§ 7.31 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)
I beg to move,That the Draft Cotton Industry Development Council (Amendment) Order, 1951, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th November, be approved.Before I embark upon the very few remarks that I think it will be necessary to make on this Order, I should like to declare to the House that I own some stock in one cotton company in my own right, and I believe I hold as a trustee some stock in another company which may come within this Order.
The present Cotton Board, officially known as "The Cotton Board, 1948," was set up by the Cotton Industry Development Council Order, 1948, which is dated 25th March, 1948. It received the approval of this House on 15th March, 1948. There had long been, as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are aware, particularly those who sit for Lancashire, a central co-ordinating body in the industry, first the non-statutory Joint Committee of Cotton Trade Organisations, dating from 1925; later, the Cotton Board set up under the Cotton Industry Act, 1940; and, most recently, the present Cotton Board set up under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947.
Section 8 (3) of that Act provides that not later than three years from the coming into force of a Development Council Order the Board of Trade shall consult both the Development Council and the representative bodies of employers and employed on the question whether the Council shall continue, and if so, whether the Order setting up the Council shall be modified or amended. Last December, accordingly, the Board of Trade consulted the various bodies concerned, the trade unions and the employers' associations. I am happy to tell the House that, on the first question put to them, whether the Board should continue, there was unanimity that it should. On the question of amendment, many of the organisations thought that some alteration was desirable.
§ The Order now before the House is the, result of the recommendations which were made and of the negotiations which 1249 followed. I will not say to the House that every organisation consulted has had all its recommendations adopted, but that every organisation that made recommendations has had an opportunity of commenting on the Order in its present form. Every one of them desires that the Order for which I now seek approval shall be made by this House.
§ I think that the best way I can help the House is by drawing attention simply to the principal changes that this Order makes. The first change is in the basis of the levy. Under the existing Order, apart from the small registration fee, the burden of the levy falls entirely on the spinners. As long as statutory price control fell on the spinners and weavers, as it did until the spring of 1949, the levy was an element in the fixed margin allowed to spinners, and was passed on, in due course, through the chain of production and distribution. Now a different method of collecting the levy becomes necessary, if all sections of the industry are to contribute and the spinners are not to be left to bear the charge alone.
§ The provisions in the draft Order now before the House are based on the detailed proposals made, and have been reached by negotiation between the various sections of the industry and the Cotton Board. It will be seen that the draft Order sets out how the charge is to be distributed among the different sections and the basis of calculation of what is due from each member in each section. That is the first of the changes which this amending Order makes.
§ The second change of importance is that the total maximum amount of the levy is increased from £250,000 per annum to £300,000 per annum. This increase, which is asked for by the Board and is agreed by the industry, arises, not unnaturally, from increased costs and the needs of research. The Board, as the House knows, has given valuable support to the Cotton Industry Research Association, known generally as "The Shirley Institute," and the Empire Cotton Growing Association, and the Board will be able, when this Order has been approved, to continue to make those contributions without any interruption at all. I should have said, what I think is already known, that the figures which I have given are maximum figures and that the actual amount of the levy must be 1250 approved in each case by the Board of Trade.
§ The third change to which I would invite the attention of the House is the provision whereby a pension can be paid to the Chairman of the Cotton Board. This Order authorises the payment to the Chairman of the Cotton Board of such pension as the Board of Trade may determine. The request for this provision came from both the Board and the industry generally, who wished to mark their sense of Sir Raymond Streat's outstanding service to the industry. I would only add that the provision involves no charge of any kind on public funds.
§ Those are the only changes with which I need trouble the House. I would merely conclude by saying what the House already knows, that this great industry is facing severe competition, and now that re-armament is making increasing demands on the engineering industries the immense contribution to our exports and to national well-being that this great industry can make is more important than ever. In the view of both those within the industry and those outside, the Cotton Board has an important part to play. All sections of the industry desire the Order to be made. I confidently commend it to the House.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)
I should like first to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary upon his appointment. I am sure that he will have a very busy and happy life at the Board of Trade.
The hon. and learned Gentleman began by referring to the Joint Council of Cotton Trade Organisations set up in 1925 and then he went on to say that the cotton trade, in all sections, had not taken long to make up its mind about the Order before the House. I would merely comment that it was a pity that the Joint Council of Cotton Trade Organisations in 1925 did not make up its mind a little earlier so that a Cotton Board could have been introduced in Lancashire long before it was.
I am sure that all hon. Members, and not only those from Lancashire, welcome the Order. The Opposition would have had difficulty in doing anything else, because the Order, as it stands, was almost ready for presentation before the Dissolu- 1251 tion. However, I congratulate the Government on bringing it forward so quickly. because that has allayed the anxiety of interested parties in the trade who were afraid that the change of Government might mean delay.
The Cotton Board is a tried, trusted and responsible example of a development council. It has behind it the accumulated wisdom of 11 years of experience. I am sure that if that great Lancastrian, Mr. Oliver Stanley, had been here tonight, it would have given him immense satisfaction to see the developments since his early efforts to establish a Cotton Board under the Cotton Industry (Reorganisation) Act, 1939. That Act expressed the desperation of the cotton industry and the desperation of the Government at that time, because between 1918 and 1940, 800 cotton mills in Lancashire were shut down, 21 million spindles were broken up, 360,000 looms were abandoned and 345,000 operatives lost their jobs. In the words of Oliver Stanley, it needed someone who knew Lancashire to realise what that meant in human values.
Lancashire, in 1913, exported 7,000 million square yards of cotton cloth, paid wages of between £50 and £150, in gold, a year to adults, and sold its products to poor people with an income of only £6 a year. It was a terrific achievement, but it did not last. The poor people acquired Western machinery and produced Western goods on Eastern wages. India was given powers to impose her own tariffs; she did so, and she built up her cotton industry behind those tariff walls. Japan, seeking food for her increasing population, had to export to get it; her cotton manufactures did the trick. Tariff barriers in the United States of America assisted in the debacle. The cotton industry and the Government then realised that they had to work together to recover the former position, and even to hold what they had, of the industry.
The Parliamentary Secretary has said that the 1948 Order was introduced under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act. The Cotton Board itself really stemmed from the Cotton Board of the Cotton Industry Act, 1940, so there have been 11 difficult years of experience during which the Cotton Board, ably led, has coped splendidly. It gave leadership 1252 to a distracted industry. It gave central services of all sorts to the industry. It made a channel of communication between the Government and the industry both ways. It set up colour, style and design centres and recruitment and training schemes, provided statistical services, assisted the Shirley Institute, began studies into the scientific deployment of manpower and machinery, and did good work on behalf of the Government in the preparatory stages of the re-equipment scheme.
The cotton trade has done well in the post-war years. Only the other day the leader of the cotton industry, in the person of Sir Raymond Streat, estimated that £60 million has been spent on modernisation in the post-war years. That is a large sum of money. The industry has a more constructive and positive outlook than it has had at any time since the turn of the century. It has a better outlook and a better attitude towards new machines, colour, design and pattern, the application of science to the job, new wage systems, deployment of labour, and improved management.
I say categorically that the cotton trade could not, and would not, have been in its present healthy situation if it had not been for the Cotton Board and its wise collaboration with the organising power of the State. It still has a big job to do. but I know that the industry is well aware of the problems that it has to face. They were mentioned at the Cotton Board Conference last month. One of them is—I have held the opinion for the last six years—that the optimum size of the industry to sustain an adequate export trade will have to be determined some time in the months and years to come. The leader of the industry thinks it is too small, and I agree with him. There is an idea, which I would express to the new Parliamentary Secretary and which lies behind the minds of some people engaged in the industry, that safety lies in concentrating on the home market; and that is part and parcel of the problem of the size of the industry.
The next problem to be faced is the speed at which modernisation is taking place. This affects both employers and workers alike. Another factor is the need for convincing certain elements in the 1253 trade that unless improved technical efficiency is reflected in lower prices, we shall lose the competitive struggle which lies ahead. With those few remarks on the general aspect, may I turn to the Parliamentary Secretary's explanation of the changes which have been brought about by this new Order.
First, there is change of method of levy on the industry. Under the war-time Board of 1940, the levy was on raw cotton. In 1948 the levy was made on the number of spindles working in the industry, the charges being on spinners as the buyers of raw cotton. Now a more equitable formula has been worked out, so that all sections of the trade contribute. I promise the hon. Gentleman that I will not pose any questions of a technical nature with regard to "flyer" spindles or "Chapon" spindles. I think the proposals are as good as can be devised. It was inequitable that the spinners should bear it all. Now I hope everybody will appreciate that they have a stake in the levy.
The second change is the increase in the maximum amount from £250,000 to £300,000. In my opinion it is well justified. Costs of all kinds have gone up and the services which the cotton board supply are costing more. Claims for assistance by organised bodies which depend on the Cotton Board for financial assistance are higher. May I instance one case, the organisation which the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation. This body has done invaluable work for the improvement in cotton production throughout the Empire. I can speak about it from personal experience. I have seen it at work at Shambat and Wad Medani in the Sudan. I have seen the Namulonge Research station near Kampala and I know of the work in Tanganyika, in Nyasaland, Nigeria and the West Indies. It has done a tremendous job, and it has been particularly useful in these last few years when Lancashire has had to seek its supplies elsewhere than in America. I hope there will be no let-up whatever in its work.
I suppose that the money which the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation received in years gone by was really the cause of the first levy ever made on the cotton industry. It was a voluntary levy from 1921 to 1923. It was statutory from 1923 until 1940. Then the levy was 1254 merged in the levy for the Cotton Board. The rate was 2s. for the Cotton Board and 1 d. for the Corporation. In 1948 the Cotton Industry Act was replaced by the Development Council Order and this provided the levying on a spindleage basis which really put the levy going to the Empire Growing Corporation out of joint. So the Cotton Board provided the Corporation with a grant of £18,000 a year for the three years, 1948–51.
As I see it, one of the reasons for the increase in the amount that will be raised yearly is that this particular association have this year asked for an increase up to £32,000. As I have said, it was previously £18,000. I hope that when this Order is through and the Cotton Board is able to get down to the study of these things, it will consider sympathetically the claims of this first-class organisation.
The third matter is the provision of pensions, and this is entirely justified. This provision was long overdue. It is unfair to expect a man to give the best years of his life on successive short-term contracts without making some provision for his retirement or death. On behalf of all hon. Members on this side of the House—and I am sure for my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Helens (Sir H. Shawcross) will do so later—I wish to pay a tribute to the work which has been done by Sir Raymond Streat as the Chairman of the Cotton Board. He has led it through very difficult times. He is regarded not only in the cotton industry in Lancashire, but in other industries throughout this country and in other parts of the world, as a great leader in industry.
Before I conclude, I wish to tender my personal thanks to the Cotton Board for all the assistance, courtesy and cooperation extended to me while I was at the Board of Trade. I would thank them, too, for one particular thing that happened this year, which was the friendship and hospitality they extended to my friends from the Sudan, who were cotton growers, when they visited Lancashire during the summer. The Government can be sure they will always find hon. Members on this side of the House ready to support wise collaboration with this great industry, and I have pleasure in wishing the Cotton Board for the next five years God-speed.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)
I and my colleagues welcome this Order, because we have always looked upon it as being the collective responsibility of industry to look after its own development and provide for its research. But I find it in very strange contrast to the ideas which have been put forward by hon. Members opposite, both during the Election and during the life of the last Parliament. It is in strange contrast to the edict of the present Prime Minister to "Set the people free."
It is also in strange contrast to and a great departure from the old individualistic notion that the individual member firms of an industry should provide for their own research and development. It is in strange contrast with the idea that competition of itself would inevitably and invariably make an industry efficient throughout all its component parts and would give us not merely the maximum efficiency but the maximum of development towards a perfect industry.
This Order is a complete refutation of all those ideas on which the philosophy of the Government side of the House is based, and always has been based. I noticed in the "Manchester Guardian" last week a speech by the man who is, I believe, the present President of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. He held forth the idea that, in future, when the Liverpool Cotton market had been abolished, we should concentrate for the supply of American staples on cotton from the United States of America.
It seems to me that in doing that he was forgetting two considerations which are inherent in this Order. The first is that, in relation to the United States, the one overriding factor is, and must be for many years, the amount of dollars that we and the rest of the world have to spend on the different kinds of imports that we must take from there. The second factor is that we have pledged ourselves on both sides of the House to Empire development. If we are to concentrate, as was the advice given by this man, on all our supplies of American staple coming from the United States, what will happen to the implementation of the Agreement arrived at at Ceylon? What will happen to all our Colonial Development propositions, to which we are fully pledged?
1256 The idea must be that if we are to use our resources for the development of our Colonies by the use of their land, cotton is one of the factors which must be of great importance. We must use research of this kind in order to be able to develop the kinds of cotton which are necessary to the Lancashire industry. I do not think that we on this side, or any other hon. Members on the back benches, need make long speeches on this subject.
We are completely behind development of this character. I, as a representative of a constituency which nominally is woollen but which has some cotton trade in it, remember sitting in this House in the last Parliament when we discussed a similar Order in respect to my own industry. I remember the eulogistic terms in which a back bench Member referred to the industry which I know very well. That made me wonder whether he was referring to the right industry. It brought to my mind the story of a manufacturer in the woollen industry who died. A business man friend who attended the funeral and heard the eulogistic terms in which the man was referred to by the minister asked me when we were coming away whether the references had been to the man who had been buried.
These eulogistic phrases have not been used about the cotton industry today. It is obvious from this Order that the cotton industry, just like the woollen industry, has not provided for its own research as it might have done. It is because the Government of the day are enforcing on the cotton industry that collective responsibility which ought to be on every industry that I welcome this Order.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
On a point of order. Do you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, intend to allow us to speak widely on the cotton textile industry?
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
I think that a good deal more latitude than this Order allows has already been permitted. The Order is a narrow one, and the speeches should be directed to the limits of the Order.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
As you have already allowed a wide measure of latitude, Mr. Deputy Speaker, surely you will continue to allow it the rest of us?
I agree that there has been a rather wide measure of latitude, but the order itself is strictly limited. While I cannot deny the wide latitude that has been permitted, I hope that the comments of hon. Members will be directed mainly to the terms of the Order.
§ Sir Hartley Shawcross (St. Helens)
Further to that point of order. I am sure that you will appreciate that this Order, if agreed to, entitles the Cotton Board To levy a further sum of no less than £50,000. With respect, I would submit to you that that entitles us to consider not altogether narrowly the functions which the Cotton Board may have to exercise in connection with the cotton industry which will involve an expenditure, or which may require an expenditure, of this considerable additional sum.
That is why I allowed as much latitude as I did, but I still hope that hon. Members will keep to the terms of the Order.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
This debate has been developing more and more into a love feast. I am sorry that I should have to shatter the placid atmosphere when I fail to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his opening speech. I regard the fact that he and his hon. and right hon. Friends are in power as an unmitigated disaster.
For what possible reason the Prime Minister, in his wisdom, should have chosen the Parliamentary Secretary whom we know to be a sincere and able man to deal with the Board of Trade is quite beyond my understanding. I have failed to hear him take part in any of our earlier debates. Whereas I can think of many suitable posts for him in the Government, I hope that he will make good use of his Recess by studying the industries of this country. I hope that he, will come to Lancashire to see for himself the working out of the Order he proposes.
I am grateful, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for the latitude you are allowing, but I want to address myself specifically to this Order. It is one which is of great importance, and it introduces some rather startling departures. I should have liked to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us in detail how the money which is to 1258 be derived is to be spent. He gave us a number of examples and purposes which are wholly admirable, but it is the duty of this House to keep a most careful check on expenditure which comes within its control. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that this expenditure does come within the control of the House, since we are responsible for permitting this money to be raised.
I should like to know in a good deal more detail how this money will in fact be used. I hope that certainly there will be a much greater concentration on Empire cotton growing development so that we shall not be so dependent on American cotton as we have been in the past during the period of the great neglect of Empire cotton growing, which was so notable a feature of the period of Tory administration that we have sought to rectify, because we are a party concerned and interested in the Commonwealth. I hope that the Conservative Party have learned this lesson, and that they will continue to practise it.
There is one special point to which I wish to refer, and that is the pension for the chairman. Nobody doubts for one moment the value of the services which Sir Raymond Streat has contributed to Lancashire. But there are countless people throughout Lancashire, in Preston, Oldham and all the cotton towns, who, in the words of Bob Smillie, have devoted not just their money and their investments but their lives to this industry. We ought to examine this question of a pension rather closely. Is it intended that it will become a practice for all chairmen of public boards to receive a pension like this? Is this in accordance with what is to be the general procedure for the chairmen of nationalised bodies and so on?
We are touching on a very serious principle which should be examined by the House. This is not something which we should do lightly. I would not for one moment deny the services which the present chairman has given to the cotton industry. I am sure the House will decide that it should be possible for the Board of Trade to permit the payment of such a pension, but I think that, especially in an industry which has been notable in the past for insecurity, unemployment and all the conditions which were so marked a feature of pre-war years, it does 1259 bring up once again the question whether, in fact, real security is being given to the workers. I think that many of them will look with amazement when they see that a pension is being paid to the Chairman of the Cotton Board, who has admittedly rendered great public service, and that no provision is made for the men and women who have given their lives to the industry. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government will look at this question again and will consider very carefully how the principle will work out.
In general, I welcome this amending Order, which is a logical development. Personally, I felt that it would be possible to raise a levy from the whole of the cotton industry, and I am glad mat it has been decided upon. It is further development of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, which some of my hon. Friends and myself played some part in passing into law, and we well remember the fractious opposition we had while we were trying to do that. I am glad to see that the new Government are prepared to operate it.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
I was sorry to hear one who so very nearly forfeited the honour of representing part of the City of Preston speak in the term-in which he did of my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Mr. Fort
I cannot imagine a speech more calculated to produce the situation which this Order sets out to prevent. If there is to be security for our textile workers in Lancashire—and I am sure that is what the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) as well as every other Lancashire hon. Member wishes—it will come in part from the successful working of the Cotton Board. which we all want to see. We want, therefore, to retain the services of the excellent people like Sir Arthur Streat and Mr. Reginald Gray, though he left a little while ago, and many others who have made the Board the success it has been.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The cotton industry will not get on very well either, unless it retains the excellent ser- 1260 vices of the 200,000 or 300,000 people who do the work in it.
§ Mr. Fort
I entirely agree; we want all these people.
This Order has been delayed, firstly, because of the complexity of the negotiations which have to be carried on in order to obtain agreement in all parts of the industry, and then by the intervention of the General Election. We have been delayed to the point where there is a danger of losing good men who are uncertain about the future of the Board, and, secondly, and this is equally important and will probably be agreed on the other side of the House, organisations such as the Empire Cotton Research Association, and the Shirley Institute will be handicapped unless we pass this Order very expeditiously.
I must take up one point made by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook). May I remind him that the extreme expression of laissez faireto which he referred, was never a part of Conservative policy, although it was the very foundation of the economic thought of the Liberal Party, which now sits below the Gangway.
§ Mr. D. Brook
Does the hon. Gentleman not remember the present Prime Minister using the expression "Set the people free."Does it mean what it says?
§ Mr. Fort
I cannot imagine that the Cotton Board has ever enslaved anyone, and that would be my answer to that question. I would also remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that, evidently, from their point of view, the mess of centuries which they claim to have cleared up so magnificently in six years cannot be exemplified by the Cotton Board. The Act originally setting it up was passed into law by the National Government in 1939 and 1940. As the point of this debate is to approve the Order as expeditiously as we can. I leave this argument, with the comment that there was some coat-trailing for the benefit of their constituents in the speeches of hon. Members opposite.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Coln)
I think I am right in saying, as I look round at the empty benches opposite and at the not very much fuller benches on this side of the House, that I 1261 am the hon. Member present at this moment who has represented for the longest period in the House of Commons a constituency depending entirely on the cotton textile industry for its livelihood. Therefore, I hope I shall not be offending against the great expedition with which it is necessary to pass this Order by delaying the proceedings for five minutes in order to make a contribution of my own to the discussion which has been going on.
I would remind the House that this Order does two important things. One is that it extends a levy which, under the old order, was payable only by the spinning section of the industry so as to be a levy upon the whole industry, and that is a very important thing. The other thing that is important is that one of the purposes for which the extra money thus raised is to be used is to provide a sum to pay a pension to the Chairman of the Cotton Board.
Unlike some of my hon. Friends, I welcome the conversion to economic common sense of so many hon. Members on the other side, who seemed to have lost touch with sanity for so many years. They are now falling over one another in order to deny that they have any possible sympathy with or support for laissez faire. They deny entirely that they have anything to do with it. It was only one of the wicked things which the Liberal Party was in favour of and for which it is now paying so sad a penalty. Therefore, we are to understand that they are no longer in favour of abandoning controls in industry, because, if they did that, they would go back to laissez faire.
§ Mr. Silverman
I will deal with every point made, so far as I can, in not more than 10 minutes, but at the moment I am dealing with the general position of back bench Members, with some notable liberal exceptions, like the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), falling over one another in order to deny that they have any sympathy whatever any more with the idea that industry ought to be left to conduct its own affairs.
1262 Throughout the General Election, that was not the line they were taking. Did they say: "Let us have more controls, let us have a little laissez faire. Let the State step in, and never mind the old Liberal doctrine. We, of the great Conservative Party, do not believe in it. We believe that controls will be necessary in order to get the best out of the economic resources of the country "? Did they really say that throughout the Election?
I think I must have been wasting my time considerably in addressing meetings of my own. I ought to have been sitting as a humble disciple of the new Tory Socialism being preached by the Tories in the General Election which has just concluded. But I think nobody would be more surprised than the constituents of the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) to have heard him today preaching the virtues of control, of levying money and of taking money out of people's pockets by compulsion in order to provide a central board which can control and advise the industry.
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not know. The hon. Gentleman must really make up his mind whether he wishes the control to be there, or whether he is in favour of laissez faire. He cannot have both. He must either be in favour of leaving the industry to conduct its own affairs, or he must be in favour of regulations to regulate and control its affairs. What hon. Gentlemen opposite have always wished to do is to make the best of all possible worlds, because they are not a political party at all, but only what Disraeli called them, an "organised hypocrisy."
Something has been said about what Government it was that introduced this kind of levy, because we are dealing with the levy and extending a levy to cover the whole of the cotton industry for the purpose of paying pensions. I want to draw a contrast between what this Order does and what used to be done in the days when the Conservative Party had not discovered that it was against laissez faire and was in favour of levying money on the industry in order to pay pensions, because the very first Bill that I heard the House of Commons discussing when 1263 I came here as a new Member in 1935, and the very first Bill that I was on a Standing Committee to consider, was the Spindles Act of 1936. There was a great similarity in part between that Bill and this Order. That Bill, too, put a levy on the owners of all spindles in order to provide a common fund. Every owner of spindles throughout Lancashire was compelled to make a contribution to a common fund in proportion to the number of spindles he owned. He had to pay so much per spindle.
But what do hon. Members think the purpose of that fund was? To develop the industry? To extend it? To improve it? To enable it to progress? No the fund was to be used for buying up and destroying redundant spindles. The purpose then of the levy was not the expansion and progress of the industry, but its contraction and its limitation. Some of my hon. Friends on that Committee—and I did my best to help—dealt with precisely the point, or some very similar point, that is being dealt with in this Order.
We said that if some spindles became redundant or were alleged to be redundant and were going to be destroyed, it was not only the spindles that would be redundant but the spinners as well. We said that if there were going to be less spindles in the industry, then fewer spinners would be employed. Indeed, one of the greatest debates I ever heard in a Committee of this House was in that Committee on the question of compensation. We said that if owners of spindles could be levied in order to provide a fund with which to compensate them for destroying the spindles, then why not raise a little more money in order to provide pensions for those who would lose their livelihood on the strength of what was proposed.
§ Mr. Fort
On a point of order. In view of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, shall we be allowed to discuss the Spindles Act of 1936?
The hon. Gentleman has no right to discuss the 1936 Act. The compensation provision of this Order is the proper subject matter of debate.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have the greatest sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. If I were in his position I should not like this, 1264 and I should try to stop it if I could, but I would not be so optimistic as to think I should succeed. There is a close relation between levying an industry in order to provide compensation for lost employment and levying an industry in order to provide money for pensions.
§ Mr. Fort rose—
§ Mr. Silverman
I did not say that it was being raised entirely for that purpose. I said that it was being raised, as has apparently been admitted, for pensions, and I have not said a single word against them. The hon. Gentleman says I should tell the whole story, but I cannot tell any of it unless he stops interrupting me every other minute. I have not said I am against raising a single penny of this in order to pay an adequate pension to people who have given their lives to the industry when they can no longer serve, and so far as this Order does that I welcome it. But I am saying what a great difference there is in the spirit in which that is now being done and the spirit in which the party which is now lauding itself on progressive ideas conducted the other Measure at a time when the workers in the cotton industry had no security, when nearly half of them were unemployed, and when nearly half the remainder were under-employed and suffering from concealed unemployment.
On the principle of the pensions, I have no comment to make, and I did not understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook) when he spoke a little time ago was opposing it on principle either. What he was saying was that if it is a good principle, then it ought to be applied all round and not merely to the Chairman of the Cotton Board. It is all very well to say that without the Cotton Board there would be no progress, no prosperity and no security in the industry. There will be no security in the industry, even with a 1265 cotton board and even with an excellent chairman and an excellent board and all the rest of it, unless something is done in the coming years to protect the trade from the unfair and increasing competition of the Japanese.
The best of cotton boards and the best of chairmen will not be able to save the cotton workers from insecurity and unemployment if they are going to be faced with the same kind of competition and the same kind of repression and exploitation from the old employers as in the years when the cotton Spindles Act was passed. Should that time come—and nothing at the moment is being done to prevent it—when we pass this Order the Chairman of the Cotton Board will have no need to fear for his future. His future is being provided for whatever happens to the cotton trade, and I am saying not a single word against it.
I am saying that while we are doing it we ought to be doing something at the same time to afford a similar security in days of unemployment, in days of contracting trade and in days when, by reason of age, service can no longer be rendered, not merely to the Chairman of the Cotton Board whose services nobody under-estimates, but to the industry as a whole and, in particular, to the quarter of a million people whose lives are invested in it.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I did not intend to say anything in this discussion, but when I listened to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) I felt impelled to intervene. He succeeded in imparting into this discussion all the prejudice for which he has built a reputation in this House. He has not even given credit to the Conservative Government, who, before the war, put into operation the first Act which made the Cotton Board possible.
§ Mr. S. Silvermanrose—
§ Mr. Shepherd
I must be allowed to say something before there is a battery of interruptions. I listened with very great attention to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne when he was making remarks to which I could have taken very proper exception. He referred to the restrictive nature of the 1936 Act; but does he not remember the 1930 Act produced by a Socialist Government which fined coal-owners for producing more than a certain amount of coal? Was not that an example of restrictive—
This discussion has become too wide. I understood the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) used the 1936 Act as a parallel to this Order, but the debate must be limited to the provisions of this Order.
§ Mr. Shepherd
Really, I was only showing how prejudiced was the viewpoint of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. He has ignored all the atmosphere which existed in the industry in the years between the wars and I was referring to the Coal Mines Act, 1930, the Second Reading of which was moved by Mr. William Graham in this House. I referred to the past, but the past is only of interest to hon. Members opposite during election times. What we want to do is to get on to the present and the future.
As a Conservative, I accept the Cotton Board. It has done a very good job in the cotton industry. The Conservative Party supported the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947. We did not oppose the Bill when it came before the House and we have always believed that a measure of control and guidance in the industry is essential. What hon. Members opposite do in the way of dis-service to the idea is to express the view that the Development Council does in fact control the industry. It does nothing of the kind. It merely represents the industry on the labour and management side with some independents. The members do certain things; but nothing they do has any statutory value. Nothing the Council does under the 1947 Act has any forceful bearing upon the industry, save in the matter of levies and the production of accounts. The Development Council has no authority to enforce anything on the 1267 industry save in connection with the production of certain records and the payment of certain levies.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
Is the hon. Member arguing that we ought to give the Development Council greater powers? Perhaps he will make that point clear, for there is great force in it.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am not suggesting for a moment that there should be any extension of these powers. It is reasonable to take the view that we should await experience of the Development Council generally before we make up our minds as to its ultimate form or its value.
§ Mr. Shackleton
Has the hon. Member read the Order setting up the Cotton Board? He will find in the second Schedule a list of activities which go far beyond those he mentioned.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I wish hon. Members opposite would acquaint themselves of the facts before they intervene. There are in the 1947 Act 17 functions which a Development Council could be called upon to perform. But I am reiterating that they have no statutory authority over those in the industry save on the question of the levy and on the production of records. I know that the former President of the Board of Trade is doubtful about this, but I assure him that if he reads the Act he will see that that is absolutely true.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
I am not doubtful about the powers of Development Councils. I happen to know something about them, both as a former President of the Board of Trade and a former Attorney-General. What I am doubtful about, since the hon. Member challenges me, is the point that the hon. Member is seeking to make. Is he seeking to suggest—and if so, I should agree with him —that we ought as quickly as we can to increase the powers of these bodies?
§ Mr. Shepherd
If I were free for a moment or two from interruption, I should be able to make my position about Development Councils clear. I think that in general there is a case for some sort of organisation such as Development Councils, and I think that it should rest absolutely and essentially upon a purely voluntary basis. I think that the Development Councils which were established, as 1268 they were, by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the clothing industry—
This is entirely out of order, and indeed if we accepted the invitation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to increase the powers, that too would be out of order. The hon. Member must direct his remarks to the provisions of the Order now before the House.
§ Mr. Shepherd
That, of course, prevents me from replying to the numerous interruptions to which I have been subjected by hon. Members opposite.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
May I endeavour to assist the hon. Member? May 1, with great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, submit to you that on this Order, which proposes to increase the levy which a Development Council may impose, it is in order for hon. Members to discuss whether or not the activities of a Development Council, which would be facilitated and perhaps increased by this levy, are in themselves desirable.
The debate must be confined to the limitations of the increase in the Order and cannot be extended to increases beyond those which the Order proposes.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am indebted to the former President of the Board of Trade for trying to rescue me so nobly. I do not wish to detain the House, because we cannot discuss this matter as fully as we should like.
The Cotton Board has made a very significant contribution to the cotton industry in the last few years, and I think it has pioneered a pattern which will be helpful to many industries in the future. I particularly want to say how much I appreciate the work of the. Shirley Institute. The excellent work of that Institute is not sufficiently known outside the narrow confines of Lancashire. If the increased amount which this Order will bring to its coffers will mean an increase in its activities, everybody in this country ought to be pleased. I am sure that we in this country are not sufficiently appreciative of the excellent work that is done by our research associations in many spheres of our industrial life, not only in the cotton district but sometimes elsewhere, and I hope that the increased amount of money which will be devoted 1269 to the Shirley Institute will bring even better results.
§ Mr. Shackleton
Would the hon. Gentleman correct the statement that he made, that his party supported the Industrial Organisation and Development Act? In fact, they voted against it on the Second Reading, and he did so himself.
§ Mr. Shepherdrose—
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I can well understand the flattering terms in which the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade spoke about this Order, because I understand he drew it up himself, and it was an Order prepared by the Labour Government while they were in office before the dissolution of Parliament.
As far as the Order is concerned with a small expenditure, I see no objection to it. Is seems a useful and satisfactory one, and one which is generally so regarded by the trade. But I find it more difficult to understand the flattering terms in which he talked about the present Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Board of Trade and his attitude to the matter.
Unfortunately, I was deprived by another engagement of hearing the opening sentences of the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. I was looking forward to them with great delight, because some of us can remember what his attitude has been to these things over the last six years. It has been an attitude of consistent opposition to any form of economic planning of any kind, sort or description. Most of us are familiar with the topical cartoon which appeared some weeks ago in which a man had written the word "peace" on the pavement and a little girl ran in and said, "Ma, someone has written a rude word." In the years past, the word "planning" was almost a rude word and one would have thought that when a Tory Government got in the word would have been ruled out of order in our debates.
I say this quite bluntly to the Parliamentary Secretary: I remember that every time the word "planning" was used he would sit over here lean back and deliver a howl of strident, cacophonous laughter as if it were a contemptuous 1270 term which should be derided and ought to be disregarded altogether. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman is listening to me, because I hope he will reply to what I am saying.
I listened to the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) with real surprise. I think he surprised himself. It may very well be that as the weeks go by hon. Gentlemen opposite will get to believe in what they say. It may very well be that they will convince themselves that all through these years they have been thinking this way although they have been saying something else. We remember the history of these things. It has been part of our lives. You fought these things sentence by sentence and word by word and with every form of criticism and every form of contempt. When we passed the Bill for development councils you even obstructed them throughout the industry. We never succeeded in getting a development council for the pottery industry because of the obstructive tactics of some employers in the industry who would not play and would not facilitate this operation.
§ Mr. Hale
I agree, inspired and supported by politicians; and I do not want to be ungenerous, but perhaps also supported by not sufficiently strong action from the Board of Trade to deal with them. That has been the position, and we are therefore entitled to say to the Parliamentary Secretary, as we do say to him, "Have you come down here and produced this on the terms on which you have produced everything up to now, that it is something you found in the office, that you have not had time to think about it and that you hope it is going to be all right; or are you going to say you really believe in it and you have changed your minds? Do you now agree with development councils or do you not? Are you contemplating extending them to other industries or are you not? Are you prepared to support this idea, or are you not?"
§ Mr. Hale
I could not hear those last few words, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but may I venture to point out that the Cotton Board is the Development Council, comes under the Development Council Order and was so constituted. However, I have almost completed making my point on that matter and I am quite ready to come to something else.
I propose deliberately and carefully to express complete disagreement with all my colleagues who have spoken so far. I do not believe that we should start giving pensions at the top. I have nothing against Sir Raymond Streat at all. I think he has been spoken of in terms of some sycophancy, but I think he has done a thoroughly good job. He has had a very comfortable job and has had many journeys abroad, all over the world, in the course of his duty, but I do not think we should start giving pensions to the man at the top. To give a pension to the man at the top and to nobody else is the worst way to get confidence in the industry. I think it is causing difficulty.
There are plenty of other members of the staff of the Cotton Board with lower rates of salaries whose insecurity is a much more serious matter to them than it is in the case of the chairman. If we are to introduce pensions at all we should certainly introduce them for the whole Board, and if we are to introduce them for the whole Board, we ought to apply them to the industry.
I want to say to the Parliamentary Secretary, who appears to have been listening to me for the last few minutes with passionate and enthusiastic attention, that the National Coal Board a few weeks ago secured for all persons employed in the coal industry a really efficient and effective pensions scheme. The thing that we hoped for for years in the coalmining areas has come to pass, and now anyone who works some years in the mining industry can look forward to retiring with a really full measure of security. It is something we prayed for and hoped for, and now it has come to pass. It is something we can really applaud and be pleased about —much more than we can about this one provision in this Order.
What are we going to do about the cotton industry now? Because the 1272 Government must realise that we cannot apply a scheme like this to an industry employing 600,000 or 700,000 people without at once having claims for consideration from the other industries. I know that, unfortunately, the wages in the cotton industry, even today—and heaven knows under a Labour Government they were better than they ever were at any time in the history of the industry—are not exactly too high, with the necessary contributions to a pensions scheme of that magnitude. But there is no reason why we should not start planning for such claims.
What is the reason why the engineers of Oldham and the cotton workers of Oldham should not be entitled to participate in such a scheme? Without any thought of criticism of Sir Raymond Streat, while wishing him well, and expressing no criticism of his work, I would say that it is a bad thing to start by giving a pension to one individual. Naturally, it is apt to create dissatisfaction in the industry. The place to start giving pensions is right at the bottom.
What about the women of Oldham, going out leaving their children in the crèche, where there is a crèche, or leaving their children to paid care when there is no crèche available, and going to work in the mills? I know one dear old lady of 83 years of age who is working in a cotton mill and who qualifies only for the 10s. pension because she happened to be abroad for a year or two at the time when contributions to the contributory scheme were required to be paid. These are the sort of people who should have a pension. They are the people who make the industry go round. They are the people who work in the industry. We can run the cotton industry without Sir Raymond Streat, but we cannot run the cotton industry without the 300,000 people working in it.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Sutcliffe (Heywood and Royton)
I agree with what the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), has said about the fine workers in the industry, and about our looking after them and doing as much for them as possible. I think that is agreed on all sides of the House. However, I think it is a pity that Sir Raymond Streat's pension should have been called into question during this debate. All of us in all par- 1273 ties admire the work he has done for the cotton industry, and the whole nation in fact owes him a debt of gratitude.
This debate began on a quiet note, and I had not intended to take part, like my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), until hearing some of the recent observations. I thought that the ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade set the right note in his observations on the industry as a whole and in his hopes for the future, but since then many exaggerated statements have been made, notably by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) who seems to have taken this opportunity, as indeed, he usually does take the opportunity whenever it is offered, of taking us back to the 'thirties, as though he were on an election platform. In fact, anybody coming into the House at the moment he was speaking would have been certain that he was listening to one of the hon. Member's election speeches.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Would the hon. Member forgive me for saying to him that I am sure, whether he agrees with me or not, that he will accept it from me—and I am speaking with complete sincerity—that my recollections of what life was like for the ordinary working people from the early 'twenties until after the war, though indeed they have formed the subject of some speeches at election time and inside the House, are really very bitter and tragic memories?
Those recollections may be very interesting, but they are not relevant to the Order before the House.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of order. I dare say that they are not, but may I suggest to you, Sir, with all respect, that they are just as relevant as the sneers about my election speeches?
§ Mr. Sutcliffe
I was not saying that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne was not sincere. I was merely drawing attention to the fact that he was using the debate for party propaganda purposes. He said in his opening remarks that he thought he had represented a Lancashire constituency for longer than anybody else present in the House at this moment. I have been the Member for the Royton division—now the Heywood and Royton division—since 1931, so I beat him by 1274 four years. From mixing with constituents in this wholly industrial division in Lancashire, composed mostly of large spinning mills of which there are a great number, I personally knew the sad events in the cotton industry between 1931 and the later 1930's. I suppose few people had more opportunity of mixing with the people and getting to know them and conditions in the industry at that time. I took that opportunity, and in many debates in this House during that period I stated the situation, and urged the Government—and in a humble way at that time helped the Government—to take some action. It was not the fault of any Conservative Government that there was that unemployment in Lancashire at that time.
We really cannot have the debate roving round the extent of unemployment in Lancashire before the war. We must keep to the provisions of the Order under discussion.
§ Mr. Sutcliffe
I am sorry, but I was tempted to answer some of the things that had already been said. We had to take action, and we had to reduce the number of spindles in order to help. I will leave my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with some of the other observations. Some quite unwarranted remarks were made about him by the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton), but it will not take my hon. Friend very long to get to know as much about the cotton industry as any of us, so I do not think anybody need be anxious on that score.
Those of us who represent the industry welcome this levy, which was formerly confined to the spinning section, and as one who represents largely the spinning section, I am pleased that the rest of the industry have come into line and are supporting us in helping with the levy. Agreement has been reached on this plan, and there is therefore no need to go into it further this evening.
We have been reminded by the Opposition about promises to abandon controls and "set the people free." Conservative policy has always been that the Government should work with industry and help industry, and that is what we hope and intend to do now. It was never intended that the people would be set free straight away, and nobody ever said so on any 1275 platform during the election. I see the former President of the Board of Trade smiling. One Saturday afternoon during the election he came to my constituency and told the people there that they were uneducated. He said at a meeting in Royton that he could not understand how they had been silly enough—or words to that effect—to return a Conservative candidate for all those years. I am told that he went so far as to call them nitwits, but I am not quite certain of that. At any rate, he did me an enormous amount of good, because he made the people very angry indeed, and they are still talking about it. The Prime Minister, as I have mentioned, did once mention the phrase "setting the people free." Surely, he has done so already by ousting the Socialist Government and replacing it by a Conservative administration.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Sir Hartley Shawcross (St. Helens)
Unlike the hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Sutcliffe), I can support this Motion in the knowledge that I did at least vote in favour of the Bill under which the Order which we are now asked to pass is made. The hon. Member who has just sat down was one of the large number who trooped into the Lobby to oppose it. I will come back to that in a moment or two, and in its proper place. I am going to refer to the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) as well, and no doubt he will wish 10 intervene, and I will give him then every opportunity of intervening. The night is yet young, as an hon. Member reminds me.
I find myself in a somewhat peculiar position in regard to this Order. I believe that it is possible, indeed I am advised, and if I am wrong the Attorney-General will correct me, that it is both legal and physiologically practicable for a child conceived by one father to be born while its mother is living in legitimate, if temporary, alliance with another husband. That is really the position in regard to this Order. I should have added, of course, that one regards any incident of that kind, if not as positively indecent, at least as highly deplorable, and one to be brought to an end at the earliest possible time.
I want first to congratulate and condole with the Parliamentary Secretary. I want to congratulate him upon his appointment 1276 to what is, I think, one of the most interesting and important, and, as I am afraid he will soon find, one of the most hard-working Departments of State. I want to congratulate him on the manner in which he acted as a midwife in the delivery of this child, for the conception of which my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) and I were really responsible some time ago. And I want to condole with him on the fact that his tenure of office is not likely to be one which he can reasonably expect to be of any considerable duration.
As one of the co-parents, if I may so describe myself, of this Order, I naturally view most of its provisions with favour, as young parents commonly do. But I must say I was a little surprised at the enthusiasm which the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary showed in bringing the child into life. I remember very well the bitter and partisan attacks which were made on development councils, not, I think, so much from industry as from politicians whose desire was in some cases to score political points, however inimical they may have been to industry and the interests of the country.
I remember a speech made by the hon. Member for Cheadle on the Second Reading of the Bill under which this Order is laid. He said:We are opposed to this Measure because it is a very vicious example of delegated legislation.This is a piece of delegated legislation which the Parliamentary Secretary is now inviting us to approve.If industries are important, there is every reason why the Government should have thought fit to have brought a Bill to this House in respect of each industry. Each industry could have been the subject of a separate Bill.There is nothing to prevent this matter before the House now being made a subject of a separate Bill, but what we are doing now is "vicious delegated legislation."There is no reason why there should have been this delegated legislation in this instance. The Bill requires that we take out of their jobs men of exceptional ability. There is no doubt that that is sc.Apparently the majority of the Members in the House at that time had considerable doubt about whether it was so or not.I suggest that we are doing a disservice to industry by taking these men out. I do not feel that there is anything in this Bill which 1277 can commend it to the House, and, therefore, we shall go in the Lobby against it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1947; Vol. 433. c. 642.]He was speaking on behalf of his party at the time and quickly and obediently he went into the Lobby accompanied by the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and a not inconsiderable number of those hon. Members who are now adorning the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. Shepherd
It is true, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, that we opposed the Second Reading of the Measure.
§ Mr. Shepherd
It was not because we opposed the principle behind it, but because we thought we had a better method of accomplishing what was the common desire. I still think from the experiences and difficulties I have experienced that our method would have been the better one.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
If what was really in the mind of the hon. Member when he made that speech was the vicious character of the delegated legislation, he ought to have brought his views again to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary, who had, indeed, been impressed by them and voted with him, before this particular piece of delegated legislation was put forward in implementation of the Bill which the hon. Member then so strenuously opposed.
I do not share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), who is not in his place at the moment as he had to go out to fulfil another important public engagement, that hon. Members opposite are talking with their tongues in their cheeks. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West, has now fulfilled his public engagement with that expedition which one expects from him, and that he is now taking his usual place in the House.
I was saying that I did not share the cynical view taken by him that hon. Members opposite, in supporting legislation of this kind today as yesterday they supported the whole system of planning and controls which previously they had made the subject of so much bitter attack, 1278 are speaking with their tongues in their cheeks. They have come, as I ventured to say yesterday, into the hard school of political responsibility. They are learning the lessons which inevitably have to he learned in that school and I believe —I think we are entitled to assume this—that they are sincerely converted to the views which we have hitherto put forward.
I regard this as a most important and notable occasion, and we place very clearly on record our appreciation and our welcome of the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, has now come to support the principle of Development Council organisation. I am very glad that so many hon. Members of the Conservative Party are present to lend their weight to the support which the Parliamentary Secretary has given to this important principle.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
On a point of order. If it is in order, I should like to point out that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I have no doubt inadvertently, is misleading the House. The principle at which the opposition of this side of the House was aimed in opposing Development Councils was the imposition by the President of the Board of Trade of a Development Council against the wishes of either a trade union or of the employers, whereas what we are talking about here is a progressive industry in which both sides have voluntarily entered into a Development Council, which the Department has blessed and approved.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for explaining, in what appears to me to be an entirely novel way, the position of the Conservative Party hitherto in regard to these matters. The hon. Member has not had the advantage of being in the House during the course of this debate. I have no doubt, as time goes on, that other hon. Members will come into the benches opposite, and will seek to give their varying views on why, in the past the Conservative Party has opposed the establishment of the Development Councils legislation.
That latitude is not going to be allowed. Hon. Members must keep to this Order which is before the House.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
Then I will not be tempted, by the intervention which you permitted to the hon. Member, to follow him further in regard to the point which he sought to develop. I content myself with recording again my appreciation of the fact that, converted from what we thought were their previous views, the Government have now come down clearly in support of the general principle of Development Council organisation.
I want to touch now upon two matters which were referred to in the course of the discussion, about the actual provisions of the Order. First I want to say a word about a provision which the Order contains permitting the payment of a pension to the Chairman of the Board. This is not a nationalised industry, nor will the payment of a pension involve any charge upon public funds. This organisation is financed by the industry itself. Both sides of the industry, represented as they are in this Development Council organisation, desire to be able to pay a pension to the Chairman.
They no doubt have taken the view—I do not know whether it is necessary to canvass its correctness here or not, although I regard it as correct—that, in existing circumstances, with many alternative and attractive possibilities of employment in other spheres, it really is not practical to expect a man to accept a succession of short-term appointments—that is what happens in this case—without some greater security than exists at present. At all events, that is the view which this body has taken in regard to the disposal of what are, in fact, its own funds.
In a sense it is really rather fortuitous that the assent of Parliament has to be asked for it, and I think—I ask my hon. Friends to agree—that that assent ought to be given. I hope that the Board will be able to promote the efficiency of the industry as time goes on in a way that will make possible the payment of pensions on a far wider scale. You would rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if I were to go into that in any detail. I merely commend this part of the proposal to the House because. I believe it is one which in existing circumstances is practically necessary, that is, where a person has been serving on a board for a considerable period of years although his appointment has been on a short-term 1280 basis of, perhaps, five years at a time or some such period.
Attention was called by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne and my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton), to the assistance which the Cotton Board has given, and may in the future be expected to give, to the Empire Cotton Growing Association. That seems to us to be a matter of the utmost importance. The price of raw cotton has risen very steeply in the period since the war. At one point it reached about 10 times above its pre-war cost, and that increase in cost had a very considerable effect upon the increase in the cost of manufactured cotton articles in this country. As one of my hon. Friends pointed out, much of the expenditure on raw cotton involved dollar expenditure.
I am certainly not convinced that a great deal more cannot still be done to stimulate cotton production—no doubt this is also true in the case of many other primary products—within our Colonial Territories. It cannot be said that in the past the Conservative Party has made any very great contributions to the development of the great colonial territories of this country. [Interruption.] As a very distinguished statesman once said of their policy in these matters, "There would be patriotism by the Impeial pint."
As another distinguished statesman, also well known to hon. Members opposite— I am referring to Lord Beaverbrook—has made abundantly clear time and time again, the Conservative Party spent their many years in office between the two wars in neglecting the great opportunities of colonial development that existed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense!"] That is the view that Lord Beaverbrook has, I think, expressed. If I went into the matter further, as I should deeply like to do, Mr. Deputy-Speaker would at once rule me out of order.
All I say now is that I hope that not only the Cotton Board but also the Government will do everything that they possibly can to promote the growth of cotton in our Colonial Territories and to develop the production of those other things which may be produced in the Colonies to the fullest possible extent. It is not for me to anticipate what action may be taken by the Cotton Board in the case of the additional financial assist- 1281 ance which may be requested by the Empire Cotton Growing Association, but I certainly hope that when that matter comes to be considered by it, in view of the added financial resources which it will possess if this Order is agreed to, it will give the request sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest where raw cotton could be grown in the Colonial Empire?
§ Sir H. Shawcross
I suggest that that is certainly one of the matters which fall within the scope of both the Empire Cotton Growing Association and the Cotton Board. I do not take the view that we ought to rely, as my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook) said a distinguished member of the cotton trade had suggested, entirely on American cotton in future. We ought to encourage every possible research and investigation to increase the existing colonial production of cotton and other primary products. I am not convinced that that has been fully done yet, and I hope that we shall engage in that policy in a spirit of enthusiasm and even adventure. I would like to think that the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) opposite would help to redeem the failure of his party in the past to achieve the proper, development of our colonial resources.
The Cotton Board is, I think, the earliest example of what we now call development councils. I do not think they were actually called that in the earlier days. There is no doubt in the minds of hon. Members on either side of the House that the Cotton Board has contributed very greatly to promote efficiency and the smooth running of the cotton industry. This is a time when there is the greatest need to promote in all industries a really go-ahead spirit. In spite of the change in the Government there remains stimulating possibilities, or possibilities which could be stimulating, of so organising our industrial affairs that, whether it be in the publicly controlled section of industry or in the private sectors, the workers will feel that they have a real share and interest in the running of their industry, and a stake in its efficiency and success.
The Development Council machinery of the Cotton Board is one method towards 1282 promoting that. I wish very much that other industries, especially those which are engaged in the production of consumer goods, would profit from the example of the Cotton Board; would rid themselves of the suspicion that these Development Councils involve unnecessary and unwarranted interference and would look upon them rather as the cotton industry does, as a most useful method of promoting the interests of the industry as a whole, including the workers as well as the shareholders.
The Development Council in the cotton industry has met with great success. I hope it will go on meeting with great success and continuing to promote the efficiency of the industry. I hope its success will, as I say, be recognised as a guide and an example by other industries which, stimulated I think by factious and partisan political intervention, have hitherto not sought to make the best use they can of the Development Council machinery.
My Departmental association with the Cotton Board was a very short one. I should like to say about it that, looking hack on my time at the Board of Trade, I shall always remember that association as a very happy one. I have many recollections of the very excellent work being done both by the distinguished Chairman of the Board, Sir Raymond Streat, and by all the other members of the Board: Lancashire people for the most part—I am not only the representative of a Lancashire constituency, but I come from that county myself—men who have been doing great service for the industry: shrewd, forthright capable men who have devoted a good deal of time and interest to the development of the cotton industry, on the success of which depends not only the prosperity of Lancashire, but of the whole country.
I think we shall pass this Order, and in doing so we shall pay our tribute to the work which the Board has done. Our unanimous approval of the Order will signal again, and in no unmistakable way, the approval of His Majesty's Government for the increased use of the Development Council machinery.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I should like to thank the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes), not only for his support 1283 of this Motion, but for his kindly references to my own position. Alone of hon. Members on the other side of the House, he took the same view of the Debate which I took. I thought that, just as the 1948 Order—the principal Order setting up the Cotton Board—had been supported by my party, the present amending Order would be fully supported by his. That was the view I took. Therefore, as I thought that we were all in agreement, I saw no reason for starting a quarrel. But I hope that my hon. Friends on this side of the House will not think, for that reason, that I am incapable of making a party speech were it to be necessary.
§ Mr. Strauss
I cannot help feeling that there has been a great confusion of thought in many of the speeches we have heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite. They seemed to think that a man was wholly illogical unless he held one of two views—either that all development councils were good or that all development councils were bad. It just happens that we on this side of the House do not hold either of those views and think that each of those views is equally ridiculous. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) frequently interrupts, though his interruptions do not always get into HANSARD. He appears to seek to divert me from making my speech: he may succeed in making it longer.
My party does not hold either that all development councils are good or that all development councils are bad. To state the fact which alone is relevant tonight, we think that the Cotton Board is good. We have always held that view and we have expressed it on all occasions.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The Parliamentary Secretary has stated that his party has always supported this Measure. When the new Cotton Board was set up under an Order, the only member of his party who spoke was the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre). He was almost the only member of the party opposite present, and he did anything but support the Order.
§ Mr. Strauss
I was coming later to the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. 1284 Shackleton), but, curiously enough, I was not alluding to the few speeches made on that occasion but to the fact that the Order was unopposed in each House, as the hon. Member well knows. I will not go into the details of any speeches made on that occasion—for many reasons, apart from the fact that it would be out of order. But since many hon. Members have been allowed to comment on the action of my party over the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947—
§ Sir H. Shawcross
The Parliamentary Secretary will agree that they were permitted so to comment after the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), in a momentary lapse of memory, had stated that his party supported the 1947 Act?
§ Mr. Strauss
Since I have no intention of generating unnecessary heat, I do not wish to discuss which party started what was not strictly in order under the strictest rules of procedure. I was only saying that, as the matter had been mentioned in numerous speeches, perhaps Mr. Speaker would allow me to state that, while it is quite true that we voted against the Second Reading of that measure, for reasons which were then stated and which included, among other reasons, that it might be possible under that Act to set up development councils which we thought undesirable, on Third Reading, not only did we not vote against it, but my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary, making the principal speech for the opposition, said:But we shall not divide against the Third Reading of the Bill, because we want it to have the largest measure of support and the best chance of success, as its objects are those with which we all agree."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1947; Vol. 438, c. 97.]I think it is fair that hon. Members, if they wish to refer to that matter, should at least refresh their memories as to the facts.
I have already welcomed the fact that this Motion has the support of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. I think it would be courteous if I refer to one or two of the other speeches made. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook) spoke of the Cotton Board as having been forced upon the industry. Nothing could be more untrue. It has not been forced on the industry at any point at all.
§ Mr. Rhodes
I never heard my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Brook) refer to it in those terms at all.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am within the recollection of the House. If I am wrong, needless to say, I apologise, but that is the note I have here. Having taunted my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister about "Set the people free" and other matters of that sort, he went on to talk about the necessity in this industry, among others, of steps to force a council on the industry under the principal Act. That was the start of taunting the Conservative Opposition with having been illogical in having opposed the Act of 1947 and having supported the Cotton Board Order—
§ Mr. Rhodes
If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me, I think my hon. Friend was not referring to the cotton industry. It was the wool industry to which he was referring.
§ Mr. Speaker
It would be to the advantage of the House if we concentrated more on the Order before us and less on other matters.
§ Mr. Strauss
I would only say that, if I had misunderstood the hon. Member's speech in any way, needless to say I withdraw. We will see in HANSARD tomorrow what he said. The last thing I wish to do is to misrepresent any hon. Member, particularly an hon. Member who is not present at the time.
If I may come to the speech of the hon. Member for Preston, South, he asks how the money is to be spent. I am sure that he will realise that that is a matter for the Cotton Board, and I am sure that I will have the general assent of all hon. Members who support the Cotton Board and wish it well in not asserting Ministerial powers over matters which are for the decision of that Board. If the hon. Gentleman's question relates to the things on which they could spend the money, I think he will find helpful to his ascertainment of that information a study of Article 1 of the 1948 Order, and the Second Schedule to that Order. He raised the question—and I think other hon. Members did too—of why the Chairman is the only member of the Board for whom this pension provision is made. The answer to that is very simple. His is the only full-time salaried appointment.
1286 I welcome the support of this provision given by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Helens (Sir H. Shawcross), but I should like to point out to the House, because I do not think we want unnecessary controversy about this, that among those consulted and among the members of the Board are some very distinguished representatives of the principal trade unions concerned, and I cannot think that if they approve and desire this provision there is any hon. Member who really deplores it.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
I should like to know whether the proposed pension for the Chairman, with the principle of which I entirely agree, is to be on a contributory or a non-contributory basis, because all the workmen in the industry pay for the pension right they get at the end of their service through their contributions. I am wondering whether that principle is going to apply to the Chairman.
§ Mr. Strauss
Perhaps it would be simplest if I referred to the actual provision in the Order. It says:There shall be paid by the Board to the independent members of the Board, or to any of them, such remuneration (whether by way of salaries or by way of fees) as may he determined by the Board of Trade, and on the retirement or death of the Chairman of the Board, such pension or gratuity to him or to others by reference to his service as may he so determined.That is the entire provision, and it is that provision which has the approval of all the bodies that have been consulted on this matter.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), delivered what I think was intended to be a strong attack upon myself, to which, if it were in order, I should be delighted to reply. The general purport of his remarks was that I had for six years—and I am replying to this, Mr. Speaker, because this was what the hon. Gentleman said and he was not stopped, and therefore perhaps I may be allowed to say a sentence or two—been vigorously opposed to all economic planning, and that therefore it was quite illogical that I should be supporting this Order tonight.
Let me tell him at once that I have no doubt at all that we should differ fundamentally on what is the nature of good planning and bad. I am perfectly convinced that almost everything which the 1287 hon. Gentleman has supported as good planning, I should consider to be the reverse, but, as regards my own consistency, I have never at any time opposed the Cotton Board or the establishment of any other development council of any kind which has been generally demanded by the industry concerned. That is the only point that is relevant to my consistency tonight.
I thank the right hon. and learned Member for St. Helens, in so far as he supported this Motion. I welcome his support. I also thank him for his personal friendly references. In so far as he made a party speech, I look forward to a more appropriate opportunity to reply to it.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
I do not quite follow the hon. and learned Gentleman. I gave my whole-hearted support to the Order and never made a party speech at all. I never make a party speech.
§ Mr. Strauss
The right hon. and learned Gentleman gave hearty support to the Order, which could have been done in one sentence, and then he made a very considerable party speech. If he does not remember it, he had better read it tomorrow. I am in sympathy with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Since I have not had anything to eat since luncheon, his speech gave me more pleasure than did some others from that side of the House.
§ Sir H. Shawcross
"Fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind." I also had an inadequate luncheon. Is not the explanation this? Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman is unable to distinguish between a reasonable speech and party speech.
§ Mr. Strauss
I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not think I am blaming him. My only complaint, if it is a Complaint, is that the rules of order do not make it possible for me to reply to him at length in those terms and on those topics I should like to develop; but I dare say the opportunity will be afforded on some other occasion.
§ Mr. W. Nally (Bilston)
As I understand it, what the Minister says is to the effect— and I think he has said it for the third time—that during the early part 1288 of the day speeches were made that ought never to have been made, observations were made and lines of argument developed that ought not to have been made or developed, and the only reason that he is, so to speak, with one hand behind is back at the moment, is because of a discrepancy in the judgment of the Chair earlier in the day. Surely, if something was said earlier in the day to which the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks he ought to reply it is up to you, Mr. Speaker, to give him proper guidance. It is undesirable that for the third time we should be told that the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot reply to arguments because it would be out of order.
§ Mr. Speaker
On that point of order, I do not know quite what happened at an earlier stage, but it seems to me the debate is tending to stray into realms which are remote from the draft Order. I do not see what connection there is between the luncheon enjoyed by hon. and learned and right hon. and learned Gentlemen and the Cotton Board. I would ask the House to concentrate entirely on what is before us and forget the past.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am very sorry if I failed to reply, or if it is thought I have failed to reply, to any argument that has been put forward that is relevant to the Order. I did not know that I had. The speech of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Helens was one in support of the Order, and therefore I do not think it would be appropriate to reply to those remarks which I thought polemical and with which I disagreed—and I was reinforced in that conclusion, Mr. Speaker, by a Ruling which you had given a few minutes before.
I should like to say, after the unexpected heat of the day, that this is an Order about which both sides of the House are concerned because it concerns the future of a very great industry which has an immense contribution to make both to our export trade and to our national well-being. Because this Order is desired by both sides of the industry and by the Board itself and because the Board has done, on general admission, most admirable work, I hope the House will give the Order unanimous approval.
§ Question put, and agreed to.1289
That the Draft Cotton Industry Development Council (Amendment) Order, 1951, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th November, be approved.