that it should appear to be done.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, Northfield)
I hope that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) will forgive me if I do not follow his topic, because the main subject of the Debate relates to the supersession of the system under which we have been governed since 1939. Although I must take full responsibility for Government policy, because I supported it at the time, I feel that in the administration of that policy it is vital that small men should get a square deal. Many hon. Members on the Labour side of the House have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view, because they have come across cases of grave hardship, and it is in the administration of the Act that so much can be done.
Mr. Speaker, I feel almost like asking your indulgence on the occasion of my maiden speech, because these surroundings are strange to one who was in the last House. Of the two or three main points I wish to make, the first is this: I think that the Opposition should generously acknowledge this fact—that the main case which has been made over years has now been accepted by the Government, namely, that it is recognised that there is a great gulf between property and personal liberty. As I understand it, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, who is to wind up the Debate, will deal specifically with the issue of direction of labour.
The case which, as many Members of the House will remember, was fought with great bitterness in 1947, was whether or no, in time of peace, permanent powers of direction of labour should be granted to a Government. As I understand the position—and I put this quite specifically to the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply—the Government say, "We will not include in the Bill which is foreshadowed in the King's Speech any power of direction of labour." I understand that to be the position, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement, with the authority of the Cabinet behind him, when he concludes the Debate tonight.
That being so, and that great case having been given, it seems to me that one ought to have an open mind and to wait 849 to see the Bill which the Government are to produce. It is wholly wrong to inflate party political passion at this moment. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), is not present, because I listened with great interest and with an enormous amount of agreement to his speech, but the appalling thing about this House, in which I must be in a minority of one on this subject, is that all the speeches that are made appear to me to be inflamed by party political passions instead of considering the overriding interests of the unity of the country at a moment which. I say now, is as dangerous as any moment since 1940. That being so, we should be exceedingly glad that the Government are bringing to an end Defence Regulations, which bear back for years, and that they will tell us in a Bill exactly what they want in the way of powers to provide for full employment and for an expanding economy.
0 As to controls, it is absolutely useless to suggest that the grant of certain forms of controls over property is a form of totalitarianism. That kind of argument carries no conviction whatever in the modern world. I speak as a young man, and I am bound to say this: I have some sympathy with the case, which ought to be made constantly from the Liberal benches, that under a Tory or Socialist Government a young man would come up against one form of monopoly or another The fact is that the Government require controls for an enormous number of purposes.
The issue is—and here I agree with the hon. Member for Monmouth—how are we to administer those controls? The fact that controls are needed in relation to a wide number of subjects will really be accepted, and has been accepted, by right hon. Gentlemen like the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), over a very long period of years, and I recognise that. The issue is: How are those controls administered, what protection exists for the individual, and what steps are taken to maximise incentive?
In my submission, controls are needed, not only in time of shortage, but also because of the system of modern industrial civilisation which tends to produce monopoly. But we must recognise that controls are terribly dangerous in themselves. It must be remembered that they 850 are operated by officials and that the ordinary person who wishes, by working hard and by using ingenuity, to acquire a living for himself and to build up something for his children, must have some kind of a chance to operate on his own and must not find himself frustrated by the ipse dixit of an administrator.
That seems to me to be absolutely clear, and, therefore, I say, so far as concerns the Bill which we await, that the provisions of that Bill will be very carefully scrutinised by those who care for freedom; that, if it be the case, we welcome the fact that direction of labour will be excluded entirely from the Bill. One further point which I address to the Minister is that if he can say anything on the subject of direction of labour in general, I am sure it will be anxiously awaited by the country.
The main point which I wish to make in relation to the King's Speech is quite relevant to the Amendment which we are discussing. We are asking ourselves what we can do to improve our position in the world and to increase the housing target —to produce 300,000 houses instead of 200,000—and I am quite sure that hon. Members of the Labour Party are just as anxious as anyone to produce 300.000 houses if it can be done.
§ Mr. Blackburn
With great deference, one does not necessarily show things by voting on matters on which there is a normal party division.
I have a challenge for the hon. Member, and also for right hon. Gentlemen on both Front Benches. There is one sure way to increase productivity and, by increasing productivity and improving our position in the world, to be able to buy more timber, to be able to produce more houses, to be able to buy more meat, and to enable the Englishman, wherever he goes in the world, once again to stand and to have people say of him, "There is the representative of the most thriving country in the world." There is one way, and one way only, and that is by working longer hours.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am most grateful to the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. J. Jones) for saying that. I made the point upstairs in the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, where we had a most distinguished gathering, including Sir Geoffrey Heyworth, of Lever Brothers, Sir Charles Colston, of Hoovers, Ltd., Sir Thomas Hutton and Mr. Lincoln Evans. I asked Mr. Lincoln Evans this very question—and I do not think that hon. Members opposite will tell me that he is a man whose word can be lightly disregarded. I asked, "Is it not a fact that the quickest way to increase productivity now is for us all to go out and ask for longer hours of work—say, six hours of work per week—on terms to he approved by the trade union movement? "
§ Mr. J. Jones
Mr. Lincoln Evans, who happens to be the general secretary of the union which represents the members of an industry which has shown the way to increase productivity, could give a very simple answer: that the men in that industry were working a continuous working week of 168 hours out of 168 hours, giving 1,500,000 tons more steel than ever in history, under the firm promise of nationalisation, socialism, and fair shares for all.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The hon. Member, who, I know perfectly well, really agrees with what I am saying, has made an amazing answer, which I do not wish to deal with because I do not desire to take any part in party politics. [HON. MEMBERS: "No?"] I assure the House that I have no desire to take any part in party politics or to have the red herring of nationalisation dragged across the main point which I wish to make, namely, that it is the duty of hon. Members on all sides to go to their constituencies and to advocate longer hours of working upon terms to be agreed by the trade union movement. If hon. Members get up with tears in their eyes and tell me about the intolerable housing conditions—which I venture to say, I know as well as they do—then the way to get those tears out of their eyes is to go back to their constituents and to say that with that overall increase of production which would result, we should be able to produce not 300,000 houses but many more than 300,000.
Let me say a word in amplification. I remember raising this point when the miners were going back to a five day week and there was a debate in the House. The 852 right hon. Gentleman who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer very kindly gave way to enable me to make a three-minute speech, and I then said that the miners ought to go back to a five and a half day week and that if they did so, they would produce 210 million tons of coal a year. Many hon. Members will remember that I said that and it proved correct.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The hon. Member was on the same side then. The miners are a very exclusive party and I will not welcome any additions to my party.
It is undoubtedly a fact and was accepted by Sir Geoffrey Haworth that if people worked longer hours we would get a great increase in productivity. About that there can be no doubt whatsoever and it is monstrous for us to debate as if there were a national cake which we could not increase. The great issue is how we shall increase the size of the national cake.
On one occasion the Prime Minister made a tentative appeal, which has never been followed up, for extended working hours. It has been suggested to me that this matter should probably be put on a national basis. One could almost imagine a situation in which we would say to the workers, "For the sake of the country let employers and workers give one hour of their time to Britain." If an appeal of that kind were made, I believe it would be accepted. For at least two years I have advocated this course; I have advocated it at mass meetings of workers in my constituency and I have never known an unfavourable reception.
This is a time for leadership and great leadership can be given by the Government and supported by the Opposition. This country can make a colossal name for itself in the world by showing that, after all we have been through and all the sacrifices our people have made in the interests of fair shares, we have just as much guts as were ever shown in the world and that, on proper terms, our workpeople are prepared to work another four or six hours a week for the sake of the country.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
The hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn) has raised a question and stated a theme 853 which has our sympathy. He has learned, although I think he has learned rather late, that the secret of expansion for this country lies in the earning of new wealth rather than in the distribution of the wealth which is already existing. Although I do not intend to follow him in the methods he proposes to achieve this expansion of wealth, nevertheless, that is a truth he has uttered to which His Majesty's Government should certainly give the most serious attention.
It would have been optimistic and unreasonable in the present conditions of political deadlock, to expect too much from the King's Speech, but I did look at it in the hope that there would be an awareness on the part of His Majesty's Government of the social problems which are being created by over-centralisation and over-control. I also looked at it in the hope that His Majesty's Government would have shown some willingness to restrain the growing power of the Executive over the individual citizen. In fact there has been little sign of that in the Gracious Speech and still less sign in the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite during this Debate.
I cannot remember very far back, but even as far as I and other hon. Members can remember, we have seen the whole pattern of government in Europe change. That is an historical fact. Time after time in this century governments have been elected after going through all the democratic processes, only after a short time to use their power to impress their will and impress their theories and to control not only the people's minds but the people's lives. I should have thought, if there is a lesson to be learned from the 20th century, it is that power corrupts just as certainly as ever it did, and that no class of person is immune. Very often this is called the age of the common man, but this age has produced more tyrants than were ever produced in history before. Nor are Socialists immune and I believe they hoped and genuinely thought they would be immune.
I think the right hon. Gentleman claims a power and exercises a patronage which would have been the envy of a great many people who have sat in this ancient House. As we look at the broad picture of the way in which government is developing, not only in this country but in Western civilisation, we are bound to 854 admit that the greatest boon which could come to the ordinary people of the world would be if their governments would learn to use restraint and discretion in the use of power and to use their power for high purpose.
In this country I think it would be generally agreed that the greatest power given to our Government comes through extensive nationalisation and the public ownership of industry. It is not true that the Government as an employer owns only great material assets, capital assets; in a sense they own the men and women who work in those industries. I am going to argue the case for a standstill in nationalisation not on the economic grounds—that has been done often and the arguments are familiar, both generally and in the particular case of iron and steel—but from the social implications which are bound to flow from extensive nationalisation, which is bound to affect the ordinary working men in those industries and organised labour as a whole.
I do not know whether it is generally appreciated how far nationalisation and State control have gone. In the coal industry 730,000 workmen are affected, in transport 900,000, in the electricity and gas industries 295,000 and, if we bring the steel industry under central Government control, there may be something like 150,000 people added—perhaps a quarter of a million, I make a conservative estimate, but I think a quarter of a million would be nearer. We have reached a stage where there are nearly two million working people in the nationalised industries which, as far as I can calculate, represents something like 11 per cent. of the insured working people of this country. In the Gracious Speech it is proposed to add the sugar refining factories and the Prime Minister said that this was a small thing. But that is the traditional excuse for anything of doubtful origin or repute.
The point I wish to make is that at present, with all the social implications of extensive nationalisation which I intend to mention, it seems to me that there is no case for putting one more man of family under this centralised system. The fact that the Government propose even this small addition to nationalisation would seem to suggest that they have completely failed to appreciate the social 855 significance and the social implications which are flowing from extensive nationalisation. Several hon. Members on the other side of the House have talked about extensive monopolies and the evils which flow from them, but these great State monopolies exercise powers which are new to us in this country, and which give them a very peculiar control over the people who work in them.
Let us face the important fact that there are monopolies. There is only one boss, one set of conditions. I have opportunity in my constituency to observe. If a working man is discontented with his conditions a change from Edinburgh to Nottingham, or from the Lanarkshire coalfield to Nottingham, or from the railway centre of Carstairs to Bristol, makes not one jot of difference; he finds himself under the same boss and the same system. These conditions of uniformity existing in these great monopolies are, from my observation, creating a mass psychology which will, and is already beginning to lead to a mass reaction. In these monopolies what is the grievance of one is in a very literal sense the grievance of all.
I constantly find that a miner or railwayman who has a personal grievance finds it extremely difficult and a tedious tiresome business to bring that grievance to the person who can decide it; that between the grievance and a decision there is layer after layer of officialdom both in the unions and in these nationalised monopolies. When one finds this uniformity of conditions married to these difficulties of the individual, we are—I give the right hon. Gentleman this warning—getting into a situation in which there will be a great number of large strikes and widespread discontent arising out of small individual beginnings. The greatest act of political wisdom at this moment would be for the Government to review all the existing nationalisation schemes with a view to decentralisation. That would seem to me to be at any rate a beginning.
But I wish to build my plea for a standstill in nationalisation on still further social complications in these nationalised industries. What is to be the status of a State employee, and what are to be his rights? I am certain that when the miners entered so light-heartedly and after so much campaigning into a nationalized 856 industry, they did not realise what nationalisation would turn out to be. They genuinely believed, as I believe hon. Members opposite genuinely believed, that when nationalisation was a fact, no one would have any real grievance and there would never be any need for a strike.
§ Lord Dunglass
Unhappily no miner, certainly no railwayman, now has any illusions that there is any guarantee whatever that the State will be a good employer.
§ Lord Dunglass
At the moment we have rising costs, when it will be very difficult to hold down prices, we shall find the Government no longer an arbiter in the case of industrial disputes but in an interested position, an interested party. What is more, the Government will be interested in keeping down costs and therefore in keeping down wages. In those circumstances what are the rights and status of an individual, and how far will his legally constituted trade unions be able to represent his rights? All hon. Members have to face up to these questions if we are to have large nationalised monopolies in this country.
§ Mr. J. Jones
Will the noble Lord further his argument by telling the House how it was that at the last General Election, after the experience of nationalisation, particularly in the mining industry and in the railway industry, and after the promise of nationalisation in the steel industry, in every mining, railway and steel constituency in this country Labour candidates were returned to this House with increased majorities?
§ Lord Dunglass
Not in every constituency by any means.
I am trying to bring before the House a serious argument. It was natural that the miners, who have for 50 years campaigned for nationalisation, should still believe in it, certainly beyond the last election, but they are beginning to have doubts, as are the railwaymen. The reason is because, as I have explained, 857 the individual members find it extraordinary difficult to get their grievances considered in any reasonable time. Further, they are beginning to doubt whether their trade union leaders can properly represent their needs and claims in a nationalised industry.
Let me present to hon. Members opposite the very real dilemma which already exists in the early days of nationalisation. We have the Trades Union Congress which is affiliated to a political party—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—perhaps affiliated is the wrong word, but it is at any rate closely connected with and respectably wedded to—that pleases hon. Members—the political party which happens to form the Government of the day. Individual miners and railwaymen are beginning to ask themselves whether, with their leaders as members of the executive, and with their leaders pledged to carry out the executive's policy, it is really possible for them properly to represent the needs and claims of the individual. They have been quick to see that in a nationalised industry it is quite possible that their elected trade union leaders may become Government "stooges."
There is one more point which all hon. Members should consider. So far, every strike that has arisen in a nationalised industry has, rather conveniently for the Socialist Government and hon. Members opposite, I am bound to confess, been written off as an unofficial strike inspired by the Communists. It needs no gift of prophecy to forecast that one of these days there will be a strike in which the claims have merit and in which there is substance in the grievance. We have to look forward. We must make up our minds on this point. How far, in those circumstances, can the Government of the day tolerate opposition from organised labour? It has not escaped the notice of the workpeople in the nationalised industries that the other day the Attorney-General, the first Law Officer of the Crown, was forced to double up the two positions of prosecutor and part-time owner.
I do not know the answer to the question whether organised labour can properly represent the individuals in the nationalised industry. I probably have a better chance of giving the answer than hon. Members opposite, because I have 858 thought about it more. They have never thought about it, and were not ready or willing to think about it all this time. But we have to think about these things, and my plea is this. We do not know the answers, and it is just because we do not know the answers to these questions that I say to the right hon. Gentleman—and I hope he will give a reply on these points —that there is no justification for putting one more workman under the hazards of nationalisation, or one more family, until we have had time to assess the value of this great social experiment.
I have made my plea for a standstill and I now wish to say something I have been very anxious to say for some time. In passing, I would say there is one more method of this great build-up of power which is the central theme of what I am talking about, and that is the assumption of direct control which has been dealt with by other people. I would say this to hon. Gentlemen opposite, echoing the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) who opened the Debate. Some controls there must be. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said, I think yesterday, that the difference between the party on this side of the House and the party on the other side was that we believe in minimum control and hon. Gentlemen opposite believe in maximum control. If we are to have the maximum, if we are to have a totally planned economy, then hon. Members opposite must face the fact that we shall need direction of labour. Against that we take an absolute stand. We think that in peace-time that is absolutely inadmissible.
In these circumstances of political deadlock in which we find ourselves in this House, I believe that party government is on trial. I believe it will break and that democracy will immediately degenerate into some kind of one-party State, unless both parties agree to subscribe to certain basic principles. The first is the maintenance of the Constitution. The second, and it is the one to which I have given practically all my attention this evening, is the preservation of the right of personal freedom. Unless the maintenance of the Constitution and the right of personal freedom are genuinely accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite and hon. Gentlemen on these benches, there is no basis for social progress; and there 859 will be a breakdown in the party system and a degeneration of democracy.
I believe most sincerely that there is an obligation on hon. Members in this House, when any item of party doctrine encroaches on these basic principles, to see that there should be political compromise by consent. There is the example of the Steel Bill. We believe in private enterprise and we should like to see one hundred per cent. private enterprise. Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe in public control. They have stuck to their guns one hundred per cent. But we on this side have offered to compromise with a Government board to see that the steel industry under private enterprise acts for the public interest. There has to be some give and take in these matters. I know that hon. Members opposite are saying that they believe in these things, but too often, it seems to me, the voice is the voice of Jacob but the hand is the band of Esau. It is the acts of the Government that matter and it is the acts of Socialism, both through nationalisation and through direct control that always encroach on the narrowing field of individual freedom.
Therefore I make this plea to the right hon. Gentleman; first, that there should be a standstill in nationalisation until we see how this experiment, with all its social implications, works. Second, that the Government should limit the Measures which it brings in to those that will command the highest degree of common consent. Thirdly and lastly, that the Government, for the benefit of the people, should undertake a voluntary abdication in the use of power.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)
I would like to relate what I have to say to that section of the Amendment which deals with control and public ownership and relate it to the industry in which I have spent many years of my working life, the wool textile industry. The hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) will forgive me if I do not follow him in what he has said, except to say that all he had to put forward was a criticism of what he called the concentration of power and of control.
I would like to point out to hon. Members an industry which is now faced with 860 very difficult problems, just because controls were over hastily removed. In the wool textile industry, as in other industries which have had to face problems regarding raw materials—and this applies not merely to raw materials, but also to foodstuffs—what is it that the producers of raw materials and foodstuffs must have over a long period? The basic condition on which they exist is that they must have, over a long period, stable prices; a stable price which will give them, first, the cost of production which they have put into it and, second, a margin to cover their own profit and remuneration.
Anyone who engages in the production of raw materials wants to know that when he has put his energy into the production he will be able to get a price sufficient to cover those basic factors. If we turn to the consumers of raw materials or foodstuffs, what do they require over a long period? They, too, require stable prices. In my own industry, the period between the two wars is full of the stories of firms who went out of existence, not because they were badly organised, not because their technical equipment was bad, not because their managerial capacity was inefficient, but simply because they were caught in one of the maelstroms of ups and downs in prices which simply swamped them out of existence.
There are now in existence two attitudes of mind towards the problem of what will give the two people mostly concerned, the producer and the consumer, this stability. This is not a problem for theorists: it is a problem which the people in the industry recognise. I have vivid recollections of being on Bradford Wool Exchange between the two wars and hearing a conversation between a great manufacturer and a great wool merchant. The manufacturer expressed his longing to get back to the old days of stable prices, and the wool merchant turned and said, "Stable prices be blowed. I want them in and out, like that." These are conditions which are in conflict in an industry.
What is the conflict between the two sides—I will call them "ours" and "theirs." On the opposite side of the House they look for a solution to what they call the workings of the price mechanism which, clothed in a new name, is our old friend the law of supply and demand. I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to look at the history of the 861 wool textile industry and see what the law of supply and demand has done to the stability of that industry. I have had nearly 50 years' experience in the raw material side of the industry. I remember two wool controls in two world wars, and I remember what happened after both of them.
Between 1919 and 1920 the price of raw wool went up like a rocket; between 1920 and 1921 it came down like a stone. Wools which I bought at roughly 16d. to 20d. a lb. in 1919, made 60d. a lb. in 1920. In 1921, they went down again to 1s. a lb. Throughout the period between the two wars fluctuations of that kind, though perhaps not quite so pronounced, continued. It was mentioned last week that wool values are about nine times pre-war. In crossbred wool, which I know very well, what was selling at 1s. in 1939 has fetched 112d. a lb. within the last two months.
In the first week of August, in my own business, I made a sale of New Zealand wools at an average of 60d. a lb. In the September sales in London the same wools fetched 116d. a lb. In the first week of the sale they fetched 116d.; in the second week the price had dropped by 1s.; and now it has gone back to roughly what it was during the first week. Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen realise what that means to a manufacturing concern which has all its capital wrapped up in machinery and buildings? Think of what it means to a small manufacturing concern which uses, say, 30,000 lb. of wool a week and which, if it is to keep on an even keel, must keep in stock roughly two to three months' supply of raw materials. A variation in the price of raw materials of, say, 1s. a lb., means roughly, £15,000 to that small concern. We must face that problem.
Many solutions have been offered. It is easy to offer solutions when one goes on to a propaganda platform, or when one is speaking to people who do not know the conditions. Before the last election a well-known man, speaking against bulk buying, said that we should have lots of buyers and that competition between buyers would bring prices down. That may sound very well on the wireless but, as a business man and a social student, I should describe a person who made a statement like that as either a knave or a fool. But I do not like to 862 describe the eminent gentleman who made that statement, who happens to be the present chairman of the Tory Party, by either of those names, because I do not believe that he is either a knave or a fool. However, it was he who said on the wireless that we should have plenty of buyers and that competition among buyers would bring prices down.
Neither is there any solution in the suggestion made last week by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett) who, in an interjection when Government bulk buying was being discussed, said that it should not be done by the Government. The implication was that he was in favour of bulk buying if it was done by large-scale private industry. History proves, in relation to that kind of buying, that once there is concentration of buying in private hands, in a large block of capital, that group of capitalists will use its power to exploit not only the consumer but the producer. That has been proved over and over again.
§ Mr. Watkinson (Woking)
I think the hon. Gentleman's point is that Government buying is really establishing a stable cost for the manufacturer. Before he finishes his remarks on this matter, could he explain how it was that in my industry the devaluation of the pound caused an overnight increase of 40 per cent. in the cost of our raw materials? That happened in many other industries as well.
§ Mr. Brook
I have heard the same charge made in the wool industry. It has been said that devaluation raised the price of wool, that it was responsible for the rapid increase in prices. The people who make that claim forget that the New Zealand and the Australian pound was devalued at the same time as our own.
§ Mr. Brook
So far as devaluation has had any influence on wool prices, it is only because devaluation succeeded in doing what the Government intended that it should do. It revived trade generally throughout the country and indeed throughout the world, because devaluation meant that the American industry also turned the corner at the same time as our own.
863 Let me come back to this problem. I well remember that in the 1920's friends of mine in New Zealand complained bitterly about the action of the Tooley Street butter buyers, who set about breaking the New Zealand farmers in an effort to bring down the price of butter. Wherever there is, in private industry, large-scale groups of buyers, there is inevitably, as a concomitant of that, an organisation started by the producers to protect their own interests.
If I might offer a suggestion for the solution of this problem, it is that over a long period of years we want stability of prices for the manufacturing industries. If the manufacturer comes to depend on judging fluctuations in the market for the sources of his profit rather than on his technical skill, his organisational capacity and managerial ability, then we have finished with those three qualifications in our manufacturing industry.
Therefore, I plead that over a period of years we should have some body which can give stability of prices. It must be a large-scale organisation. It will mean that in some years there may be losses on raw materials, but over a period of time—I suggest five years as a minimum and probably ten—I am convinced that the process would iron out the losses and balance the gains. The only body that can do that is the Government of the country. Experience in the wool textile industry in two world wars has shown us that the only way in which we can get stability is by Government organisation and control.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Brook), in his thoughful speech, said that what producers want most is a stable price at which they know they can sell their products. I can well believe that that is so, but to me it spells stagnation. As I am far more interested in the cause of the consumer than that of the producer, I would rather see keen competition that will bring prices down. The hon. Gentleman gave us a definition of the price mechanism. I offer him a different one. It is a position where what people wish to spend is what determines what it is profitable to produce. That is the sovereignty of the consumer.
864 The hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine), who spoke first in the Debate from the opposite side of the House, differs from me on most things, but we are, I think, in agreement on two things; first, on the brilliance and effectiveness of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who opened the Debate, and. second, that it is quite clear that the Government consider that it is vitally necessary that they should have power greatly to extend controls. I think that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that the prevention of unemployment and of a further rise in the cost of living are two of the most important matters in the home field, and I quite agree with them. I assume that they think that the controls are necessary to achieve these two objectives. I think they would say that mass unemployment on the scale which we had before the war is a most fearful thing, of which the consequences will be quite incalculable, and I entirely agree with that.
There are two sorts of doctors, each of whom might fail in treating a patient. There is the doctor who tries quack remedies quite irrelevant to the disease, and I have not seen much sign of the relevance which controls have in maintaining full employment. Then there is the other sort of doctor, who fails because he prescribes treatment suitable enough for the patient if the illness had occurred 20 years earlier, when it was of quite a different nature. This seems to be just what the Government are doing in this connection.
It is well known by the economists today that there is no automatic mechanism which will ensure that savings are spent on capital investment. Decisions to save and decisions to invest are made by different people at different times, and it is necessary, we entirely admit, for the Government to step in and see that it is done correctly. Today, there is no problem of inadequate demand and no problem of how to expand the demand for capital goods; on the contrary, we know quite well how it is to be done, and how, if the export market fails, we can maintain employment by expanding demand at home. What we do not yet know is how to be sure of getting our raw materials. The problem today is no longer that of 20 years ago, but how a country, depleted of its resources and the recipient of a reckless financial policy for 865 five years, is to be sure of getting these raw materials without which full employment cannot possibly be maintained.
To come to the cost of living, unless there are controls in a time of scarcity, it is quite certain that extra spending will drive up prices, and if these prices are prevented from going up by controls a black market follows. We saw that in the case of Germany, and, beyond a point, if controls are exercised, the black market is inevitable; that will mean that the least deserving people get the most. If it is attempted to control prices in a scarcity market beyond that point, it can only be done, as I am sure the Minister will agree, by a vast extension of rationing. I ask him tonight whether he will say that the Government are prepared to exercise their controls and have a wholesale increase in rationing; if not, how will they prevent prices going up by controls?
More controls mean that labour and investment are attracted to those products which are not being controlled. It is only human nature to go where the work is the most profitable. Therefore, it always happens that the essentials are not being produced where they are controlled in price, and there is a diversion towards luxury and unnecessary things. How is that to be dealt with? Only by extreme authoritarian methods. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman will say that the Government do not contemplate any direction of labour, and on this side of the House we shall be thankful to hear it, but I hope he will explain how, in the circumstances of growing scarcity which may come, the Government think they can exercise controls without using their powers of direction of labour.
If the Government choose to limit dividends, it means that present personal savings will fall further. There will be no venture capital to take on risk business, and on this issue I would like to quote the "Economist" which, on this theme of the statutory limitation of dividends, says:That would destroy all possibility of an increase in personal savings. By making undistributed profits still more exclusively the one form of saving, it will finally stifle the supply of risk capital for new ventures and solidify investment into established firms and industries. Such an extra barrier to progressiveness and efficiency in the British economy must he avoided at all costs.866 It is, indeed, strange how often the Socialist Government show themselves to be most unprogressive. On this side of the House, of course, we realise that some controls are necessary; in time of scarcity, there must be allocation of raw materials, but there is a very big difference between allocating rare raw materials and vastly extending rationing and interfering with the freedom of the people.
If I might put it in this way, I would say that, if there is an artificial shortage, as there is of houses after a devastating war, it is necessary to have some form of control; otherwise, the houses would rise in price far above the level at which they would eventually be stabilised, and controls prevent that. but that is a very different thing to using controls in the way which has been suggested by Government spokesmen today. It seems to me to be like driving a car with all the brakes on. One knows one can use the brakes in an emergency if one wishes to stop, and that is one thing, but it is quite another to put the throttle at 60 miles an hour and then drive entirely on the brakes. Controls may be good servants but they are very bad masters. and that is what they are becoming today.
It seems to me that there is a lunatic fringe on one side of the Government with regard to the use of controls. In the Socialist Government, there is another lunatic fringe which I might describe as the Crossman variety—and I warned the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), whom I am glad to see in his place, that I would refer to him, because he made the suggestion in his speech last week that there should be a vast extension of subsidies. Of course, while we have been accustomed to one of these two fringes, the disturbing feature about the Labour Party today is that the ground between the two fringes is so very narrow. The hon. Member, as I understood him, was advocating the extension of subsidies, including food and transport and clothing, but these subsidies were not to be restricted to those who needed them most, to old age pensioners and others with small fixed incomes. They were to be made all round, and that would enormously extend the demand for goods. At the same time there would have to be heavy taxation to try firstly to offset this demand. We should be in the position that there would be much greater demand 867 yet reduced supplies to meet it because of greater taxation.
The hon. Gentleman—I hope he will forgive my saying it—has a reputation for being rather volatile—perhaps a reputation not entirely confined to this side of the House. Sometimes he produces plans that seem remote in the distant future, and sometimes others which are a little out of date. On this occasion he has produced one about 20 years out of date. In 1931 there was a good deal to be said for encouraging greater expenditure so that there could be greater demand to get full employment. Then we wanted to encourage spending. Now what we have to do is to restrict spending and encourage production.
Inflation is a fearful menace. It is, I think, just about the most unjust form of taxation ever devised. It hits those hardest who can least bear it. It enormously diverts exports to the home market because of increased demands at home. It creates bottlenecks which discourage and distort production. Inflation may be suppressed for a time by controls, but a suppressed inflation may, in the long run, be more damaging than any other sort. High prices are only a symptom of inflation. They can be dealt with either by reducing demand through greater taxation or by reducing Government expenditure. Hon. Members opposite apparently think—certainly, the hon. Member for Coventry, East, thinks—it can be done by increasing taxation. I would refer him to the White Paper on the National Income. There he will see that those having an income between £250 and £1,000 gross have incomes which add up to £4,060 million. Those with incomes over £2,000 a year, which is about £1,000 a year after tax, have incomes totalling £460 million. Quite clearly, by increasing direct taxation there may be great discouragement to production, but there would be little increase in revenue.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I was not suggesting increasing taxes on income, except in so far as unearned income, capital, and Death Duties were concerned. Therefore, the argument does not apply.
§ Mr. Spearman
The hon. Gentleman would substitute a capital levy. Let me prove the falsity of that. For example, take a man with a capital of £1 million, 868 and say that the capital levy was 25 per cent. On a capital of £1 million it would be fair to say that the gross income would be £50,000—that is, 5 per cent. If we reduce his capital by 25 per cent. he would have an income of £37,500. That 25 per cent. capital levy would mean a reduction in that man's income to £4,477 instead of £4,792. In other words, that man's income would be reduced by £315. The only thing relevant to this issue is, how far taxes will reduce spending. The reduced spending of income by that capital levy at 25 per cent. would be £300-odd on every £1 million of capital.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Jenkins), in the previous debate, made a great point of the distinction between the standard of living and rises in the cost of living, and I quite agree with him. I would say that the standard of living can be improved only by greater production. I think, perhaps, that the hon. Gentleman will agree with me in that. We cannot improve the standard of living by reductions in Government expenditure, but I do say that we can prevent further rises in the cost of living by reductions in Government expenditure. Indeed, it can only be done either by increased taxation—which the hon. Member himself seems very doubtful about—or by reductions in Government expenditure. The other way, which is surely far more admirable, is to do it by increasing supplies, and I suggest that that only can be done by giving more incentives to workers and industrialists, and by encouraging savings which can go to provide venture capital, and, above all, by increasing competition so as to reduce profit margins—through the competition of one firm with another.
Let me take the example of the Ford Motor Company. At one time that company paid bigger wages, I believe, than any other company in the world. It produced a cheaper motor car than any other company in the world. Yet its profits were the largest. If only hon. Members opposite would realise that there is nothing but good for the community in more profits so long as the profit margin is reasonable. They never sufficiently make that distinction. Is it possible under a Socialist Government for us to have this competition, which I believe is vital if production is to increase and the standard of living to be maintained? It 869 seems to me that with the growing rigidity of the Socialist doctrine, and the fact that more and more production is completely unfree and tied up in the nationalised industries, the prospects of greater competition are very remote.
I believe that when the next election comes an ever greater number of the people of this country will be saying, not "What can the Government give us?" but "Which Government will produce a state of affairs in which there is more competition, more incentives, greater savings, and thereby greater wealth that can be distributed?"
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Pargiter (Southall)
I find some difficulty, in listening to the speeches of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, to determine what is their policy on controls. In speeches made both inside and outside the House we hear an extolling of the benefits of private enterprise. We then hear rather cautious suggestions that some sort of control should be exercised in times of scarcity. We hear, on the other hand, of the benefits of abolishing controls. Altogether it makes rather a hotchpotch, and it is difficult to understand what they mean. I think that they are really honest when they say they do not like any form of control at all; that, in accordance with the dictum of the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), they prefer that the profit motive shall have full play—which is virtually what he said. If the profit motive is to have full play there is obviously no room for any type of control from any Government source. Nor would there be many organisations such as manufacturers' organisations which exist for the purpose of fixing prices. It appears that that sort of organisation, to some extent at any rate, has some blessing from hon. Members opposite.
I should have thought that this Debate would have devoted itself to that part of the Gracious Speech to which the Amendment is directed, and dealt with Government policy en controls which it believes to be necessary, and permanently necessary, for the maintenance of full employment. After all, full employment implies planning in such a way that works are kept busy, and that more materials flow to those places where they are needed to produce the type of goods necessary for the consuming public, and not necessarily having regard to the profit-making motive 870 and how much profit can be made. Very little has been said on that aspect of the problem, but it is obviously the key to the situation for those on this side of the House.
We have said that full employment has to be maintained because it is socially necessary and desirable that it should be. Hon. Members opposite have been at pains to show their sympathy with the trade union movement in its so-called enslavement to the nationalised industries. It comes ill from those who were very much concerned with and greeted with acclamation the Trades Disputes Act, 1927. It does not come very well from their lips, and I think their solicitude is perhaps a little overdone.
The Opposition also have this desire to return to the 19th century concept, when the individual employer was able to deal with the grievances of his men. How did he deal with them? Let hon. Members read the history of the 19th century if they want to know how he dealt with them. The workers would rather have the present system. It was made clear in an interjection earlier that where industries have been nationalised there has been an overwhelming desire on the part of the workers in those industries to continue on that basis. That has been established in all the nationalised industries.
In this 20th century it is time we got down to the facts of the situation and recognised that for the worker, the concept of the personal boss who actually controls the business has departed long since. He has been dealing with an impersonal body for a very long time in negotiations on wages and conditions. The fact that he deals with an impersonal body in the form of the Transport Commission or National Coal Board means that he is in circumstances very little different from those in which he was before, except that the organisation with which he is now dealing is concerned to see that the worker in that industry gets a square deal. Before, the method was to give the worker what could be afforded after looking after the profit-makers. That is something perhaps which the workers think is rather better today, despite the solicitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I think that they will still continue to believe in nationalisation as 871 the basic means of production of our necessities of life.
It seems also, in considering this question, that if it is accepted that there must be some form of control, which some hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to accept, the point is: How is it to be exercised? Is it to be left to private enterprise to control itself? Clearly, that would be quite contrary to the principles of free enterprise, if one firm must be competing with another. What is the logical outcome of competition between one firm and another? Is it not that the less efficient are squeezed out and then the little more efficient are squeezed out, until we come to the point of monopoly? Is that not the ultimate end of capitalistic free enterprise?
That is why vast masses of people have turned to the Socialist commonwealth—I have no objection to using the phrase—as being an alternative means to capitalism, to provide them with the means of living, and also to maintain individual freedom. So we have no apologies to offer for the road that we have travelled, in spite of what the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) has said and I think that we are quite clear on this, that we do not regard the present amount of nationalisation as being the end of the story, and we shall not be satisfied until we obtain the type of organisation in which all men and women are free, in which all men and women are secure, and in which the benefits of production will be used for the whole of the people and not merely for the profit-making few.
Let us be quite clear that this is the way we are going. We may have to take it in stages. It may be that we cannot completely obtain this economic freedom for years, without some revolutionary way of progress. I do not indicate what the ultimate issue is, but I would say, out of experience of where capitalism has got us, that it is high time that we went along that road. People generally in this country believe in the road that we have travelled so far.
A lot has been said about the nationalised industries and increasing costs. I think that someone on the other side might have mentioned the electricity industry, which very shortly after nationalisation reduced prices in the most 872 expensive areas. Not much has been said from the other side about that. but that was a most important contribution by a nationalised industry. It does not follow either that that is the end of the story. What we are concerned with at the moment is that we have to do the job that private enterprise failed to do, and that was to provide sufficient capital equipment in the industry to produce the power we need. They have failed to do it for years because they have taken too much out in profit and too little has gone back for the purpose of capital investment. It is left to public investment today to do what private investment failed to do. We shall see the result.
The right hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn) said that the only way to increase productivity was to increase the hours of labour. I wonder how much real experience of industry he has. It has been clearly established in America that the method of increasing productivity is to increase the power ratio of mechanism in relation to each human individual. They use about two-and-a-half times the amount of power per worker in America that is used in Great Britain, and it is generally established that the American worker works less hard physically to achieve a higher result. That seems to be an indictment of British capitalism, even if it happens to be a mark in favour of American capitalism. At least, it has been established that if we want to get increased production, we have to have more power and mechanisation.
Although Members opposite have a lot to say about nationalisation and controls, and would like to see steel returned to private enterprise, they do not appear to have any desire to see coal returned to private enterprise. The answer, as far as they are concerned, is that if the product is really necessary and vital to the national well-being, and if it cannot be produced by any other system than public ownership, then public ownership can have it. But if it is something that can be produced at a profit, then private enterprise must have it. We reject that view. We say that the problem is the co-ordination of those things.
Reference is made in the Amendment to road haulage. A good deal has been said about the withdrawal of original permits, but I thought it was envisaged in 873 the Act that permits were to be granted only for a limited period. It was never the intention that they should go on continuously. Here, again, it was a question of taking over an industry in such a way as to avoid dislocation. It is quite right and proper that the Road Haulage Executive should say, through the machinery of the group managers or anyone else, "Can you now carry the traffic you were set up to carry?" If the answer is "Yes," then, quite obviously, the original permits will be withdrawn.
I do not know if Members recollect that one of the greatest evils of road transport was the cut-price return load. It is vitally necessary that the road haulage industry should build up a rates structure under which goods can be carried satisfactorily and people will be able to know the cost of transport. Suppose that the Commission attempt to do this, bearing in mind that many of the people who were guilty of this practice are operating original permits. They will know precisely how much to undercut in order to obtain a return load. This is one of the vital and valid reasons why original permits must be withdrawn. They cannot function if the rate structure is to operate officially. The job of Parliament, in studying the actions of the British Transport Commission, is to see whether the Commission is functioning efficiently and whether the charges are reasonable.
It seems to me that, whether we like it or not, we have got into a state of civilisation in which we are now accustomed to some sort of controls. We must obviously have some form of controls. The smaller the world gets and the more reduced time and space become in regard to population, the more we infringe one on the other, the more will it be necessary to restrict to some extent the activities of the individual when he impinges on others. Whether in the commercial world or in individual relations, we shall have to suffer restrictions, but we want to suffer the minimum of restrictions consistent with our personal freedom and livelihood. That is what our Government policy is. There is no question of control for control's sake. What we are concerned about is to keep our people in employment, and to see that the fruits of industry are fairly distributed in order that we may make our contribution towards a better and a happier world.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
Any one who has the task of winding up a great Parliamentary debate or a series of debates is concerned with an elementary but fundamental difficulty. From time to time, especially upon ceremonial occasions, we pride ourselves on being representative of a system of Government by discussion. But if we are frank we must admit that there are very few occasions which any of us can remember when the discussion has influenced votes. In the 18th century before regular parties had taken solid shape, the outcome of a debate was often uncertain, and even in the 19th century, when the party system in Parliament was beginning to function, it was not altogether set into a rigid mould.
Even in the period between the two wars, I can well recall a considerable number of Members in all quarters of the House who could be relied upon to introduce individual and sometimes original notes, and who were not unwilling to back their argument by action—sometimes positive in the Lobby and sometimes in the negative protest of abstention. Indeed, I seem to remember—as the years go on one's memory gets weaker—a period when I had not so much respect for the authority of the Whips, nor was I inspired by the wisdom of Front Benches which I have since learned.
Somehow in this Parliament and in recent Parliaments even this degree of fluidity seems to have gone and in the present condition of equipoise, for the purposes of influencing a Division, a doctor may be more important than an orator. I have seen it suggested somewhere in the Press that in these debates we should, on principles which would have appealed to the White Queen, start by taking the vote, so that those of us who are interested in the subject could stay and continue the discussion afterwards. I think that reform is well worthy of consideration.
Nevertheless, while independence has tended to disappear from Parliament, there is a growing number of electors outside who own no party allegiance. By a strange paradox, while we ourselves have been forced into a more rigid mould, we are yet the creatures of just those independent men and women, because it is these people and the influence they have which decides the result of the elections, 875 the fate of politicians, and the fortunes of Governments and parties. We are anchored to our political destiny by the floating vote. I shall try, therefore, to recommend this Motion to the House with what objectivity and fairness I can command.
Ministers have now held office for a period of five years. They have held both office and power. I do not know whether they still regard themselves as enjoying both; or shall we have the canting phrase again, so familiar to us all, "In office and not in power"? Is that perhaps the excuse which they will give their supporters for the halt, if not the retreat, on the road to the Socialist State. In spite of the enthusiasm of the last speaker and in spite of the tremendous dishes which were served up to us in the last Parliament, this is a very Lenten fare indeed—salmon and white fish. One great claim Ministers may make: during these five years there has been full employment in Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am making a good start. I may get a vote or two on that from those benches.
Perhaps it would be right to add that this happy situation is at least partly due to the magnitude of the demand after the greatest war in history; to the large-scale unrequited exports which we have to send out of the country without any return; to the high state of business activity in North America—in capitalist North America; and to a fact which is almost forgotten, the shrinking of the labour force by the raising of the school leaving age and by the increased numbers in the Armed Forces. Finally, if it is not indecent to mention it, to judge by the sensitiveness which it reveals, it is due to the vast scale of Canadian and American aid.
I understand from something which the Home Secretary said in an earlier part of the Debate that there is no more need for Marshall Aid. Is that an expression of opinion, or is it a declaration of Government policy? That is really a very grave question. It struck me as a very queer way to handle these great matters, and I trust that the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies will say which it was. It cannot be left as a kind of Obiter dictum coming from the Home Secretary.
In spite of full employment, the nation, as our Amendment suggests, is confronted 876 by grave financial and economic problems. I know that Ministers are fond of representing their tenure of power during these post-war years as one of steady and orderly advance upon the road of economic recovery after all the trials and difficulties of the war. This journey is regarded as a pilgrimage, which has followed a clear and consistent course with foresight, calculation and true Socialist planning. That is the claim. Let us examine the reality. In the first flush of a rather unexpected victory in 1945, Ministers naturally had rather a rush of blood to the head. Those were the "Red Flag" days. I am rather disappointed that apparently the musical phase is over —or is it perhaps that those revolutionary hymns are regarded as suitable only for the atmosphere of the House of Lords?
The symbol of that period was of course, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, who is to reply to the Debate. He fairly ran through the money in the best style. Those were the days when he had a "song in his heart," and it was always easy to hear the song because he has always worn his heart upon his sleeve. The early Daltonian era had an almost two-year run, and then came the crash. In the summer of 1947, having spent the American loan, we were driven to default upon the conditions on which we borrowed it. The Lord President of the Council came down to the House—I remember it well—pale, anxious and harassed, and asked for powers—powers to do something: nobody, including himself, seemed to know quite what. Whether he was really anxious about the convertibility crisis or whether he just thought it was an opportunity of grabbing a little more power, I do not know. If it was the latter, it was a very good act.
At any rate, the Nation staggered through this critical period and passed, a little dazed, into the second Daltonian period. This was brought to a sudden and dramatic end, not by design, but by a strange and most unhappy caprice of fortune. It was succeeded by the beginning of the Cripps era. After the warm, almost tropical, luxuriance of the former dispensation came, by one of those unexplained and mysterious changes in which nature delights, the new Ice Age, with arctic austerity, the wage freeze and all that. Our people submitted to this 877 drastic treatment with their usual fortitude. They even put up with a capital levy—once for all, never to be repeated—unless, of course, Socialist promises are to be nothing better than the Kaiser's "scrap of paper."
But even this complete reversal of policy led to another sudden and dramatic crisis. In September of last year the pound sterling was reduced to a little less than one-third of its international value. [HON. MEMBERS: "Two-thirds."] I should have said a little less than two-thirds it was reduced by a little more than one-third.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The Government, which had previously denounced as almost treasonable any suggestion that such a course might become necessary, suddenly turned round and hailed their serious defeat as a major victory. There has been nothing like it since some of Napoleon's later bulletins. Of course, there were one or two "slip-ups"; there are apt to be in a moment of confusion. Some Ministers represented devaluation as a defeat at the very time that others were hailing it as a victory. Some claimed it as a miracle of planning; others excused it as an unexpected stroke of fate. I do not see the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in his place, but he will remember his deep and natural emotion on that occasion.
After Ministers had recovered from the shock, we were told that the loss of 40 per cent. in the buying power of the pound could not result in a rise of more than 1 per cent. in the cost of living. What was meant, of course, was that in view of all the good stocks at the command of the Government and manufacturers, with any luck the rise in the cost of living would not become seriously felt until the General Election was safely past. That is why the most astute politicians in the Cabinet, like the Minister of Health, wanted the General Election in November last year, and that is why he wants it now, before things get still worse.
Of course, it is true that our balance of payments position has vastly improved. In addition to the cuts in dollar imports by the sterling area, far the largest contribution to this has been the sale of raw materials. Now, with stockpiling and re- 878 armament, the proceeds of these sales are becoming increasingly great. Indeed, even before this later development, the dollar earnings of Malaya equalled the entire dollar exports from the United Kingdom. There is, of course, a certain irony in this which must make the gods chuckle. For tin and rubber are the fruits of private enterprise of a particularly speculative kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Look at the price of them."] Wild rubber was first brought by a British scientist from Brazil, and by his efforts and by the backing of many merchant adventurers, the wild plants were successfully tamed and, after long years of trial and much investment of capital——
§ Mr. Macmillan
—success was obtained. Much the same, over centuries, was true of tin. In both cases the experiments could not have been made within what is now the precious sterling area, without that very Imperialism in the Far East of which some hon. Members opposite are so ashamed that they hang their heads. Yet today, by a delicious paradox, it is by a combination of capitalist enterprise and Colonial expansion that the barque of British Socialism is kept precariously afloat.
Throughout all this period the mood of Ministers was continually changing. One day we were rounding recovery corner with the Lord President but, just as we were getting into the straight, we were faced with a situation in which, to use the former Chancellor's words, "civilisation itself might fade and wither away." Quite strong words, even for these days. It is these perilous and haphazard wanderings that Ministers with extraordinary presumption now represent as a carefully planned course. Yet the truth is just the opposite. I could not sum it up better than in a phrase of the former Chancellor:We have tried ever since the war to overcome our difficulties by a series of expedients which led to a series of crises as each expedient became exhausted.Throughout all this confusion one thing, and one thing only, has carried them along—the splendid and devoted patriotism, fortitude and good humour of the British people. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are many dangers ahead. Yet at this time, with the vast additional 879 burden of rearmament, when we have to face the grim facts of the division of the world into two armed camps, when we have to face a new admitted gap in our defensive system which can only be filled at this late hour by truly prodigious efforts; at this time, instead of concentrating upon the realities of the situation, the Gracious Speech offers us nothing except the driest and most unappetising nutrient.The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.What are the Government's remedies for all these ills? What do the Government propose? What is their diagnosis? We are to have a Bill to make permanent the present emergency powers. That is what we are discussing today. Not, as the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) seemed to think, whether they are good things or not, but whether they should be permanent or not. What is the reason for this Measure? Is it because the Government have such insufficient powers that they dare not face the future? Is it because there are not enough controls? There is a shortage of quite a lot of things, but is that the great shortage? Is it because they want some new and different powers? They have all these powers except the direction of labour.
Is it, then, the purpose to restore the direction of labour in peace-time? So far, I have only heard in this House what the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine), said, and I did not find it very encouraging. I read what the Lord Chancellor said in another place. It was certainly very equivocal. He said that this power should be in a separate Bill, but he did not say whether it will be in a separate Bill. There is a great difference between "should" and "will" —one has only to think of the marriage service. I should like a clear answer: is it the Government's intention, whether by this Measure or by a separate Measure —that is the point—to take power to direct labour in peace-time? We should like to know, and so will the electors.
Meanwhile, I think I know what is the purpose of the Lord President in all this. I know something about his methods. After all, I was once his Parliamentary Secretary, and being that is quite an education. I am not persuaded that he is 880 really trying to fortify his defence against the assault of some new economic peril; he is not strengthening his armour —not at all, he is trailing his coat. He is laying a nice little trap, into which, he hopes, the traditionally stupid party will be so obliging as to stumble.
It is not because he cannot face the economic blizzard with his temporary overcoat that he wants these powers to be permanent. After all, he has this very satisfactory garment until the end of 1951 —even he cannot believe that the Government will last as long as that—and the Festival of Britain will be well over. Nor is he producing the Bill merely out of a passion for tidiness. His worst enemies could not accuse him of having a pedantically tidy mind. He is introducing this Bill in his capacity as one of the greatest party managers, in the Old world or the New. He knows he cannot face the people on housing—the record is too bad. He cannot face them on the rising cost of living. He cannot face them on the issue of Government expenditure and the consequent high and oppressive taxation.
The Lord President has lost the power of manoeuvre which the Socialist had in the old days. I remember it well. When I first got into the House, they were the party which never had power or responsibility, and therefore they could attack everybody who had preceded them, Conservative or Liberal alike. A very bad thing was always the fault of the system," but now they are "the system." They were always blaming the past, but since 1945 they are the past. It is no use making any more promises. tawdry or otherwise.
What, then, is the present Lord President to do? Why, introduce a Bill to make permanent controls, confuse the issue as much as possible between the powers of the Executive and the powers of Parliament, mix up together the duties of broad direction, which are inherent in any conception of Government, and all the pettifogging and tortuous complications of inflated Bumbledom, and then put in a phrase about full employment. Then, if any Conservative or Liberal makes the mildest protest, this will be the party line: "Tories and Liberals are for anarchy, Labour stands for order. Tories and Liberals stand for economic chaos, Labour stands for planning."
881 I can hear the speeches already. The articles are all prepared, I should think, and the pamphlets all printed. No more trouble from the constituents who stand in the housing queue and have waited so long; no more talk about the cost of living; no more grumbling at the terrible taxes. Here is the election cry: "Labour stands for order, Tories stand for anarchy. We will switch off from the Socialist State, which nobody seems to want. We will call it the planned society. That will fetch them, and if only the party opposite will walk into the trap, why," says the Lord President, "we just pull the string and, boys, it will be a fair cop." That is the Lord President's plan, I recognise the authorship at once, I know his style.
But really the problem is not as simple as the right hon. Gentleman thinks. It is the central problem of the second half of this century, and on its solution depends, perhaps, the survival of what we call Western civilisation, for it is the problem of combining freedom and order. In any society, even the most primitive, there must be vested in whatever may be the executive authority, large executive powers. In a modern society where the complexity and independence of financial and economic problems is so great, that authority must be wide and flexible and. even in the days when laissez faire was at its peak and was as readily swallowed by the intelligentsia of those days as Socialism is swallowed today, even in those Victorian days, great powers of direction and economy were in the hands of the central Government. The machinery was different. Financial direction through Budget and the bank rate were the normal instruments of control. But I do not think the party opposite will accuse the Tory Party of being the traditional supporters of laissez faire in its extreme form. It would not even be fair to accuse the Liberal Party of that. It was killed in my lifetime by Lloyd George.
I readily admit that in the early 19th century the rights of property and of the individual were put too high and the responsibilities too low, but now the wheel has gone full circle and I defy anyone to deny that it is not individual indiscipline but the centralising power of the State which is the danger to freedom. It is our task to find a true balance between the rights and responsibilities of the indi- 882 vidual; between what he owes to himself and his family, what he owes to others and to what it is now fashionable to call the State—although I prefer the words I learned as a child, "our duty to our neighbour."
In a modern society, of course, the Government has a huge rôle to play. It is armed with the traditional instruments of budgetary and monetary policy and has in its hands two powerful weapons which it may have to retain. These are exchange control and control of capital issues. With these powers, which are very large, a wise Executive can steer the broad development of the economy in accordance with its policy. But these controls have in addition the advantage of being somewhat remote and anonymous and generally do not press hardly on the normal daily experience of the ordinary citizen. They have nothing in common with the kind of irritating interventions of officialdom and bureaucracy by which the citizen is continually harassed and attacked. We all have our favourite examples. I have a full sheaf, but I shall spare the House its recital, and every hon. Member knows what I mean.
In addition to these financial powers in the hands of the Executive, there will be others necessary, perhaps, in all circumstances and certainly in present circumstances. For example, the rationing of materials in short supply and general guidance of import and export policy. But there are many most harassing and tyrannical powers, like that of direction of labour, which are not justified in peacetime nor will they be tolerated by a free people, or a people determined to remain free.
Just because certain powers are necessary, just for this very reason, any Executive which has a due regard for democracy and freedom should itself be only the more anxious to be charged with those powers with the full support and under effective control—and by that I mean really effective control—and by the periodic review of a free Parliament. Of course, I fully admit that the Government have had many powers which they have not used. It is arguable that under Regulation 55 they might have seized the coal industry, gas, electricity and steel without all the trouble of Parliamentary Bills and long and wearisome debates. I think that those powers are there but they have not done 883 that. It is also true that the very dangerous and revolutionary doctrines which even so respectable a figure as the Prime Minister put forward only a few years before the war, the commissars and all that—we all know the quotation—even these have been put away, at least temporarily, into some cupboard of Transport House, along with the writings of The Secretary of State for War, the speeches of the Minister of Defence and many other skeletons.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Oh, mine are very respectable. I have no doubt that these powers which existed have not been used to the extent that they might have been, but I know what these Ministers have said in the past and to what they may perhaps revert. Even if these Ministers are what we might call reformed drunkards for powers, the craving is always there, and in these cases it is wiser to keep them out of temptation. If I might describe the difference between the periodic and the permanent, I would say that the Lord President of the Council would like Parliament to put the bottle permanently on the mantelpiece, so that, like Mrs. Gamp, he could put his lips to it when he was so "dispoged." For my part, I think it is better to keep it under lock and key and for Parliament to have the key.
I have said that in a modern society no Government can stand aside from the great economic policies of the day; of course not. I should, in passing, like to comment for a moment on the sad tendency towards the debasement of the currency of words. It causes much confusion of thought. Take the word propaganda:De propaganda fide.What an elevated ideal. It meant the spread of the Christian gospel among heretics and infidels. Now it is degraded so as to be almost synonymous with falsehood and partisanship. Or take charity, in the Pauline sense. It has sunk from its first meaning to suggest only the giving of public or private alms.
So with the word planning. It had quite a respectable start. It meant the creation of modern and effective 884 machinery by which high national policies might be carried to fruition, for a plan is merely the instrument for carrying out a policy. We have had a glut of plans but we have had a sad dearth of policies. It was of course inherent in this idea that policies would be devised, on selected and vital national interests, by which we might become, as far as possible, masters of our fate instead of the victims of blind chance. It was also part of this conception that planning should be carried out not by the arbitrary intervention of a bureaucracy but by a real partnership between the State and industry, each in its own sphere playing its appropriate rôle. That is as far removed as can be from the so-called Socialist planning of which we have had such tragic experience.
In these complex affairs the Government have, as I have said, a great rôle to play, but in my view their place is at the centre, not at the circumference. Their rôle is strategic and not tactical. The great commander in the field—and it has been my good fortune to live in close association with some of the greatest—must plan the broad outline of the campaign or the battle, but he must not interfere with its tactical operation. He must command the Army but he must not try to command a division or a brigade, still less a battalion. Sometimes the temptation to do so is very great, but if he yields to it he is lost; and so it is with the Government.
It is this tactical interference which has proved the fatal canker in the nationalisation schemes. Ministers might well have asked this Parliament to devote some attention to the reform and improvement of the industries and services already nationalised. For it is clear, and I think everyone admits that there is here an immense and urgent task. It is necessary for national efficiency. It is necessary in order to improve the morale of the management and men employed. It is necessary to improve the service to the customer, that is to the public as a whole.
Instead, at a most critical moment of our national affairs when parties and public opinion are so nicely balanced, Ministers have decided to press on with the nationalisation of iron and steel. What for? To increase exports? To help rearmament? To raise steel production? To increase industrial harmony in the industry? 885 [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] No impartial man can say that. In addition they are pressing on the road transport monopoly by the most ruthless and relentless methods. The road hauliers are being driven out of business on the most onerous terms and with derisory compensation. And why? To serve the public? Oh, no! To protect the interests of the State monopoly.
And now we are to have a further measure of nationalisation, it is true not a very large affair, in sugar. It does not seem to be very popular, even with some of the Government supporters. Indeed, I am not sure whether it is really nothing more than a tactical advance to cover a general strategic retreat upon the whole nationalisation front. It is not clear yet whether the new Bill is an advance guard or a rear guard, or whether it is the thin end of the wedge. Or is it perhaps that the Lord President has been squared by "Mr. Cube"? In any case this and the other Measures which are foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech bear no relation to the problems of the day. They are pure political manœuvering. They are the last struggle of a discredited and dying Government, and as such I believe they will earn the contempt of thinking people and of those moderate and vigilant voters whose support may often be won by bold measures, but never by petty or partisan devices. For those compelling reasons I commend this Amendment to the House and to the nation.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of Town and Country Planning (Mr. Dalton)
The Amendment in support of which the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) has just spoken, is something of a mixed grill, and I will do my best, in half an hour, to do justice to this dish. It was commended to us in a very notable speech by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft). I venture, party politics entirely apart, to congratulate him on that speech, and to congratulate the Front Opposition Bench on a much needed revivification. I am glad that the Opposition are now following, after some delay, the practice of His Majesty's Government, in beginning to lower the average age of the denizens of the Front Bench.
I hope that the hon. Member for Monmouth is not only enjoying acting rank 886 but that he will be allowed to stay on the Front Bench and to continue to make speeches from that Box on future occasions. None the less, I must add that I think that, though a change in the bowling brightens the game, he bowled a lot of wides and a few no-balls and, charming though the speech was—full of energy, fluency and self-confidence—all admirable qualities, much of it was far from the Amendment before the House.
I shall talk about the Amendment. That may be surprising to some of the earlier speakers. First, with regard to road transport, which the hon. Gentlemen and others referred to, much is being made of the fact that some 5,000 permits—a relatively small number of the total of the permits granted to private road hauliers—are being terminated next February, as was always perfectly clear might be the case when the permits were originally granted.
There is no ground here for surprise at what we have done, or for recrimination. Those concerned will be entitled, in the first place, to continue to ply within a 25 mile radius of their place of business. In the second place, in so far as they are B licence owners, carrying, in part, their own goods and, in part only, plying for hire and reward, they will be entitled, outside the 25 miles radius, still to carry their own goods.
If they are dissatisfied with the new situation, they will be entitled to require the Transport Commission to take them over and compensate them on a basis of the valuation of their assets, plus goodwill, plus any claim they may put in for severance. In default of agreement they can go to a high powered Arbitration Tribunal which, I am sure, will do justice.
It must not be forgotten that this particular operation is part of the provision the Transport Act passed by the last Parliament, which intended to bring about an integral and efficient service of road and rail transport for the country as a whole. I say that at present the obstacle in the way of that being done is that there are too many vehicles on the roads. Many of them are travelling about only half-loaded. They are using petrol, they are wearing out road surfaces, they are increasing the number of road accidents, and they are uneconomic. It is part of our purpose to get rid of this redundancy and to provide 887 an efficient transport system. I am confident that in the next few years the practical working of our new scheme will bring that about.
Let me turn from road transport to another matter referred to in the Amendment—steel. I find it rather surprising that the Opposition should keep nattering on about steel. After all, they have been beaten twice on this in this Parliament.
§ Mr. Dalton
When the Opposition, for the first time, win a by-election anywhere, and most of all in a steel centre, then I will give it to the right hon. Gentleman.
Meanwhile, the Iron and Steel Act is on the Statute Book and the Government will carry out the law. Moreover, I am informed that, apart from one or two of the mandarins of Steel House, who still keep up the battle—many of whom have very little knowledge of steel making as practical men—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We could go through them and their qualifications: here an accountant, there a lawyer and somewhere else an ex-university lecturer in philosophy. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] I was hoping the Opposition would respond to that. What happens to ex-university lecturers? We have no monopoly of their services; but we pick the best. Of these gentlemen of Steel House, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health said, very picturesquely, that many of them know less about making steel than his granny, and I, therefore, leave them aside, at this stage of the proceedings, as no longer weighing heavily in the balance of political reality.
I am very glad to hear from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply that the practical men in charge of steel undertakings in this country—the managers, and a considerable number of directors—accept the position and are quite prepared, as good patriots, to continue to maintain the splendid output records which the industry is at present achieving.
§ Mr. Churchill
Does the right hon. Gentleman appear surprised that they have not attempted to sabotage the output of steel, on which so much depends?
§ Mr. Dalton
I should have been both ashamed and surprised if the men in 888 charge of these plants had yielded to the blandishments of the Opposition.
§ Mr. Churchill
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that, throughout the last Parliament and in this one, we have done our utmost to keep up production in this country.
§ Mr. Dalton
I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should try to make a debating point out of this. What I have said, and I say it again, is that I am very proud to find, what I expected to find, that steel output is being magnificently sustained and increased by those who do the practical work of the steel industry, though without any particular encouragement from those who, while talking about the need for national unity, have refused to accept the decision of Parliament in a Bill which was carried into law in the last Parliament, and on an issue on which they have twice been defeated in this one.
This was the issue on which the Opposition challenged the Government in the debate on the King's Speech last year. They were beaten. They challenged us again on 10th September, and we brought up all our sick and wounded and beat them again. We shall see what will happen tonight. So much for steel. We are going on with the nationalisation programme. We are going forward with no fear or doubt or shadow of turning, and the more this is debated the more repetitive the Debate will become, as there is really nothing new to add to it.
Now I wish to turn to controls, about which the right hon. Gentleman and others had much to say. This Amendment protests against making permanent the wartime powers of control by regulations already enjoyed by the Government. We do intend to make certain of the powers permanent. The Gracious Speech so declares, and, in due course, a Bill with that object will be presented. I shall not be expected, I am sure, to expound in detail, well in advance of its introduction perhaps, this Bill. But I can say one ar two positive things about it, and one or two negative things, and I will do so in response to questions asked by hon. Members.
First, direction of labour. My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor made the position quite clear, I thought—but, if not, I will endeavour to make it clearer still 889 —when speaking quite recently in another place: that is the right description. He made it quite clear, I thought, that the Bill that we are intending to introduce would not provide for the direction of labour. It will not contain any provision for the direction of labour. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that we might have it in mind, perhaps, to introduce some other Bill which would contain such a provision.
§ Mr. Dalton
No, he did not say that. What he said was, that if we had need to introduce it, we should, of course, come to ask for it as a special Measure. He spoke with the full authority of the Cabinet, and so I do, and our statements in no way are contradictory. What I say is that the Bill we shall introduce will not contain any provision for the direction of labour. We do not have it in mind to introduce a Bill providing for the direction of labour. But if there occurred some misadventure—we hope there will not—but if we were again in some very tense situation, such as that in which the right hon. Gentleman and some of us on this side have been associated, we should, of course, consider it again, because the life of the country would be at stake. Of course we should. But we have no intention of introducing, in this Bill or in any other Bill, a provision providing for the direction of labour. [HON. MEMBERS: "In peace time?"] Certainly. If we got into another war, everything would be changed.
§ Mr. Macmillan
This is a very important point, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree. He says, "If we got into a tense situation." He says, "Of course, we shall not introduce such a Bill with such powers." He seems to forget that the Government have maintained and held such powers for a whole five years, up to the last few months.
§ Mr. Dalton
A few months ago we dispensed with them, to the great chagrin of the Opposition, who were looking forward to a Debate which was, unfortunately for them, disposed of by the fact that a few days before my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour dispensed with those powers. Anyhow, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is now clear as 890 to the intentions of the Government. I have tried to make them pellucidly clear.
Now I wish to say a few words about human freedom. The direction of labour is one form of the infringement of human freedom. I wish to remind the House and the country that in the last five years this Government have done more for civil liberties than all the Tory and Liberal Administrations for a long time past. It was under the present Government, in the last Parliament, that we abolished all the old barriers that used to protect the Crown—that is to say, in modern terms, the Executive, Ministers, Departments of State, and so on—from being sued by private citizens. Any private citizen may now sue any Department of State. That is a great advance in civil liberty, and it was introduced and carried through by His Majesty's present Advisers.
Further, not only have we given the empty right to go to law—it is an empty right for the great majority of poor men—but, in addition to that, we have made the right a reality by the Legal Aid Act which we have passed. We have given the right to the poorest person to get good legal advice at the public expense, and thereby to make effective use of the rights given to him. All this is quite new law and a great extension of civil liberty. Tory Governments always forgot about the need for this in the old days.
Moreover, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is misleading to discuss civil liberty upon a purely juristic plane: economic considerations also enter into this matter, and nothing has done more to extend the freedom of the ordinary worker than the continuance of full employment. Full employment gives the worker freedom to choose his job; it gives him freedom to change his occupation; and it gives him power, in the last resort, to sack the boss. In these days, the worker no longer has to fear political or industrial victimisation, because, if an employer thus acts towards him, it is not too difficult for him to find another employer who will be glad to engage him. The list of unfilled vacancies to be seen at every employment exchange is one of the clearest symbols of this great new freedom which the workers have under full employment. Therefore, in any general discussion about freedom, I hope that the Opposition will get down to 891 these realities and not deal with remote generalisations.
The issue between us with regard to these powers is whether there should be a permanent statute or whether we should have to rely upon a process of annual renewal. So far, nothing has been said by spokesmen on the other side of the House, who have criticised our proposals, about the other place and the part that it plays in these arrangements. The principal and most fundamental objection, in my view, to the process of the annual renewal of these powers, as distinct from the making of a permanent statute, is that annual renewal requires the annual consent of the other place. It is not enough for this House—it was not enough only a week or two ago—to pass an annual renewal. It also has to be validated at the other end of the passage, and to that we have the strongest constitutional objection. It is right for the life of a Government to be determined, and for great decisions of policy to be determined, in this House—this representative House.
In the last Parliament we did not clip the wings of the other House in order to put back into its claws an annual veto upon this most essential part of our economic arrangements. From a democratic and parliamentary point of view, it is intolerable that we should be dependent upon the consent of unrepresentative persons in matters of this kind, and that is one of the strongest arguments for having a permanent measure dealing with these questions.
Our object in drawing up this Bill which will be introduced later, excluding, as I have said, the direction of labour, will be to make permanent all those controls which are necessary for the secure establishment of our industrial prosperity, and for social justice in the Welfare State. This will be the test. Everything that is necessary for these objects we shall retain. What is not necessary we shall not retain, and the details will be filled out later.
§ Mr. Dalton
I thought the right hon. Member for Bromley sagged a bit towards the end of his speech. I thought he was going to criticise much more severely the requirement of permanent legislation for war-time powers, 892 but towards the end of his speech he seemed to concede the need—no doubt he will correct me if I misunderstood him —for the permanent retention of a number of these powers, upon which we should be very glad to agree with him, if that is his view. Let me give him an example to see whether I rightly understood him. For example, price control, which is entirely dependent upon these regulations. Our view is that we need powers of price control as a permanent part of our legislative arrangements. I think he agrees.
§ Mr. Macmillan
What I said was that there were certain powers, budgetary and monetary powers and others of that kind, and others that might be necessary in certain circumstances. I intended to say, and I am sure that I did say, that they should be subject to Parliamentary control, and that that Parliamentary control should be real and effective, subject to periodic review and not permanent.
§ Mr. Dalton
Very well. The right hon. Gentleman has one leg on each side of the stile. We consider that they should be permanent until it seems right to Parliament to repeal them. That is our view. Of course, they should be subject to Parliamentary review, and that will be provided for in the Bill. An undertaking to that effect is given—review by this House, but not necessarily by other persons at the other end of the passage.
We consider that we must have permanent powers of price control—I am anxious to answer some of the positive questions that were put to me—in a statute, so that we can prevent the ravages of profiteering and diminish the risk of inflation. In the second place, we must have power to ration both the necessities of life, and, if need be, materials. I think that the right hon. Gentleman conceded that.
Further, we must have permanent powers of building licencing. There was quite a debate about that at the Tory Conference at Blackpool, and some of the speakers have been writing to the Press explaining that they were misreported.
893 I have not time to go into all that now, but our view is that we should have permanent power of building licencing, so that it is possible to control both the nature and location of building and, therefore, the use made of these very scarce and necessary things, building labour and building materials.
We should have power over export and import trade in the interests of our balance of overseas trade, and, finally— and here I think the right hon. Gentleman did agree, and I was surprised at it, but delighted—we must keep our exchange control and our control of new capital issues. I think that he agreed on that [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think that he did. Both the Exchange Control Act and the Borrowing (Control and Guarantees) Act are measures for which I was responsible, and looking a few years ahead I did make them both permanent, and I am very glad that I did. Permanent they are now and so will remain until we get an ill-advised Government that chooses to alter them. There will be no need for exchange control or new capital issues to be dealt with in this Bill. I have taken care of that beforehand.
So far as other matters are concerned. I think it would be reasonable if we could have further argument on the Bill, but I say this. It would really be very doctrinaire for hon. Members on the other side of the House, particularly in view of the very encouraging details that I have given, to vote against this Bill in advance of it being presented. They may do it if they like. It may be that there are no persons more doctrinaire in this House, and no section more committed in advance of an actual situation to abstract and somewhat unrealistic views than some of those who now occupy the benches opposite. I say that if they intend to vote for the Amendment, giving a doctrinaire vote well in advance of any necessary knowledge that might guide it.
§ The Liberal Party is not heavily represented. I was going to appeal to them on behalf of the old Radical tradition, but there are only three of them here. But I will say that I think Lloyd George would have thought, in these conditions, that it was very necessary that the general public should be safeguarded against small sections of society, against whom he so powerfully inveighed, by these protections. The Bill on permanent economic controls, which we shall introduce, will be subject to full democratic discussion in the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course it will. I am anxious to reassure those who breed nightmares in their souls. There will be full discussion.
§ Mr. Dalton
Many of the points which have been thought important are Committee points, and they can be discussed when the time comes.
Provided that the Government are satisfied that the Bill effectively maintains the national interests which I have indicated—the essential public interests —there is, of course, plenty of scope for amendment and discussion. But, those who vote tonight for this Amendment will be voting for retaining the annual renewal, as distinct from the permanent statutory renewal, and they are, therefore, voting to enable another place—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—to have the last word as to whether in this country we should still have full employment, whether we should still have fair shares, and whether we should still be able to balance, as we are doing now, our overseas trade account. If that is the kind of issue on which it is thought the electors would like to pronounce, we shall be delighted that they should be consulted.
Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 289; Noes, 299.899
|Division No. 3.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W T||Baxter, A B.||Bossom, A. C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Beamish, Mai T v [...]||Bowen, R|
|Amery, J (Preston, N.)||Bell R M||Bower, N.|
|Amory, D Heathcoat (Tiverton[...])||Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan|
|Ashton, H (Chelmsford)||Bennett, W. G. (Woodside)||Braine, B.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon R. (Blackburn[...] W.)||Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool Toxteth)||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comd[...] J. G|
|Astor, Hon. M||Birch, Nigel||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W|
|Baker, P.||Bishop, F. P.||Brooke, H. (Hampstead)|
|Baldock, J M||Black, C. W.||Browne, J N. (Govan)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Banks, Col. C||Boothby, R.||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Pitman, I. J|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Prescott, Stanley|
|Carr, L. R. (Mitcham)||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Price, H. A (Lewisham, W.)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Channon, H.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. H. (Scotstoun)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Hyde, H. M.||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Redmayne, M.|
|Clyde, J. L.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Remnant, Hon. P|
|Colegate, A.||Jennings, R.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Kaberry, D.||Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Keeling, E. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kerr, H. W (Cambridge)||Roper, Sir H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Ropner, Col L.|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Russell, R. S.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Langford-Holt, J.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Crowder, F P. (Ruislip—Northwood)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Cundiff, F. W.||Leather, E. H. C.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A M||Scott, Donald|
|Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lindsay, Martin||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Linstead, H. N.||Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Llewellyn, D.||Smithers, Peter H. B. (Winchester)|
|de Chair, S.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)|
|De la Bère, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Soames, Capt. C|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Longden, G. J. M. (Harts. S.W.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Donner, P. W.||Low, A. R. W.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M||Lucas, Major Sir J (Portsmouth, S.)||Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Stevens, G. P.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O||Steward, W A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Dunglass, Lord||McAdden, S. J.||Stewart, J, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Duthie W. S.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|Eccles, D. M.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fisher, Nigel||McKibbin, A.||Summers, G. S.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fort, R.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Foster, J. G.||Maclean, F. H. R.||Taylor, W J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Fraser, Hon. H. C, P. (Stone)||MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W.)||Teeling, William|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Macmillan, Rt. Hon Harold (Bromley)||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)|
|Gage, C. H.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Thompson, R. H. M (Croydon[...])|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D (Hillhead)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C N|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marlowe, A. A. H||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F|
|Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Marples, A E||Tilney, John|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Touche, G. C.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Grimston, Hon. J (St. Albans)||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Maude, J. C. (Exeter)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Maudling, R.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Medlicott, Brigadier F.||Vaughan-Morgan, J K|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Mellor, Sir J.||Vosper, D F|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Molson, A H. E||Wade, D. W.|
|Harris, R. R. (Heston)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Wakefield, E. B (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Harvey, Air-Codre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Morris, R. Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Hay, John||Mott-Radclyffe, C E.||Ward, Hon G. R (Worcester)|
|Head, Brig, A. H||Nabarro, G.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C||Nicholls, H.||Waterhouse, Capt C|
|Heald, L. F.||Nicholson, G.||Watkinson, H|
|Heath, Edward||Nield, B. (Chester)||Webbe, Sir H. (London)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Nugent, G. R. H.||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Nutting, Anthony||Williams, C (Torquay)|
|Hill, Mrs. E (Wythenshawe)||Oakshott, H. D||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hill, Dr C. (Luton)||Odey, G. W.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Wills, G.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W D||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Wood, Hon R.|
|Hope, Lord J.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||York, C|
|Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Osborne, C|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Horsbrugh, Miss F.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Mr. Drewe and|
|Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||brigadier Mackeson.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Field, Capt. W. J.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Adams, Richard||Finch, H. J.||McGhee, H. G|
|Albu, A. H.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McGovern, J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Follick, M.||McInnes, J|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Foot, M. M.||Mack, J. D.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Forman, J. C.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Freeman, J, (Watford)||McLeavy, F.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McNeil. Rt. Hon. H|
|Bacon, Miss A||Ganley, Mrs. C S||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Baird, J.||Gibson, C. W||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Balfour, A.||Gilzean, A.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Bartley, P.||Gooch, E, G.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Benson, G||Greenwood, Anthony W. J. (Rossendale)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Beswick, F.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Grenfell, D. R.||Messer, F|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Grey, C. F.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Blackburn, A R||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Moeran, E. W.|
|Boardman, H||Gunter, R. J.||Monslow, W.|
|Booth, A||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Moody, A. S.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hale, J. (Rochdale)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Morley, R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne V'll'v)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Brook, D (Halifax)||Hamilton, W. W.||Mort, D. L|
|Brooks, T. J (Normanton)||Hannan, W.||Moyle, A.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hardman, D. R.||Mulley, F. W.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hardy, E. A.||Murray, J. D|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hargreaves, A.||Nally, W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Harrison, J.||Neal, H|
|Burton, Miss E.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J|
|E[...]r, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hayman, F. H.||O'Brien, T.|
|Callaghan, James||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Carmichael, James||Herbison, Miss M.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Orbach, M.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hobson, C. R.||Padley, W. E|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Holman, P.||Paget, R. T|
|Clunie, J.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Houghton, Douglas||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hoy, J.||Pannell, T. C.|
|Collick, P.||Hubbard, T.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Parker, J.|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paton, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Ccve, W. G.||Hynd, H (Accrington)||Peart, T. F.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|C[...]wley, A.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Poole, Cecil|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Irvine, A J. (Edge Hill)||Popplewell, E.|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Porter, G.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon G A||Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Daines, P.||Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jay, D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Darting, G. (Hillsboro')||Jeger, G. (Goole)||Pursey, Comdr. H.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Rankin, J.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jenkins, R. H.||Rees, Mrs. D.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Reeves, J.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Reid, W. (Camlachie)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rhodes, H.|
|Deer, G.||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)||Richards, R.|
|Delargy, H. J||Keenan, W||Robens, A.|
|Diamond, J.||Kenyon, C.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Key, Rt. Hon C. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Donnelly, D.||King, H. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)||Kinley, J.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dye, S.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.||Royle, C.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lang, Rev. G.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Edelman, M.||Lee, F. (Newton)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon, Sir H.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannook)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||L[...], G. S.||Slater, J.|
|Ewart, R.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Logan, D. G||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Longden, F. (Small Heath)||Snow, J. W.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Wigg, George|
|Sparks, J. A.||Tomney, F.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Wilkes, L.|
|Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Usborne, Henry||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Vernon, Maj. W. F||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Stross, Dr. B||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Wallace, H. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Sylvester, G. O.||Watkins, T. E.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Weitzman, D.||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Winterbottom, R. E. (B[...]side)|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||West, D. G.||Woods, Rev. G. S|
|Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)||Yates, V. F.|
|Thurtle, Ernest||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Timmons, J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Bowden.|
Question put, and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.