§ Sir F. Soskice
I beg to move, in page 36, line 41, after "of," to insert:The Transport Users Consultative Committees set up under subsection (3) of section six of the Transport Act, 1947, and.
I suggest that it would be convenient for the Committee to consider at the same time the Amendments in page 37, lines 1 and 9.
§ Sir F. Soskice
These Amendments cover two points, but they are fairly closely inter-related. The object of the first two is to equate the area Consultative Committees with the Scottish and Welsh Committees, with which the Clause deals. The Clause, as it reads at present without the Amendment, provides that the minutes and recommendations of the Scottish and Welsh Committees are to go to the Minister as well as to the Commission and the Central Transport Consultative Committee. Under Section 6 of the Transport Act, 1947, the recommendations and minutes of the area and Scottish and Welsh Consultative Committees, go, in the first place, to the Central Consultative Committee, and only from that Committee do they go to the Minister.
This Clause provides that the recommendations and minutes of the Scottish and Welsh Committees should go to the Minister, the Commission and the Central Committee. We on this side cannot follow the reasoning of the Minister which prompted him to make a differentiation between the area committees appointed under the 1947 Act and the Scottish and Welsh Committees. After all, each has most important problems to consider. It is common ground that the area and other committees have all functioned extremely effectively during the time since they were set up.
A number of matters have been brought to the notice of the Minister, and the recommendations that they have made have conduced greatly to the advantage of the users of the transport system. We seek information from the Minister whether there is any reason in his mind for making what seems to us to be an illogical and—I go further—an unreasonable distinction between the area committees and the Scottish and Welsh Committees.
After all, wherever we go in the length and breadth of the land, there are important problems which, collectively, the users of the road transport system would desire to voice, and the purpose of these committees has been, as it were, to collect 1732 the various representations made by and on behalf of the users into something coherent and sensible, and to put up the result of the joint representations of all users, in the last resort, to the Minister, so that he can give directions to give effect to them. I think everybody on both sides of the Committee would at once concede that the result of that process has been very materially to forward the interests of users of road transport and to improve generally the services provided.
That being the state of affairs, and, indeed, a state of affairs which everybody accepts—the Minister himself has frequently paid tribute to the general working of various organs of the Commission, and I am sure that he would include these committees—it was rather surprising to us to find these two special committees singled out for what seems to be a kind of preferential treatment.
Therefore, the first two Amendments have the object of bringing to the notice of the Government the fact that there is in their Bill what seems to be an unjustifiable distinction between the two sets of committees, and to bring about the result that they are all placed upon the same basis. The result would be that their recommendations would all find their way quite easily to the Minister, who would be enabled to make any directions as he thought fit if the recommendations were well founded. That is the first object. There may be a perfectly good answer, and, if so, no doubt the Minister would give it, but that answer ought, it seems to us, to justify the distinction.
The second object which we have in putting forward these Amendments is this. The road transport system having, as it were, been hived off the totality of the nation's transport system at which the 1947 Act aimed, it seemed to us that, if the Minister's directions are to be really effective for the purpose of protecting the private user of road transport services, it was logical, and indeed inevitable, that any directions which he gave as a result of recommendations which reached him from the users, through the medium of these committees, should be directions which would have to be obeyed, not only by the Commission, but by the private road hauliers who would now resume control of private road haulage 1733 Therefore, the third Amendment is designed to bring that about. It provides that, if the Minister has had these recommendations made to him by a committee, he may give directions, not only to the Commission, but also to the road haulage users. Hon. Members opposite may say that it is not so necessary in the private sector of road transport, because the individual user can cease to have further business relations with a private road haulier if he does not find him satisfactory, but that, I would submit to the Committee, is not an answer at all, for this reason.
The whole object of this system of Consultative Committees which act on behalf of users of road transport is to study, canalise and gather together in a kind of clearing house all the various representations which may properly be made on behalf of road transport users. A variety of different points may present themselves in a variety of different circumstances, and the object of these committees is that they should, all the time, by gathering together and digesting, get something which is single, coherent and cohesive, and that the total result in that form should be presented to the Minister for his consideration. That being so, we feel that, if this system of Consultative Committees is to continue and do the useful work which it has done hitherto, it really must be extended to bring into its scope the private road hauliers. Therefore, the second object we have in mind in these Amendments is to bring this about.
If I may shortly summarise our two purposes they are, firstly, to put the area Consultative Committees upon the same footing as the Scottish and Welsh Consultative Committees so that the same treatment is given to the recommendations of each of them, and so that they can all get to the Minister without having, as it were, to be sieved through the Central Consultative Committee.
The second object is to empower the Minister—in order to preserve the effect of the system that operates at present—to give directions, not only to the Commission, but also to the road hauliers. I would simply supplement what I have said by saying in addition that not only is that second purpose necessary, but that I would pray in aid what has been said on almost every Clause of this Bill, that 1734 if it is desired to preserve something like a fair balance between the Commission and the private road haulier, then it must be said that the private road haulier shall comply just as much as the Commission with the Minister's directions.
It is putting the Commission at a wholly unjustifiable disadvantage vis-à-vis the private sector of the industry if the Minister is only to be allowed to say to the Commission that it is to do or not to do some particular thing, but is to be virtually powerless to prevent private road hauliers doing or not doing precisely the same thing. Therefore, on general considerations of justice and in order to balance this very unbalanced Bill somewhat better, I also pray in aid the general argument of fairness as between the private and public sectors in commending the second purpose we have in mind.
Those are our objects, and for those reasons I commend these Amendments to the Committee. I know that right hon. and hon. Members opposite realise from their recent experience of being in Opposition how difficult it is to draft these things in the perfect form in which ultimately they have to appear in the Bill. Therefore, if there are defects in the Amendments—as I am sure there are—I hope that the Minister, even if he cannot accept them in their present form tonight, will say that he will take them away in order to put them in proper form and to embody their objects in the Bill.
§ Mr. Renton
The right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) has made a very interesting speech, and a slightly surprising one. I do not know whether he appreciates that the suggestion which he puts forward will have the effect of increasing the Minister's power of giving directions to the Commission. If he does not appreciate that fact, then, of course, his argument has a serious gap in it. But, if he purposely intends that, then I say that the intention is surprising, because earlier in the Committee stage we heard at least one of his hon. Friends putting forward the view that the Commission should remain, as the Socialist Party thought they had got it, fairly independent of Ministerial control.
Speaking purely for myself and not necessarily for any of my right hon. or hon. Friends, I personally would not mind seeing the Commission brought 1735 closer to Parliament through greater Ministerial responsibility. I make no secret of that. But, on the other hand, there is less need for Parliamentary responsibility if we are introducing greater freedom of competition and greater freedom of choice.
That brings me to the point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made about trying to make sure, as he put it. that the consumer was fairly treated by private enterprise. It will be for the consumer and the licensing authorities, acting in a sort of statutory partnership, to decide that for themselves. Quite candidly, I do not think that the Consultative Committees are likely to have an important duty in that respect, nor indeed will the Minister.
If this Clause concerns Consultative Committees, then perhaps without putting myself out of order I might say a word about them. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that they have done useful work. I do not think that all of the work has been useful. I was rather shocked when there was reference in this debate to London fares to find that these committees regarded themselves virtually as arbiters of whether or not the Commission were performing their statutory duties. I do not think that that is the function of these committees at all. Their function is to represent the interests, feelings and desires of the consumers and to leave it for the Commission and the Minister, if he comes into it at all, to decide to what extent those desires can be met.
I see that in Clause 28 (1) Monmouthshire is to be brought in with Wales and treated specially in the matter of the Minister's power to give directions. It is not a frivolous point that I am making when I say, in the absence of the President of the Board of Trade, that I hope that there are many hon. Members who feel, as I do, that this is perhaps a nice recognition of the magnificent work which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade did in the last two Parliaments in transport matters.
§ Mr. Mellish
I want to support my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) and to say first of all, in answer to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton), 1736 that even if the Consultative Committees have not come up to the high standard for which we had hoped, they have done a useful job of work in some instances and that that surely has justified their coming into being. It was because of the Labour Government's 1947 Act that we were anxious that the consumers should express their point of view. Had the Labour Party continued in power, one of the matters to which we would have given attention in the whole realm of nationalisation would have been this question of the voice of the consumer being heard much more than in the past.
It has to be remembered that the 1947 Act was in an experimental stage when we left office. It has been said often, even by the present Home Secretary, that it will take 10 years for the Act to develop. We were in an experimental stage with these Consultative Committees when the Tory Party came into power, which was a great tragedy for the country as a whole. Although this is the British Transport Commission, although our transport system is now a British and national undertaking, it does not appeal to the Tories at all, and they intend to give part of it back to private speculators.
The Amendment seeks to ensure that these Consultative Committees have some power to make representations against the private trader and that the Minister has power to deal with the private trader. What is wrong with that? I should have thought that that was a fair point. If a consumer has a grievanve against a private trader he should be allowed to express it, and there should be some means by which the Minister should be able to deal with the problem.
As has been quite rightly pointed out. it is going to be argued that we are now going to get this wonderful free competition and that if somebody does not like Messrs. Brown and Co. they can go to Messrs. Jones and Co. But it is not as simple as that. In some areas there will be only one person doing the job and it may be that a particular consumer will object to the way he is carrying the goods or to the rates he is charging.
I should not think there could be any objection to these Amendments, and I think the right hon. Gentleman might accept them.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
In the course of this Committee stage we have heard many complaints against my right hon. Friend and against this Bill. The Minister is seeking to place himself in a dictatorial position in regard to the transport industry, but there is no provision in this Bill which, under the wildest distortion, confers upon my right hon. Friend a tithe of the powers which this Amendment would give him if it were accepted.
Let me draw the attention of the Committee to the terms of these Amendments. They need look only at the last part of the third of the Amendments which we are now considering, which reads:…the Minister may give such directions with respect to any recommendations referred to in this subsection to carriers of goods or passenger traffic by road for hire or reward with respect to the matters dealt with by any such recommendations as he thinks fit and all such carriers affected by any such direction shall give effect thereto.
§ Mr. Powell
The Minister is placed in the position, if he receives a recommendation, of giving any directions that he thinks fit. He gives them not merely in accordance with the recommendations—although that would be bad enough—but as he thinks fit in relation to the matters referred to, and the persons to whom those directions come—the private citizens, the subjects of the Queen, must carry out that fiat. They have no appeal; they can demand no inquiry and they have no opportunity to make representations.
Never was a proposal put forward for giving a Minister such absolute discretion over the business and proceedings of private citizens. I am astonished that a subsection drawn in these terms should be put forward by the former Attorney-General. The charges of dictatorship which have been thrown across the Floor of the House were not serious at all, because the only conception of regulation which the Socialist Party have is precisely that of dictatorship.
I venture to say that this Amendment is the quintessence of Socialism. It connects up with the denigration of the road hauliers to which we have had to listen from the other side of the Committee only 1738 too often in the course of these debates. We were told last night that a number of these small hauliers have no standards of public honesty. I have drawn attention before to the fact that whenever the Socialists find that things are not running as they expected they accuse this or that section of the community of having inadequate standards of public morality. It never occurs to them that when a section of the community act in a way which does not conform with their plans and theories it is probable that something is wrong with those plans and theories.
The Opposition have been arguing on this matter of road transport any entirely contradictory cases, and the same contradiction is inherent in this Amendment. Half the Opposition have been telling us that the result of this Bill will be to throw the road transport industry back—that is always the word they use—into conditions of cut-throat competition where one haulier will be running against another to cut a few shillings off the margin.
That is one picture. But other hon. Members opposite say, "How are we to protect the consumer in future against the profiteering instincts of private enterprise? How can we possibly protect him against having the maximum possible fares and freights extorted from him by the private road hauliers?" The two arguments are entirely inconsistent, and they are both untrue.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), with whom, as he says, I have had many debates, asked me last night to deal with his allegation that the Bill is designed to take us back to pre-1933 conditions. I see that HANSARD has recorded me as saying in words which I recollect using in another place not long ago, "I will." The fact is that we are not going back to pre-1933 conditions precisely because the machinery of the 1933 Act is remaining intact and in force. None of the protection for the road haulage industry, none of that rationalisation and internal organisation which was conferred by the 1933 Act is in any way abrogated here. On the other hand, the mere fact that the 25-mile limit is raised by Clause 7, and that in future road haulage will be a competitive industry open to all who can convince the licensing authority that they can provide a service which is needed at a price is indeed the 1739 best possible of all protections for the user.
In this Bill we are introducing competition but not cut-throat competition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) had a most amusing little time last night in pursuing a very simple fallacy. He said that this Bill was designed to promote competition. Quite right. He then turned competition into cut-throat competition and pretended to be astonished when he came to a Clause in the Bill which was clearly intended to regulate competition. This Bill provides for a competitive road haulage industry in which competition is regulated. The two arms of the dilemma which hon. Members opposite have endeavoured—
§ Mr. Steele
We have been hearing about cut throats and horns, but quite frankly I cannot see any reference to either of these things in this Clause.
§ Mr. Powell
I am sure you will have observed, Mr. Hopkin Morris, that this Amendment not only makes provision for what the Consultative Committees may do, but for what a Minister may do upon the receipt of their recommendations. It was to this latter part of the Amendment that I was directing my attention.
We see when we come to consider these Amendments the importance for the consumer of the amendments which Clause 8 has made to the licensing procedure. The very fact that the licensing authority is now enabled to take into account the rates which are quoted by existing road hauliers for performing a service will enable the licensing authority and the licensing machinery to be more susceptible than ever before to the public need.
§ Mr. Mellish
What does the hon. Member think ought to happen if a Consultative Committee makes a recommendation, and what does he think the Minister will do with it?
§ Mr. Powell
I was about to remind the Committee of the reason why the 1740 Consultative Committees were invented at all. Consultative Committees were invented in an endeavour to protect the public against being exploited by a State monopoly. There has recently been a judgment in the courts on a matter in which the British Transport Commission were usurping and misusing their monopoly position, and I should like to remind the Committee of the terms in which "The Times" yesterday commented upon that judgment, because it is germane to the point just made by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish).
"The Times" said:Monopoly claims are the more dangerous when made by a corporate body in which vast monopolies are already vested.… His …that is, the judge's,… interpretation of the law …gives the public some confidence that here at least …very cautious words—… public ownership may not go hand in hand with reduced efficiency; there will be the pressure of private competition to secure that public enterprise will, in this sphere, give its best services to trade.It is because the consumer requires protection against a State monopoly that these Consultative Committees were invented.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Why did the Tory Party provide legislation for Weights and Measures and Food and Drugs inspectors, and so on? They were not to deal with State monopolies?
§ Mr. Powell
They are part of the general law. The hon. Gentleman might as well ask why any Act of Parliament lays obligations and limitations on the public.
In moving their Amendment, hon. Members opposite are unable to realise the difference between the world of State monopoly in which they would like to live and the world of free competition in which my hon. Friends and I wish to see the affairs of the country conducted. They remind me—perhaps within the shadow of the Guillotine the reminiscence is not entirely inappropriate—of the occurrences on the day that the Bastille was taken in the French Revolution. In those days the population of Paris were rejoicing in their new-found freedom, but there were a few exceptions to the general rulé. They were the people who had been imprisoned in the Bastille. They 1741 had only one request to make of their liberators, that they should take them back into the cells from which they had been liberated where they could enjoy the security of confinement.
It is in that frame of mind that hon. Members opposite, unable to realise the benefits which the Bill conveys to the consumers, are asking to be taken back into the Socialist prison house. The public of this country will not follow them.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sure that all my hon. Friends have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). We appreciate his difficulties and we hope he will succeed in working his way back soon and meeting the other members of the Conservative Research Office in some appropriate centre. I have this much in common with him. He was at one time a professor of dead languages, and I, too, was brought up on a diet of ancient philosophy and ancient history. The hon. Gentleman's philosophy would, I feel, be a little less ancient if he would only pay some attention to the history of this industry.
I do not propose to follow him in detail right out of the scope of the Amendment, but let us just see with some accuracy—for that was a habit of the Greeks, he will remember—what it is we are supposed to be talking about. We are supposed to be talking about the Central Transport Users Consultative Committee. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) carefully explained, in a speech which may have escaped the attention of the hon. Member—perhaps he was preparing his own—there are really two points here.
The first point is not a very difficult one. The Tory Party, we understand—and we try to learn about the principles of the Tory Party—stands for decentralisation; and I suppose it extends that to the Consultative Committees of the transport industry, although that takes a very curious form here. The Central Transport Users Consultative Committee, as has already been explained, always had direct access to the Minister. That is extended, especially, to two other committees—one for Scotland and one for Wales; but it appears to be denied 1742 to the other Transport Users Consultative Committee, and I find that very difficult to follow.
There is a strong case for home rule for Scotland. Indeed, I had the chance of drawing rather a lucky place in the Private Members' Bill Ballot, and I thought of introducing a Bill to repeal the Act of Union. That would make about the maximum legislative mess which a Private Member's Bill could possibly make. But while I appreciate the force of the demand for home rule for Scotland, and I most certainly realise that the Scottish Members and Scotland as a whole have their own peculiar problems and ought to have a very large measure of separate Government—I agree entirely with Scottish Members on that point— I cannot see that there is a particularly strong case about transport.
After all, one gets into a train at Euston and goes straight to Glasgow. It is the same train; whether under private or public enterprise, it has always belonged to the same owners, at any rate since 1921. I should have thought that the transport system as a whole scarcely provided for a separate transport system for Scotland, and much less for Wales. After all, there is only one small railway which operates entirely in Wales.
What we are considering here is the position of these Transport Users Consultative Committees in other parts of England. If we do that, let us remember that these bodies have always had one exceedingly important and simple function: they have been the machinery through which the small man, the local man, the small village, the moderately small collection of people in a country town could make their views felt.
I am not so much concerned with the degree to which that power has been exercised. All these Consultative Committees, including those under other Acts, are in a period of growth. But I am quite sure that the reasons for which they were set up were good and sufficient: and they were set up, not because it was a national monopoly, but simply because under previous arrangements there was no vehicle for getting at the large transport owners, whether railway companies or anybody else.
I recall having tried to get some change out of railway companies on small matters before the companies were nationalised. 1743 and I can assure right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—nor will they disagree—that the process was exceedingly tedious and in most instances most unsatisfactory. It was to try to meet that sort of situation that these committees were introduced. They were intended as general committees and were entitled to make representations, either to the Central Transport Users Committee or, ultimately, further on. They were entitled to make representations about transport as a whole; that is to say, representations both about rail and road.
Now that the Commission has virtually been reduced to a railway authority, the effect will be that the right that used to exist will be taken away. That is a matter of considerable actual importance, and of much greater potential importance, to ordinary people and small communities. My right hon. and learned Friend, in his speech on the second point, used the expression "road hauliers" in a sense that is right, but is not quite correct in the usual sense of the word. The Amendment refers to the carriage of passengers as well as to the carriage of goods by road.
Let me make a plea to the Minister and to the Committee as a whole for an immediate recourse to the Minister, and a real right, in respect of the passenger transport businesses in rural areas. After all, a large number of hon. Members on the other side represent areas of this kind themselves. It was suggested just now that this would be met in practice by a combination of the individual road haulier or road carrier—with some element of competition, whatever it may be—and of the licensing authorities.
I hope the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) will allow me to say that my own constituency is not very far from his, and I think I know what happens in that area. It is that one largish company, whether under public or private ownership, does the bulk of the work, and it is very rare for the licensing authorities to be able to make much out of the virtues of competition, whatever they may be, when it is a question of carrying passengers or goods in these rural areas.
§ Mr. Renton
I was referring really to the licensing authority for goods vehicles. That is the side of transport to which the 1744 right hon. and learned Gentleman referred. I did not entirely agree with what he said about the licensing authority for passenger vehicles, because the local authorities and other local people go before them and make representations.
§ Mr. Mitchison
In practice that is not much of a safeguard and it has not worked well. These areas, which are very important from an agricultural point of view and often, as in Northampton, from an industrial point of view, depend on these road carriers. The people who depend upon them are the inhabitants of small communities, manufacturers in a comparatively small way whether of boots and shoes or anything else, and people of that sort.
It is to those people that this right of organised representation that will come to the Minister finally is invaluable. Let hon. Members not say that the right has not been sufficiently exercised. I am inclined to agree with them about all of these Consultative Committees, but it has been exercised a bit and the exercise is certainly growing. It is our business as a Committee to encourage the growth of it.
I cannot think that hon. Gentlemen opposite will allow the philosophical considerations on a very high level of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, or of anybody of that sort, to interfere unduly with the protection of ordinary people in small communities, small manufacturers and so on, who need this kind of thing in order to make their voices heard. It will be a step towards making democracy in this country more effective if we get that kind of small community in touch with the central Government and if we can let it see what are the difficulties of the central Government and the difficulties in getting a local request met.
I hope the Minister and hon. and right hon. Members opposite will believe that I mean what I say. I want to plead with some fervour for the strengthening of this rather inchoate instrument of democracy. this means of giving effect to the grievances and needs of small people and small communities. If the Minister does not accept something on the lines of the second Amendment, then they are the people who will suffer. There will remain some right of recourse in connection with the railways, but that is a matter 1745 which concerns the big people rather more than the small people.
Road carriage means most to the small people and the small communities and they are the ones who merit our protection from the big interests in road carriage. They need protection from the excessive use of any central power, but they have not many means of making themselves felt. After all the protestations made from the benches opposite about the small man, the small business, and so on, here we are taking away from them one right they have.
I hope this matter will be approached by the Committee not in any party spirit, not—if I may say so with all respect to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—in any tub-thumping spirit, but with a real appreciation of the needs which in the past have been met to some extent, which remain to be met, and for which we should have a higher regard.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of order, Sir Charles. Is there a possibility of a Scottish Member being heard in connection with the proposed Scottish Consultative Committee before the Minister winds up the debate?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
If the rules of order will allow it, Sir Charles, as a Scottish Minister I am pleased to give way to the hon. Gentleman for a few moments if he wishes to speak.
§ Mr. Manuel
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and I hope I have not disturbed too much the arrangements that have been made. I shall be brief.
The Minister has explained that there is to be set up a new Scottish committee and Clause 28 says that the minutes of the Transport Users Consultative Committee are to be sent to the Minister. There is nothing to indicate what liaison there will be between the new committee which is to deal with the necessary integration of transport throughout Scotland and the Consultative Committee. What exactly is the relationship between the Consultative Committee and this new committee about which we have heard so much? Are they to get the minutes? How are they to deal with the complaints of users? We ought to he told something about that.
1746 9.30 p.m.
The Consultative Committee is of special importance so far as Scotland is concerned. The Minister should consider very seriously the second point that was made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice), that if the Consultative Committee sends forward complaints and suggestions relating to private hauliers—possibly in remote areas, where there is no alternative form of transport and no safeguard for freight rates or fares—the Minister should take cognisance of them.
I have in mind particularly the Highlands and areas where there is only one form of travel, which is owned by one company. My right hon. and learned Friend made the plea that the Minister ought to have power to safeguard the users. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will not stand aside and say that he has no power to direct the private interests in that connection.
As Minister of Transport, the right hon. Gentleman is responsible to the House as the custodian of publicly-owned transport throughout Britain. His whole tendency in connection with the Bill, and certain things I have heard him say, show that he is more concerned with privately-owned and operated transport than with his custodianship of publicly-owned transport. Surely, he does not think that publicly-owned transport has all the vices and privately-owned transport all the virtues. If he does, he should say so.
So far as Scotland is concerned, when the new committee is set up, what powers will it have to protect people in remote areas, particularly in the Highlands and rural areas, against too high freight rates and fares being charged? I make the plea that the Minister should reconsider whether he should not be able to give some direction to private transport as well as to public transport.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I did not realise when I gave way to the hon. Member that I was letting myself in for quite such a personal broadside, but I shall hope to deal quickly in sequence with one or two of the points that he made.
The right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice), who introduced three Amendments, said in conclusion that I could either reassure him if there was a reasonable answer, or, at 1747 least, give him a convincing defence of the propositions. I can reassure him, I think, in regard to the first two Amendments. When I heard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) I suspected that he knew what the Amendments would do, where as the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to apprehend what the consequences would be.
There is, as the Committee knows, a Central Transport Users Consultative Committee. Under the chairmanship of Major Cadbury, it has done most useful and disinterested work, and I should like to thank them on my own behalf—I know that my predecessor from the Labour Party would do the same—for the work they have put in. Not the least of the problems that comes to them is the very difficult one of the closing of branch lines in country districts, which comes up to them through the area committees.
While we are all anxious that the railways should not be obliged to continue unremunerative routes when there is, or should be, available alternative transport to be offered, none the less we recognise that a lot of local interests, traditions and prides are at stake and that there ought to be some medium whereby they find expression. Those committees have, as I said, given very valuable advice.
Now, it has been represented to us that in Scotland and in Wales there is a compelling case for giving the same sort of privileges to these area committtees as the Central Transport Consultative Committee possesses The privileges are the right of direct access to the Minister to whom the reports go and with that direct access—here I would warn the hon. and learned Member—goes the power of the Minister to issue a direction based on the receipt of that information from the central committee. It is thought right, and I wholly share the view, that Scotland and Wales should have the same right as the Central Transport Users' Consultative Committee have of direct access to the Minister, to whom they will send reports and he in his turn, if convinced of the need for some particular action, has the right to issue a direction to the authorities concerned. The Amendment would give the same right to all the area committees.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, there is, as Burns says, one point still greatly dark; that is, what power has this Consultative Committee to deal with places which public transport no longer serves?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am sure that Burns has something to say about that, but I was coming to the point in a few minutes. There are at the moment 11 area committees. If this Clause is agreed to, there will be nine area committees and Scotland and Wales will have area committees raised to a superior status. There does appear to us to be a particular case for Scotland and Wales having the same privileges as the Central Transport Users' Consultative Committee.
I have discussed this matter with Major Cadbury and attended a meeting of the Central Transport Users' Consultative Committee and put the considerations to them. We are anxious not to diminish the status of that central committee for reasons I will give, but we feel strongly that Scotland and Wales, quite apart from their national history and story, have particular transport problems, and it is not unreasonable that they should have the right of direct access.
If, as the right hon. and learned Member asked, the other nine area committees had the same rights, consider what it would involve. The Minister would receive reports from all these committees and they would come at the same time, I gather to the Central Consultative Committee. The Central Consultative Committee may make one recommendation to the Minister and the area committee might make another recommendation. The Minister might feel obliged to issue a direction to the area committee arising out of their complaint. The prospects of conflict in a body which exists in order to bring harmony in the areas and which is mainly to co-ordinate them are almost infinite and would in our view greatly diminish the value and prestige of the Central Transport Users Consultative Committee.
May I refer to the sort of people and interests represented? As the Committee know, Major Cadbury is the chairman and the Consultative Committee includes most eminent representatives of agriculture, commerce, shipping, labour, local authorities, transport and an independent member—I think they are all, in the most 1749 important sense, independent—appointed by the Minister. I hope that it is accepted that the Minister is capable of such an appointment.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Can the Minister tell us whether any of the representatives on the Central Committee today are also on the Welsh and Scottish Committees?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
In both cases they are, and it is proposed that the chairmen in Scotland and Wales should remain members of the Central Committee, as they are now, and that when reports come from those committees to me they should also go to the Central Transport Users Consultative Committee, who should pass on to me their comments on the reports. My power to issue a direction directly arising out of the Welsh or Scottish recommendations will remain undiminished. I do not think it would be a forward step to give each area committee, however important they are, a chance of direct access carrying with it in reverse the power of the Minister to give directions.
The hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central (Mr. Manuel) asked what would be the liaison between this committee—the Scottish Consultative Committee—and the proposed new committee, which I announced earlier in the course of debates on this Bill, relating to Scotland. What I said at the time, and I hope I may be pardoned for my repetition, is that we think it would be a good plan to have the chairman of the Scottish Consultative Committee also the chairman of the proposed new committee. In that way the closest possible liaison between the two bodies would exist, though I will come to the fact in a moment that their function is really rather different. I hope that that will at least reassure the right hon. and learned Gentleman in regard to the first two Amendments which he moved.
The third Amendment would, however, have a more substantial result. It would bring within the purview of this committee the road haulage industry and all passenger transport industry, whether publicly or privately owned. It would turn them into a continuous reviewing body of the transport needs or desires of the district.
§ Mr. D. Jones
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the 1750 Committee, but an Amendment which has already been made in Clause 16 (8) does bring publicly-owned passenger services within it already.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I know that very well. In fact, it was not an Amendment, it was part of the Clause. I was coming to that all in good time—and if Burns did not say that, he said something very like it.
If the Committee wish, I will deal with the two changes in the central committee consequent on the proposals in this Bill. There will be changes and in addition the purview of the committee will extend to the publicly-owned section of passenger transport. I will come in a moment to the reasons we cannot follow the suggestion in the Amendment and extend that to private passenger operators.
I said that I thought the last of the three Amendments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman is based on a misunderstanding. It is not the function of this committee to be a continuous reviewing body from which will flow Ministerial directions, but to be a watchdog of the public on monopolies in their district—[Interruption.] Well, that was the purpose of the operation when they were set up. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said, they were set up at a time when there was one vast public monopoly created in the field of transport. We are feeling our way slowly—
§ Mr. Manuel
There is one point. Would they also be responsible for a private monopoly, for instance, the hauliers of West Scotland?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am coming to that—I shall run out of my Burns quotations shortly. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, they were set up in order to protect the public against a large-scale public monopoly. That was agreed by the Act of 1947. We are feeling our way both in this case and outside; because 1751 people outside are discussing the matter and wondering how public control of this large-scale nationalised industry can be conducted without undue Parliamentary control and how to bring it back to a proper commercial competitive basis. This was one of the pieces of machinery devised—and we think wisely so—by our predecessors. But the purpose of this last Amendment would be to extend the scope of the committee to include first, road hauliers and second, private passenger operators—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I will deal with that.
The result of the provisions of this Bill is to take away from the Consultative Committee the power to inquire into recommendations about the road haulage activities of the Commission, because with the creation of the road haulage companies by the Commission, which they must do to retain sixth-fifths of their former railway holdings, they would pass from the purview of this committee. The justification for that is that there will be full competition in the field of road haulage, and where there is full competition the need for a body of this kind is not so apparent.
Now we pass to the field of passenger transport. What happens there? There is still a great degree of monopoly control in passenger transport, particularly in Scotland and East Anglia. Of the 14,000 passenger vehicles owned by the Commission, a very considerable number are grouped either in Scotland or in East Anglia. It is, in our view, appropriate that the Consultative Committee should be allowed to make recommendations about the use to which what is in part a public monopoly turns its resources.
I say to the hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central that Clause 16 (8)—which no doubt he had in mind in regard to, say. the S.M.T. services over a large part of Scotland— brings them wholly within the purview of the Committee. In our view it would be quite ineffective for the Minister to take powers of direction over other passenger operators, which would include municipalities. Imagine what would happen in the House of Commons if I, under this Amendment, issued a direction to a municipal authority on the recommendation of an area committee telling it to discontinue a service or to 1752 halve or double its rates. The House of Commons would be adjourned almost overnight.
The general effect of the last of these Amendments would be enormously to increase the power of the Minister in a field where we think that it would be wrong to do so. I am gratified that, after seven days of debate on the Transport Bill, the Opposition are prepared to entrust me with these far wider powers. I am gratified, but I am afraid that I must decline the compliment.
Finally, the Committee will have noticed that in this Clause we insert after "Wales" the word "Monmouth." I am advised that this is to correct a drafting error in the 1947 Act. I wish so much that the task of this Government in the field of regeneration could always be confined to relatively small matters like that.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If the task of the present Government had been confined to repairing such small errors as that, we should not have wasted the last seven days in this way. It is a great pity that the Minister did not confine himself to clearing up points like that. He could have been usefully employed. It is as well that the voice of Scotland should have been heard twice this evening. My right hon. Friend the Member for Clack-mannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) have both spoken.
I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire that when he refers to arrangements between the Front Benches he should realise that any arrangements entered into as far as I am concerned are for the purpose of discussing this Bill better and focussing the attention of the Committee on the greatest weaknesses and getting the maximum benefit for our own side out of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] What do hon. Gentlemen opposite think that the Minister does when he enters into discussion of this sort except try to get the best bargain for himself? If that is not the purpose of discussions, then there is no purpose at all and we might as well not enter into them.
We are discussing three Amendments. The first and second have been dealt with by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice). 1753 The Minister has told us what his attitude is. This Clause provides for direct access by the Welsh and Scottish Consultative Committees to the Minister. As a Welsh Member, I should like to say something about that. I think that this is a useful minor advance. I think that it will make no practical difference because, as the Minister said, the chairmen of the Welsh and Scottish Committees today sit on the Central Transport Consultative Committee.
It is within my knowledge, and that of others who have seen the minutes of the committees, that in fact any point raised by the chairman of the Scottish Committee or the Welsh Committee is dealt with by the Central Committee. If the chairman of the Scottish Committee were to bring a matter before his colleague on the Central Committee and ask for it to be submitted to the Minister, it is within my knowledge—and I am sure that it is within the knowledge of the Minister—that that request would not be refused.
§ Mr. Callaghan
My right hon. Friend tries to introduce prejudice into the discussion. I was only uttering a perfectly objective statement, from which everyone can draw their own conclusions, but my right hon. Friend is entitled to ask whether, if every point that is put forward by the Scottish member of the Central Committee can now be forwarded to the Minister, that is a less advantage to Scotland or Wales than direct access to the Committee. He is entitled to ask the question, and, no doubt, Scottish opinion will give the answer to it. He knows perfectly well, as everybody knows, that this represents a very little advance.
However, it is a concession that may be of use to the Joint Under-Secretary for Scotland, who has been scrambling vainly all through the discussion on this Bill to find something to say to the enraged Scottish populace in order to redeem his election pledges. I am sure he will flaunt this in his next election address, and much good may it do him, but, if he wishes to tell the truth, he will say that it makes very little difference.
As regards the next point, it is more substantial. and shows once again the 1754 prejudice which the Minister consistently shows throughout this Bill, as we expected, in favour of the road hauliers as against the British Transport Commission, and against the consumer, too. What can possibly be the objection to saying that these Consultative Commit- tees, whose job it is to review transport facilities in any area or in a country like Scotland or Wales, should not also have the responsibility of reviewing the facilities provided by road hauliers? For the life of me, I simply cannot understand what is the objection of the Minister and hon. Members on the benches opposite to including these people in the review. It seems to us to be the most elementary logic and common sense.
After all, the British Transport Commission are to be subjected, and are subjected, as often as the Consultative Committees meet, to constant public scrutiny of their actions, to examination by the Consultative Committees, to a review of their services, so that consumer needs can be satisfied. What our Amendment asks is that the Transport Users Consultative Committees should be able to consider complaints that are made to them by members of the public about private road hauliers' services. Is there really in logic any reason why they should not have the same powers of review if complaints are made?
The Minister says, "Oh, but these Committees were only set up because of the monopolistic powers of the British Transport Commission, and this was to protect the public against those monopolistic powers." I am bound to say that I do not believe that, and, having been in, at any rate, part of the beginnings of the 1947 Act, I can say that they were not set up for this purpose at all. But, assuming that they were, I should have thought that the Minister, following his own arguments through, when he got rid of the monopoly, would also have abolished the Consumers' Consultative Committee, and would have relied upon the free competition which the party opposite believe is the answer to all our problems solving all the complaints that members of the public may have about the services rendered to them.
I say to the Minister that he ought, in logic, to do one of two things. Either he should bring in the road hauliers, and 1755 also the British Electric Traction Company with its passenger services, into the review, so that they are placed alongside the British Transport Commission, or, alternatively, get rid of the Clause and leave the British Transport Commission as free as it will be under his proposals, the British Electric Traction Company and the private road hauliers to suffer complaints and to answer complaints through normal commercial methods.
No; the Minister once more wants to have it both ways. He wants to plant a barb into the British Transport Commission even where they have not got monopolistic powers, as they will not have once this Bill goes through, and, at the same time, to make it quite certain that his friends the road hauliers shall have no word of public criticism uttered against them on a Consultative Committee.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am not referring to any B.E.T. companies in Scotland, because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, they do not exist there. I am referring to that big empire which starts in Northumberland, Cumberland and Durham, stretches right through the Pennines, splits about Oxford, and goes southeastwards through Oxford, through the North Downs to the Maidstone and District and East Kent Car Companies, and south-westwards down to the National Bus Company in the west. I think that is a pretty good description of it on the spur of the moment, as I think the Minister will agree, and a good example of how monopoly operates.
I think the Minister is giving us a job after the next election. It seems even more clear that we shall have to take powers with regard to British Electric Traction in a way which we have not so far done. There are many features of this Bill which will give us that task. We want to see these transport Consultative Committees as the germ from which will spring the conception of road and rail transport integrated once more when the Labour Government are returned to power. We believe that if they were now given the power of review for all services, both public 1756 and private, within their area it would help very considerably as a first step towards the integration which we propose shall take place once again after the next General Election which we shall win.
I suppose this is the last speech I shall make at this stage of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I know that hon. Members opposite will be almost as relieved as I am to hear that. I shall conclude by saying to my right hon. Friends that I think we ought to divide on this particular Amendment in order to show the Minister that we do not believe he is being fair to the consumer or to one important State controlled body by placing burdens upon it which he is not prepared to place upon road hauliers. Because of that, I recommend my hon. Friends to divide on the Amendment.
§ The Chairman
I would point out to hon. Members that this is only wasting the time available to the Committee.
§ The Chairman
If an hon. Member rises to speak, and if he is called, he ought to be given a hearing.
§ Mr. Maude
Provided right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will allow me to be heard, I do not propose to detain the Committee for more than a few minutes. It seems perfectly clear to me that some answer ought to be made to the argument which has just been advanced by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). It is quite simple—as did the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison)— to advance arguments in favour of these Amendments by concentrating upon their comparatively innocuous feature and making no reference at all to the real sting in the tail.
It is perfectly easy to make a case by saying that the operations of private road hauliers ought to be subject to review in the same way as the operations of the 1757 British Transport Commission are subject to review. But the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East and the hon. and learned Member for Kettering made no mention at all of the powers of direction to the private road hauliers which are also included in the last of their Amendments. They know perfectly well that that is what they are trying to get through the Committee under the guise of a comparatively harmless series of Amendments; and it is precisely those powers of direction which make it impossible for us on this side of the Committee to accept the Amendments.
At one time some objection was taken opposite to the words of the Minister that under this Bill we were now going to have the chance to watch public and private enterprise in free and fair competition with one another. Hon. Members opposite said that it will not be that at all, because in the long-distance road haulage the two forms of enterprise will not be directly competitive. If that is true there is no point whatever in the powers of direction called for under this Amendment. On the other hand, if they are directly competitive, let there be fair competition between public enterprise, with the Minister enabled to have direction over public enterprise, and private enterprise relying on competition in the interests of the consumer to give the consumer the fairest service.
It must obviously be State enterprise versus private enterprise. It is an intolerable situation if we are either going to remove the powers of the Minister to direct State enterprise in the interest of the public on the one hand, or to remove the freedom of free enterprise to give a competitive service on the other. In that case it is not fair competition at all between the two forms of enterprise. I hope that when the Committee decide on the merits of the Amendment they will look closely at the powers inserted in the last Amendment, to which hon. Members opposite have been careful not to refer in their speeches, and will reject it.
§ Mr. Thomas Oswald (Edinburgh, Central)
On a point of order. Is it not a fact, Sir Charles, that you were on your feet reading the Amendment? This is the second occasion on which this has happened and an hon. Member opposite has risen to his feet. Is it within the rules of the House of Commons that they should be called in those circumstances?
§ Mr. P. Morris
Has it not been acknowledged by the Government on several occasions that the Guillotine is a penalty imposed upon the Opposition and that for that reason it is felt that the Government should give the Opposition every opportunity? Although there are several more Clauses the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) still wants to make the Guillotine more effective and deprive us of our opportunity.
§ The Chairman
Order. There is so much noise that the hon. Member cannot be heard. I called Mr. Fort.
§ Mr. Mellish
On a point of order. Surely it is the custom for the Opposition to wind up a debate of this kind and this debate has already been wound up.
§ Mr. Mellish
Cannot you possibly control the debate, Sir Charles, so that we can come to a conclusion on this Clause?
§ Mr. Fort
If I may say it to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite if they had spent less than one and a half hours, as they have during the past seven, just talking about the use of the Guillotine, all of us would have had more time to discuss these matters. 1759 As for the point which has just been made by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) I am certainly not going to speak for 25 minutes. There is no question but that if hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to wind up the debate they will not be prevented by me. All I want to do is to ask one or two questions of those who have moved the Amendment— particularly in regard to the last one—so that we can know more clearly than we have so far where we stand on the matters which they have put before us and which might have been more convincing if they had explained them earlier.
The matter which concerns me, and to which I want to get an answer— Mr. Norman Dodds (Dartford): Get on with it.
§ Mr. Fort
The hon. Gentleman is no more in order now than he was earlier. What I want to find out from the promoters of this Amendment is whether this is their last effort to torpedo the whole of this Bill. Have they introduced this in the last resort in order to prevent us carrying out our promises to the electorate at the General Election? May I have the attention of the hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are merely cutting off their own time. May I have the attention of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)? Will he exercise his right to speak again and tell us and the country frankly—as he has been doing so often throughout this debate—whether this Amendment is the last effort of him and his supporters to torpedo the whole of this Bill?
We should like to know that—and I could have made the point a good many minutes ago if his supporters had given me a rather fairer hearing than they have.
§ The Chairman
I thought the hon. Member was speaking to a point of order. I had already called the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr).
§ Mr. Lindgren
The purpose of the Amendments having been explained, all I am concerned to do is to emphasise why those associated with Her Majesty's Government will not concede that the Amendments should be allowed.
The Government—and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen behind them who support them—do not want the public to have the right to challenge private enterprise in its operation of transport in any area. Neither the Minister nor a single hon. Member opposite has justified in any shape or form the fact that there should be two sets of rules, one which should govern the Commission and the other which should govern the private traders. If it is correct that the public ought to have a right to discuss recommendations made to the Minister about the services provided by the Commission, then surely the public, having been deprived of the Commission's services in buses and road haulage which are to be provided by private enterprise, ought to have a right to discuss and consider recommendations made to the Minister about these private services?
What the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are afraid of is public criticism of the services provided, and this matter is as vital as the reports of the Traffic Commissioners to the Minister about private enterprise under the 1933 Act. But the Government are afraid of public criticism of the services provided by private enterprise, and it is for that reason and that reason alone, that they oppose the acceptance of this Amendment.
§ Mr. Lindgren
First of all there is no competition. In many areas there will be none because, in fact, there is not a living for two people in it. If there are 1761 two road hauliers in some of these places, within 12 months or two years they will amalgamate and in another 12 months or two years they will amalgamate with some other haulier lower down. The whole history of road haulage and passenger transport has been gradual amalgamations.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I was inclined to give way to the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr) if he was not—
§ The Chairman
I have not called the hon. Member. I have not called anyone. I was trying to get the Committee to come to a decision.
§ Mr. Morrison
If the hon. Member for Mitcham—I have no right to dictate to him—is going to make a short speech I will give way to him, but I want to make some observations for ten minutes or so afterwards.
§ Mr. Carr
I shall not keep the Committee more than a few minutes, but on this Amendment I have been getting up on my feet right from the beginning because there is one point I want to make, which is a direct answer to the main theme of the argument that has come from the other side of the Committee. We heard it again from the hon. Member for Wellingborough just now, who said that our motives in this and other Clauses were actuated by giving a preference to the private sector as opposed to the public sector of transport.
That is missing the whole point and is not the basis of this action at all. The basis of our action and the reason for discrimination in the treatment of one from the other is not to prefer one sector, but to determine whether a sector is a monopoly or a competitive undertaking.
In our opinion, the best protection for the consumer is competition. On the road haulage side we are instituting competitive conditions with the additional 1762 safeguard of the licensing system, but on the railway side of the undertaking we have a monopoly condition. We are applying public control and public supervision where there is a monopoly, but not where there is competition to safeguard the consumer.
If proof were needed of that, it is surely given by the fact that my right hon. Friend is removing from the road haulage side of the Commission's work the supervision of the Consultative Committees. Our action has been taken not as the result of prejudice on one side or the other in relation to ownership but on the principle of whether monopoly or competitive conditions exist in a certain sector. That is the reason for the Clause, and that is why we are doing this this way.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I rise to support the Amendment and to make some comments on this Committee stage which I think have some relationship to the Amendment. I do it, having read the speech of the present Home Secretary at the end of the Report stage of the Transport Bill, 1946, which was taken on the Floor, as distinct from the Committee stage which was held upstairs.
Our Amendment seems to us to be a matter of elementary justice. If it is the case that there are to be Consultative Committees which can investigate complaints by users and consumers of the transport services in the hands of the Commission, whether road commercial or road passenger services, it seems tor be a matter of the most elementary justice that the same considerations and facilities should be open to the public vis-à-vis privately-owned road commercial and road passenger transport. Yet that is not so under the Bill.
We must again call attention to the way in which Her Majesty's Government are treating a public authority, which, after all, has a prima facie case to be trusted more than private profit-seeking. undertakings, though I fully agree that, vis-à-vis the British Transport Commission and its ancillary undertakings, it is right that there should be opportunities for the users to complain and have their complaints investigated, for the committees to report to the Minister and for the Minister to have a power of direction arising out of those reports. 1763 However, a public authority knows that it is answerable to the nation, that its affairs can be intimately debated by Parliament on its annual report, that any night on the Adjournment it may be debated during the precious half hour which is available to hon. Members, that in the case of the British Transport Commission it can be debated on the private Bills which it promotes from time to time, and that the Minister has power of general directions in various ways. All these facilities are open in respect of a public authority, but for the most part they are not open in respect of private road haulage or private road passenger undertakings.
In these circumstances, surely it is not unreasonable that similar facilities should be open to the public in the case of private undertakings as in the case of public authorities. The only reason I can think of for the Government's resistance to the Amendment is the one which has obtained throughout the proceedings on the Bill, namely, that the Government have a prejudice against public authorities and public undertakings and that the Conservative Party regards itself as the chosen instrument of private interests wherever private interests exist.
I think it would be a good thing if we could refer to one or all of these Consultative Committees, asking them to report on the Committee stage of the Bill. They could produce an interesting report on how far it has been possible for Parliament, as the guardian of the public interest, to discharge its responsibilities in respect of the public interest. I think the Consultative Committee would have had to report something on the following lines—that on Clause 1, which involves the Commission having to dispose of road haulage undertakings, only three Labour Amendments were moved, although there were 15 on the Paper; and that the time allowed for this vast proposal was between 3.45 p.m. and 8 p.m. I am strictly following the Home Secretary—very, very closely following him. I have read his speech with great interest and admiration, and I hope he will do the same with mine.
In Clause 2, which sets up the Disposal Board, and in which there was the same bias that we find in the attitude to 1764 the Amendment which we are moving, we discussed the interests who are put on the Board—and public interest is inadequately represented. That discussion lasted only from 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. All the way through these Clauses, in many cases our Amendments have not been called or have not been debated because there was no time; the Closure fell on essential issues of high policy in the Bill, and the Committee has not been able adequately to discuss these essential issues.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
On a point of order. May I ask you, Sir Charles, whether the right hon. Gentleman is not now developing a speech on a Motion to report Progress? This has nothing to do with the Amendment.
§ The Chairman
I am allowing the right hon. Gentleman to do what I allowed the present Home Secretary to do in Standing Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. Morrison
Further to that point of order. I am basing my own procedure on the speech made on the Floor of the House on 30th April, 1947. It is true that that followed the Report stage, but there was no Committee stage on the Floor of the House on that occasion, so that this is analogous. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Certainly it is. On that occasion the present Home Secretary reviewed the time available for various matters on the Report stage—and if he could do it then, I can do it now. I submit to you, Sir Charles, and to the Committee, including the majority opposite who have imposed this Guillotine upon us, that it is not too much to expect that in these last few minutes which remain at our disposal the Opposition should have an opportunity to review the Committee stage of the Bill.
§ Mr. Fort
On a point of order. Could you, Sir Charles, ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, for the sake of completion, he would enlarge on what he has said by telling the Committee the amount of time he gave to us in 1947 by comparison with the time which we have given to the Opposition for this Bill?
§ The Chairman
That is not a point of order. Dealing with the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman, I thought he was referring to the Standing Committee, of which I was Chairman. I was not 1765 responsible for the Report stage. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not go very much wider.
§ Mr. Morrison
May I put it to the hon. Member for Clitheroe (MT. Fort) that he has already occupied some time which might fairly have been left to the Opposition? If he badly wishes to interrupt me, I will give way, but I think it would have been better had he left to the Opposition that time which he has already occupied.
§ Mr. Morrison
There are two answers to the hon. Gentleman. One is that it was more time than has been allowed on this Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, and—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way. He made a definite statement of fact, and I know that the Committee wants to know the facts. In 1947, the average time given per page to the Bill was 35 minutes, compared with the 1952 average of 56 minutes—
§ The Chairman
I do not think we should pursue this matter. It has nothing to do with the present Bill.
§ Mr. Morrison
The question I was asked was the comparative time of the Committee stage on our Bill compared with this Bill. I say that the comparative time allowed for the Committee stage on our Bill was materially longer than the Committee stage allowed on this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what the hon. Gentleman asked me. The Minister, not content with his hon. Friend's losing my time, must jump in and lose some of my time as well. I gave a fair answer to the hon. Gentleman on the question he put to me. When the present Home Secretary made this speech in the House—[An HON. MEMBER: "On the Report stage."] It does 1766 not matter. The principle still obtains—he was not subjected to a single interruption either from another hon. Member or from the Chair. Night after night we have been in the position we are in on this Amendment tonight, namely, our Amendments are not reached, Clauses are put through—
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Can you tell the Committee, Sir Charles, whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to desert all his arguments on the Amendment and to develop an argument in favour of a Motion to report Progress? Is it in order, is it apt, appropriate, and dignified, and according to our Parliamentary tradition for the right hon. Gentleman to leave his speech on this Amendment and to give my right hon. Friend no time to reply to the debate?
§ The Chairman
The point of order was unnecessary. We have only a minute to go and I hope we shall manage to contain ourselves for that time.
§ Mr. Morrison
The Minister has already replied, and therefore that point falls. Perhaps the noble Lord—[An HON. MEMBER: "Not so noble"]—in pursuance of his nobility will think up something else. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] Well, it was effective, anyway. We have been endeavouring throughout the proceedings on the Bill—[Interruption.]Even the entry of the Prime Minister—[Interruption.]—Hon. Gentlemen opposite are adding to the Guillotine by gagging in an effort to shout me down but I am going on with my speech. I can only say to the Prime Minister that I am glad he has not been here—
It being half-past Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 244; Noes, 263.1771
|Division No. 59.]||AYES||[10.30 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Hannan, W.||Parker, J|
|Adams, Richard||Hargreaves, A.||Paton, J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Peart, T. F.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hastings, S.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Hayman, F. H.||Popplewell, E.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Porter, G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Herbison, Miss M.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Baird, J.||Hewitson, Capt M||Proctor, W T.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Hobson, C. R.||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Bartley, P.||Holman, P.||Rankin, John|
|Bence, C. R.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Reeves, J.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Houghton, Douglas||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Benson, G.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Beswick, F.||Hughes, Emrys, (S. Ayrshire)||Rhodes, H.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Ross, William|
|Blyton, W. R.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Royle, C.|
|Boardman, H.||Janner, B.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E|
|Bowden, H. W.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Short, E. W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hll)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Snow, J. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jones, T. W (Merioneth)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Keenan, W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Kenyon, C.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Carmichael, J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Champion, A. J.||King, Dr. H. M||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Chapman, W. D.||Kinley, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Swingter, S. T.|
|Clunie, J.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Coldrick, W.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Collick, P. H.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lewis, Arthur||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lindgren, G. S.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Logan, D. G.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||MacColl, J. E.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||McInnes, J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McLeavy, F.||Thornton, E. (Farnworth)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Tomney, F.|
|Deer, G.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Manuel, A. C||Wallace, H. W.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Mayhew, C. P.||Weitzman, D.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mellish, R. J.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Messer, F.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Ewart, R.||Mikardo, Ian||West, D. G.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Field, W. J.||Monslow, W.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Moody, A. S.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Finch, H. J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Follick, M.||Morley, R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Foot, M. M.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wigg, George|
|Forman, J. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mort, D. L.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moyle, A.||Willey, F. T.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mulley, F. W.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Murray, J. D.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Aberlillery)|
|Glanville, James||Nally, W.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Oldfield, W. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Oliver, G. H.||Winterbottem, Richard (Brightside)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Orbach, M.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Grey, C. F.||Oswald, T.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Padley, W. E.||Yates, V. F.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Paget, R. T.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Paling, Rt, Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coine Valley)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Mr. Pearson and|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Pannell, Charles||Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Garner-Evans, E. H||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Godber, J. B.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Gough, C. F. H.||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Gower, H. R.||Nicholls, Harmer|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Grimond, J.||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Odey, G. W.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||O'Neill, Phetim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Hay, John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Heath, Edward||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Osborne, C.|
|Black, C. W.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Partridge, E.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hinchinabrooke, Viscount||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Brains, B. R.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Holland-Martin, C. J||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hollis, M. C.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Holt, A. F.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Horobin, I. M||Profumo, J. D.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Redmayne, M.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr N. J.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hurd, A. R.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Carr, Robert||Hyde, Lt.-Com. H. M.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Channon, H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackleg)||Russell, R. S.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Johnson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Keeling, Sir Edward||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Cole, Norman||Kerr, H. W.||Savory, Prot. Sir Douglas|
|Colegale, W. A.||Lambert, Hon. G||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lambton, Viscount||Scott, R. Donald|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Legh, P. R (Petersfield)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Crosthwait-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Linstead, H. N.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Longden, Gilbert||Speir, R. M.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Low, A. R. W.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, G. P.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||McKibbin, A. J.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Maclean, Fitzroy||strauss, Henry (Norwich, S)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Drayson, G. B.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Summers, G. S.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas(Richmond)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macpherson, Maj Niall (Dumfries)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncaslle)||Teeling, W.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Thomas, P. J. M (Conway)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Fell, A.||Markham, Major S. F.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Marples, A. E.||Tilney, John|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Turner, H. F. L|
|Fort, R.||Maude, Angus||Turton, R. H.|
|Foster, John||Maudling, F.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Fraser, Han. Hugh (Stone)||Maydon. Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Vosper, D. F.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Mellor, Sir John|
|Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)||White, Baker (Canterbury)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Walker-Smith, D. C||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||York, C.|
|Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Watkinson, H. A.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)||Wills, G.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Kaberry.|
§ The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at half-past Ten o'Clock.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.