§ Mr. Callaghan
I beg to move, in page 7, to leave out lines 13 to 29.
I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee, Sir Charles, if we took this Amendment together with the Amendments in page 7, line 18, leave out "six-fifths," and insert "twelve-fifths," and the Amendment in page 7, leave out lines 25 to 29. We would not, but for the Guillotine, wish to take these Amendments together. [Interruption.] I do not know why the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) should find anything funny in that remark, when we have just had a discussion cut short by the Guillotine. I see no reason why, when we have to compress these Amendments into one when they cover different points, that that should be a subject of mirth to the hon. Member.
The purpose of this Amendment is to take out of Clause 4 the limitation that is placed upon the British Transport Commission, requiring that the Minister shall make over to them only six-fifths of the total weight unladen of the motor vehicles owned by them in 1948. This particular subsection has had an interesting history, as the Minister will well remember. The intention of the right hon. Gentleman and of the Government was that the railways, in the words of the Minister, should be divested of their road haulage interest and have no road vehicles at all.
There was a very powerful speech in the debate in which he made that pronouncement by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), whom we are glad to see in his place, and I believe that it was largely as a result of what he said, and not by any means as a result of anything which we said on this side, that the Government thought again about this particular provision and decided that the railways should be allowed to keep some part of the vehicles that they had owned, equivalent, in fact, to the vehicles they had owned at the date of nationalisation on 1st January, 1948. That was second thoughts, and second thoughts were certainly better than first thoughts on this matter.
Now we have had third thoughts on the matter, because the latest edition of the Bill prescribes that the British Transport 310 Commission shall be allowed to keep six-fifths of the vehicles that were in the ownership of the railways on 1st January, 1948. We can, therefore, say that the Minister has gradually qualified for grace, and, no doubt, if we had another edition of the Transport Bill, we might get the number even higher than it is at present. We hope to subscribe some suggestions, although we are working under a Guillotine, and try to persuade him to do one or two things.
We should like to give the Minister carte blanche to make over to the British Transport Commission a sufficient number of vehicles to enable them to run long-distance road haulage services, but if he will not accept that—and I quite understand that he may feel that to do so would be to go against the principle of the Bill, although for the life of me I cannot see why—we fall back on the second Amendment, which prescribes that instead of the British Transport Commission being allowed to keep six-fifths of the vehicles they owned in 1948 they should be allowed to keep twelve-fifths of those vehicles.
Some hon. Member may ask, what is the virtue of six-fifths? I am not sure that there is any virtue in it. I believe that it is a convenient number which represents the number of vehicles that the railways might have been expected to have had, had there been no nationalisation, based on the normal rate of growth that was going on. There is no virtue about six-fifths, and equally there is no virtue about twelve-fifths, which doubles the number of vehicles they should retain.
The Minister, when he came to move the Second Reading of the Bill, referred to this and said:So the rather cumbersome phrase of 'six-fifths of their former holding' appears, and by that we mean all that they had before plus 20 per cent. more. This will make the British Transport Commission the largest road haulage undertaking in the country, and all the people who want to see what happens. in friendly rivalry between different forms of transport will have an opportunity of seeing that now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1952; Vol. 507. c. 1418.]I suppose that the Minister had in mind that there was going to be a long-distance road haulage trunk service, which the Commissions would be allowed to run. because they would have rather more than 4,000 vehicles on the basis of six-fifths—I think, 4,200—and, therefore, that 311 pretty considerable number of vehicles would act in competition with the private hauliers, about whom we heard so much in the discussion on the last Clause, and we would be able to see just how far competition between public and private service would redound to the benefit or the credit of either.
What the Minister did not make clear—and this is one of the things about which I should like to ask him and on which I will gladly give way—was what the effect of that would be under subsection (2) of Clause 4, which prescribes thatthe vehicles so made over make up. or would, if all were made over to the same company. make up,"—and these are the important words—a fleet of vehicles comparable, as respects Me size, nature and quality of the vehicles comprised therein, to a fleet made up of the vehicles so owned.I understand that to mean that the Commission will be able to keep in their companies six-fifths of what they had before in relation to each of the types of vehicles which they had before. We have a very distinguished law officer present on our side of the Committee, but there is no Government Law Officer here, and perhaps the Minister is going to assume that responsibility among his many others, but if I am right this means that what the British Transport Commission will be able to keep will be six-fifths of the furniture removal vans which they had, six-fifths of such heavy haulage vehicles as they had, six-fifths of Carter Paterson's parcel vans, six-fifths of their meat vans, and so on. It was the Minister's intention, following the speech of the hon. Member for Abingdon, to make over to them the vehicles which they had before, which was roughly the Pickford and the Carter Paterson services.
What I am not clear about—and hope the Minister will clear this up—is what he meant when he said that these vehicles would be in competition with the private road haulage vehicles which will be operating on the trunk routes. Let me remind him of his speech again:All the people who want to see what happens in friendly rivalry between different forms of transport will have an opportunity of seeing that now.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1952; Vol. 507, c. 1418.]312 With great respect to the Minister, I do not follow that, because it is well known that Pickford's and Carter Paterson's were never in competition on the long-distance road haulage services; that was not the traffic they were running. That is all within our personal knowledge, whether we know anything about transport or not. Did the Minister mean anything by those words, or was it a gloss, which at first sight deceived me? I thought, "They are going to have several hundreds more vehicles than they had. They will perhaps be able to operate long-distance trunk services, and this is certainly the sort of thing which would follow the principles of the Bill."
I ask the Minister to give us an assurance: Will this Clause operate in such a way that the British Transport Commission will be able to run a long-distance road haulage service and at the same time keep the vehicles that he undertook in his speech of 21st May should be kept by the British Transport Commission? My understanding of this Clause is that they will be able to do nothing of the sort. Will the right hon. Gentleman not have to amend this Clause anyway, if he wishes to keep his twin undertakings, first that they shall be allowed to take back the vehicles that were taken from them, and second that they shall be able to run a long-distance road haulage service in competition with other long-distance road hauliers? I put it to the Minister that he cannot achieve that purpose under this part of the Clause as drafted.
What are the Minister's intentions? We believe that the best thing to do would be to take out these words altogether so that he could have freedom to make over to the British Transport Commission, in the companies they set up, sufficient vehicles to enable both his promises to be fulfilled. That is what we would like to see. If he will not do that, I suggest he should then fall back on the, in our view, rather inferior alternative, because it is a restrictive alternative, which ties him down—and I would expect to have the support of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) here, because he is most anxious not to tie the Minister or anybody down under this Bill.
If the Minister overrules his hon. Friend, we suggest he should have sufficient vehicles made over to one or 313 more companies of the British Transport Commission as will enable them to run a long-distance road haulage service. That will enable him to redeem the promises that he made, the undertakings that he gave us. If he leaves the Clause untouched, it is my understanding that he will not be able to redeem his promises to the House. and via the House to the country at large.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)
I am trying to follow the argument, but I cannot discover from column 1418 of HANSARD of 17th November, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, any promise, or indeed any reference to a long-distance haulage undertaking of the British Transport Commission. If that is the paragraph on which the hon. Gentleman is basing his argument, I do not think it says that.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I must say that I would far sooner have the Minister's view on this than that of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Callaghan
It was undoubtedly the impression the Minister gave to the House on that occasion. Whatever he meant to say, that is the impression he gave, that there would be two competing forms of long-distance road haulage service. and it is to that that I am directing my attention. The Minister, who is an experienced public man, will not deny that that was the impression that was in his mind, or the impression he intended to convey to hon. Members, and I am suggesting to the Committee that the Clause does not permit this operation to be carried out.
We believe it is necessary to retain to the British Transport Commission as many vehicles as possible to enable them to run a trunk service. We do so because we believe that this is one way of salvaging from the wreck of the 1947 Act—and the Minister is wrecking it, as he fully realises; indeed, he glories in wrecking it, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite support him in wrecking it—a very necessary and sensible part of something which emerged from that Act, namely, the operation of long-distance road haulage services run in conjunction with the railways.
Whatever views hon. Gentlemen opposite may hold about the short-distance services of British Road Services, I have 314 not yet met one man who honestly and objectively could utter a complaint about the efficiency and speed of the long-distance trunk services of British Road Services, or the way in which they were conducted. I have never yet met anybody who fairly and objectively uttered criticisms about that. Their time-table services operating out of London and out of all the large provincial centres were built up after 1947. Now these are facts, and it is no use the Committee blinking at facts because of prejudice. They were built up after 1947 on a time-table basis. scheduled out of one large industrial centre into another large industrial centre: they operated with time-table frequency and accuracy. I have had personal experience of them, having travelled on them during the Recesses. and they are models.
It is this service that I believe the traders and industry of the country are most concerned should not be broken up. It is exactly this long-distance service which, although it existed in a rudimentary form beforehand, has been created, with the interchange of traffic and tele-printers that operate from one office to another in order that they may balance their traffic between one centre and another. The Minister has seen these operations. It is this creation that traders and industry are anxious to preserve, and they are so anxious because the Minister seems likely to destroy it.
Acceptance of any of these Amendments would give him the opportunity to preserve this long-distance trunk service, which would enable the impression he gave hon. Members to be carried out, namely, that British Road Services would be able to operate in competition with private road hauliers. I do not believe that they are frightened of competition. I think they are ready to have a go at it to see what they can make of it. If the Minister really believes in competition, I appeal to him to let them have a go at it and to see what they can make of it. If he really believes in competition and not in a semi-licensed monopoly—which is the position we shall get into once this Clause is passed; there will not be freedom but a semi-licensed monopoly—we trust that the right hon. Gentleman will, for the first time in the course of our debate so far, be able to give us a favourable answer.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Sparks
In supporting this Amendment, let me say that the Minister has paid some attention to this very important factor and has, to some extent, changed his point of view upon it. In an earlier statement the Minister referred to a Question which I put down asking for information on the road haulage undertakings which were owned or partly owned by railway companies, and which vested in the Commission at 1st January, 1948. The answer to that Question appeared as a Written Answer on 10th June, 1952.
The right hon. Gentleman said he was rather amazed at the extent to which the former railway companies had been obliged to extend their activities into the general field of road haulage. The right hon. Gentleman, presumably, takes these figures as the basis for assessing an additional one-fifth to that strength, but he has not been very clear in indicating to the House precisely the basis on which he arrives at that calculation. The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) is very important, because we want to know whether the British Transport Commission is to have discretion in regard to the type of vehicle it may retain over and above the five-fifths or whether it is to be held down to only the one-fifth increase on the basis of the type of vehicle which it took over in 1948.
It is very important that the right hon. Gentleman should give an adequate answer to that question because the services previously operated by the railway companies through their ownership of road haulage undertakings has changed very substantially in the past four years. These services have been integrated in an intimate way with, very largely, the railway services of the country. I can foresee exceptional difficulties arising if the Minister is now going to say, as he does in this Clause, that these vehicles must be pruned away from British Railways and that the British Transport Commission must set up one or a number of private companies to operate that part of road haulage which will be left to it.
With all respect, that is an absolutely absurd and ridiculous proposition to make. On what basis does the Minister propose that such private companies 316 shall be set up? Does he propose to go back to the form of those undertakings which existed before nationalisation, and when, for instance, Hay's Wharf Cartage Company had 32 subsidiaries, all of which have been taken over, and when many other road haulage undertakings previously owned by the railway companies or in which they had a financial interest also had a large number of subsidiary undertakings?
Is the Minister proposing to reintroduce that system, because, if so, it just will not work. Each of those subsidiaries had a special job to do, but now the position is quite different. The whole of this road haulage undertaking previously in the hands of the railway companies has been completely merged, not wholly, it is true, with the railway system, but also with the road haulage long-distance traffic. Therefore, I cannot for the life of me—and I do not think anybody else in the industry can either—see the sense or the reason for asking the British Transport Commission to prune off, if it can, these vehicles from their existing road transport fleet and to set up separate companies for their operation. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that British Railways are to have restored to their control their previous collection and delivery services and the fleet of vehicles which operate these services.
Those vehicles about which there is no difficulty in regard to their retention by the British Transport Commission have been very closely integrated with the private road haulage undertakings which the former railway companies either owned or in which they had a financial interest. They have been integrated so intimately that it really is preposterous to suggest that British Railways shall now be called upon to separate the sheep from the goats, and that, while their collection and delivery services may be run under their direct control, the operation of vehicles previously belonging to private road haulage companies in which the railways had a financial interest can only be undertaken by separate companies set up for that purpose.
No one knows whether there will be one or half a dozen such companies, or what their functions will be. Are they, for instance, to compete with each other, and what is to be their relationship to the collection and delivery services of British 317 Railways? The only sensible proposition—given the fact that the Government are going to get their Bill—is not to set up a series of private companies to assume once again the control of a part of British Railways' road haulage vehicles, but to permit the British Transport Commission or British Railways themselves to set up a road transport department within their organisation as operated before nationalisation and to let British Railways have the complete control and direction of all their vehicles, whether they be vehicles used in their collection and delivery services or vehicles previously belonging to private road haulage undertakings in which the railways had a financial interest.
I appeal to the Minister to give very serious consideration to the matter. I can see no real advantage whatever in placing upon the British Transport Commission this somewhat ridiculous task of having to split up the vehicles remaining to itself and of having a system of dual or multiple control in the operation of those vehicles. Having made that point, which I think is one of great substance, I hope the Minister will reflect upon it and will give it the serious consideration which it deserves. In addition, I am sure that those engaged in the transport industry would be glad if the Minister would state much more clearly than he has so far just precisely the basis on which he arrives at this six-fifths definition.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I trust that when the Minister comes to reply he will bear in mind certain points in regard to Clause 4. I think all of us would look at this matter more easily if we considered it from the point of view of transport and not so much from the point of view of railways. I hope that in future the British Transport Commission will look upon transport, whether it be by road or rail, as the one method of carrying on the country's business.
I believe that when people discuss fractions in regard to what the British Transport Commission may retain, it is sometimes forgotten that during the last few years the large number of horses which we on the railways used to own have practically all disappeared, with the consequence that the work which was previously done by horses is now done by mechanical means, in addition to the normal expansion of mechanical vehicles. 318 If the Minister desires the Commission to be free to carry on a really large system of transport which is of advantage to the country, I hope he will allow greater latitude to the Commission in retaining their own property in order to operate these long-distance services.
I have had an opportunity of seeing for myself some of the methods of long-distance transport which have been operating, both what is known as "tramping" and "trunking." I have no doubt that the Minister will have to watch with every care the conditions of labour under which these services are operated outside proper control. In the methods of trunking, the long-distance vehicles are taken to a certain point where the drivers are changed. They continue, and the baggage or merchandise is delivered in accordance with a schedule. The drivers do not have these long distances to suffer.
This is a very valuable system that has been built up, and I beg the Minister to ensure that under the Clause it will be continued. I hope that even in the case of what is called "tramping," which means that the vehicle will go without an interchange of drivers for a certain but not very long distance, it is very important that the methods which have been adopted by the Commission should be retained.
There is one matter which has never been mentioned in the Committee. No doubt the Minister has read with great care the report, recently issued by the Government of Northern Ireland, of the Transport Tribunal. That is a document well worth reading by everybody. Its recommendations have been agreed to unanimously, and so far as I can make out the system in Ulster is exactly what we are discussing in this Committee stage.
The recommendations at the end of the report are all in favour of the functioning of road and rail as one transport service. I do not think the report can be dismissed as a purely political document. The people who were appointed to carry out the inquiry had to go into a matter which was originally settled by one of the most distinguished railway transport operators, who was employed by the Government in an advisory capacity. He is a man of singular knowledge. The system he laid down has worked admirably in Ulster. 319 I admit that Ulster is a smaller area, but the principles are the same.
The report was published only a few days ago. One of its recommendations says:It is vital that the authority shall retain an adequate number of vehicles to operate with the rail service. Otherwise, traders and manufacturers in Ulster will not be able to get the services they require.The evidence was conclusive. It is rather unfortunate that whilst we are discussing the Bill we should ignore a practical application of the system which has been in force in Northern Ireland, and which has been inquired into by this tribunal whose report has been issued.
It is of the utmost importance that under Clause 14, by which the Commission have to produce their scheme, we should not hamper them in drawing up their scheme by making it impossible for them to advise the Minister upon a 100 per cent. efficient transport service.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) started his very interesting speech with a rather fanciful picture of how the various changes have come about in the policy of the Government towards this part of the Bill. I think he agrees that though there have undoubtedly been second thoughts in this matter—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
—we have arrived at a conclusion which is a great deal more acceptable than was the original conclusion recommended to the House of Commons.
I heard with interest my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) quote from the Northern Ireland report. I have given it some examination, but not the same close examination that I would have given it had I not been immediately preoccupied with the matters now before the Committee. I agree with him that the report was commended to the House by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. I hope that the hon. Member will also commend it to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing). There are many things in that report that have application in the affairs of other parts of the United Kingdom, but I do not think that 320 anyone would pretend that the problems of Northern Ireland are always similar to ours. Nor would anybody deny that there are critics of the transport set-up in Northern Ireland who are quite vocal from time to time.
We are considering three Amendments together, the purpose of them, as the hon. Gentleman clearly pointed out, being that the British Transport Commission should, with my consent, make over to the companies under their control an unlimited number of units. He recognised that this was quite contrary to the purposes of the Bill, and I am sure that he does not expect me to say that we could accept an Amendment in those terms. It seemed to us that it was. only right that the Commission should have a revenue equivalent to the revenue that the old railways had, plus the increase of 20 per cent. for what might have been the natural development in the intervening years.
The hon. Gentleman, realising that nothing could be done with regard to his main contention, argued very persuasively that a larger number of vehicles should be withdrawn from the auction, twelve-fifths instead of six-fifths. He quoted from the various statements that I have made from time to time in the House hoping, I think, to find some irreconcilabilities. I hope he will acquit me of any desire to deceive the House, or to give an impression on one day different from the impression I give on another. I believe that my observations can be read together without any divergence either appearing or being intended.
I share the desire of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon, that the Commission should have a proper share of road haulage. We have made inquiries of the Commission, and I would like to thank the Commission at this stage not only for the courtesy with which they always receive my inquiries but for the promptitude with which they produce adequate and valuable comment and statistics. We have made inquiries of the Commission, and I have certain figures to give the House which may help us to see the matter in better perspective. Constant harping on long-distance haulage, as if it were the only field of transport activity and one in which the Commission should be allowed undisputed rights, puts the whole picture slightly out of focus.
321 According to a preliminary estimate given to me by the Commission about the number and unladen weight of motor vehicles owned by road haulage companies controlled by the former railways on 1st January, 1948, and which passed into the possession of the Commission, the position was as follows: heavy haulage, 164 vehicles, of an unladen weight of 1,884 tons; other special services, 1,257 vehicles of an unladen weight of 3,806 tons; parcels services, 1,777 vehicles of an unladen weight of 5,111 tons; ordinary load carriers, 701 vehicles of an unladen weight of 2,922 tons; making in all 3,899 vehicles with a total unladen weight of 13,723 tons.
Of course, the position is somewhat complicated by the quite proper emergence of the Special Traffic (Pickfords) Division. The Commission also tell me that the heavy haulage fleet of that division in mid-1952 was 426 vehicles of an unladen weight of 4,734 tons. In these figures, of course, the heavy haulage figures already quoted are included. They say that the other services in the Pickfords Division number 2,665 vehicles of an unladen weight of 9,974 tons. This totals in the Pickfords Division 3,091 vehicles of an unladen weight of 14,708 tons. Then we asked them the number of vehicles at any one moment engaged on general parcels work. The answer was that 3,400 are so engaged.
§ Mr. Sparks
When the Minister refers to the parcels service, is he relating that number directly to the vehicles in use by the former private companies?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
These are vehicles from the entire field engaged on an average at any one moment in parcels service deliveries.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Not including delivery and feeder services which do not come into this picture, the total of which, speaking from memory, is 14,000 vehicles. They form no part of the Road Haulage Executive and do not fall to be disposed of under this Bill.
What is the effect on this massive fleet of the proposals of Her Majesty's Government? I am told—though the figures may need some more accurate assessment in the light of unladen weight categories and I would not tie myself to the figures— 322 that under the provisions in this Bill the proposal is that the original holding of the railways plus a 20 per cent. increase should be assured to the Commission. The Commission would now be able, with my consent, to make over the following road transport to companies under their control: heavy haulage, 197 vehicles; other special services 1,508; parcels services 2,132 and ordinary load carriers, of which quite rightly we hear such a great deal, 841.
This will leave with the Commission a substantial holding. It must be remembered that one of the purposes of Her Majesty's Government in introducing this Bill is to break up monopoly. I do not make any apology for the fact that one consequence is that the monopoly in heavy haulage and in other fields will be broken up. However, I am concerned that, when broken up, there should still be a substantial share accruing to the Commission. This will leave 47 per cent. of the heavy haulage with the Commission that is now included in the Special Traffics Division, 57 per cent. of vehicles for special services, 63 per cent. of the average number of vehicles now used for parcels and, in ordinary long distance haulage, 841 vehicles. It is our view that this will enable, what the hon. Gentleman slightly ridiculed when he quoted it, friendly rivalry to take place. I reaffirm that in my view, and in the view of my colleagues, this large fleet assured to the Commission will enable it to be the largest road haulage undertaking in the country.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I have been trying myself to find out. I will take the earliest possible opportunity of announcing that, but I cannot do so at the moment.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The Minister will appreciate that it is a significant figure because this is long-distance haulage.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Yes, but we must be careful not to get this out of perspective. This long-distance haulage is built up of Holdsworth and Hanson, Bouts-Tillotson and others who, as private enterprise, blazed the trail in this field of activity, and we have every reason to expect that their successors will render an equally good national service.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am sorry to keep interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, but he will realise that he is taking powers to limit the size of the operable transport units to 50 vehicles of 200 tons?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Yes, and I also understand that, subject to the assent of the Minister, larger undertakings can be acquired.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
But it is in the Bill. It is subject to the consent of the Minister. It is limited to 50 vehicles of 200 tons unladen weight unless the Minister consents and, as has been repeatedly pointed out in this House, by and large, road haulage has been an industry of small people with an average holding of three, four or five vehicles. I understand that when the Socialist Government proposals were first introduced only 79 firms had more than 50 vehicles and only 22 had more than 100.
Now I pass to the next point made by the hon. Gentleman, that instead of there being a six-fifths share reserved to the Commission, it should be a twelve-fifths share. Taken in conjunction with the later Amendment about the second proviso, to which I will come in a moment, this would enable one-quarter of the entire fleet, selected as the Commission likes, to be reserved to the Commission. It would be an addition to their pre-nationalisation fleet of 140 per cent., and it could preserve the monopoly in heavy haulage by giving them 90 per cent. of the heavy haulage now in the Pickfords Division. Hon. Gentlemen may have quite genuinely a wholly different view, but in our view that is a disproportionate amount to be in any one hand and that is one of the purposes of the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East dealt also with a number of other Amendments—
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Before the Minister leaves that point, he must know that even the Road Haulage Association put forward proposals in 1946 embracing certain understandings that they were prepared to agree, which clearly indicated to everyone concerned that the breakup into the small fleet which the Minister now 324 suggests is not a practicable proposition for an efficient transport unit.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Much more anxiety has been expressed to me that the road haulage industry might flow into too few hands rather than into too many. All the correspondence I have had, which has been considerable, has displayed much more anxiety about whether the small man will have a chance of coming back again into a business which we believe from every point of view, transport and socially, it is highly desirable he should re-enter.
The Amendment to leave out lines 25 to 29, is part of the same story. If that Amendment were carried, the omission of the proviso would be to leave the Commission absolutely free to make over to the companies, or to any one of the companies, any of the vehicles of the Road Haulage Executive which are to be sold up to the limit of the total unladen weight tonnage as laid down in paragraph (i) of the proviso to subsection (2). The purpose, of course, of the proviso is that the six-fifths should be related not only to the total fleet, but also, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, to each sector of the fleet as well.
I am not altogether happy about the possible consequences of too rigid an insistence on this six-fifths having to be applied to every sector of the road haulage fleet.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
May I finish what I am about to say? There are strong arguments the other way. There are also, of course, very strong arguments in favour of the proviso. Nothing that I say must be taken to mean that we are intending to perpetuate a monopoly in any one of the various sectors. But I shall be very ready—the Opposition have made some powerful points about this—to look again between now and the Report stage, in the light of what has been said and what I myself and others think, at the possibility of differentiating in some way between the proportions in the various categories, and I will take an early opportunity of consulting with the Commission to see what can be done and what would best conform to their wishes in this matter, while at the same 325 time carrying out the general intentions of the Government in this field.
I cannot advise the Committee to accept any of the Amendments, but I hope that that promise that I have given will bring some comfort to hon. Gentlemen opposite and some reassurance also to my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon.
§ Mr. D. Jones
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman had no intention of misleading the Committee, but when he explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) that his interpretation of the subsection was correct and that the six-fifths would be divided among the various classes of vehicles, he remembered. I am sure, that that will include the vehicles which now handle excepted traffics.
Therefore, the actual figure of six-fifths will not mean that operators will have six-fifths of the vehicles which convey traffics which are covered by the 25-mile restriction on private operators. In fact, a proportion of their vehicle fleet is already in use for the conveyance of excepted traffics. Giving them additional vehicles of that type does not face the problem at all, so that the Minister is not giving them the total number of figures in competitive road haulage traffic that he led the Committee to believe.
I want to make one other important point. A good deal has been said, not only today and last week, but in the preceding transport debates, that there has been little or no integration of any kind. I am sure the Minister will recognise that in spite of the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) said, in a previous debate, that the Road Haulage Executive had up to now been concentrating on the acquiring of vehicles and bringing them up to modern conditions, there has been a good deal of integration.
I do not know whether the Minister has any similar figures, but perhaps he will accept it from me that those which I am about to give are authentic figures of containers which travel nightly from certain London stations to Manchester and Glasgow and, in the third case, of containers on carriers which are contained in train loads from Birmingham 326 to Glasgow. These containers are collected by Road Haulage Executive vehicles, loaded on to railway wagons at the termini and carried to the other end of their journey.
In June of this year, no fewer than 1,017 containers left Broad Street in one month, totalling some 3,490 tons of traffic. to Manchester. In the same month, 222 containers, totalling 770 tons of traffic. were conveyed from St. Pancras to Glasgow. In the same month, 329 containers were conveyed from Birmingham to Glasgow in railway vehicles. All this traffic was collected, both in London and in Birmingham, by Road Haulage vehicles for conveyance to the railhead and redistributed in Glasgow, again by Road Haulage vehicles, to the various traders.
Unless the British Transport Commission are to be allowed to retain more vehicles than the six-fifths will admit, particularly when we exclude the excepted traffics and more particularly when we disregard the Pickford Special Traffic Division and when we exclude the Carter Paterson parcels vans, very few ordinary commercial lorries will be left to do this work, and what integration has been achieved will be destroyed. Therefore. I suggest to the Minister that he should look at this again and that he ought to increase quite substantially the number of vehicles which the British Transport Commission are to be allowed to retain.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that the British Transport Commission and/or the Road Haulage Executive would welcome the opportunity of competing with private hauliers, provided that they are given a free hand to do it. If the Minister really believes in competition, as he so loudly proclaims, both in the House and in the country, let him make that competition fair, and if he wants to break monopoly, as he says in this case, let him have another look at the provisions of Clauses 16 and 17, which come later, in which he deliberately makes it possible to create a privately-owned monopoly while he is trying to break one that is publicly owned.
§ Mr. Sparks
I was hoping that the Minister would have had something to say about what I said, but he has completely ignored all the points which I made, which, I think, were vital to the 327 Amendment which we are now considering. As there is no opportunity of discussing the Clause on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," it is very difficult for us if the Minister is not prepared to exercise some latitude and to try to reply to some of these important points.
I want, first, to refer to what the Minister said in regard to the figures which he read out to us of the make-up of the six-fifths of vehicles previously belonging to the road haulage organisations but which were owned by the former railway companies, the figures which he appears to take are confined to the number of vehicles which these road haulage organisations could muster prior to nationalisation, and to that figure he has added about 20 per cent.
The right hon. Gentleman gave the composition of the six-fifths total and says that to heavy haulage there will be 179 vehicles; to special services, 1,508; to parcels services, 2,132, and to ordinary load carriers, long-distance, 841, which makes a total of 4,660. Will the Minister give a fuller explanation of what he means by these categories? If they are related wholly to the services performed by these former railway-owned road haulage organisations, there is another field of development outside this category for which, as far as I can see, the right hon. Gentleman has made no provision whatsoever. I mentioned them before, but the right hon. Gentleman did not give a satisfactory explanation.
I mentioned the number of branch lines which British Railways had closed and in which cases they were now operating a road haulage fleet. They are contemplating closing quite a few more in the very near future with a view to substituting road for railway services. Are they to be called upon to provide those additional vehicles from the six-fifths?
Another service I mentioned was the seasonal fluctuating service which arises largely during the winter months when fog, snow and bad weather such as we have had recently causes congestion on the railways, particularly at marshalling yards. British Railways have been able to call on the services of Road Haulage Executive vehicles to relieve that congestion. That is quite a distinct and separate 328 service from that performed by road haulage undertakings owned by the railways before nationalisation.
In addition, there is the throughout road-rail service I mentioned and about which some figures have been given by my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) that is the integration of the collection of traffic locally here in London, pooling it, handing over to the railways who convey it by container to Glasgow and other great cities, and then the road haulage undertaking delivers the traffic at the other end. Much of this is quite over and above anything that was done in 1947 and has no connection whatever with the road haulage undertakings which were railway-owned before nationalisation.
This is a quite additional, distinct and separate service—this additional demand on the Road Haulage Executive vehicles and also, on the railways, on what is generally known as their feeder services, the collection and delivery services. The right hon. Gentleman said there were 14,000 of these vehicles. To some extent they have had to bear some of the additional road haulage work I have mentioned.
If British Railways are to continue replacing uneconomic railway branch lines by road services they must see their way clear to be able to supplement them with additional vehicles. If they are to maintain and improve those services of relieving congestion at marshalling yards during winter months they must be able to call on a pool of vehicles which are not needed all the year but only at specific times. If they are to develop their road-rail service they must be able to call upon an increasing number of road vehicles to do so. I know that we live in a transport age, nevertheless we should remember that the railways are a considerable part of our transport organisation and that we cannot do without them.
If we are to encourage the efficiency of railway operation itself we must envisage an increasing number of road vehicles being made available for the railways to improve their own services. I feel that the Minister's proportion of six-fifths is a hit and miss target he put before us. He has given no sound reasons why it 329 should be six-fifths any more than seven-fifths, eight-fifths or nine-fifths and he has still not explained the basis on which he arrived at the calculation. It is my view, and the view of many who are familiar with this matter, that the percentage increase is totally inadequate and that in the years ahead it will very seriously restrict the efficiency and better organisation of the railway service itself.
Once again, I ask the Minister to give this matter very serious consideration, particularly the point in regard to the formation of private companies—which is to be an obligation on the Transport Commissioncompanies—which is to manage that part of the road haulage fleet which the Minister is proposing to allow the Commission companies—which is to retain. The Minister must look carefully into that. The idea is really fantastic. Between now and the time when this Bill goes to another place the Minister ought to withdraw the proposal which insists that one part of the Transport Commission's vehicles shall be under the control of private companies and another part the feeder services, which is just as important—the 14,000 vehicles—be made over to the control of British Railways.
That is not as it was formerly. The Road Haulage Executive took over from the former railway companies responsibility for their feeder services. The collection and delivery services which were previously under the direct control of British Railways were lost to them and handed over to the Road Haulage Executive. Now that the Road Haulage Executive is to be dismantled, what is to be done with those two sections of road vehicles? The 14,000 collection and delivery vehicles the Minister says, presumably, are to be under the complete control of British Railways and there is no need to set up private companies to manage them.
But in regard to the other section, the 4,660, he says no, British Railways must not have direct control of them but one or more companies must be set up to operate them. So there are to be 14,000 vehicles under British Railways control while any number of companies will be looking after the other 4,660 vehicles. That is fantastic. We must consider these two parts of road haulage together, because they intimately affect the railways. We must unite and integrate them 330 under one form of control. We cannot expect an organisation like British Railways to operate these road vehicles economically and efficiently if the control and operation are in the hands of two or three, or half a dozen, or more, separate undertakings.
I ask the Minister to give serious attention to this point. I do not believe that there is any case for setting up private companies to manage 4,660 vehicles and, at the same time, permitting 14,000 vehicles to be under the direct control of British Railways. They must be worked together; they are closely linked together and integrated. Surely they ought to be under one form of control in the interests of the transport industry itself.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I intervene for only a few moments expressly to reply to one or two of the points made by the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks). I hope that he will acquit me of any discourtesy. I had intended to deal with the points which he had made, but I was swept along on that wave of figures with which I regaled the Committee.
The hon. Gentleman, perhaps unintentionally, gave a rather graphic commentary on integration when he spoke, in his concluding sentences, I think as a railwayman, a name to which he is honourably entitled, of "services lost to us" and handed to the Road Haulage Executive. That surely is the epitaph of integration—services lost to the railways and handed to the Road Haulage Executive. If there was integration, it would not, I think, have occurred to the hon. Member to have described it quite in that way—a compulsory transfer from the railways to the Commission or from the large numbers of companies which I mentioned to the Committee.
§ Mr. Sparks
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is on the wrong point. Probably I did not use the correct word. When I said "lost to the railways" I was referring to the 14,000 feeder services' vehicles which they had always operated and for which they had direct responsibility. Under the administration of the Transport Act those vehicles were placed under the direction of the Road Haulage Executive, and to that extent the railways lost control of them.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not know that the hon. Member's explanation really makes a very great deal of difference to the point which I was quite lightly attempting to make.
The hon. Member asked about the company structure. It is our view that there should be a separate financial basis and the closest possible co-ordination, and I do not feel that the proposal about the company structure will do anything to bring about the alarming flexible empires which the hon. Member had in mind.
§ Mr. Popplewell
The Minister has referred to company structure. Would he agree that it is also his idea that it will be permissible for these companies to have a co-ordinating authority, as it were, in order that they can work in harness as a single entity though under separate owners? Would that be in the Minister's mind?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Certainly. If the Commission wished for something along those lines I do not see any reason why it should not be looked at sympathetically.
The hon. Member asked me about these categories and requested me to break them down, if I could, into greater detail. Far be it for me to do more than the Transport Commission did. When we asked them for the figures of the various categories this was the form in which they were supplied and I should be getting on to dangerous ground, so far as the hon. Member and many others are concerned, if I attempted to break them down into more exact detail. If there is any point that the hon. Member has in mind, I am sure that the Commission will be willing to break down the figures to any limit desired, or I will make an announcement in the House.
The hon. Member asked about branch lines which have been closed. It is our view that the allowance of six-fifths can fairly take account of any road haulage facilities that have been provided. In new cases of the closing of branch lines, it will be open to the Commission, in this as in other fields, to go to the licensing authority in the ordinary way, and if any licences are granted those vehicles will have nothing to do with the six-fifths limitation. In general, there is nothing to stop the Transport Commission, by the ordinary process of law, to which for the first time it will itself be subject after 332 the passing of this Bill, from making an ordinary application to the licensing authority to increase its holdings and road haulage activities.
The hon. Member also spoke about the Road Haulage Executive coming to the aid of the railways at certain marshalling points. He has mentioned this before. We are having inquiries made into the matter. I am proposing to have a talk with the Commission about it between now and the Report stage, and I hope that I shall be in a position to say something more worth while in the House.
The hon. Member also asked me about the through container service. If he will look at Clause 8 (2, f) he will see that there are extra facilities for those who have vehicles which participate in arrangements under which goods will be carried partly by road and partly by rail or inland waterway to get some advantage before the licensing authority.
The hon. Member referred to the feeder and delivery services. To clear up any possible doubt, I would say that the 14,000 vehicles which the railways have for feeder and delivery services, and such other vehicles as they may acquire in the ordinary legal way by a proper application, have nothing whatever to do with the Road Haulage Executive property that is to be disposed of. Any figures I have given of the fleet to be left with the Commission are in addition to these feeder and delivery services, which are an essential part of the railway system.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
In his reply, the Minister indicated that it is his plan and policy that when these vehicles are sold they will be owned by many private individuals and that there will be many men owning one or two vehicles. I can understand why the party opposite, from their point of view, think that is desirable, but I wish to put a point to the right hon. Gentleman and to invite him to see the consequences of the fulfilment of that wish. This is not party politics but common sense. The hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), in his speech—to which the Minister did not reply, in part at all events—said, in dealing with trunk services, that there was today at all events some security in respect of wages and conditions.
The reason why we on this side of the Committee are anxious that the Commission shall have more vehicles than 333 they are expecting to have is that whatever faults may have emerged from the Transport Commission's activities, in the view of the party opposite, the good thing that has emerged from our point of view is in regard to the wages paid and the conditions of employment, particularly on the trunk services, where it is impossible for any authority to keep a check from the point of departure to the point of arrival. Supposing the Minister's plan succeeds and the Transport Commission is broken up and there are hundreds of small operators with single vehicles. Surely it must be obvious that the effect of the resulting competition will mean disaster from the point of view of working conditions and safety regulations.
I give a small illustration to show what I mean. I hope that the Minister will recognise that I speak with some authority in that from 1929 until 1939. when I went into the Army, I was associated with the transport industry and the trade union movement. One of my earliest experiences as a young fellow was of going with an experienced trade union official to see an employer to argue for certain rates of pay and conditions. This employer, who owned about 10 vehicles, said, "You are quite right. You are asking for a fair wage which I would be prepared to pay, but I do not think it would be economically possible while such and such persons are operating individual vehicles and are undercutting"—
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
Was this unfortunate experience prior to the 1933 Act coming into operation in 1934? Further, was it before the hours of work were laid down by statute, etc.?
§ Mr. Mellish
I am coming to that point because it establishes part of the case which I am putting to the Minister. The decent employer was unable to sign a trade union agreement because his work was being taken away by individuals who undercut him—the owner-driver who could drive his vehicle from here to Liverpool and make a certain small profit, and who was prepared to bring back a load at a rate which would merely pay for the petrol and not result in any profit. No employer in that industry could compete against that kind of thing, and the Government of the day had to pass legislation to do what they could to remedy that state of affairs.
334 From 1934 onwards we inside the trade union movement found that the fierce competition between employers in order to undercut rates and give a so-called better service resulted in great efforts being necessary all the time in an attempt to get enforcement officers to do their job. The law was being constantly broken. No one denies that. It is a difficult job if a man is working for an employer who is prepared to do that sort of thing.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Wilson (Truro)
I am intrigued by the argument of the hon. Member. Has he noticed what has happened at the present time? Only one in 20 of the lorries on the road has been operated by British Road Services. What is happening to the others? Do not the trade unions see that the law is enforced on them, or is it being broken?
§ Mr. Mellish
The law is still being broken in some instances. But as far as British Road Services is concerned, we have not been able to prove that they indulge in the sort of practices which went on before the war, or which are being applied by private individuals today.
I do not suggest that the Minister wishes to see these practices return. I do not think that hon. Members opposite want that. But if we are to make certain that they do not return we need a big army of enforcement officers. The Minister proposes to bring about a return to the conditions which existed before the war. I would put this to him. With regard to trunk services we are asking for the B.R.S. to be given more vehicles. We feel—I know I speak for the trade unions in this respect—that if more vehicles are controlled by the B.R.S. more drivers will have decent wages and conditions of work.
The Minister is heading for trouble if he believes that these private individuals will buy lorries in cut-throat competition and will not be compelled, by the very nature of the profit motive, to break the law consistently and constantly. We are inviting them to do so, because that is the type of private enterprise, evidently, that the Minister wishes to see developed. Does he want that type of competition? Is it in the best interests of the Conservative Party to have that type of competition? I would ask him to look at the 335 matter from our point of view, and to realise that if the B.R.S. get more vehicles one thing he can be certain of is that in that section of the industry the workers will enjoy decent wages and conditions.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
I hope that the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the argument he advanced. I wish to remind the Committee that the purpose in bringing forward this Bill is to de-nationalise the road haulage industry, especially long-distance haulage. To give more vehicles to the British Transport Commission would defeat the purpose of the Bill.
Hon. Members opposite have put forward a variety of reasons why they wish for an increase over the figure of six-fifths for the Transport Commission. The figure of six-fifths may be a figure which was arrived at after a certain amount of consideration, but there does not seem to be any greater sanctity for twelve-fifths than for six-fifths. The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) said he wanted to see competition. What I would put to hon. Members opposite is that for years it has been admitted that the whole reason for the 1947 Act was to constitute a monopoly in this country to give the British Transport Commission a chance to pay its way and provide a decent service. How then, by an attenuated service, is it expected that the Commission, under non-monopolistic conditions, would be able to compete with private enterprise, if it is not able to do so today?
I am entitled to ask the hon. Member for The Hartlepools whether he is prepared to see more public money lost in the future by this attenuated service than is being lost by the monopoly at the present time?
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
The hon. Member has referred several times to a "monopoly." Is he quite correct in describing the undertakings of the Road Haulage Executive as a monopoly? Have there not been permanent holders of C hiring margin licences who have continued to operate, and who have in fact cut the rates of the Road Haulage Executive, and is it not to them that the Executive have lost traffics?
§ Mr. Cole
I am grateful for that intervention. The principle still applies, but I am prepared to take the point. There are over 800,000 C licences, and a considerable number of people operating on short-distance permits, but the hon. Member will not deny that the 1947 Act was designed to set up a monopoly in long-distance haulage work for the British Transport Commission.
My point is that if there are all these difficulties of integration, if there are difficulties, both as regards conditions and charges, how will there be a greater possibility of the British Transport Commission, with a far less number of vehicles—or even with a greater number than the six-fifths provided by the Bill—making a higher degree of profit, or a less degree of loss, than at the moment?
I suggest to the hon. Member for The Hartlepools, irrespective of other reasons which have been given, that giving the Commission more vehicles will result in a greater loss of public money. While hon. Members will be desirous of allowing the British Transport Commission to retain those vehicles necessary to carry out their proper service, and the duties laid on them by this Bill, that should be the limit.
The 1947 Act was designed to nationalise transport. This Bill is designed to denationalise long-distance transport. I suggest that we cannot get the best of both worlds, and that we must adopt a policy one way or the other. We are not going to pass a Bill for the de-nationalising of long-distance transport and at the same time try to make a half-hearted effort to increase the service of the British Transport Commission.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) suggested that a monopoly of long-distance road haulage had been preserved for the British Transport Commission. I only wish that was so. Some of the difficulties which have arisen have been due to the fact that the nationalisation of long-distance road haulage was not complete under the 1947 Act. The hon. Member has evidence of that from his own leader. The Prime Minister confirmed it in a speech in his constituency, when he said that the number of vehicles nationalised was only 40,000 out of more than a million, and what was all the fuss about?
The Minister has given us a number of figures which the Committee could not 337 be expected to digest at once. They need a considerable amount of study. I think he approaches this problem of the number of vehicles to be left with the British Transport Commission entirely from the wrong angle. He looks at this as a return to 1948. Why 1948? Simply because that was the date of nationalisation. But what is the figure for 1948 which must be preserved? Why must we go back to that position and ignore completely developments which have taken place since 1st January, 1948? The Minister regards this simply as a return to that situation and does not look at the matter as he should, that is the effect that a return to the 1948 figure plus 20 per cent. will have on the present services.
The important consideration is to consider the effect on the present services which are serving the trader and the community of restricting the Transport Commission vehicles to the 1948 figure plus one-fifth. As far as I understand the position from the figures which the Minister gave, it is that on 1st January, 1948, the number of vehicles which came over to the Transport Commission as a result of the acquisitions was 3,899. If we add one-fifth, the Transport Commission will be allowed to retain 4,678. That is the figure which the Minister gave.
But Pickfords are operating 3,091 vehicles and the Road Haulage Services Parcels and Smalls Division is operating 3,400 vehicles—I believe that they are operating rather more because the number fluctuates. The total figure given by the Minister is therefore 6,491. That means that the Transport Commission has to divest itself of 1,812 vehicles as a result of this policy. The Minister gave us some figures, and this one can be worked out from them. The Transport Commission will have to sell 1,812 vehicles. They are vehicles which are engaged in the Pickfords (Special Traffics) Division or in the parcels and smalls services.
By the sale of these vehicles these two services will be disrupted. They will not he able to continue the comprehensive national services they now provide. That applies specially to the parcels division. The Minister said that it meant that they would be reduced from 3,400 to 2,182 vehicles which, he said, was 63 per cent. of their present number of vehicles. If they operate a national service with 3,400 vehicles and they are to be left with only 338 63 per cent. of that number, they cannot then operate a similar service.
A national service is operated today. I have in my hand a list of places to which the Road Haulage Executive offers a service in the transport of parcels and smalls. It includes the names of every town and village in the United Kingdom between any two of which a service can be provided. These vehicles cover about 13,000 places and offer a service between any two of them. Some 250,000 consignments are made daily. How are these consignments to be catered for if the division is reduced to 63 per cent. of its present strength? It cannot be done.
The Minister is undermining the parcels service, disrupting it, breaking it up. The same can be said about Pickfords. The Minister gave figures about the vehicles which are employed. He said that their heavies would be left with 47 per cent. Heavy haulage is a specialised traffic and Pick fords has a big share of it. By reducing their vehicles to 47 per cent. of the present number, the Minister is substantially reducing their share of the traffic. It happens that suitable vehicles are not available to other hauliers. Therefore, this service will also be affected.
The Minister gave figures about Pick-fords showing that the number of ordinary load carriers taken over in 1948 was 701 and that there are now 841. How are 841 ordinary load carriers to compete with the balance of vehicles operating long-distance traffic? That is what we did not understand from the Minister's remarks. In November, and again last week, the Minister indicated that by allowing the Transport Commission to retain six-fifths of the numbers it had in 1948 we should ensure that the Commission would be the largest road haulage organisation in the country. He implied that it would be able to compete with private enterprise because it would have this large number of vehicles. I do not know what he meant by that
On the figures he has given today, the Transport Commission will have only this very small number of vehicles engaged in ordinary road haulage. Let us consider the matter in this way. There are about 40,000 vehicles operated by the Road Haulage Executive. Of those, on the Minister's figures, about 4,600 are to be retained by the Transport Commission. 339 That leaves about 35,000 vehicles to be sold. If purchasers are found those 35,000 vehicles will operate under private enterprise. The only ordinary vehicles owned by the Commission and comparable to those 35,000 vehicles operated by private enterprise will be these 841 ordinary load carriers.
Where is the competition there? Where is this large road haulage undertaking competing with private enterprise? It simply does not exist, and the Minister knows it full well. I do not know whether he deliberately misled hon. Members when he made his statement last November. I think that at that time he did not understand the position. He did not understand what the result of this Bill would be.
The Minister tried to get out of this dilemma on 3rd December when we pressed him on this subject. He made it clear that the Transport Commission could not retain both the special traffics division and the feeder services. I think he will agree with me when I say that it would have been better to say that they could not retain both their Pickfords (Special Traffics) Division and their Parcels and Smalls Division and at the same time carry on a long-distance road haulage business outside their specialised traffics. He said last week in this connection:The Commission must make up their minds: it is not for me either in the Bill or in any other way to tell the Commission what vehicles they ought to withdraw from the auction."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd December, 1952: Vol. 508, c. 1632.]Clause 4 (2) makes it clear that they cannot substitute for these vehicles other vehicles because they have to be:comparable, as respects the size, nature and quality of the vehicles comprised therein, to a fleet made up of the vehicles so owned.The Minister made a small concession. He said that this was rather rigid, and that he was looking at the provision to see whether there could be greater flexibility. He said that he would consider the matter before Report stage.
There is no reason for that provision to be in the Bill at all, and I hope that. after due consideration of the arguments advanced, the Minister will consider dropping it from the Bill. As long as it remains, it will be impossible for the 340 British Transport Commission to compete in ordinary road haulage with private enterprise—and that is a result which the Minister probably wants to achieve anyway. As long as the limitation of six-fifths is retained, it will not be possible for the British Transport Commission to continue the efficient and economic parcels service which they provide today or the Pickfords service in the comprehensive manner in which it is operated at the moment.
In his last intervention the Minister made the position even worse. He said that where branch railway lines had already been closed, the vehicles which provided the commercial road haulage in place of the railway freight traffic would come out of the six-fifths. That means that even out of the small number of vehicles carrying on ordinary road haulage, some must be retained for conducting traffic which was formerly carried by rail. The Commission will be hamstrung on all sides by restrictions imposed in this Clause which I think are unnecessary.
They are unnecessary because there is already ample provision by which the Commission can be limited in the number of vehicles which they can operate. In the first place, Ministerial permission is required before the Commission can purchase a unit. That permission is necessary if the Commission wish to form a company to take over one of the units which they are offering for sale. That Ministerial consent is required under the subsection which we are discussing, 4 (2), where it is stated that,—the Commission may, if the Minister gives his consent, make over to any company.—The second provision which will limit the activities of the Commission, under the Bill in its present form, is the requirement that the Commission must obtain licences for any additional vehicles which they wish to operate. There is, therefore, no need for the restriction about which I complain. If protection is felt to be necessary, then ample protection can be given to the community through the existing provisions of the Bill.
This rigid requirement which is imposed will only handicap the natural development of transport in this country. The Transport Commission will mainly be the railways. and if they are limited 341 by the Bill from increasing their road haulage fleets as they consider necessary, either for carrying on the roads traffic which it is more economic to carry by road, or for other purposes, then the natural development which has taken place since 1928 will be brought to an end. In effect, the Bill puts the railways back to their position of before 1928. It was in 1928 that the railways obtained permission to engage in road haulage, and from that date they began to develop their road haulage activities. Under the Bill they will be restricted in the extent to which they can operate and thereby prevented from developing in the way in which they were permitted to develop after 1928.
Those are the reasons for which we have tabled these Amendments. We hope that even at this stage the Minister will give them further consideration. There is, however, one final point. The Minister has confirmed that the Commission can apply for additional licences. In my opinion, that makes absolute nonsense of the Bill. It is ridiculous that the Commission should be compelled to sell all of its vehicles beyond a small number, and then, as soon as they have done so. be permitted to purchase new vehicles and go to the licensing authority for a licence to operate—and of course pay more for the new vehicles than the figure at which the old vehicles stand on their books and probably far more than they will get for their old vehicles at the sales. I cannot see the logic or sense of that provision.
§ It is one of the craziest features of this stupid and muddled Bill.
§ I ask the Minister seriously to think over the arguments which have been put forward and to give real consideration to the proposals being made from this side of the Committee. I feel that he is hiding behind the Guillotine so as not to give the consideration to which we are entitled and not to make concessions.
§ Mr. Davies
It is usual, in Standing Committees upstairs, for there to be a certain amount of give and take. Time and again the Minister offers to reconsider matters and promises to bring forward Amendments on the Report stage. This is the second day in Committee on the Bill, and the only concession which the Minister has attempted to make was to one of his hon. Friends about T.U.C. representation, which the trade unions in any event do not want, and a statement this afternoon that he might be able to introduce a little more flexibility into one subsection. The Minister has taken advantage of the Guillotine and is not giving the Amendments put forward by this side of the Committee the consideration which they deserve.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the end of line 23, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275: Noes, 257.345
|Division No. 35.]||AYES||[8.30 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bullard, D. G.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcoln|
|Banks, Col. C.||Burden, F. F. A.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Barber, Anthony||Campbell, Sir David||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Carson, Hon E.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Cary, Sir Robert||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Erroll, F. J.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Fell, A.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Cole, Norman||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Colegate, W. A.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Conant, Mai. R. J. E.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Birch, Nigel||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fort, R.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Foster, John|
|Black, C. W.||Cranborne, Viscount||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Crouch, R. F.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Brains, B. R.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Gammons, L. D.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloy[...]||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Godber, J. B.||McAdden, S. J.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col A.||McCallum, Major D.||Russell, R. S.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Gower, H. R.||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Grimond, J.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Shepherd, William|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclean, Fitzroy||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Speir R. M.|
|Harvey-Watt, Sir George||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Hay, John||Harpies, A. E.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Heath, Edward||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Maude, Angus||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maudling, R.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Storey, S.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Mellor, Sir John||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Studholme, H. G.|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Summers, G. S.|
|Holt, A. F.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hope, Lord John||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Nicholls, Harmar||Tenting, W.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tilney, John|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Nutting, Anthony||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hutchison, Lt,-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Oakshott, H. D.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Odey, G. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||vane, W. M. F.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackleg)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Wade, D. W.|
|Kaberry, D.||Osborne, C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Keeling, Sir Edward||Partridge, E.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pete, Brig. C. H. M.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Powell, J. Enoch||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Profumo, J. D.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Linstead, H. N.||Raikes, H. V.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Redmayne, M.||York, C.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Robertson, Sir David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Low, A. R. W.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Mr. Butcher and Mr. Wills.|
|Adams, Richard||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Carmichael, J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bing, G. H. C.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Blackburn, F.||Champion, A. J.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Blenkinsop, A.||Chapman, W. D|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Blyton, W. R.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Boardman, H.||Clunie, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Coldrick, W.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bowles, F. G.||Collick, P. H.|
|Baird, J.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Corbel, Mrs. Freda|
|Balfour, A.||Brockway, A. F.||Cove, W. G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Bartley, P.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Crosland, C. A. R.|
|Bence, C. R.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Helper)||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Burke. W. A.||Cullen, Mrs. A.|
|Benson, G.||Burton, Miss F. E.||Daines, P.|
|Beswick, F.||Callaghan, L J||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Keenan, W||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, C.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Key, Rt. Hon. C W||Ross, William|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||King, Dr. H. M||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Deer, G.||Kinley, J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E|
|Delargy, H. J||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Short, E. W.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lewis, Arthur||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Lindgren, G. S.||Slater, J.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Edelman, M.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S )|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MacColl, J. E.||Snow, J. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McGhee, H. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McInnes, J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||McLeavy, F.||Steele, T.|
|Ewart, R.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R|
|Field, W. J.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Finch, H. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Follick, M.||Manuel, A. C.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mayhew, C. P||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Fraser. Thomas (Hamilton)||Messer, F.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mitchison, C. R||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Gaitskell, RI. Hon. H. T. N.||Monslow, W.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moody, A. S.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Glanville, James||Harry (Clayton)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Thornton E.|
|Morley,||Thornton, E. (Farnworth)|
|Greenwood, Rt. fin. Arthur (Wakefield)||Timmons, J.|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Tomney, F.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mort, D. L.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Moyle, A.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Motley, F. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Murray, J. D.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Nally, W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Neal, Harold (Bolsaver)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Hannan, W.||Oldfield, W. H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hardy, E. A||Oliver, G. H.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Orbach, M.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Harrison, J (Nottingham, E.)||Oswald, T.||West, D. G.|
|Hastings, S.||Padley, W. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hayman, F. H.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Palmer, A. M. F||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pannell, Charles||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Pargiter, G. A||Wigg, George|
|Holman, P.||Parker, J||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A e|
|Houghton, Douglas||Paton, J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Pearson, A.||Willey, F. T.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Pearl, T. F.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Porter, G.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Price, Joseph T. (Weethoughton)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Rankin, John||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Janner, B.||Reeves, J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D P. T.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Yates, V. F|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rhodes, H.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Richards. R||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Mr. Royle and Mr. Holmes.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
I beg to move in page 7, line 23. at the end, to insert:and for the purposes of this proviso motor vehicles shall be deemed to include motor vehicles brought into use by the Commission subsequent to the first day of January nineteen hundred and forty-eight to replace horse-drawn vehicles in use at that date.346 This Amendment follows on part of the speech made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), who drew the attention of the Minister to the fact that we had progressed even since 1947 when the Transport Act was placed on the Statute Book and that many motor vehicles had replaced horse-drawn 347 vehicles. The purpose of this Amendment is to draw this matter to the attention of the Minister so that later, if he is not prepared to accept this Amendment, he may be able to make such alteration as will take this fact into account.
Looking at the annual Report of the British Transport Commission, we find that at the beginning of 1948 the Railway Executive had 26,340 horse-drawn vehicles and at the end of 1948 they had only 12,407. That is less than half. Taking into account the companies which were taken over, like Wordie and Co., Carter Paterson and others, we find that at the beginning of 1948 they had 1,867 horse-drawn vehicles, and at the end of 1951 the Road Haulage Executive possessed only 990 horse-drawn vehicles, so, in rough figures, at the beginning of 1948 the number of horse-drawn vehicles owned by the Commission was 28,000 and at the end of 1951 it was 13,000, which is obviously a very big difference.
We want an assurance from the Minister that the motor vehicles owned by the Executive will not be taken into account in the six-fifths mentioned in the Bill. I put a question to the Minister during his speech the other day, and he gave me that impression, but I think that he ought to make this clear. Another thing is that much of the work which has been done by the collection and delivery services of the Railway Executive has now been transferred to the Road Haulage Executive. I do not know how the six-fifths has been arrived at, but it is quite apparent that it does not take into account what has happened regarding the transfer from horse-drawn to motor vehicles.
The Minister has told us that the closing of branch lines has also to be taken into consideration in arriving at the six-fifths, and no doubt many other things as well. I trust that he will take note of the purpose of this Amendment, and that he will make reference to it either now or later. I do not want to take up more time of the Committee because my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) made reference to this matter in his speech when winding up on the last Amendment, and we ought to have a little time on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" 348 for a reply to that speech from the Minister.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I should like to supplement in a word or two what my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) has said. The genesis of this Amendment arises from the fact that in Scotland there were three carting companies which worked in co-operation with the railways—Mutter, Howie and Co., Cowan and Co. and Wordie and Co. One of them was partly owned by the railways and the other two were independent. The families connected with those organisations have all disappeared, and just before the war the railway companies were about to take them over.
The point that has been raised by my hon. Friend obviously does not apply only to Scotland. My hon. Friend has given figures covering the whole country, and this is a matter which the Ministry should consider. We thought that this was a matter which perhaps he had not taken into account in settling the six-fifths. In Scotland there has been a considerable amount of integration. At some of the stations in the smaller areas, carting and delivery services connected with the railway have been taken over by the road service in order not to have duplicate services running, and at others it is done by the railway company as a matter of economy and convenience.
The points we want to make clear are these. Are the vehicles which have been put into operation by the railways to replace the horse-drawn vehicles of these three companies, and similar companies in England, to be cut down by this six-fifths rule? Are those which are in possession of the railways now to be interfered with by the operation of the six-fifths rule? The second point is: Are the motor vehicles which have replaced these horses, and which have been put into operation by the road haulage organisation in order to carry on the work previously carried on by this purely railway service, to suffer from the six-fifths rule?
The purpose of the Amendment, although it may not be properly worded, is to ensure that these vehicles can be considered apart altogether from the question of normal road haulage. They are part of the railway services, and always 349 have been. Even though the services may be carried out by road haulage, they are still railway services being done by the road haulage organisation, and it would seriously inconvenience the railways in their collection and delivery if these vehicles were cut off and an interruption made of their service by the operation of the six-fifths rule.
I am quite sure that the Government do not intend that to happen, and I should be very glad to know that they are prepared to look into this matter to see whether these vehicles can be safeguarded, apart altogether from the argument we have had about the six-fifths rule.
May I respond to the request of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) that I should reply as early as possible in order that there might perhaps be an opportunity for using the time in discussing the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill"? I say immediately to the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends that the Government are not unsympathetic to the objective here, which is to permit the motor vehicles which may be transferred to companies controlled by the Commission to be increased by an amount equivalent to the amount of motor transport which has been brought into use by the Commission since 1st January, 1948, to replace the horse-drawn vehicles.
I want to deploy to the Committee, as shortly as I can, the administrative difficulties which we should encounter if we were to accept the Amendment in its present form. The proviso to subsection (2) of Clause 4 limits, and is intended to limit, the amount of road transport now forming part of the property used by the Road Haulage Executive which the Commission may retain for use by their companies to the equivalent of the amount of transport owned by the road haulage companies controlled by the former railway and canal companies which were taken over by the Commission in 1948, plus the allowance of 20 per cent. which we have debated earlier today for natural growth which might have taken place since then, and for the small and less than controlling interests which the railway companies had in some road haulage undertakings when they were transferred to the Commission.
It is not intended to cover the road transport held by the former railway and 350 canal companies themselves. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will realise the difficulty of computing with any accuracy the increase which might have taken place, but, bearing in mind the small general increase in size of the total goods fleet of the country since vesting day in 1948, the 20 per cent. seemed to us adequate, and there does not seem much justification for increasing it as set forth in this Amendment.
The Commission have replaced a considerable portion of their horse-drawn vehicles by mechanised transport, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) reminded us earlier today. But the great bulk of this is operated by the Railway Executive as part of their collection and delivery services, which, of course, are not covered by these proposals. The Commission are not required under the Bill to dispose of this property, and replacement within a part of the Commission's undertaking which is not being disposed of cannot be accepted as a proper ground for justifying retention of more of the property of the Road Haulage Executive.
As the hon. Gentleman reminded us, there has, of course, to a certain extent been mechanisation of horse-drawn vehicles within the organisation of the Road Haulage Executive itself. But this is so small that we believe it can be considered to be covered by the 20 per cent. allowance which is already permitted under paragraph 1 of the proviso. Most of the horse-drawn vehicles owned by the haulage companies at 1st January, 1948, and which were controlled by the former railways were transferred from the Road Haulage Executive to British Railways for their collection and delivery services.
The difficulty in which we find ourselves is that it would be extremely difficult to identify vehicles being used to replace horse-drawn vehicles which were in use up to four years ago. Replacement vehicles which might consist of articulated units or the mechanical horses and trailers which have become popular would be used for various purposes and for different purposes at different times.
But unless the individual vehicles could be identified it would be impossible to apply paragraph 2 of the proviso which requires, as the hon. Member will see, that vehicles made over to the Commission's 351 companies shall be comparable as respects size, nature and quality to a fleet made up of the vehicles owned by the former railway-controlled road haulage companies. If the Amendment were accepted in its present form such a proviso would be deemed to include vehicles used to replace horse-drawn vehicles.
To summarise, this is our trouble. The great bulk of the vehicles are now with the railways and will in any case be retained by them. We had thought that the extra 20 per cent., namely, the six-fifths formula, which was the subject of discussion on the previous Amendment, would have adequately covered the replacement of horse-drawn vehicles, but, in view of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, reinforced as it has been from the Opposition Front Bench, we will have another look at this to see whether some extra allowance should be made.
It will obviously have to be an arbitrary figure because I do not think it would be at all possible to assess with any accuracy what the figure would be. There would have to be some global figure to cover this particular point, and I will assure the hon. Gentleman that between now and the Report stage we will examine the possibility of such a provision being inserted if it is administratively practical so to do.
§ Mr. Steele
Quite frankly, we are getting on. This is the second time today that first the Minister and then the Parliamentary Secretary has indicated that he will have another look at something. It is a pity we have the Guillotine as, otherwise, the Minister could look at a lot more. However, on the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Callaghan
It is clear that we are to have no time at all in which to discuss the general merits of this Clause in the six minutes that are left to us. I really do not know why the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) should regard that as a subject for mirth. The noble Lord's capacity for absorption may be exhausted, but let me say to him that the Govern- 352 ment's capacity for punishment seems unlimited.
The pummelling they took from my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) just now has obviously decided the Minister to seek refreshment. I do not blame him. He has been here all day, and has done very well. We make no criticism of him or of the length of time he has spent in the Chamber, although we think that the quality of some of his replies could have been far better.
Let us be quite clear about the purpose of the Clause. The intention is to destroy, once and for all, the long-distance road haulage undertaking which has been built up by the Transport Commission into an efficient service, and to leave them with a rump which will be fewer than 5,000 vehicles out of the 40,000 which are now running on our roads.
The rump of fewer than 5,000 will be concerned as to a very large proportion not with long-distance road haulage at all, but with comparatively short-distance work, or with special traffics of the type that we well know. In the plethora of figures which the Minister read out to us earlier, it was clear that the great number of vehicles which would be left to the Commission would be those now belonging to the Special Traffics (Pickford's) Division.
The Clause, which has been inserted into the Bill as an afterthought by the Minister, does no more than partially redeem the gross mistake which was made by the Government in the original White Paper and in the Minister's first speech in May of this year, when he told us that it was the intention of the Government not even to permit the Transport Commission to retain the vehicles that the railways had had before nationalisation.
The Clause does not redeem that omission in any sense of the word. In our view, it does not redeem the impression that the Minister certainly left with us on this side of the Committee, and with many people who are in the road haulage industry, that the Transport Commission should be able to indulge in competitive road haulage enterprises with the private road hauliers.
The Minister is keeping them out of that field. I do not blame him, because 353 he knows that the Transport Commission have never feared competition from the private road hauliers if they can have their hands free. It is because he is frightened to put to the test the prospect of a public road service competing against a private road service that he has refused the Amendments that we have put up which would have made this possible.
When the benches opposite declaim in future, as they have declaimed so often in the past, that private competition can defeat public enterprise, let it always be remembered against them that on the occasion when we proposed that there should be competition between public and private road haulage the Minister, speaking on their behalf, declined the challenge and refused to allow public road haulage to compete with private road haulage; and instead, has put private road haulage into a licensed, privileged, semi-monopoly, without outside competition. [Interruption.] The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has made few interventions in this debate, but he now says that that is not true. Let me recount what is true.
Every vehicle that goes on to the road will have to have a licence. No vehicle can go on to the road unless it gets a licence from the licensing authority. If the Under-Secretary cares to read Clauses 6, 7, 8 and 9—I hope he will read them —he will see that it is impossible for anybody to get a licence unless he proves a certain and considerable need for the service to be undertaken. No one can run in competition with him unless they get a licence. Is not that a privileged position? Is it not a semi-monopoly?
The only party which is consistent is the Liberal Party. They do not want licensing. This is a system which even the benches behind the Government do not uphold, because they realise what chaos it will cause. It is true that the Government are proposing to put private road haulage back into a privileged, semi-monopolistic position, by virtue of their enactment of this Clause. They are simply refusing the opportunity that we are proposing to give to the Transport Commission to be in a position to compete with them.
For the third time I find myself unable to develop an argument fully because of the Guillotine which has been imposed on 354 this Clause. It has made discussion farcical. As my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) has said, the Minister is able to rely upon the Guillotine to escape from answering points that he knows are unanswerable. We can, of course, get no answer to the short speech I have made, which has been only five minutes in length, and which contains points which the Government have never attempted to answer throughout the whole of this argument.
§ It being Nine o'clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If the noble Lord thinks that by jeering he can persuade us into voting, I can tell him that we intend not to be cajoled into voting when we do not intend to do so, not because we are not opposed to the Clause, as the noble Lord well knows, but because we are arguing against a Guillotine.
The noble Lord may well prefer tramping through the Lobby and getting his automatic, machine-like majority; we prefer to spend the time arguing in order that we may convey to the Committee and to the public the weaknesses of this Bill. The noble Lord has sat here throughout the debate and he knows very well that we indicated in the early stages that we did not intend to divide the Committee, even though we disagree with the Government, except on certain points.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
On a point of order. Is not this speech, Sir Charles, more applicable to a Motion to report Progress than to moving an Amendment?
§ The Chairman
I thought the hon. Gentleman was replying to the noble Lord and I think the noble Lord rather deserved it.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I will certainly move the Amendment now, Sir Charles, but it is the first time that I have known the noble Lord give it without being able to take it.
§ Clause 5.—(DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY OTHERWISE THAN IN TRANSPORT UNITS.)
§ Mr. Callaghan
I beg to move, in page 8, line 6, to leave out subsection (2).
The purpose of Clause 5 and of this Amendment is to require the Commission to dispose of property that may not be part of operable transport units if the Minister gives them directions to do so. The Clause is noteworthy because it is concerned with selling off the remnants of the undertaking that are not sold as transport units. We take particular exception to this Clause which puts the Minister in a position to require the Commission to sell any property that he may think should be sold otherwise than as part of the existing road haulage undertaking.
The position as I see it is that we shall have a number of transport units to which other items of property will be attached. I understand that "property" under the definition of this Bill is not a transport unit, but the actual physical buildings which may attach to a unit. Property may be the stores, the equipment, the machinery with which vehicles are repaired. It may be central works depots. I do not know whether the Minister has a full appreciation of the property that has been built up under the British Road Services during the last two years, but I can give him one example.
In my own constituency of South Cardiff there is a property made up of a first-class depot with loading bays and discharging bays, where trucks may come straight into the bays and run out again. Quite apart from the first-class storage accommodation, there are adequate warehouses which put many of the docks and ports to shame. When at the Ministry of Transport I made it my duty to visit every one of our major ports and I expect the Parliamentary Secretary will try to do the same—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I saw a great deal of the dock and harbour accommodation and I say to the Minister of Transport that some of the depots and bays that have been built by the British Road Services are second to none.
§ Mr. Callaghan
They have built up a series of depots throughout the country to 356 facilitate the swift interchange of goods coming in from one central depot and going to another part of the country, and the whole of the resources are there.
In other depots—indeed, in parts of the same depot —one can see office accommodation that has been built up which is an essential part of the undertaking, where there are traffic clerks watching the hourly flow of traffic coming into them, by teleprinter messages and by telephone from all over the country. One can walk down the little aisles and see a number of clerks sitting at the windows while the drivers of the lorries come up and report to them, get their orders for the loads, and away they go to discharge them or to do whatever is necessary.
In other depots, and, indeed, in parts of the same depot, one may go round and see the workshops that have been built up there and the paint shops where the lorries are painted. Everyone who has seen the lorries on the road will know that in their present condition they do credit to any public haulage undertaking. The public are certainly proud of what they have seen of the lorries as they run up and down the roads; they have never been in such splendid condition. The mechanical condition of these vehicles is overhauled, and there are workshops with skilled fitters who rebuild the lorries when they are broken down.
These are, in fact, complete mechanical units, both for dealing with the commercial side of the traffic and for repairing and overhauling the vehicles. In many cases they are worth tens of thousands of pounds. In one depot, I have seen stores laid out for any type of vehicle that they may be called upon to repair and which are worth over £20,000, and I am sure that that was by no means an exceptional case. Central purchasing and storage has proved to be an economy in the running of these vehicles. That is the sort of property that, I take, it is meant by subsection (2).
What we take exception to—and I tell the right hon. Gentleman this quite frankly; and although it is customary to say that we do not mind the present Minister but are thinking of his successors, I am thinking of the present Minister—is that the present Minister, with the bias he has shown against the British Road Services, should have this immense 357 power in his hands without any hindrance whatever—to require the Commission, without argument, to dispose of any of this property that he thinks fit; and under the subsection the Commission are bound to adhere to his directions and to carry them out.
The Minister has not shown that he has any conspicuous love for the Commission—perhaps he does not need to have it. He has not shown that he has any particular understanding of the job that is being carried out. As he himself has said, there are still nearly 5,000 vehicles, quite apart from the collection and delivery that the Transport Commission will be able to carry out.
Why should the Minister arrogate unto himself the power to tell the Commission to dispose of the property that may be required for the maintenance of these vehicles? How does he know what will be required? How can we rely upon him acting in fairness to the Transport Commission? We cannot do so in present circumstances from the attitude that he has shown towards them in the Bill. We feel, therefore, that there is every case for taking out these powers that the Minister has to require the Commission to dispose of property that is valuable to them, that they may need to use in connection with their services, and that they certainly have built up in a way that many of these depots are a model from which the rest of commerce and industry can take lessons. That is as public enterprise should be.
It has never been the view of my hon. Friends on this side that public enterprise should lag behind private enterprise. We have always taken the view that given the capital resources and the capital investment they should be able to get out in front, and no Member on the other side who approaches this question objectively or fairly can deny that the property that has been built up, the mechanical workshops that have been erected and the traffic control units that have been designed, are in advance of anything that private enterprise has to show. [Interruption.] I did not hear the intervention of the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Renton
I suggest that as the hon. Member has called me to my feet he should go to see some of the shops. I could take him to one in Peterborough which leaves a great deal to be desired.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am in no doubt about that. I am not saying that, 12 months after they acquired the last miserable workshop at a street corner, they have got the whole thing correct. It was not my job to suggest that after they took over these properties, which hon. Members opposite know were left in a semi-derelict condition with the last bit of equipment taken out which could be taken out, the Transport Commission could get the job put right in 12 months.
What I said, as the hon. Member would have known if he had been here, was that in cases where they have built these new units they are a model to private enterprise in this country. The Minister is taking power to require the Commission to sell off these properties in the interests of his friends and those supporting him. No one is supporting him except private road hauliers; no moderate opinion in this country supports the Government on this Bill. Let there be no doubt about that. It is certainly true that trade and commerce did not support the method by which the Government propose to carry this out.
We feel very deeply about some of the things the Minister is doing by this Bill and this is one of the more disgraceful. He should not seek to take power by his automatic majority in this Committee to compel the Transport Commission to divest themselves of properties which may be of use to them, which they want, which have been of public service and which can continue to be of great use to the 5,000 vehicles they have to service id the future.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
There has been a great deal of sound and fury and thumping of the Despatch Box by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), much of it not very directly related to the Amendments on the Order Paper. But it is important that the Committee should be brought back to recollect that the organisation and the property of the Road Haulage Executive do not exist for its own sake. They exist for the sake of the trader and the public which they serve.
It is all too easy to forget in the laudation of the clerks sitting at their little pigeon holes interviewing drivers that the person who really counts is the person who dispatches and receives goods. That 359 is why, when the hon. Member was speaking, I found my hand moving towards a couple of letters I have received in the last few days from people who use British Road Services. Here is one, from a representative of a firm covering nine counties and London North of the River:the majority of my customers will not have delivery by British Road Transport … they have told me that if we (the firm) could not deliver … to send goods by private enterprise carriers (their own words) and that if we used British Road Transport they would refuse the goods and place their business elsewhere.Here is the man actually handling the goods.
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, I am perfectly willing to show the correspondence to the hon. Member behind the Chair. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] I have read it. This is the bona fide statement of a trade representative stating his experience with regard to British Road Services. I have here from a constituent a letter from which the following is a material paragraph—
§ Mr. Powell
No, but, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East pronounced a eulogium on the British Road Services unrelated to their power to serve the public under this Amendment, perhaps the Committee might be brought back for a few minutes to look at it from the point of view of the user.
Here is one user:On Tuesday last a parcel measuring approximately 20 in. by 20 in. by 23 in. and of a fair weight was handed to British Road Services…in London for delivery to my private address. This was delivered mid-morning today.That was Friday.The road distance from London to Wolverhampton is given as 121½ miles, and allowing a few extra miles for the point of collection in London and delivery in Wolverhampton, it has taken four days to cover the distance.Let us remember that we are dealing with the consumer of transport services and not with the theoretical beauty of the organisation which has been elaborated
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Davies
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) referred to sound and fury. We are accustomed, when he gets up, to listening, not to a cogent and reasonable argument, but to mere emotion inspired by some case which is not founded on reason. The last case he quoted and made great play about was of a firm which had experienced some delay in the delivery of its consignment. From my 30 years' experience of the privately-owned railways I would say that that is not exactly an innovation.
Like many of my colleagues who for a lifetime have been in privately-owned industry. I have unfortunately had to explain from time to time what has happened to a parcel of goods that has gone astray. In any concern handling millions of packages per day and per week that kind of thing obviously happens because of lost labels, wrong addresses, congestion of traffic and a hundred other reasons. To adduce that as a reason why the Transport Commission should be required to sell its properties is ridiculous.
§ Mr. Powell
Is it more ridiculous than to adduce a row of clerks sitting at windows interviewing drivers?
§ Mr. Davies
I am coming to the row of clerks sitting at windows.
We agree with the hon. Member that the primary consideration in transport is the good interests of the country. as we constantly stress on these benches. The economic progress of the country is our consideration, and that is paramount even over any syndicalist claims which some sections may think they ought to advance. We have constantly stressed that, and there is no quarrel between us. But surely the hon. Member does not say that the wellbeing of the country means that we must not have good depots up and down the country, that there must not be sound organisation, that we must not clear up some of the festering hovels which purported to be the clearing houses for some of these pirates of the road in days gone by.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), I have had an opportunity of inspecting some of these road haulage undertakings and their depots, and I say that the work that has been done over the last two years 361 reflects great praise on the organisation. Anyone who has had any experience in commerce of large-scale organisation must know the complicated nature and difficulties of the problem with which they have had to deal in gathering up these bits and pieces of a desperate industry such as the road transport industry was, in which there were so many small undertakings. In terms of making cohesive and coherent their system of bookkeeping, methods of repairing vehicles, the concentration of traffic, the nominated loading system by which they can despatch loads to given points for the benefit of the traders of the country by giving them expeditious service, the settlement of claims, first-class commercial representation giving—
The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
I think both sides have had a fair exchange and that we might now come back to the Amendment which is before the Committee.
§ Mr. Davies
I beg your pardon, Mr. Hopkin Morris, if I have strayed too far. But as you said, I was a little led away.
The Amendment seeks to restrain the Minister from exercising the power of dispersing the property at present held by the Commission. We are endeavouring to advance good arguments, although they may seem a little remote in favour of the property being retained by the Commission. It would be a national calamity if the excellent work done by these depots should be frittered away in this fashion. If the traffic of the country is to continue in the economic and expeditious way we would desire, there have to be clearing houses and depots. Why should the Minister be invested with arbitrary powers to wind up these concerns when we are beginning to appreciate the benefit of them? They may be of value even to private undertakers.
Surely the Minister does not want to return to the old days when parcel traffic was distributed over various towns? At what price will he dispose of this property? I hope he will listen to what has been said by my hon. Friends and go very slowly in requiring the Commission to hand back these properties. Will he have a Dutch auction of them as he is proposing to do with the vehicles? How is it to be done? Has he some scheme in which the handing back of these properties will help the country? Will he 362 allow the Commission to retain any depots? Has he any idea of the geography of the thing? Will he divide up the country or will the best bidder be allowed to take away the whole? If that is the idea it is a poor scheme and we are right to object to it.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I congratulate the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) on the skill and ability with which he dressed up for our consideration all these mechanical transport units to which he referred. I imagine that during the Recess he must have had a fine time indeed going round and being feted and entertained by the personnel involved. He told us of clerks, teleprinters, filing cabinets, drivers and paint stores, and made the whole thing sound most spick and span.
Then came his violent thump on the Despatch Box, and the expression of fear that all this beautiful apparatus of modern transport is to be broken up, the personnel sacked and the heavy hand of the Minister is to descend on it. I do not believe that my right hon. Friend will use half such a strong hand as the hon. Gentleman used just now on the Despatch Box. I believe he will study the composition of these transport units and see just how they are formed and what purpose they serve.
The hon. Gentleman tried to make us think that these are beautiful devices created entirely since the advent of the world we were brought to live in as a result of the Transport Act of 1947. For the first part these units started in a small way 25 or 30 years ago under private enterprise, and were built up into a position where they were ripe for nationalisation at the time when the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) got busy with the transport industry. Where there are depots or exchanges for goods I am certain my right hon. Friend will require them to serve again the interests of a private transport industry. He is quite right to have these powers in order to see that they are sold at the right time in order to fit in with the general scheme of things. But the idea that what has been created, not only before the war by private enterprise but since the war by public enterprise, is to be broken up completely, is quite without foundation.
363 I hope that my right hon. Friend will not be misled by the words of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It may well be that part of the vast losses which the Commission has sustained has been due to the over-elaborate way in which these transport units which so delight the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, have grown up. Let us not cavil at the cutting out of waste. These units will be so disposed of by my right hon. Friend under the provisions of this Bill that the wasteful expenditure which I am certain has taken place since 1947 will be cut out.
It is monstrous for the hon. Gentleman to come here and to extol to the skies these transportation units, to pretend that they serve the community and that they are worthy of preservation when he knows that a large part of the expenditure which has gone into them has been incurred because of the encouragement given to these nationalised units by the late Government, to the detriment of the value of transport stock which has resulted in the giant losses which the Commission has suffered.
§ Mr. Irvine
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) assumed first an uncharacteristic frivolity and subsequently an equally uncharacteristic indignation. Having listened to many of the utterances of the noble Lord, I am satisfied that he does this only because he is profoundly unhappy about this whole business. He realises that this Clause, which naturally arouses the indignation of my hon. Friends, is the one which provides for the breakdown, for the whole dirty inequitable business of the disposal of public assets.
This Clause recognises the possibility which we have all appreciated that the whole elaborate process of disposal may prove to be an entire fiasco. It will become necessary for pieces of transport units to be disposed of higgledy-piggledy without any rhyme or reason. This provision is provided to deal with that possibility. What we are witnessing now in the most tragic Parliamentary circumstances is a reckless and disgraceful treatment of public assets and public property.
There is a melancholy parallel between the disposal of public assets by this Bill and the disposal of Parliamentary time 364 in the discussion of it. Both are ruthless and arbitrary in their methods. When there is a failure to sell transport units as units, the Bill provides that they may be sold in bits—something less than units. The Minister is given far too much power in Clause after Clause of this Bill. In this instance he is given an unqualified power to dispose of pieces of transport units. If the Commission want to dispose of part of a unit it is given power under Clause 5 (1) to go to the Minister and ask for permission.
In that context the Minister can give his consent, and he can attach to it, under subsection (1), a requirement that the question shall be referred to the Board for their approval. To show what an untidy and ill-prepared piece of nonsense this whole thing is, under a proviso to an earlier Clause in the Bill, provision is made where, if the Board is divided about what should be done, the matter can be sent back to the Minister to start all over again. I am reminded by my hon. Friends that that is by the chairman's decision. We are preparing for a situation in which the whole of the disposal procedure breaks down, making arrangements which enable the Minister to give consent but to require the approval of the Board—and in the event of the Board not being able to achieve unity on the course they want to follow, the matter is referred back to the Minister again.
If the procedure is so elaborate and inarticulate and preposterous in that instance, why should it be so arbitrary in this instance? The subsection which we are considering covers the case where the Commission do not apply to the Minister for permission to dispose of a transport unit. This subsection deals with the case where the Minister, for some reason of his own and without application by the Commission, decides that a piece of property shall be disposed of other than as a transport unit. Why is that not required to have the approval of the Board? What reason can satisfy the Committee that this distinction should be made? The Minister is here given an entirely arbitrary power.
This is another instance, of which there have been a great many in this Parliament, of the humbug of the Conservative Party's reputed distrust and dislike of 365 delegated power and bureaucracy. In subsection (1) we have red tape gone rampant and the most confused bureaucratic procedure—from the Minister to the Disposals Board and back again whereas in subsection (2) we have arbitrary Government gone rampant, for the Minister is granted absolute and arbitrary powers.
It is a great shame. [Laughter.] I am surprised that hon. Members should be amused. This does not make what is going on any more savoury so as to amuse the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South. It makes the position rather worse—not much worse—but a little worse. What is going on is a wrongful and arbitrary disposal of public assets, and the most that we can do under the Guillotine procedure is to register our protest and indignation in the knowledge that our constituents are behind us in this issue, as are large numbers of constituents who sent hon. Members opposite to this House.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I do not propose to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) or his rather synthetic indignation, for I want to refer to some remarks made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies). We have had drawn this evening the picture of a most elaborate and efficient road transport organisation having superseded the archiac conditions of a few years ago, and I want for a few moments, if I may, to tell the Committee about an instance which20 occurred to me only a short time ago which shows how wonderful this system is in practice.
A short time ago, a business with which I am connected had 1 cwt. of material, which was very urgently needed, sent from Leicester. It was sent by road transport and was 11 days overdue. As the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North said, that is the sort of thing which can happen to any transport undertaking, but what happened in this case? I saw on the invoice, "Depot No. 112," and I asked my secretary to ring up the Road Haulage Executive to ask where Depot 112 was in London so that we could get in touch with it and find out what had happened to the goods.
They replied by saying, "We are very sorry but there is no corresponding Depot 366 112 in London." So I said to them, "Where shall we go to try to find out where the goods have got to?" They said, "Well, here is a list of six people who may have received these goods." Six firms in London who might have received those goods under the glorious system which the hon. Gentleman—
Order. I had to draw the attention of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) to the fact that discussion of this matter had gone far enough, and both sides must observe that. This subsection deals with the power of the Minister.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I quite appreciate that, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I was incensed because hon. Gentlemen opposite were talking about little backyards and businesses run there. At any rate, in the old days one could get in touch with the little backyards and find out what was happening. I do not wish to detain the Committee further. I wanted only to tell the Committee of that personal experience, which, I think, fortifies the view my hon. Friends have put forward.
§ Mr. Carr
If we had heard a little less talk of the use of the Guillotine today I think we should have had more time for the general discussion, even on this Amendment which hon. Gentlemen opposite have brought forward. I have listened to the arguments which they have adduced, and it seems to me that they have been entirely negative. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) seemed to me to base most of his argument, when he was not painting a glorious picture of nationalised transport, on an attack on the Minister's integrity and sense of responsibility. That seems to me to have been unworthy of him.
If the time for discussion is really so short as hon. Gentlemen opposite make out, would it not be better to devote the time we have to arguments about facts and opinions, instead of to personal denigration of that kind? The hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) talked of "dirty and inequitable disposal of public 367 assets" as justification for this Amendment. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) talked about "frittering away" those assets. But the whole purpose of this subsection which the Amendment seeks to remove follows necessarily from the whole purpose of the Bill, and the purpose of the Bill is to give better service, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said, to the user of transport.
That, surely, is what must come first, and my purpose in rising is to give just one more example of why it is necessary. Letters read out by my hon. Friend were scoffed at by hon. Members opposite, but I should like to give a more general example of why this subsection is necessary as part of the purpose of the Bill. It is the case of a firm in which I work myself. When nationalised transport came in we had 12 C licence vehicles. Four years later we had 38.
We did not buy those for the fun of it. Capital resources are short and ought to be used for productive machinery, not for buying lorries for doing that work which ought to be done by public hauliers, and the only reason companies like the one I have referred to buy lorries is that they have not been getting the service they require from the Road Haulage Executive. That is why this Bill is necessary, and that is why this subsection is necessary as part of the Bill.
§ Sir W. Darling
If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to dispute with you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, whether you should have allowed me to speak or not, I am willing to yield to him.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I was not disputing with the Chair; but, goodness knows. the Opposition have been treated very badly in this Committee. We are trying to ration ourselves—we have got to—and I think it is not playing the game for three Conservative Members in succession to get up and speak without the Minister making the slightest attempt to reply.
§ Sir W. Darling
I am only too glad to undertake an easier task and one more congenial to my disposition. I shall sit down and give the Opposition the opportunity that they desire.
I think there is a genuine misunderstanding here. It was indicated from the Opposition Front Bench, when no Division was taken on the previous Clause, that they wanted more time, and I thought I understood the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) was anxious to speak on this Amendment. I was waiting for him, and I am sorry if there has been any misunderstanding about it.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), when he so vehemently moved this Amendment, said something with which I found myself in wholehearted agreement, about the ports and how enjoyable an experience it was to visit them. May I say that, for my part, I enjoyed no visit more than to the City of Cardiff, where I was received with very great kindness. I have not gone round the same number of ports as the hon. Gentleman has, but I hope to do so in due course.
The main object of this subsection is to deal not so much with ports as with vehicles, which the hon. Gentleman did not mention in the course of his speech. It may not, of course, form an important part of the machinery which we are discussing here. It also deals with buildings, plants, stores and so on. May I say at once, if it is any comfort to the hon. Gentleman, that depots withdrawn as part of units from the auction will be retained as depots.
The object of this Clause is to provide certain machinery. As the Committee know, we aim at disposing of all property as transport units as far as is practicable, and this subsection enables the Minister to give directions to the Commission to dispose of propertyotherwise than as or as part of a transport unit.As for hon. Members who expressed indignation about subsection (2), I would ask them in all good temper to consider it in connection with and in comparison with the other subsections in this Clause, the whole forming one piece of necessary machinery. For instance, subsection (1) 369 covers cases where the Commission consider that it is impracticable or inexpedient for them so to dispose of any property, while subsection (3) covers cases where it is desirable that the Commission should retain property for use in some other part of their undertaking. Subsection (4) prohibits the Commission from selling the property except as or as part of a transport unit, save as provided in the three preceding subsections.
This subsection to which the hon. Member took so much exception is complementary to these provisions and allows the Minister to direct the Commission to dispose of propertyotherwise than as or as part of a transport unit.Its purpose is really perfectly innocent. It does not deserve the denunciation which it got from the hon. Gentleman. It is to prevent any lengthy hold-up in the disposal process, and in particular—this is the real object of the subsection—to facilitate the sale of any final residue. It is very important that the Minister should have these powers for that purpose.
"Look to the end" is an excellent motto, and this is part of the machinery for doing that. Of course, neither my right hon. Friend nor his successors will use the power contrary to the general purpose which I have endeavoured to outline to the Committee. We therefore ask that this subsection shall not be deleted but that the Committee will think it proper that it should stand part of the Bill. I do not know whether the vehemence of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East is always in inverse ratio to his intentions to carry these matters to the acid test of a Division. He did not do so last time, but we shall welcome it if he does so now.
§ Mr. Callaghan
We do not intend to carry this Amendment to a Division because we have exactly 45 minutes left in which to discuss the general Clause. The Parliamentary Secretary ought to know that very well by now. If he wants us to spend all our time tramping through the Lobbies, I can tell him that we do not intend to do so. We want to go on discussing this matter. We take great exception to the subsection and we feel that the Minister should not take these powers to himself.
370 9.45 p.m.
Let me put this final point. The Commission are charged under this Act with the job of ridding themselves of the property they own. They will know exactly what they want to get rid of, and should get rid of, and what they will need for the operation of their undertaking. It does not need the Minister to take these substantial powers to give them directions as to what they should do. They are quite capable of doing that job themselves. In our view it should be left to them to decide the time, place and when they should do the job.
I will not go into the virtues of delegated legislation which the Minister now seems to want to exercise. If we were not operating under a Guillotine, we should most certainly divide the Committee on this particular Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Powell
I beg to move, in page 8, line 10, at the end to insert:Any directions of the Minister under this subsection may be absolute or conditional, need not be restricted to individual items of property and may require the Commission to consult the Board and, to such extent as may be specified in the directions, to obtain the approval of the Board as to the action to be taken.This is a minor Amendment, but it aims to secure elucidation and to making an appreciable improvement in this subsection. We have to remember that the property held by the Commission, with which this Clause and subsection deal, is liable to include vehicles as well as static property. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) appeared to be under the impression that the subsection related only to static property but I think that he will agree that it can include vehicles as well. One of its most useful purposes may be in relation to them.
A considerable number of vehicles—between 2,000 and 3,000—in the possession of the Commission are unserviceable, and it would be impracticable to include those unserviceable vehicles in a transport unit which is by the definition of the Bill supposed to be a going, workable, business concern. The question which I wish to put to the Minister relates to the machinery of disposal under this Clause.
The expression "dispose" is the one used throughout this Clause, whereas in 371 Clause 3, which specifies an alternative method by which the Commission can divest itself of this property, we have the expression "… invite tenders for the purchase," by public notice. I should like to ask the Minister by what machinery it is contemplated that the disposal of these assets excluded from a transport unit would normally take place. I suggest that, in any case, it should normally take place in consultation with the Disposal Board. After all, under this Bill, we are making the Disposal Board the appropriate authority for overseeing the whole transaction whereby the Commission divests itself of its road haulage undertaking, and surely, even where a direction is given by the Minister, it will normally be appropriate that the Disposal Board should be the body which oversees the transaction, and which has the opportunity to comment and to intervene.
This Amendment, therefore, assimilates the provision of subsection (2) mutatis mutandis to those of subsection (1) and would normally rely on the Minister's directions being complied with in collaboration with the Disposal Board. I suggest that is the appropriate method, and I would ask my right hon. Friend, in indicating his point of view on this matter, to give more details as to the way in which he anticipates that that disposal under this Clause would normally take place.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the way in which he has put these questions. As the Committee knows, it is proposed that the Disposal Board will supervise the sale of the businesses, but there may come a time when the sale of businesses is drawing to an end, and when there may be only vehicles to sell without any automatic special A licence rights. It would, in my view, be right that the Disposal Board, which by that time I am sure will have earned the confidence of all who will have been brought in touch with it, should also supervise the sale of the remaining assets, even though their express purpose of supervising the sale of the businesses has come to an end. I think it would be as well to include words somewhat of this kind in the Clause.
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to leave it like this. I will have a look at the wording in consultation with my 372 advisers, and I will seriously consider bringing either the same words or similar words to express the same purpose into the Bill on the Report stage.
§ Sir Frank Soskice (Sheffield, Neepsend)
I must confess some surprise at the Minister's speech. I should have thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) gave the complete answer to the proposal in this Amendment to which the Minister is sympathetic. Clause 2 (8) says that in the event of there being a difference amongst the members of the Board, they themselves can ask the Minister to decide between them. What the proposal apparently suggests is that the Minister should be entitled to give a direction to the Commission, amongst others, to consult with the Disposal Board. As my hon. Friend said, it is difficult to conceive a more topsy-turvy procedure.
I suppose what may happen is that in a particular case the Minister will tell the Commission to go to the Disposal Board and ask them whether they are to carry out the Minister's direction. They will disagree amongst themselves and then go back to the Minister for him to decide between them about what they are to say. It seems very difficult to conceive anything more absurd than that.
It is most surprising, I should have thought, that the Minister should not have seen through this Amendment straight away and rejected it out of hand. Just conceive what will happen. The Minister will say, "I direct you, the Commission, to dispose of certain vehicles and to ask the Disposal Board whether you are to comply with my direction." That is fantastic enough, to begin with. It is quite absurd that the Minister should say, "I tell you to dispose of the vehicles, but I also tell you to ask the Disposal Board whether you are to comply with my direction." Looking at the proviso to Clause 2 (8), we find that the Disposal Board can, if they disagree, go to the Minister to ask the Minister to resolve the disagreement. There the absurdity reaches its absolute height.
I suppose what might happen is that the Minister will say to the Commission, "Dispose of the following vehicles if the Disposal Board tells you to do so"—"tells you to comply with my direction," in other words—the Disposal Board then disagree, some members saying that the Minister's direction should be complied 373 with and some members saying it should not be complied with: having disagreed about what they should do they go to the Minister and say, "Now you tell us. Are we to tell the Commission to comply with your direction or are we to tell them not to comply with your direction?" I suppose the Minister will then say to the Disposal Board, "I agree with those of your members who say you should disregard my direction," so that a direction will go to the Disposal Board telling the Disposal Board to tell the Commission to disregard what the Minister has told them to do.
I know the Minister is very heavily burdened by this most unreasonable Bill, and it is perhaps permissible that he should be allowed, from time to time, to slip into lapses. But I think this is really a had one, and I hope he will get up again and say that he spoke without consideration of the implications of this Amendment, and that he realises it is absolutely preposterous and could not by any conceivable stretch of the imagination be accepted. We do not like the subsection, and we do not see why it should be made not only pernicious but patently absurd, as this Amendment would make it.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I think the whole Committee will have been enlivened by the sprightly way in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has put his objections to the Committee. I am grateful to him for his concern about the heavy weight of burden that lies upon me, but I assure him that, heavy though it is, I do not feel that through it I have stumbled into any error at this particular moment. It may be that on further examination it may be found that it is not necessary to include words of this kind, but as I feel at present it seems desirable to make certain that the Disposal Board should also be available to give advice in the concluding stages of the operation when the businesses have been disposed of and when only vehicles and other fixed assets remain.
It would, I think, be wrong that the Board, having discharged its responsibilities in regard to businesses, should not be available in this particular field. I am advised at the moment that there might be some doubt about that unless words of this kind were included. Obviously, it would not be a question of 374 referring to the Commission and asking them to consult the Board as to whether or not they should accept the Minister's direction or anything so reminiscent of the previous régime as that.
The sole purpose would be to place an obligation on the Commission, in consultation with the Board, to carry out the Minister's direction. As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), I will look carefully into this, and, if the words appear to be necessary, not even the sprightly interjections of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite will prevent me from including them on the Report stage.
§ Mr. D. Jones
Do I now understand the Minister to say that he is going to. look at the matter again in order that he can write words into the Bill to keep. the Road Haulage Disposal Board in being with all its costs for the purpose of distributing the odds and ends that may be left behind?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It would he very inaccurate to put it quite so crudely as that. I do not think that the burden on the fund, not on the taxpayer, of the continuance of the Board in being for this limited period would be very considerable, and I am certain that if hon. Members opposite are anxious that the disposals should be carried out in an orderly fashion, then the help of the Board may be highly desirable.
§ Mr. Maude
With respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the former Solicitor-General. I do not feel that he has really grasped the point of this Amendment at all. He seems to me to have overlooked the obvious point that the Board is charged with the responsibility in respect of method and timing in which a particular sale takes place. I cannot see that there is anything in the least illogical or fantastic in the Minister giving a direction in general terms to the Commission to dispose of property, the Commission going to the Board for advice and consultation as to the method and timing of the disposal, and, if there is disagreement, the parties then going to the Minister to have the question resolved. It is in order to clarify that point that the Amendment has been put 375 forward. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will include it on the Report Stage.
§ Mr. Powell
In view of the interest shown by my right hon. Friend the Minister in the line of thought underlying this Amendment and his undertaking to look at the point involved, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I beg to move, in page 8, line 18, to leave out "with the consent of the Minister."
Subsection (3) deals with the disposal of property and, I understand, with vehicles that belong to the Commission, but which are not used by the road haulage undertaking. Let me say to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that I thought property meant property and not vehicles, but reading the Clause again I see that it means vehicles as well as property.
Why does the Minister need these powers? In other parts of the Bill he has told the Commission that they have to get rid of the Road Haulage Executive, and in this Clause he is telling them that such part of the vehicles as cannot be sold in a transport unit they must sell as chattels. Why does he wish to take these additional powers to say that they may only keep certain vehicles, or property, which is the generic term, apparently, which is not at the moment used by the road haulage undertaking with his consent. It seems as though the words "with the Minister's consent" have been scattered through the Bill like currants in a plum duff. The Minister is intervening far too much in this matter, and we ask him why he thinks he needs these powers and how he proposes to exercise them.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) suggests that "with the consent of the Minister appears at almost every stage of the Bill. I hope that, for his own elucidation, he will count up the number of times the Minister has to take powers in this transaction, powers which will come to an end as soon as the process of disposal is over. I can assure him that I have no wish whatever to add to the 376 powers of any Minister, even though Ministerial responsibility rests where it does at the moment.
In a procedure of this kind, where the process of disposal will come to an end at a relatively early date, it is desirable that the Minister should have a certain authority, particularly where the Commission are asked to carry out an undertaking which is contrary to their own wishes and convictions but which, I feel quite confident none the less, they will, in cooperation with the Board and the Minister, loyally discharge.
The purpose of the insertion of "with the consent of the Minister" is to protect the Commission against any charge that they may be retaining property unduly. There may be, for example, cases, I am advised, where the Road Haulage Executive might use premises within the precincts of a dock which could not be disposed of to a private purchaser without prejudicing the efficient carrying on of the dock undertaking. If the matter were left solely to the Commission to decide whether to retain this property, it might be argued that they were improperly keeping possession of something of which they should dispose. If the Minister is brought into this field, a diminishing field, they will be safe from any charge of that kind. I hope that with that explanation the Committee will accept the words in the Bill and will reject the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Before we part with the Clause there should be some discussion for which there is time. I would like to give to the Committee a picture of the situation that the Clause contemplates, as far as I can see it. I hope very much that I shall be accurate, but this is a rather confusing and somewhat chaotic situation to contemplate.
The disposal of vehicles under the Bill aims at their disposal in what are called "operable units," that is to say, numbers of transport vehicles that can be operated as a team for a certain purpose. Although on the other hand, it is contemplated that some vehicles may be sold individually or in twos or threes, the term "operable units" is used.
It is evidently contemplated that at the end of the day it may be impossible 377 to dispose of all the vehicles in operable units. Therefore, scattered over the country, there will be a number of odd vehicles, or perhaps vehicles that do not fit in with operable units. They may be good vehicles, but nevertheless are regarded by potential purchasers as odds and ends that will not fit into their businesses. These vehicles may have been a valuable and useful part of the undertaking of the Road Haulage Executive, but the Minister evidently contemplated a situation in which such vehicles have become virtually unsaleable or redundant, vis-à-vis the operable units, and they are left on the hands of the Commission or of the Road Haulage Executive.
This indicates that the Bill is manufacturing a muddled situation. Indeed, it is almost inevitable that it should be so, because under the Road Haulage Executive now there is the national organisation including the special traffics, there are the regions and there are the local groups and there are the local depots. In short, the organisation of the Road Haulage Executive is a deliberately constructed organisation calculated to meet the needs of road haulage for the public, for industry and for the country as a whole.
The units of management, far from being centralised, vary from these special traffics nationally operated as they must be, such as Pickfords, to the regions and to the groups and to the depots. All this indicates that there is an organisation calculated to meet the varying local, group, regional and national needs of trade and industry as regards road haulage.
This developing organisation is to be smashed up. It is to go—to a large extent at any rate—and, be it remembered, it was an organisation which gradually the old railway companies under private ownership were themselves seeking to build up in association with the railway undertakings. Now comes along this Bill which I say again, with great respect, is based upon the philosophy of anarchy. It is destructive —the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) can sit there and sneer. He may be Chairman of the Tory Transport Committee, but I have been in this business of transport for a long time and I know what I am talking about.
378 I say that this Bill is calculated to smash up the whole show. The result is that the Minister himself under this Clause has to contemplate a situation in which he has got what are units or items of property difficult to dispose of and therefore he has to contemplate a special procedure.
It may well be that there will be quite a lot of vehicles left on the hands of the Road Haulage Executive, especially the less profitable ones. Then comes along this process whereby the Minister can require the Road Haulage Executive to sell them, or they themselves can sell them with the consent of the Minister. This is an extraordinary Clause. In one line the Minister may direct and in another line the Commission or somebody else may do something with the consent of the Minister. Never was there a more bureaucratic Clause whereby they cannot do anything without the consent of the Minister and they can be directed to do things by the Minister. I have never seen a politician throwing himself so much over almost every line of this Bill.
Then what will happen? It is contemplated that those vehicles will not be sold as parts of an operable unit. Clearly they will not be sold at their fair market price. As my lion. Friend said, they are to be sold as chattels, possibly as junk when they are not junk, at any price, to get rid of them. The Minister is determined that any advantageous possession of public property by a public authority shall be got rid of at the earliest possible moment because he hates public authorities owning anything that is worth having. He wants private enterprise to own everything that is worth having.
There is not only the vehicles. There are the depots which have been built up: the garages, the offices, the engineering shops and the architects' offices and so on, where the technicians and specialists have been employed, greatly to the advantage of the organisation of road commercial haulage. They are left.
Once this organisation is broken up—this evolving developing carefully framed organisation, from depots to groups and regions to the national organisation, with all the depots and engineering shops, repair shops and technicians and other organisations dependent upon that organisation and as a useful part of it; directly the Government break up this carefully 379 framed organisation and drift to what I call—I think, fairly—anarchy, these valuable pieces of the organisation become redundant. So there is property which is valuable to the Transport Commission, valuable, as things are, to the Road Haulage Executive, but which in the new anarchist régime of things cease to have that value because they cannot function as part of a co-ordinated, organised, national, regional and local system of transport.
And, of course, there will be property in which the Road Haulage Executive were co-operating with the railway undertakings. I think there is some provision somewhere whereby that property can be retained, although, of course, with the inevitable consent of the right hon. Gentleman. The more one reads the Bill, the more one realises that he is aiming to be in the position of the diety as regards all this. Where he will finish ultimately I do not know, but there it is.
The value of this valuable property is partly determined by the existence of a really organised transport system, or the beginnings of the organised transport system, and the beginnings of coordination, and the value of these parts of the property consists in the fact that they are playing their part in that organisation. But along comes anarchist No. 1, the Minister of Transport, supported by anarchist No. 2, the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South. The Minister starts smashing up the whole of this, whereupon the value of that property also goes to smithereens.
Then the right hon. Gentleman says, "Having ruined the undertaking, having upset the value of the undertaking and having caused all this devaluation, of course I must have power to direct the Commission to get rid of it, at any old price—at a song: or if the poor Commission want to set rid of it, they must have my consent to get rid of it." I should have thought that the least the Minister could do was not to treat the Commission with the contempt with which he is treating them, but that having done the best he can to ruin the undertaking, he might at least have left the Commission freedom to dispose of this stuff as best they can in the circumstances imposed upon them by the Minister.
380 Quite frankly, I trust the Commission more than I trust the Minister. I should think that the Commission want to make a success of public enterprise of the undertakings committed to their charge and that they want to protect their property as much as they can. But the more I hear of the Minister I say this without heat, anger or spite—the less I am inclined to trust him, because I think that he has a bitter, unreasoning, undying bias against the public interest when it comes to publicly-owned property. I do not trust him with all these powers, because I think he will use them contrary to the public interest and contrary to public property. On the whole, I would sooner trust the Commission with these powers and let the poor things get through all these troubles as best they can when this beastly Bill has become an Act of Parliament.
Therefore, we shall divide against this Clause. We believe it is a bad Clause we believe it is an injurious Clause. We do not think that all this Ministerial business is necessary. We think it would be better to trust the Commission to carry through this most unhappy and unpleasant operation which is caused by the nature of the Bill. We oppose the Clause and will divide the Committee upon it.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Sir W. Darling
I wish to intervene in the debate because I feel that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) has done himself rather less than justice. He has inveighed against the Minister for seeking to arrogate to himself the position of God and, at the same time, has described him as an anarchist. That strikes me as a little difficult. I do not know what conception the right hon. Gentleman has of the deity, but he is certainly not anarchic. The right hon. Member used to be a member of the B.S.-I.S.L.P. but I think he must have parted from them in order to find this strange diarchy, this strange maleficiation. I do beg him to be more indulgent to the Minister.
May I make this suggestion to the right hon. Member? I think the Minister is behaving in a most democratic and gallant fashion in which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South dare not act. What has been the position of the Road Haulage Executive up to now? It 381 lived apart. True it was the creation of the right hon. Member, but no one could attack or criticise the Executive. What does my right hon. Friend do? He puts himself right in the forefront of the battle and, although we cannot now shoot at the Executive, my right hon. Friend has said, "You can ask any Question about the management under this Bill, about the disposal and other activities."
In place of these doubtful and somewhat unworthy attacks I think my right hon. Friend should be congratulated. Unlike the previous Government, he has said, I will come to the House of Commons and defend the action I have taken. I will bear my breast to the attack of the voracious and carnivorous Members on the Opposition benches." There is something considerable in this Clause and something courageous. My right hon. Friend says that he will put this Bill through and make it an Act of Parliament. He says, "I will stand behind it personally and meet the House of Commons day after day as a consequence of my actions." That is what he says and I congratulate him on taking that view.
§ Mr. D. Jones
If the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) really believes what he has been telling the Committee about the Minister and what the Clause will do he is much simpler than I gave him credit for being. The Clause will do nothing of the sort.
The Clause has 32 lines in it and in those 32 lines the Minister is mentioned four times. It was on the Second Reading of the Bill that the Minister paid a tribute, I thought, to the public spirit, the integrity and the enthusiasm of the Transport Commission. It was his right hon. Friend the Minister of Works who, on 17th May at Middlesbrough, said that he did not trust the Commission. This Clause indicates quite clearly that the Minister was being hypocritical on the Second Reading of the Bill because he writes into this Clause such powers as to show that he does not trust the Commission to do anything at all.
I am opposed to this Clause because 1 think that it is unnecessary. The Minister already has power under the 1947 Act to give any directions he desires to the Commission if it is in the public interest. If, therefore, it became necessary in the 382 public interest to direct the Commission to dispose of any part of this property, he already possesses the power to do so. Why, then, is it necessary to take this power in this Clause to do something which the Minister already has the power to do if it is in the public interest? I suspect that it is because that even the Minister will not be able to justify some of the things which he proposes to do under this Bill when it becomes an Act.
The hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr), in a debate on an Amendment to Clause 5, said that the C licence holders were concerned about the inefficient service which they had from the operations of the Road Haulage Executive. He advanced that as a reason for the considerable increase in the number of C licences in operation in this country. It is a pity that the hon. Member had not read an article by Mr. F. D. Fitz-Gerald, the Secretary of the Trader's Road Transport Association, in the current issue of the "Commercial Motor." He would have seen that that gentleman, who, I assume, knows something about the operation of C licences, advances a number of other reasons for the increase in the number of C licences in this country.
He writes:The first fact to remember is that the increase in ancillary vehicles is not peculiar to Britain but is something which has taken place in many other countries.He then points out that C licences have increased very largely because of increased mechanisation. He writes:Part of the increase in C-licensed vehicles is attributable to the post-war expansion in mechanisation. Transport was formerly done by messenger boys on foot or on a bicycle. the horse and cart or the handbarrow is now widely carried out by motor vehicles.
§ Mr. Jones
I therefore oppose this Clause because it is completely unnecessary. If the Minister wishes to exercise the power to direct the Transport Commission he already possesses it. In reply to a proposed Amendment to this Clause the Minister said that all the Clause gave him power to do was to direct the Transport Commission until the road haulage equipment and vehicles had been disposed of. There is nothing in the Clause or in the Bill which says that this power is to come to an end when the road haulage vehicles have been disposed of. The Long Title of the Bill alters the composition and powers of the Transport Commission; and there is nothing in the Clause which says that when the road haulage property has been disposed of this power is to be withdrawn. The Minister will retain this special power as long as he likes to maintain it. Therefore, because I think that this power is completely unnecessary, I oppose the Clause.
§ Mr. Carr
I listened to the arguments of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), and it seemed to me that there was a great fallacy in one part of his argument to which I wish to draw attention.
He developed a picture of the Disposal Board gathering together operable units. He said, quite rightly, that when they were disposed of there would be lorries and other property possibly left over here and there throughout the country. From that he argued that these vehicles, which had played a useful part in the work of the Road Haulage Executive, would now be valueless—I think he used the phrase, "virtually unsaleable." If they became virtually unsaleable because of this change of ownership and organisation in road transport, it can indicate only that there are more vehicles and property possessed under the present Executive setup than are needed to do the road transport work of this country efficiently. It can only prove that the amount of road transport to be done can be done with fewer vehicles and fewer assets of other kinds.
The right hon. Gentleman developed that argument and applied it to the whole organisation of the Road Haulage Executive. He said that if we break up this carefully planned and carefully developed organisation we shall make different parts 384 of it useless. But those parts of the organisation can only become useless if they are surplus to the efficient transport needs of this country. That is the whole basis of our argument for this Bill, that road transport can be done more efficiently and to the greater benefit of the public under a system of private enterprise. We are not, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, getting rid of the Road Haulage Executive because we hate a public authority to own property worth having. We are doing it only and entirely because we believe that private enterprise can do the job more efficiently.
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) referred to an earlier intervention which I made when I adduced, from the increase in the number of C licences, the fact that traders and business men were finding the service rendered by the Road Haulage Executive insufficient for their needs. The hon. Member for The Hartlepools quoted from some article. But really we have got a long way past the days of replacing bicycles and horse traffic and all the rest of it. I do not care who writes in what journal, that is not the reason for the increase in the C licence vehicles.
I have quoted the case of a company about which I have special knowledge. I said the number of C licence vehicles of that company had increased from 13 to 38 since nationalisation. I assure the hon. Member for The Hartlepools that we had no horse transport or bicycle transport four years ago. We did not want to spend scarce capital resources on buying lorries. We wanted to spend our resources on buying productive machinery. We spent it on buying lorries only because we could no longer get from the Road Haulage Executive the service we were able to get regularly from public hauliers under private enterprise. Whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, that is a fact so far as the company of which I know is concerned, and I am sure it is a fact—
§ It being Half-past Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.386
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 283: Noes, 264.389
|Division No. 36.]||AYES||[10.30 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Fisher, Nigel||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Fletcher-Cooke, C||Low, A. R. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fort, R.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Foster, John||Lucas, P. B (Brentford)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McCallum, Major D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)|
|Barber, Anthony||Gammons, L. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Garner-Evans, E. H.||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Baxter, A. B.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Godber, J. B.||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Gough, C. F. H.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Gower, H. R.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Birch, Nigel||Grimond, J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Black, C. W.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marples, A. E.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harden, J. R. E.||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maude, Angus|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maudling, R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maydon, Ll.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H,||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hay, John||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Molt-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Heath, Edward||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hill, Dr. Charles||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P|
|Campbell, Sir David||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hollis, M. C.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Holt, A. F.||Odey, G. W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hope, Lord John||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Horobin, I. M.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Cole, Norman||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Colegate W. A.||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Osborne, C.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Peaks, Rt. Han. O.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hutchison, James (Scolstoun)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Kaberry, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Raikes, H. V|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Redmayne, M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lambton, Viscount||Remnant, Hon. P|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lancaster, Col. C. G||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Langford-Holt, J. A||Robertson, Sir David|
|Drayson, G. B.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Leather, E. H. C.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Linstead, H. N.||Russell, R. S.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Llewellyn, D. T||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hen. G. (King's Norton)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon D.||Storey, S.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Scott, R. Donald||Summers, G. S.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Sutcliffe, H.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Shepherd, William||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Teeling, W.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thompson. Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Spearman, A. C. M||Tilney, John||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Speir, R. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Turner, H. F. L.||Wills, G.|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Turton, R. H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stevens, G. P.||Vane, W. M. F.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||York, C.|
|Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wade, D. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Adams, Richard||Edelman, M.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Albu, A. H.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Keenan, W.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Kenyon, C.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Key, Rt. Hen. C. W|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Kinley, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Ewart, R.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Baird, J.||Field, W. J.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Balfour, A.||Fienburgh, W.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Finch, H. J.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Bartley, P.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Follick, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bence, C. R.||Foot, M. M.||Logan, D. G.|
|Bents, Wedgwood||Forman, J. C.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Beswick, F.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Freeman, John (Watford)||McInnes, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Freeman. Peter (Newport)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Blackburn, F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McLeavy, F.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Gibson, C. W.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Glanville, James||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Boardman, H.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Brockway, A. F.||Grey, C. F.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mayhew, C P|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mellish, R. J|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Messer, F.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Burke, W. A.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mitchison, G. R|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Monslow, W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Moody, A. S.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hannan, W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hardy, E. A.||Morley, R.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hargreaves, A.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Chetwyn G. R||Hastings, S.||Mort, D. L.|
|Clunie, J.||Hayman, F. H.||Moyle, A.|
|Coldrick, W.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Collick, P. H.||Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Murray, J. D|
|Corbel, Mrs. Freda||Herbison, Miss M.||Nally, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Neal, Harold (Bolsever)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hobson, C. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Holman, P.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Oliver, G. H|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Houghton, Douglas||Orbach, M.|
|Daines, P.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Oswald, T.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Padley, W. E.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pannell, Charles|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Deer, G.||Janner, B.||Parker, J.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Paton, J.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pearson, A.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pearl, T. F.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Porter, G.|
|Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Proctor, W. T||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||West, D. G.|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Rankin, John||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Reeves, J.||Stross, Dr. Barnett||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon;||Swingler, S. T.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Sylvester, G. O||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wigg, George|
|Richards, R.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Willey, F. T.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertiliery)|
|Ross, William||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Royle, C.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon, E.||Thornton, E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Short, E. W.||Thurtle, Ernest||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Shurmer, P. L. E.||Timmons, J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Tomney, F.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Slater, J.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Yates, V. F.|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Viant, S. P.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Snow, J. W.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)||TELLERS FOR THE. NOES:|
|Sparks, J. A.||Weitzman, D.||Mr. Popplewell and|
|Steele, T.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Mr. Kenneth Robinson.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ It being after Half-past Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.