§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones (Birmingham, Hall Green)
I beg to move, in page 4, to leave out lines 40 and 41, and to insert:
May I assume, Sir Charles, for the purpose of discussion, that I may take with this Amendment my next Amendment, in page 5, line 1, to leave out subsection (2), and to insert:
- (a) one or more specified units from among the transport units created in accordance with the provisions of the next following subsection; or
- (b) specified shares or parcels of shares, being the whole or part of the share capital in one or more of the companies created in accordance with the provisions of the next following subsection; or
- (c) such of the vehicles, properties or other assets excluded from the scheme of distribution under the provisions of the next following subsection as may be specified.(2) In preparation for the issue of invitations to tender as required in the immediately preceding subsection the Commission shall forthwith, and with the approval of the Board, as required under subsection (6) hereof, proceed to the creation of transport units over which there shall be distributed (in accordance with a scheme hereinafter called the scheme of distribution) the whole of the vehicles, properties and other assets, rights and obligations whether under contract or otherwise, connected with the existing road haulage undertaking, including the goodwill, in such wise that the total value of the said transport units after the distribution shall not be less than the total sum shown in the balance sheets of the Commission in respect of the existing road haulage undertaking:Provided however that with the approval of the Minister any specified vehicles, properties or other assets, and the rights, liabilities and obligations pertaining to them may be excluded from this scheme of distribution if it appears to the Commission that they cannot readily be allocated to any of the said transport units.Each of the said transport units may as convenient be incorporated as a limited company, and pending the disposal of any transport unit or of the whole or part of any shares in such units the Commission shall cause each of the said units or each company owning such units to conduct its road haulage operations in such wise and with such degree of separateness as in the opinion of the Commission will permit of 245 ready transfer to a purchaser of the aggregate of property, rights and obligations represented in each such unit, or of the shares, in whole or in part, of each company owning such a unit, and will enable such purchaser to engage without delay in the carriage of goods by road for hire or reward.This Clause is, I think, the pivotal Clause of the entire Bill. Much else in the Bill depends on this Clause. For instance, the duty to sell the undertaking of the Road Haulage Executive at the best possible price and with the least possible dislocation depends entirely on this Clause, and that, I think, is the reason we should pay a certain amount of attention to it. There are, I suggest, two ways in which one could proceed.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
On a point of order. It may have been my fault for not hearing, but may I ask you, Sir Charles, whether we should be in order in discussing with this Amendment not only the other Amendment, to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, to page 5, line 1, but also the Amendment proposed in page 6, line 6, to leave out from "and" to "will" in line 13, and to insert:in particular the Board shall approve the scheme of distribution into transport units and the general terms and conditions of tender, including the basis of reserve prices to be fixed if any; and the Board shall not give their approval to the proposals of the Commission in this regard unless they are satisfied that the prices received will be reasonable having regard to the value to the purchasers of the property and rights which they.and the Amendment proposed in page 6, line 18, to leave out from "section," to the end of line 21, and, so far as we may under this Clause, the Amendment proposed in Clause 5, page 7, line 40. to leave out subsection (1)?
§ Mr. Jones
I assumed that I was in order in referring to the other Amendments in discussing this one.
The Clause deals with the manner of disposing of the undertaking of the Road Haulage Executive. There are, I suggest, two possible ways of effecting this disposal. We could, in the first place, proceed by detaching certain blocks of property from the undertaking of the R.H.E. and selling them merely as blocks of property, merely as physical assets. The other way would be to break down 246 the undertaking into units capable commercially of subsisting on their own; in other words, to break the undertaking down into business units, as distinct from physical assets which the purchaser has to reshape into business units.
I suggest that the disposal of the undertaking should proceed in the main by the second method rather than the first; in other words, by selling business units rather than mere blocks of property. I think, indeed, that that is the intention of my right hon. Friend. At least, the other day my hon. Friend twice used a phrase which seemed to me to imply that his opinion was the same as mine. He referred to the sale of "businesses."
The purpose of the Amendment is to make that intention, if it is indeed the intention, absolutely explicit, and to lay it down as a matter of priority that sale should be primarily by way of business units and only secondarily by way of mere blocks of physical assets. I think it important to clarify the intention for this reason. We shall later on this week be discussing the levy Clauses, and, no doubt, many hon. Members will raise objections to those Clauses. For my part, I do not so much wish to express the conventional objection to them, but what I do dislike about the levy is the connotation it carries with it of loss on sale and dislocation. I do not like that connotation. Nor do I believe that implication to be in the least well founded.
I think these assets have considerable values attaching to them. In the first place, there are the unrestricted A and B licences. In the second place, I think I am right in saying, the replacement value of these assets is higher than the values at which they were taken over, and, therefore, the value is higher than the value at which they stand in the books of the Transport Commission. If I am right on those facts, and then in addition the sale is by way of business units, so that every purchaser will have an entity which is already commercially self-subsistent, and the dispersal of goodwill is minimised, then, I suggest, that on those grounds there need be no loss of goodwill, there need be no loss on the sale.
Not only that. I would suggest further that there need be no revenue loss. I think that later on the levy Clauses provide for the payment of compensation 247 to the Commission for revenue losses arising from disturbance. I suggest that if the R.H.E. undertaking is divided into business units, and some of those are sold, some retained, there is in fact no disturbance, no uneconomic severance of units from the main body, and there need be no revenue loss.
Lastly, I suggest that the fear of which we heard last week from the opposite benches, the fear of much displacement of labour, is also ill founded provided that the sale is by way of business units. After all, if labour is attached to a unit as defined in my Amendment, it goes with the unit, and the staffs of the Road Haulage Executive need not indulge in a wild scramble for employment.
On those grounds I suggest that, provided the sale is by way of business units, there need be no call for a levy. The amount liable to be raised by way of a levy would in that case be so infinitesimal as not to be worth the cost of collection. Indeed, if my right hon. Friend were disposed to accept the principles of this Amendment, I would suggest that as a corollary he should also reconsider the retention of the present levy Clauses.
There are one or two other matters to which I wish to draw the attention of the Committee. If the sale is by way of business units, I suggest that some of those units should appropriately be large units. I accept that we should attempt to provide vehicles and units for the small man, but not entirely. I would say that there is a future for the large undertaking, for this reason. I think it is true that the large unit achieves certain economies of size, and I think that under the new regime, under denationalisation, the only way of providing the public service or the uneconomic service—for instance, parcel services to the outlying districts—is by way of the large unit.
But if some of the units for sale are to be large, we must have appropriate arrangements in the Bill, and I confess that I do not think they are there. Clause 3 (1) as it now stands provides merely for the sale of assets. In other words, my right hon. Friend has to look for the sale of all the assets comprised in a transport unit either to the small man or to a company already in existence or 248 a company specially formed outside, and he would have to sell the entirety of the assets in that unit.
By my Amendment I give him the option if he wishes to take it—there is no obligation—of proceeding by a different method. Instead of waiting for the formation from outside of a company, he can proceed himself to the formation of a company and he can sell off some of the shares of that company as the market conditions warrant. I suggest that if he does that, he gives himself an extra weapon and an extra discretionary power the result of which in the end will be to facilitate the finance of denationalisation.
I admit that my understanding of this Clause may be wrong; I confess I find it a difficult Clause to understand, but the intention as I understand it is something like this. The Transport Commission determines to sell a block of property. The Commission goes to the Board to consult on the terms of tender. Another block comes up. Once again there is consultation with the Board—backwards and forwards, and detail after detail. I think that is a feasible enough method for, shall we say, the secondary services now provided by the Road Haulage Executive, but I confess I do not think it a proper method of dealing with the principal services of the Road Haulage Executive—the trunk services.
The proper method of dealing with the trunk services is for the Commission and the Board to get together in the first instance in advance, and agree on the division of this undertaking into business units. No doubt, my right hon. Friend will tell me that this implies delay, but even if the initial sale is retarded as against the adoption of the ad hoc method, the completion of the sale will be expedited; there will be no dislocation and the sale will be undertaken on much more remunerative terms.
I apologise if I have detained the Committee overlong. I have done so because, quite honestly, I think this is a most important but at the same time difficult matter. There is only one other comment that I would make. Last week in the one day's discussion that we had in Committee, and indeed in the Second Reading debate, there re-appeared time after time 249 from the benches opposite the threat of re-nationalisation. May I remind hon. Members opposite that they are not the arbiters of whether or not there will be re-nationalisation.
The arbiters of that very difficult question will be the moderate opinion of this country, and I suggest that that moderate opinion will be influenced in the main by the manner in which this sale is effected. Relative to that consideration, too, is the fact that I think it a good Conservative doctrine that in any evolution each succeeding stage should fit in harmoniously with the preceding stage. I think that would be effected by this Amendment.
May I add that this Amendment has been drafted by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) and myself, and we shall be the first to admit that we are amateurs at draftsmanship. I do not insist on the wording. I do not want to obtrude this amateurish drafting on the Committee, but I trust that my right hon. Friend will give sympathetic attention to the principles which we have tried to incorporate in this Amendment.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I want to make it perfectly clear that I, like every other Member of the Committee, am bound to accept the major decision on Second Reading. While I strongly object to the disposal of the road haulage undertaking of the Commission, I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) that the narrow point is exceedingly important from a number of points of view.
First of all, I agree with him that we want to make the transition an easy one from the present state of affairs to whatever the next state of affairs may be. I can assure him that the desire to avoid unnecessary bumps is not peculiar to the Conservative Party. We are concerned to see that the highest possible price is obtained for the aggregate of the road haulage undertaking, and therefore we are bound to consider what method is likely to have the best result in that respect and not to be led astray by any notions of our own of an ideological character rather than of a practical business nature.
I also agree that the method of disposal proposed in the Bill is open to quite serious objection. I shall deal with that in a minute, but it is for those broad 250 reasons that I support this Amendment. In doing so, I wish to say that in supporting an Amendment of this character I do not feel bound to accept every single word in it. For instance, I notice a reference in a subsequent Amendment to the words "reserve prices if any." If I had had to do the drafting, I should have left out the words "if any," because I cannot imagine that it would be good business or, indeed, good sense to try to dispose in any way whatever of this very valuable property without having some sort of reserve price on it—perhaps the more so because it has been the subject of acute political controversy.
Agreeing, as I do, that the manner of the disposal is extremely important, I cordially support the hon. Member's remark that the sensible way of doing it is not by trying to attach a number of rights and obligations to specific lorries, but by looking at the process in the way in which the prospective buyer would look at it. What he wants to buy is a running concern. Therefore, on that point I agree with the hon. Member that the language of the Bill makes it a question of disposing of lorries, or whatever it may be, with something that may or may not be attached to them, and that it is more sensible to try to make it an operation of disposing of an undertaking, or it may be of shares, in the form in which a purchaser would actually consider what was put before him. I believe that to be a major point.
Next, I agree with what he said about goodwill. I do not think that any of us can say for certain what value ought to be attached to the goodwill of these units now. The Amendment recognises its existence, and I think that the right way to treat it is to include the goodwill with each of the units that is being disposed of.
Then I attach the greatest importance to the fact that in the second Amendment we have to consider that the Commission have to prepare a scheme of disposal for… the whole of the vehicles, properties and other assets, rights and obligations, … including the goodwill.I believe that is the right way to do it —to take what we are going to sell, to divide it into saleable units and to see that these saleable units cover the whole of it, leaving to ourselves, as the Amendment, like the Bill, leaves, a loophole in 251 case we cannot do the whole of it in that way.
The Bill, I think, proceeds in rather the opposite way. It proceeds to take the whole of what is to be sold and then to knock off bits of it, and to hope that too much will not be left at the end. I think that the Amendment provides a more sensible method, and that if a large commercial undertaking not of a public character were selling a similar group of property, that is the way in which it would try to do it, and that is the way in which the purchaser would try to buy it. On that account, too, I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member.
Another very sensible provision is, I think, contained in lines 7 to 9 in the Amendment to page 5, line 1,… that the total value of the said transport units after the distribution shall not be less than the total sum shown in the balance sheets of the Commission in respect of the existing road haulage undertaking.I understand that to mean—and I hope that the hon. Member will correct me if I am wrong—that the total value shown in the Commission's books has to be divided out among these transport units, and each will carry a valuation, as it were, of part of that total. That, of course, will be the value which it is sought to reach. I do not say that it will necessarily be the reserve price. It will be the value which it is sought to reach in disposing of the undertaking. All I can say on that, as on the other parts of the proposed Amendment—is that it seems to me to be a sensible way of doing it, and the way in which a large concern would set about a disposal of this sort; and, perhaps most important of all, it is the kind of method—I am referring to the valuation—which would appeal to the purchaser.
There are other points, but I think that that is the main distinction between what is proposed by these Amendments and what is proposed in the Bill. I hope that the hon. Member for Hall Green will not in any way be upset or disturbed by getting support from a quarter which in the first instance he may not altogether have expected. I can only say that I and, I am sure, my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee do not abate one little bit our objection to the whole scheme. We do not take every single syllable of this Amendment and say that we would 252 have put it in that way; but we do say that, given the principle of the thing, which has been accepted on Second Reading, this is much the better way of dealing with this particular matter than the way proposed in the Bill.
It is, therefore, not for party reasons, but simply because it is a more sensible way, and one which is more likely to result in that economy to the public purse to which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, particularly right hon. and hon. Members opposite, profess their profound attachment, that we see no reason why the results of this sale should prove less successful because another method is adopted instead of the one which we believe to be the wrong method.
I could say more in support of the hon. Member's Amendment, but we are limited by the Guillotine, and I am sure that there will be many other hon. Members who want to speak on it. I have given, I hope sufficiently, my broad reasons for feeling that it is right in principle that the new subsection (2) which the hon. Member proposes to insert by his Amendment in page 5, line 1—is particularly right, and I am glad to support it.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I am very reluctant to get into a discussion on the details of the Amendment which my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) has moved in so agreeable and cogent terms, and for which, I think, there is a considerable case. As I see it, one of the virtues of this Bill is that it does not attempt to give too much detailed instruction to businessmen as to how they are to carry out their designs in this new world of freer transport into which we are moving.
I should be very reluctant to see words put into the Bill which would appear to give instructions to an important board, or to the Commission itself, as to precisely how they are to carry out their work. I should not be a bit surprised if, when this Board is set up, and proceeds to lay down a general set of principles, it does not do in many ways almost exactly what my hon. Friend has suggested; but I should be reluctant to see these precise instructions included in an Act of Parliament. I must confess that the first Amendment in page 4, to leave 253 out lines 40 and 41 and to insert paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) does enlarge upon the generality of my right hon. Friend's instructions to the Commission and the Board under this Clause.
When we come to what my hon. Friend himself said, and his Amendment in page 5, line 1, there does seem to be envisaged, if not instructions, at least a new set-up by Parliament to which the Commission and the Board would have to have regard—that a large number of these units would be incorporated into limited companies. It might be appropriate for some few units, perhaps, on the trunking services to be set up in time, but let us leave that to the people who are buying them. It might be disagreeable to prospective buyers, people who were in the business before nationalisation and who want to come back, to find that the Board and the Commission together are busy forming limited companies of units, which might then present them with a commercial set-up rather frightening to the small people who had their barges, lorries, and so on, in the past.
This also introduces a delaying factor, because it is obviously much quicker to get the Board and the Commission to parcel up these units, and get them ready in appropriate sizes for sale, than to carry on through the whole commercial procedure of forming companies. I do not want to go into this in too great detail, but I, personally, am satisfied with the broad provisions of Clause 3, and I think that it would be a pity if we were to devise anything else. Nor do I think my hon. Friend is quite right in saying that there is a greater fear of disturbance arising out of the present scheme than if he were successfully to introduce this new proposal.
§ Mr. Mitchison
The noble Lord will no doubt have noticed that the power to form companies to take over transport units is purely discretionary. Has he any objection to the Commission having such a power? That is all there is to it.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The Commission will have power to form companies for their own services, but I think that it might delay the process of sale if they were to spend a lot of time, with lawyers, accountants and all the rest of it, in getting these units formed into 254 companies and then proceeding to market the shares instead of marketing the vehicles. It is far more difficult for businessmen to find out what they are getting if they are offered only shares in a certain concern rather than being told, "Here are 50 vehicles and a garage. Take them if you want them." I am afraid the delay which may ensue if the Commission decide, as they might well do under this Amendment, to form a lot of these companies, will be too great.
I do not think my hon. Friend is quite right in implying that only under the Amendment would the Board and the Commission get together to plan a comprehensive and worth-while sale of these trunk service units. I am certain that will happen just as well under the provisions of the Bill as devised.
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
First of all, I should like to correct the figure of £5 million, which I used in an interjection last Thursday. The figure should be £2½ million per annum.
When I first saw this Amendment, in spite of the fact that a namesake of mine had his name to it, I viewed it with some apprehension, but on further examination it seems to me that the Amendment will do at least one thing. I take back no opposition I have made to the Bill. I believe the Bill is wrong, but as it has received its Second Reading and we are to go ahead with the Bill, it is our job to make it as workable as possible. If the Bill is not to create tremendous discontent in the minds of the workers in the industry, there must be some indication that they have a reasonable prospect of being re-employed by the new owners of these vehicles.
In my judgment, this Amendment and the others associated with it will not only enable the Commission and the Board to create that measure of satisfaction—not complete satisfaction, because I am quite sure that thousands of workers in this industry would not desire to be employed by anybody other than the Road Haulage Executive—but, if the vehicles they man are transferred to other owners, this orderly disposal of the vehicles will make for a greater degree of contentment in the minds of the staff than if it were left as the Bill stands.
The Bill as drafted merely arranges for a series of bargain sales to be held 255 throughout the country. Anybody who has been to an auction sale knows that those who go early frequently pick out the best lots in the first few hours of the sale and leave the worst lots to be taken up by the latecomers. In that way, the trunking services which have been established all over the country are likely to be broken up.
The withdrawal of the trunking services between most of the big towns must create consternation in the minds of the small traders who rely upon these services to convey their goods from one part of the country to another. On the main trunk roads on any night, between 10 o'clock at night and 6 o'clock in the morning, hundreds of lorries pass between most of the principal towns conveying, in the main, merchandise of the small businessmen. After all, the bulk of our manufacturing products are produced by small businessmen; they rely upon these services, and if the services are withdrawn they will be in danger of frustration because the transport avenues upon which they have been relying will no longer exist.
This Amendment will enable those trunk services to remain in existence. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) pointed out, the power to create companies is merely permissive, but in certain instances it may render the transfer to private hands more easy than would otherwise be the case.
A much stronger case than that can be made out for this Amendment, because the levy envisaged in later Clauses is distasteful to all sections of the community; nobody likes the levy. The British Road Federation has recently circularised every Member of Parliament with very cogent reasons why this levy should not be imposed. I will not weary the Committee by reading them; I am sure that most hon. Members interested have read them.
This Amendment makes provision for the recovery by the British Transport Commission of the goodwill which rests in this fleet of vehicles. I remind the Committee that the fact that the purchasers of these vehicles are to have virtually unrestricted A licences for five years makes these lots considerably more valuable than otherwise.
256 For all those reasons, I think this Amendment should be supported. I believe that it makes the best of a bad job. I would prefer the right hon. Gentleman to concern himself with other and more important aspects of the transport problem than to bother with this. But if he insists on putting these vehicles at the disposal of private companies, the orderly way here proposed is far better than the one envisaged in the Bill.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I can appreciate, like the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), that there is danger in trying to give too detailed instructions to the Commission and the Board, but I differ from him in thinking that this Amendment tries to do that. I understand from the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) that he and his hon. Friends are not in the least wedded to the wording of the Amendments but seek to give to the Board a general direction as to its methods of sale. I feel that this is important. It seems to me a vital point that the Board should try to sell what have been referred to as "business units" rather than individual physical assets, though it may take a long time to do that. It should take its time in making every effort in the first place to sell the undertakings as going concerns, even if eventually it has to sell the residue piecemeal.
I feel that should be so primarily for two reasons which have been mentioned already. First of all, there is the widespread apprehension in case these transactions involve a heavy loss to the country, and I feel that this Amendment does something to minimise that. Secondly, fears have been expressed that certain undertakings, particularly in remote areas where they are not too remunerative, may not be sold, and what may happen is that individual vehicles run by these undertakings may be bought up by people in other places and moved away. I know the Minister is aware of the danger and has promised to watch it, but this Amendment gives an added assurance on that point. I do not know how serious the danger is, but it is felt fairly widely, though it may be wrongly. However, from that point of view also this Amendment is worthy of serious consideration.
Further, I am very much interested in the new paragraph (b) of the Amendment 257 where it is suggested that limited companies might be formed. There are some cases in which the men who run transport undertakings before nationalisation have not yet been paid the compensation due to them, and, therefore, they are in some difficulty about buying back their undertakings if they wish to do so. I do not know whether this is a move to help them. but it might be.
There is no direction to the Board about the form of the company to be set up and, if so inclined, they might say, "We appreciate your difficulty in raising capital. We will divide the share capital into different categories and raise most of the necessary amount by fixed interest securities. We will leave in your hands the controlling interest through the ordinary shares, and, in due course, you may be able to buy out the debenture or preference holders as the case might be." I do not know whether that was in the minds of the hon. Members who are sponsoring this Amendment, but I am glad to see that there is a discretion here, and I believe that this Amendment would be useful from this and other points of view.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Gurney Braithwaite)
In view of the other important Amendments to Clause 3, it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I revealed the attitude of the Government towards the group of Amendments now under discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey), my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) are anxious to deal with the arrangements for the disposal of the Commissions Road Haulage undertakings. There is no difference in the objective of the Government and that of these hon. Members.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East is anxious to break up this monopoly, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering has told us quite frankly that, although he is against the breaking up of the monopoly, if it is to be broken up, he would prefer this method to that in the Bill. It was on this ground that he lent his support to the Amendment. The Amendment in 258 page 5, line 1, which we are taking with the one which has been moved, provides for a method of disposal based upon the scheme of distribution which has been set out with very great diligence and in a most painstaking fashion by my hon. Friends.
This scheme of distribution, which is to he prepared and approved before invitations to tender are issued, if the Amendment is carried, requires that the whole of the vehicles, properties and other assets, rights and obligations, including good will, shall be split up into transport units. Values shall be placed on those units which in the aggregate shall not be less than the total sum shown in the balance sheets of the Commission in respect of the existing road haulage undertaking. Provision is also made for any specified vehicles to be excluded from this scheme of distribution if the Commission consider that they cannot readily be allocated to any of the transport units and if the Minister concurs in that opinion.
I realise, as does my right hon. Friend, that these Amendments are wholly benevolent in their intention and that the objects are quite evidently to ensure that disposal will take place in an orderly manner with less risk of disturbance to trade and industry and to minimise any capital loss on disposal. My hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green made that quite clear in moving his Amendment, and there was support on the benches opposite for that view.
I fear that in neither respect do we consider that this scheme will have any material advantages over proposals already in the Bill, while in other respects it is certain there will be serious disadvantages. For one thing, the scheme will involve delay. The formulation and approval of a detailed scheme of distribution covering the whole of the Commission's road haulage undertaking, and the incorporation of companies, where so decided, would be a lengthy process and no disposals could occur until this had been completed and the re-grouping had actually taken place. It is, therefore, our view that it is in the general interests that the Commission's road haulage undertaking should be transferred to private enterprise as quickly as is reasonably practical.
The words in the Clause already cover that and have been incorporated. Also while there might be some reduction in the risk of disturbance to trade and industry, there is no real reason to anticipate that the proposals in the Bill as it stands will mean any serious disturbance. Under this scheme there will be some disturbance which may be considerable while the road transport undertaking is being regrouped, and this must affect the whole organisational and operational set-up of the Road Haulage Executive.
There is likely to be a further disturbance when the units are sold because there is always the possibility that a buyer will decide to leave the work the unit has been doing for something else of which he has closer personal knowledge and in which he has long-standing contacts. I dare say that the point put to the Committee a short time ago by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools about trunking services was in hon. Members' minds. There is no reason to suppose that under this system the trunking services will disappear. They existed in large and efficient units prior to nationalisation, and we have no reason to feel that that state of affairs will not re-occur.
Again, although the Amendments do not specifically so provide, it seems quite clear that the intention is that a considerable number, at least, of the units are to be formed into limited companies before they are sold, a suggestion which attracted the approval of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). In so far as this happens, it will be more difficult to readjust any units to suit prospective purchasers. It will also involve considerable work and expense, much of which may in the end prove abortive for at least two reasons.
First, it is anticipated that many buyers will be existing hauliers who will wish to expand their businesses and will wish to merge the additional assets with their existing undertaking. They will, therefore, have the trouble of liquidating the newly-formed company. Second, many would-be purchasers of a very small unit will not wish to operate it as a company with the obligations and limitations which are involved in that process.
260 Lastly, although values are to be attached to the units to an aggregate of not less than the total sum, including the goodwill, shown in the Commission's balance sheets, there is no reason to assume that they will be sold at that figure or that they will fetch any more than units sold under the proposals in the Bill. Whatever nominal value might be attached to a unit or to the shares of one of these companies, the fact remains that the buyer will pay no more than he considers the undertaking will be worth to him, exactly as he would in tendering for a transport unit under the existing proposals in the Bill.
While I appreciate the motives of my hon. Friend, for these reasons I must say that we regret that we are unable to accept this series of Amendments.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, he has not dealt with the very interesting suggestion made by the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) that it might be possible as a result of a sale in this way to get rid of the levy, to which, for various reasons, so many people from so many quarters object violently.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
As to the point about not wishing to include the Amendment in the Bill, is it not possible that the Board itself might well follow the line indicated in the Amendment when it comes to this matter?
The point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering is a simple one. I apologise if I did not deal with it in detail but I was trying to get on. The better the prices, the less the levy will be. We do not believe that the machinery suggested in the Amendment will necessarily obtain that better price.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Perhaps I did not make myself clear. There may or may not be some goodwill. It is very difficult to judge now. The proposal in the Amendment is to sell the corporeal and the incorporeal assets, including the goodwill. Why say that there is nothing to sell, when, after all, we may be able to get a price for it and thereby get rid of the transport levy?
We are running a little ahead here. The levy has other 261 objectives. There are the objectives of compensation and the £1 million for disturbance. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Nicholls), he knows that there is complete discretion in this matter. We do not think it necessary to write such words into the Bill.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I join with the Parliamentary Secretary on the point that it was right that he should rise at this juncture. We are working under a Guillotine, and it is a difficult life. It is the duty of both sides to economise in time as best we can, although we feel very fierce about the Guillotine and the inevitable way in which it works.
I hope the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Nicholls) will not take comfort from what the Parliamentary Secretary has just said, that the Disposal Board has complete discretion. If he looks at the two lines which are proposed to be left out of Clause 3, he will see that there is a direction that the Board is to sell:…one or more specified motor vehicles; and … such other property, if any, as may be specified …which does not seem to me to provide the orderly sale which he evidently has in mind.
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not think discretion down to two vehicles would meet the point of the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones).
We have tried to examine the Amendments on the grounds of public interest, from whatever quarter they come. We have put down a great many Amendments ourselves, and if Amendments put down by hon. Members opposite appear to us to be sensible and in the public interest, we shall not be so prejudiced that we shall oppose them merely because they come from the other side. This Amendment is one which we believe to be right and in the public interest and, therefore, we think it should be approved.
The Parliamentary Secretary says that one of the objections to the Amendment is that it will mean delay. There is something in that. Delay may be involved in settling this matter by disposing of 262 the assets in a more orderly manner than otherwise. It usually takes a little more time to settle things in an orderly manner than it does if they are settled in a chaotic manner. However, surely the Government are not in such a mood that they are bursting to get rid of these public assets in so furious a hurry that they cannot pause to consider the best way to do it. It would be ridiculous for the Government to take the line that we must rush at this and do it in a most furiously rapid way irrespective of the public interest. I cannot believe that the limited amount of delay which may be involved is necessarily fatal.
The Parliamentary Secretary also argues that it is objectionable to do anything which will prevent the sale of these undertakings in small units or small parcels. What are we aiming at? I hope we are seeking to provide a comprehensive, useful, co-ordinated transport service, whether it be conducted by private enterprise or public enterprise. We believe it is more likely to be provided by public enterprise; hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree with that view, but that is our view.
However, even if hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Government take the view that the public interest is best served by private enterprise—that is what they say; let us hope they believe it, but I am not sure about it—surely they have to take into account that, if these assets are to be transferred from public authority to private ownership and private enterprise, it should be done in a way in which the public interest is most likely to be served. That seems to be the motive of the hon. Member for Hall Green.
I do not know in whose brain the Amendment originated. I assume that it was the hon. Member's brain. But it so happens that it fits in with the arguments which were advanced by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. The Association was most worried about the transfer from public ownership to private ownership. Nobody would accuse the Association of being an enthusiast for public ownership. Certainly, I am under no illusion in that respect. In principle, no doubt, the Association prefers private ownership as a general proposition. Nevertheless, what worried the Association was that the method of the Bill was likely to be too hurried, too chaotic and 263 too accidental, and it believed that the Government should think out some more orderly and more systematic method of transition from public to private ownership. As far as I can see, that is the motive of the hon. Member for Hall Green.
I am reminded by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) that in its memorandum the Association said that the vital interest of users could be seriously impaired if the existing network of services, both local and national, were disbanded or disrupted and that the continuity of an adequate service for industry and commerce was imperative.
That is a sensible point. Whether we believe in public ownership or private ownership, it is important that the best public service should be given. Yet, under lines 40 and 41 of Clause 3, all the Disposal Board and the Commission are instructed to do is to invite tenders for the purchase on specific conditions of (a) one or more specified motor vehicles; (b) such other property, if any, as may be specified.
The danger of that method is that it is purely fortuitous as to who is to tender and who is to buy in accordance with the tenders that are put in. The net result of this procedure not only may well be but, as far as I can see, probably will be that we shall have an accidental series of transport units or undertakings, at any rate for the time being, and the probability is that these units will be incapable of giving anything in the nature of a co-ordinated or organised public service.
Surely that cannot be in the public interest. It may well be that in the course of five or 10 years there will evolve amalgamations, mergers, quasi-monopolies, semi-trusts. That will put the thing either right or wrong, from the point of view of those who believe in private enterprise. That may happen, but under this Bill it is highly probable that the net result will be a breakdown from a network of public services referred to by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce to an utterly chaotic situation, a series of small, competing and difficult undertakings.
264 Although this Amendment comes from the other side, we have tried to judge it on objective and fair considerations, it being understood that we are utterly opposed to the entire Bill and to the Clause and that therefore we cannot be 100 per cent. admirers of the Amendment. We think, however, that it improves the Clause, that it is better than the proposal of the Government, and that it seeks to provide that the transfer from public ownership to private ownership should be made in the most orderly manner in order to produce the most orderly units that are most likely to produce an orderly system of road commercial transport.
If the Amendment is carried, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will succeed entirely in those objects, but that is his motive. At any rate there is a better chance of success under his Amendment, which has been supported by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and by my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) than would otherwise be the case.
There is another aspect of this series of Amendments which is also important. The hon. Gentleman is trying to secure that the price paid for these assets shall be a fair commercial price, including goodwill. What is wrong with that? Surely the Government will not say in crude language that they want these units to be sold at a knock-out price to private enterprise, or will they? Surely they will not frankly admit that these public assets, which have been bought on the basis not merely of physical valuation but of an element of goodwill as well, should be sold at a knock-out price which has no relationship to goodwill, or will they.
If they do, then indeed they are confessing that this Bill is a conspiracy against the public interest. By arguing that in the sale price they should endeavour to get the best possible price, including a reasonable element for goodwill, the hon. Gentleman is doing two things. First, he is trying to get the most proper price he can get for these assets to be sold from public authority to private enterprise. Secondly, if he succeeds in that, he is partially solving the problem of the levy, which I hope the Government realise nobody loves—
§ Mr. Morrison
I see that the Minister agrees with me about that. I do not love it, evidently he does not, and the interests outside do not love it. Under the Amendment, in so far as it seeks to get a fair price for the assets, including goodwill, it may be possible for him to reconsider the extent of the levy and that in itself is surely a good thing also. Did the noble Lord want to say something?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I was remarking on what the right hon. Gentleman said a moment ago, that he and his right hon. and hon. Friends would work up a tremendous case in the country if the levy was not there.
§ Mr. Morrison
The part the noble Lord is playing in this Bill fills me with understanding as well as admiration, but he must face the fact that we shall vote against the levy. We are opposed to that levy. Therefore, if it is unpopular, will the noble Lord, who is the Chairman of the Tory Transport Committee and who is now working his passage back to the local association of the Conservative Party, vote with us against the levy? Or will he vote for this new tax upon road commercial transport? However, the case will come up and it would not be in order for me to pursue that question, Sir Charles. The last thing I want to do is to be out of order.
In moving the Amendment and seeking to get what I might call a fairer price for this public property, the hon. Gentleman is tending to ease the problem of the levy which the Minister and I agree is objectionable and which we would like to get rid of if we could. Therefore, in all those circumstances, despite the fact that this Amendment comes from the other side, we are driven to the conclusion that it is an improvement on the Bill. We recommend the Committee to approve of it and we hope that the Government may think again about it.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)
In answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) I want to confirm that this Amendment springs from the brain of my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) and from no other source. I am particularly happy to be able to associate myself with it. In reply 266 to the observations made by our supporter, the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), we are happy that the principle that the detailed administration of this Bill should be removed as far as possible from party controversy, is accepted on all sides. I was a little afraid for a moment, however, when the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) suggested that he would oppose our Amendment—
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sure that was a slip of the tongue because the hon. Gentleman must not assume that we accept the principle of the Bill. We think—but I had better stop, Sir Charles, or I shall get out of order.
§ Mr. Harvey
I never suggested that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepted the principle, but that he accepted that we should reach agreement on the methods When my noble Friend came out against the Amendment, I thought we were in danger of being orthodox, but the Parliamentary Secretary has set our minds at rest about that. My hon. Friend and I are a little sorry that our Amendment should have received less attention from the Parliamentary Secretary than it received from the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South.
I would re-affirm that in this Amendment we have been guided by three principles—first, that this proposition should be more businesslike secondly, that we should concern ourselves with a service and not with individual units of transport; and thirdly, that we should pay some attention to the principle upon which our party has operated for some considerable time—namely, evolution. I remind by noble Friend that we do not seek to direct but that we are concerned with a situation in which we find an industry nationalised. Having found it in that state, we must take the necessary and practical steps to return it to conditions under which we believe it would more profitably and effectively operate. That is why we think more detailed instructions are required than are involved in the Bill.
We are bound to conform to the attitude of benevolence which my hon. Friend saw behind the Amendment; and because we are benevolent, we are bound to accept the indication from him that he and my right hon. Friend the Minister 267 have already considered this question in detail. I therefore hope very much that they will look at the matter again. At the same time, I know that my hon. Friend, as well as myself, would not wish to press the matter further.
§ Mr. Mitchison
On a point of order. If that was an application, or preceded an application, to withdraw the Amendment, will it not require the consent of the Committee? I assume that other hon. Members who have their names to the Amendment, for good and sufficient reasons, will, if they wish, be allowed to continue.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member can, of course, ask permission to withdraw the Amendment, but if anyone takes exception, we shall continue the discussion.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
I have been gratified and even flattered by the support I have received from the benches opposite for this Amendment. I confess, too, that I have not been displeased by the disagreement of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke)-he a Whig, and I think an anarchist, and I a high Tory and a planner.
In reply to the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) I should like to say that this Amendment was not in any way inspired by the point of view expressed by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. I was aware of their opinon, and I confess that in my judgment their scheme was unduly cumbersome and far too complicated. I suggest that we were moving on parallel lines.
Referring to the reply by the Parliamentary Secretary, may I express one
§ regret? He devoted his remarks to one-half of my Amendment and, as far as I can judge, he disregarded the other half, which would empower the British Transport Commission to set up companies of their own before sale. I must say that I do not think that disregard is in the interests of the Government in this matter. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) rightly divined what I have in mind. If the assets included in the transport unit cannot be sold in toto, the Transport Commission would have an option, under the Amendment, to create a limited liability company and to sell the equity, the State still holding the fixed interest stock.
§ That part of my Amendment was designed not to impede or delay the operation of the Bill, as was suggested by the noble Lord, but in fact was intended to expedite the return to private enterprise. I trust that hon. Members opposite were fully aware of that fact in expressing their support for the amendment. The main argument of the Parliamentary Secretary was that my intention would be fully achieved by the Clause as it stands. Granted that I have elicited from him that expression of intention and granted the defects of draftsmanship which have been pointed out, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 247.271
|Division No. 33.]||AYES||(4.45 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bennett, William (Woodside)||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Birch, Nigel||Burden, F. F. A.|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bishop, F. P.||Butcher, H. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Black, C. W.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden).|
|Arbuthnot, John||Boothby, R. J. G.||Campbell, Sir David|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bossom, A. C.||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)|
|Baldock, Lt: Cmdr. J. M.||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Braise, B. R.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)|
|Barber, Anthony||Braithwaite, Lt-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Cole, Norman|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Brooman-White, R. C.||Colegate, W. A.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Bullard, D. G.||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Kaberry, D.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Rayner, Brig, R.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Redmayne, M.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lambert, Hon. G.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lambton, Viscount||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Leather, E. H. C.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Drayson, G. B||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas (Richmond)||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Russell, R. S.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lindsay, Martin||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Linstead, H. N.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Fell, A.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Schofield, Lt.-Cot. W. (Rochdale)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Fisher, Nigel||Low, A. R. W.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Shepherd, William|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lucas, P. B. (Brantford)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Fort, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Foster, John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McAdden, S. J.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McCallum, Major D.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D (Pollok)||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Speir, R. M.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||McKibbin, A. J.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Spans, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Godber, J. B.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Stevens, G. P.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Storey, S.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marples, A. E.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Summers, G. S.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maude, Angus||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maudling, R.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Teeling, W.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mellor, Sir John||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Molson, A. H. E.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hay, John||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Tilney, John|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Heath, Edward||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Turton, R. H.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholls, Harmar||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Hinohingbrooke, Viscount||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent. G. R. H.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nutting, Anthony||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Oakshott, H. D.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||O'Neill, P. R. H (Antrim, N.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Hope, Lord John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Osborne, C.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.||Wills, G.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||York, C.|
|Hutchison, James (Scotst[...]un)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Awbery, S. S.||Bartley, P.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bacon, Miss Alice||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Baird, J.||Bence, C. R.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Balfour, A.||Benn, Wedgwood|
|Benson, G.||Hargreaves, A.||Parker, J.|
|Beswick, F.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Paton, J.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hayman, F. H.||Pearson, A.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Healey, Denis (Leads, S.E.)||Pearl, T. F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Popplewell, E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hobson, C. R.||Porter, G.|
|Boardman, H.||Holman, P.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Holt, A. F.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Houghton, Douglas||Rankin, John|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hubbard, T. F.||Reeves, J.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reid, William (Camlashie)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Carmichael, J.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Ross, William|
|Champion, A. J.||Janner, B.||Royle, C.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Clunie, J.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Short, E. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Collick, P. H.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, J.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Keenan, W.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Kenyon, C.||Snow, J. W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Daines, P.||King, Dr. H. M.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Kinley, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Steele, T.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lever, Harold (Cheatham)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lewis, Arthur||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Deer, G.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Logan, D. G.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||McInnes, J.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon J. C||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, F.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Timmons, J.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Tomney, F.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Usborne, H. C.|
|Ewart, R.||Manuel, A. C.||Viant, S. P.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mellish, R. J.||Wade, D. W.|
|Field, W. J.||Messer, F.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mikardo, Ian||Watkins, T. E.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mitchison, G. R.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Monslow, W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Foot, M. M.||Moody, A. S.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Forman, J. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morley, R.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wigg, George|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mort, D. L.||Willey, F. T.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moyle, A.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Glanville, James||Motley, F. W.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Murray, J. D.||Williams, W. R. (Droyisden)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Nally, W.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Oldfield, W. H.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Orbach, M.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oswald, T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Grimond, J.||Padley, W. E.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Pannell, Charles||Mr. Wilkins and|
|Hardy, E. A.||Pargiter, G. A.||Mr. Hannan.|
§ The Chairman
The next Amendment is to line 46 in the name of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if it is taken with the Amendments to page 5, line 4, after the first "to," to insert:maintain existing facilities for the carriage of goods by road, disturb the national transport system as little as may be and.",in line 9, at the end, to insert:Provided that unless the Commission with the approval of the Minister otherwise direct the sale of any transport unit shall take effect as from the same date as the sale of other transport units relating to vehicles or other property hitherto operating from or connected with the same base or centre and shall be conditional upon the sale of all such other transport units relating to that base or centre,in line 12, after "securing," to insert:the maintenance of existing facilities and the promotion of an efficient national transport system and subject thereto.",and, in line 33, after "provisions," to insert:and upon such routes or within such areas as the licensing authority after having regard to the need to maintain existing facilities and to disturb the national transport system as little as may be shall specify.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
I beg to move, in page 4, line 46, at the end, to insert:and may further include a condition that the purchaser will during such period from the date of the purchase as may be specified provide such services as may be specified for the carriage of goods for hire or reward from a base or centre in the same locality covering substantially the same area and catering for substantially the same traffic as previously served by the vehicles comprised in the transport unit concerned or as the case may be by the vehicles corresponding thereto when such vehicles were last used by or on behalf of the Road Haulage Executive.I appreciate, Sir Charles, that it would be convenient to consider with this Amendment the other Amendments you have mentioned. They cover the same principle, but we would not have discussed them together were it not that the Guillotine is imposed upon us and it is quite impossible to have a separate discussion on each.
This series of Amendments has one purpose in view: to ensure, as far as practicable, that a comprehensive service shall be maintained and that those persons who take over the units from the Commission shall be obliged to operate those units in the same areas where they 274 are operating at present and to maintain similar services. We are suggesting this in these Amendments, not because we agree with the sale of the units, but because we consider that if they are sold every possible step should be taken to ensure that as good a national transport service as possible is maintained in the country. It would be quite impossible, in our view, to maintain as satisfactory a service as is being run today under public ownership by British Road Services. It should be appreciated that British Road Services, in effect, run everywhere today. Wherever the transport of goods is required vehicles of the Road Haulage Executive are available to traders and will carry their goods.
They carry the remunerative traffics as well as the unremunerative. They operate in the densely populated areas where it is profitable to operate, and also in the sparsely populated areas where that is unprofitable. They operate in the urban areas and in the rural areas. In a great many cases services are being provided today by British Road Services which were not available before public ownership was instituted.
The trader can pick up a telephone, contact the local office of the Road Haulage Executive, and have vehicles placed at his disposal to carry his goods. Previously, a trader would frequently have to pick up his telephone a number of times before he was able to get either a road haulier to carry his goods, or sufficient hauliers to carry the quantity of goods he required to be moved. His requirements are being met today by a nationally operated service which is providing a regular service and it is operated more economically and efficiently.
When, in reply to the previous Amendment, the Parliamentary Secretary implied by his remarks that these directional services were provided by private operators previously, I found it difficult to follow him, because there is no doubt that the directional services which have been instituted by the British Road Services between large centres of population have enabled the balancing of loads to take place with more economic operation and the carrying of larger loads.
British Road Services are operating as near to a common carrier of goods by road as it is possible for road haulage to 275 operate. They have instituted a national service, providing a service for all who require it. They do not pick and choose their traffics, by refusing those traffics which are unprofitable to carry. In the view of hon. Members on this side of the Committee—and this is the purpose of our Amendments—these facilities cannot be provided by the units envisaged in this Bill which it is proposed to dispose of to private enterprise. But we think that if it were possible to compel the purchasers of these units to carry on, so far as possible, similar services, and to serve the same areas as in the past, then, to a small extent, the disadvantages of the disposal would be mitigated.
We do not think that it is possible to unscramble the national network of services which have been created, because in the process it means that the centralised services which have been set up in connection with the national network of service, the common services, will have to be dissipated. We do not see how a national network can be ensured, without these common services.
During our abbreviated debates last week, the Minister suggested that clearing houses could be set up, or could be continued, and in that way these directional or trunk services could be maintained. But the clearing house system operating before the war has many disadvantages. It means, of course, that there are middle-men touting round for traffic. The small road haulier takes his vehicle round from clearing house to clearing house endeavouring to obtain return loads, and there is a great deal of waste and overlapping.
Worst of all, the middle man is finding the traffics, and those people who are operating the clearing houses do not work for nothing. They are doing this to make a profit out of road haulage, which, in turn, puts up the cost of transport. I cannot see how establishing a clearing house system can in any way be a substitution for the national network of services which have been created.
In these Amendments we suggest it is necessary to require the purchaser to continue the services, and this is essential in the interests of the economy and industry of the country and, of course, of traders generally. We are confirmed in 276 this belief by the report issued by the Transport Tribunal set up to inquire into the Northern Ireland Transport system. In this Report, particularly in pages 30 to 32, there is full justification for maintaining a publicly-owned service; and also evidence that if a publicly-owned service is broken up certain of the requirements of the trader will not be met.
Let me quote from paragraph 169 which states that the private operators wouldcall on the Authority to carry their awkward or difficult loads and overloads, and use them when they are short of lorries or drivers, when machines are laid up for repair, or when it suits them to do so for any other reason.This means, in effect, that the private operator will carry the traffics when it suits him to carry them, and the traffics he refuses to carry would be put on the publicly-owned system. If we dispose of the publicly-owned system as suggested in this Bill, and as the Minister intends to do as quickly as possible, there will be no publicly-owned system to carry the balance of the goods, and, as a consequence, traders will not have the transport facilities at their disposal.
I would also refer the Minister to paragraph 174, which says:It is very unlikely that any organisation could be found to work the present or any comparable range of services unless they were given the same monopoly as the authority.That, of course, covers somewhat the same point, that if there is not a single authority covering the whole country, there will be areas which are not served. The next paragraph goes on:The comprehensive services of the Authority would disappear and with them the non-profitable services which play such a very important role in the development of rural areas.I am sorry that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not in the Chamber, because he referred to this matter last week. He represents a rural constituency, and here is evidence that his constituents may very well not be served adequately as a result of the manner in which the disposal is to take place. There is nothing in this Bill, as at present drafted, which requires that those persons who purchase units of the Road Haulage Executive continue the services now being provided or operate in the same district.
277 It is quite true that in the First Schedule the licensing authority can refuse an application ifthe base or centre could not conveniently serve substantially the same areas.…That is to say, that if the purchaser of the units says he will not operate from the same centre the licensing authority can refuse his application.
But that does not require him, once he has obtained his licence—and that would be during the period of five years—to operate from that base or centre. Once he has obtained his licence it would be possible for him to shift his base and to operate in a different area. As long as he maintains that centre when he applies for the licence there is nothing to prevent him operating a different type of service from that which he purchased, or for which the vehicles are being used when he makes the purchase, or that he should not serve a different town or area if he does not wish to operate an unremunerative service. He will be free to take his choice of traffics and areas. Once he has his licence he is free to operate precisely as he wishes.
The fifth Amendment in the series which we are now considering, that in line 33, provides that the licensing authority can make it a condition of the issue of the special A licences that he shall continue to operate the same services or serve the same areas.
The Parliamentary Secretary, in the remarks he made when we were discussing the previous Amendment on which we have just divided, stated—if I understood him correctly, and I think I did although I must say that when he reads his brief so meticulously and speedily it is not always easy to follow him—that it was always possible for the purchaser to leave the work the unit was doing and carry on with other work of which he had more personal knowledge. I think that was the gist of the Parliamentary Secretary's remarks. That confirms what I am saying, that once a unit has been sold the purchaser can use those vehicles precisely as he wishes; and that there is no guarantee to the public that they will continue to receive adequate services, once that sale has taken place.
We should like to know who is to provide the transport which private enterprise does not provide after the sale has taken place, because it is unremunerative 278 to provide such services? Who will provide the transport in the rural areas where it does not pay to provide services today? Who will provide the services in those areas, such as Scotland, where it is quite clear that services can only be covered through the profits made on the more profitable services in the urban areas?
In proposing this series of Amendments, we are not accepting the principle of the sale but we are endeavouring to protect the community as far as possible. We are trying to ensure that adequate services continue to be provided and that those people who benefit from purchasing these vehicles shall have the obligation to carry on a public service. Obviously, they would not purchase them unless they thought that they were going into a good business. If they take a profitable service they must take some of the unprofitable services as well. They must balance one with the other.
The best way in which this position was put I came across in HANSARD recently. It was said by a speaker from the other side:The provider of transport ought, from the public point of view, to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, to provide the facilities which are profitable and easy and desirable, and at the same time be prepared to provide the facilities which are less profitable, less desirable and more difficult to manage. The trouble is that unless you have some system where people who provide transport do take the rough with the smooth, you will have everyone taking the smooth and no one prepared to take the rough."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd May, 1933; Vol. 277, c. 862–3.]The spokesman for the Government on that occasion was the late Mr. Oliver Stanley, speaking when he was Minister of Transport. It could not be put better than that.
We consider that the persons who will go into road haulage as a result of the sale of these units will not be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. We want to compel them to do so in the public interest. Therefore, I invite the Minister to consider seriously these Amendments and to see whether the public interest would not best be served by accepting them.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have suggested that we should consider these Amendments together and, in that way, slightly streamline our procedure within 279 the limits unavoidably imposed on our discussion. I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) on the spirit of his observations. I know that his opposition to this part of the Bill remains as implacable as ever, but I recognise that he is anxious to try, according to the views that he holds, to improve the machinery.
I fully accept the observations made by the late Mr. Oliver Stanley. We shall certainly do what is possible—though there are very strict limits to this—in general guidance in regard to the dividing up of the units, to see that the cream, or the smooth, to take that analogy, is united with the less palatable opportunities, or the rough. But I should be misleading the Committee if I held out any great hope that in that way we could protect the interests which the hon. Gentleman rightly has at heart.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how he proposes to do that? That is what we wish to know.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am coming to that. I hope to develop an argument to show that in that, and in a number of other ways, we are fully conscious of the need to see that the more remote and the less remunerative areas are properly served.
I should like straight away to say that it is our view that the proposals of Her Majesty's Government will provide better than any alternative procedure, once the change has been decided on, for the smooth transition from public to private ownership, for the continuity of services during the period of dispersal, for the avoidance as far as possible of dislocation and for the maintenance afterwards of existing and desirable services.
The second Amendment would alter the definition of a transport unit in Clause 3 (2) by adding to that definition the criterion that the properties included in it shall be such as to maintain existing road haulage facilities. That would make it an absolute condition of sale that the vehicles sold should be used to serve substantially the same area and to cater for the same traffic. But, of course, we live in a period of change. The trade pattern is constantly shifting. To attempt to stereotype in an Act of Parliament 280 anything of that kind would, I think, defeat its very object. But I will come to various ways in which we shall do our best to ensure that areas as a whole are adequately served.
It does not seem to us that to alter the criteria whereby these units shall be divided up is the best way to ensure that difficult or remote areas are properly served. It is not the criteria whereby the units are divided up, but the use to which the units are put when they have been divided up which is the best security for people in remote areas. Clause 1, to which the Committee have already agreed, lays it down as a duty on the Commission that there shall be the least avoidable disturbance. It is our view that there is no need at all for a statutory obligation whereby a haulier has, by statute, to give an adequate service. We are confident that ordinary commercial considerations will in general compel the hauliers to do so.
§ Mr. A. Hargreaves (Carlisle)
I should like the Minister to address his mind to the difference between the road haulage sector and the railway sector in their obligations to the public—in other words, the common carrier obligation. If that could be applied to road haulage, then, obviously, all the needs of the public would be met; but the Minister does not propose that.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not think that it would be possible to say, for example, that the Road Haulage Executive accepted absolutely the same rigid interpretation of the obligations of a common carrier as the railways do. I should like to quote from the Report of the British Transport Commission for 1950, page 138. I do not blame them for this in the least. Economic considerations force them to take account of these factors. They say, describing the events of the year:The development of trunk and regular services continued, with a progressive reduction in empty running. Many new services were introduced where the flows of traffic justified that step.That is not the language of the common carrier. To attempt to impose on road hauliers—whether the Road Haulage Executive or an individual road haulier—all the obligations of a common carrier would be quite unrealistic.
281 I come now to the procedure in the Bill whereby we believe that, as far as is humanly possible, we shall ensure that substantially the same areas are properly looked after as those which have had a service up to now. When the purchaser applies for a special A licence he will be asked by the licensing authority from which base he intends normally to operate. This will be done under Clause 3 (4) and under the First Schedule. The licensing authority, with local knowledge, will know whether the base from which the applicant proposes to operate is likely to cover in a service the same area as that which has been receiving a service up to now.
If the applicant says that he proposes to operate from a different base than the old Road Haulage Executive base—which is, after all, only a few years old, and it may well be that the applicant may know just as much about local trade needs as does the Road Haulage Executive—the licensing authority may refuse the special A licence, under paragraph 4 of the First Schedule, if he is not satisfied that from this base it is likely that the same area will be conveniently served.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East asked what was to stop the applicant, once he had got his A licence, from deserting the area completely. The same fear was in the mind of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). The speed of the Guillotine time-table would not, I hope, make it very improper for us to jump ahead to Clause 8, and if the hon. Gentleman will look at subsection (4), he will see that there is a new procedure designed there.
The Government invoke the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, Section 13 of which lays down a certain procedure for the revocation or suspension of licences. It is our intention—and that intention is shown in Clause 8 (4)—that if, in fact, an applicant has received a licence by making a false statement, or his declared intention was not fulfilled, then it is possible for the licensing authorities to revoke or suspend the licence.
We are very anxious that there should be no distinction between the special A licences and the ordinary A licences, for they are all going to merge in a comparatively short time, and it would obviously be wrong to impose an obligation on special A licence holders which 282 would be out of line with the general duties of the ordinary A licence people. So the same provision will apply in the future for ordinary A licence applicants when their existing licences run out. There will be this procedure, first of all, that the licensing authority must be satisfied that, from a base suitable for that area, the applicant intends to carry out his transport business, and if, later, he leaves that area, the procedure of Clause 8 (4) can apply.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
Would the licensing authority, at the same time, take into consideration whether the applicant is to convey a suitable proportion of what the Minister describes as the "rough" or the unremunerative traffic, or will he be guided in the granting of licences?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I think that anybody who has had practical experience of this or any other commercial activity will know that most people from time to time do run uneconomic services in order to fit in with their general range of economic services, and to build up or retain the goodwill of their customers, and, by operating an initial system, to build up a service in which an uneconomic service at the start may grow into an economic one later.
The words which I quoted from the Report of the British Transport Commission show that they, like any other private operator have to take account of hard economic facts, and that neither they nor the private operator can disregard the need that their services should yield results in the long run. I do not think there is any reason to feel that there will be any change in regard to the services that may not, initially, be profitable during this smooth transition to private enterprise.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
I find it difficult to stretch the meaning of Clause 8 (4) in the way in which the Minister has done, but we will certainly hold him to it, if possible, if the Bill goes through, though I find it very difficult to believe that it will be possible to do that. I wish the Minister would answer the second point, which is that, if they do not carry on in providing the same type of services, which includes the rough with the smooth, but do not serve the same area, even though their base remains the same, what action can either the Minister or the licensing 283 authority take? If he is to stretch Clause 8 (4) I cannot understand how it can include maintaining the same services.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
We certainly could not extend Clause 8 (4) to do that, so that there is a statutory declaration that precisely the same form of traffic for exactly the same area should be provided. We are satisfied that the most that could be asked is that the best type of service should be operated which, in the view of the licensing authority, is likely to enable that area to be covered. As for the hon. Gentleman's fear about unduly stretching Clause 8 (4), I can assure him that, on that matter, I have taken the highest legal advice.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain a point that is a little obscure? Assuming that what he says about being able to ensure that a service can be carried on is correct, will he tell me how he will ensure that any kind of flat rate is carried on in that area? For example, if the organisation takes over his lorries and carries on, taking the rough with the smooth, and that applies to a fiat rate, obviously, that means that the rates will be a little dearer than those of people taking the cream, who, therefore, are not carrying the "rough." How can the right hon. Gentleman ensure that rates for the country traffic will be comparable with those on the main roads?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that there has been lately a regrettable increase in rates, but, taking them generally over the last few years, the private road haulier and the Road Haulage Executive have kept fairly well in tune, and it is the general experience that, with the increase in competition which this Bill will bring, a ceiling would be put upon them because of the measure of competition now being introduced.
As I have said, there is real protection in this Clause, and there is, of course, in addition to that, as I would remind the Committee, the fact that the licences run out at the end of five years, and it is a further protection if, in fact, the successful applicant for a licence is shown by a competitor or someone else not to have covered the area on the assumption on 284 which he was granted the licence. Therefore, it is our view that the provisions in this Bill will do more to ensure a smooth transition, the maintenance of existing services and a generally better system of road haulage to the public than would any of the proposed Amendments. It will give the flexibility that we need in these services.
The Commission are being asked during the period of transition to carry on with their existing Road Haulage Executive over a diminishing field. I recognise that, to ask people to carry on an activity which is, by law, in the fulness of time to be allowed to come to an end is asking a great deal of human nature, but I also recognise that, when the late Government, in 1947, introduced the Transport Bill, in Clause 51 they put upon a large number of private hauliers the duty of carrying on, even though a notice of acquisition had been tendered, and of carrying on their services in that most difficult of all periods between the sending of the notice of acquisition and the actual transfer.
We are asking no more than that in the case of these people. Many of them were small people, and it would have been found very often that credit was not likely to be continuously available when it was already well-known that their life was to be cut short. That being so, I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendments.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
The Minister has defended these slap-happy ramshackle proposals with great skill, but he has not convinced me, and here I speak with some experience.
§ Mr. Evans
No, I do not think he has.
The right hon. Gentleman and his Friends will go into the Division Lobby with heavy hearts, feet of lead and with their consciences firmly deposited in the deep freeze.
I suppose I ought to declare an interest. I operate 16 commercial vehicles. I went into this industry after the First World War, and I pay the Railway Executive about £2,000 per month, so that I have a very lively interest. I know a good deal about this industry, and I must say that the Bill's proposals are creating great 285 alarm among my Black Country constituents. Over the last five years, there has been created in this country a system of trunk and regular service routes which commands the growing admiration and support of 250,000 individual concerns. There is alarm and despondency at the thought that this service will be broken up.
Let me give some small illustrations of what it will mean to the Black Country and to the traffic that is at present moving as a result of these new trunk services. I shall take Staffordshire towns only. The volume of traffic between Dudley and South Wales is nearly 11,000 tons each four weeks; between Walsall and Glasgow it is over 12,000 tons—all the figures I quote are for four-week periods —between Walsall and Liverpool, 6,000 tons, and between Wolverhampton and London, 12,000 tons. Going father north, between Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool it is 9,000 tons, between Stoke-on-Trent and London 6,300 tons, and if we go a bit farther south, to Birmingham, we find that 9,000 tons are shifted between Birmingham and Liverpool and 13,500 tons between Birmingham and London.
These services, I think it can be said, have been built up in scarcely a tick of the clock of time. In five years we have created a regular service of road traffic equal to anything anywhere in the world. There is, of course, no guarantee, despite what the Minister has said, that this service is going to be maintained. I do not know anybody who knows anything about this subject who does not anticipate very considerable dislocation.
I ask the Minister to tell me whether there is anything in this Bill which prevents the Road Haulage Disposal Board selling vehicles to C licence holders.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It seems exceedingly unlikely that a C licence holder will pay the heavy price properly charged for an existing business. It is singularly unlikely that somebody who can buy an ordinary vehicle in the open market and can apply automatically for a C licence would go in for that expensive process instead.
§ Mr. Evans
I do not agree with that. The fact is that the whole trunk system which has been built up in this country 286 depends for its economic operation on the big 12–14 ton Diesel engine machines and because these are very scarce there is no doubt at all that people like Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton, Mitchells and Butlers, or the Cement Marketing Board or Unilevers would be very glad to get hold of machines of this character. There will be no difficulty for the Minister in selling this type of machine which is, of course, the economic unit within the system.
The right hon. Gentleman's problem will be to sell the others. Therefore, I ask him again, is there anything in this Bill which prohibits the Road Haulage Disposal Board from selling these big 12–14 ton Diesel engine machines to C licence holders?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I repeat what I said, and I shall once more draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to Clause 8 (4), which virtually throws on the potential purchaser the obligation to carry out the undertaking. It is a complete obligation on him, but not on the licensing authority to revoke the licence if the base is shifted. It is, naturally, an obligation on the man in question to give the right information. If he fails to do that, then he could have his licence suspended or revoked under Clause 8 (4). I repeat that purchasers of units which are businesses must undertake to carry on a transport business, so, quite apart from the fact that very few private firms are likely to pay the heavy prices in order to get the C licence, they would also have to conform to their obligation to carry on as hauliers, which would be very unlikely for firms of that kind.
§ Mr. Evans
If the Minister says that the Road Haulage Disposal Board is to be prohibited from selling machines to C licence operators such as I have mentioned, then, of course, I accept his assurance, but, as I read the Bill, the Road Haulage Disposal Board could if they so desired sell these machines to C licence holders.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman once more, but I must point out that a C licensee is not allowed, as the hon. Gentleman knows, to carry anybody else's goods for hire or reward.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
But anybody who purchases a business purchases also the 287 obligation to carry other people's goods for hire and reward. Therefore, he cannot be a C licensee. We shall come later to the situation which will develop when all the businesses likely to be sold as businesses will be sold, and when any vehicles sold as chattels could, of course, be bought by C licensees. But at the moment we are dealing with running businesses which no C licence holder is in a legal position to operate.
§ Mr. Evans
I was not suggesting for a moment that Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton would want to go into the haulage industry. All I was saying is that such firms find great difficulty in obtaining vehicles of this character, and that they would be very happy to take these 12–14 ton Diesel engine machines off the hands of the Road Haulage Disposal Board tomorrow morning. However, if there is a legal power, then we are satisfied, though it seems to me that when the Minister uses the word "virtual" he retains an escape door for himself, though not necessarily by intent.
I want it made quite clear that these big machines which form the backbone of the trunk services are, in fact, going to be kept for that type of work and will not be sold to brewers, the Cement Marketing Board, Unilevers, or anybody else.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
If the hon. Gentleman wants me once more to repeat it I will do so. There is nothing to stop a brewer or any other firm which wishes to enter the haulage business applying to buy a road haulage business. But if they buy a business under these Clauses they are absolutely obliged to carry on that business in that way, as, otherwise, they will find their licence suspended or revoked. But what will happen later, when the bulk of the businesses have been sold and the Board come to sell the vehicles, is that those vehicles will be available for purchase by C licensees for use in their businesses.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I was recently approached—I do not know why—by a large firm whose name it would not, perhaps, be fair to give, who have a large number of C licence vehicles. They asked for my view regarding the prospect of their getting a number of vehicles as a transport unit and working them in with their C licence undertaking. It would be very profitable to them for they would then have the opportunity of working in with the carriage of their own goods such part of the road services of other firms as they could conveniently transport. They believe it will be more economical to them than running empty on one part of the journey. But how far such an arrangement would protect the road haulage service in the way we have been discussing it is a little difficult to see.
§ Mr. Evans
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) reinforces what I have been saying. It is absolutely vital that the Minister and the Government should take every step to see that these services are not disrupted, because the economies that can be effected by rationalisation are only just beginning to show themselves. The Minister sometimes says, in justification for this and other Clauses, that the process of integration has not made much progress. Of course it has not, because the Road Haulage Executive, up to now, have been busy acquiring businesses. How could they rationalise or integrate until they knew precisely what they had in their possession with which to rationalise and integrate?
This Clause fills me with alarm and dismay. The Amendments are very necessary indeed. All that the trader in the Black Country wants is a first-class service at a reasonably competitive price, and all that this Clause promises is the possibility of no service at all. There can be no doubt that it will be left to a publicly-owned body, after the worst has been done, to provide a substantial part of the road transport service of this country. We must be very careful that we are not left with all the junk. As I said earlier, the "big fellows," the 12 and 14 tonners doing about 11 miles to the gallon, are an economic unit. They are to be swallowed up, and the publicly-owned transport system will be left with the small six tonners, doing about 9 miles to the gallon, and the cost of transport will go up enormously.
289 I do not remember doing anything in this Chamber that gave me more pleasure than supporting this Amendment. This and subsequent Amendments are absolutely vital. When normally intelligent people set out on a new course of action they usually try to estimate the consequences of what they are proposing to do. I see no signs of that in this Clause and it fills me with great alarm. I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
Perhaps I may follow the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) with regard to C licences, because I think that he has raised a very important point about which we should try to clear our minds. In doing so we must remember that, as the hon. Member contends, in a somewhat early stage of development British Road Services have, in fact, placed quite a large number of their vehicles—I do not know how many—under C licences, and they are now out under C hiring doing regular work for customers.
If a depot containing a number of vehicles of British Road Services has a number of vehicles on its strength which are out under C hiring licences, I should have thought that there would be no objection at all to their continuing to remain under C hiring licences. With that one exception, I am a little disposed to agree with what the hon. Member for Wednesbury said. We must be rather careful to see that the number of vehicles which should be available to trade and industry for hire and reward are not added to the considerable number of C-licensed vehicles which are already in the country.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury objected strongly to the Clause, but apparently he has overlooked the fact that the Clause contains the answer to his difficulty, because it states in page 4, line 42, that…specified conditions may …be attached to the sale of transport. [HON. MEMBERS:"May."] It quite rightly says "may," because here we are enjoining upon the two public bodies, the Commission and the Disposal Board, certain duties and I think that there should be a limit to the amount of administrative direction that the House of Commons gives to them.
290 I do not think that by means of the Amendment which has been moved and of other Amendments we ought to enter into a lot of detail which would fetter the discretion of those two bodies in fulfilling their duties. We should define the general principles under which they should act and impose a certain time limit so that they get on with the job. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Wednesbury will be comforted to some extent by the fact that there will be no "feather bedding "with regard to C licences and that the matter can be covered by the Clause.
I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), who moved the Amendment. I am sorry that he is not in his place, because I wish to express very strong disagreement with him. I feel that he acted upon the assumption, which, of course, hon. Members so often do, that until we had a nationalised service for transport there was no such thing as an efficient transport system in this country, in the sense that trade and industry were not served. It is a fact, however, that at the time that the Transport Act was passed trade and industry strongly opposed it. They did so because within the licensing system we had a large and flexible, varied and freely available system of transport.
Surely it is not necessary to assume that it would be impossible to restore such a system and even to provide something better. Indeed, I like to think that when this industry is restored to private enterprise, private enterprise will consider and profit from the experience, the mistakes and even the successes of British Road Services. They would be wise to do so. But what we have to consider is not merely the question of whether a particular service is made available to the public. We have to see to what extent the public are benefiting indirectly from it. To my mind, there is no doubt that the indirect benefit which the public have obtained from British Road Services has been really negligible, and from the point of view of tax earning capacity we should be far better off if the industry had remained in private firms.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East gave us what I must call a most exaggerated description of the improvements 291 made in road haulage services, improvements which apparently the Road Haulage Executive themselves would not agree had been made and do not claim to have made. On page 124 of their Fourth Annual Report the Road Haulage Executive—and I am only giving one of several available quotations—say that they found it was necessary to carry out a measure of re-organisation and that:The effect of this re-organisation will not be felt until 1952, but it is hoped that as a result the standard of service to users will be increased and operational efficiency and economy greatly improved.That is a clear admission that there was room for improvement.
As regards the question to which hon. Members opposite have attached great importance in moving this Amendment—the relationship of vehicles to the flow of traffic—this is what the Report says:One of the outstanding problems arising out of acquisitions, particularly during the later stages of the programme, was that many vehicles were taken over without the corresponding traffic.One cannot assume in transport, which is essentially a flexible thing, that goodwill and vehicles are permanently bitched to each other. They are not. The Report goes on:In consequence, the fleet, by the end of the year"—that was 1951—was larger than traffic requirements, and during the latter part of 1951 the position was closely examined and measures taken to reduce the fleet to its optimum size.Later, they say:An 'ideal fleet'"—in inverted commas, meaning, I suppose, one in which supply approximates to demand—has been tentatively planned, but will take some years to achieve, especially in view of the shortage of new vehicles. It will be corrected from time to time in the light of experience.I suggest that hon. Members opposite should not spoil their case by overstating it.
Our attitude towards this question of the availability of vehicles is this: We say, "Let there be an adequate supply of vehicles within the licensing system and let the customer decide which of the businesses operating those vehicles he will employ."
292 I should like to refer to my constituency as an example. Nationalisation has brought no improvement. The area is approximately 1,000 square miles. which is about 30 miles by 35 miles. Before nationalisation there was one haulage business of 50 vehicles and several smaller ones. When nationalisation came, the small businesses were either closed completely or were restricted to the 25-mile limit.
The large business was retained and very slightly enlarged. From the point of view of the operators of the large business there was not very much difference, except that in order to carry out the work which had been formerly done by the smaller businesses there was a good deal of empty running which had never been done before.
After the transfer, the large business will go back where it was. Many improvements that have been made in it will no doubt be retained. In addition, there will be some competition. Applications can be made to the licensing authority even if no transport units are formed. Then we shall have some flexibility, less empty running and we hope naturally greater efficiency; and perhaps there will be the effect of competition upon prices.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
The hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) will, I hope, forgive me if I do not follow his particular points.
The Minister says that the public are to be protected from loss of service on transfer by the combined effect of Clause 8 and the First Schedule. On this side of the Committee we cannot feel at all satisfied with that assurance. Clause 8 and the First Schedule provide, by and large, in a very indirect way, for operations to continue from an equivalent base, as a consequence of the discretion brought to bear by the licensing authority. They do not offer any method whereby continuance of the service on the previous scale is guaranteed to the public.
Further, the Clause and Schedule do nothing to guarantee that the service will continue to be provided at rates equivalent to those which were formerly available, or that an area will be covered equivalent to that which was covered before nationalisation; or that any service continued upon the old routes 293 will be so continued for longer than a week, a month, or a few months at the most.
The Minister made an attempt to satisfy this side of the Committee upon what is admitted to be a crucial and important element of the Bill, but he has not been able to do more than to show the existence of a very intricate and unsatisfactory method, which may be very long delayed, to preserve for the public interest a central base of transport services. As for the area covered, the number of vehicles travelling on the routes, and the scale and continuance of the service in point of time, no kind of guarantee is given by the Minister at all. That is entirely unsatisfactory.
When the Committee stage started, we believed that the Minister would be ready and willing to consider Amendments in a sympathetic frame of mind, but there is no sign of his doing so. There is nothing in the Amendment which is in the very least out of spirit with the general purposes of the Bill. It does not require the purchaser to employ the vehicles he has purchased from the Commission to provide the service—it would have been reasonable to make that requirement, but we did not do it, and that was a concession to the views of hon. Gentlemen who support the Government —as long as he provides a service equivalent to that which was available before the transfer of the assets.
We are asking for something entirely reasonable in this, something which does not interfere or cause dislocation or trouble for the kind of private enterprise transport system the Minister intends to establish under the Bill. We therefore ask from the right hon. Gentleman more responsible and considered reasons against propositions of this character put to him from this side of the Committee.
The Committee will not overlook the fact, and neither will the Minister, that at least three-quarters of the vehicles belonging to the Road Haulage Executive are used on the trunk routes of the country. It is getting increasingly home to trade and industry that the vehicles on those routes have been giving very distinguished and valuable service, and doing so increasingly. It is these vehicles that will be the most easy to dispose of. The vehicles upon the trunk roads comprise three-quarters of the whole fleet of 294 the Road Haulage Executive and more than three-quarters of the vehicles which the Commission are able to dispose of under the Bill.
That being so, is it not monstrous that those vehicles that are being disposed of, public property, are to go without any kind of statutory obligation that they will continue to give service to the public approximating to what they were previously giving? I think it is outrageous and I hope that the Minister will reconsider the position.
At the moment, under Clause 1 an obligation is placed upon the Commission to ensure that there shall be no disturbance of the transport service given to the public up to the time of disposal. The Minister has therefore admitted the necessity of a statutory obligation that transport shall not be unnecessarily disturbed pending the disposal laid down in Clauses 2 and 3; but there is no equivalent statutory obligation to avoid disturbance at the time of disposal.
What conceivable principle can be called in aid to defend a statutory requirement that the Commission shall avoid disturbance to the industry pending disposal and yet is entirely free to commit that degree of disturbance at the time of disposal? That is an anomaly. It is a contrast which cannot be justified by any logic or reason and I am bound to say that those of us on this side of the Committee who have worked on this question think that undoubtedly the best way to get over the difficulty is to give the Commission power to introduce into the conditions of transfer a condition that equivalent services—not merely an equivalent service base—at equivalent rates should be made available by the purchasers, whether they use their own vehicles or vehicles purchased from the Disposal Board.
§ Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)
I was rather sorry that I did not have the good fortune to catch the eye of your predecessor, Sir Charles, immediately after the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) had resumed his seat, as I intend to devote most of my short comments to what he had to relate to the Committee about the state of affairs that obtains in the Midlands in connection with transport arrangements.
295 I, too, should declare my interest as a C licence operator, but one holding very different views from those of the hon. Gentleman. He managed to create the impression that the vast volume of goods which is at present being hauled by British Road Services between the Black Country towns and the adjoining industrial towns, such as Kidderminster, to London, Liverpool, Bristol and elsewhere, would suddenly be left unserviced when these long-distance vehicles were sold by the Disposal Board to the private enterprise incoming firms.
In fact that volume of traffic, in greater or less degree, has been flowing along those routes for the last 30 or 40 years, with only slight variations from year to year according to the variations of trade and industry. The incoming private enterprise concerns are not going to seek to remove those lorries from the heavily-loaded and profitable long-distance routes upon which they have been engaged for many years, to other routes in other parts of the country, which are already well served by long-distance lorries, unless there is an inducement to do so.
To give a straightforward example, there are several scores of long-distance vehicles operating between London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Liverpool. Similarly, there are several scores of long-distance lorries operating between London, Leicester and Nottingham. The number of lorries on each of those routes is directly related to the volume of traffic available. That is the determining factor, and an incoming private enterprise concern is not going to buy an operable unit in the West Midlands, operating between that area, and London and Liverpool where there is a large existing volume of traffic, and very suddenly take the lorries away and put them on the route between London, Leicester and Nottingham.
§ Mr. Percy Morris (Swansea, West)
If what the hon. Gentleman says is true, the incoming private enterprise concerns would be very different from the outgoing ones in 1945. One of the greatest and most varying factors were the conditions of service under which men were engaged both in administrative and operative positions. I should like the hon. Member to indicate what attraction he has to offer the 14,000 administrative people to do the work without any statutory benefits.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I was not discussing the question of terms of employment of operatives within the industry. I was talking about the sale of lorries and the loading of routes. The hon. Gentleman has referred to a different issue but, if I may give him the short answer—as I did last week—it is the job of the trade unions to look after the conditions of employment within the industry.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans
I would suggest to the hon. Member that there has never been a service of this character and magnitude, and with this tonnage, where the trader knew that his traffic would be leaving at a certain time each day and that every day there would be regular trunk services up and down the country. That service was never provided before the advent of the Road Haulage Executive.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I am a younger man than the hon. Gentleman, and it is therefore fair to say that I have not been in commerce and industry for quite as many years as he has; but within my experience of haulage traffic, in great variety between different points of the country, private enterprise firms, before nationalisation, on long runs were able to give their customers comparable if not more efficient services than are given by the nationalised body.
It is completely false to suggest that, in pre-nationalisation days, the magnificent service operated between London, Birmingham and Liverpool—to give one example—whereby any undertaking at the northern or southern end of that axis could load goods overnight and be certain of their arrival at the destination next morning, at a pre-determined time, has been excelled by British Road Services.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury expressed considerable apprehension, in connection with these Amendments, that certain of the vehicles being disposed of would find their way into the hands of C licence operators. It will be a very good thing if they do, because it is not only a question of brewers owning those vehicles. What about a steel company owning the vehicles? There is a steel company in North Wales which operates a large fleet of 14- to 16-ton, eight wheeled, E.R.F. diesel-engined vehicles under C licences. If it is found convenient, efficient and profitable for that 297 steel company to haul its finished products over long distances by that system and often to bring in its raw materials on the return journey, why should they not be allowed to own these vehicles, and work them in conjunction with A licence vehicles purchased as part of an operable unit?
I conceive certain circumstances that will arise in the affairs of this Disposal Board—and I direct these comments particularly to my right hon. Friend—whereby it will be a thoroughly satisfactory state of affairs for an industrial company to buy an operable unit with A licences, already having C licences, and to work the two concerns together. In my view it will lead to lower operating costs in certain circumstances, a higher loading ratio of all the vehicles and, in certain specialised circumstances, I would say that it would be very wrong to seek to exclude the sale of the B.R.S. vehicles simply because the buyer wished to apply C licence work to them.
Earlier in the course of our debate on this Amendment a suggestion was made that British Road Services in the rural areas were providing services that had not hitherto been provided. My hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) instanced his constituency, which has an area of approximately 1,000 square miles, largely rural and agricultural in character. The hon. Member for Wednesbury does not have any farms in his constituency. That is why he talks so much about farming.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I am almost on level pegging, because in 1945 I had the honour to contest the constituency next door to that of the hon. Member—West Bromwich—where there is one farm.
In the Kidderminster constituency, in addition to the large industrial area, there are, of course, hundreds of farming and horticultural enterprises. In the last few years since nationalisation, British Road Services have not even started to understand their requirements or interests, let alone serve them. If evidence of this is wanted, let me say that until a few months ago, firms which are now restricted under A licence to operating only within a 25 miles limit, had been given the special dispensation of operating 298 up to 150 miles from their base. These were private firms, not British Road Services, and the reason, simply expressed, is that the British Road Services did not always wish to operate in remote rural areas because they deemed the work concerned to be of an uneconomic and unprofitable character.
It is hypocrisy for hon. Gentlemen opposite to suggest that the effect of the nationalisation of road transport has been to provide an admirable service for remote rural areas. I believe that the restoration of free enterprise transport will give those remote rural areas a better opportunity for a good road haulage service than they have hitherto had.
There is one last point. My right hon. Friend and hon. Gentlemen opposite referred to the question—the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) spoke very strongly on the point—of providing some form of safeguard within the statute that operable units which are sold should continue to serve the same areas under free enterprise as they had been serving under the British Road Services organisation. In my view, nothing would be more difficult, if not impossible, to legislate for.
The areas of operation of lorries are, surely, controlled by the laws of supply and demand, and always will be. That is most certainly so in the case of British Road Services today. If British Road Services have too many vehicles in their Wolverhampton depot for the goods that are available to be carried, they would move the surplus vehicles to another area. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is the advantage of national ownership."] Not at all. Under free enterprise, there would not be too many vehicles anyway, because it would be the private operators' money that was being lost and the owners of those vehicles would make certain that the surplus vehicles did not exist.
In my view, any attempt by my right hon. Friend to regulate where the B.R.S. vehicles, as they are sold, should operate, would be foredoomed to failure, for circumstances and trading conditions within commerce, within industry, within farming, horticulture and so on, inevitably change week by week and month by month. We do not want rigidity or inflexibility in this matter. We want the greatest possible degree of flexibility. What is more important—I press this on 299 my right hon. Friend in case he is jockeyed into a position by hon. Gentlemen opposite—is that the purpose of the Bill should be freedom, and not the imposition of any regulation or control that is not strictly and absolutely necessary.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Barnes (East Ham, South)
It is very interesting to compare the speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), to which we have just listened, with the explanation which the Minister gave, or attempted to give, to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). The hon. Member for Kidderminster is suggesting that there should be no control whatever on the sale of vehicles. The Minister did his best to try to prove that there were adequate safeguards in the Bill to protect an indiscriminate sale of these goods.
The group of Amendments that we are proposing has the intention of inserting in the Bill sufficient safeguards to maintain a trunk service of road haulage. The hon. Member said that there were trunk road services before the 1947 Act. I agree. There was a type of company—an example is the Bouts-Tillotson Company, and there were others—which ran a regular service from point "A" to point "B," night after night and day after day. But that represented the covering of a certain route and was not in the form of a network throughout the entire country. When Bouts-Tillotsons and others were taken over, their organisation was made the basis of a national network of trunk road services. That is what has happened in the last three or four years, and my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury has pointed out that there is a great body of business opinion that has learned the economic value of that network of services.
As one who was in office during their teething troubles, I should be the last to argue that the British Road Services administration and organisation were efficient to the point that they could be, or that their organisation was permanently settled and rooted down. I did not take that view. In fact, towards the end of my administration, because I felt it essential that before they rooted down the road services should be married to the 300 trade requirements of the country, I invited the Federation of British Industries and the Chambers of Commerce, who were the customers of British Road Services, to meet the Chairmen of the Executives to secure any modification that was necessary. There was not the slightest doubt that those two organisations did not challenge the basic principle that we wanted a road haulage service, if not on the common carrier basis, at any rate at the convenience of the average manufacturer.
There are two types of transport of goods. There is the large organisation that can afford its own C-licence fleet for that range of its goods that it must keep under its complete control—that is, personal transport service. There are other traders, including those with C-licence vehicles, who for special parcels or special deliveries, or because they have not sufficient goods for an economic load, must use the public transport system.
It has emerged very clearly in our debates, which are bound to suffer under the Guillotine procedure, that as we deal with each group of Amendments and discuss them to a certain point, the purpose of the Government's policy becomes clear. We do not, however, have an opportunity of pursuing it. I shall deal later, if time permits, with the licensing safeguard which the Minister mentioned, but on the previous Amendment we saw reflected on the other side of the Committee a desire to avoid the consequences of the levy as. far as possible. It was eminently a businesslike proposal, but, nevertheless, it was turned down, primarily on the grounds of delay. It is this hurried, determined procedure, to liquidate British Road Services, that is the root of all the difficulties that we are discussing here tonight.
Again I refer to the people in commerce, not because they represent any specially important point of view, but because they represent a great range of small manufacturers and commercial personnel, who must use the transport services particularly for small parcels and things of that description. They are concerned at the breaking up of this new, co-ordinated transport system. Let us consider how a depot works today. It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Kidderminster said, that it might be running a service between Birmingham and London, but the value of this network is 301 that, through this administration, when a lorry runs to any particular point, it is known where there is a return load, and this may be known from some other depot, and the lorry may run a little off its route to pick up a return load.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He has just mentioned Tillotson's, who used to specialise, in pre-nationalisation days, on the Manchester to London route. I mentioned the other day MacNamara's, who used to specialise on the Liverpool-Birmingham-London route. The benefit of those specialist services was the high loading ratio, and the fact that they always had return loads.
§ Mr. Barnes
Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree with this, that if that is justified on a particular route, there is no case against applying it throughout the whole country. That is the point that has not been answered today. If it can be argued at one moment that a specific route represents an advantage to the trader, then it cannot be denied that, if that same principle of transport were applied throughout the country, it would be beneficial to the trade of the country as a whole.
Now let us deal with the disposal of this property. The Minister says, quite rightly, that after a given transport unit has been purchased by some intending operator he must get the endorsement of the licensing authority with regard to the issue of his special licence. That is true. But there is no guarantee, and there is no safeguard in the Bill, that after the individual has got his five years special A licence he will carry out those obligations over the next five years. I do not say that operators generally would not, but they may not—a sufficient number of them may not—to the extent of disrupting our trunk road goods haulage services.
There is this inducement. These vehicles are very expensive today, but the purchaser who purchases these vehicles from the road haulage organisation will not have to pay on them any Purchase Tax. That has already been paid.
§ Mr. Barnes
So there is a great inducement to any operator. I have had people come to me asking me whether they 302 would be eligible to buy units of this kind. What difference does the A licence make to them, if it is the vehicles they want to get hold of? Surely the Minister and the Government and the party opposite ought at least to ensure, if they are going to hand these services back to private enterprise, that the trade and in dustry of this country will not suffer.
These 35,000 vehicles ought to be retained for this service. It is no use arguing that the 115,000 vehicles now run by the A and B licence holders on short distance traffic will do this job. They will not. They never did 'do it. They did not do it before the 1947 Act. If they had done it they would have been acquired under the provisions of that Act, and made part of British Road Services. These vehicles that we are discussing were long distance road haulage vehicles in 1947. They were carrying out their job in a disconnected manner. What has happened in the last three or four years is that they have been linked together in a series of depots. It is the same number of vehicles doing the same type of job but co-ordinated and ordered to do a specific task. Now the Government propose to hand these back to private enterprise.
There cannot be one gigantic monopoly. That would be against all their views. So these vehicles, if they are to be sold back in nine months, arc to be purchased by small, medium and large operators. The small operators are not long distance hauliers. They know nothing about it, and they will not do the job. The medium sized hauliers have only a local area knowledge. It is true this is beyond 25 miles, but, nevertheless, their work is area and district and local work, and they will not do the trunk system. The financial groups who will come in, if they are to do the big trunk road systems, ought, I say, to accept the obligations which British Road Services have accepted. For those reasons I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
I have only a few moments, and so I shall not follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Barnes) if he does not mind. I want to address myself to the general effect of the Amendment. It is to try to compel something to happen that will not be practical in the long run. It is to insist 303 that the same services should apply as now. It is just not practical from a commercial point of view, because, obviously, as my right hon. Friend has already said, trade is always found to be altering and varying. if these stipulations are put upon the new purchasers, and if they are compelled to keep the same services running, their working conditions will be impossible; a burden will be put on them impossible for them to carry from a commercial point of view, if the newcomers, coming back into the industry, are to run their businesses on a sound basis.
I maintain that the proposal of the Amendment is not sound or businesslike from the long term point of view. We all, of course, want efficient transport services, and we want the transport operators to be able to operate their businesses on a basis from which they can come out at a profit. The compulsion suggested in the Amendment does not exist today for British Road Services. British Road Services are not compelled to take traffic.
§ Mr. Harris
I am not saying they are not being helpful. I am not making that suggestion. But, from a company's point of view, we cannot compel it to take up traffic. It is obvious that the people coming back to the industry will want to keep up service, but we cannot compel them to undertake something that is not even compulsory on British Road Services.
§ Mr. Harris
Oh, yes. They are not always in a position to give immediate service. It is impossible to pretend that, if one wants to send some goods tomorrow, British Road Services are waiting to take those goods. The supply and demand position is bound to answer these problems in the long run. Anyone operating these services on a commercial basis is bound to want to operate them to the satisfaction of his customers, and we must give these people the chance. The law of supply and demand will automatically settle the matter, and we can rely on the operators coming back to the industry to provide efficient transport services, and to give the same satisfactory service they gave to the country in time of war.
§ It being half-past Six o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to complete the Proceedings on Clause 3.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 280; Noes, 261.307
|Division No. 34.]||AYES||[6.30 p.m.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bossom, A. C.||Colegate, W. A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Cooper, Son. Ldr. Albert|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Braise, B. R.||Craddock, Beresford (Spel[...]horne)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Bromley-Devonport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr, J. M.||Brooman-White, R. C.||Crouch, R. F.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Cuthbert W. N.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Bullard, D. G.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bullock, Capt. M.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Burden, F. F. A.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Butcher, H. W.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Campbell, Sir David||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Carson, Hon. E.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas(Richmond)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Cary, Sir Robert||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Birch, Nigel||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.|
|Black, C. W.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cole, Norman||Erroll, F. J.|
|Fell, A.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Robertson, Sir David|
|Fisher, Nigel||Linstead, H. N.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fort, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Foster, John||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Longden, Gilbert||Russell, R. S.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Low, A. R. W.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Gammans, L. D.||McAdden, S. J.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||McCallum, Major D.||Scott, R. Donald|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Godber, J. B.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Shepherd, William|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||McKibbin, A. J.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maclean, Fitzroy||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Speir, R. M.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Harpies, A. E.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Harvey, fan (Harrow. E.)||Maude, Angus||Storey, S.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maudling, R.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hay, John||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Mellor, Sir John||Summers, G. S.|
|Heath, Edward||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John (Salisbury).||Teeling, W.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thorntan-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Tilney, John|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hope, Lord John||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon Henry||Nugent, G. R. H.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M P.||Nutting, Anthony||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Horobin, I. M.||Odey, G. W.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Vosper, D. F..|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Corn. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Osborne, C.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Partridge, E.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pete, Brig. C. H. M||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon L. W||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Keeling, Sir Edward||Pitman, I. J.||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Powell, J. Enoch||Wills, G.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Profumo, J. D.||York, C.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Rayner, Brig. R||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Redmayne, M.||Major Conant and Mr. Oakshott.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Remnant, Hon. P|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Balfour, A.||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Adams, Richard||Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bartley, P.||Boardman, H.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bence, C. R.||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Benn, Wedgwood||Bowles, F. G.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Benson, G.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Beswick, F.||Brockway, A. F|
|Awbery, S. S.||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bing, G. H. C.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Baird, J.||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Brown, Thomas lnce)||Hubbard, T. F.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Rankin, John|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Champion, A. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Rhodes, H.|
|Chapman, W. 0||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Richards, R.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Clunie, J.||Danner, B.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Coldrick, W.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Collick, P. H.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Corbel, Mrs. Freda||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Ross, William|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Royle, C.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Grossman, R. H. F||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Short, E. W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Sh[...]rmer, P. L. E.|
|Daises, P.||Keenan, W.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Kenyon, C.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Slater, J.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Kinley, J.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek),||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, J. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Deer, G.||Lever, Harold (Cheatham)||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lever, Leslle (Ardwick)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lewis, Arthur||Steele, T.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lindgren, G. S.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacColl, J. E.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Edelman, M.||McGhee, H. G.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||McInnes, J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Ewart, R.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Field, W. J.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Manuel, A. C.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thornton, E.|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mellish, R. J.||Timmons, J.|
|Follick, M.||Messer, F.||Tomney, F.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, W.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moody, A. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Wade, D. W.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Morley, R.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Glanville, James||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Weitzman, O.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mort, D. L.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Moyle, A.||West, D. G.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mulley, F. W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Grey, C. F.||Murray, J. D.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Nally, W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Grimond, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Wigg, George|
|Hale, Lesllie (Oldham, W.)||Oliver, G. H.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Orbach, M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Oswald, T.||Willey, F. T.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Padley, W. E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hannan, W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Pannell, Charles||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pargiter, G. A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon Harold (Huyton)|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Parker, J.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham C.)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Paton, J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pearson, A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Pearl, T. F.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Holman, P.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Yates, V. F|
|Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Popplewell, E.|
|Holt, A. F.||Porter. G||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Houghton, Douglas||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Mr. James Johnson and|
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.