§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
On a point of order. I ask for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, whether it is, in fact and after due consideration, in order to debate a subject which may be the subject of a prosecution under the Official Secrets Act, owing to the fact that the gentleman, Mr. Hardie, who has been referred to in connection with the subject that we are to debate, has revealed, contrary to the Official Secrets Act, a Government decision to raise the price of steel. That being so, is it in order to debate a subject which may yet be the subject of such a prosecution?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is in order. I have heard nothing about the prosecution, but the existence or absence of a prosecution in the future is hypothetical.
§ Mr. Hale
I beg to move (under Standing Order No. 9), "That this House do now adjourn."
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just intervened on a point of order has raised a remarkable point in relation to the Minister of Supply, whose last principal contribution to the debates of this House was when he was protesting against a paper sent to him in connection with the Official Secrets Act because of certain information that he was alleged to have communicated when he was a Territorial officer. I cannot congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman on his tact in raising that matter.
I move this Motion for the purpose of calling attention to an urgent matter of definite public importance, namely, the conduct of the Minister of Supply in relation to the resignation of the Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corporation. It is one of the curiosities of the proceedings of this House that these matters have to be raised at the earliest possible moment before all the information is available, and that they have to be debated before all the information is available. So far as I know I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hardie and have had no communication from him. So far as he is concerned, there is no information 775 available to me that is not available to any Member of this House.
I should like to add that the House will be aware that, in a sense, it was almost by way of accident this afternoon that I found myself charged with this duty. I hope very shortly to have the support of my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Supply, who has a much greater knowledge of these matters than I and who could much more appropriately have moved this Motion, but for that accident.
The first point that one would put, in the somewhat uncertain circumstances, is this: If you have a constant series of threats to murder someone, and if they are accompanied quite often by the assertion, "We are not in a position to do it now, but just you wait until we can do it"; if motives are made clear and hatred is shown, and if public expression is given to that hatred; then the court, after the potential murderers have got into the position to commit the crime if they think fit, should at least hold that there is a pretty strong case for investigation as to whether the whole series of events is related.
In this case, unfortunately for the Minister of Supply, there is a dying statement which is available to be quoted from the daily Press. Mr. Hardie, in resigning this exceedingly important post, a post quite vital to the progress of our trade and industry, a post of the highest responsibility in which one would have thought that a distinguished man should have the same protection as is afforded to the humblest civil servant in the pursuance of his duty, wrote a resignation letter which opened like this:My Dear Minister,I have given serious consideration to the differences in policy in regard to prices and other fundamental matters apparent between us in recent conferences. I recognise, moreover, that the divergence of view between us is unfortunately such that there is little prospect of reaching that basis of constructive and harmonious working which I had hoped we might attain.I shall not read the whole letter. I am sure that the correspondence has been read by everybody who is present in this debate, and there is a limited time for the debate. I am not anxious to take up unnecessary time. [HON. MEMBERS: 776 "Hear, hear."] I am grateful for that support. Mr. Hardie concludes his letter:In my opinion the combined effect of the direction dated 13th November, 1951, given by you to the Corporation, the statement you made to the House of Commons at the time, and your policy towards the Corporation since, is to prevent me from carrying out my duties and responsibilities as chairman of the Corporation.That is a direct charge against the propriety of the action of the Minister himself. It is a clear charge, to which wide publicity has been given and made under the responsibility of a distinguished public servant occupying the highest position.
What was the attitude of the Minister this afternoon? I should think for the first time in the history of the House of Commons we saw the spectacle of a Cabinet Minister, when his own conduct was impugned, rising on a point of order to try to prevent his conduct from being impugned. I venture to suggest that never in our political history has this House, which has always valued the independence and integrity of its Ministers, had to witness so lamentable a spectacle.
I do not propose, unless I am challenged on the matter, to deal in detail with the many points that Mr. Hardie raised, but it is clear from his very long statement that Mr. Hardie has had constant difficulties over a period and that he has, according to his view, been placed in a position in which it became increasingly impossible for him to carry out his important duties.
There are two points to which I must give attention. You, Sir, were good enough to give us guidance of a preliminary character on the ambit of debate in the course of these proceedings. Your Ruling was made, as I understand it, on the basis of the statement made by the Minister of Supply that an Order had been made which was going to affect steel prices. Therefore there would be an early opportunity of debating the question of steel prices.
In the very limited time which has been possible since the proposal for this debate was initiated, we have made such inquiries as we could. So far as I am able to trace, there is no copy of any such Order in the Library of the House of Commons, and therefore we are in the position that we have it only on the statement of the Minister that an Order is to be made. Thus the ambit of the debate may be 777 limited by the suggestion that an Order may come forward which no one has yet had an opportunity of reading. [Interruption.] There is a voice which appears to be well-informed and which says that the Order has been signed today. I understand that it appears from the Votes and Proceedings that it has been laid today.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
May I say that, like my hon. Friend, I have tried to find this Order? There is a copy of this Order in manuscript with "January" crossed out and "February" written in with, so far as I can find, no authority given for the alteration. I understand that it was deposited in the Votes and Proceedings Office together with Schedules amounting to some thousands of words. No effort has been made, so far as I discover from the staff of the Library, to see that hon. Members get a copy of this document, on which the ambit of the debate is to depend. From the quick look I have had of this Order, it seems very different from that described by the Minister of Supply.
§ Mr. Hale
The Minister of Supply is on the Government Front Bench, and he will no doubt tell us something about the Order when he rises to take part in the debate. I do not want to waste time in raising points of detail on a matter of broad general principle, but these seem singularly unfortunate proceedings to which we may have to draw attention when we have considered precisely what has happened.
I do not challenge for a moment your Ruling that the question of steel prices can be excluded by the fact that an Order has been made or laid, is being made or laid, or will probably be made or laid, but I would at least suggest to you that we must be able to discuss the reasons for Mr. Hardie's resignation without discussing in detail whether those reasons are appropriate or not, and that in so far as Mr. Hardie gives reasons for his resignation we must be in a position to quote those reasons or there can be no effective discussion at all.
I must call the attention of the House to what did happen in connection with the Iron and Steel Act. The appointment of the Corporation was made, if I remember rightly, after the House had risen in July, 1950. There was a debate on this matter during the short re- 778 assembly of the House for a few days in September, 1950. Then we had the extraordinary procedure of a further debate on the same matter in February, 1951. Indeed, we watched the attacks upon the Iron and Steel Corporation growing from day to day. In many respects we saw the power of the Press used to denigrate the members personally. We had a Question on the Order Paper of the House of Commons from one hon. Member asking if it were not true that somewhere in his remote past one of the members—not Mr. Hardie—had been a member of the Communist Party. Speaking for myself, I thought that was the sort of allegation which was confined to the lowest semi-Fascist forces in the United States of America.
It is not my desire tonight to add any fuel to the fire of controversy. I am trying to present a case without calling in the evidence of people of no great importance or of people with no great sense of responsibility. I prefer to refer the House to what the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said on this matter in the course of debate. [An HON. MEMBER: "Call in the Communist Party."] I am sure that was a most intelligent comment but, unfortunately, I did not hear it, so I cannot deal with it.
The Prime Minister made two speeches on this matter and his speech on the second occasion summarised clearly what was being said—but I have forgotten one other matter to which attention ought to be drawn. There was another speech. I have not in these last three hours been able to verify my references and therefore what I say is from recollection and with no certainty. One distinguished member of the Conservative Party made a speech about Quislings, and I think it was made at the Brighton Conference of the Conservative Party. I have not the exact words, but what he indicated most clearly in that speech was that anyone who joined a nationalised board was a Quisling and would be dealt with as such. The purport of that remark was not that the man was a traitor to his country but that he was a traitor to his class.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not want to limit the freedom of this discussion but the hon. Gentleman is getting some way away from the conduct of the Minister. I accepted the Motion on the understanding that what was to be discussed was the action 779 of the Minister, in the words of the Motion, in forcing the resignation of this gentleman. I ask the hon. Gentleman to confine himself to that.
§ Mr. Hale
The point I am making is a perfectly simple one, Mr. Speaker, and may I put it to you respectfully? I am saying that there is evidence on which this House can assume that Mr. Hardie has been deliberately forced to resign, to remove himself from the Corporation. I am producing quotations to show that it is clear that the Conservative Party Conference was told that that course would be taken and that the present Prime Minister—[Interruption.] If I may refer to the speech of the Prime Minister in the course of the debate, headed "Iron and Steel Industry," but which was essentially at that time a debate on whether or not the Corporation should have been appointed, I find some remarks that I quote with very real reluctance when I think—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, quote them with very real reluctance—What is this new dispensation under which we have now to live, and into which the steel trade is to be plunged? The modern world, with all its varieties, has, I think, produced a no more curious figure than that of the millionaire Socialist, or Socialist millionaire.It is fair to say to the right hon. Gentleman that obviously he does not think it wrong to be a millionaire because few people have associated with so many. It is right to say, too, that he obviously does not think it very wrong to be a Socialist because he called in the help of Socialist Ministers to assist him at the worst period of the war. What he does think is wrong is the mixed marriage. He thinks it is wrong for the classes to intermingle, because they might breed. Then he went on to say:Here is a type, very rare, but when it appears very potent. We have a type of mentality in the Socialist millionaire which reconciles the most violent denunciation of the capitalist exploitation of the proletariat with the fullest enjoyment of its fruits.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hope hon. Members opposite will applaud the next two sentences. This is what was being said, not about nationalised industries in general or about individuals on them, but about Mr. Hardie in particular. It was being said by the person who is now Prime Minister, and I ask hon. Members opposite to applaud 780 when I have finished the next two sentences.There are a few in every country. Herr Krupp, who was, and may be again, a millionaire, and was certainly a Nazi Socialist, is a case which springs to the mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 1758.][HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] I wonder that hon. Members do not sink in shame when they hear a quotation of that kind. I do not know from what kind of springs that comes to mind, but they are pretty dirty and cloudy waters, and it is a pretty filthy mind which makes a statement like that.
I do not intend to detain the House for long. I have tried to do no more than to make clear to hon. Members why we consider this matter is one of urgent public importance. Across the Atlantic they live under a dispensation in which the personnel of all Ministries change as the party changes, but we had hoped that we were a little beyond that. I know that the attack made on my right hon. Friends above the Gangway in the constituencies is all too often that they appointed far too many people of the other party to posts instead of appointing people from their own.
I believe this is the only case in which it is said that the chairman of a great nationalised industry happened to be by chance a member of the Labour Party—[An HON. MEMBER: "Citrine."] Yes, indeed. I am much obliged, but he was not originally appointed as chairman, he took the place of somebody else. At any rate the point is sufficiently obvious when, in the case of 15 nationalised industries, they are able to quote only one.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply has held office for some six weeks and I have not been able to trace him as having taken part in the steel debates in the past to any great extent. Nor indeed, so I believe, was he supposed to know anything much about supply. So the attacks made upon the Steel Corporation, which suggest detailed experience of the job, comes a little ill from an appointment such as his under these circumstances—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nepotism."]
We are anxious to know why this course has been taken in secret, why the Chairman is now able to say that these 781 differences had gone on over this period, why he now makes public in detail an allegation that his occupation of his post has become intolerable. When that is said in public, and when there is such overwhelming evidence in the documents, in the debates, in the newspapers and in the journals of a deep-seated and bitter antipathy based upon political hatred which has gone on since the days of his appointment, and which has been expressed in terms so surprising as some of those to which I have drawn attention, then obviously it is in the interests of this House to make immediate and urgent and cogent inquiry.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss (Lambeth, Vauxhall)
I beg to second the Motion.
I fully agree with the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), that ever since Mr. Hardie was appointed Chairman of this important Corporation there has been a permanent, spiteful vendetta waged against him by Conservative politicians and Conservative newspapers. If that were in doubt, the jeers and the ironic cheers which met some of the remarks of my hon. Friend when he referred to Mr. Hardie as a distinguished public servant, as he indeed was, amply prove that this gentleman still has today the antipathy of the Members who sit on the other side of the House and that his important work, on the success of which the welfare of this industry largely depends, has throughout been made as difficult as possible by the actions and attitude of the Conservative Party.
It is necessary when we are considering this resignation and the reasons for it to ponder for a moment, and to recall the conditions under which he was appointed. There was a great antipathy by the Conservative Party to his appointment, because it broke the political strike initiated by Steel House to prevent the Iron and Steel Act ever operating. It will be remembered that the edict had gone out from Steel House, and documents supporting this allegation have been published in the Press, discouraging as strongly as possible any person of standing in the iron and steel industry to serve on the Corporation. The reason for that edict was quite plain. It was implicitly stated that it was hoped that if nobody 782 with experience in the industry served on the Corporation, it would be impossible for the Government to carry out the Act which Parliament had passed.
That request, or edict, by Steel House undermined, as I and my colleagues maintain, the foundations of our Parliamentary democracy. The Act of Parliament had been passed and it was the duty of Government and of every democratic citizen to see that that Act was implemented as well as possible. This action by Steel House was warmly supported by the Members of the Conservative Party in this House. They therefore greatly resented the appointment of a man distinguished in business to the Chairmanship of the Corporation, because it defeated the Conservative plan to sabotage the Act of Parliament.
Mr. Hardie, it must be appreciated, accepted the offer to serve as Chairman of the Corporation at considerable personal sacrifice, but he felt it his duty to do so because it would enable him to use his long, valued and immense experience in conducting large-scale industrial organisations, in helping to make this basic industry an efficient organisation, serving wholly and solely the national interest. Parliament had decided that the Corporation should undertake certain duties and responsibilities to the industry, and Mr. Hardie had felt it his duty to serve on that Corporation and to use his talents in making it a success.
There are two other reasons why the party opposite disliked Mr. Hardie and carried out this vendetta against him on every possible occasion. One was that he was a successful business man, of high standing and great respect; it was therefore impossible to ridicule the Corporation or its Chairman, as the Conservatives would like to have done if a nonentity had been given this post. They could not deny that this was a man of considerable standing, knowledge and experience, and they resented him for that reason.
The second reason, which was referred to by my hon. Friend is that he was a supporter—rather remote and not a very active one, but a definite supporter—of the Labour Party ideals; and whereas the party opposite thought it always perfectly right to appoint Conservatives to any job, they thought it wholly wrong that we should 783 appoint someone—not because of his political opinions, but because of his standing and experience—to carry out this important task because he happened to believe in the principles on which the bill was founded. We did not take that view.
Thirdly, there is one more reason why the party opposite disliked Mr. Hardie; and reference has been made to this matter frequently in Conservative papers, and in financial papers, too. They said, "This man has too strong a personality. He is a difficult man to deal with." In other words, he was a man who was not prepared to be browbeaten by the political leaders of the industry—and very powerful people they are.
I confess to the House that one of the reasons why I appointed Mr. Hardie was that, apart from his great capacity, he was also a man of strong personality. I knew well that if the Corporation was to be a success and to carry out the duties which Parliament had imposed upon it, it was essential that the Corporation should be strong, should act vigorously and should not be deceived or browbeaten continually by the political leaders at Steel House.
I maintain—I do not know that anybody has contradicted this, and I have not seen any attack on this matter supported by any evidence—that Mr. Hardie and the Corporation of which he was Chairman—an active and dynamic Chairman—carried out his duties, and the Corporation their duties, exceedingly well; that the changes they brought about were good changes and beneficial. I challenged the Government, the last time I spoke on this matter, to point to one single change brought about which had done harm to the industry. I quoted a number of important ones which had brought great benefit to the industry.
Mr. Hardie had adopted the policy —I had many discussions with him about this throughout—that he was going to move slowly forward; that he was going to take no step or any action concerning the steel industry without having discussion and consultation with anybody and everybody in the steel industry with knowledge on the matter or a special interest; that he would 784 go forward in a co-operative spirit, and never impose his will or that of the Corporation on the industry in any matter whatsoever without having the longest and fullest discussions.
On one or two occasions when I talked over the problems of the industry with Mr. Hardie, as I did regularly, I must confess that I was sometimes slightly impatient at the slow progress which the Corporation were making, and I thought sometimes that they were paying far too much attention to what I considered to be oppositionist consultations—rearguard actions—by leaders of the industry, who were trying to prevent the Corporation carrying out its duties.
However, that is as may be. Great progress was made. Good will was being slowly and effectively established right throughout the steel industry by the Corporation, under Mr. Hardie's leadership. I have not taken a census, of course, but from my knowledge and experience I believe it would be found that a large section, if not the majority, of the managerial classes in the steel industry would say that the changes which they feared would damage the industry have not been brought about, that there has been ample co-operation and consultation throughout, that benefits have been substantial, and that they are grateful to the way in which the Corporation has proceeded.
§ Mr. Strauss
What has happened? Mr. Hardie, I know, when the change of Government took place, intended to remain as Chairman of the Corporation if he were permitted to do so, because he felt it was his duty to carry on that post in the spirit of a trustee in respect of those duties and responsibilities imposed upon the Corporation by Parliament.
But the position slowly and steadily became impossible. The actions of the Government, and of the Minister of Supply in particular, undermined the authority and the position and responsibility of the Corporation, and the result is that now, as the culminating incident—this is only the culminating incident—of a disagreement on prices, Mr. Hardie has felt that he has been forced to resign. The only alternative was to carry on in an intolerable situation and take responsibilities he was not prepared to take.
785 It is quite untrue, as the Minister of Supply said, that the only reason given for his resignation was disagreement over the prices. My hon. Friend has already quoted the resignation letter of Mr. Hardie, in which he states the reason quite clearly. I will quote the sentence again:In my opinion the combined effect of the direction, dated 13th November, 1951, given by you to the Corporation, the statement you made in the House of Commons at the time, and your policy towards the Corporation since is to prevent me from carrying out my duties and responsibilities as Chairman of the Corporation.So prices were just the final straw that broke the camel's back and there are many other reasons for disagreeing which, in Mr. Hardie's opinion, justified his resignation. The most important, quite clearly from his letter, is that direction given by the Minister to the Corporation and that direction which was outlined to us in the statement the Minister made in the House. I have not seen the directive myself, I merely remember the Minister's statement. It was, in fact, that the Corporation would not be allowed to proceed to carry out any re-organisation schemes in the industry without obtaining the prior consent of the Minister.
What does that mean? Here is a Corporation taking responsibility for an industry which it finds requires considerable re-organisation to make it really effective and efficient. An immense amount of regrouping was necessary. Plans, particularly in South Wales, in which the Corporation were concerned were urgently necessary in order that the industry should perform at its best and render maximum service to the country.
There were many units in the industry which were inefficient, and many which were efficient. All required alterations, it may be changes in the members of their boards, or reorganisation.
All this work required doing, but the Minister said, "You are not to do it unless you come to me first and get my consent." It was plain that the Minister would not give his consent to any such change unless all the directors concerned agreed, and that if the directors said that it was all wrong and that pending de-nationalisation there should be no changes and improvements, the Minister would certainly have supported the 786 directors and turned the Corporation down.
That meant, in effect, that the Corporation and the Chairman, with his particular responsibility, were bound to sit back and see the inefficiency, unable to move a finger to do anything about it. They could not get rid of directors who were no good, nor bring about regroupings which were required, because the Minister said it could not be done without his consent, which certainly would be withheld. That was a consideration which made it practically ineffective as the authority responsible for Parliament and to the country for the welfare of the industry.
There were many other things the Corporation were doing. They were engaged in technical work with three or four of the best technical experts in the industry seconded to work out improved and structural and financial problems, and they were getting on very well indeed until this Government came into office. Then, of course, that work stopped and all this work on re-organisation had to come to an end.
Perhaps an even more urgent anxiety was this—I know Mr. Hardie was much concerned with it—finding that the organisation responsible for buying raw materials for the industry was wholly inadequate. One of the reasons in his mind—and I think he was right—which caused our lack of raw materials was the absence of an effective purchasing organisation for the industry. One existed, the British Iron and Steel Corporation, an offshoot of Steel House. Preliminary steps were taken to put it right and to put good people on it. I suppose that because of the directions of the Minister that work could not proceed and the industry was faced with having further shortages of raw materials, maybe, in future years owing to the impotence of the industry to see that a proper organisation was set up to produce the materials which were needed.
The final and important work on which the Corporation were engaged was that of preparing development plans for the industry. The industry requires a great deal of development. Boasts have been made in the past about the amount of development which has already taken place. It will be remembered that when the Labour Government came into office the industry said they had plans to put 787 into operation £168 million worth of development in the industry and that it would be carried out in five years. They used that as an argument against nationalisation. But the Corporation found that between a third and a half of those plans had not only not been completed but had not been started. Yet obviously a great deal of development was required.
I know Mr. Hardie was worried about this. They reckoned that about £200 million worth of development was essential in the next two or three years, and the work of preparing those development schemes and giving authority for the progress of those schemes and making plans for raising the money was all suspended. Owing to the action of the Government and the Minister of Supply no one could any longer look upon the Corporation as having that authority, that final say in all these matters, which is so essential if the industry is to be effectively developed as a whole.
It is therefore true that, as a result of the action of the Minister of Supply, not only in regard to prices, on which I hope we are to have a discussion some other day, but in his general attitude and putting into effect the policies of the Government the work of the Corporation was made impossible and Mr. Hardie felt forced to resign. The resignation of Mr. Hardie, who was engaged solely in the interests of the industry and was trying to bring about its welfare, because of the frustrations which were imposed upon him, is only one aspect of the matter. We are not concerned with the personal aspect at all. We are concerned with the underlying policy, and if it is said by the Minister of Supply that these limitations which have been imposed on the Corporation have been the inevitable and natural consequence of the decision of the Government to de-nationalise the industry and that the consequences have to be faced, I would not quarrel with him in that conclusion.
Of course all these difficulties which are imposed on the industry today, the removing of the responsibility and authority of the Corporation, the difficulties facing the industry through lack of authority and leadership, the holding up of essential re-organisation schemes, are the result of the decision of the Government to de-nationalise this in- 788 dustry. But that does not make the situation any better. We said at the time the decision was made that it was bound to create uncertainty in the industry, causing dislocation and holding up of the vital and urgent progress of re-organisation and expansion.
The process of gradual stagnation which we foretold has not gone very far yet, but it has gone far enough to cause this dramatic protest from the Chairman of the Corporation, and I think we and the nation ought to be grateful to him for calling the attention of the country not only to what has happened, but to what is likely to happen in the future. Let the House and the country be under no delusion on the matter. If the process of long periods of uncertainty and stagnation, which I say is an inevitable result of the decision to de-nationalise the industry continues, or if the ridiculous measures which some papers have prophesied—I do not know with what accuracy—of a hotch potch of private and public enterprise, mixing the worst features of both, were applied, the crisis in the industry of which we today have heard only the first rumblings will develop with steady and deadly effect, with serious consequences not only to the iron and steel industry but to the economy of the country as a whole and the welfare of its people.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Watkinson (Woking)
On a point of order. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker? I am not in any way challenging your Ruling in accepting the Motion, but I think I am correct in saying that its terms were that the Minister had forced the resignation of Mr. Hardie and that it was necessary for the mover and seconder of the Motion to bring forward evidence before this House that such definite action had been taken by the Minister to force the resignation of Mr. Hardie. I have listened carefully to the speeches of the mover and seconder and they have not brought before the House any concrete evidence whatever that the Minister took any action that would directly remove Mr. Hardie from his position.
§ Mr. Speaker
As the hon. Member says, the gist of this Motion is that the Minister forced the resignation of Mr. Hardie, I gathered from the two speeches 789 which we have heard that an argument was, shall I say, addressed towards that point. How cogent and relevant that argument is is not for me but for the House to decide, but some, shall I say, argument tending in that direction has been given.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
On a point of order. Would it not be for the convenience of the House, and perhaps shorten the debate, if the Minister gave his side of the question before the debate proceeded?
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
Further to that point of order. I should like to hear a little more of the case before I attempt to answer it. So far I have heard very little.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
I regard the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) as both mischievous and objectionable. The only extenuating circumstance that occurs to my mind is that he found himself in the position of moving the Motion solely because his hon. and right hon. Friends had found themselves quite incapable without his aid of finding a form of words which would be in order to enable the moving of the Adjournment of the House.
He attempted to insinuate that this situation between the Minister and Mr. Hardie was based upon a vendetta. It is significant that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss), who seconded the Motion, made it plain that, in his judgment at least, there was no personal vendetta about it. His complaint was that this Government were no longer according the support to the policy of Mr. Hardie that the preceding Government were able to give His complaint is not really that the Minister ought not to have accepted Mr. Hardie's resignation, it is that his right hon. and hon. Friends are no longer sitting on the Government Front Bench.
What is the true position? The Corporation had a discussion with the Minister about what should be done in 790 the industry in the light of changed conditions—the need to import steel at much higher prices than obtained here.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
On a point of order. May I ask whether we ought not to invite the hon. Member to declare a personal interest in this matter?
§ Mr. Summers
In reply to that observation—[Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will do me the courtesy of allowing me to reply to a personal reference—I apologise profusely if on this occasion I omitted, for the first time in the many steel debates in which I have spoken, that customary reference to a personal interest. I hope the hon. Member will acquit me of anything other than an oversight, and I readily accord—
§ Mr. Summers
I am not interested in hon. Members' motives. I am only too ready to acknowledge my interests in so far as I am a director of one of the nationalised concerns. That is the interest I have in the industry. I was saying that the real position surely is that there have been—
§ Mr. Summers
I happen to be slightly more knowledgeable on this subject than a lawyer. I was compelled to give up at the take-over price those shares which were formerly the qualification for a directorship. Therefore, I no longer possess those shares.
I was trying to direct the attention of the House to what I believe to be the real position vis à vis Mr. Hardie and the Minister. The Corporation were called upon to discuss with the Government what steps should be taken to deal with the situation with which the industry is faced, namely, greatly increased costs since prices were last fixed.
As a result of those discussions, one member of the Corporation has found himself unable to agree with the 791 policy which has been agreed between his colleagues and the Government, and it is only right and proper that any member of an organisation placed in that position should tender his resignation. No other course would have been the honourable course for him to take, and the Minister had no option but to accept the resignation of that member. The Minister has no alternative but to accept the resignation of a member of an organisation who finds himself at variance with his colleagues.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
If the hon. Member says that the proper course for the Chairman is to resign in such circumstances, how does he square that with his retention of a directorship in a nationalised undertaking to which he is most violently opposed?
§ Mr. Summers
I do not know how far you, Mr. Speaker, would regard it as being in order for me to reply to the hon. Gentleman, but in so far as you permit me to reply to that observation, I will only say that I regard it as a patriotic duty, and indeed a duty to those who have worked for my family business ever since I was connected with it, to continue to serve that company in the belief that there is still time to right the wrong that is being done—[Interruption.] The way in which my remarks have been received only go to confirm that the real complaint of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are no longer the Government of the day.
I hope the House will permit me to bring them back to the real gravamen of this charge, the impropriety of the Minister in accepting the resignation of Mr. Hardie. [HON. MEMBERS: "Forcing his resignation."] That is the gravamen of the charge, and I submit that the Minister had no option but to accept the resignation. If the speech of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) had been in any sense realistic, he should have insisted on the colleagues of Mr. Hardie also resigning, on the grounds that they have been thwarted over the policy which they considered it in the national interest to pursue. In fact, that is not the case. Mr. Hardie has resigned; and as he is at variance with the policy pursued by his colleagues and the Government, he was quite right to do so, and 792 I applaud the Minister for accepting his resignation.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
On a point of procedure. Does not the Minister of Supply think it would be for the convenience of the House if he now made a statement on this matter? [Interruption.] I did not say on a point of order. I said on a point of procedure. That would not prevent him from making another statement if he wished to do so. In fact, I am sure the House would give him permission to make a second statement. But we ought now to have from him a statement of facts not yet disclosed to the newspapers or to this House, because I can assure him this is a very serious matter to those of us who represent coal and steel constituencies.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
Hon. Members on this side of the House have listened to the story of the shameful persecution of a distinguished public servant, and it is very hard to escape the conclusion that so far as the public interest is concerned the wrong man resigned. The Minister should have resigned. If the Minister had been in Coventry last Saturday, as he was invited to be, he would there have heard something of the views of the organised workers and the trade union movement; not only about his adventurous inefficiency, which is now well known, but, in addition, something of what workers feel about his treatment of one who sacrificed a great deal in order to serve his country, and I am speaking now of Mr. Hardie.
One would have thought that the Chairman of a nationalised board, one whose reputation would have been decided by whether the companies which he controlled made a profit or not, would have welcomed with open arms the suggestion that the price of steel should have been raised; because, after all, that is the simplest way to show the economic profit which hon. Members opposite always claim to be the touchstone of efficiency. One would have thought he would have taken that facile way out. One would have thought he would have welcomed the opportunity of enlarging the profit which the Iron and Steel Board made during 1951.
793 The fact that instead he chose to resign is merely confirmatory evidence of the difficulties to which the right hon. Gentleman subjected him in the performance of his duties. When I was in Coventry I talked to a mass conference of shop stewards who were concerned with increasing production. They had met together in order to suggest to each other ways and means by which production could be increased and the existing unemployment diminished.
In the course of their discussions they were preoccupied with the fact that if the action which the right hon. Gentleman proposes is in fact carried out, if the price of steel is to be raised, it will certainly hit the whole export industry. If the export industry is hit by the Government it will mean that unemployment, which is already with us, will be enlarged. The consequences of the action by the right hon. Gentleman will not merely be reflected in the simple resignation of Mr. Hardie, but will be reflected throughout the country in the difficulties, the new difficulties, which the export industries will have to meet.
Consequently, we have two difficulties arising directly out of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman has advocated and which Mr. Hardie has resisted. On the one hand there will be a most savage and dangerous inflation. In addition to that, our industries are—
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member has heard the Ruling of Mr. Speaker, that we cannot go into the question of the price of steel. We must limit the debate merely to the responsibility of the Minister in forcing the resignation of Mr. Hardie.
§ Mr. Edelman
Of course, Sir, I bow to your Ruling. I had no intention of going into the individual prices. I was merely associating the question of price with the purpose of Mr. Hardie's resignation. If I may quote from the statement which Mr. Hardie made, he said there weredifferences … in regard to prices and other fundamental matters.With your permission, Sir, I will continue to touch on those other fundamental matters, but before I turn to them I would make some reference to the alleged crime of Mr. Hardie. I can best do so by quoting the words which Mr. Hardie him- 794 self used in his resignation statement. He said:I had hoped, with the support of the Government, to be able to hold down steel prices … as a contribution to a general stabilisation of prices in the national interest.I do not propose to develop that point. I will merely say that the offence of Mr. Hardie was that he wanted to hold down the cost of living—something which, of course, hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House always have advocated—and to resist the purpose of hon. Members opposite, as represented by the right hon. Gentleman, who wishes to raise the cost of living by raising the price of steel. That is surely something which is inescapable.
I wish to talk of one major fundamental cause which led to the resignation of Mr. Hardie. Here let me interpolate that I have the advantage of not knowing Mr. Hardie personally. I think that is an advantage, because I can judge him, as all hon. Gentlemen who are fair-minded will seek to judge him, upon his record and his work. There is no question of personalities. I am merely concerned with the standing and accomplishments of Mr. Hardie.
Everybody will recognise that during his period of office he was successful in putting the Board of which he had control on an economic and business-like basis. He was successful in producing a trading profit which even the right hon. Gentleman, despite his sophistries earlier on, will not deny. The reward for that successful work for this gentleman, who sacrificed so much to take on this job, has been the treatment which the right hon. Gentleman has given him, which, despite his desire and urge to serve the nation, has forced him to resign.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss), the former Minister of Supply, mentioned the question of raw materials and the fact that we are today having difficulty in steel production directly due to the circumstance that we were not able to produce sufficient iron ore and other raw materials which we required for steel production. I have no doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite will lay that at the door of the former Labour Government.
The fact is that the procurement of iron ore and other raw materials required for the production of steel was in the hands of the British Iron and Steel 795 Corporation, Limited, which is a private commercial undertaking associated with Steel House. The ore was bought by the British Iron and Steel Corporation, Limited—B.I.S.C. (Ore)—and the very fact that these procuring agencies were not controlled by the Iron and Steel Corporation was the circumstance to which Mr. Hardie rightly objected, and was also the circumstance which was most strongly favoured by the British Iron and Steel Federation because that was the profitable side of the industry. Whatever steps were taken, whatever errors were made or whatever the failures or commercial ineptitude of those who ran the organisation, they always knew that they would be compensated for their errors by the industry's funds.
Mr. Hardie, being himself a competent business man, and objecting in the strongest terms to the commercial inefficiency shown by private enterprise, wanted to make sure that the procurement of the raw materials necessary for the production of steel was actually in the hands of the Corporation, and that, of course, was one of the chief causes of his dispute with the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
Would the hon. Gentleman allow me? It is a very interesting point which he has been making, but is it not odd that Mr. Hardie did not resign before his point of difference with the Minister of Supply and the Government? Perhaps, in this interesting apologia for Mr. Hardie, the hon. Gentleman will place this fact in its proper perspective?
§ Mr. Edelman
I welcome the fact that the hon. Gentleman opposite has drawn the attention of the House to the circumstance that Mr. Hardie, during the period when the Labour Government was in power, did not resign, but what is the history of his attitude towards the procurement of raw materials?
Throughout the history of the Iron and Steel Corporation, Mr. Hardie consistently and publicly advocated that the procurement of raw materials should be brought within the ambit of the Iron and Steel Corporation, and, as the result of discussions which took place, it was eventually decided, in the teeth of the most bitter opposition from the Iron and Steel Federation, that on the board of 796 the commercial undertaking there should be some representation of the Iron and Steel Corporation. That was merely a compromise and was inadequate, but, for the time being, as my right hon. Friend has said, it was part of the slow but steady progress which the Corporation were hoping to achieve.
Under the present Government, all hopes of continuing that process of obtaining control, in the Iron and Steel Corporation, of the procurement of essential raw materials has been dissipated, because the right hon. Gentleman opposite has publicly and consistently opposed any structural organisation, as he called it, in the industry.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
Will the hon. Gentleman explain what he means by obtaining control? A change of buyer does not mean obtaining control of a source of supply.
§ Mr. Edelman
The hon. Gentleman has wide experience in the procurement of raw materials, but the methods which he has described in the past I have always challenged and resisted.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This debate is getting too wide. It has to be related to the Minister's responsibility.
§ Mr. Edelman
I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for having been side-tracked by the hon. Gentleman opposite.
The responsibility of the Minister in this matter is that he frustrated the attempt of Mr. Hardie to carry out the policy with which he had been entrusted by Parliament, and the policy which, in fact, was in process of being carried out. Therefore, I think that one thing is absolutely certain, and it is that, whereas we on this side of the House believe that we have a responsibility to see that the decisions of Parliament are not challenged by industrial action, we are opposed to and resent any attempt by hon. Gentlemen opposite, by those who are associated with them or those who back them, to influence decisions of Parliament, either by concerted action by organisations like the Iron and Steel Federation or by any Parliamentary attempt inspired by them to dispose of honourable and upright men like Mr. Hardie in the conscientious and effective discharge of the duties laid upon them by this House.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman is not speaking to a point of order.
§ Mr. Bevan
I would do so, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if I could get some quiet. Whenever a Motion of this sort has been moved in the House in the past, and it required a disclosure of the facts, the Minister concerned has always taken the earliest opportunity of putting the House in possession of the facts. On this occasion, the Minister has not done so. Would he now do the House the courtesy of informing it when he is likely to rise?
§ Mr. Sandys
On a point of procedure. May I rise to say that, in my experience, I have never known a Motion of this kind put forward without anybody advancing any facts to support it.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Barber (Doncaster)
It is clear, from what has been said already on both sides of the House, and also from the correspondence concerning the resignation of Mr. Hardie, that this whole matter is intimately tied up, in part, at any rate, with the question of the increase in the price of steel which was announced 798 by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply this afternoon.
Two facts stand out absolutely clearly, and neither can be denied by anybody. The first is that the Cabinet decision, of which we heard this afternoon, to raise the price of steel was taken in agreement with the Iron and Steel Corporation. On that there can be no dispute whatever. The second fact is that Mr. Hardie, in his letter of resignation, gave as one of the pretexts for resigning the fact that it had been decided to increase the price of steel. That appears in his letter of resignation.
§ Mr. Bing
On a point of order. The House is in the greatest difficulty in regard to the statement just made by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He has said that this matter had something to do with some rise in the price of steel, but it was ruled by Mr. Speaker that any such discussion would be out of order, because we must not traverse the ground covered by the Order. As we have not had any explanation from the Minister why the Order has been made, in view of the difficulty, will it be possible for you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to direct the Minister to give the House some indication of what is in the Order so that hon. Members on both sides of the House may know what is contained in it and what is not?
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
Is it not perfectly obvious, from what he said before, that Mr. Hardie would not have resigned at all if he had waited until some effective—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The question of price may not be discussed in this debate. The debate is limited to the Minister's responsibility for the resignation of Mr. Hardie, and I hope that hon. Members on both sides will confine themselves to that issue.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Further to that point of order. What Mr. Speaker ruled to be out of order was the matter covered by the Order. We have not got the Order. We have been begging the Minister to tell us about it. The Minister has gone to ground and dare not speak until so much time has gone by that he cannot be answered. Surely we are entitled to know what is in the Order.
§ Mr. Bing
I am sorry to delay the House in this way, but this is a matter of some importance, because the Minister of Supply secured that Ruling from Mr. Speaker by saying that the Order would be laid today. He must have known at that time that that Order would not be available to hon. Members. He therefore attempted to prevent a debate in the House by applying a general blanket and giving everybody to understand that matters which might or might not be covered in the Order could not be discussed in the debate. The House is entitled to some explanation why he deceived Mr. Speaker and persuaded Mr. Speaker to give a Ruling which he would never have given had he known what the position was.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot inquire into that. I am bound by the Ruling of Mr. Speaker, as the House must realise.
§ Mr. Barber
Further to that point of order. As this matter arises out of something I was saying, perhaps I should make it clear that I have no intention whatever of going into the merits or demerits of the rise in the price of steel. Indeed, I shall refer to it only in so far as it is directly concerned with the resignation of Mr. Hardie and is referred to specifically in the letters which form the basis of the subject matter of our discussion. As I understand the Ruling of Mr. Speaker—and I was here at the time he gave it—we are in order when referring merely to the fact that a rise in prices had been considered—
§ Mr. J. Rodgers
On a point of order. Is the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) in order in referring to another hon. Member of this House as having deceived Mr. Speaker?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) well knows, deceiving Mr. Speaker would certainly be out of order.
§ Mr. Hale
May I inform you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, of the point which I submitted to Mr. Speaker on this matter, because I think it is right that you should know. I reported to Mr. Speaker that we had made a search in the Library for 800 the Order which the Minister of Supply said would be laid today and that we were unable to find it. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) continued the search and then reported that there was apparently in the Vote Office a long, undated manuscript document—so long that it was quite impossible to read it. We did not, therefore, know anything about the Order.
In these circumstances, we thought it would be courteous to the House if the Minister of Supply would say why he made that statement today, which he may not have intended at the time to be in-accurate but which certainly deceived the House and which has since been found to be inaccurate. In those circumstances, it seems to me that at the moment we are restraining ourselves with a very considerable amount of strength of mind and courage—restraining ourselves from saying what we really think about the Minister of Supply, which would certainly be out of order.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman raised that point at the beginning of his speech and Mr. Speaker adhered to the Ruling he had already given that discussion of the prices would be out of order in this debate.
§ Mr. I. O. Thomas (The Wrekin)
Further to that point of order. I understand that, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the House, an Order which is being laid must be available for Members before it becomes, in effect, an Order which is laid. As the Order to which reference has been made by the Minister has not yet been made available to Members, then, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, it has not yet been laid.
§ Mr. Thomas
Further to that point of order. Would you, for the information and guidance of Members, define what is meant by the term "an Order has been laid"?
§ Mr. Thomas
I must persist in this matter, because I think the House is not being given a fair deal. In accordance 801 with the Rules of Procedure of the House, if an Order which is supposed to have been laid is not available to Members, then it has not yet been laid.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member is raising a matter which it is not within my province to decide. Mr. Barber.
§ Mr. Barber
With reference to a certain, specific issue—and I am sure the House will know to what I am referring —Her Majesty's Government and the Corporation were in entire agreement, with the single exception of Mr. Hardie.
§ Mr. Barber
From the evidence on this matter, to which I cannot refer by name, at any rate. It is perfectly clear from the letters of resignation of Mr. Hardie that he disagreed on this matter of prices —and I can only refer to it as such—with the Minister, whereas it is clear from the action which has been taken that the Corporation have agreed with the Minister.
§ Mr. Barber
Yes, I have. One thing is quite clear—that Mr. Hardie is in violent conflict not only with the action which was taken by the Minister of Supply this afternoon but, indeed, also with the remaining members of the Iron and Steel Corporation. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the evidence?"] I state this as a fact, to be accepted or not, as hon. Members think fit. After all, we have had many other facts put before us since this debate started at seven o'clock, and we are able to judge them on their merits. I state as a fact that Mr. Hardie was out-voted by his colleagues on the Board on this issue to which we have been referring. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) has said—
§ Mr. Edelman
As the hon. Gentleman has produced as a fact something which can only be hearsay, may I tell him, equally out of hearsay, that what he has said is wholly inaccurate?
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
On a point of order. Is it not quite obvious that the debate is becoming a farce as a result of the failure of the Minister to make his speech?
§ Mr. Barber
When this matter was first raised, I anticipated that that line might be taken. The fact is, without any doubt at all, that Mr. Hardie chose the only proper course which he could take on disagreeing with his colleagues, and, indeed, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury, the only proper and honourable course which any decent man could take. Hon. Members opposite have suggested, in the way they have presented their side of the case, that Mr. Hardie has been forced to resign by the action of the Government and, in particular, by the action of the Minister of Supply.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I gather that the hon. Member suggests that the Corporation were in disagreement with Mr. Hardie. Mr. Hardie did not suggest that the Corporation had disagreed with him, because clearly if the Corporation as a whole had taken a vote, for example, then, going on the figures given, they could have agreed with the Minister's policy, in which case Mr. Hardie would have lost the confidence of the Corporation. he would have resigned, not because of the action of the Minister, but because he had lost the confidence of the Corporation. But in his letter Mr. Hardie said nothing of the kind. He said he resigned because of several conditions which the Minister has imposed upon the Corporation with which Mr. Hardie disagrees and under which, he said, it is impossible for the Corporation to carry on. That appears to conflict with what the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Barber) is telling us.
§ Mr. Barber
I appreciate full well what the right hon. Gentleman is saying; but whatever may be the contents of the letters—which I am sure we have all read —I suggest there were deeper and more potent reasons why Mr. Hardie resigned than the reasons he has mentioned in his letter—if, indeed, they are valid at all. It seems to me a little odd that, if Mr. Hardie resigned on this occasion because of a disagreement with the Minister or with the Government's policy, he did not in fact resign last August, because on that occasion also he disagreed with the 803 policy of the Government—the Labour Government—when it abolished the Exchequer subsidy on the cost of importing finished steel.
To my mind the conclusion is abundantly clear that Mr. Hardie resigned because he was no longer able to co-operate with his colleagues. Hon. Gentlemen opposite no doubt desire to cloud over the real arguments which concern the future of the iron and steel industry. So far as Mr. Hardie's personal suitability as Chairman is concerned, I would remind the House that the hon. Member for Oldham, West, who opened this debate, referred to the propriety of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply. I think that the very fact that Mr. Hardie has had the impropriety to make public a decision to raise the price of steel in advance of the issue of the Order shows him, in any event, to be totally unfitted to hold an office having such a responsibility.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "Let the Minister speak."] I am quite willing to give way to the right hon. Gentleman. [Interruption.]
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
May I make it quite clear at the outset that, had the Minister of Supply shown any desire to speak, I should gladly have resumed my seat forthwith. I only speak because he has still not yet made up his mind as to the time when he chooses to intervene in this debate and give the House the information to which it is entitled.
Some hon. Members have spoken in this debate as if Mr. Hardie was in the dock. My interpretation of the Motion and the discussion which is now taking place is that it is the Minister of Supply who is in the dock and whose very doubtful behaviour in this connection merits the most searching scrutiny on our part.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) drew attention to what has been the constant line of approach of the Conservative Party, for many months past, towards the Board of the Iron and Steel Corporation. Though he did not have the quotation 804 by him, he was quite correct in referring to a speech made by the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury who, I think at a Conservative Party conference, held out some vague threats as to what a Conservative Government would do to those industrial leaders who would co-operate with the then Labour Government in taking seats on the Boards of nationalised industries.
My hon. Friend did quote some rather scurrilous remarks made by the present Prime Minister when iron and steel was discussed in this House on 7th February, 1951. He could have quoted another remark which was made by the present Prime Minister on that occasion, which he did not do, I suppose, because he did not want to trespass unduly upon the time of the House. The Prime Minister, in the course of that debate, made this further statement—talking of Mr. Hardie as long ago as the 7th February, 1951:His arrogant behaviour as a servant and a tool of the Government will certainly be the subject of continuous attention."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 1758.]That is one of the promises or pledges that the Conservative Party made and which they have only too well and too persistently carried out. This continuous attention that the Prime Minister promised would be devoted to Mr. Hardie, finally brought to a head by the present Minister of Supply, has now culminated in his resignation.
So far as I interpret the Motion, it very clearly fastens the responsibility for this situation upon the present Minister of Supply. If it can be said by way of extenuation, I should say that anyone who has to work under the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Supply would find life a little difficult and would have to ask himself frequently, if not almost every day, whether it is possible for any intelligent man or woman with the interests of this country at heart to work under his supervision or day-to-day interference.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in his tirade, to discuss how all sorts of people might work under the Minister of Supply, or are we discussing one particular person—Mr. Hardie?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
That point of order having been dealt with as it deserves, I should like to reiterate what is surely obvious even to hon. Members opposite and that is, that in the present Minister of Supply we have a right hon. Gentleman under whom it is quite impossible for any intelligent or patriotic citizen to work for the benefit of the community as a whole. I ask any hon. Member opposite to admit, if he dares, that he considers himself less fitted than the present occupant of the office to carry out the duties of Minister of Supply in the present administration. There being no response to that invitation—
§ Mr. F. J. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)
I should like to say that in the opinion of all of us on this side of the House it is a gross, unmannerly—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
If the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply feels very strongly upon the matter I hope that such few remarks as I have been making will induce him to get on his feet when I sit down; but there are one or two other things I must say, and if the Minister of Supply is itching to get on his feet I will bring my remarks to a close as quickly as possible. That is on the assumption that I shall be followed by the right hon. Gentleman.
If I were to be told that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to intervene yet I am perfectly prepared to go on a little longer than I otherwise would do. I see in this episode just one further step forward in the direction of a political purge or vendetta which is being carried out by the present Administration and of which we have had more than one example in the last few months. We have seen the beginning of this purge in the removal of any known supporter of the Labour Party from the development corporations of the new towns.
§ Mr. Burden
If Mr. Hardie had been so ill-treated, and if Mr. Hardie had the full support and confidence of his colleagues, why is it that not one of those have resigned?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
We are in this unfortunate position, that until the Minister of Supply gives us the information we have no knowledge of what the other members of the Corporation think about this matter. I want to pursue this point. This episode—
§ Mr. Watkinson
On a point of order. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as I asked the guidance of Mr. Speaker earlier in this debate? Surely this Motion, as its terms clearly state, says that the Minister of Supply forced the resignation of Mr. Hardie. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has just said that he has no knowledge, and can have no knowledge, of the circumstances leading up to Mr. Hardie's resignation. In any event, neither he nor any of his colleagues have yet brought any concrete evidence before the House to show why such resignation took place. In those circumstances, may I ask whether the Motion we are debating is in order?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The second part of that point of order is for the House itself to decide. With regard to the first part, this Motion is limited to the Minister's responsibility, and if hon. Members—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. If hon. Members on both sides confined their arguments to the Minister's responsibility, they are in order. Anything beyond that is completely out of order upon this Motion.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
I was only pleading ignorance of the extent to which other members of the Corporation either agreed or disagreed with Mr. Hardie. That may emerge in due course if the Minister of Supply condescends to take the House into his confidence.
The action of the Minister of Supply in forcing the resignation of Mr. Hardie, and of the pressure leading thereto, is clearly evidenced by the only document that is before us at the moment. The resignation letter of Mr. Hardie makes it quite clear that it is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman since November, 1951, which prevents him from carrying out his duties and responsibilities as Chairman of the Corporation. That is 807 the point we are discussing. The right hon. Gentleman may say that is it perfectly within his power to compel Mr. Hardie to resign. No one disputes that, but what the House is entitled to know from the Minister are the reasons or motives that prompted the Minister, ever since at least November, 1951, to bring such pressures to bear upon Mr. Hardie as to make his continuance in office as Chairman of the Corporation quite impossible.
The right hon. Gentleman has, not perhaps introduced, but encouraged an evil feature in our political life—an evil feature which has been deliberately encouraged by the present Government since it came into power, the evil principle that with a change of Government any known supporter of the Labour Party who occupies a position of responsibility in any nationalised undertaking must, for that reason, consider himself or his tenure of office to be in jeopardy. That is what has already happened in connection with the new towns. There have been many cases of it already, and that is what is happening tonight and being encouraged by the Minister of Supply.
There is no other reason for the difficulties that have been put in the way of Mr. Hardie's continuance as Chairman of the Corporation other than the political vendetta which has been carried on against the Iron and Steel Corporation for a long time past, and which has culminated under the inauspicious supervision of the present Minister of Supply in this lamentable resignation, which I think is a slur upon a tradition which this country has hitherto held in high regard —the tradition that a man rendering good service to the public shall not be penalised because of his political convictions.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)
On a point of order. If we are not to have a speech from the Minister of Supply now, can the House have an assurance that at least we shall have a speech from the Prime Minister's son-in-law?
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
There is very strong feeling, I think not only on one side of the House, that the House should be put in possession at the earliest possible moment of many facts of which we are at present unfortunately ignorant. Would it not be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to speak now, or for the Minister to speak now and the Parliamentary Secretary to wind up the debate? Would not that be convenient from the point of view of both sides of the House?
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Robson Brown (Esher)
I presume that in this matter there is no need for me to declare my personal interests. I believe that when we have taken out of the debate all the political heat and fervour and got down to the basic facts they are fundamental and simple. If we examine Mr. Hardie's letter, we find that three-quarters of it is devoted to his expression of views and disagreement with regard to the subsidy on steel under present circumstances. I believe that Mr. Hardie did the right and honourable thing which an honourable gentleman would do under such circumstances. I feel in this matter a great sympathy for him, because obviously he has attempted to carry out his duties as Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corporation honourably and faithfully according to his lights.
I could criticise, and I may do in my remarks, the fact that there was certainly one judgment carried out during his chairmanship which has had very serious consequences to this country. If we examine the position, I say that it would be intolerable to suggest that the will of one man should be allowed to override what I understand, according to the letter of the Minister of Supply, was a majority view of his own colleagues on the Board.
§ Mr. Robson Brown
Time is going on, and I want to keep my remarks as short as possible. I say, first of all, that no man should attempt to override the majority views of his colleagues on the Iron and Steel Board.
§ Mr. Robson Brown
I am not going to give way now. I will give way at a suitable opportunity when I have made my point. I repeat, for the sake of clarity, first, that it would be intolerable for any man to override the judgments and the majority view of his colleagues on the Iron and Steel Board secondly, the recommendations of the leaders of the industry itself, and finally, the carefully weighed wishes and conclusions of his Minister and his expert advisers. I say that the overwhelming weight of these three considerations were such that the Chairman of the Board had no other alternative than to resign. At the same time, it is quite natural in the circumstances that he should wish to resign. I see no evidence here of any compulsion or pressure being brought to bear by the Minister on this particular issue. The decisions of the Minister must always be paramount.
All other considerations apart, the late Minister of Supply himself, in his speech this afternoon, made it perfectly clear that very frequently—I believe he said monthly—he conferred and consulted with the Chairman of the Board—
§ Mr. Robson Brown
And he said that the Chairman was not making progress quite enough to satisfy the Minister, obviously showing that he himself was imposing on the Chairman his will, his wishes and desires. The position, so far as the present Minister of Supply is concerned, was made perfectly clear on the Floor of the House at the time the Minister took office. It was done in open and honourable fashion, and if at that time the Chairman had felt any strong desire or reasons for not continuing I say that was the time he should have resigned.
The late Minister of Supply has claimed for the Steel Board, as it exists today, and its Chairman a completely clear bill of health and has said that there could be no complaint of any kind with regard to judgment or lack of judgment. Whatever omissions and commissions may be discussed at greater length on another occasion, there is one thing relating to Mr. Hardie's chairmanship to which I wish to refer, and that is the scramble for pig-iron and scrap which was allowed between the steel producers and the iron founders during the past 810 year. It inevitably meant a fall in the overall output of steel and a considerable increase in the output of pig-iron. The iron founders were allowed to increase output by 260,000 tons, an increase of over 7 per cent.—
§ Mr. Strauss
I hesitate to interrupt the hon. Member because he is always so fair in his speeches, but I want to put him right on a point of fact. Whatever responsibility may be involved in the point he is now raising—I do not accept that any blame is involved—it would be the responsibility not of the Corporation but of the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Ministry of Supply.
§ Mr. Robson Brown
I thank the late Minister for taking his share of responsibility—it is honourable of him to do so —but it does not for a moment alter the facts of my argument and indictment[Interruption.]—May I proceed? The country should be informed of the position and our present Administration ought to take immediate steps to rectify it. I repeat, the iron founders were allowed to increase their output by 260,000 tons last year, an increase of about 7 per cent.—
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that, whoever was to blame for the allocation, which gave the iron founders what the hon. Member considers to be a greater proportion of raw materials than they should have had, the material was wasted and is now lying in stock somewhere as finished goods? Is it not a fact that the material produced as a result of the allocation was of vital importance, particularly in connection with castings for the export trade?
§ Mr. Woodburn
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It has already been explained by my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Supply that this was not the responsibility of Mr. Hardie, and as the debate is concerned with the allegation that the Minister is responsible for forcing Mr. Hardie's resignation, is it in order to discuss the question of iron foundries and their share of the iron resources of the country compared with steel?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
If it is linked with the retirement of Mr. Hardie, it can be discussed.
§ Mr. Hale
Further to that point of order. As we have all spoken under an inhibition and have not been allowed to refer to these things, may we seek the leave of the House to address the House again? Also, as the argument of the hon. Member is that some rather dubious responsibility of Mr. Hardie's—the hon. Member always speaks with sincerity but the facts are challenged—may have operated in the mind of the Minister in bringing him to take the decision to force Mr. Hardie's resignation, has not the time come for the Minister to tell us what was in his mind at the time so that we can come to a judgment on the issue?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot answer the second question. The answer to the first question is simple. Anyone can speak twice by leave of the House, but they have, of course, to be called by the Chair first.
§ Mr. Robson Brown
I have developed my argument very swiftly. I must now bring it to a conclusion, but all the facts must be available to the House. I always follow with the greatest interest the contributions of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), and I should like in the course of my remarks to answer the point that he makes. He asked me what the effect was of allowing increased pig-iron for castings at the expense of finished steel production. The answer is the core to the whole question.
There was a 7 per cent. increase in the output of the iron foundries and a fall of no less than 655,000 tons in the production of steel. Part of that was due to the diversion of scrap and pig-iron supplies from the steel plants to the iron foundries. The scrap supplies to steel works from home sources alone were reduced by 104,000 tons while the foundries were allowed to have 137,000 tons more. That was an extremely shortsighted policy, for it is well-known—
§ Mr. Robson Brown
I will defer to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I hope I may be permitted to answer the point raised by the hon. Member for Rotherham. I would say that it is well known that the use of castings and sheet steel can be varied or alternated without interference in the final product. The 812 position is that one ton of sheet steel can be used against two or three tons of iron castings for the same result. That was the fundamental error on the part of the Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corporation.
In conclusion, not one of these points alters the basic fact that here is a position where the Chairman of the Corporation was in complete conflict with all the other informed elements within the industry and with his Minister. I commend him for resigning as he did. He had no other alternative.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I rise to support my hon. Friends. This debate will go down as rather important in two respects—first, that we have found at long last a promise that was made now being carried out, the promise made by one hon. Member opposite when he suggested that the Tories would know what to do with the industrial Quislings when they came back to power. The second is that this debate will focus the searchlight of publicity on the whole of this matter.
The facts appear to be quite plain and simple. The Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corporation, for whom everybody in this country who knows him has great respect, has resigned for reasons which are known to him and the Corporation. The person who could make the best contribution to this debate would be Mr. Hardie himself, but his position precludes him from so doing. Time alone will bring out the details as to why he resigned.
The Corporation, with Mr. Hardie in the chair, took office at a time of great difficulty. We were not able to set up a complete Corporation as laid down in the Act. We established a Corporation with the minimum number of people upon it, some of whom were nominated as a matter of legal expediency to make up the number. That left us with two men of experience of the industry who were part-timers, and there has never been full and complete information available to the Corporation on such matters as those about which Mr. Hardie resigned.
The Corporation has done useful work. From time to time some of us who were entitled to ask questions, not in this place but elsewhere, have found out that the Corporation were making steady and sensible progress in carrying out the Act of Parliament in 813 the interest of those who were primarily concerned, the workers inside the iron and steel industry. This resignation will have a serious effect upon the country, and particularly upon those people who were looking to Mr. Hardie for leadership to improve their lot.
I have no doubt in my mind what was the reason for the resignation. I do not blame the present Minister of Supply. After all, he is only the tool of a Cabinet which is determined to bring the nationalisation of the steel industry to an end at all costs. He is more to be pitied than blamed in being placed in that rather invidious position. We used to talk about industrial nepotism; now we switch to political nepotism, but that is beside the point.
My final point is this. Mr. Hardie resigned because of reasons of a serious nature. Nationalisation was making steady progress. For instance, a pool of wealth was created within the industry and the more efficient, richer and larger parts of the industry were compelled by law to contribute to the needs of their unfortunate brothers in the less efficient parts of the industry. There was concentration on such things as education within the industry. I know that the Federation started that, but they just started it before nationalisation. Steady progress was being maintained towards obtaining the ideals that the Bill set out to get. It was so progressive as a matter of fact that the Tory Party decided that it could no longer be allowed to progress any further.
Those of us who know exactly what is going to happen, know that this potential increase—I cannot really talk about an increase because there is a rumour that in the near future the Government's policy will be designed to skim off the cream of the industry so as to be able to sell to those people under this new increase, with higher profits than otherwise they would have been able to do. I shall have more to say about that when the de-nationalisation Bill is being discussed.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)
I was interested to hear that the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) should know already what is in a Bill which has not yet been published. It would seem that the clairvoyance that 814 one has come to expect from Brixton has spread to the Northern counties as well. It is high time that everybody opposite stuck to the facts and tried to support the Motion which they have brought before the House at very short notice.
We have heard very little in the way of solid fact in support of the Motion, but a great deal in the way of clairvoyance and supposition. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Hardie was a friend of the Labour Party, and they are extremely upset that he should have tendered his resignation. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has been kicked out"] No. He chose to resign, but it is obvious that he maintains close or underground contact with his friends in the Labour Party in order to choose the moment which, in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, will do most damage to the Government—
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
On a point of order. The hon. Member has made a very serious allegation against the ex-Chairman of the Corporation. He has suggested that Mr. Hardie has acted quite improperly. I want to know whether a statement of that sort, made in the House, should not be supported fully by evidence, as it is against somebody outside the House, or withdrawn.
§ Mr. Strauss
May I then address myself to the hon. Gentleman? He has suggested that the ex-Chairman of the Corporation was in secret, underground communication, passing on facts, with people outside the Corporation, which is a most serious allegation. Will the hon. Gentleman either produce facts supporting that allegation or withdraw it, or repeat the allegation outside the House?
§ Mr. Erroll
The right hon. Gentleman, who is normally so very fair in raising points of order, is imputing to me words which I did not use. What I said was that Mr. Hardie was in contact with Members of the Labour Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Underground contact."]—certainly, "underground communication" was the phrase—with Members of the Labour Party, so that he could be advised of the right moment at which to tender his resignation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh," and "Withdraw."]—so as to—
§ Mr. Strauss
Again I ask whether the hon. Member who has made a statement which appears to me to be highly slanderous, is prepared to repeat the allegation outside the House or to give evidence here and now to support it.
§ Mr. Erroll
The invitation to repeat a statement outside the House is an old trick, an old trap, and the right hon. Gentleman should not expect me to fall into it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then withdraw it."] I am now going on—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order, order, If the hon. Member says anything which I think is out of order, I shall make him withdraw it.
§ Mr. Woodburn
So far as my knowledge goes, and I have some little knowledge, the statement which the hon. Gentleman has made is absolutely untrue.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I said, "As far as my knowledge goes." I did not say it was untrue because the hon. Gentleman may have some knowledge which I have not. I think it is hitting below the belt for an hon. Member to take advantage of his position in the House to make a personal attack on a public servant without having the courage to do so outside where it could be answered.
§ Mr. Erroll
Hon. Members opposite are at present preventing me from stating my case inside the House and, before they have heard that case, they are challenging me to state it outside. I was interested to learn that Mr. Hardie should have passed on this information and been in communication with the hon. Member who represents a Scottish division—[HON. MEMBERS: "Right hon. Member."] I am sorry, the right hon. Member. Of 816 course he was promoted to a more distinguished post in another Department until last November.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I understand that the hon. Gentleman is now making an allegation against me, namely, that Mr. Hardie has been in communication with me. I have said that so far as my knowledge goes, and certainly so far as I am concerned, the statement he has made is quite untrue.
§ Mr. Erroll
I said that the right hon. Member was kicked upstairs. Perhaps he would tell me I am wrong about that?
§ Mr. Erroll
It is quite obvious that Mr. Hardie chose his moment for resignation after consultation with members of his own political party, because he chose to divulge publicly information which was then confidential to him and to members of the Government—
§ Mr. Erroll
—and that was obviously a calculated move, designed to force the hand of the Minister of Supply into making a premature disclosure of the order. It was also a breach of that trust which we are entitled to expect from all public servants, whatever political party they may belong to.
In this matter I want to draw the attention of hon. Members opposite particularly to the completely different behaviour which has been accorded to this Government by the other heads of nationalised undertakings. Since names are being mentioned I want particularly to mention the head of the British Electricity Authority, a devoted member of the Labour Party, who has conducted the work of his great State monopoly with singular propriety, intelligence and statesmanship. He has found no difficulty in Collaborating with a Conservative Government and in maintaining his independence and position. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that if they want a standard of conduct in these matters they must look outside the Iron and Steel Corporation.
§ Mr. Erroll
We know perfectly well that Mr. Hardie, in vainly attempting to hold down prices, as it is said he has claimed, was merely using a convenient opportunity to get out of a situation which did not suit him at all. We know furthermore that it will not be long before the Party opposite gives him his due reward, namely, a safe seat in a Labour constituency.
§ Sir Hartley Shawcross (St. Helens)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am genuinely a little concerned about this matter. Is it in order for an hon. Member of this House to make charges against a person in regard to the discharge of his duties whilst a public servant which, if not amounting to the commission of a criminal offence—as I think the charges of the hon. Member did—are at any rate charges of gross impropriety, without adducing a shred, a rag or a tittle of evidence in support of them?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The procedure of the House is that we always try to make ourselves responsible for any statements we make.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Bevan
On a point of order. The reason I have risen now and not given way to the Minister is because I suspected him of a trick. He has treated the House with gross discourtesy. He could have spoken much earlier. I hope that before I conclude I may be able to convince hon. Members opposite that this matter is a little more serious than they seem to think.
First, we have just heard from the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) a complete disclosure of the psychology of the Tory mind. He has practically admitted that it is the normal practice of Tory industrialists to betray industrial secrets to their political party. That is the only significance that one can attach to what the hon. Member has just said about the conduct of Mr. Hardie. He has, without the slightest piece of evidence, dared to suggest to the House that a great public servant, occupying a position of immense responsibility, has entered into a squalid conspiracy so as to time his resignation—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is true."]—from his office in order 818 to get the utmost political capital for the party to which he belongs—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and that has been said to the House of Commons without the hon. Member giving one single fact upon which to base it. In very nearly 23 years in the House of Commons, I have heard nothing dirtier than that. Indeed, if hon. Members opposite are not shocked by its immorality, it is because it is their normal conduct.
I have been listening to the debate from the very beginning with a great deal of anxiety. With some of the debate, with some of the speeches on this side of the House, I have not agreed. It has seemed to me to be dangerous to suggest that the Minister responsible for a Department—which means the House of Commons, eventually, because his responsibility is the responsibility of the House —is a less fit person to judge the national interests than the chairman of a corporation. In so far as Mr. Hardie has set himself up—I do not think he has; but in so far as he suggests in his correspondence that he is a better judge of the national interest than is the Minister of Supply, Mr. Hardie claims too much.
The responsibility of deciding what is in the overriding interests of the nation rests with the Minister, because only by it resting with him can it rest here. Once we deny to the Minister of Supply, or to any other Minister responsible for a great nationalised undertaking, the right to determine what he thinks to be in the national interests, then we are erecting a species of the corporate society more familiar to Italian Fascist principles than to the British democratic Constitution. I have always denied the right of these great corporations to decide such issues.
We cannot discuss the price of steel—I am not proposing to discuss it—although I have never known the House of Commons being put in a more embarrassing position. I do not want to accuse the Minister of Supply of deliberate deception, but I do accuse him of crass incompetence that he dares to suggest that Mr. Speaker's Ruling should be guided by an Order that he has not yet made available to hon. Members of the House.
While I entirely agree with him that it is for him to advise the House as to what is in the national interest, it is for us to 819 make a judgment whether the Prime Minister has been wise in his selection of the Minister of Supply. I am bound to say to him that I have been watching him, as we all have, with great interest. I saw nothing in his previous Parliamentary career to justify his appointment as a Parliamentary Secretary, and I have seen nothing in his conduct this evening that convinces me, or would convince any other objective person here, that as Minister of Supply he is worthy of his task.
We must in this House speak with the utmost frankness, and I do not mind hon. Members opposite speaking with equal frankness. I suggest seriously to the House that a Minister, young in his position, should have sought the earliest possibility of putting before the House all the evidence he has to enable us to reach a conclusion without having this unnecessary discussion for three hours.
The reason I rose to my feet is that the Minister said that he had heard nothing in the course of the discussion which would lead him to suppose that he had any case to answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am bound to say to hon. Members that I would think very carefully before cheering that statement. I represent an iron and steel coal constituency. Miners and steelworkers will read this debate with close attention. We had a discussion the other day in which every hon. Member was seized with the seriousness of the economic difficulties in which this nation is placed, and no one will deny that. We are receiving letters on that all day. I have received a request quite recently asking me to go down to address meetings, very large meetings, of members of trade unions who want to take industrial action in order to influence the decisions of this House. I deplore that.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
I see there is a group called the "Tribune Group" who have been attacked this very day by Mr. Deakin.
§ Mr. Bevan
I have never heard a cheaper retort. I say at once, because I am not to be taunted by such impudent interjections, that I believe it would be a profound mistake for the trade union masses of this country by direct industrial action to try to influence the course of 820 Parliamentary legislation. If the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) had been more patient and less anxious to sneer, he would have waited for the end of the sentence. I believe that it would be mistaken, but I am bound to ask the House this question.
When I go to speak to steelworkers and miners and ask them to refrain from striking to prevent the Government from doing what they have no mandate to do, what am I to reply when they quote the speech of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers), who practically admitted that he remained a member of a nationalised industry in order to sabotage that industry? I am bound to ask hon. Members opposite what reply are we to give when they put together the speeches of the new Prime Minister in which he attacked a person because, being rich, he became a Socialist and then allowed himself to be chairman of a nationalised board, and when that person himself in his own letter states that his position has been made intolerable by the son-in-law of the Prime Minister? I warn hon. Members that they are really playing with dynamite.
I do not support Mr. Hardie when he sets himself up as an equal constitutional authority, but that is not the issue before us. The issue before us is that the steelmasters—Steel House—always tried to use their industrial power to prevent this House from nationalising the industry. That has never been denied. We had the evidence in the last Parliament. Today we have the evidence again. My right hon. Friend the former Minister of Supply said this afternoon that the case against Mr. Hardie was that he broke the strike of Steel House. We now have the evidence that they remained there to foul the nest, disguised under the patriarchal language of maintaining the virginity of their family business.
Here we have a charge in the mouth of Mr. Hardie, who says in other words that the Minister of Supply, who now for five months has been unable to present this House with the Government's proposals about steel, is not ready yet. But 1945 the Prime Minister moved a vote of censure within six weeks of the then Government taking office. Here the Prime Minister has merely bargained for the purchase of steel from America under humiliating conditions. The resigned Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corpora- 821 tion accuses the Minister of Supply, in other words, of spending five months, not in making steel nationalisation a success, but in sabotaging it in the interests of a Bill that he has not yet hatched.
It is the duty of a Minister of the Crown to have views as to what should be done on grounds of high policy but until his views are made known it is his duty to make every other enactment as efficient as possible. Instead of that, the Conservative Party and the right hon. Gentleman, although they make statements to the country about the denationalisation of steel, have not yet brought forward concrete proposals: but in the meantime, while the country and industry are languishing for steel, they use their political power to make it more difficult for the industry to carry on.
I must say that even I never thought that class warfare would be carried on so nakedly as that. Nevertheless, the view that most of us—all of us—take on this side of the House is that workers outside should not allow themselves to follow that example, because before very long—long before hon. Members now think—the country will have a further opportunity of reconsidering its verdict—long before, because never in the history of the House of Commons, certainly never in my experience, have I known a Government in which all the appearance of senile decay was so evident.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
It is alleged in this Motion that by my action I forced the resignation of Mr. Hardie as Chairman of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain. I have been criticised during the debate for not speaking earlier, but I think that anyone who has been sitting through this debate will agree with me that I was obliged to wait—and I have waited long —in order to hear the case being made out against me.
I have listened attentively and patiently throughout this debate, but I must say that I have not heard one single argument or fact advanced which was relevant to this Motion and which supported the contention that I forced Mr. Hardie's resignation. From some of the speeches one would have thought hon. Members opposite had not even read the exchange of correspondence which took place on the subject.
822 A number of hon. Members have said some pretty rough personal things, but I do not propose to follow their example by entering into personalities, either about hon. Members opposite, or about the persons involved in this affair.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), in moving this Motion, read some extracts from Mr. Hardie's resignation letter. Failing any arguments or statements from the party opposite during the course of the debate, I propose to take as my text Mr. Hardie's letter of resignation, and to answer it point by point to make clear what happened and what did not happen.
The first point made in Mr. Hardie's letter of resignation was this, and I quote from it. He referred to,… differences in policy in regard to prices and other fundamental matters apparent between us in recent conferences.As I said in my reply to Mr. Hardie, which was published in the Press, there have been, and I repeat it emphatically in the House tonight, no differences of policy whatsoever between the Corporation and myself. I emphasise the word "Corporation." I will try to satisfy the House on this point by dealing with the various allegations which have been contained in Mr. Hardie's letter of resignation and give all the specific points.
In his letter Mr. Hardie wrote:I have protested against the decision to place on the steel producers heavy levies to meet the cost of imported manufactured steel.This issue must be divided into two parts. The first is the question of the levy on finished steel. The other is the question of the levy on imported crude steel, semis and raw materials.
§ Mr. Woodburn
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question? He says that there has been no disagreement between the Corporation and himself on any matter of policy. I gather he is now going on to discuss the levy of steel. But may I put this question: in Mr. Hardie's letter, as I understood it, there was a statement in regard to directives issued by the Minister—
§ Mr. Sandys
I said I was going to deal with every point in Mr. Hardie's letter, and I propose to do so.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman was going on to discuss the increase in the 823 maximum prices of steel, and that section of the increase which arises from the import of steel into this country. I thought that was quite clear. I want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, since we have strong views on that matter which we did not put forward, whether the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to put forward this argument now.
§ Mr. Speaker
In answer to that point of order, I think the position is perfectly plain. It will be out of order to argue either for or against the increases in the price of steel, because that will be subject to debate when the Order comes to be discussed, but it is quite in order for the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to the speeches that have been made, to narrate the history of this affair as part of his statement, without arguing the merits of the increase or the opposite. I think that is exactly what the House would desire.
§ Mr. Sandys
I was not even proposing to relate the history. All I was going to say was that there was only one exception to what I have said with regard to there being no difference on policy between myself and the Corporation, and that was on the question of the levy on finished steel. That is a difference which existed, as I explained at Question time today, between the Corporation and the late Government, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite knows.
The late Government decided to abolish the subsidy on imported finished steel. The Corporation disagreed with that decision, and asked us to reverse that decision. The present Government, for the same reason as the late Government, decided to adhere to the existing policy and not to reintroduce the subsidy. That is the only matter of policy on which there was a disagreement between myself and the Corporation.
The other half of this problem of the levy does not concern finished steel, but imported crude steel, "semis" and raw materials. On that issue, the Corporation—I say again, the Corporation—as distinct from Mr. Hardie, were agreed that the levy for these purposes should be raised on the industry and should be reflected in prices.
§ Mr. Sandys
As I have already indicated, the Corporation agreed with the 824 Government on this question, but Mr. Hardie made it clear that he himself was not in agreement with the views of the Corporation.
The next point raised in Mr. Hardie's letter to me related to raw materials. He said:I have urged steps, and offered my aid, to rectify the severe shortage of raw materials.One would have thought on reading that passage in his letter that Mr. Hardie and the Corporation had put forward to me a whole series of important recommendations as to how we could deal with this crucial, critical and urgent shortage in the supply of raw materials. But not at all. That was not at all the position. All that has happened is that there have been a few rather vague letters and conversations. I have pressed the Corporation to give me further and more specific and detailed recommendations for action, so that I could consider what could be done, but, time and again, I have had no response to my requests for detailed and specific proposals.
In November, for example, the Chairman of the Corporation wrote to me about raw materials, and made certain proposals. I will explain them to the House. In the first place, he proposed that the Corporation should take over control of B.I.S.C. and B.I.S.C. (Ore). I immediately discussed this matter with Mr. Hardie, because it seemed to me one which should receive immediate attention. It is a very important decision to take, to abolish the common purchasing organisation of a great industry and to hand it over to another organisation.
I asked Mr. Hardie if he would explain to me in what way B.I.S.C. was failing in its duty. In our discussions he was quite unable to give me any explanation whatsoever, except to express his dissatisfaction with it. I am not asking the House simply to take my view as to what happened in the conversation. I asked the Chairman of the Corporation if he would be good enough to consider the matter more closely and to write to me explaining how he considered that the existing organisation was failing in its duty. I received no further communication from him on that subject.
The only really concrete proposal supported by arguments, which was put forward to me by the Corporation to secure greater supplies of raw materials 825 was in relation to Sierra Leone. Mr. Hardie came to see me and emphasised the importance of our taking action to secure larger supplies of the iron ore which is mined in Sierra Leone and, if possible, to get not only increased production there but also a greater proportion of the iron ore produced in that Country. As a matter of fact, before Mr. Hardie's visit, I had already arranged to see the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Development Company, which owns the iron ore concession in that country, but I was glad to know that the Corporation agreed with us about the importance of this proposal.
I had a long discussion with the Chairman of this Company, and we have had correspondence since. I hope that this will lead to satisfactory results not only in the expansion of production, if possible, from existing mines but also, possibly, in the development of other mines in that area. That is the only concrete proposal, as far as I can see—and I have looked through all our files—which was made to me by Mr. Hardie on behalf of the Corporation on the question of raw materials.
Let me make it plain straight away that the Government are not sheltering behind the Corporation's failure to put forward concrete proposals about raw materials. We recognise fully the immense importance and urgency of increasing the supply of raw materials for steel making at this critical time. All I can say is that in a short period the Government have achieved considerable results in obtaining more steel and steel making materials. I ask the House to agree with me that what has been achieved in this field by the Prime Minister's visit to Washington and in other ways compares extremely favourably with the results achieved by the Party opposite when they were in power.
I should like to remind the House that when the late Chancellor of the Exchequer went to the United States last September he tried to negotiate the importation from America of some 800,000 tons of steel during 1952. He secured about 125,000 tons for the first quarter of this year, but he was unable of get any firm commitments beyond that.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
As my right hon. Friend is not here to put this question himself, would the Minister agree that the 826 agreement finally concluded later on by the present Prime Minister was in fact the agreement which my right hon. Friend started to negotiate? The exchange of metals was discussed. It is true that no conclusion was at that time reached, but megotiations were well under way for some such agreement as was concluded dater on by the present Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Sandys
That does surprise me after the right hon. Gentleman himself, only a few days ago, made a speech in a debate in this House, criticising the whole of this agreement.
§ Mr. Strauss
The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. I think I said twice in the course of that speech that this agreement was to be welcomed in this House and that it was welcomed by the Opposition. There were some objectionable features to it which I discussed, but I never said the agreement as a whole was a bad one.
§ Mr. Sandys
I was present during the debate and I did not form the impression that the agreement generally commended itself to the right hon. Gentleman. I should say that the Prime Minister's recent negotiations in Washington secured—[Interruption.] What I am saying goes far nearer to the Motion than most of the speeches of hon. Members opposite. The point I am making, which is strictly relevant to this debate, is that the Government have been active in trying to secure more raw materials, which is one of the points Mr. Hardie criticised.
§ Mr. Sandys
In his recent negotiations in Washington the Prime Minister obtained a firm promise for the equivalent of one million tons of steel—about 800,000 tons of steel and about 200,000 tons of pig iron and scrap.
Over and above this, the American steel industry agreed to make available to us some 750,000 tons of iron ore—the equivalent of another 250,000 tons of steel. Therefore I maintain that this Government cannot be criticised and that in fact they can be proud of their achievements in obtaining raw materials.
Moreover, as a result of negotiations with other countries our imports of steelmaking raw materials are going to be substantially greater in 1952 than they 827 were in 1951. The Government have been active and successful in trying to get more raw materials.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of order. I would, with respect, Mr. Speaker, ask you to give a Ruling on whether we are discussing the record of the Government in its steel purchases in America or the case of Mr. Hardie and his resignation.
§ Mr. Speaker
So far as the record of the Government in acquiring raw materials is relevant to the Motion, it is quite in order.
§ Mr. Sandys
Another proposal put forward in a very vague way to me by Mr. Hardie was that I should give my approval to what he described as a "scheme of decentralisation." The object of this was to group various companies. I cannot describe it in greater detail because I was not given any. My reply to his proposal was that, before giving my approval, I must have in writing from Mr. Hardie more details of the scheme, and be told in particular on what principles it was to be based. I wrote to Mr. Hardie asking him to let me have fuller details in writing and a more precise explanation of the scheme. Mr. Hardie replied that he was not prepared to commit himself to any particular grouping scheme until he had consulted the publicly-owned companies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not complaining, but after receiving that letter I did expect that he would consult the publicly-owned companies and would write to me again about it. In point of fact, he never communicated with me again on the subject.
§ Mr. I. O. Thomas
On a point of order. When the Minister makes a statement of fact like that, does he not owe a duty to the House to give the dates on which those happenings took place?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Minister merely said in general terms that there was correspondence; that he wrote this and that. That is not mentioning a document which has to be produced. I would ask the House to remember that the right hon. Gentleman has been the subject of considerable criticism during this Adjournment Motion, and it is surely his right to get a fair hearing.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have since found what the date was. I thought I had not got it. The date of Mr. Hardie's reply is 3rd December. I hope hon. Members opposite feel satisfied and relieved by that.
The next point to which I should like to refer, and which was referred to by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss), is the question of development. Mr. Hardie complained to me in a letter of the delays which had occurred over the development schemes of the industry—I understand that to a large extent the complaints related to a period some way back—and suggested that the Corporation should completely control the development of the industry. I invited Mr. Hardie to say in what way the Corporation had not already got full control of the development of the publicly-owned companies since it seemed to me it already had complete and absolute control, and what action he recommended in order to accelerate development. Mr. Hardie, as in other cases, was not able to put forward any concrete proposals at the meeting, nor did he follow it up with any subsequent correspondence.
Now I turn to the effect of my direction upon the Corporation. Mr. Hardie, in his letter of resignation, wrote to me:In my opinion the combined effect of the direction, dated 13th November, 1951, given by you to the Corporation, the statement you made to the House of Commons at the time, and your policy towards the Corporation since, is to prevent me from carrying out my duties and responsiblities as Chairman of the Corporation.Let us be clear about the purpose of the direction given on 13th November. The purpose of that direction was to ensure that the Government would be consulted before any important change was made in the financial structure or 829 management of the industry. The right hon. Gentleman said today that the direction amounted to my saying to the Corporation, "Stop everything; do nothing," but nothing could be further from the truth.
I would remind the House of what was said in the debate on the King's Speech on 12th November. In the course of my speech, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) interrupted me—I had just read the text of the direction—and said:The right hon. Gentleman has read the statement which he proposes to issue as a direction to the Corporation. Am I right in assuming that that means that until this House and Parliament pass the new Bill, if they do, the Corporation are told, You must do nothing; you must make no changes at all—not even the plans you contemplated'?to which I replied:The direction does not say that at all. It says that the Government must be consulted before further changes are made so that we shall have the opportunity of judging whether the changes contemplated are likely to frustrate the intention of the Government and of the majority of the Members of this House." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 673.]
§ Mr. Sandys
That seems to me a perfectly proper attitude to adopt. I would like the House to know how this direction in fact operates. I expected that some major issues might arise which I would have to consider and that there might be disagreement—but not at all; nothing but a whole series of small points were put to me, many of which perhaps need not have been put to me at all. I welcome the fact that the Corporation took no risks in this matter and did submit quite a number of points to me. I will give the facts to the House. Since I issued the direction the Corporation has put 18 proposals to me of which I approved 13. I held three in abeyance for further consideration and I refused my consent to two.
The two cases I will give to the House. The first was a proposal to remove three directors of Guest Keen and Baldwins, and six directors of Guest Keen and Nettlefolds. I did not give my consent to those changes. The second proposal which I did not accept was the proposal to order the Santon Mining Company to sell some securi- 830 ties of a nominal value of £19,000 which, so far as I could see, the company did not wish to sell. I did not think that that was a matter in which the Corporation should have intervened, and I refused my consent. Those are the only two points on which I did not give my consent as a result of the direction, apart from the three which I am still considering. I leave it to the House to judge whether those two points are of such magnitude as to justify Mr. Hardie's sweeping statement that my direction prevented him from carrying out his duties.
Now I come to the question of the alleged disagreement over the increase in prices. I am precluded by your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, from going into the whole question of prices and the merits or demerits of the proposals, but I should just like to read what Mr. Hardie himself said in his letter to me. He said:… I have expressed to you my strong views against the Government's decision to increase maximum prices of iron and steel, especially in view of the large increase in the profits of the publicly-owned companies …Hon. Members will observe that he said "my." Mr. Hardie said:… I have expressed to you my strong views …He did not say "the Corporation's strong views." That is the key to the whole issue.
The Corporation has agreed the new prices which are contained in the Order, and it was Mr. Hardie himself who informed me, in front of the other members of the Corporation, of the Corporation's decision to agree to these prices. At the same time, however, he stated to me that he had been outvoted by his colleagues.
§ Mr. Manuel
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the Corporation agreed to the increased prices. Does that mean that he would have accepted the vote if the Corporation had disagreed with them?
§ Mr. Sandys
I am stating a fact, and it is that the Corporation informed me of their agreement with the increased prices. To my mind, that is a very important factor.
It seemed not to be admitted by the party opposite that there was any disagreement between Mr. Hardie and the 831 Corporation. If there are any doubts about that, I hope the House will be kind enough to pay attention to the most recent letter which I received from Mr. Hardie acknowledging my letter accepting his resignation. This passage appears in it:There was no reason for me"—that is, Mr. Hardie—to give publicity to any differences of opinion there may have been between me and some of my colleagues.…If hon. Members require it, that is complete confirmation of what I said in my letter, namely, that there was a difference of opinion between Mr. Hardie and the members of the Corporation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said that if Mr. Hardie was out-voted by the Corporation and had therefore lost the support of the Corporation, he would have had to resign. That is just what happened.
§ Mr. Woodburn
When I ventured to intervene before the right hon. Gentleman promised to refer to the matter again. He has said there was never any disagreement in policy between himself and the Corporation. he has not explained whether the Corporation agreed with the policy in that direction for a standstill. I would be glad if he would answer that one.
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that is rather a red herring, if I may say so. All I can say is that I did not have one word of protest from the Corporation about it, but that does not necessarily mean that they welcomed it. If that had been the trouble surely Mr. Hardie would have resigned last November.
The fact that there was a disagreement and that Mr. Hardie no longer commanded a majority in the Corporation was, of course, the real reason for his resignation, and all the alleged differences between the Corporation and myself are nothing more than a smoke screen. I repeat finally, the differences on which Mr. Hardie resigned were differences between himself and the Corporation, and not differences between myself and the Corporation. Having lost the support of his colleagues on this vital issue of prices, Mr. Hardie—and I agree with him 832 entirely—took the only right and proper course by resigning—
§ Mr. Sandys
He took the only right and proper course by resigning and to suggest that I forced his resignation is without any foundation, without the slightest vestige of truth, and is unsupported by a single fact or argument advanced during this debate.
§ Mr. Edelman
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, I should like him to deal with one point. He has spoken about the vote inside the Corporation. Will he say whether Mr. Hardie was alone in opposing the Government on that question of price, or whether he had any support within the Corporation, and is not Mr. Hardie's complaint also that those who voted for an increase in price were acting under the duress and discipline of the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. Sandys
I will reply to that. All I know is what Mr. Hardie told me himself officially at this meeting. He said that he wished to make it quite clear that this decision had been taken against his advice and against his wishes and that he himself had been out-voted. I did not inquire whether any other members of the Corporation had been out-voted or not.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The Minister has treated the House with contempt. For some time he has been reading from letters—[Interruption.] Now that we have only five minutes of this debate left, quite obviously hon. Members opposite are doing their utmost to try to prevent anyone who replies from being heard. The Minister said, "How can it be said that I frustrated Mr. Hardie when I only refused two of his requests which he submitted to me?" Did the Minister seriously think that Mr. Hardie or the Corporation were going to waste time putting before the Minister proposals which they knew he would not accept, quite apart from the fact that he made this gratuitous direction—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
I have called "Order" several times. I ask that the remaining minutes of this debate be conducted with decorum.
§ Mr. Paget
The Minister starts off by saying, as his very first action when he is new in office, that he has given a general direction to this Corporation that every proposal for re-organisation must be brought to him. He made it perfectly obvious—let us cut away the nonsense that we have been hearing—that the Minister and his party were going to do their utmost to frustrate what the Corporation were doing. The duty imposed upon the Corporation by Act of Parliament is to make the steel re-organisation scheme work, but the Minister has done his utmost to put every frustration in the way.
It is a bad time to try to introduce into a political conflict industrial matters, and
§ to carry on industrially the vendetta which the Prime Minister declared against Mr. Hardie when he compared Mr. Hardie to Herr Krupp. We know the viciousness which the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister have shown towards Mr. Hardie from the day of his appointment. All this has now been brought to its climax. We are now told by the Minister, "I wanted to co-operate with him." That is what the Minister is trying to say now, but it is the most—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 203; Noes. 250.837
|Division No. 31.]||AYES||(10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Albu, A. H.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Ewart, R.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Fernyhough, E.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Fienburgh, W.||Logan, D. G.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Baird, J.||Follick, M.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Foot, M. M.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Bence, C. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McLeavy, F.|
|Benson, G.||Freeman, John (Watford)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Beswick, F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Gibson, C. W.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Blackburn, F.||Grey, C. F.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Boardman, H.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Messer, F.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hamilton, W. W.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hannan, W.||Monslow, W|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hargreaves, A.||Morley, R.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hastings, S.||Morrison, Rt Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hayman, F. H.||Moyle, A|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Murray, J. D|
|Champion, A. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Nally, W|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hobson, C. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Holman, P.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Clunie, J.||Houghton, Douglas||Oliver, G. H.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Hoy, J. H.||Orbach, M.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Oswald, T.|
|Collick, P. H.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Padley, W. E.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire||Paget, R. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.).||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pannell, Charles|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A|
|Daines, P.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paton, J.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Peart, T. F.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Popplewell, E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Porter, G.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Deer, G.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reeves, J.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Keenan, W.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Edelman, M. Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||King, Dr. H. M.||Rhodes, H.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Kinley, J.||Richards, R.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Stross, Dr. Barnett||Wigg, G. E. C.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras. N.)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Swingler, S. T.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Ross, William||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Royle, C.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas(Don V'll'y)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Short, E. W.||Tomney, F.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Viant, S. P.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Slater, J.||Wallace, H. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Weitzman, D.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Snow, J. W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Sparks, J. A.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|Strachey, Rt. Hon, J.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Keeling, Sir Edward|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Drayson, G. B.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Drewe, C.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T.(Richmond)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Duthie, W. S.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lindsay, Martin|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Erroll, F. J.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Fell, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Low, A. R. W.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Fort, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Foster, John||McAdden, S. J.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Birch, Nigel||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gage, C. H.||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Black, C. W.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Boothby, R. J. G||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bowen, E. R.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J A.||Godber, J. B.||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gough, C. F. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Braine, B. R.||Gower, H. R.||Marples, A. E.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Graham, Sir Fegus||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maude, Angus|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maudling, R.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C|
|Bullard, D. G.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Medlicott, Brig. F|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Molson, A. H. E|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Monckton, Rt. Hon Sir Walter|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hay, John||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Heath, Edward||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Nabarro, G. D. N|
|Channon, H.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nutting, Anthony|
|Cole, Norman||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Oakshott, H. D|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hollis, M. C.||Odey, G. W.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hope, Lord John||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hopkinson, Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Horobin, I. M.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pilkington, Capt. H. A|
|De la Bére, R.||Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Deedes, W. F.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Raikes, H. V.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Rayner, Brig. R||Speir, R. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Redmayne, M.||Spent, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Vosper, D. F.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Stevens, G. P.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Robson-Brown, W.||Storey, S.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Russell, R. S.||Studholme, H. G.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Summers, G. S.||Wellwood, W.|
|Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Sutcliffe, H.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)||Teeling, W.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Scott, R. Donald||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wills, G.|
|Shepherd, William||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||York, C.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Touche, G. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Turner, H. F. L.||Brigadier Mackeson and Mr. Butcher.|
Resolution agreed to.