HC Deb 29 January 1953 vol 510 cc1192-331

Considered in Committee. [Progress, 28th January.]

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Consideration of Clauses 3 to 33, of new Clauses and of Schedules 1 and 2 postponed until after the consideration of Schedule 3.—[Mr. Sandys.]


3.34 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. A. R. W. Low)

I beg to move, in page 34, to leave out paragraphs 5 to 7, and to add: 5. The rolling, with or without heat, of any iron and steel products for the purpose of reducing the cross-sectional area thereof. 6. The production, with or without heat, of iron or steel forgings, but not including

  1. (a) smiths' hand forging;
  2. (b) the production of bolts, nuts, screws, rivets or springs;
  3. (c) drop forging or any other stamping or pressing involving the use either of a die conforming to the shape of the final product of the stamping or pressing, or of a series of dies one of which so conforms;
  4. (d) the hammering or pressing of any part or component of plant or machinery carried out incidentally to, and by the persons engaged in, the manufacture or repair of the plant or machinery in which the part or component is to be incorporated.
7. The production from iron or steel of bright bars or of hot-finished tubes or of hot-finished pipes. 8. The production of tinplate or terneplate. The production of pig iron and the production of steel in the form of ingots, slabs, blooms or billets shall be deemed not to fall with paragraph 4 of this Schedule. This Amendment is in response to points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) and points made to us by others outside the Committee and affecting the technical difficulties of some of the activities mentioned in the Third Schedule. In the Second Reading debate, I said: We have given much thought to the definition of these activities. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale on Tuesday brought up special points on the definition of rolling and forging. We shall try to define rolling so as to exclude bending and any fabricating operation which does not alter the cross-section of the metal. The forging point may be more difficult, but we shall consider this carefully between now and the Committee stage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 667.] The Committee will remember that in the White Paper which we issued in July last, as paragraph 10 appear these words: Whilst the powers of the Board are intended to provide for the supervision of the whole iron and steel industry, they will not extend beyond it, for example to the activities of steel-using industries. That was a clear statement of our intention, and this Amendment merely seeks, after the full consultation that we have been able to have since the publication of the Bill, to ensure that the Bill carries out our intention.

The chief difficulty that we have had in this matter—and I expect other hon. Gentlemen have encountered the same difficulty—has been that there is no standard terminology in the iron and steel or engineering industries on which anyone can rely when trying to define rolling or forging from the point of view of the steel industry. We had to find words which were at once intelligible to the industry, to ourselves and to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee, and intelligible in the same sense to the courts.

We have been fortunate in having the co-operation of a number of people on this technical point outside the Committee. In particular we have had long and useful negotiations and discussions with the British Engineers' Association, the Machine Tool Trades' Association, the Shipbuilding Conference, the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association, and several others. The Sheffield Members should be satisfied, in particular, that we have paid due regard to the problems of Sheffield, and we have paid visits to works in their area, in order to ensure that the definition fulfils the purpose we intended.

I do not wish to detain the Committee, but I ought to try to explain as shortly as I can what is the effect of the changes in the words. In paragraph 5 we define rolling, which is within the Bill, as: The rolling, with or without heat, of any iron and steel products for the purpose of reducing the cross-sectional area thereof. This paragraph covers normal steel works processes of rolling strip, plates, and so on, from ingots, through slabs, billets and blooms. In all these processes one of the main objects is to reduce the thickness or cross-sectional area. The paragraph specially now omits all the engineering processes of bending, shaping, forming, straightening, and so on, because though there may be involved in those processes some slight reduction of the thickness of the metal, the purpose of the rolling is not to reduce the thickness but to alter the shape.

Paragraph 6 deals with forging in so far as it is covered by this Bill. We now say: The production, with or without heat, of iron or steel forgings, but not including"— and then come the four main items which are not included and as set out in the sub-paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d). Smiths' hand forging and drop forging of bolts and rivets were already excluded in the original draft. The Amendment extends the exclusion of drop forging to similar processes as mentioned in subparagraph (c): drop forging or any other stamping or pressing involving the use either of a die conforming to the shape of the final product of the stamping or pressing, or of a series of dies one of which so conforms. In sub-paragraph (d) we have found a set of words which we and those who have advised us believe achieves the object of excluding engineering forging, if I may use that expression; the sort of incidental process done as part of the engineering work in engineering firms, which, by a wrong interpretation of the word "forging" used in the original draft of the Bill, might have been said to have been brought into the scope of the Board. We are quite clear that the effect of subparagraph (d) is not such as to exclude the ordinary heavy steel forging, which is generally understood to be a steel process. Many hon. Members have an idea what they mean by that, and we think that as a result of this rather fuller, paragraph 6 we have now confined "forging" within this Bill to cover the steel forging industry only, and to exclude from it all other processes which might be confused with it.

There is a small change in paragraph 7 to make it clear that the words "hot finished" apply to pipes as well as tubes, but that they do not apply to bright bars, which are, of course, drawn or rolled cold.

Paragraph 8 is in exactly the same form as it was before, but the last two lines, lines of the Amendment on the Order Paper, refer to paragraph 4 of the Schedule, which relates to the casting of iron or steel. They are necessary in view of the Government's proposals concerning castings and the Board's development and price powers. Without these new words the Government's proposals on these matters might have been taken to refer to pig iron and ingot steel, and also to slabs, blooms and billets where those were produced by the continuous casting process. Obviously it was not our intention to treat pig iron, ingots and these other things in the same way as castings, and we therefore found it necessary to include in the Schedule these last two lines, which make the matter clear.

I hope the Committee will think it right to accept this Amendment. I should like to make it clear that if, as a result of further inquiries, we still find that, for technical reasons out of the ken of many of us in this Committee, there may still be a slight mistake or room for doubt, my right hon. Friend is quite ready to consider further Amendments at a later stage. But I repeat that, as a result of our wide discussions, we consider that we have now achieved the objects we set ourselves, which are set out quite clearly in paragraph 10 of the White Paper.

Mr. F. J. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)

I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the Parliamentary Secretary on an extremely difficult job very well carried out. It was obvious from the original draft of the Bill that some Amendment would be required. The industries affected, and indeed individual firms affected, have been most impressed by the way the Parliamentary Secretary has got down to studying the various points put to him, and has succeeded, with the aid of the Parliamentary draftsmen, in evolving this Amendment, which I believe substantially meets all the principal technical difficulties which have been put to him during the last five or six weeks, ever since the matter was raised on Second Reading. I am particularly glad that the Parliamentary Secretary says that the door is not closed to further Amendments of detail, should those be found to be necessary after discussion.

I have myself put down two small Amendments to this proposed Amendment—in sub-paragraph (c) to leave out "other," and in sub-paragraph (d) to leave out from "out," to the end of the sub-paragraph and to insert: by persons whose main activities are not included or deemed to be included in this Schedule if the hammering or pressing of the part or component is incidental or subordinate to the main activities of such persons. I still think they put in slightly better form the objects we are all trying to achieve, but as further opportunities are to be made available, I am content at this stage to see the principal Amendment go into the Bill as it stands. It must have been a difficult task for the Parliamentary Secretary, in the midst of all his other preoccupations, to sort out these technical difficulties in an essential and vital industry.

3.45 p.m.

Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

I wish to ask only one question. Can the Minister tell us how many firms will now be excluded from the scope of the Board as a result of this Amendment?

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)

I am sorry that this Amendment is not more comprehensive. I think it ought to have included paragraph 4. I must declare an interest, in that I am chairman of an engineering company which has what they call a tied iron foundry. The Minister ought to know that, though he persuaded certain representatives of a trade association that everything in the garden was lovely, that does not substantially represent the point of view of a very large number of engineering firms with whom I am in touch. I have never heard any adequate explanation for bringing iron founding into this Bill. The reference to raw materials has always seemed to me to be nonsense. I have never heard of a solitary case where an iron foundry in connection with an engineering firm has ever experienced any difficulties.

After putting this on record, I shall take no further part. There is and remains profound indignation in the engineering trade, despite what the Minister told us of a certain conference. I have not had a report of that conference, but I am told by certain people that those present were blackmailed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, blackmailed. I had a letter from a very representative engineering manufacturer to the effect that they were given this option, that if they continued their agitation they would not get these Amendments. Whether that is true or not, I do not know, but if it is not true I hope the Minister will contradict it authoritatively.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

I do it right away.

Sir H. Williams

Thank you, very much. I was not present at the conference. I did not even know it was going, to be held till I saw the report of it in the Press. I think that the Minister ought to know that there is widespread profound dissatisfaction in the engineering industry over the decision to introduce these iron foundries into the Bill. They are not part of the iron and steel industry. Steel House knows very little about their problems. They are quite different, and I hope that we can at some time or another have some kind of intelligent explanation of why they are brought in.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

As far as I am concerned, there would have been profound dissatisfaction had my right hon. Friend yielded to the agitation to take iron founders out of this Schedule. I do not think there exists any case for so doing, and I should have been compelled to raise the strongest possible protest had he done so. I realise, as I think every hon. Member does, that the definition of an industry is very difficult indeed. I remember that during the passage of the Statistics of Trade Bill, the Board of Trade wanted to put in the words "may define the industry," and only reluctantly were the words "must define the industry" put into the Bill.

It is a very real problem, but we can be satisfied that a section of the iron and steel processing which uses 25 per cent. of the raw materials cannot be wholly disregarded, and the only merit that some people may feel our Bill has over the 1949 Act is that it intends to bring all the elements of the industry under comprehensive supervision. I do not think that the most active supporter of the 1949 Act would do other than admit that serious difficulties have arisen between the iron founders and the steel makers as a result of the 1949 Act and the division of authority. There have been most unseemly goings-on between those two bodies, and that is one of the disadvantages of trying to control an industry, or supervise it, when dealing with only three-quarters of the effective industry.

I wish now to deal with a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams). It may be said that the tied iron foundries are in a different position from ordinary iron foundries. I agree that the reason we seek to have some public supervision of the iron and steel industry may not be present in the case of many of the tied iron foundries.

It is perfectly true to say that in many of these so-called tied iron foundries there do not exist elements which could be described as quasi-monopoly and to that extent there is perhaps a small measure of injustice in what is now being done, but when we ask the tied iron foundries to give a definition of a tied iron foundry, we find that it is by no means simple to do so. How many tied iron foundries do not make a single casting for some other firm? Very few of them—some are half-tied, some are one-third tied, some are one-quarter tied, and some are owned by groups of firms. I feel that it would be utterly wrong in principle to try to differentiate.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) has tried to make a lot of political capital out of this. If the tied iron foundries have played into his hands, I do not condemn him for taking advantage of that situation. He knows that if, by some mischance, his party were again elected, the fact that we have tied iron foundries under this form of general supervision would in no way help him to nationalise the tied iron foundries.

I invite him when he replies, to make a statement on the situation, and to say whether in his view it is true that if the tied iron foundries are brought within the supervision of this Board he would be better able to nationalise these undertakings. I should be grateful if, when he replies to this debate, he would make a statement on this situation. I feel strongly on this matter, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the firm stand which he has taken in the national interest.

Mr. Robson Brown (Esher)

I want to say only a few words on this matter. I think that the way in which the Minister has handled this rather difficult and thorny problem redounds to his credit and his patience, and that the solution which he has found makes the Bill stronger and better. His attitude and the Government's attitude in this matter clearly demonstrate that we are determined to have a good, effective and workable Bill. I think that the whole country has been impressed by the stand which the Government have made against any representations from outside to disturb the effectiveness and the benefit of this Bill to the industry and to the country.

Mr. G. R. Strauss (Vauxhall)

Although it is not my duty at present to reply to debates in this House, as the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) seemed to assume, it may be that one of these days, before long, I shall be in a position to do so. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is anticipating—I do not know; but I willingly accept the invitation to say a few words on this subject.

Two points have been raised. One is the Amendment to the Schedule, which has been explained by the Parliamentary Secretary. We are grateful to him for explaining to us a difficult matter from the technical point of view. Most of us do not understand these refinements of definitions, but I want to tell him straight away that, from the consultations which we have been able to have with those in the House and outside, particularly with my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), who is very knowledgeable on these matters, it seems to us that this new definition is an improvement on the old one. We have no objection to it, because we think that it is an improvement.

One comment which I should like to make is that it seems to us that one of the major changes which have been made is the exclusion from the Schedule of nuts, screws and springs. I should like to say, in passing, that, in view of the madness of this Bill, I am not sure that it would not be more appropriate to leave "nuts" in the Bill.

A question has been raised about the inclusion of foundries under paragraph 4 of the Schedule. I have been asked to give my opinion and to say what the situation is likely to be when we come to repeal this Bill and to reverse its consequences. It is, of course, quite impossible for me to say anything in detail about that. One would have to consider the situation when it arises. I would, however, remind the Committee of what I said on Second Reading. I suggested then that it was our opinion when we nationalised the Iron and Steel industry that the most effective way of doing so was to nationalise the kernel of the industry—that part which produces about 97 per cent. of the iron and steel ingots of this country. We did that, but we thought it unnecessary to bring in iron foundries, in view of the difficulties and complications and conflict about raw materials. We still believe that those difficulties could be settled by a coordinating committee, maybe under the Ministry.

The Government have taken the view that it is desirable to bring in the foundries, and there is a case, of course, for doing so. Many of the foundries of this country are very bad and great improvements have been made in others, and there is a great deal to be said for bringing the foundries under some form of public supervision. We believe that the powers given to this Board do not enable it to have any effective supervision at all.

My answer to the hon. Member for Cheadle is that now that the foundries have been brought in, and it may be correctly so—we do not oppose it at all —under a form of public supervision under the Board, it is quite certain that, whatever enactment may take place in the future when we repeal this Bill, the foundries will remain in under some form—whether under the Board or under a new corporation, I do not know—of public supervision and almost certainly under a more effective form than is proposed in this Bill.

It is impossible for me to go further, but that is the obvious conclusion which any one would draw from the inclusion in this Bill of the foundries. That is my personal opinion, and I think that the general opinion will be that the obvious conclusion one must draw from bringing the foundries under the supervision of this public Board is that they are going to remain there, and that public supervision in the future will not diminish and is likely to increase. If I am asked to reply to the question of whether this will make it easier for us to re-nationalise the industry, I say that I do not suppose that it will. It will probably make it more difficult, but that will not deter us.

Mr. Shepherd

The right hon. Gentleman says that if his party get back to power and the question of re-nationalisation of the industry arises, the foundries will be included. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] But is it not true to say that the foundries were included for supervision purposes, in a manner similar to what is now intended, under the former Board?

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)

I intervene at this stage only because of the pronouncement made by the right hon. Gentleman for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss). It is quite true from pronouncements which he made in the House earlier when these discussions were taking place that there is reason to anticipate that if and when a Socialist Government get back to power, they may be inclined to take effective, or more stringent or closer, powers of supervision of those industries which are included in the Schedule which we are now discussing.

I believe that that is an entirely false argument, and I want to tell the Committee why I think so. First, I believe that the arrangements which we are working out for the industry under the Bill will prove so satisfactory that the large majority of the population and of the people working in the industry will be satisfied with them. I have warned the right hon. Gentleman before, and will do it again—

Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)

On a point of order, Sir Charles. Can you tell us what part of the Bill we are discussing?

The Chairman

I have been wondering about that myself. We are at the moment dealing with the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, but this discussion might more fittingly take place on the Question "That the schedule, as amended, be the Third Schedule to the Bill."

Mr. Roberts

I entirely agree with you, Sir Charles. The remarks that I am hoping to make would be more appropriate on that Question.

The Chairman

Then why does not the hon. Gentleman wait and make them then?

Mr. Roberts

First, I might not be fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir Charles, and second, the very points which I am making have already been raised by other hon. Members on the Amendment. It was because of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall that I rose to say what I had to say.

The Chairman

It would be more in order if we dealt with the Amendment now and deferred such remarks till the Question "That the Schedule, as amended, be the Third Schedule to the Bill."

Mr. Roberts

If I may reserve what I was going to say to a later stage, I shall be glad to do so.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Schedule, as amended, be the Third Schedule to the Bill."

Mr. Roberts

I shall not repeat my arguments but will continue them from the point at which you called me to order, Sir Charles. Many people in the country and in the industry have written to me, as I am sure they have done to other hon. Members, and I want to put to such people, who are anxious, that I am convinced that the whole scheme will work so effectively that if it ever happens that the present Opposition becomes the Government it will not be able, whatever its Left Wing Members may think, to persuade the majority of the country that it would be a good thing to re-nationalise the industry.

If hon. Members opposite really get the bit between their teeth and wish to do something, I do not think they will be detracted or attracted by anything in the Bill, and any arguments which are related to that are fallacious. Moreover— and this may be most important of all— it will be remembered that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) was trying to bring the original Bill before the House, he had a great number of consultations on the question of ownership and how far ownership should go with nationalisation. He brought in a very well-known South African—who has since died—who advised him, rightly, I feel, that one cannot take national ownership right down into the small, individual and manyfaceted sections of the industries which are now coming under supervision. I believe that the fears which the right hon. Gentleman and some of his supporters are trying to raise are quite unfounded. I do not believe it will be practicable to bring these industries under national ownership.

With regard to supervision, I agree with my hon. Friends who have said that in the national interest it is necessary and important that there should be a certain amount of supervision over the whole range of these industries. I support the Schedule as it now stands. I do not believe that the Labour Party will put their plans about the Schedule in their General Election programme or, if they do, that they will be able to carry them out if they return to power. I believe that the Bill as it is now drawn will achieve what we as a party have sought over a great number of years. We have believed that there should be a general form of supervision over the whole range of the iron and steel industry which goes beyond the firms nationalised under the original Act.

I should like also to congratulate the Minister and to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his visit to Sheffield, and to tell him that we shall be very pleased to see him whenever he cares to make another visit. We appreciate the way in which the problems have been worked out, and I commend the Schedule as it now stands to the Committee.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

On Second Reading I had a good deal to say about the position of the iron foundries and I pleaded with my right hon. Friend on that occasion to make some specific amendments to the text of these Schedules in order to exclude certain iron foundries from the provisions of the Bill and the operations of the Iron and Steel Board. In spite of the great controversy which has raged throughout the engineering industry and the iron and steel industry since Second Reading about many matters affecting the text of the Third Schedule, I believe that my right hon. Friend has reached a compromise and that the many Amendments which he has tabled have enabled a workable solution to be achieved.

On Second Reading I advanced five specific points in an endeavour to end the controversy and solve the difficulties. My right hon. Friend has accepted three of them. One which he did not accept has a direct bearing on this Schedule and, as it is strictly apposite that I should do so, I want to make some reference to it now. It is the question of the very large number of tiny foundries in this country— hundreds of them—each of which employs only a few hands.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) made a passing reference to bad conditions in many foundries. I endorse what he said, and in large measure those bad conditions are to be found in the small foundries, of which we have a large number in the Black Country. For that reason, on Second Reading I asked my right hon. Friend if he could devise some means of imposing a quantitative limit on the output of castings from individual iron foundries, the effect of which would be to exclude the very small foundries from the provisions of the Schedule.

Paragraph 4 of the Third Schedule refers to: The casting of iron or steel by any process. I should feel far happier about that if it were possible to add a caveat to the general effect that a foundry which turns out less than 5,000 tons of castings a year, or whatever datum line is agreed, should be excluded. I again appeal to my right hon. Friend, because I believe that it will be administratively impracticable for the Board to attempt to supervise the very small firms. Any provision which could be made along those lines between now and the Report stage ought also to take into its embrace the smaller foundries which are part of engineering businesses.

I should like to appeal to my right hon. Friend to give further consideration to this problem, and, in doing so, I would thank him very much indeed for the courtesy and consideration which he has shown to me and to my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee in the various representations made to him from different parts of the country to consider the provisions in this Bill in so far as iron foundries are concerned.

There is only one remaining objection, as I see it, and that is the difficulty of administering very small foundries or bringing them under supervision, but I am certain that, if he can devise a formula for excluding them, it will be in the public interest and in the interests of the engineering and allied industries so to do.

Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)

I rise to congratulate the Minister on having put the case in the way he did. This has been a technically difficult problem, and those of us who are closely associated with the industry would congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on finding a solution.

I do respectfully suggest, however, that, having heard the difference of opinion on the Government benches between the public-spirited point of view and the private enterprise, tied foundry point of view, whatever is the final outcome of the suggestions made by back bench supporters of the Government, when all is said and done, the tied foundries and the free foundries will both be using very valuable scarce national resources, and it is imperative in the public interest that supervision should be extended to the whole, including the numerous small firms. It has been my experience that very many small firms not only use a large amount of material in the aggregate, but may also waste a lot of it.

We agree with the Schedule as amended, and we congratulate the Minister on finding a solution to a difficult problem.

Mr. Erroll

I wish to add a word on the subject of this Schedule. When we talk about supervision of the iron and steel industry, we very seldom pause to think exactly what we mean by the industry, and until one gets down to the details it is very difficult to arrive at a satisfactory definition. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) had difficulties with his Bill, and the same problem has caused a great deal of difficulty to the present Minister of Supply.

The fact is that now, in the Third Schedule, we have a very good definition of the iron and steel industry, as it is intended according to this Bill. There is, of course, room for differences of opinion as to what should be in the Schedule and what should not be in it, and some us may think that the Schedule goes a little too wide, while others do not feel that it goes wide enough. Nevertheless, a workable compromise has been reached, although it must be admitted that there is still some unhappiness among what we may call the fringe industries according to whether they are just in or just out. There was the same difficulty with the previous Bill.

I have always felt that the case of the foundries was arguable either way. We could make a good case for including the iron foundries within the scope of the Bill and a very good case for excluding them. There was no doubt that a majority of the foundry owners themselves felt that they should be excluded, but I believe that the Minister was right to insist on including the foundries but to modify the nature of the supervision over them, as he has done in such a wise and competent way, restricting the principal element of supervision to the supervision of their raw materials supply, because it is a question of how best to dispose these scarce national resources.

One could, of course, argue that other industries use scarce national resources without supervision, but they have, perhaps, grown up with a greater consciousness of the need to conserve raw materials, because those materials have always been scarce and difficult to get. On the other hand, the foundry industry has grown up in days of plenty, when coal and iron were cheap and plentiful and the habits of economy were not so easy to come by. I believe that the supervision over the iron foundries laid down in this Bill will be an effective supervision with teeth in it, so to speak, and that the supervision will be confined to that aspect of the foundry problem which really requires supervision. I am sure that the Amendments on the Order Paper will, in fact, remove what I believe to be substantially the worst fears of the iron foundries about their inclusion in the Bill.

4.15 p.m.

Of course, there is no doubt that, had the pig iron producers been differently constituted, and perhaps if they had had greater sales force and ability, they might in the past have taken greater steps to ensure that the foundries did get the raw materials which they should have, and the pig iron producers would have known what the likely trend of demand would be; but having failed in that elementary commercial duty, it seems that some form of supervision by a central board is the only satisfactory way of forecasting the likely demands on many of the small individual foundries in the country. Therefore, I am glad that supervision is to be maintained, as I am sure it will redound to the benefit of the foundries themselves.

Mr. R. Brooman-White (Rutherglen)

I do not want to detain the Committee, but, as I have been approached, during the discussion on this Bill, by many people in Scotland who are interested in the iron foundry problem, I therefore think it right that I should say something on the conclusions which I have reached after discussions with them and after hearing what the Minister and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the Committee have said.

I have thought from the beginning that the misapprehensions of the iron founders were ill-founded, in that they arose from two misunderstandings. One of the industry's fears was about the effect which inclusion would have on their day-to-day efficiency—the fear of detailed interference—and secondly, there was the fear of political implications for the future. I think that everything that has been said by the Minister during this discussion, together with the Amendments which have been and are being introduced, should satisfy the iron founders on both those scores.

It has been made abundantly clear that the objective of inclusion is only to ensure adequate supervision in the national interest, and I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) on the point that the Board cannot effectively watch over the development of a whole industry without concerning itself with a section which uses such a considerable quantity of the raw materials involved. It has never been, and I think it never will be, the intention of the Board to pry into the details of what the industry is doing at any time, but rather to watch over the way each industry is going.

I agree further with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) that no definition could effectively be drawn either in law or in practice as between the tied and free foundries—all had to be included or all excluded, and the latter course was impractical.

On the question of the political implications for the future, I think the founders will be reassured and will accept the full sense and implications of what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—that in the future any change by another Government would maintain the principle of public supervision.

That is very right and proper and necessary, and we all accept it. There is a great gulf between Government supervision and public ownership, and I do not think anything which has been said need increase the founders' fears about public ownership. Had the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) seen the need for public ownership in the past, he certainly would not have been hesitant in imposing it. The position is further clarified by what he and other hon. Members have now said. I hope the misgivings of the founders will have been considerably allayed and that there will be general acceptance of this schedule.

Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)

I wish very briefly to refer to another aspect of the controversy which has led to the amendment of the Schedule, the final form of which we are now considering. I think my right hon. Friend will agree that the opposition to his proposals, which in its later stages assumed a really formidable size, derives from a quite genuine apprehension as to the possible effects of the opinion of this Bill on the progress and success of the engineering industry.

The reason for those fears were twofold. First of all, a bitter experience of the evils of interference in the day-to-day management by boards of various shapes and sizes in every section of industry, and secondly, fear lest a future Government might substitute for the idea of broad supervision in the national interest the alternative idea of narrow control in the interests of a particular party point of view. I am quite sure, as I hope my right hon. Friend is also, that the protests made against his proposals arose from perfectly genuine reasons.

I think, as my hon. Friends on this side have said, that as a result of the debate on this Schedule many of those apprehensions will be allayed from now onwards, but at the same time I think we should recognise that there is an indication of the point of view, no doubt genuinely held by the party opposite, that they wish to interpret, and feel it would be right to interpret, supervision as control. Indeed, when we come to consider, if it is called, a later Amendment on this matter, we shall see them actually taking steps to that end. Those who raised that protest may feel themselves justified in what they have done when they realise that by merely adding two words to Clause 3 at a later stage it will be possible to realise many of the fears they have.

But there is one other aspect of this controversy which I feel might properly be referred to. It is that from the very earliest stages of the negotiation which my right hon. Friend had with the industry, he was able to assure us that a majority of those concerned with this particular aspect of the industry were in favour of his proposals. It seemed to us curious, to say the least of it, that at a later stage it turned out that there was, in fact, a very large number of firms affected by his proposal who were apparently strongly against it.

I feel that there is a great deal of strength in the comment which was made at the time in a letter in "The Times" to the effect that this would, perhaps, be a lesson to industry in particular, and perhaps also to Government Departments negotiating with industry, to make quite certain before reaching a conclusion that those appointed to speak for the industry in question have made sure that they are voicing the sentiments and views of the section of that industry for which they wish to speak.

I must say that, having read, in conjunction with that letter, a letter from Sir Norman Kipping on the attitude, presumably, of the F.B.I., on this matter, one cannot but feel that it is high time that those who would place themselves in a position of conducting important negotiations with Government Departments or Ministers should take the elementary precaution which an hon. Member of this House has to take in trying to voice the opinions of those he represents, that is, of trying to know what they are thinking before he tries to act as their spokesman.

If, as a result of the long and heated controversy which has now reached, as I think it has, its conclusion in this debate, we can draw the moral that those wishing to safeguard what they quite rightly believe to be the legitimate interests and point of view of industry should take greater care in future to assure themselves that those whom they represent and for whom they are empowered to speak actually believe in and would support the sort of advice which they are presenting to the Ministries in question, it will have been worth while.

Mr. Sandys

I am grateful to hon. Members for the extreme moderation with which they have voiced the feelings of anxiety which I know still exist about the inclusion of the founders in this Schedule. In order to save time, I do not propose to talk about the other parts of the Schedule, because I believe there is common agreement on them. I want to remind the Committee of what I said in the debate on the White Paper explaining the principles upon which we have drawn up this Schedule. I said: I can assure the House that it was after much thought and many consultations that we compiled the list of processes set out in the Appendix to the White Paper. This list comprises, in the main, basic processes of iron and steel production. The remainder have been included for two reasons, first, to ensure their supplies of raw materials, and, secondly, to make the supervision of the Board over the basic processes fully effective."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 1289.] I well understand and sympathise with the very strong feelings which have been expressed by some founders. I think that, if the text of the Bill, the White Paper, and perhaps an explanatory memorandum had gone out to them earlier, some of their anxieties might not have been so acute. I am truly grateful to all in the industry for the understanding which they have shown in this last stage, and for the very considerable and broadminded sense of statesmanship which the leaders of the industry have exhibited in this matter.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), who I am sorry to see has left the Chamber, said that I had not at any time explained why the Government thought it right to bring the founders into the Bill. I ask forgiveness for quoting what I said on a previous occasion, but when challenged for saying nothing on the subject, I may, perhaps, be allowed to quote a sentence or two from what I said during the Second Reading debate. I said: Instead of public ownership of one part of the industry, there will now be public supervision of the whole. That is why we cannot accept the suggestion which has been made in some quarters that founders should be excluded from the scheme. … The foundries are an important part of the iron and steel industry. During the war"— and I would draw attention to this, because I have seen remarks in the correspondence columns of the Press very recently about control— they came under the Iron and Steel Control, and after the war they came under the supervision of the Iron and Steel Board. 4.30 p.m.

In this connection, I should like also to answer the charge which has been made against the party on this side of the Committee that, in bringing in the founders, we were doing something which was contrary both to our declared policy and to what we had said at the last General Election. I should like to remind all concerned that in our party's election manifesto we said: … we shall revive, if necessary with added powers, the former Iron and Steel Board … Iron founding was included in the scope of the former Board. Our main reason for including iron foundries is that they consume the same raw materials as the steel makers. They consume one-quarter of all the pig iron and scrap used by the whole of the iron and steel industry.

Finally, on Second Reading I gave this undertaking to the House: … I sympathise with those who are anxious to be protected against the gentlemen in Whitehall. It is the very essence of this Bill that companies should be free to manage their own affairs with the minimum of control necessary to safeguard the public interest. … Therefore, provided that they do not impair the comprehensive scope of the Board's supervision, to which, as I have said, we attach great importance, we should be glad to consider in Committee Amendments designed to remove genuine doubts or to stop unintended loopholes for bureaucracy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 274–6.] I claim that I have honestly tried and have fully carried out that undertaking. I claim to have limited the powers of the Board over the founders to what is strictly necessary for its duties. At the same time I claim to have preserved the basic principle of comprehensive supervision.

There have been wildly differing views of the extent and significance of the Government's Amendments. I should like to read to the Committee a few of the headlines and comments from some of the newspapers: Freedom for foundries. That was the "Birmingham Mail." State control for foundries. Abject surrender. Sandys refuses to budge. Government insists on including foundries. Sandys bows to storm. Minister refuses to yield. Iron founders against supervision. Founders back revised Bill. Industrialists annoyed. Iron founders satisfied. Finally, the "Manchester Evening News" sums it up in one word which I think is a fair one— "compromise."

There is no doubt that the industry is deeply divided on this question and that no solution could possibly satisfy everybody. But I hope and sincerely believe that, on reflection, all, or most, will agree that the Amendments which have now been Tabled, which represent the result of my many and prolonged discussions with industry, are a fair and reasonable compromise, and that all concerned will co-operate loyally to make this settlement a success.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, might I ask a question? We have all been profoundly touched by this rather protracted scene of what I might call hot rolling. Can we now gather that the contribution to the Tory Party funds will be the same as last time?

Mr. Nabarro

My right hon. Friend made no reference to the one point that I put to him in the course of this short debate, the question of the very small iron foundries and whether he proposed to take any measures between now and the Report stage to exclude these small foundries from the terms of this Bill. I make the appeal to him again that it is nearly administratively impossible to supervise these hundreds of small firms.

I do not think that the Birmingham newspaper said, "Freedom for foundries." What it said was, "Planning freedom for foundries," which is rather different. I came well equipped for this argument with the appropriate extract from the "Birmingham Mail" of 17th January, 1953, which distinctly says: "Planning freedom for foundries." If it is possible to extend planning freedom to all foundries, it should also be possible to take the relatively simple course of extending full freedom to the tiny foundries which I believe will only be an embarrassment to the Board and make it extremely difficult administratively for them to carry out their duties. I should be grateful if my right hon. Friend would do something on those lines.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)

Would the hon. Gentleman, for the information of the Committee and the general information of the public, define what he has in mind when he uses the term "small foundries"?

Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman has just walked into the Chamber. He was not here when I spoke earlier. If he had been, he would have learned that I suggested an output of 5,000 tons per annum as a datum line for those small foundries.

Question put, and agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.


Mr. G. R. Strauss

I beg to move, in page 3, line 29, after "supervision," to insert "and control."

At the same time, I think it would be appropriate also to discuss the next Amendment in the same line. It is desirable that I should read the Clause as it would stand if amended. It would read: It shall be the duty of the Board to exercise a general supervision and control over the iron and steel industry in the public interest and to promote the efficient, economic and adequate supply under competitive conditions of iron and steel products and in particular … and so on. This is a most important Clause which defines the duty of the Board. We think that this Amendment is extraordinarily important. The sincerity of the Government's desire to set up a supervising Board which will really have authority to do something except watch, depends on whether they are prepared to accept an Amendment which will make it clear that the Board is to have the necessary authority to supervise the industry effectively.

If the Minister does not accept the Amendment, we shall be confirmed in the view which we have formed up to now that the Board is not to have the authority or the powers to exercise any really effective influence over the industry. Under the Clause, the Board is to exercise a general supervision over the industry. We want to know not so much what the Government mean by the words, "general supervision," but what is to emerge from the Bill as the authority with which the Board will be armed in order to carry out its duties.

The words "general supervision" may mean anything or nothing. They will be interpretated, not by the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman or his speeches and declarations of hope, but by the wording of this Bill when it becomes an Act. Therefore, we say that it is all important that this key Clause should define clearly what the status of the Board is to be and what power it will have to carry out its responsibilities.

It appears to us that the words "general supervision" in the Bill mean very little, especially since the Government have put down a number of Amendments further limiting the authority of the Board in certain important matters. We shall discuss those Amendments when we come to them, but I would remind the Committee that this Board, which is to exercise general supervision and presumably, to have some real influence on the industry, as a result of the Amendments put down by the Minister of Supply on behalf of the Government, will have no power to inspect a single one of the works for which it will be responsible. It can look at the books, but it will have no power of inspection and will not be allowed to ask a single company for which it is responsible anything to do with its costs of production. Therefore, it seems to us farcical to suggest that this Board is to have powers of general supervision unless they are materially strengthened by Amendments to this Bill. Otherwise, it will be a mere sham, as we have said over and over again.

Since this is largely a matter of words, let us consider what the word "supervision" means. Webster's Dictionary defines it as "the act of supervising, inspection, control." The act of supervising is supervision put in another way. Inspection—the powers of this Board in regard to inspection will be very small, or at any rate limited in a material way. Control—to what extent is the Board to have control over the industry? We want to know not only what is the intention of the Government in this matter but what the Bill will state, because the effectiveness of the Board will depend on three things.

First, its structure. We had a long and valuable debate about this yesterday, and I do not propose to repeat any arguments which were then put forward. Then there is the power of the Board to carry out any changes which it considers necessary. Finally, there is the measure of public and Parliamentary control which it will have. We shall discuss that later. At the moment we are discussing the authority of the Board to supervise collectively this great industry on which the prosperity of the country depends.

In view of the different approach made by both sides of the Committee to this matter, it is evident why we want the powers of the Board to be strong and effective so that it will really control the industry and why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want the Board to be armed with such powers. We believe that the Board should not be limited to looking at the books of individual firms with the power to fix maximum prices and to do one or two other things which are wholly unimportant because they are being done already, such as research and education. The only really effective power which the Board has under this Bill is that of fixing maximum prices, and it is a power which we think it should not have. At the same time, we do not want the Board to be a mere spectator, limited to making annual reports and presenting them to Parliament. It is pointless unless the Board or the Minister or Parliament has the power to put right whatever may be wrong.

All who know the industry well and who have investigated it from outside know that there is a great deal wrong with it. Indeed, it is admitted by the Government that the industry may want to do things which are wrong, because otherwise they would not set up this Board. The industry requires re-organisation in many ways. For example, the works are too small. That is not my opinion but the view of the Anglo-American Council for Productivity. A great deal can be done to improve its efficiency by co-ordination.

4.45 p.m.

We say that it is no use having a Board which can come to those conclusions— which it will have to do without looking at any of the works, be it noted, which is a fantastic situation—but about which it is quite powerless to do anything except to make comments in its reports. Therefore, we say most emphatically that if this Board is to carry out the purpose indicated by the Government of public and Government supervision, it must have a measure of control over the industry. No one is suggesting that it should have control over day to day affairs or petty matters because that would be ridiculous, but it must be able to ensure that things are put right when necessary. Otherwise we might as well save our time and energy and that of all the important people who will serve on the Board by refusing to set it up.

The following comment was made by a respected City paper the "Statist," which is not sympathetic to our party in any way, in their issue of 15th November: … the terms of the Bill make it difficult to believe that the Board would be in a position effectively to exercise the supervisory functions which it has been authorised to perform. In the circumstances the Board would become either an ineffective nuisance or a mere rubber stamp for the trade associations. I think they have good grounds for coming to those conclusions, which are ours also. I do not know what the Minister has in mind in order to make sure that the industry and the Board know that it will not be just a rubber stamp or a nuisance. It must be assumed that it will have a certain broad measure of control as well as supervision, because supervision without the power to do anything about what is wrong is foolish.

We are doubtful whether our Amendment will be accepted by the Government, because we believe that they do not want this Board to intervene in the industry in any way. We believe they intend to set up a Board which will look good to the public, which will appear to give some measure of public protection. but which will be powerless to do anything of the kind. Somebody ought to have responsibility for ensuring the welfare of the industry. Where is it to lie? With Steel House? Are they to be responsible for the welfare of the industry? We have no control over Steel House. With the Minister? He has no responsibility. With the Board? Where is it in this Bill?

We say that there should be a focus of responsibility at some point, because on the welfare of this industry depends the prosperity of the country and our ability to maintain full employment and the standard of life of our people. We focused it on the Corporation in our Bill. We have therefore put down two Amendments to this end. One which comes later makes the Board responsible to the Minister. We say that the Board should have broad control over the industry, not in petty matters, but in matters where the Minister himself thinks that control should be exercised.

We demand that this authority to control should not be a vague pronouncement such as we have heard from the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said that there should be the smallest control possible. We want the word "control" inserted in the Bill so that industry, Parliament and everyone else knows where they are. Therefore, we consider this Amendment to be one of the most important we have put on the Order Paper.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

The views expressed by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) reveal all too clearly that what hon. Members opposite envisage is a Board possessed of virtually all the powers of the present Corporation. Having failed on Second Reading to retain the Corporation, they now wish to create in its place a body having similar powers. This was revealed by the arguments on many of the Amendments yesterday, but it broke through much more clearly in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks on the present Amendment.

The Amendment proposes the insertion of the word "control" in addition to the word "supervision." The right hon. Gentleman in his dictionary definition seemed to imply that there was no tremendous difference between the meaning of "supervision" and the meaning of "control," but I think that Members on both sides are convinced that there is a substantial meaning in those terms.

Control, surely, can only be exercised by constant and detailed interference with, or constant reference to, the object of control, while supervision may properly be exercised with only occasional reference to, or interference with, that object, if the word "control" be added to the word "supervision" already appearing in the Bill, the interpretation of its terminology in the courts would probably reinforce the idea of control and constant interference.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

Can the hon. Member indicate anywhere in the Bill, and particularly in any of its definitions, the scope or meaning of the term "supervision" as is intended should apply within the meaning of the Bill?

Mr. Gower

That is not my purpose at present, except to try to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Committee that if "control" be added to the general term "supervision," it would surely make that term appear far stronger, and that the word "control" is in itself far stronger than "supervision."

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

Perhaps the hon. Member could at some stage say how he proposes that there should be supervision without control?

Mr. Gower

That also is not my purpose. My purpose is to say that control as such cannot be exercised without constant interference with, and reference to, the business of the individual firms, while supervision, as it is properly understood, can be exercised by occasional reference to the affairs of an individual concern.

If the word "control" be added, it would annul the basic principle of the Bill, whose object is to maintain the advantages of general supervision and to add the undoubted advantage, in the views of Members on this side of the Committee, of the initiative and enterprise of individual firms. The Amendment goes to the very root of the matter and should not be accepted.

I should not think that there would be the same objection to the further Amendment which proposes the addition of the words "in the public interest." Indeed, many of us on this side believe that the whole Bill is in the public interest, and very probably it would be a good thing to add these words by way of emphasis.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

Did the hon. Member say that only "many" of his supporters on that side of the Committee think that the Bill is in the public interest? Shall we be hearing from those who do not think so?

Mr. Wilfred Fienburgh (Islington, North)

The crux of the argument lies in the use of the words "control" and "in the public interest." Judging from the notes which most of my colleagues on this side of the Committee have in their hands, we are due for a battle of lexicographers which would make Dr. Johnson turn in his grave.

I, too, went to the dictionary—a Cassell's dictionary, which I inherited; it may be rather old—and I found that "supervision" means "to have oversight of; to oversee; to superintend." They are vague words. To me, the word "superintend" mainly brings to mind a Sunday school outing with recalcitrant children and a harassed person trying to organise them, which is, perhaps, a proper analogy as far as the controlling powers of the Bill are concerned.

But the word "control," in my dictionary, means "to exercise power over; to govern; to restrain; to regulate." [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] The "Ahs" that I hear from the other side of the Committee show how much hon. Members opposite are generally averse to the idea that the public authority shall have any power to control to command to restrain and to direct this vital public industry.

We want a Board which will exercise power in the public interest, which will govern in the public interest, and which will command in the public interest. If the public interest is to be satisfied, surely there cannot be any possible doubt that such powers are needed and must be imposed, not, as my right hon. Friend says, in general, ambiguous terms, but in the words of the statute itself.

All this, of course, presupposes that there is some likelihood of a clash between private and public interests. Perhaps hon. Members opposite might echo the words of a distinguished states- man overseas, who said, "What is good for my company is good for the nation, and what is good for the nation is good for my company." We do not altogether hold that view. Experience certainly does not show that what is generally good for the steel industry, in terms of the private shareholders of that industry, is necessarily good for the nation, and it certainly does not show that what is necessarily good for the nation is immediately and directly profitable to the private shareholders of the industry. There always have been clashes, there always inevitably will be clashes, and I do not blame anybody or any party, on either side, for that.

A director's prime responsibility is to secure a fair maximum degree of profitability from his operations. A Board, supervising and controlling in the national interests, has other purposes and other aims altogether. One side may feel that it is more profitable to restrict. The other side may decide in the national interests that it is desirable and essential that expansion should take place.

We tend to litter these debates with quotations from days long gone by, and I do not want to march the ghost of Jarrow through this Chamber again because it has been marched through often enough, but I want to point out what "The Times" had to say on this issue of the possibility of a clash between private and public interests in the steel industry, when it said, in 1937: The interest of the iron and steel industry is a national interest. That fact is recognised in the defensive tariff. It does not follow that the interest of an individual concern, or group of concerns, is identical with the interest of the industry, broadly conceived, nor with the interest of the country. There was a conflict of interests recently when the project to establish a large integrated works at Jarrow had to be abandoned by the promoters; the national interest was not made predominant. Our case, quite simply, is that when this clash does take place, the national interest must be made predominant.

The Minister may well choose to argue that he has embodied in the Bill a kind of sanction, a threat of power which in the last resort may make the industry more responsive to the general national interest. He may in effect build a steelworks all on his own and run it in the public interest, but, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has said, I do not believe that that power will often be needed or used, except in very rare cases where it is needed on strategic grounds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 1285.] The mere possibility of a very rare case on strategic grounds, which, obviously, is in the public national interest, involves an admission on his part that he has at least foreseen the possibility of a clash between private and public interests taking place at some time. If so, surely he can have no objection to accepting an Amendment which in effect, taken with our other Amendments on the Order Paper—Amendments aimed at giving powers to the Board and at giving the Minister himself some direct authority over the Board—will in toto make him a much stronger guardian of the national interest in what may well be the rare cases when it is necessary.

If it would not be necessary, if there never is a clash, if national and private interest march in harmony, hand in hand, leading to improved production, cheaper steel, greater integration and more efficiency, everyone will be satisfied. There would be no harm then in having these words in the Bill. But, should the clash come, as the Minister has foreseen, at that time he would be grateful for having accepted the Amendments we have placed on the Order Paper.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Robson Brown

I do not want to get involved in interpretations of the meaning of words. What we want to do is to interpret the intentions of the Bill and the ideas behind it in this matter of the responsibility and authority of the Board. I think that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss), either intentionally or accidentally, introduced in his own mind a specific and narrow field of authority which the Board would possess. May I refer him to Clause 3, where it states specifically what this supervision shall be and what it shall cover? That is: the productive capacity of iron and steel producers. There never could be a wider field of responsibility and authority than that. If we interpret the spirit and intentions of this Bill and the reactions and behaviour of the steel industry, we shall have no difficulty nor fear on this point.

What is troubling us is a difference in the point of view, attitude and approach to these matters as between the two parties. We on this side of the Committee believe that we can expect good will and co-operation between company and company within the industry and between the industry and the Board without the emphasis upon power which was so strongly and forcefully expressed by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh), which brought the surprising reactions from this side of the Committee. It may be the philosophy and belief of the Socialist Party that one can only handle industry with an iron hand and must have power, authority, regimentation and absolute control. We believe to the contrary, and we are going to put it to the test. We say quite categorically that with the Bill, the way it is framed, and the spirit in the industry, the prophecies of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall in regard to re-nationalisation will probably never have effect.

I come back to the question of general supervision and what it is the Board shall supervise. First "the productive capacity" of the industry? They will not be able to measure, deal with, or make comment upon that unless they are given all the necessary information and the industry will readily give it to the Board. It would be farcical otherwise. The arrangements for producing and securing raw materials are outlined in other parts of the Bill and in doing that tremendous responsibility and authority will be involved. But the strongest responsibility is to supervise the … prices charged in the United Kingdom for iron and steel products. That is what the right hon. Member for Vauxhall thought was so unimportant as not to be necessary in the Bill.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

I interrupt the hon. Member because I think he has mistaken one or two points. First I said that that was the only power of any importance at all. In regard to the other points, my whole argument was that the Board will have power to supervise but no authority to do anything and that is true of all the other things listed under the subsection.

Mr. Robson Brown

That is the whole point; they are not going to run the industry and concern themselves with the day-to-day management of the industry. They are to deal with the broad picture and are to operate on the basis of accountability—accountability of firms in the industry to the Board and of the Board to Parliament. I am glad that the right hon. Member attaches such importance to the question of prices. One cannot supervise prices unless one supervises costs. One cannot supervise costs unless one examines costs and that is all provided for in the Bill.

Mr. Strauss

I am sorry to interrupt again, but if the hon. Member will look at a new Clause which has been put down—I am sure the Minister will not contradict me here—he will find that there is special provision but, while information may be sought on a number of matters, the Board will have no authority for seeking any information on matters relating to costs of production.

Mr. Sandys

That is not correct.

Mr. Robson Brown

I do not accept that for a single moment; I think that the right hon. Gentleman has misinterpreted the Amendment. The other point upon which he laid very strong emphasis was the inability of any member of the Board, or its agents, to inspect works. It is specifically provided in the Bill on page 12: facilities for the inspection by him"— that is the Board— inspection by him of any property of the iron and steel producer. That is clear and specific.

Mr. Strauss

That Clause has been removed and redrafted and the point to which the hon. Member refers has been taken out.

Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

Discuss it with the Minister.

Mr. Robson Brown

I will look at that, I am discussing the Bill as it stands, but even if it were so, no member of a steel company in the country would refuse a member of the Board—

Mr. Sandys

I do not want my hon. Friend to be embarrassed by being told that the Amendments introduced have taken this power out altogether. The right hon. Member for Vauxhall no doubt referred to a new Clause—" Furnishing of Information to Board and Minister"—to take the place of Clause 13. In subsection (2) of that the Board and the Minister are quite clearly provided with power to obtain information about costs in relation to price fixing powers.

Mr. Mitchison

That is not related directly to costs of production.

Mr. Sandys

Read on.

Mr. Robson Brown

I think we are now playing with words. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The general intention is precisely as I have outlined it. No difficulty will be raised by any steel maker in practice about any member of the Board, or its agents, visiting any works. They will be keen and desirous for them to do so. No one could supervise any part of the industry unless such facilities were available. I think that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall has read into this restrictions and implications which in fact do not exist between the Board and the industry and between members of the industry. The degree of supervision is quite sufficient and effective and will give that power and responsibility and accountability of the industry to the Board, of the Board to Parliament and of Parliament to the nation.

Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

I think that the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) better read the new Clause which the Minister is to move because his speech certainly does not measure up to it.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Arthur Colegate)

We must not discuss a Clause we have not yet reached.

Mr. Darling

I was just going to say that I do not want to pursue that point, but to come back to the Amendment with which we are dealing and to draw the attention of the Committee to the specific pledge which was given to Parliament and the country; a pledge which was the beginning, the origin of this Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) has pointed out, this is the first of a series of Amendments of the same kind, and I want to ask the Committee to help us to amend this Bill so that the pledge given by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Conservative Party shall be carried out. It was given, when the Prime Minister was Leader of the Opposition, on 7th February, 1951, in a debate on the intention of the Labour Government to proceed with the setting up of the Corporation. It was a straightforward, unambiguous pledge. The right hon. Gentleman said: The Conservative Party … stand on the proposal of the Trades Union Congress which is thoroughly acceptable, alike to the management and the ownership of the steel industry." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 1745.] He was there speaking on behalf of the steel industry as well as the Conservative Party—the two usually go together. Then he went on to say: … should the Conservative Party be successful in a General Election … we shall at once repeal the Steel Act, and adopt the compromise solution which the Trades Union Congress have themselves set before us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 1759.] That was quite a specific pledge, that if the Conservative Party came to power the Iron and Steel Act would be repealed, nationalisation would go, and in its place would be a Board with powers and a constitution such as had been proposed by the Trades Union Congress, but not for the iron and steel industry. The reference to the Trades Union Congress which was made by the Prime Minister was a reference to a report on the public control of industry prepared by the T.U.C. General Council for the 1950 Congress.

This report, as hon. Members who have read it will know, was prepared to bring up to date the various views on the public control of industry, and so on, which had been expressed by the Trades Union Congress over a number of years. The part that the Prime Minister seized on had nothing to do with the iron and steel industry. The report accepted the fact that that industry was in public ownership, and the proposal that emanated from this report related to the public control of other industries.

Let us however assume, as the Prime Minister had every right to assume— seeing that the Conservative Party did not agree with public ownership—that the proposal of the T.U.C. could be applied to the iron and steel industry. The proposal was that a board with statutory powers, something like the Forbes Board, might be set up and operated to govern the industry which should be put under public control. I will read the actual words in a moment. At any rate, the Prime Minister gave this categorical pledge and there can be nothing ambiguous about it. This is what the Trades Union Congress said. It described the previous Iron and Steel Board, the Forbes Board, and went on to say: Its functions were to review and supervise the industry's development schemes; to supervise the industry generally and to administer such direct controls over production, distribution and imports as were needed; and to advise on price policy. Then the Congress report goes on: What the Board lacked, however, was the power to compel private firms to undertake schemes when and where they were considered necessary in the public interest, and it had no authority to undertake such schemes on its own initiative. Then it goes on to say that in developing this system of public control such a statutory board would have more power and authority, more authority to control industry in every way, than had the Forbes Board.

If that pledge given to Parliament and to the country by the present Prime Minister is to be carried out, quite clearly this Bill has to be amended. The Trades Union Congress was not asking for the kind of sham supervision proposed in this Bill, but for a statutory board which would have complete control over the industry. As I have pointed out in quoting the Trades Union Congress Report, the Congress wanted power to compel private firms to undertake development, power for the board to set up its own undertakings, power really to control the industry in every way. If the Government mean to honour the Prime Minister's pledge they should set up such a board with those very wide powers and for the purposes which the Trades Union Congress had in mind.

5.15 p.m.

Those purposes are well worth considering, because they are not the purposes we find in this Bill. There were first of all specific purposes which the Trades Union Congress had in mind: the maintenance and improvement of wages, hours and conditions of living; full employment—we shall come to that point later on—and the extension of the influence of workpeople over the policy and purpose of industry; and arranging for their participation in its management. There is nothing of that in the Bill. But if the Prime Minister pledged himself to anything, these are the measures which ought to be in the Bill.

The Report goes on to say that experience had shown that there were matters of public interest which had to be taken into consideration. The Trades Union Congress proposed that some of the purposes of such a board should be to provide for price stability; more equal distribution of incomes and economic opportunity; the efficient organisation of industry, and so on. None of these points, these important purposes, is mentioned or covered in the Bill in any way. Yet, if the Prime Minister's pledge meant anything at all, they ought to be there.

It is interesting to note that in the T.U.C. report to which the Prime Minister referred there is constant reference to the word "control." That word does not appear in this Bill at all, anywhere. Instead we have the word "supervise" and I, too, want to enter into the discussion on the dictionary definition of those words. As the hon. Member for Barry {Mr. Gower) said, the word "supervise" and the word "control" mean different things. Whatever may be in the dictionary, I am sure that in our minds we are convinced that "control" is the fact of checking and directing action, and that "supervise" means nothing more than to look over, to survey and to inspect.

The hon. Member far Esher will find out, when he has read all the Amendments to the Bill, that this Board will not have the full power to supervise and inspect the various units of the steel industry to see what is going on, and what the Trades Union Congress wanted was control of the industry—

Mr. Robson Brown

There has been some misunderstanding as to the purpose and intention of a proposed new Clause, to be moved by the Minister, but which has not yet been reached. I think the relevant words definitely cover and support all I said in the remarks I made. They are: The Board or the Minister may by notice in writing require any iron and steel producer to furnish to the Board or, as the case may be, to the Minister such information as may reasonably be required by the Board for the purposes of their functions under section seven of this Act or, as the case may be, by the Minister for the purposes of his functions under section eight of this Act, and the notice may require any such information to be certi- fied as correct by the auditors of the undertaking.

Mr. Darling

Although this is out of order, I would still quarrel with the hon. Member. My reading of the proposed new Clause is not his.

In my view the Government, in refusing to honour the pledge given by the Prime Minister, is pursuing a quite dishonourable course. We want the Government to honour the Prime Minister's pledge and as the Committee knows, for that purpose we have put down quite a number of Amendments. I think we have a right to expect that the Government will accept those Amendments, so that the pledge given by the leader of their party can be carried out, and that they may be diverted from the dishonourable course on which they are now set.

Mr. Aubrey Jones (Birmingham, Hall Green)

It seems to me that the discussion is ranging extremely wide indeed. As I understand it, we are discussing two very simple Amendments. One is to add the word "control" to the word "supervision" and the other, broadly speaking, would insert the words, "in the public interest." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) spent all his heat and passion on the first and, to the best of my recollection, he never mentioned the second. To my mind the second is incomparably the more important. As to the first, quite honestly I have no very strong views one way or the other. It leaves me entirely indifferent.

This Bill endows the Iron and Steel Board with certain sanctions. Hon. Members opposite wish to add to those sanctions. This is not the place to discuss those additional sanctions, and if hon. Members opposite wish to signify what sanctions are required in this Bill with the word "control" that is perfectly all right by me. I take much greater exception to the second part of the second Amendment, the addition of the words "in the public interest," and for this reason.

This Clause as it now stands places a certain duty on the Iron and Steel Board—to promote the efficient, economic and adequate supply of steel. The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) surmised that a privately owned iron and steel industry, in the interests of profit, might attempt to restrict output or to raise prices unduly. In such a case the Board would be able to take that into account as detrimental to the economic supply of steel, and according to the sanctions which we have now incorporated in the Bill, would be able to take certain remedial steps.

That duty enjoined on the Board is clear and it is precise. But hon. Members opposite wish to add something else to it, not only "efficient, economic and adequate supply" but also "in the public interest." I think I have every right to ask, and they have every duty to explain, what the phrase "in the public interest" contains additional to the "efficient, economic and adequate supply" of steel products. It seems to me that they have not fulfilled that duty.

The hon. Member for Islington, North revealed just faintly what he had in mind. He cited the case of Jarrow, and, if I understood his thought rightly, what it really amounted to was a supposition that the iron and steel industry on economic grounds might say that a plant ought not to be built in Jarrow, but suppose that on social grounds it was desirable to build such a plant in Jarrow, then, he argued, the Board should be empowered to do so.

There I disagree with him. I am not saying that nobody should have any power to look at these matters from a social point of view. What I would say is that it should be the Minister and not the Board who should be able to take social considerations into account. That is a matter which we can discuss on a later Amendment, an Amendment which empowers the Minister to give directions to the Board. But the duty of the Board should be quite clear. It should be to look at this industry from the economic point of view, but to add to that criterion the phrase "in the public interest" is to confuse and befog its duty and on that ground this Amendment seems to me to be highly objectionable.

Mr. Mitchison

May I tell the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) what I at any rate would read into these words?

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I should be very glad to hear it.

Mr. Mitchison

The economic and efficient operation of the iron and steel industry—I think I am summarising sufficiently what is in the Bill—is, of course, a matter that is within the industry in one sense of the word; but such is the importance of the industry that it affects the whole country. The hon. Member himself gave an instance just now. It might not be within the efficient and economic operation of the industry if costs of production only are to be considered and not the social effects.

Mr. Jones


Mr. Mitchison

If the hon. Member will let me finish my sentence, I will then give way. May I repeat it, and I hope this time the hon. Member will allow me to finish it. To shut down one large works might be within the efficient and economic operation of the industry regarded purely as an industry and viewed from the point of earnings, cost and so on, but its social effects might well have so grievous, so damaging and so expensive an effect on the community that it would be advisable to add the provision that the public interest should be considered in a Bill which appears to consider the interests of the industry quite sufficiently and to neglect somewhat the interests of the community as a whole.

Mr. Jones


Mr. Mitchison

I will give way to the hon. Member in a moment, but he asks for instances and he must not complain if he gets them.

Let me give one other instance. It may very well be in the public interest that a particular form of steel should be produced in larger quantities or in some different way from that in which it is now produced. It may not pay the industry and it may not suit Steel House to do it or to have it done, but it may be in the public interest that it should be done. For that kind of purpose these words seem to me to be advisable. I am sorry if I have gone on so long after the hon. Member rose to interject, so will he please do so now?

Mr. Jones

I am sorry if I seem to have upset the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). I merely wish to interject and ask a question, because he seemed quite obviously to be disregarding everything I said. In what I said I took fully into account the consideration that he had in mind. I had in mind the social considerations, defence considerations and so on but I put this point which he has not mentioned, namely, that these other considerations, social and defence, should be left within the province of the Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am just repeating what I said.

That is the matter of a later Amendment which I think is the most important and most interesting Amendment on the Order Paper, concerned with the Minister's power of direction. I am not prejudging that Amendment, but what I am submitting is that the Board should be concerned purely with economic questions. Other matters, like social and defence questions, should be left to the Minister, and the Minister should be given the power to intervene. If only as a safeguard against economic ruin, we should clearly segregate the economic from the non-economic factors.

Mr. Mitchison

That is a long interruption. I do not blame the hon. Member for it, because I found it very interesting. What we are concerned with here is what ordinary words mean and in my understanding of them these two things are somewhat different. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Hall Green or with his friends if we are told that the Board is to review one thing and another thing is solely to be the concern of the Minister. That throws remarkable light upon what the hon. Member for Hall Green, at any rate, thinks of the Board. The Board is to review the whole of this industry. Its scope for review, as has already been pointed out, is certainly wide enough, but, it has to neglect certain important matters, which are laced into the fabric and conduct of the industry, and which are only to be looked at by the Minister.

I cannot think as badly as all that of the responsible people whom we hope the Minister will appoint to the Board. It is really absurd to suggest that they should look at an industry like this without any regard to the sociological impact and without any regard to such questions as defence, remembering that the industry has a long and unfortunate history in both those respects. I certainly am not inclined to put such an artificial and, might I add, such a cruel duty upon the Board as hon. Members opposite appear to propose.

5.30 p.m.

I am concerned not with the scope of the matters that come under the consideration of the Board but with the kind of consideration, if I may use as neutral a word as I can find. No-one complains about the scope; it is the iron and steel industry as a whole. That is clear in the second line of the Clause. We come to a number of what, after all, are only instances, but they are exceedingly important. No one disputes that. The question is, having kept matters under review, if it can do so, what more can the Board do?

Is the Board to be put on some lonely and lofty pinnacle and equipped with a number of social and industrial telescopes through which it can look at this thriving and important industry, and keep it under review, without doing anything else about it? What does "general supervision" mean? The words are hopelessly ambiguous. We are dealing with a matter of the most profound importance to the whole country, and we want to know. It is possible for someone to read the words to mean merely what I call the "telescopic" outlook; simply to look at the matter from a distance; to consider it; to regard it in the sort of way that some research association might regard it; to study it academically. That would comply with the duty of the Board in the terms of the Bill. That would be general supervision and a keeping under review.

We say that the words can also mean much more than that. If we are to put a duty on the Board we must say clearly what we mean. These public men, some of them whole-time and some part-time, are to be called upon to exercise this function. Is it to be the minimum under these words or is it to be the maximum? It could very properly be said that it is the minimum, that we neither expect nor authorise them to go beyond the minimum.

We have to remember that the Board is to financed in most of these matters out of the industry itself. It is the industry which will be kept under review and which will be paying for the Board, and unless we say quite clearly that the words are to mean more than a distant supervison and have to carry with them control, how are we to expect the iron and steel barons—as I took leave to describe them yesterday and describe them again today—to cough up enough for their own efficient control? It is up to us, as representatives of the public and of this national interest, to make perfectly clear what we mean the Board to do.

This word "control" ought not to frighten hon. Members. Let me read: Public control has been exercised since 1932, and in wider measure since 1937. That is from the pamphlet "Steel" issued from the Conservative Political Centre. Why are the Government going back now? Do they want to go back to something less than there was in those interwar years? I should have thought that experience showed us that what we want is definitely something more. I cannot See any objection to that. I take a quotation again out of this source, because it ought to appeal to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. What is the Conservative Political Centre? I imagine that hon. Gentlemen opposite all, at varying distances, revolve around it. The pamphlet says: 'The State,' declared the Report of the Import Duties Advisory Committee in 1937, 'cannot divest itself of all responsibility as to the conduct of an industry so far-reaching in its scope, so vital to the national well-being, so largely dependent on State fiscal policy'"— a very important matter— 'for its prosperity.' This is still undeniable. I do not seek to deny it, and I hope that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not.

The question is whether the Bill empowers to be done that which is here regarded as an undeniable necessity. The State must regulate, in the public interest; what is the use of setting up a Board with powers of supervision over such a wide field, and as the representative and the tool of the State for this purpose, if the Government then jib at putting in "control" when they are asked to, in addition to "supervision"?

Mr. J. E. S. Simon (Middlesbrough, West)

The issue has at last been crystallised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) and the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). On the question of what is the public interest, we all in this Committee agree, I think, that economic considerations may not finally and in all cases be conclusive. The only question is who shall, if necessary, ensure that other considerations shall override the economic?

The Board will have all the information and will be in a good position to ensure, in the words of the Bill, that the industry is efficient and promotes the efficient, economic and adequate supply under competitive conditions of iron and steel products. One could hardly devise a better form of words to crystallise the economic considerations. Should the Board, in addition, have to consider other considerations? The answer is surely that they are not in a position to do so. How can they have the information to judge the strategic situation? Is it suggested that they should be able to call for information from Government Departments, from the Defence Department, for instance? How can they consider the wider social implications? Are they to call for information from the Ministry of Labour?

Mr. Mitchison

May I just answer the hon. and learned Member's questions? If he looks at the subsequent Amendments, he will see that in our view the Minister ought to have power to give directions to the Board, and that the Board ought to review the same field as the Minister.

Mr. Simon

That seems an extremely cumbrous and roundabout way, and an insecure way, of ensuring the paramountcy of the national interest. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will be good enough to look at Clause 4 (3), they will see that the sort of situation envisaged by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering is precisely dealt with and that power is given to the person best able to judge of all the relevant considerations. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave an instance of closing down an inefficient plant. Should an inefficient plant, which on economic considerations ought to be closed down, nevertheless on wider social consideration be kept in being? Under that provision to which I have referred the Minister is given the power to override the immediate economic considerations and he is in a position as a Member of the Government to have at his hand all the considerations and to weigh them properly.

Mr. Fienburgh

Would the hon. and learned Member therefore allow the Board to give a great deal of thought, research and discussion to the problem of closing down an inefficient plant, only to find at a later stage, after a great deal of paper has been written on and discussions undertaken, that they are to be over-ridden by the Minister? Surely it is better to give them the general responsibility at an early stage and so avoid the very duplication of which the hon. and learned Member speaks.

Mr. Simon

I should have thought that it was better for the Minister to make up his mind, that the Board should weigh these social considerations and that then it would be up to the Minister, who would be in a position to judge the economic considerations. He in his position in the Government is able to weigh against them other considerations. That is the sensible way of dealing with the matter. The way proposed by this Amendment is cumbrous and puts on the Board a duty which they are unable to carry out.

Mr. Fienburgh

The hon. and learned Member must recollect that within the last five minutes his first case was that the Board should take the economic decisions and the Minister the social decisions. The last words he uttered are in complete reversal, as he will find from the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow; that is, that the Board should bear the social conditions in mind and the Minister should exercise an over-riding economic supervision.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

The hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) has been guilty of another contradiction which, however, has clarified the issue a little more. Hitherto, we have had speeches from the other side of the Committee which have been attempting to persuade us that there is no difference between the meaning of the words "supervision" and "control" and that "supervision" in this Bill in fact does mean effective control over the activities of the industry. The hon. and learned Member himself pointed out that this means nothing of the kind, that the Board will have no effective control over the industry and that all the effective intervention will reside with the Minister.

The hon. and learned Member also tried to draw a distinction between the economic consequences of certain activities in the industry and the social consequences, and he said that the Minister should decide when the social considerations override the economic. But does he really believe, for instance, that the social effect of closing down Jarrow, which has been mentioned, is not an economic consideration; or do hon. Members who are playing with these terms in this case consider that the only economic considerations in any private industry such as steel are the considerations of the private profit that can be made from the industry?

Mr. Simon

If I may answer the hon. Member's questions since he was courteous enough to address them to me, my answer is, taking Jarrow, for example, that the Board are quite unable to judge any economic considerations except those that concern the iron and steel industry, because the Board are set up with a view to supervising the iron and steel industry, and that industry is the source of their information.

Mr. Hynd

In that case I do not quite see what will be the purpose of the Board, because I always understood that it was the whole basis of the Conservative Party's approach to the management of private industry that that industry can be more effectively managed and operated by the private directors or shareholders themselves who are personally concerned in the profitability or otherwise of the industry. If that is the Conservative Party's submission—and I always understood that it was—why have the Board at all?

If the purpose of the Board is a larger one, if in fact they are to be concerned with the national interest—that is, the social considerations and the defence and strategic considerations—then, of course, they require more than the artificial supervisory powers that are given. In the debate on this Clause and the previous Clause, we have been having the very diverting spectacle, though not a very convincing one, of the Conservative Party trying to persuade us and presumably the country that, although they always maintained, and presumably would still try to maintain, that control by Whitehall or by any public board has a restrictive effect on private enterprise and development, nevertheless that is what they are seeking to provide in this Bill. 5.45 p.m.

The fact is that the Conservative Party are on the horns of a dilemma. In this Bill they are taking an industry which has a history before nationalisation of grave defects, of lack of enterprise, and of lack of development, but which since nationalisation has not only exceeded all the targets put up for it but has had over £300 million additional investment in it, which could never have been done by private finance in the years since 1945, and which has produced a standard of efficiency never known in the industry before. They are trying to find reasons to justify their putting the industry back into the melting pot of private enterprise.

That is why the word "supervision" is in this Bill instead of the word "control"; and it is no good their arguing that Clause 3 says anything about full control or even effective supervision. The Clause states: It shall be the duty of the Board to exercise a general supervision over the iron and steel industry … and in particular to keep under review"— It says nothing more.

At the same time, Clause 4, which we are not discussing now but which nevertheless is relevant to this consideration as to the amount of the control that should be in the hands of the Board, makes very clear provision for the Board and the public to accept a very great degree of financial liability for the efficiency or otherwise of this industry. It provides that … the Minister, … may … himself provide facilities … or make arrangements with any persons for securing the use of those facilities by those persons, … where the industry itself refuses or is unable to do so. The Minister may establish new production facilities which the Board are not given powers to see that the industry does for itself. The Minister is given these powers because even the Conservative Party are admitting in this Bill that private industry cannot be trusted to carry out essential development in the interest of the country, economically, socially and otherwise. The Bill, therefore, puts into the hands of the Minister, and consequently upon the backs of the public, the financial responsibility for the losses and for carrying and developing the uneconomic branches of the industry. This is done while private enterprise gets away with the only effective profitable sections of the industry.

It has been argued from the other side of the Committee that the Minister has within the Bill the authority and the power to develop the social and strategic aspects of the industry so far as he considers it necessary to do so in the public interest. If private enterprise is claiming the right to obtain all the advantages, financial and otherwise, of the industry, it ought to be required to carry the disadvantages and the responsibilities as well.

But when an hon. Member opposite suggests that the Minister has the power to do anything at all with regard to the social effects of this industry, as in the case of Jarrow, he is forgetting apparently that the present Minister said only a few months ago that it was unlikely that these powers would ever be needed or used except for strategic purposes. If that means anything at all, it presumably means that this is merely a "saver" inserted to meet the emergency of a war, when the Minister might have to take special action in order to make up the leeway in the production of steel for national purposes which he envisages in advance, from his own previous knowledge of private industry, is not likely to be provided by private enterprise except in the case of war.

We face all the prospects of further Jarrows, of the further closing down of factories, of developing unemployment, and the prospects, of which we were told so much when the nationalisation Bill was going through, of steel firms being afraid to develop in case of a future recession, thereby holding back the development of this essential product; we face the prospect of the Minister and the Board doing nothing at all about it, first because the Minister does not want to unless there is a war, and secondly because the Board, however much they might want to, are not permitted under the terms of the Bill to take effective action. We face all that unless the Minister accepts this Amendment.

Mr. Sandys

Before dealing with the Amendment, I should like to answer the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) who referred to something which I said earlier to the effect that, in my opinion, these powers would very rarely have to be used. I said that not because the Board or the Government would be hesitant about using the powers provided in the Bill, but because I sincerely believe that this is a responsible industry conducted by responsible people. When they have been informed by the Government what are the interests of the nation on a matter of importance, they will behave responsibly. Past experience proves it, and the co-operation which exists over a wide range of industry today confirms it.

Mr. J. Hynd

Hence the Monopolies Commission.

Mr. Sandys

Turning to the Amendment, I will not attempt to follow some hon. Members who covered most of the rest of the Committee stage of the Bill in one form or another. I will stick to the Amendment under discussion. The hon. Member said that we on this side of the Committee had been trying to argue that control and supervision were the same thing. I would remind him that it was the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) who started this erudite discussion about the meaning of the English language. It was he who said that he had found in his dictionary that one of the meanings of "supervision" was "control." He therefore sought to assure us that there should be no difficulty in our accepting the Amendment.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) quoted from a Conservative document, with which I am not familiar — [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] We on this side of the House are perhaps permitted greater latitude in our reading than the party opposite. The hon. and learned Member quoted from this document to the effect that the iron and steel industry had been under control before the war, and from that he seemed to argue that we need not be afraid of putting into the Bill a word which connoted no more than the control or supervision over the steel industry which existed before the war under free enterprise.

But the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh), on the other hand, let the cat completely out of the bag. He has a different dictionary, and his says that "control" means "to exercise power over, to govern and to command"—a very different thing from what the right hon. Gentleman asked us to accept. Of course, if we wished to set up a body to govern and to command the iron and steel industry, clearly we should not have introduced this Bill. It would be contrary to its whole spirit and purpose to set up a body to govern and to command.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

What is the purpose of the Bill?

Mr. Sandys

Certainly not to govern and to command. It does not seem to me proper to entrust such a function to a body of this kind. Our policy, which has frequently been made abundantly clear, is to restore free enterprise in the iron and steel industry, subject to the safeguards of public supervision. That is what we are debating at this moment.

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that his hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) pointed out that when this Bill had become law, there would be what he described as a quasi-monopoly in the steel industry? Does the right hon. Gentleman disagree with that?

Mr. Sandys

I will read my hon. Friend's speech tomorrow and see exactly what the hon. Member is referring to.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)

Will the Minister give us an answer tomorrow?

Mr. Sandys

Our intention in this Bill is to give to the new Board a very wide mandate to watch over the activities of the iron and steel industry and the interests of the consumers who depend upon its output. Our policy and intention is not to set up an organisation to run and control the iron and steel industry centrally, but to lead it and guide it.

The Board will have two kinds of powers—legal and moral. Their legal powers are deliberately, and I believe rightly, limited to those which are necessary for the discharge of their duties. But that does not mean that they will not be effective. The effectiveness of the Board's powers rests upon the fact that they are applied at the strategic points— where they can make themselves effective —development, materials, research, information and prices, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.

I must, however, correct any impression the right hon. Gentleman might have left that the Bill will not provide the Board with effective powers to obtain all the information they require about costs. I will not refer to the Bill because we have an Amendment down on the Paper to alter it, but if hon. Members will refer to the proposed new Clause entitled "Furnishing of information to Board and Minister" they will see in subsection (2) that effective powers are provided to enable the Board to obtain all the information they may require to carry out their price fixing functions under Clauses 7 and 8 of the Bill.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Mitchison

We have looked very carefully at this proposed new Clause. It is perfectly true that in the second subsection there is no specific limitation and the Board is entitled to such reasonable information as it may require for certain specific purposes; but there is a general and quite definite prohibition from ascertaining facts about costs and production. We are now considering its general supervisory role over the industry, and for that purpose it cannot inquire into costs and production.

Mr. Sandys

I do not think I should discuss this proposed new Clause any further. No doubt we shall discuss it fully later. We claim that the Board's legal powers are not only necessary but will be effective; we also claim—as I have done on every occasion on which I have spoken on this subject—that the main strength and influence of the Board will depend upon its moral influence and its power of persuasion. I do not think that any body of this kind if it depended entirely upon legal powers for its effectiveness would perform its functions satisfactorily. The Board is not going to depend primarily upon issuing orders from on high but upon discussion and co-operation, which is the way things are settled in this country between Government and industry, every day of the year. That is how this Board will act and it is the only possible way in which it could properly discharge its duties.

Mr. Mitchison

If this Board is going to be, as it were, the "church" of the iron and steel industry, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is going to be an established church, having regard to the fact that the iron and steel industry pays this moral and spiritual advisory Board.

Mr. Sandys

I hope it will be better paid than the Established Church. If its members are people of the right standing and experience, I have no doubt that the Board will carry great prestige and influence in the industry. Its influence is going to be powerfully reinforced by its duty of reporting to Parliament, because through that duty to report to Parliament—through the discussions which will take place in this House upon it—public opinion can be mobilised behind any important recommendations which the Board may make or anxieties which it may express. That, in the last resort, is the greatest power that exists in a democratic country like ours.

If the first of the Amendments we are discussing signifies anything at all, it means tighter central control of the iron and steel industry. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said, the Opposition are—I will not say in a back-door fashion because it is being discussed openly in Parliament—seeking to bring about a fundamental change in the Bill. They are seeking to keep the present Corporation in existence under the cloak of the Board. This is obviously inconsistent with the whole purpose of the Bill.

The second Amendment seeks to introduce the words "in the public interest." Whilst there may be a slight shade of difference in meaning, by and large the phrases "public interest" and "national interest" are synonymous. In certain places in this Bill we have used the phrase "national interest," and this Amendment talks about "public interest." But in many of the speeches made from the other side of the Committee reference has been made to the national interest, and I am assuming that the two expressions, by and large, mean the same.

We all want to see that this great industry operates in a way which is consistent with and conducive to the national interest; but as my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) very rightly said, we must distinguish between the duties of the Board and the duties of the Government. The position of the Board is clearly set out in the Bill. The qualifications for membership listed in Clause 2 are such as to make the Board well fitted to judge wisely what is necessary in order to fulfil its duty of promoting the efficient, economic and adequate supply of iron and steel products and to ensure that they are distributed at reasonable prices.

But I strongly maintain a Board composed of people possessing the qualifications set out in the Bill is not necessarily qualified to judge what is in the wider national interest in all matters. In my view, the Government of the day and Parliament alone are competent to judge what is and what is not in the national interest. We have, therefore, limited the Board's powers to those which are necessary for it to discharge its duties in regard to production and the supply of products to consumers; and questions relating to what is in the national interest should, in our view, be entrusted to the Government and, through the Government, to Parliament.

This Amendment seeks to transfer to the Board duties which we consider are properly the duties of the Government and it confuses their distinct responsibilities. We do not feel able to accept either of these Amendments.

Mr. Jack Jones

I rise to express on behalf of my hon. Friends and myself complete dissatisfaction with the reply of the Minister. This controversy has raged round the two words "supervise" and "control." If the courtesy of the Minister were enough we should have no complaint; it is his failure to put in this word that we complain about so bitterly.

I have some experience of being supervised and of being controlled. If I, in my long industrial experience as a steel worker, could have satisfied myself that those in control of me were only my supervisors—the guys who came along to see what I was doing—and if I was satisfied that I was doing the correct thing and that they would do nothing about it, I should have been a much easier-minded workman. But there is a vast difference between the two words.

It reminds me of the story of the Irishman who went to the Zoo. There was quite a lot of money offered to any fellow who would go into the lion's cage. Pat went up to the keeper and said, "Has it any teeth?" The keeper took him to one side and said, "It has not." Pat said, "Has it had its claws drawn," and the keeper said, "For safety's sake as far as the staff is concerned, it has, but do not tell anybody." "Well," said Pat, "I am going in; there is nothing to be afraid of."

That is what we fear; they need not be afraid of the Board in any way. They will know that the Board cannot compel them to do anything. Once the Board have satisfied themselves that the firm are not doing the right thing, what power have they to put it right? I would remind hon. Members of the speech made by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown); I heard it from the Visitor's Gallery. I know something about these social visits. The whitewash goes on, the canteen cook gets instructions, the board room is polished, the boys are brightened up and everybody is on his toes. I am not giving the game away; I am just stating the facts. The word goes round, "Be sociable with them; they are decent chaps but they can do no harm even if they find the worst things in the world."

Mr. Robson Brown

The hon. Gentleman will remember that the people who are to visit these works are steel men from the Board, and they will be able to judge for themselves and to see behind the whitewash.

Mr. Jones

That is exactly my point. On this occasion we have the best brains in the country to find out the things which the social visitors would not be expected to understand. But, having found out that the company is not doing what it ought to do in its own interest, which in turn means the public interest, what can they do about it? They can report to the Minister. What can the Minister do about it? He satisfies himself by giving himself powers to set about building a State steel works; he becomes a Socialist overnight to put right the failure of the Board to put the things right themselves. We suggest that the Board should have power to put these things right. On a report from the Board, and having satisfied himself of their failure to get things put right, the Minister, in the public interest, can set about erecting the thing which he is now pulling down—a publicly-owned steel works.

This is a vital question. There is some talk from the Government benches about sanctions and about powers, but I cannot find the powers, nor can I find the sanctions. We are not suggesting that the Board should go along and start sacking some people and demoting others. What we are suggesting is that these wise men, gathered together under the aegis of the Board, should investigate what is going on in each company in the country. They will know something about the industry and what goes on in it. For instance, we are told that when the industry returns to so-called private enterprise, there will be a return to competitive, free enterprise. Companies will be accepting orders for small parcels of this, that and the other.

The hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) knows something about this. He knows something about the integration which took place when the industry was privately "nationalised." But I am talking of what the Bill says and what the White Paper said—free, competitive enterprise. I know companies which spent 15 to 20 per cent. of their time making changes to carry out orders for small parcels when they could have been integrated into one works. That is the sort of thing we want the Board to investigate.

I do not want the Board to be driven to the point of reporting to the Minister what they consider will be the economic effects, following which there are bound to be sociological effects. We want to prevent these wicked sociological effects by giving the Board power to take action before these effects become inevitable. I could quote the case of one works—not Jarrow but Barrow—which is in an extremely precarious economic condition; and it is the lifeblood of that community. I suggest that by some efficient and effective administration and help the Board could decide to do certain things which might—I do not know; in my opinion it is rather late in the day—save that place from having to be declared redundant and uneconomic.

6.15 p.m.

All we are asking is that the Minister should allow the Board to prevent that sort of thing from happening. We do not ask that they shall have the power to command, but that they shall have the power to see that the suggestions which they think would be effective and efficient in the interests of the firm and the country, are carried out. That is a simple request and a very honest request. What is the use of having a Board of technically-minded people, decent people, who go along and, as the Minister suggests, attempt to guide and lead, if those concerned do not intend to be led in that way? Supposing the guidance is not accepted. What then? I know sufficient about our steel people to know that, particularly in a period of fear of recession, there are some who would not be so easily led and guided. What power have the Board, in the public interest, to see that their suggested guidance is followed? I suggest that they have none whatever.

We believe that this word, which is described as a simple alteration in the Bill, makes all the difference in the world. When I received a command in another sphere—I laugh about it now but I did not laugh then—I knew that it meant control over my movements: "Left turn" meant turn to the left, and "Right turn" meant turn to the right. We do not want to command people. What we ask is that this Board of experts, having regard to all the circumstances, after careful investigation and careful thought, shall have the power so to control the organisation as to bring about a change in its current efforts. I know lots of things going on in industry which an efficient Board could alter this minute. Some people are very complacent and easily satisfied.

We are completely dissatisfied with the Minister's answer. We know that the Conservative Party realise the difference here. They know the immense difference which this word would make in the Bill. We make no apology for wanting a Board with control. My right hon. Friends and I will not accept the suggestion that everything will be all right. These may be people of integrity; they may be public-spirited people. On the other hand, they may not; and it is our fear that in the long run there may be people who may not adopt the attitude which the Minister suggests. We reject the suggestion that we should not oppose, and I advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to take the matter to a Division. Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 236; Noes, 257.

Division No. 67. AYES [6.20 p.m.
Adams, Richard Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Pannell, Charles
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Griffiths, William (Exchange) Pargiter, G. A
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hale, Leslie Paton, J.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Pearson, A.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Peart, T. F.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R Hamilton, W. W Popplewell, E.
Awbery, S. S. Hannan, W. Porter, G.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hardy, E. A. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Balfour, A. Hargreaves, A. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire. W)
Bartley, P. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Proctor, W. T.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F J Hastings, S. Pryde, D J.
Bence, C. R. Hayman, F. H. Pursey, Cmdr. H
Bonn, Wedgwood Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Rankin, John
Beswick, F. Herbison, Miss M. Reeves, J.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hewitson, Capt. M. Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Bing, G. H. C. Hobson, C. R. Reid, William (Camlachie)
Blackburn, F. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Richards, R.
Blenkinsop, A. Houghton, Douglas Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Blyton, W. R. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon A. G Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Ross, William
Bowden, H W. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Shackleton, E. A A
Bowles, F. G. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Short, E. W.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hynd, H. (Accrington) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Brockway, A. F. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Slater, J.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Janner, B. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Burton, Miss F. E. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Snow, J. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Jeger, George (Goole) Sorensen, R. W.
Callaghan, L. J. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Carmichael, J. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Sparks, J. A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Steele, T.
Champion, A. J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Chapman, W. D. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Chetwynd, G. R. Keenan, W. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Clunie, J. Kenyon, C. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Coldrick, W Key, Rt. Hon. C. W Swingler, S. T.
Collick, P. H. King, Dr. H. M. Sylvester, G. O.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kinley, J. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Cove, W. G. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Crosland, C. A. R. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Crossman, R. H. S. Lewis, Arthur Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lindgren, G. S. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Daines, P. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. MacColl, J. E. Thornton, E.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) McGhee, H. G. Thurtle, Ernest
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Mcinnes, J. Timmons, J.
de Freitas, Geoffrey McLeavy, F. Tomney, F.
Deer, G. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Turner-Samuels, M
Delargy, H. J. McNeill, Rt. Hon. H. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynr
Dodds, N. N. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Viant, S. P.
Donnelly, D. L. Mainwaring, W. H. Watkins, T. E.
Driberg, T. E. N. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Weitzman, D.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mann, Mrs. Jean Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Edelman, M. Manuel, A. C. Wells, William (Walsall)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mayhew, C. P. West, D. G.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mellish, R. J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Messer, F. Wheeldon, W. E.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mikardo, Ian Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mitchison, G. R. Wigg, George
Fernyhough, E. Monslow, W. Wilcock, Group Capt. C A. B
Fienburgh, W. Moody, A. S. Wilkins, W. A.
Finch, H. J. Morris Percy (Swansea, W.) Willey, F. T.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Williams, David (Neath)
Follick, M. Moyle, A. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Foot, M. M. Mulley, F. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Forman, J. C. Murray, J. D. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Nally, W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Gibson, C. W. O'Brien, T. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Glanville, James Oldfield, W. H. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Gooch, E. G. Oliver, G. H. Wyatt, W. L.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Orbach, M. Yates, V. F.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Oswald, T.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield) Paget, R. T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Mr. Wallace and Mr. J. Johnson.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Palmer, A. M. F.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Medlicott, Brig. F.
Alport, C. J. M. Godber, J. B. Mellor, Sir John
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Molson, A. H. E
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Gough, C. F. H. Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Gower, H. R. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E
Arbuthnot, John Graham, Sir Fergus Nabarro, G. D. N.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Gridley, Sir Arnold Nicholls, Harmar
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W) Grimond, J. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Baker, P. A. D. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Hall, John (Wycombe) Nield, Basil (Chester)
Baldwin, A. E. Harden, J. R. E. Nugent, G. R. H.
Banks, Col. C Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N) Nutting, Anthony
Barber, Anthony Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Odey, G. W.
Barlow, Sir John Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Baxter, A. B Harvie-Watt, Sir George Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Hay, John Orr, Capt. L P. S.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Heald, Sir Lionel Orr-Ewing Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Heath, Edward Osborne, C.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Bennett, F. M (Reading, N.) Higgs, J. M. C. Perkins, W. R. D.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Peyton, J. W. W.
Bevins, J R. (Tox[...]th) Hirst, Geoffrey Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Birch, Niger Hollis, M. C. Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Bishop, F. P. Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Powell, J. Enoch
Black, C. W. Holt, A. F. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Boothby, R. J. G Hope, Lord John Profumo, J. D.
Bossom A. C. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Raikes, Sir Victor
Bowen, E. R. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Rayner, Brig. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Horobin, I. M. Redmayne, M.
Boyle, Sir Edward Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Remnant, Hon. P.
Braine, B. R. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Renton, D. L. M.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J. Robertson, Sir David
Brooman-White, R. C. Hurd, A. R. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Robson-Brown, W.
Bullock, Capt. M. Hutchison. Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bullus, Wing Commander E E Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Roper, Sir Harold
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Campbell, Sir David Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Russell, R. S.
Carr, Robert Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Carson, Hon. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cary, Sir Robert Jones, A. (Hall Green) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Channon, H. Joynson-Hicks. Hon. L. W Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Kaberry, D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Cole, Norman Keeling, Sir Edward Scott, R. Donald
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Kerr, H. W. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Lambert, Hon. G. Shepherd, William
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Lambton, Viscount Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Cranborne, Viscount Lancaster, Col. C. G Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Legge-Bourke, Maj E. A. H Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Crouch R. F. Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T Snaddon, W. McN.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Lindsay, Martin Soames, Capt. C.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Linstead, H. N. Spearman, A. C. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Llewellyn, D. T. Speir, R. M.
Deedes, W. F. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Digby , S. Wingfield Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Longden, Gilbert Stevens, G. P.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA Low, A R. W. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Donner, P. W. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Doughty, C. J. A. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Storey, S.
Drayson, G. B. McAdden, S. J. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Drewe, C. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Macdonald, Sir Peter Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Duthie, W. S. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Teeling, W.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Maclean, Fitzroy Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Erroll, F. J. Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Finlay, Graeme MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Turner, H. F. L
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Turton, R. H.
Fort, R. Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Vane, W. M. F
Foster, John Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E Wade, D. W.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Markham, Major S. F. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Marlowe, A. A. H. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Marples, A. E. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Gammans, L. D. Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Maude, Angus Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr S. L. C Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Wellwood, W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter) York, C.
Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay) Wills, G.
Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.) Wood, Hon. R. Mr. Vosper and Mr. Oakshott.
Mr. Mulley

I beg to move, in page 3, line 30, to leave out "under competitive conditions."

I do so for four main reasons. First, because the words suggest that the competitive structure of the industry will be changed as a result of this Bill—a suggestion which is quite unfounded. Second, because it poses the dilemma of modern industry—the problem of size, and the conditions of technical efficiency demanding units of a size too great for the traditional competitive structure of industry. In this sense the obligations imposed upon the Board by this Clause may often be in conflict. Third, because if the Board is of opinion that competitive conditions do not obtain, it has no power to take adequate action. Fourthly, the meaning of the term is far from precise, is not defined in the Bill, and savours more of political propaganda than legal terminology.

6.30 p.m.

Our main purpose in raising this point is to get an explanation of what is meant by the phrase from a Government spokesman. We are not opposed to competition. Indeed, we welcome it. Only a few weeks ago I was told by an American economist that the surprising thing, and perhaps, in a way, one of the biggest achievements of the Labour Government, was that they had brought a little competition back into British industry for the first time for a long while.

I have no doubt there are hon. Members who nurse the simple and comforting, but quite erroneous, belief that all State-owned industry is monopoly and all privately-owned industry is free competition. They have every excuse for holding these rather nebulous and inaccurate ideas of nationalised industry, because the Prime Minister himself in his reference to the road haulage industry showed that he had not bothered to acquaint himself with the workings of the industry. Under the 1949 Act, because some engineering was acquired by the Iron and Steel Corporation, on this argument it could be said that the whole of the British engineering industry is a monopoly. Obviously that is not true.

Under the Corporation the industry is not a tight monopoly. Perhaps I might here quote from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) on Second Reading, who put the point very powerfully and concisely when he said: The fact is that today, under the Labour Government's nationalisation scheme, every steelworks which the Corporation possess is independently run, on commercial lines, by its own board of directors, and can compete with every other steelworks in the prices it charges, the quality of its products and the delivery date it promises, in exactly the same way as before nationalisation. What more competition do the Government want? What more competition are the Board expected by the Government to achieve?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 292–3.] I hope we shall have an answer on this point from the Government tonight. If they prefer an alternative comment to that of my right hon. Friend—although I, personally, think my right hon. Friend is the greater authority—I give them the "Economist," which is certainly not friendly to this side of the Committee. Referring to the proposals to denationalise the industry, it said on 2nd August: Whether it promises truly competitive private enterprise in the steel industry is distinctly doubtful. It is a great fallacy to suppose that before nationalisation the steel industry was in any sense competitive. I could bring to the Committee reams of evidence of the various price-fixing schemes, and so on, which operated in the industry before it was nationalised. But I will content myself, as evidence of my charge that it was never a competitive industry before nationalisation, with quoting only Sir William Clarke, an ex-director of the Iron and Steel Federation, who is quoted as saying, in the "Financial Times" on 6th October, 1944: Statements have been made that steel prices are fixed by monopoly or cartel. The steel industry would make no attempt to deny that in price as in other matters the trade acts in combination. We could also bring evidence of the international combinations and cartels. Surely no one will argue here tonight that a cartel is a device to promote competition. The fact is that under nationalisation there is more competition in the industry than there was before, and more than there will be after this Bill is passed.

It is interesting to note that in recommending the Bill on Second Reading the Minister never mentioned the word "competition" once during the whole of his speech. It is also interesting to note that he made great play of the powers the Bill provides to refer questions to the Restrictive Practices and Monopolies Commission. I have no quarrel with that, but in view of the long waiting list for research by that Commission and the length of time that such research takes, it would probably be 50 years before they could get round to having a look at the steel industry.

The second point I want to make is that the Board is charged to produce efficient and economic supplies under competitive conditions. What is the position for the Board when technical considerations demand that one or two firms alone supply the whole of the industry? The size of the plant may need to be so large for an efficient and economic supply that it must produce most of the output. One might almost say that where a firm is successful, efficient and producing economically, enterprise leads away from competition into a monopolistic situation. I certainly do not view monopoly per se as evil. We on this side do not do that. But monopoly and the size of British industry in many fields today pose the question asked so forcibly by Professor Tawney over 40 years ago, when he said: The issue is simply this. If we are to have monopoly, is it to be public and responsible to the public, or is it to be private and responsible only to shareholders? The present Government, in a rather half-hearted and tardy way, have recognised this problem by having the Board. After all, it is a new philosophy for the Conservative Party that private enterprise needs to be supervised. If the Parliamentary Secretary, who I imagine is to reply, says that the purpose of this phrase in the Bill is to place a specific duty on the Board to see that some competition is maintained as far as may be because they believe that otherwise there would be no competition in the industry, then we will take a more sympathetic view of the purpose of the phrase. I hope that in return the Government will take a more sympathetic view of the additional powers which we seek to give the Board by subsequent Amendments so that they can carry out that obligation. If the Board find there is no competition in the industry, what powers have they got to take action? I hope the Minister will give us some reply to that.

A major difficulty in allowing the phrase to pass unchallenged is in knowing what the phrase means. I must confess to having great difficulty here, and I find no guidance in the interpretation Clause. There is no definition in the Bill. It may be said, "Well, of course, it is a matter of common sense. One ought to know what 'competition' means." I thought I knew what "pension" meant. I thought I knew, and hon. Members opposite, I am sure, thought they knew, what "private ownership" meant. I certainly thought I knew what "additional" meant. But very rightly, in order that these terms may be used with legal precision, they are defined in the interpretation Clause. Yet there is no word about "competition." What standard is the Board to apply? Perhaps I can help the Minister by supplying a definition. In my view, there is a competitive situation when no firm's output is so large that it can determine the price policy for the whole industry or for the whole of that product.

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

I think definitions would involve some other Amendment.

Mr. Mulley

I was merely trying to help.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Gentleman may be trying to help, but he must help on the appropriate occasion.

Mr. Mulley

I hope that the Minister will not be precluded from telling us what is meant by the phrase because there is an interpretation Clause, otherwise it is pointless to press this Amendment. Can we not have a reply from the Minister?

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member has not yet moved that Amendment, and I am trying to keep him in order on this Amendment.

Mr. Mulley

I am sorry if I have fallen from grace, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I shall await with interest to hear the Government's definition.

One of the items of confusion is the fact that there is a whole library of economic literature trying to define various forms of competition. Mrs. Joan Robinson, who served this Government and the last Government upon the Monopolies Commission, wrote a learned treatise on the economics of imperfect competition. There is Mr. Chamberlain's book on the "Theory of Monopolistic Competition," and a whole library of economic definitions and economic guidance on the different sorts of competition to be found in British industry.

I suggest to the Minister that the whole lot, with the sole exception of that which has been classed as perfect competition, is to be found in the steel industry. There is oligopoly, monopoly and, of course, monopsony. There is some monopolistic competition to be found in the steel industry, but not cases of perfect competition. The Minister is surely not going to say that these people have all been wasting their time, and that competition is a word that does not need to be defined. Indeed, I reflect that my former tutor, Mr. Roy Harrod, whose political outlook is quite impeccable from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, was one of the people who set off this very intensive and fruitful research in the 1930s.

I hope that we shall get from the Minister some kind of standard which can be applied by the Board in assessing whether or not the products which firms produce are being produced under compeitive conditions. If he cannot do that, will he tell us why this is in the Bill? Is it in the Bill as a political propaganda term? If he is frank about this, and tells us that this is in the Bill as a price for getting back-bench support for the Board and the Bill, and if he comes clean and says that it is a new philosophy he has been trying to sell the boys, that private enterprise needs to be supervised, then we can show sympathy and not be too harsh about having propaganda in the Bill.

I do not think, however, that we should allow a phrase of this sort, if it is only a matter of political propaganda and a sop to the boys, to go through in a Bill and become an Act of Parliament. Therefore, although we shall have sympathy if he comes clean in this way, we must press the Amendment to delete the words, because this is an Act of Parliament which we are considering and not a political slogan.

Mr. Fienburgh

I am sure that the Minister will have heard with the same surprise as I myself the number and the extent of the books written in connection with the definition of monopoly and competition in recent years. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the danger, once this industry is returned to private ownership, that its structure will resolve into the same kind of structure as it had before nationalisation.

In 1947, before nationalisation, there were engaged in this industry some 10 big firms which together owned 75 blast furnaces out of 157, 30 per cent. of open hearth acid steel capacity, and 60 per cent. of open hearth basic steel capacity. The argument may be made that they did not own these percentages collectively, but individually, as competing firms. Let us examine whether there is any substance in that argument. These big firms included Dorman-Long, Stewart and Lloyds; The Lancashire Steel Corporation; United Steel; Colville's; the Steel Company of Wales; Guest, Keen and Baldwins; Richard Thomas and Baldwins; Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds, and John Summers and Co.

There may be a case for arguing that there was a degree of competition in the industry if we could believe that they did compete vigorously with one another. But when we look in detail at the names of the gentlemen—and I do not propose to name them, their names are in the book, and I am not trying to pillory them or to suggest that they did not fulfil their trust to their shareholders extremely well —who sat on the boards of the so-called competing companies, we see the same names cropping up over and over again, proving a very closely interlocking connection between most of these companies which together dominated the whole of the industry. One gentleman, for example, sat on the board of the Steel Company of Wales and of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and Guest, Keen and Baldwins. Another sat on the board of Richard Thomas and Baldwins and also of the Lancashire Steel Corporation. Fellow directors on the board of Richard Thomas and Baldwins sat on the board of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds.

The Deputy-Chairman

I appreciate the point which the hon. Gentleman is trying to make and, although he may touch on it by way of illustration, I do not think that he is entitled to go into the whole details of these companies.

Mr. Fienburgh

I am trying to illustrate the point that if the effective competition in this industry is to be the type of so-called effective competition which operated before the war, we would not be satisfied with it, and we would press the Minister to define more closely his attitude towards effective competition, and what steps he hopes to take under this Bill to prevent the same kind of duplication as existed before the war.

The whole list is too long to go into in detail. But there were, in all, 98 directors of these big companies, 21 of whom sat on more than one board. In other words, they dashed from board-room to board-room of the so-called competing companies, giving, no doubt, excellent competitive advice to the different companies at one of their monthly or bi-annual meetings, as the case may be. They may have been like those fortunate individuals who can describe themselves as Conservative in politics but independent when they enter a council chamber.

We really do not believe seriously that these gentlemen, working so hard and sitting on more than one board, would go along from board A to board B and say, "Look here, in my alter ego as a member of board A, I happen to know that we are proposing to lay down a new blast furnace in order to increase our productive capacity, and therefore may I put a case that company B should build a blast furnace so that I may cut my own other throat when I sit on my own other board?"

I must ask the Minister, if the words we now propose to delete is not a propaganda phrase, and if he wants effective competition among these firms which dominate the industry, what steps he is going to take. Is he going to make one director serve one master and not try to serve half a dozen masters? Is he sincere in his attempt to produce effective competition, and if so, how does he propose to do it?

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Robson Brown

I did not intend to follow the arguments of the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) had he not raised one particular series of arguments which simply do not hold water. Anyone who is intimately acquainted with the processes and activities of the industry knows perfectly well that the firms which he has mentioned, making pig iron, make it in the main for their own consumption. They are not in competition with one another in the manufacture of pig iron

Furthermore, those who know the industry will understand that every one of the firms concerned in the manufacture of open-hearth ingots or ingots in any form are making them primarily for their own purposes, and ingots are not sold on the market in the ordinary way. If one examines the end-products of the companies—that is the important point where the competition comes in—one finds that in the main they are different from one another. In some cases the association and the interlocking of directorships is desirable and an advantage to the companies concerned.

I thank you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, for allowing the Amendment standing in my name—in page 3, line 36—to be discussed with the other Amendment. The effect of the Amendment on which I had proposed to speak was that the Board should supervise any … agreements or arrangements regulating markets for the export from the United Kingdom of iron and steel products. What I and my hon. Friends had in mind was that in pre-war days there was suspicion on the part of the public of anything which savoured of cartels and international restrictive arrangements. The steel industry should put itself in such a position as the result of the Bill that those suspicions, doubts and misunderstandings cannot arise again.

It may well be that on occasion it would be in the interests of the industry and of the country that international trade arrangements on either a unilateral or a bilateral basis should be undertaken. Such arrangements were undertaken before the war. They were highly advantageous to our country. They did no harm; on the contrary, they did us a considerable amount of good. At the same time, we are of the opinion that the Board should have knowledge of them, and we suggest that the Board should be informed of any arrangements or any proposed arrangements by any firm or any section of the industry desiring to enter into overseas trade arrangements. We believe that on this matter, as on all matters, the Bill should be as comprehensive as possible. We suggest that if that were clearly expressed somewhere in the Bill and fully understood—I believe a form of words could be found—it would be very much in the public interest.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

On a point of order, Mr. Hopkin Morris. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I am not clear where we are. I understood that we were discussing only the Amendment to line 30. Is it suggested that we are now also discussing with that Amendment the two following Amendments. The two following Amendments seem to have rather a different point. If it is desired to discuss all three Amendments together, we have no objection to that course, but we did not realise that that was happening.

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not think that was the intention. The intention was that, if it was for the convenience of the Committee, the Amendment in line 30 and the Amendment in line 36 should be discussed together and the Amendment in line 37 should be taken subsequently. If the Committee desire to discuss the three Amendments together—

Mr. Strauss

It seems to me that the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) in line 36 and my Amendment in line 37 are similar and might well be discussed together, but the one we are discussing at present seems to be rather different.

The Deputy-Chairman

If it meets the wish of the Committee, I see no objection to the three Amendments being discussed together.

Mr. Simon

Further to the point of order, Mr. Hopkin Morris. Might I point out that the Amendment in line 36, standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and myself, has more in common with the Amendment in line 37 than with the Amendment under discussion, but it has a slightly different point. Its purpose is in some respects wider than the Amendment in line 37 in the name of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) and in some respects it is narrower. We really have three different points here.

The Deputy-Chairman

The decision was that the Amendment in line 36 in the name of the hon. Member for Esher was not selected but it could be discussed with the Amendment in line 30, although not with the Amendment in line 37.

Mr. Strauss

I was not aware of that. I understood that the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Esher would be discussed with my Amendment in line 37—they seem to be similar points —and not with the Amendment in line 30 which we are now discussing.

Mr. Sandys

I understood that we were to discuss the Amendment in the form which you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, have just suggested, the idea being that the Amendment about competitive conditions was related to some extent to the next Amendment, that in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Esher, which I assumed was intended to prevent restrictive arrangements in regard to the export trade. That would be convenient. It would not be convenient to discuss restrictive agreements and arrangements with the other point which has to do with export prices, so far as I understand, because they are two different things, except that they are both concerned with overseas.

The Deputy-Chairman

The selection was that we should take the Amendment in line 30 which has just been moved, that the Amendment in line 36 in the name of the hon. Member for Esher was not selected but could be discussed, if the Committee wished it, with the Amendment which has been moved, and that the Amendment in line 37 in the name of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall would be taken separately. If it meets the wish of the Committee, the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Esher can be discussed with the present Amendment, but if not, his Amendment is not selected.

Mr. Strauss

As far as we are concerned, quite different points arise and we think it would be better if the Amendments were taken separately.

The Deputy-Chairman

In that event, the present discussion must be limited to the Amendment in line 30 which has been moved, and the Amendment in line 36 in the name of the hon. Member for Esher is not selected.

Mr. Robson Brown

Are my hon. and learned Friend and I not permitted to speak at all to our Amendment?

The Deputy-Chairman

No, but the hon. Member and his hon. and learned Friend can speak to the Amendment which is before the Committee.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

The provision which the Amendment seeks to amend lays down in general terms the duty of the Board to supervise the iron and steel industry with a view to promoting an efficient, economic and adequate supply of iron and steel under competitive conditions.

The Government have shown themselves remarkably touchy about Amendments to the Clause and have even rejected an Amendment moved from this side of the Committee that this duty should be exercised in the public interest. I do not mean to say that the Government want the Board to exercise its duties in a manner contrary to the public interest, but the Government have resisted an Amendment specifically adding the words "in the public interest" to the Clause.

In spite of the refusal to accept those words, I have no doubt that the Government intend that the Board shall exercise its duties in the public interest. Assuming that, is it not possible that in certain circumstances the Board might come to the conclusion that it was in the public interest to exercise certain functions not under competitive conditions? No one will deny that there may be circumstances when it is desirable that the industry should act not under competitive conditions for reasons of national security or for some other reasons.

Unless the amendment to delete the words "under competitve conditions" is accepted, there is in the Bill as we at present have to accept it a limitation upon the Board to see that the public interest is followed; although the Board may consider it desirable in certain instances not to have competitive conditions, the wording of the Bill obliges the Board to have competitive conditions. A limitation is being put upon the Board which may, in certain circumstances, prevent it from carrying out its duty in the public interest.

All that is brought about by the introduction of these words "under competitive conditions," and the question I should like to put to the Government is—is it not just a little bit doctrinaire to sacrifice the public interest simply to introduce these words? I hope the Parliamentary Secretary, when he comes to reply, will try to meet that point. It is often said that we acted not in the public interest but because of our doctrines. We, of course, strenuously resist that, but I submit that this is an instance where the Government and the Conservative Party for doctrinaire reasons are prepared to sacrifice the public interest. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with that point.

7.0 p.m

Mr. Shepherd

I must confess that the hon. Member has completely baffled me, as I imagine he has baffled the whole of the Committee. When I saw this Amendment I wondered why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had put it on the Paper. If they really believe that competition is a matter of black and white, then, of course, I can see somè reason for it, but surely we are all aware that there is only one black monopoly and that is a State monopoly. From that black monopoly to free competition there is a graduation of competitive conditions which are capable of infinite variety.

I think the Committee will also be aware that it is not true to say that we can apply to any particular industry the same sort of competitive conditions which apply to another. It may well be that the amount of competition in the industry making nutmegs is very much greater than in that making steel. It is perfectly true to say that in one industry the needs for stability are much more important than the need for all-out competition, and if we accept that fact, which I thought was elemental, surely no objection can be taken to the words in the Bill. What do the words in this Bill mean? They state that the Iron and Steel Board shall promote supplies of steel under competitive conditions. It gives an indication to the Board—

Mr. Mulley

The hon. Member places us in some difficulty, and perhaps he could say what he understands by competitive conditions.

Mr. Shepherd

The hon. Gentleman has told the Committee that there are many monopoly definitions, and I do not propose to waste the time of the Committee going over the ground again. All I want to say is there are varieties of competition and the competition in the national interests and the overall interests of industry vary between one industry and another.

All the Government are doing is to give a direction to the Board that its duty will be as far as possible, in the economic circumstances of the industry, to promote competitive conditions. I cannot say what those conditions are going to be. But is must be the duty of the Board, when taking over its responsibilities, to look upon the industry generally and to determine what degree of competition is necessary and healthy, having regard to the needs for stability. I am really surprised that hon. Members opposite should take exception to that very proper course, and I am very pleased that the Minister has seem fit to put these words into the Bill. I hope very much that he will resist this Amendment.

Mr. Simon

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), I regard these words as just about the most important that occur in the Bill. If this Bill does not ensure that competition is restored to the iron and steel industry, then to my mind it fails in its purpose. I should not have very much difficulty in understanding these words. Competition is really the reverse of monopoly, whether State monopoly or not. It means that there is more than one trader in the market and that the more efficient trader derives a benefit from his efficiency.

As my hon. Friend has just pointed out, there are degrees of competition. We are not doctrinaire about these matters, for if there are too many producers or traders in the market real hardship will fall particularly on those less able to look after themselves.

Mr. Jack Jones

I am in entire agreement with some of the things the hon. and learned Member has said. If the Board, as laid down in the Bill, promotes efficient, economic production, what more can it do to bring about effective competitions? It creates those very conditions, and we say there is no need for these words here.

Mr. Simon

If the hon. Member would allow me to develop my argument he will see that almost immediately I am going to meet his point. Competition clearly can be restricted in different ways. There may in the first place be monopoly. The evil of monopoly is that it enables a producer or trader to make a profit without being efficient. The great value of competition is that a profit benefit is the price of efficiency. There may in addition be other limiting factors. There may be too few producers in the market. That is necessarily so in an industry like iron and steel whereby there are great capital aggregations, what the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) referred to on Second Reading as conditions tending to monopoly.

The answer to that is not to create a greater monopoly or a State monopoly, but instead to have an external agency board, as in this case, to fix prices so that the few producers who are unable themselves to influence prices but who have to respond to the prices in order to make a profit have to measure their profit by their efficiency. The more efficient producer will make a larger profit.

The third way in which competition can be limited is by way of restrictive practices. It is because these words "under competitive conditions," as I read them, enjoin on the Board the duty of supervising this industry to see, not only that there are sufficient producing units in the market efficient enough to earn a profit, but also the duty to supervise the industry and to see that there are no restrictive practices which operate against the national interest. Indeed, the duty is to supervise the industry generally with a view to overseeing all restrictive practices.

No doubt no adverse action would be taken if any restrictive practices, such as practices affecting the trade unions and the workers, were found to be not against the public interest, but it is because these words, as I read them, govern all sorts of restrictive practices in the supply of iron and steel goods, that I regard them as the most important words in the Statute.

I do not think they are sufficient to govern the one case which is governed by the Amendment which we must not discuss and which is in the name of the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) and myself. They do not cover the supply of iron and steel goods but the marketing of them abroad. Perhaps this matter is better raised on the Clause as a whole. There may be a case, and I ask the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary to consider it, whether some such words are necessary so that one gets not only competitive conditions kept under review in the production and supply of iron and steel products, but also possible marketing arrangements abroad.

Mr. Low

I think it will be convenient if I try now to reply to the debate on those points. I am not quite clear about the object of the Opposition in putting down the Amendment. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), who started the debate off, seemed to be arguing that he was making an exploratory speech, wanting to find out what we thought these words meant and why they were in the Bill. If I do not make a mistake, the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) was arguing that they ought not to be in the Bill because he did not think that there ought to be competitive conditions in the iron and steel industry.

Perhaps I can clear the matter up best by stating at once that I am bound to assume that on both sides of the Committee we see an advantage in there being competitive conditions inside the iron and steel industry. If I am wrong about that perhaps some hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the other side will stand up and tell me so.

Mr. Mulley

I presume that the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with the very difficult point which I mentioned, that there is in certain cases a conflict between technical efficiency and size. I do not regard competition as important, but if the Board have to decide between technical efficiency and pure competition, which way would the Minister wish them to go?

Mr. Low

That is an important point. which I shall deal with. We are accused of being doctrinaire in putting the words into the Bill. I think I am right in saying that it is not a matter of doctrine at all, because it is generally accepted on both sides of the Committee that there is an advantage in having competitive conditions in the industry. In our previous debate the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park made the point that there was competition in the nationalised industry. That is also what the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) has said on several occasions. The argument goes, I think, that because there is already competition in the iron and steel industry —I mean at this moment—it is unnecessary to put words in the Bill to make it clear that it is part of the duty of the Board to see that these competitive conditions continue.

Mr. Mulley

I would make the point clear that we are not saying that under existing nationalised conditions there is as much competition as one could desire, if one put competition first. That is the main reason why we nationalised the industry in the first instance. We say that there will be no more competition after the industry is denationalised, despite the words in the Bill.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Low

I am aware of that point, but it does not seem that it is a very good argument for taking the words out of the Bill, which is what the Amendment suggests. The words are in the Bill because we want to make it absolutely clear that the duty of the Board covers the points mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) a moment ago and that the Board will keep restrictive practices under review. An hon. Member opposite has said that the Board has no powers, but at the moment we are dealing only with the Clause which sets out the Board's duties.

I do not think I need to pursue the point made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park, that he does not know what "competitive conditions" means. Of course he knows full well what "competitive conditions" means. I do not think he expects to find the word "competitive" defined at the end of the Bill. He actually told us that he found the word "additional" defined at the end of the Bill, but I have not been able to find it myself. There are inevitably many words in the Bill which are not defined. The whole Committee must be aware of what "competitive conditions" means, and I do not need to waste any more time on that point. I should like, however, to deal with the point, which has been raised so often, that there are competitive conditions inside the industry, nationalised as it is now. I heard the right hon. Member for Vauxhall say that many times. I remember his saying it on the Second Reading of his Bill, and I remember being unimpressed with the argument. At that moment I was, and I remain, convinced that it is a very large fairy story. I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman can really say that there are competitive conditions in the industry covered by the Corporation which, to use the right hon. Gentleman's own words, has had the power of absolute control over the whole industry. If there is any competition it is what I might call "compulsory competition." We seek something quite different, as my right hon. Friend has made clear. We seek to restore competitive conditions under free enterprise, subject to the measure of public supervision which is provided by the Bill.

Perhaps I may now deal with the point made about the size of the units and the efficiency of the industry in so far as that might come into conflict with competition. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park took the point well and we all have it very much in mind. It was pointed out that there are degrees of competition. My right hon. Friend made the point yesterday in replying to one of the Amendments, that there are degrees of competition in various industries. The degree of competition in an industry of enormous plants such as this one may well be less than the degree in the engineering industry or in parts of it where the plants are not so large. Of course, that is taken into account.

That does not mean that there is an absence of any competitive conditions at all. For example, when maximum prices, or even common prices, are fixed there is still competition in quality, date of delivery, development and so on. The Committee will no doubt be aware that on at least one occasion the Monopolies Commission have sanctioned in their reports a common price arrangement inside an industry and found it was not restrictive or against the public interest. There are degrees of competition. I hope the Committee will not over-estimate the point that because there is co-ordination and co-operation in this industry and because the plants are sometimes very big there cannot be competitive conditions; or think that the Board ought not, as we think they ought—the argument from the other side would go that the Board ought not—to have regard to competitive conditions in carrying out their duty. I think I said on Second Reading that we believe there is room here for supervision, for keeping under review the co-ordination and the competition inside the industry. As in so many parts of our life in this country, there is room for both freedom and order.

As we understand it, the effect of these words is to make it part of the Board's duty to keep under review arrangements which might be restrictive in any way. Because we think that the words, "under competitive conditions" already cover the point, we have not thought it right to include, among the duties set out in the subsections, any specific restrictive practices or arrangements which the Board should particularly keep under review. We have not thought it right because we consider that by including the words, "under competitive conditions" in the general duty, we have already covered all these points.

To take up the comment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West, we formed the opinion that the Board's duty already covered the sort of arrangement to which he referred and which is dealt with by an Amendment which is not before us at the moment. It is in fact our view that by including these words in the Bill we make it clear that the Board's duty includes a duty to keep under review restrictive arrangements. It is my feeling of the sense of the Committee that that is what hon. Members want. And after that explanation, I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn.

Mr. Strauss

Before we part with this Amendment, as I hope we shall in a minute, I wish to make a few comments. Our purpose in moving the Amendment was to find out what, if anything, was in the mind of the Government when they put these words in the Bill. We have found, as we expected, that there was nothing at all in the mind of the Government—nothing sensible or nothing serious. The Government have repeated the story which they put forward at an earlier stage that they wanted to return the industry from State monopoly to private industry with a large degree of competition.

We have said over and over again that that was absolute nonsense; that there was just the same amount of competition after nationalisation as there was before; and that there would be no more competition as a result of this Bill when the industry is de-nationalised. The Government have tried to say just the opposite, but they have produced no evidence whatever to suggest that nationalisation has in any way damaged any useful element of competition in the industry.

There is very little competition. It is no use pretending that this is a competitive industry until we come to the small foundries or those making engineering products. In a big industry of this sort in this country, as in the United States and everywhere else, one price is fixed, and everybody sells at that price. The only competition is in quality, time of delivery and so on. Not the slightest difference will come to this industry as a result of this Bill: in this respect the position will be the same as it was under nationalisation.

I have come to the conclusion that these words have been inserted either to impress American opinion or to impress the editor of the "Economist." There can be no other possible purpose. If it is said that the effect of these words will prevent any restrictive practices, I say that that is nonsense. It is not so at all. I am advised by my lawyer friends that the Clause would not have that effect at all. If the purpose was to ensure that no restrictive practices were carried on, I would ask where is there any power in the Bill to enable the Board to stop those practices.

We do not think that there is anything harmful in these words. We do not insist on taking them out because they are harmless and pointless. We think that they are put in for propaganda purposes and for no other reason. But, the facts having been exposed in this debate showing that the whole thing is camouflage, if the Government like to keep the words in, we do not object.

Mr. Mulley

I should like to withdraw the Amendment, but, as in the opinion of at least one hon. Member—the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon)—they are the most important in the Bill, or more important than words like "pension," I ask that the Government should seek at a later stage to give us an interpretation of them in the Interpretation Clause. On that understanding, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Snow

I beg to move, in page 3, line 37, to leave out: in the United Kingdom. This Amendment is tabled so that we can explore what was in the mind of the Government in connection with the phrasing of this subsection—

Mr. Jack Jones

On a point of order. Are we not unmindful of the fact that it was agreed earlier that the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) was to be called?

The Chairman

I thought that that Amendment would have linked with a previous one or with this one. The position has been changed so often. I agreed to call it by itself, but then I understood that it was not wanted, so I went on to the next one.

Mr. Robson Brown

I agreed in an attempt to save the time of the Committee, but I am in your hands, Sir Charles.

The Chairman

A message came to me that it was not proposed to move the Amendment because the Parliamentary Secretary had answered the point involved.

Mr. Low

I do not think that I have answered the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon). In fact, I expressly avoided doing that.

The Chairman

The Amendment in page 3, line 37, has not been moved; it has only been called.

Mr. Snow

On a point of order. I have moved my Amendment.

The Chairman

No. It is not moved until I put it from the Chair. Mr. Robson Brown.

Mr. Robson Brown

I beg to move, in page 3, line 36, at the end, to insert: (c) agreements or arrangements regulating markets for the export from the United Kingdom of iron and steel products. It so happens that in your absence, Sir Charles, I had opened my explanation of this Amendment, and I shall be as brief as possible now. The position is that in prewar days there existed in the steel trade, and in many other industries in this country, international arrangements and trade arrangements abroad. So far as the iron and steel trade was concerned not one of these arrangements was open to criticism. I had a close and intimate commercial experience of this matter, and I am prepared to accept a challenge from anybody on the issue.

But, in general, throughout the country there is a great dislike for the word "cartel" or the phrase "international arrangement." It would be well that the Board should have such a responsibility that they would be in a position to be aware of every sort of arrangement of this kind entered into by individual companies, trade associations within the industry or by the industry itself. I say this because not only is it desirable that the steel trade should be doing right and behaving in a right and proper way, but it should be known and seen to be doing the right and proper thing.

It would be a great pity if at some time in future some arrangement was brought to public attention—and more particularly to the attention of the House of Commons—which concerned an international arrangement, or a bilateral or unilateral arrangement, of which the Board had no knowledge. I do not think that there is any need for the arrangements to be broadcast. They could be made available to the Board and the Board could exercise their judgment and give their opinion or ruling upon them.

It so happens that the Parliamentary Secretary has touched on this matter and indicated that the Government intend to amplify or explain more fully the duties of the Board. In considering that matter I ask him to bear this Amendment in mind.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Jack Jones

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him a question? I took it upon myself to intervene to make certain that he should have the opportunity of putting his case because I wanted to listen to him. Would he tell the Committee what he proposes the Minister should do in the event of the Board finding that this suggested cartel is having a bad effect upon the industry? What power should the Board have to put right what they may find wrong?

Mr. Robson Brown

That question has arisen again and again in this debate, and it is as well to dispose of it. There is such a thing as public opinion. The Board has great powers in regard to influencing and informing public opinion. If it were revealed to the Board that the organisation or any section of the industry were indulging in arrangements against the interest of the industry or against public interest, the Board, either by special statement to the Minister and the Minister to the House, or the Board in their annual report, could hold the company or organisation up to the judgment of the United Kingdom. That, I believe, would be the most forceful sanction that any British industry or British company could have imposed upon it and, to my mind, the most satisfactory of all.

Mr. Simon

The substantive arguments in favour of some such Amendment as this have been put so well by my hon. Friend that I should not be justified in taking up the time of the Committee in trying to make the same points. I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to one drafting point which seems to make some such Amendment necessary.

Ordinarily I accept from my hon. Friend that he has had the advice of the legal experts that the words "under competitive conditions" cover and preclude all sorts of restrictive practices. But that is a general duty made on the Board and it is followed by the words "in particular," and all the particular instances would, I should have thought, be construed with reference to those general words. They relate to the supply of products.

The arrangements to which my hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) referred were not those relating strictly speaking to the supply of markets but to the marketing abroad of products, and there may be some doubt as to whether they fall within the general purview of the words "an adequate supply." If there is any doubt I would ask my hon. Friend, if this Amendment cannot be accepted now, to consider between now and the Report stage whether some such form of words are needed. They go further than the Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) because they cover not only the question of prices in foreign markets but also tonnage arrangements.

Finally, may I refer to the point made by the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) in his interjection regarding practices of this kind which may be thought by the Board to be against the public interest? The answer is that under the existing law there is sanction to preclude them. They can be brought within the purview of the Monopolies Commission. Many of us feel that the Monopolies Commission is not an altogether adequate body and I suggest that as regards the iron and steel industry there is an argument in favour of transferring the powers of the Commission to the Board.

Mr. P. Roberts

May I utter a word of warning to the Minister before he is encouraged to accept this Amendment? It is a dangerous Amendment because the words are far too wide. If the agreements or arrangements were national ones I should be much more in sympathy with what my hon. Friends have said, but, in fact, it might refer to individual agreements and arrangements as regards the regulating of markets between one firm and another firm either in this country or outside.

If the Amendment were accepted it would open the door to bureaucracy in a big way. It would mean that practically any day to day agreement with a foreign supplier, or a patent which is taken from a foreign country, manufactured in this country and sold abroad, might have to be notified to the Board. I do not think that people engaged in the export trade, particularly in Sheffield, selling a large number of articles abroad, would thank the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary if they bind them so tightly as does this Amendment.

Mr. Snow

I should not have intervened in this debate because I agreed so much with what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) and the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown). However, the last speech sowed a suspicion in my mind that this is a very desirable Amendment. Indeed, I thought I detected a slightly defensive tone in the voice of the hon. Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts). I believe he underestimates the calibre of the men whom the Minister is likely to appoint to the Board. I do not think they will intervene in day to day matters but will be the kind of people who will be responsible for seeing that the national interest is not restricted by national agreements on a large scale. Therefore I support the Amendment.

Mr. Low

As I made clear on the previous Amendment, it is our view that the point covered by this Amendment is already met. This important point was raised by the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. J. Freeman) as well as by my hon. Friends who have spoken today and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) during the Second Reading debate. We promised then that we would consider it and we have been looking at the question carefully. We did not come forward with an Amendment because we formed the view that it is undesirable to particularise the restrictive arrangements that are covered by the duty of the Board. We thought it wiser to stand firm on the principle that the duty of the Board as drawn already covers this kind of point.

I am definitely advised that the word "supply" covers production and marketing and that there is no doubt about it. In those circumstances I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon), whose advice on these matters we all listen to with great interest, will take that from me, although we will make doubly sure on that point if there is any further doubt.

My hon. Friend the Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts) made the point—I take also the point that the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) made in reply—that, as the Amendment is drawn, it might cover a great variety of small agreements and arrangements which it was never intended to cover. I am advised, indeed, that it might be taken to cover the ordinary contract of sale overseas, which, obviously, it was not intended to cover. That is one of the many difficult questions that we have had to consider when dealing with the point.

We have also had to consider the difficult question which has been raised during this short debate, whether it is left as a general duty or as a particular duty, of whether it ought to be backed up by a power. That is a difficult question, because one is immediately brought sharply against the possibility that it might lead to very undesirable bureaucracy, which nobody in the Committee would want it to do.

An important consideration in this matter of deciding whether a power is necessary in modern conditions is that European producers are included under the Schuman Authority, and we have at Luxembourg a Government delegation with whose work, as I said on 27th November, it is our intention that the Iron and Steel Board will be associated. The other main producers of the world are in the United States of America, and I think the Committee would agree that they are not likely under their law and system to enter into any restrictive arrangements.

We are still considering this problem, and I ask my hon. Friends to withdraw the Amendment, not only on that understanding, but also to take it from me that as I am at present advised, the point that they wish to cover by their Amendment is already covered under the general duty.

Mr. Robson Brown

We are fully satisfied with the explanations given by the Minister, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Snow

I beg to move, in page 3, line 37, to leave out "in the United Kingdom."

As I started to explain before the earlier Amendment was called, this Amendment was tabled to deal with what appears to us to be the slightly ambiguous wording of the subsection concerned, of which there appear to be two alternative readings. Since it is generally held that a healthy domestic market for steel—or for any commodity—is a prerequisite of a proper state of affairs in one's export trading, the Clause as drafted might seem to mean that, provided prices in the United Kingdom were satisfactory, therefore it would follow that our export trade was in a healthy position. If that is the construction to be placed on the wording, we feel that it is far too vague and ought to be strengthened.

It appears to us, however, that an alternative construction which could be placed upon these words is that it is a definite exclusion of responsibility for the export trade. If this is the intended construction, we very strongly disagree. The Parliamentary Secretary has left the Chamber, but he touched upon a point on which I should like later to elaborate; namely, our commitments or association with the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community. The Minister ought to clarify certainly two points at the outset: firstly, what is the responsibility—is there any responsibility—for overseas trade on the part of the Board; secondly, what is the relationship of the Minister and the Board where foreign activity may jeopardise either our economy in the aggregate or the particular economy of the domestic steel industry?

7.45 p.m.

Let me, therefore, take two examples in extension of these two matters which deserve clarification. Consider the export trade of steel globally and so far as this country is concerned, and the tendency of events since, say, 1949. I am taking these rather rough-and-ready figures because it seems to me that we are here dealing with a most important matter upon which the Bill, as drafted, is extremely vague and for various reasons ought to be strengthened.

The export of steel from four countries —France, Germany, Japan and Sweden —during the years 1949 to 1951 inclusive, shows a very remarkable increase. In those three years, France has doubled its export; Germany has trebled its export; Japan has multiplied its 1949 export five times, and Sweden has gone up something over double. So far as we are concerned, there has been a steady increase in our monthly exports from a monthly average value figure in 1949 of £10.5 million to an estimated figure for 1952—the exact figure, I believe, has not yet been produced—of £16.5 million monthly average.

In terms of those figures, it seems to me that this section of the Bill is far too loosely drafted. While we appear to have decided that control is undesirable, nevertheless whatever supervision or supervisory powers are left in the Bill appear to us not to be adequate at present. The important factor to realise is that we are probably developing towards a competitive market; and bearing in mind what was said not many minutes ago by the Parliamentary Secretary, one of the questions that I want to put to the Minister is whether he is satisfied that the competitive export quotation situation is likely to remain satisfactory under the Clause as it is drafted.

Let me return to the position of Japan and its present export tendencies. In the East—India, Ceylon and Burma—there appears to be an almost unlimited demand for steel. We have got to watch our position very carefully, because although production prices in Japan are likely always to be a good bit below our own, nevertheless I should have thought that the Board should be properly advised and, if necessary, diplomatic action taken to see that that competition is fair. After all, as at present drafted, the subsection refers to prices in the United Kingdom. The prices of British steel in the United Kingdom obviously are not the same as prices of British steel quoted, say, at a foreign port, and it is the latter definition that, we think, needs to be brought into the Clause right away.

The second instance that I want to cite is our association, to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred, with the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community. Section 14 of the Treaty Transitional Provisions refers to negotiations with third countries, and reads: Upon establishment of the High Authority, the member States shall undertake negotiations with the Governments of third countries, and particularly the British Government, on overall economic and commercial relations concerning coal and steel between the Community and such countries. Following that, as the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned just now, we appointed our delegation, led by Sir Cecil Weir, to Luxembourg and we have seen two reports emanating from the joint committee between the British delegation and the High Authority which was subsequently set up.

We do not understand from the subsection as drafted what is the machinery for dealing with reports which the British delegation send back. On the face of it, it would appear that their reports go direct to the Minister or the Government, but what action is taken on those reports and how is action to be taken by the Board? Common sense would suggest that if the reports are received they should be sent to the Board for observations and recommendations. At the very least, in view of the attitude not only of this Government, but of the last Government towards the Schuman Plan, we think it would be a compliment and some evidence of our sincerity to write into the Bill that we mean business when we say that we will work with them under certain conditions.

Mention was made by the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) of the subject of cartels. While the Bill gives us protection against cartels in this country, I am much more concerned about cartels which may exist abroad, the effect of which would be highly prejudicial to our industry. What is the machinery for notifying the Board, through the agency of the Minister, who presumably would receive information from the Foreign Office and what is the machinery for dealing with them?

If I may paraphrase M. Monnet, I do not think we should under-estimate the fact that by associating with the High Authority as opposed to becoming a full member, we do not have all the benefits —that is to say, we shall not have all the benefits unless we undertake our full share of responsibilities. M. Monnet went on to say that so far there has been no arrangement made between the British delegation and the Community for the sharing of markets, and all this tends to show that a competitive situation is developing as between the European steel interests and our own. If that is the case, how are we to remain in competition unless a specific responsibility is laid on the Board to see that we remain in competition?

I do not want to trespass on Clause 4, but I think I may fairly mention, in passing, that there is a very important factor to be considered in regard to British prices; that is, the investment programme, domestically and on the Continent. As the first statement from the joint committee of the British delegation and the European Coal and Steel Community pointed out, planning in the Community and in Great Britain, it is hoped, will be the subject of joint consultation.

I conclude by saying how surprised we were that the Government did not write into this Clause some mention of our responsibilities under the Schuman Plan, bearing in mind what was said by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in his winding-up speech on the Second Reading of this Bill. I imagine that that right hon. Gentleman was given the responsibility of winding up the debate because he had a great deal to do with the Schuman Plan so far as this country is concerned. In that speech he underlined the fact that the future of our industry was completely bound up with the development of the steel industry on the Continent. He said: I will go further and say that for the task of co-operation and consultation with the new Authority—if and when it comes into being, as I trust it will, for I believe it will honestly be for the good peace and happiness of Europe if it does—it will be essential from our point of view, as I think we all agree, that the proposed Board,"— the Board under this Bill— relieved of all responsibilities of ownership and therefore of management, should provide a far better body than the Steel Corporation to advise the Government of the day upon the great problems involved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 747.] From those words of the winding-up speech one would have thought that, for various reasons, more specific responsibility would have been written into this subsection.

Mr. Ian Winterbottom (Nottingham, Central)

I should like to say a few words to amplify the case put so forcibly and clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow). We have heard a great deal against the monopolistic nature of the steel industry and of all nationalised industries as a group. But we should not forget that the steel industry is selling abroad, either in steel or the end-products of the industry, more than 2 million tons of steel a year. It is competing abroad with its products against foreign steel producers.

As world output of steel grows, we must expect that the industry will have to fight with ever-increasing energy to keep its place in the world market. We must not forget that a new giant has been born on the Continent in the shape of the European Coal and Steel Community. A common market for scrap iron ore comes into operation on 10th February this year and for steel products on 10th April this year. M. Monnet, Secretary-General of the High Authority, has in mind the creation of competitive conditions in Western Europe. He is determined to make the Western Europe steel and coal industry efficient and competitive.

Very considerable steps are planned, or have been taken, to ensure that this steel industry can compete in the world. There has been set up what is called, in the Schuman jargon, a perequation fund, whose purpose is to bring the least modern sections of the industry up to the level of the most modern. The whole of the conditions of the market are being rationalised. Double pricing is being removed, restrictive practices are being removed and special transport restrictions on the transport of steel and coal products are being removed. In addition, the Community has obtained a waiver from G.A.T.T. which enables it to eliminate tariffs and duties between its Members without extending that provision to non-member States, which of course applies to us.

The total result of these activities will be that the steel Community, producing more than 41 million tons of steel a year, is setting out to create a competitive market and obviously it will want a considerable share of the world market for itself. For this reason, I feel that its activities must be watched with the greatest possible care by the Board, whose function, as laid down in the Clause, is to exercise, general supervision over the prices charged … for iron and steel products. The Bill as at present drafted restricts those powers of supervision to the United Kingdom. I urge the Minister not to limit the powers of the Board but to enable it to draw upon information given it by the United Kingdom delegation to the High Authority, thus enabling it to take a wide view of the problems facing the industry so that it may maintain its position as one of the major steel exporters of the world.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Sandys

Both the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) and the hon. Member for Nottingham. Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom) have very properly stressed the importance of the export trade. I entirely agree with them that a Board with a general responsibility for watching over the activities of the iron and steel industry cannot ignore that trade. Of course only a part of its production is exported, but exports are very important in the accounts at the end of the year. They are particularly important at this moment because of the foreign currency which they earn.

The hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth asked about the relationship between the Board and the High Authority. As he knows, this is still undefined; but it does appear to be taking the form of a relationship between the British Government on the one hand and the High Authority, which is a six-Government supra-national authority, on the other. I do not see that it is likely that any direct arrangement will be made between, say, the French, or the German, or the Belgian steel industry and the steel industry of this country, except through the High Authority.

The arrangement at the moment is that we have a Governmental delegation at the seat of the High Authority in Luxembourg, which is a delegation of officials with a leader appointed from outside. In addition, we have an inter-departmental committee in London which provides the collective advice to be forwarded to our delegation in Luxembourg. Then we have assessors from both sides of the iron and steel and the coal industries who provide the direct contact with the industries concerned. We have not yet worked out how the new Board will be associated with our delegation to the High Authority. But I can assure the Committee it is our firm intention that the Board shall be closely and responsibly associated with the decisions taken on the policy to be adopted by our delegation at Luxembourg.

I have explained the machinery which exists and hon. Members will see that it will not be difficult to see that the Board is brought in. It is only a matter of reconciling the position of the Board with the position of the assessors who come directly from the industry. I do not see any difficulty, but until the Board assumes control it is impossible for me to announce precisely how it will work out. I can, however, give an absolute assurance that it is our intention that the Board shall not be somewhere outside the whole arrangement and merely receive information after the event. I think that is the assurance which hon. Members want.

So far as the Amendment is concerned, this Clause deals with duties and not with powers, as was made clear by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth. The Board has a particular duty to keep under review certain important subjects, including prices. The price control powers of the Board, as distinct from its duties of supervision, are limited to the United Kingdom. They appear in Clauses 7 and 8 of the Bill.

The purpose of the price control powers of the Board is to protect British consumers against excessive prices resulting from either restrictive practices or some other cause in this country. On the other hand, the foreign consumer who imports steel from abroad has the benefit of world competition and pays the world price or something near it which is regulated by and large by the process of supply and demand.

We do not see, and neither of the hon. Members who spoke has suggested it, that there is any advantage in giving the Board the power to fix maximum prices to be charged by British exporters in overseas markets. That would be a needless restriction upon the industry. I think that if it were permitted its effect would be to reduce the amount of foreign currency earned by our industry.

On the other hand, I readily recognise, and it is apparent from what I have said already, that in order to perform its comprehensive task of supervision under this Clause, the Board will, in any case, have to keep itself closely and thoroughly informed about the prices charged, not only in this country, but by other countries and by British exporters. Without keeping itself closely informed on those matters, I do not think it can discharge its duties satisfactorily. Therefore I think these four points under Clause 3 (1) are, in the main, related to the powers which the Board has as defined in another part of the Bill. This was why paragraph (c) was drafted in such a way as to correspond exactly to the price-fixing powers given to the Board later on, and that is why the words "in the United Kingdom" were inserted. I think that the hon. Member is right and that we should make it clear that there is a possibility that those words might appear to restrict the duties of the Board and make them feel that it was not their business to watch prices overseas or the export trade in general. That was not our intention, and in order to make it perfectly clear we will readily accept this Amendment.

Amendment agreed to

Mr. Sandys

I beg to move in page 4, line 3, after "industry," to insert: or representatives of such persons. This Amendment relates to the top of page 4 of the Bill, where we see the last in the list of objects to be kept under review, namely: the arrangements for joint consultation between iron and steel producers and persons employed by them in the iron and steel industry on matters of mutual interest. … and so on.

That point to which I think hon. Members in all parts of the Committee attach importance, was drafted in a way which I believe as it stands may be satisfactory, but there was the possibility—though I do not believe anybody would have taken advantage of it—that, as drafted, it might have been thought to be a little too narrow, and to include in the consultation only employers on the one hand and persons employed by them on the other, and not to allow consultation with representatives of the trade unions concerned if they were not themselves actually employed in the industry. In order to make it quite clear that we have no intention in any way of excluding trade union representation in this consultation, we have tabled this Amendment which I hope will be accepted without debate.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. Hynd

I beg to move in page 4, line 4, at the end to insert: and to give such directions as the Board may think proper to the Agency constituted under Part III of this Act as to the promotion of the efficient operation of the subsidiaries of the said Agency. This Amendment is very necessary in order to fill what I think is an unintentional gap in the Bill. We recognise that the purpose of this Bill is to destroy the planned organisation of our steel industry in the public interest and to throw back the various units to the mercies of private enterprise, irrespective of what may happen to the public interest.

We have noted the Minister's touching faith in the capacity of the private shareholders and directors of private companies to take into account social and strategic considerations and other considerations of that kind—a faith which, however, is not apparently shared by the whole of those back benchers who have spoken in the debate. Nor is it shared by the backers of the Bill who have made extensive provisions for supervision and, indeed, control in some directions over such matters as development which the industry is unwilling to undertake, which does not suggest for a moment that the Minister's faith in the industry's willingness to develop for social purposes is justified.

The Bill itself foresees difficulties in private enterprise making sufficient provision for raw materials under Clause 9, due to the unsatisfactory arrangement that private enterprise is likely to make. Clause 10 provides that the public have got to subsidise research, education and other matters, for some reason about which I am not quite clear, because these activities such as research and the education of the workers in the industry are surely matters which are to the financial benefit of the industry itself, and therefore should not require a public subsidy if the industry is to be on a private basis. It is for those reasons that we oppose the Bill in its entirety.

8.15 p.m.

While we are aware of the general supervisory provisions, we wish to emphasise that there is no control whatever in the hands of the Board, except in the matter of price, over those concerns which are taken from public ownership and are sold to private enterprise. It is the purpose of this Bill, however regrettable or tragic, that these companies are to be on their own and, therefore, they are to be responsible for their own efficiency. They are to make their own profits, and they have to bear in great part their own losses, apart from the provisions which I have mentioned.

The point that we are concerned about and which is dealt with in this Amendment is the situation of those firms which have not already been disposed of. There is no time limit laid down for the operation of the Agency and no time limit within which concerns may be sold off. Therefore, there may be quite a number of important units retained under the Agency for a considerable period. So long as they are so retained, they are public concerns. They comprise a public interest and a public responsibility. But I can see no provision in the Bill for ensuring that these concerns are carried on in the public interest or that the Agency will have anything to do with them whatever except subsidise them.

The powers of the Agency are set out in Part III of the Bill. They are very wide in the financial field. They are to act as a holding company and are to exercise their powers as a holding company to promote the efficient direction of their subsidiaries. It does not say how that is to be done. The Agency, by its own constitution, is apparently not to have the qualifications or the experience for ensuring and promoting the efficient direction of these subsidiaries. It is to consist of from three to six members appointed by the Treasury with no particular qualifications mentioned in the Bill, but, according to the responsibilities they are given, their qualifications will presumably be almost entirely financial.

They have to carry the debts of these companies; they have to provide finance for these companies where necessary and they have to give guarantees in respect of the principle and interest on any debts contracted by those companies. But apparently they are to be entitled to no income from the companies in so far as they are successful; and, even more important, they are to be given no power at all to protect themselves from being placed in a position where they will have to spend perhaps considerable sums of public money under Clause 18 (1, a and b) in order to meet the principle and the interest on the debts of these concerns. That is an extremely serious and unsatisfactory situation.

I am assuming—I hope rightly—that it is an oversight that there is no provision for the Agency to have authority to intervene where necessary and promote the efficiency of these public companies, even if they are not to be permitted to do so in the case of companies which have been handed back to private enterprise. I am assuming that it is an oversight that the Agency has not been given additional functions to promote the efficiency of those publicly owned concerns which remain under the Agency with no time limit and which, therefore, may be our responsibility for a considerable time.

The Amendment therefore seeks to provide the Board with such powers as will ensure that these public concerns are maintained in an efficient condition not only for the purpose of obtaining the best possible price as and when they are sold off but also in the national interest, and in order to enable the Agency itself to be able to recoup itself where necessary for some of the liabilities which are imposed upon it under the Bill.

The Amendment is an extremely important one in our view, and I hope the Minister will give it serious consideration. If it is the case that the Government have overlooked the fact that no provision has been made for supervising these companies, I hope that something will be done about it. It will not be good enough for the Minister simply to recite once more the provision contained in Clause 3 (1), setting out the powers of the Board and saying that those powers, as under Clause 15, are also applicable to the concerns which are left in the hands of the Agency.

The powers which the Board have in regard to privately owned companies might be defended as being applicable to companies which are carried on on their own initiative now, but it is not sufficient for concerns which are a public liability and which are remaining so for an indefinite period, and cannot therefore be left to a purely financial holding company which has no authority over the operations of private directorates.

I hope the Minister will be able to assure us that he is prepared to accept this Amendment as he accepted the last one.

Mr. Sandys

This Amendment, as has been said, is a very far-reaching one. By and large, so far as the Agency's companies are concerned, it places the same kind of duties upon the Board as those which the Corporation now has in relation to its companies.

As we have made perfectly clear, we are anxious to get the industry back to conditions of free enterprise as fully and as quickly as possible, because we believe that is the healthy state in which the industry can best operate. The issue which is raised by the Amendment is whether there should be different treatment for companies which are owned by the Agency. From the standpoint of either production or consumer interest there is no difference between a company which is owned by the Agency and one which has been returned to free enterprise.

From the point of view of ensuring adequate supplies of iron and steel products to the engineering industry it cannot be said that there is any special need to supervise differently particular companies The only difference between the Agency-owned companies and those which have been returned to private enterprise is that the former are owned by the State. In certain cases —although we must not exaggerate this point—the Exchequer may advance money to those companies for development because a company which is owned by the State may not be able to raise money itself.

For that reason the Bill provides that the Exchequer can, if necessary, advance money to those companies. But that is a financial difference and not a technical one. The question is not whether there are going to be adequate safeguards for the consumers of iron and steel products made by Agency companies, but whether there will be satisfactory safeguards for the financial interests of the nation, which will have large sums of money still invested in these companies.

The machinery provided for ensuring that the nation's stake in these companies is properly safeguarded does not concern the Board at all. The Board is not a competent body to look after the financial interest of the State in these companies, and it is not intended to be. The Agency, on the other hand, is constituted for precisely that purpose and for selling the State-owned companies.

Mr. J. Hynd

Surely the whole point is that the Board has been selected as a body which is capable and qualified to supervise technical efficiency, which has its repercussions on the financial position of the concern; whereas the Agency, as far as we can discover from the Bill, has no such qualifications, but is purely a financial holding company?

Mr. Sandys

We are assuming that these companies have competent boards of directors at present and that they will continue to have. I think the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) would be the first to agree—in fact he has said so on a number of occasions—that the Corporation does not constantly interfere in the internal arrangements of its companies; I do not see that the need is going to arise in the case of the Agency companies.

We maintain that there will be ample safeguard for the financial stake of the nation in these companies through the Agency and through the various Treasury approvals which have to be obtained in regard to the Agency's activities.

8.30 p.m.

The Bill also provides that, on technical matters or decisions which might have technical repercussions, such as amalgamations and groupings, the Agency must consult the Board before acting. But we do not see any sound reason to provide in the Bill for the Agency's companies to be supervised by the Board differently from other companies in the iron and steel industry.

In the White Paper which we issued last July we made this position clear. We said we considered that they ought to be treated on the same footing as other companies. Perhaps I should read one short sentence in the White Paper: It is intended that, pending disposal, companies owned by the Agency should operate as far as possible on the same footing as their privately owned competitors, and should stand in the same relationship as the latter to the Iron and Steel Board. If we adopted the Amendment it would run exactly counter to that intention. It would result in special supervision over the Agency's companies and it would impose upon the Board a special duty in respect of the Agency's companies which it has not been given for the rest of the industry. It would, in fact, introduce differential treatment. We believe that to be unsound and, therefore, feel unable to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Hynd

The right hon. Gentleman says that there is no real distinction and that this would introduce a differential, but there is a differential in the responsibility of the two groups of concerns. Does not the Minister see the possibility that in one of these subsidiary concerns the directors, who might be interested in buying the concern from the Agency at a subsequent date, might be reluctant, to put it mildly, to go in for development which the Board might think desirable, and which might be desirable, because that development might affect the price at which they would later have to buy the concern?

Mr. Sandys

I do not think the Board will be concerned with the price at which companies can be sold. The Agency will be responsible for that. If the Board, in reviewing the production facilities of the industry, considers that any of the Agency's works need extension or modernisation, it will be perfectly free to propose them in the same way as it would be able to propose them in other parts of the industry. If any company was reluctant to carry out the developments recommended by the Board, I have no doubt that the Agency would ensure that they were carried out.

Mr. Hynd


Mr. Sandys

The Agency is the owner. I think the hon. Gentleman has the two bodies mixed up. The Agency is the owner of these companies. On the other hand, the companies are part of the iron and steel industry like any other iron and steel company and they will come under the supervision of the Board in the same way as any privately owned company. Under Clause 4 the Board will be able to exert pressure and persuasion upon Agency companies to expand, develop or modernise in the same way that they can upon any other company.

The hon. Gentleman did not seem to appreciate the point. After all, the Agency will be the owner and, if it thinks it right, it can ensure that the Board's recommendations are carried out in any of its companies. That does not involve imposing upon the Board special duties, special powers and special responsibility for one part of the industry which it does not possess for the rest.

Mr. Mitchison

I hope the Minister will reconsider this matter. I do not propose to take up time, but he knows quite well that under Clause 16 the Agency has to exercise its powers as a holding company so as to promote the efficient direction of its subsidiaries. This is not a question of day-to-day management. We are all agreed about that. This is a question of whether the Agency or the Board is the better body to exercise that duty.

Surely the Agency, the primary duty of which is to sell what it has, is not the best body to promote an efficient direction. The Agency are appointed by the Treasury under the Bill as it stands, and that indicates quite clearly the sort of appointment that is contemplated. They are not supposed to be people who are responsible to the Minister. They are responsible primarily to the Treasury, and their main job is to sell.

The Board has anyhow to supervise this sector of the industry, with others. The difference between this sector and other sectors is that this sector is only a disembodied shareholder—if I may put it that way. It is public shareholding, and surely, in the circumstances, whatever may have been said in the White Paper, it is mere common sense to let the body which has the technical duties and technical competence do what needs to be done towards efficient direction, instead of leaving that function tacked incongruously on the business of selling by a body appointed by the Treasury which, quite obviously, is not going to be a competent body for seeing to the efficient conduct of these rather technical enterprises.

I do not want to press the Minister unduly at this stage. I can hardly expect him to go back at once on what he has just said. However, I do ask him to consider, apart from the White Paper— after all, he can do that; there have been other changes from White Papers, and we have only to look at the case of the Transport Bill—what really is the most practical thing to do in running this public sector; and to bear in mind that, however confident he may feel at the moment that all these companies will be sold quickly, it is more than possible that there may be difficulty in selling them after my right hon. and hon. Friends' statements as to what they propose to do when they get back. It may well be, too, that what is left in public hands will be the difficult companies— the ones that it is hard to sell, and that do require pretty careful technical nursing.

Mr. Sandys

Perhaps I may just answer the points. The hon. and learned Gentleman raised two points. One was the question of competent management by the Agency, and the other was the question of the managerial duties which should be taken over by the Board— supervision—

Mr. Mitchison


Mr. Sandys

I think I have the hon. and learned Gentleman's point. Let me attempt to answer it. First of all, in regard to the question of the Agency's alleged inability to ensure competent management of these companies, one would think from the way the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke that these companies will be run entirely by the Agency from some central office in London. They are all great concerns with experienced boards of directors many of whom have been in charge for numbers of years.

There is no need, no necessity, for close technical supervision by the Agency. These companies are perfectly able to run their own technical side efficiently. The Board is not going to go into technical details. It is a broad policy-making body, and I really do not see that there is any case to be made out for bringing in additional supervision between that normally carried out by the Board and that done by the management of a company. There is really no case for it.

Mr. Mitchison

Would the Minister allow me to intervene now?

Mr. Sandys

We cannot go on with this all the evening.

Mr. Mitchison

It would not take me a minute.

Mr. Sandys

The other point is that we feel it is undesirable for the Board to get itself into a different position towards certain companies than towards other companies; in other words, that it should have a special semi-managerial responsibility for certain companies which it has not got for the others. That would be bound to impair its position as to the impartial arbiter over the whole industry on such matters as prices and development.

It is most undesirable, when the Board has to take a decision about development or prices, that it should have a special responsibility towards certain companies where it feels that its own reputation is to some extent pledged in a different way to the success of the project. If the Board is to be an impartial arbiter for the industry in these difficult matters, it is essential that its relation to all the companies should be precisely the same.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

I do not want to pursue this further. We disagree fundamentally here. We think that the only proper body to ensure that the publicly-owned companies, which we think will be the great bulk of the industry, and which may be in the hands of the Agency for a long time, are under effective control is a body appointed for the purpose of promoting the efficient operation of their subsidiaries, for the purpose of getting efficient supervision over the industry, rather than the Treasury, whose sole purpose is to sell these companies. We will not take up the time of the Committee by dividing on this. I only say that we differ profoundly from the conclusion the Minister has reached, and we may pursue the matter at a later stage.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Low

I beg to move, in page 4, line 4, at the end to insert: Provided that the duty of the Board with respect to the arrangements specified in paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) hereof, other than arrangements for the promotion of research shall not apply in relation to any undertaking in whose case—

  1. (i) the Board are satisfied that the main activities of the undertaking are not part of the iron and steel industry, and that the only activities of the undertaking which form part of the iron and steel industry are activities included in paragraph 4 of the Third Schedule to this Act and are incidental to the main activities of the undertaking; and
  2. 1293
  3. (ii) the Board, after consultation with such organisations representative of employers and such organisations representative of workers employed in the undertaking as the Board consider appropriate, are satisfied that the arrangements, as respects such incidental activities, for joint consultation between the employer and the said workers form part of general arrangements for such consultation applicable to the main activities of the undertaking.

This Amendment covers a comparatively narrow point, and I think it is unlikely to be controversial. Its object is to avoid the duplication of functions inside engineering and other works—not iron and steel works—where there happens to be a foundry as an incidental part of the main works. I am sure the Committee will agree with us that it is undesirable that there should be any duplication in important matters of industrial relations covered by subsection (1) (d), (e) and (f).

The fear has been expressed to us that in the case of a foundry tied to an engineering works or other big works the Board's supervisory duties under these three paragraphs relating to training, education, health, safety, welfare and joint consultation generally might cut across existing machinery in those works for dealing with those questions, and by cutting across the existing machinery might complicate, and even perhaps jeopardise, the proper working of that machinery. We hope—and we believe from our consultations that our hopes will be fulfilled —that this Amendment will remove those fears. We do not think that the Board would have interfered in these matters in such cases, but we agree that it is as well to make that clear in the Bill. I think I ought to explain in a little detail how the proviso does eliminate the duplication which we think might have taken place.

8.45 p.m.

Under the Bill as at present drawn, the Board has the duty to keep under review under paragraphs (d) and (e) arrangements for the promotion of training, education, health, safety and welfare in the industry. It has also the duty to keep under review arrangements for joint consultation in factories in the industry. The difference between the duty under (d) and (e), on the one hand, and under (f), on the other, is that the duty under (d) and (e) relates to the arrangements for the promotion of general collective arrangements in the industry, whereas the duty under (f) relates to what is going on in the actual factory.

This proviso will ensure that the Board shall not concern themselves with these matters of training, education, health, safety and welfare, and joint consultation generally, in relation to individual firms, if the Board is satisfied on two counts. The first count is that the manufacturer's main business is engineering or anything else other than iron and steel making, and its only iron and steel activities are foundry activities which are incidental to the main engineering or other activities.

The second count about which the Board has to be satisfied is that after consultation with the organisations representative of employers and workers of that undertaking—and I draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) to this, in view of what he said yesterday—they are satisfied that in that factory machinery already exists for dealing with such matters, and that this machinery embraces the workers in the foundry.

The principle behind the Amendment is that we want to avoid duplication inside the factory. The test, therefore, is: does the machinery that exists in the factory cover workers in the foundry? If it does, then, in our opinion, the Iron and Steel Board should not be concerned. As the Committee knows, that does not mean that no one is concerned with these matters. We know well that these important matters are in such cases looked after by engineering and other industry arrangements.

Mr. Lee

I think that we should support this Amendment. The reasons given by the Parliamentary Secretary are very sound, and, from my experience of the type of factory which he has in mind —the factory to which there is a big foundry attached—I agree that in such foundries there are, as a general rule, pretty good educational and safety standards, which are probably higher than the average for which one can hope in the industry itself.

I wish to make one point so far as educational training is concerned. I know that many of these factories, where quite considerable sums are spent on educational work, are very annoyed at times because, having done quite a lot of work in training their people, the rest of the industry then benefits from that training by offering them pretty decent jobs in other factories at the expense of the particular factory which has improved the general standard of efficiency. I wonder whether the Board could do anything about that. I should have thought that it was not enough merely to act on size or on the fact that there is some type of organisation in which the workers take part in a particular factory. I should have thought that the general level of educational work should also guide the Board in its decisions as to whether it should intervene or not.

Unless we do that we may find that there are attached to factories foundries which are in the nature of Cinderellas. The educational work which plays such an important part in other sections of factories does not seem to have reached the innermost recesses of the foundries. I hope the Minister will agree that it is not sufficient to ascertain merely whether or not there exists an organisation catering for education; it is necessary to ascertain the performance which the educational facility has brought about. The Minister should look at the problem from that point of view, and should bear in mind that it is not very encouraging for a firm to spend a large amount of money on educational work if the effort of the remainder of the industry is at a very low level and if it is simply to lose its own personnel when it has made them really efficient.

On the whole the Amendment is a good one. It is wise not to deter firms who are prepared to educate their people to a level above the average for the industry and not to give them the impression that their educational facilities can be brought down to the average for the industry as a whole. For those reasons. the Opposition welcome the Amendment and, apart from the matter which I have mentioned, we hope that it will be incorporated in the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 4, after the words last inserted, to insert: (2) For the purpose of performing their duty under paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of the preceding subsection the Board shall in every year by notice published in such manner and form as they shall think fit call on each iron and steel producer to submit to the Board within such time as may be specified in the notice and each iron and steel producer shall thereupon submit to the Board accordingly a report of his plans for maintaining and developing the productive capacity of his undertaking, of any arrangements he has made or proposes to make for the procurement or distribution by or to his undertaking of raw materials and fuel for use in his undertaking or in any proposed extension thereof and of the effect of any of the foregoing on the prices he charges or proposes to charge for any iron and steel products; and the Board, having regard to such reports, shall prepare and from time to time or whenever so required by the Minister, submit to the Minister and publish their development plans for the iron and steel industry. For well over five hours we have listened to a debate upon a series of Amendments moved by my right hon. and hon. Friends, all designed to achieve a purpose which we have so far failed to achieve, and that is to make of the Board a really effective instrument to safeguard the national interests. All our Amendments have been rejected, and as I have listened to the debate the conviction has grown upon me that the only really operative Clause is the one which transfers the industry back to private ownership, and that the rest of the Bill is window-dressing.

We have frequently heard that what the Government propose to do is to hand the industry back to free enterprise. I claim only a family connection with the industry. One of my brothers worked in a tinplate factory as a behinder until he was advised by his doctor that it would be much healthier for him to go to the coal mines. Three of my sisters worked in tinplate works, one for 20 years, as plate openers. I remember when the tinplate industry was a family industry. I have seen it growing. Before the war it had become a closely organised industry in which there was no real free enterprise in the true sense of the term.

We know that it is now an industry which is owned by large aggregations of capital. We also know that effective control over many of its units has passed to the City of London. The effective control is not in Rotherham or other such places. Therefore, we have here an industry organised in large aggregations of capital and getting ever larger and ever more subject to State control, and, at the same time, a weak Board. It is for these reasons that we have sought in the course of the debate, by means of a series of Amendments, to make the Board an effective instrument, and we have failed.

There is one encouraging feature in our debates today. In the early part of our discussions particularly there was the recognition by hon. Members opposite that this was only a temporary Bill between nationalisation and re-nationalisation. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) and other hon. Members opposite will bear me out that there has been throughout our discussions a recognition that in the not-too-distant future we shall be on the Government side of the Committee again, and the whole of this Bill will be forgotten.

Mr. Shepherd

I hope the right hon. Gentleman is not ascribing that view to me. I take the contrary opinion—that when this Bill has passed and has been four or five years in operation, even the right hon. Gentleman will not want to come to this House to repeal it.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. George Thomas)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) will leave that topic and come to this particular Amendment.

Mr. Griffiths

Very well, then. This Amendment is one further attempt to give this Board some really effective power. In this Amendment we lay upon the Board the obligation to call upon the iron and steel producers to submit to the Board a report of their plan for the industry, and following receipt of that information the Board will submit their development plans to the Minister as well as publish them. In effect, what this would do is to make the Board responsible to the Minister and the Minister responsible to Parliament for the development plans.

To be really effective, the Board will need power to ensure the development of this industry in the future. We suggest that that should be done for two reasons. First, we believe that this industry is vital to the economy of the nation. We are facing a period in this country when we shall have to recast our economy and industrial life. We may have to change a good deal of the pattern of our trade. We know perfectly well that in any plans we may adopt the expansion of iron and steel is absolutely essential, and our prosperity as a nation, our ability to win and maintain our independence and feed the 50 million people in this country will depend upon the industry being developed in such a way that it will be adequate to the nation's needs.

We think, therefore, that this Board ought to be given the power suggested in this Amendment so that the Government and the nation will be assured that this industry will develop at a rate and in such a way as to serve the national needs. There is nothing in this Bill that gives the Board such a power, which is why we believe that the ideas contained in this Amendment are absolutely essential if we are to ensure that there is public control.

I do not think anyone will deny that we cannot entrust the future economic well-being of this nation to the private owners of iron and steel. May I interpolate this remark? We all know that in the last six years when we have been battling for our economic independence, we have been sorely handicapped because coal and steel were allowed to run into decay in the 20s and 30s. So, learning from the lessons of history, it is quite clear that we cannot entrust this industry to private owners. We must have public supervision, and the only way that is possible in the context of this Bill—we know a better day of doing it; we did it ourselves—is to ensure that this Board has the power to call for development plans from the owners, and then has laid upon it the obligation to submit to the Minister its plans for the national development of iron and steel.

9.0 p.m.

That is the first point. The second point is that this industry is going through a great technical revolution. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) is here, because he said something that I shall want to discuss with the Committee, and in particular with him.

I see this technical revolution happening in the area I come from. Some hon. Members do not know what this revolution means. I should like them to come with me to my village and to go to an old tinplate works. Some of these tinplate works are still working but some, alas, will be working for the last time tomorrow. They would see men working in the old plants, and a few hundred yards away they could go to the new plants and see the effect of the great technical revolution.

This fact makes it even more urgent and important that there shall be public supervision of the development of this industry, because these technical developments have most alarming social consequences. In a sparsely attended House the other night we had a debate about Wales, and the Home Secretary, speaking in his capacity as Minister for Welsh Affairs, spoke about this problem, with the Minister of Supply sitting by his side. He told us the story, and gave us some simple figures, of the development in one part of this industry, one section in one corner of the country.

This is what it means: By the end of this week, seven old tinplate works will close down entirely, three will close down partially, and 2,400 men will go on the road. These men have given their lives to the industry. They are skilled men. The hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) knows that they have served very efficiently, and he knows the kind of man who is now going on the road.

That is the beginning. Within two years of now, we are told, there will be further closures and the redundancy will reach 5,000. We are told that in five years, when the further new plant at Velindre comes into operation, the redundancy will reach 12,000. I therefore urge the Committee to remember that when we talk of developments in this industry we are talking in the middle of a technical and technological revolution which has serious social consequences.

The hon. Member for Hall Green, discussing the Board and its powers, said that in his view it was the business of the Minister and not of the Board to look after the social consequences. Surely the Minister ought to examine development plans to see what the social consequences will be before the plans are carried out in detail.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I entirely agree.

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Member comes from Merthyr Tydvil. He knows very well that one company changed its steel works from Merthyr to Cardiff and threw his town, the town of his forbears, into poverty for more than a generation. Therefore, we say, because of this technical revolution, that to entrust this industry to a Board without real, adequate and effective control is contrary to the national interest. It is the duty of the Government to see the consequences of any plan before they begin the first step. There is placed upon us the duty to ensure that in the development of this industry the national interest and the community interest are safeguarded.

Let us see what happens. A company sinks £x million in a steel works in Merthyr or in Llanelly and later, since there is no effective control, closes down and completely destroys all the social capital invested as a result of years of striving and saving by hundreds of thousands of fine people. I have seen it happening. Remembering history, realising that we are in the middle of a great technological revolution and that this industry is essential to the well-being of our nation, we have made it plain what we shall do when we get back into office.

In the meantime, the Government have said that they cannot entrust this industry to uncontrolled private enterprise. Even the Conservative Party dare not set the steel industry free. So there must be public supervision. If there is to be public supervision, let it be effective and not a sham. By refusing to accept our Amendments, the Government will make this Board too weak, too ineffective to control great masses of capital. I can see a supervising Board controlling large numbers of small family concerns, but up against great combinations of capital a Board of this kind would be weak and ineffective.

For all those reasons, we say that the Board must have obligations placed upon it and power given to it. We say that this Amendment ought to be accepted by the Government because its acceptance is necessary to give the Board even the minimum of power required to enable it to fulfil its purpose.

Mr. Robson Brown

I feel impelled to rise to speak for a moment or two in order to follow the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). I thank him for his kindly references to myself and tell him that my many happy years in Llanelly are amongst my dearest memories. The men he praised, I also praise, and the men he admires, I also admire. Yet he would be the first to admit that the impact of modern technological development must inevitably have meant the closing of those old works. It was due to the march of progress.

I also want to pay tribute tonight to John Brown, the late Secretary of the British Iron and Steel Confederation, who, before the war, travelled all through South Wales and spoke to every branch of his union in every section of the Principality after his visit to the United States of America, explaining that strip mills had come, and had come to stay, and that it was no use anyone shutting their eyes or playing King Canute.

The right hon. Gentleman will also agree from his own personal knowledge that since the war there has been the closest collaboration between all the employers and the responsible trade associations of South Wales with the responsible leaders of the industry in regard to the impact of the erection of additional strip mills and tinplate plant in South and West Wales. This Committee and the public should not get the impression that these works have been lightly or irresponsibly closed down. There was no alternative. If Margam or Trostre had not been built—

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

Order. I do not think this Amendment permits the discussion of the closing down of various works. The Amendment deals with the power of the Board.

Mr. Robson Brown

I will control myself, Mr. Hopkin Morris, and keep strictly to the Amendment.

I say again with regard to the power of the Board, as I have said in previous speeches tonight on the question of responsibility and public responsibility, that there is no steel company in the country which would deliberately, impossibly and without thought close down any plant without full, prior and ample notice to the men and to their leaders. It is axiomatic and is part of the new tradition of industry in industry's relationship to the unions and to the men. The right hon. Member for Llanelly can accept my assurance on this if he accepts it on no other point. I remind him that on Second Reading I laid the utmost stress on the paramount importance of full and ample notice being given to the men for the reasons for closing down and of discussing with them any possible alternatives.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is back on the same issue. What the Amendment proposes to deal with is to give power to the Board to demand plans.

Mr. Robson Brown

I accept your correction, Mr. Hopkin Morris.

The Board in this matter would, I believe, accept a general responsibility as part of its overall responsibility in examining the developments of the industry, as is provided specifically under its duties. I understand and would imagine that the Board would effectively deal with this problem of redundancy of plant anywhere in the steel industry, and would see that justice was done to the men in the best possible manner.

Mr. Jack Jones

I support the very eloquent plea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and will confine myself rigidly to the Amendment. We started off the debate with everybody giving a guarantee that they would be completely fair, and I want to bring the average back again if it has fallen.

We have had from my right hon. Friend an exposition of the present position in South Wales and a request that there should be this planning and the right to have planned arrangements known from the various companies. Had we had that sort of thing when we should have had it, the facts that we have had described to us could not possibly have happened.

I want to say just a word about how the position could have been obviated had we had some previous planning. In the part of South Wales from which this plan is being demanded, there is plant which is producing quite an amount of crude ingot steel. Immediately it comes into operation, if it has the power, by planning quickly the Board could obviate a lot of the evils that now exist. Instead of increasing production elsewhere in the country, it could divert some of the increase to a new form of production in the works concerned in South Wales.

That brings me to the point that the Board should have the power that we suggest to enable itself not only to ask for a plan, but to have some power to implement it in the interests of the people, in the manner described by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Chetwynd

The Amendment would affect not only the well being of South Wales, but would affect the future of every steel area in the country. There is much obsolete plant on the North-East Coast as well as in South Wales and other places.

The point I wish to make is that in considering development, the Board must take into account, not only replacements, but those plants which are to be closed down altogether. Therefore, our view all along has been that one of the major benefits of the nationalisation of this industry was that where it was necessary to close down redundant and obsolete plants, it was right that the State, through the Board and through the Minister responsible, should have the job of seeing that the livelihood of the men affected should as far as possible be made good.

It is essential under the new conditions in which this Board will operate in a free enterprise industry, when that industry says it must close down certain works or build modern works employing fewer people and thereby causing unemployment and redundancy, that the Board should have responsibility for these arrangements so that it may notify the Minister in advance and that proper plans may be arranged on behalf of those to be displaced. We should give the Government a specific social responsibility for the well being of these areas. Pre-war the responsibility was ignored and large areas of destitution were left.

9.15 p.m.

A development plan is in existence. It was brought in by the British Iron and Steel Federation in 1945–46. I wonder whether that would have been done if there had not been a Labour Government and no promise or threat of nationalisation. In any case there will be a development plan for this industry. It will be drawn up and put into operation by the component firms, unless something like this is done by Steel House, with no State responsibility. Surely if such a major development as that, which will affect the livelihood and economic future of our country—not for five or 10 years but something like 50 years—is to take place, this Board should be responsible for it and responsible to the Minister. In order to stress that aspect we feel that the eloquent plea made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) should be accepted by the Committee.

Mr. Low

The discussion has centred on the general purpose of the Amendment without concentrating on its details. Therefore, I wish to deal with one or two of the points that have been made on the background to this Amendment.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), whom I am glad to see making his debut in this Committee stage, began rather falsely by saying that a great many Amendments had been moved by hon. Members opposite and that we had accepted none—

Mr. J. Griffiths

I did not say "none."

Mr. Low

The right hon. Member said "none," but I do not think he meant it, and he somewhat shocked his hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow), who had just had an Amendment accepted. The whole Committee have been engaged yesterday and today in seeing that the Board shall be an effective instrument. Where we differ sometimes is as to the way in which that should be brought about. Although I shall suggest to the Committee that we should resist the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, I hope to be able to show him that they are adequately covered in other parts of the Bill.

On the point made by the right hon. Member about his own constituency of Llanelly and the special problem in connection with the tinplate industry, of course we recognise that there has been a technical revolution. I well remember the debate a week ago when we were discussing Welsh affairs. I do not think I need add to anything that was said then, but I ought to make two points, one of them in reply to the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones). The decision to build at Trostre was taken in 1947 or 1948. I do not think the hon. Gentleman meant it when we said that if this Clause had been in operation in 1948 the difficulties today would not have come about. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that this is wider than just an iron and steel problem. The new tinplate works at Trostre were built there rather than at some other place at the request of the Government. That is an example of the point made by the hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) and other of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee that the steel industry has shown a very lively social consciousness of the problems facing us all.

It is our view that the Board are already able—or will be if our proposed new Clause on the furnishing of information is accepted—to get information about forecasts of development capacity, and so on. It is also laid down that the Board, in carrying out their duties under Clause 4, shall consult with the industry and with representatives of appropriate organisations. In that way the Board will become well acquainted with the development plans of the industry and will be able to exercise their influence on those plans at all stages.

This Amendment seeks to make it mandatory on the Board that, in every year by notice published in such manner and form as they shall think fit call on each iron and steel producer to submit to the Board— and so on. Every year the Board would have to seek information from the iron and steel producers. We have sought to give the Board power to get information as they want it. We rely on what we all know will happen, that a general consultation will go on between the Board and industry. We do not consider it right to accept this Amendment which might result in the Board having to ask for information just for the sake of asking.

Reference was made to the importance of the development schemes of the industry. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd)—I think I have heard him make the point before—asked the Committee to believe that the publication of the 1945 iron and steel development programme was due to the fact that a Labour Government was in office. The Committee knows better than that. They know it was as a result of the request made to the industry by the Government of my right hon. Friend, which was in office before the Labour Government came to power. That was an example of a development plan made by the industry voluntarily, and there has been another one during the last year.

We are convinced that all the information the Board will require can already be obtained under the Bill. We should not forget the information which will come its way under Clause 5—the development consent Clause. We do not see any necessity for the first part of this proposed subsection. Nor do we see any necessity for the last three lines which read: … the Board, having regard to such reports, shall prepare and from time to time or when ever so required by the Minister, submit to the Minister and publish their development plans for the iron and steel industry. If the Committee will turn to Clause 14 (5) they will find there that the Board has a duty to furnish to the Minister any information required by him for the purposes of any of his functions under this Act which is in their possession or which it is within their power to obtain. The Minister has certain functions under Clause 4 which are very closely concerned with development, and for the carrying out of which functions he must have information about general development plans. We have no doubt that under the combination of Clause 14 (5) and Clause 4 (2) the Minister can already get from the Board, and the Board must already give to the Minister, the information of the kind that is dealt with in this Amendment. I therefore ask the Committee to reject the Amendment for the reasons I have given, without, however, detracting from the importance of many of the points that the right hon. Gentleman made in his speech.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

The Parliamentary Secretary has, as usual, made a very agreeable speech but he has not dealt with the Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) moved an Amendment which we think of very great importance. The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that the Board shall from time to time prepare a development plan for the industry.

The first part of the Amendment deals with the gathering of information for the purpose of making such a plan. If we are told, as the Parliamentary Secretary told us, that in other parts of the Bill the Board can already gather such information as is required for general purposes, that may be so, but that is not the crux of the Amendment. Anybody who reads it can see that the crux of the Amendment is in the last three lines, placing on the Board this particular responsibility. The Parliamentary Secretary did not even mention that aspect of the matter.

I do not want to repeat the arguments of my hon. Friends, but we say this: someone ought to prepare a development plan for the industry. In the past a development plan has been prepared by the Iron and Steel Federation before there was any Board or Corporation or any such body. If the Parliamentary Secretary had said, "Let Steel House prepare these plans in the future" I could have understood it. I can quite understand an argument of that sort, although I do not agree with it. But the Parliamentary Secretary did not even advocate that. He did not tell us who were to prepare the plans. He did not suggest that the Minister would do it or that Steel House would do it.

We say that these plans should be prepared and that the appropriate body should be the Board, if the Board is really going to be of any use at all. The more we go into the Bill, the more we are convinced that the Board is going to be of no use and will have no authority or power. We say: here is an opportunity to give it certain authority and a certain responsibility which is not going to be a tiresome interference. Give it the job of preparing the development plans for the industry for the next five

years, or seven years, or whatever it thinks appropriate. Let it do it from time to time, and not at any specific period. This will give it an important and responsible job to do.

9.30 p.m.

There will be on this Board representatives not only of this industry but of consumer interests and of the workers —a semi-independent body charged with a public duty. This is a job which the Board should do and which it should do from time to time whenever it thinks it necessary. We are told that the Board shall not do this job, but we are not told who is to do it in the future, or whether anybody is. The industry or, Steel House may say, "There are other people who are responsible; the Board exists and the Minister exists." The Minister may put the responsibility on to somebody else. We do not know; but we say it is essential for the industry, for those who work in it and for the welfare of the nation, that the responsibility should be pinpointed on somebody, and the proper people to bear this responsibility is the Board.

In view of the most unsatisfactory information which has been given by the Government on this most important matter, we have no alternative but to divide the Committee on this Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 220; Noes, 245.

Division No. 68.] AYES [9.31 p.m.
Adams, Richard Callaghan, L. J. Edwards, John (Brighouse)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Carmichael, J. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Castle, Mrs. B. A. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Champion, A. J. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Awbery, S. S. Chapman, W. D. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Bacon, Miss Alice Chetwynd, G. R. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)
Baird, J. Clunie, J. Fernyhough, E.
Bartley, P. Coldrick, W. Fienburgh, W.
Ballenger, Rt. Hon F. J Collick, P. H. Finch, H. J.
Bence, C. R. Corbet, Mrs. Freda Fletcher, Erie (Islington, E.)
Benn, Wedgwood Cove, W. G. Follick, M.
Beswick, F. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Foot, M. M.
Bing, G. H. C. Crosland, C. A. R. Forman, J. C.
Blackburn, F. Crossman, R. H. S. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Blenkinsop, A. Cullen, Mrs. A. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Blyton, W. R. Daines, P. Gibson, C. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Glanville, James
Bowden, H. W. Darling, George (Hillsborough) Gooch, E. G.
Bowles, F. G. de Freitas, Geoffrey Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)
Brockway, A. F. Deer, G. Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Delargy, H. J. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dodds, N. N. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James Llanelly)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Donnelly, D. L. Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Burton, Miss F. E. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hale, Leslie
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, G.) Edelman, M. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Messer, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Hamilton, W. W. Mikardo, Ian Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Hannan, W. Mitchison, G R Sparks, J. A.
Hargreaves, A. Monslow, W. Steele, T.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E) Moody, A. S. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hastings, S. Morley, R. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hayman, F. H. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Strauss Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Herbison, Miss M. Moyle, A. Swingler, S. T.
Hewitson, Capt. M Mulley, F. W. Sylvester, G. O.
Hobson, C. R. Murray, J. D. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Nally, W. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Houghton, Douglas Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) O'Brien, T. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oldfield, W. H Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Oliver, G. H Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Orbach, M. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Oswald. T. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paget, R. T. Thornton, E.
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Thurtle, Ernest
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Palmer, A. M. F. Timmons, J
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Pannell, Charles Turner-Samuels, M.
Janner, B. Pargiter, G. A. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Paton, J. Viant, S. P.
Jeger, George (Goole) Peart, T. F. Wallace, H. W.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Popplewell, E. Watkins, T. E.
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Porter, G. Weitzman, D.
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wells, William (Walsall)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Proctor, W. T. West, D. G.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Pryde, D. J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Keenan, W. Pursey, Cmdr. H Wheeldon, W. E.
Kenyon, C. Rankin, John Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reeves, J. Wigg, George
King, Dr. H. M. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Reid, William (Camlachie) Wilkins, W. A.
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Richards, R. Willey, F. T.
Lindgren, G. S. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Williams, David (Neath)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
MacColl, J. E. Ross, William Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
McInnes, J. Shackleton, E. A A. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
McLeavy, F. Short, E. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Shurmer, P. L. E. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Mainwaring, W. H. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Wyatt, W. L.
Mann, Mrs. Jean Slater, J. Yates, V. F.
Manuel, A. C. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Mayhew, C. P. Snow, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. A. Allen.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Bullock, Capt. M. Fisher, Nigel
Alport, C. J. M. Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Butcher, Sir Herbert Fletcher-Cooke, C
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Carr, Robert Fort, R.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J Carson, Hon, E. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Arbuthnot, John Cary, Sir Robert Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Channon, H. Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Gammans, L. D.
Baldwin, A. E. Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Garner-Evans, E. H.
Banks, Col. C. Cole, Norman George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd
Barber, Anthony Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Godber, J. B.
Barlow, Sir John Cooper, Sqd. Ldr. Albert Gomme-Duncan, Col. A
Baxter, A. B. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Gough, C. F. H.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Cranborne, Viscount Gower, H. R.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Graham, Sir Fergus
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Gridley, Sir Arnold
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Crouch, R. F. Grimston, Sir Robert Westbury)
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Birch, Nigel Davidson, Viscountess Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Bishop, F. P. Deedes, W. F. Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Black, C. W. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hay, John
Boothby, R. J. G. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Heald, Sir Lionel
Bossom, A. C. Donner, P. W. Heath, Edward
Bowen, E. R. Doughty, C. J. A. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Higgs, J. M. C.
Boyle, Sir Edward Drayson, G. B. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Braine, B. R. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hirst, Geoffrey
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N, W.) Duthie, W. S. Hollis, M. C.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)
Brooman-While, R. C. Erroll, F. J. Holt, A. F.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Finlay, Graeme Hope, Lord John
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Horobin, I. M. Maude, Angus Shepherd, William
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Medlicott, Brig. F. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Mellor, Sir John Snadden, W. McN
Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Molson, A. H. E. Soames, Capt. C.
Hurd, A. R. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Spearman, A. C. M.
Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Speir, R. M.
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Nabarro, G. D. N. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Nicholls, Harmar Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Stevens, G. P.
Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Nield, Basil (Chester) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Jennings, R. Nugent, G. R. H. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Oakshott, H. D. Storey, S.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Odey, G. W Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Jones, A. (Hall Green) O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Keeling, Sir Edward Orr. Capt. L. P. S. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Kerr, H. W. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Lambert, Hon. G Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare) Teeling, W.
Lambton, Viscount Osborne, C. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Perkins, W. R. D. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Peto, Brig. C. H. M Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Linstead, H. N. Peyton, J. W. W. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Llewellyn, D. T. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Turner, H. F. L.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Turton, R. H.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Powell, J. Enoch Vane, W. M. F.
Longden, Gilbert Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Vosper, D. F.
Low, A. R. W. Profumo, J. D. Wade, D. W.
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Raikes, Sir Victor Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Rayner, Brig. R. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Redmayne, M. Walker-Smith, D. C.
McAdden, S. J. Remnant, Hon. P Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Renton, D. L. M. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Macdonald, Sir Peter Roberts, peter (Heeley) Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Mackeson, Brig, H. R. Robertson, Sir David Wellwood, W.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Robson-Brown, W. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Maclean, Fitzroy Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Roper, Sir Harold Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Wills, G.
Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Russell, R. S. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Wood, Hon. R.
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur York, C.
Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Markham, Major S. F. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Marlowe, A. A. H Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Mr. Drewe and Mr. Kaberry.
Marples, A. E. Scott, R. Donald
The Deputy-Chairman

The next Amendment is that proposed to page 4, line 10. The Committee may find it convenient to discuss with this the proposed amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), to Clause 4, page 5, line 24, at the end, to insert: (5) The Board may appoint a director of any company (notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in that company's Articles of Association) with which arrangements are made under this section.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 10, at the end, to insert: (3) The Board may, with the approval of the Minister, and shall if so directed by the Minister appoint—

  1. (a) a director of any company (notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in that company's Articles of Association) which is an iron and steel producer or a representative organisation; or
  2. 1312
  3. (b) a member of any representative organisation other than a company:
Provided that no appointment shall be made under this subsection unless the Board shall have reported to the Minister that in the opinion of the Board such an appointment is required to enable or assist the Board to perform their duty under subsection (1) of their functions under subsection (2) of this section. I think your suggestion, Mr. Hopkin Morris, would meet the wishes of the Committee. I doubt if it is in order, but I am sure you too, Mr. Hopkin Morris, would wish me to take this opportunity, on behalf of us all, of wishing a happy birthday to your predecessor in the Chair.

I am not wildly enthusiastic about the device suggested in this Amendment. I believe that some of my hon. Friends—and apparently some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite-to be more for this device than I am willing to be. I make that confession so that the Minister may find that the Amendment commends itself better to him. So far as the other Amendment, that we can discuss at the same time, goes, that is related to a Clause the purpose of which is to enable the Board to appoint a director of any company which is being used to provide additional production facilities. I should think that if the proposals here made are valid, they would have particular weight in regard to the second of the Amendments.

However, as far as this Amendment is concerned, this is how I see it. I have listened to the Minister in his repeated explanations of the purpose of this Bill, and, as I understand it, the broad purpose of the Bill is to afford people opportunity to make profit out of the iron and steel industry. That is its major purpose. That is why the Bill is brought before this Committee. Its dynamic is to afford those opportunities for private profit making, and that being so the Minister quite willingly concedes that there is a case for the supervision of the industry. I cannot say for the control of the industry, because the Minister says that it is quite as effective to guide the industry. He says that for this purpose we have a Board consisting of a body of persons with wide experience entrusted with the public responsibility of guiding the industry, which public responsibility is defined in this Clause. So that there is no issue between the two sides of the Committee that this Board should have this general supervisory power over the industry.

This Amendment is to facilitate that general supervision of the industry. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee and many people outside the Committee have discussed the various techniques of exercising such control as this. Some Members of my own party have expressed the view that many of the irritations of such a control, recognised on both sides of the Committee as being necessary in this case, could be avoided if the Board had power to nominate directors to the boards of the companies. On this side of the Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) has expressed himself very clearly in the New Fabian Essays which, no doubt, the Minister will have been studying during the Recess, to keep in touch with progressive thought. The proposal is that if we have public companies then a lot of the irritations of the devices of licences and development councils and the like can be avoided—if we had a real, live, association through the link—I think that is the best way to put it—the link of a member of the board of a company appointed by the supervising Board.

9.45 p.m.

I personally have had some small experience of this sort of relationship. I was put on to a board by the President of the Board of Trade. I served on the North-Eastern Trading Estate Company, and I found this a very useful and happy relationship. I went on to a board which felt a considerable sense of grievance and annoyance with the controlling Department. I was not paid any emoluments, of course, so as to avoid any question of disqualification from this House, but I was there as a link, and I think that a lot of matters that might have caused irritation were avoided through this device. This proposal is made with every safeguard. It is made quite clear that no such appointment should be made unless the Minister felt that it ought to be made. It is also made clear that if the Minister felt that an appointment could profitably be made, then, because of the way we have drafted our Amendment, it would have to be made harmoniously, in line with the wishes of the board.

This is a serious practical proposal which merits the consideration of the Minister. It is something which should commend itself to hon. Members opposite, because it pays respect to the corporate feeling that there is, or ought to be, on the board of a company. It seeks to avoid many of the irritations which must follow from the machinery of control by putting in the human link, not of a yes-man, but, I should hope, a man of independent views, but yet who is knowledgeable in the general views and desires of the Board. If the Minister has not had an adequate opportunity to discuss this so-far, I hope that he will at any rate say it is an idea which commends itself to him, and that if he cannot accept it now he will consider it between now and the Report stage.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to express our reaction to this, Amendment now, in view of the hour, as I feel sure that the Committee desires, if it can, to reach the end of this Clause this evening.

I am sure the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) will not be surprised to hear that the Government cannot accept this Amendment. They have given very careful consideration to it. The proposal is quite simple and clear in its terms on the Order Paper. As I understand it, it is limited to the appointment of one director of a company or member of a representative organisation. We are not here considering the case of a company of the sort of which the hon. Gentleman was a member. We are considering the question of the appointment, at the direction of the Minister or by the Board with the approval of the Minister, of a director on to a board of a public company. I feel sure the Committee will recognise that such a course of action would involve very great interference with the rights of shareholders in a public company, and with the rights of members of an organisation.

In the life of the late Government, we spent a considerable time reviewing and revising the Companies Acts. We passed a new Companies Act—I think a very good one—and one feature of that Act was that it greatly extended the degree of control which shareholders can exercise over directors. That was, I think, one of the good features of that particular Measure.

But this proposal which we are now considering would take away from the shareholders all control or say with regard to this particular director who is not to be appointed or even approved by them, but who is to be appointed by an outside body—the Board created under this Bill—either with the approval of the Minister or at the Minister's direction.

It seems to us that in principle this suggestion is very wrong. I do not doubt myself that, if this Amendment were accepted, in the ears of the Minister who exercised the power of securing the appointment of individuals to the boards of public companies there would echo the not unfamiliar cry of "Jobs for the boys."

There is one matter with which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North did not deal, and I think that it is a matter which we ought to consider, quite apart from the objections which I have so far advanced. What is this one director appointed to the Board of a public company to do? To whom is he to be responsible—the Board created under this Bill or the shareholders of the public company? Is he to fulfil the normal functions of a director of a public company? If so, there is no need for him to be appointed by the Board created under this Bill. But behind this proposal must lie the intention that the director appointed by the Board created under this Bill should do something in addition to performing the normal functions of a director of a public company.

The hon. Gentleman did not say so, but I think that behind his speech lay the idea that this appointed director would not only be responsible to the Board created under this Bill but should also report to that Board what happens at directors' meetings and as to the internal affairs of the company to which he was appointed director. If that is the case —and it seems to me that that must be the purpose because he cannot be intended to be there just to fulfil the normal functions of a director—then, to use plain language, the director so appointed to the Board of a public company would be acting no more and no less than as a spy—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or snooper."] —or something of that character.

I am trying to put my reasons as shortly and clearly as possible. I cannot believe that the exercise of any power of this sort by the Minister or by the Board under this Bill would be likely to create any harmony either on the board to which the gentleman was appointed or between that board of directors and the Board under this Bill. I think that it would be bound to lead to friction. We really do not want friction on a board of directors, and we certainly do not want friction between a board of directors and the Board under this Bill.

We had considerable discussion yesterday, and, I think, also today, as to the necessity of the Board which we are now creating acting as a corporate body, and for those appointed to this Board to be created by this Bill, because of their special knowledge, not acting as delegates or representatives of particular interests, but acting as a body. It is just as important that directors of a public company should act in a corporate capacity and not as representatives for outside interests.

I think that I have perhaps now summarised sufficiently the reasons which, after giving this matter very careful consideration, compel Her Majesty's Government to say that they must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Coupled with this Amendment, we were asked to consider a later Amendment on the Order Paper. The same points arise in that case, and I do not think it is necessary for me to repeat them for the purpose of indicating the Government's views in that connection.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

As we want to get on, I shall not reply to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, except to say that in relation to the other Amendment, which provides that the Board should have power to appoint directors where it provides new production facilities or takes over a factory, the right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have overlooked the fact that it is common practice for a bank when it provides money for a company—it has frequently happened in the iron and steel industry—to appoint a director to the board of the company because it has invested a large sum of money in it. However, we do not pursue that matter further now, although we may do so at a later stage. Nevertheless, that argument has been overlooked.

The Solicitor-General

I can deal very Shortly with that argument. The right hon. Gentleman falls into a fallacy when he refers to facilities in the earlier part of the Clause relating to the second Amendment. It is a little inconvenient to discuss it at the moment. Acquiring facilities does not mean acquiring a company.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Lee

I beg to move, in page 4, line 35, at the end, to add: and of persons employed in operating that process. Clause 3 (4) gives the Minister power to include, for the purposes of supervision and so on, new processes which do not appear in the Schedule. Before doing that, he has to consult the industrialists concerned in operating the process. The Amendment asks that the trade unions concerned, or the trade unionists employed upon those processes, should have rights of consultation similar to those of the employer.

After having heard throughout the Committee stage how important the Government feel it is that the trade unions should be consulted in all these matters, it is astounding that we should here have a most important issue upon which the trade unions are not consulted. We feel it would be wrong for the Government so early in the year to forget their New Year resolutions upon having been instructed to make sure that they keep on the right side of the trade unions so far as it is humanly possible for them to do so.

It may well be that the Minister will tell us that the Amendment, which originally had at the end the words, "or any other process producing as aforesaid similar products," would give the trade unions even greater facilities than the employers would have. Because of the greater risks the employees take and the greater stake they have in the changes which may affect their standard of living, I consider that they should have such facilities, but I will be charitable and only claim that we want fair play as between the employers and the trade unions. If the Minister would agree that the general principles contained in the Amendment could be incorporated in the Bill, I feel sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends would be prepared to accept such an undertaking.

Mr. Sandys

The Government will be happy to accept the Amendment in its revised form.

Amendment agreed to.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Mitchison

I beg to move, in page 4, line 35. at end, to add: (5) The Minister may at any time give to the Board any such directions as to the performance of their duty and functions under this section as he shall think fit in the national interest. Here is the last opportunity for the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to show that this Clause as a whole really means something and is going to have some effect. I have reason to suppose that I shall have the support of the hon. Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) because of what he said earlier, and I rather gather that the Minister said much the same. Let us see what we are trying to do.

For the purpose of this Amendment we are assuming that the Clause means something and that this poor, aimless, toothless wandering Board really has something to do. If that is so, we have already sternly refused to allow it to consider anything but efficient operation in the interests of the profits of the iron and steel industry. Any suggestion that it should look at the national interest was turned down with acclamation by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite on the ground that only the Minister could do it.

If I had to judge the likelihood of the Minister doing it through this particular Bill, I should have some doubts, but considering that there is practically nothing left for this poor Board by way even of a semblance of an eye with which to look beyond the immediate interests of the industry, perhaps, we had better take what little we can get. That must be, of course, the responsibility of the Minister whoever he may be. Let us look for a minute at what we can hope that this poor body may be left with.

I remember that in "Gulliver's Travels" there were some astronomers in Laputa who embarked upon most abstruse calculations, but had a most remarkable lack of common sense. Nobody ever entrusted them with anything to do. I do not know if the Board is going to be like those astronomers, but I have an uneasy feeling that its power to do anything will be equally restricted and it will tend to become more and more Laputan.

Let us give the Government credit for trying to give it some power—a little supervision and responsibility in some form or another for the industry as a whole. Let us remember that if there is a shadow of something in this supervision, if it is not a completely bogus facade, there must be consideration somewhere or another of the national interest. But we have been told that that cannot be. It is not that sort of a Board and, then, if it is not to do it, the Minister must. All we are asking is that the Minister may give such directions to the Board as to its performance of duty and functions as he shall think fit in the national interest.

I cannot see any logical objections to that except perhaps for two proposals. The first is that the Board has not got any duty or function and, therefore, it does not matter two pins what is done about them. The second one is that for some reason or another if it has duty and functions the national interest need not be considered.

I have been sadly disappointed as we went through this Clause. I hoped that we would get a little more behind this Board, a little more for them to do, not every Amendment perhaps, but something. Still, there it is. There are these high-sounding words, this "supervision," this "review of the industry." We ought to pass this Amendment or something of the sort, unless the national interest is to be completely neglected or unless we can completely identify the national interest with the interests of the iron and steel industry. I am not going into that point in great detail at this time of night.

There is a long history to this matter. It has been abundantly clear that not only in its dealings within this country but in its dealings outside this country the iron and steel industry and those who control it have rowed their own boat on their own course for their own advantage and that, in so doing, they have had little regard to the national interest as a whole. Whether they have run an efficient industry from the point of view of its existence, continuation and growth is a different matter. When it does come to the national interest, there are some queer tales about the past. I will not repeat them.

Let me put it only in this way: As was admitted earlier this evening, there are social interests, and even defence interests, which are out with the purview of the Board under this Clause, and which must be looked after by someone. The more powerful, the more efficient and the more private the industry, the more necessary it is that there should be public watch upon it in the national interest. Here is the last chance of putting some watch of that sort upon this Board. That is the reason why we move the Amendment.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Despite the expectation expressed by the hon. and learned, Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) that I shall give him my support on this Amendment, I must disappoint him. The problem is much more complicated than he has made it out to be. The theme of his speech and of the earlier speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was that economics are not everything. I agree with them entirely, but I would add the rider that economics are very important. We overthrow or disregard them at our very great peril.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering was right, there are social considerations, considerations of defence and even economic considerations which it is right should prevail in an industry such as this, but I expressed earlier the view that the proper person to give voice to those considerations and weigh them against other considerations is the Minister. It is my experience that when a Minister gives guidance of this kind to an industry, and not only to the iron and steel industry but to all industries, that guidance is heeded. I would concede that in certain matters such as defence, and even economics, there should be some sanction in the background, but the sanction provided for in the Amendment goes much too far. It is a very wide and rather blanketing sanction.

The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman rested entirely on the assumption that the Minister must of necessity act in the national interest. Far be for me to cast aspertions on the occupants of either Front Bench. I should not like them to think that I am in any way expressing disrespect for them. but in my experience Ministers are, like back benchers sometimes, rather frail and fragile creatures. Like us back benchers they are subject to great political pressures and it might so happen that a decision reached by a Minister ostensibly in the national interest was in fact in a political interest. I shall give one or two hypothetical instances drawn entirely from my imagination and which have no correspondence with fact.

It might be that in an industry over which a Minister has a power of direction the workers claim an increase of wage. It might possibly be that those workers have great political power and that the Minister, endowed with the power to give a direction, directs that industry to increase the wages and correspondingly to increase the prices of the products they sell. Or take the converse case. It might so happen that an industry, or a board supervising that industry, holds the view that the prices of its products on economic grounds should be increased, but the consumers complain and the consumers exercise great political pressure and, lo, the Minister endowed with the power of direction, comes along and says, "I direct you not to increase prices to that extent on grounds of national interest," when really it is on grounds of political interest.

In other words, when once we depart from the economic criterion we run the danger of substituting for it a purely political criterion. should like to stop half-way. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave me no half-way house. For that reason I feel this Amendment must be rejected. Hon. Members are striving to remedy what I should be the first to acknowledge as an evil, the evil of the supremacy of economics, but they are in danger of supplanting it with a greater evil and on that ground in my judgment this Amendment should be rejected.

Mr. Sandys

The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), moving this Amendment in his humorous way, referred to the Board as a powerless, toothless, jobless, pointless body or something of that kind. At this time of night I shall not take exception to those rather uncomplimentary remarks about a body of which we have great hopes and expectations. What surprises me is that, after saying that the Board is so lacking in duties and powers that it will have little to do, he presses us to take away what few functions he thinks it has by giving the Government a roving commission to do the job of the Board or to tell the Board what to do at any moment and on any subject.

Because the Amendment leaves it to the Minister to decide what he considers to be in the national interest, it would leave the Minister virtually free to give the Board a direction on any subject within its sphere of responsibility. That runs completely counter to our conception of the Board. We think of it as a body composed of men with experience of the industry and of the consumer industries, a body charged with definite duties and responsibilities, with powers to carry out those duties; a body which is responsible in general but not in detail to the Minister, and through him to Parliament; not a Board which can be interfered with by the Minister at any moment on any matter.

10.15 p.m.

If we were to accept the proposal to introduce general Ministerial intervention, I have no doubt that we should greatly diminish the status and influence of the Board, and we should most certainly discourage men of standing and experience from becoming members of it.

People are not going to devote their time to being members of a Board with very great responsibilities knowing that, after they have considered a problem carefully and conscientiously, the Government can step in at any moment and tell them how to do the job. People who are going to become members of a Board of this kind want to know where they stand from the start, what are to be their responsibilities and what measure of freedom they are to be given to carry them out.

Our intention—and this is how the Bill is drafted—is that the functions of the Board should be quite clearly defined in an Act of Parliament and that, within the limits which the Act prescribes, the Board should feel free to carry out its duties according to its best judgment, subject, of course, to the right of the Government to intervene on specific matters in the national interest.

The difference between the Bill and the Amendment is that the latter proposes to give the Government a roving commission to step in at any time on any matter—

Mr. G. R. Strauss

In the national interest.

Mr. Sandys

—whereas we consider that, also in the national interest, the Government should have the power to intervene but that its powers to do so should be quite clearly prescribed. In our opinion, the powers of intervention which we are providing in the Bill fully safeguards the national interest at the points which matter, and we think it would be a mistake, in the interests of both the Board and the industry, to extend those powers further than is proposed in the Bill.

Hon. Members opposite always tend to think in terms of powers—"Is there a power to compel somebody to do something?"—but that is not the way things work. We do not believe that it is necessary to arm the Government with powers to compel the Board to listen to it. As I have said on many previous occasions in discussing the iron and steel problem in the House, we expect that the Board will exercise its influence over the industry, not in the main by the exercise of powers and penalties, but by the normal process of frank discussion and persuasion.

I have no doubt whatsoever, that the Board's relations with the Government will rest upon exactly the same basis. Equally, on matters where the national interest is involved—in other words on broader issues than the limited, though wide, sphere of the iron and steel industry—I have no doubt whatsoever, and I cannot believe that anyone in the Committee can seriously doubt it either, that the Board would welcome any guidance which it might receive from the Government.

If this Amendment were made it would bring in an element of centralised Government control. We have already debated that on an earlier Amendment. I have made it clear that centralised Government control is alien to the whole spirit which inspired our policy and this Bill. Therefore, as hon. Members must expect, we could not accept this Amendment.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

We did not expect the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would accept the Amendment, because we have now had plenty of experience during the course of the day of the right hon. Gentleman rejecting our Amendments and saying that he does not mean that this Board shall have any real authority over the industry except in some very minor and restrictive matters, or that the Government should have any authority over the Board. It is true that the conception which he and his hon. Friends have about the public responsibility in which the industry should live is different from the view we hold.

During the day we have been asking the Government to live up to its own professions. It is the Government who have declared over and over again that this industry must be subject to adequate public supervision. Sometimes they have said "adequate Government supervision." We accept that, but we want to know where this public supervision is coming in. We put down an Amendment saying that the supervision of the Board should be in the public interest. That Amendment was rejected on the grounds that the Board was not the body of people to look after the public interest —that the Minister must look after the public interest and that we could not expect that duty to devolve on the Board.

The Amendment was rejected on those grounds. We thought it wrong, but that is the view of the Government; that the Board cannot be expected to look after the public interest. We say in this Amendment that the Minister must, therefore, look after the public interest. Obviously it is no use looking after it unless he can do something about it and can give directions to the Board and tell them what the public interest is and what the Board must do. We are told, "No, we cannot do that and, in fact, we have no public responsibility whatever."

Mr. Sandys

I think that either the right hon. Gentleman has not quite understood the position, or does not wish to. Our objections to the earlier Amendment were that it proposed that the Board should have duties which we felt should be within the competence of the Government. What is proposed in this Amendment is that the Government should carry out the functions of the Board.

Mr. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman has put the matter so perfectly that I do not desire to add anything to it at all. The result is that here we have a Board which we are told is very important and very important people are to serve on it, but it is suspended in mid-air. It has no authority over the industry and cannot look after the national interest. The Minister, who can look after the national interest, has no authority over the Board. It is suspended in a most unfortunate situation. What is clear is that no one is looking at the industry from the point of view of the national interest, or, if they are, they have no authority anywhere in this Bill to do anything about it.

There is a difference of outlook or philosophy between right hon. and hon. Members opposite and ourselves with regard to this matter. We are not so keen that the Minister, as a Minister, should have authority and responsibility in this matter; but we are very anxious that Parliament, representing the people of the country and the national interest, should have some say over an industry on which the whole prosperity of this country depends. If Parliamentary democracy means anything, it means that Parliament should be concerned, not only with, matters of taxation, defence or social services, but with the welfare of the major industries of our country which employ hundreds of thousands of people and on the success of which the prosperity of millions of others depends.

We have never proposed or suggested that the Minister should interfere in day-to-day transactions, or anything of that sort. It is for the Minister himself to-decide when he should interfere and when Parliament will want him to interfere. He can be certain that if he interferes unnecessarily Parliament will tell him he has done the wrong thing. Under our scheme we said there should be direct control and Parliamentary responsibility for the broad outline of the industry; that if anything went wrong, if there was insufficient production, general inefficiency, or if amalgamations did not take place which ought to take place, the matter should be discussed in Parliament; that the Minister should be questioned and give an answer, and if necessary, on behalf of Parliament, see that the desires of Parliament were carried out.

All that has gone. In future Parliament will have no responsibility and no power. Neither will the Board be able or be expected to act in the national interest. The Minister says we do not want power over these matters, but rather that there should be persuasion and discussion. Those are the only things which matter. When we are dealing with big industries of this sort, that is contrary to all experience. It is true that very often there are industries which will co-operate with the Government by persuasion and discussion. But sometimes that is impossible and it is all-important that Parliament should have the final sanction. The power of Parliament ought to be supreme over the industries of this country, because they more than anything else determine the lives of our people. In our view, therefore, it is essential that, although sanctions may not be required, Parliament should put the necessary sanctions in the hands of the Minister to give him authority to interfere when Parliament desires him to do so in the broad general matters of policy. For that reason we have moved this Amendment which we think of importance. The Amendment will be rejected. We have already had rejected our proposal that the Board should act in the national interest. We are told that is impossible. We have also had rejected an Amendment asking that the Board should have some control. We are told that cannot be done either.

So it is clear that this Board is a body with no authority. It cannot act in the national interest, and it is not responsible for the national requirements. It has

been proved over and over again to be the sham which we always said it was. It is nothing more than window-dressing on the part of the Government. We think that Parliament should not be divorced from the welfare of this industry but should have some say in its activities and prosperity, and the contribution it is making to the national welfare.

In order to save time, we propose to vote against the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill" rather than to vote for this Amendment, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 238: Noes, 216.

Division No. 69.] AYES [10.30 p.m.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Davidson, Viscountess Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Alport, C. J. M. Deedes, W. F. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hurd, A. R.
Arbuthnot, John Donner, P. W. Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Doughty, C. J. A. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Baldwin, A. E. Drayson, G. B. Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Banks, Col. C. Drewe, C. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Barber, Anthony Duthie, W. S. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Barlow, Sir John Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Jennings, R.
Baxter, A. B. Erroll, F. J. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Beach, Maj. Tufton Finlay, Graeme Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Beach, Maj. Hicks Fisher, Nigel Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Bell, Philip Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Fletcher-Cooke, C. Kaberry, D.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Fort, R. Keeling, Sir Edward
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Foster, John Kerr, H. W.
Bavins, J. R. (Toxteth) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lambton, Viscount
Birch, Nigel Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bishop, F. P. Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Black, C. W. Gammans, L. D. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Boothby, R. J. G. Garner-Evans, E. H. Linstead, H. N.
Bowen, E. R. George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Llewellyn, D. T.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Godber, J. B. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Boyle, Sir Edward Gough, C. F. H. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Braine, B. R. Gower, H. R. Longden, Gilbert
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Graham, Sir Fergus Low, A. R. W.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Brooman-White, R. C. Hall, John (Wycombe) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Browne, Jack (Govan) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bullock, Capt. M. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M S.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Macdonald, Sir Peter
Butcher, Sir Herbert Harvie-Watt, Sir George Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Carr, Robert Hay, John McKie, J. H, (Galloway)
Carson, Hon. E. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cary, Sir Robert Heald, Sir Lionel Maclean, Fitzroy
Channon, H. Heath, Edward Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Henderson, John (Cathcart) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Higgs, J. M. C. Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Cole, Norman Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Hirst, Geoffrey Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hollis, M. C. Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Cranborne, Viscount Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Markham, Major S. F.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Holt, A. F. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hope, Lord John Marples, A. E.
Crouch, R. F. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Maude, Angus
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Horobin, I. M. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Medlicett, Brig. F.
Mellor, Sir John Remnant, Hon. P. Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Molson, A. H. E. Renton, D. L. M. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Rabertson, Sir David Teeling, W.
Nabarro, G. D. N. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Nicholls, Harmar Robson-Brown, W. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Roper, Sir Harold Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Nield, Basil (Chester) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Nugent, G. R. H. Russell, R. S. Turner, H. F. L.
Nutting, Anthony Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Turton, R. H.
Oakshott, H. D. Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Vane, W. M. F.
Odey, G. W. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Vosper, D. F.
O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) San[...]cry, Prof. Sir Douglas Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Scott, R. Donald Walker-Smith, D. C.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Heneton, N.) Scott Miller, Cmdr. R Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Osborne, C. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Snadden, W. McN. Wellwood, W.
Perkins, W. R. D. Soames, Capt. C. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Perkins, W. R. D. Spearman, A. C. M. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Speir, R. M. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Peyton, J. W. W. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Stanley, Capt, Hon. Richard Wills, G.
Pilkington, Capt. R. A Stevens, G. P. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Powell, J. Enoch Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wood, Hon. R.
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. York, C.
Profumo, J. D Storey, S.
Raikes, Sir Victor Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rayner, Brig. R. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Mr Conant and Mr. Redmayne.
Adams, Richard Edwards, John (Brighouse) Johnson, James (Rugby)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Awbery, S. S. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Keenan, W.
Bacon, Miss Alice Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, C.
Baird, J. Fienburgh, W. King, Dr. H. M.
Bartley, P. Finch, H. J. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Bence, C. R. Follick, M. Lindgren, G. S.
Benn, Wedgwood Foot, M. M. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Beswick, F. Forman, J. C. MacColl, J. E.
Bing, G. H. C. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McInnes, J.
Blackburn, F. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McLeavy, F.
Blenkinsop, A. Gibson, C. W. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Blyton, W. R. Glanville, James MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Blyton, W. R. Gooch, E. G. Mainwaring, W. H.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Bowles, F. G. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield) Manuel. A. C.
Brockway, A. F. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mayhew, C. P.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Messer, F.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hale, Leslie Mitchison, G. R.
Burton, Miss F. E. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Monslow, W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Moody, A. S.
Callaghan, L. J. Hamilton, W. W. Morley, R.
Carmichael, J. Hannan, W. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hargreaves, A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham. S.)
Champion, A. J. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Moyle, A.
Chapman, W. D. Hastings, S. Mulley, F. W.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hayman, F. H. Murray, J. D.
Coldriok, W. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Nally, W.
Collick, P. H. Herbison, Miss M. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hewitson, Capt. M. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J
Cove, W. G. Hobson, C. R. O'Brien, T.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Oldfield, W. H
Crosland, C. A. R. Houghton, Douglas Oliver, G. H.
Crossman, R. H. S. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Orbach, M
Cullen, Mrs. A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oswald, T
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Paget, R. T.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pannell, Charles
de Freitas; Geoffrey Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pargiter, G. A
Delargy, H. J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Paton, J.
Dodds, N. N. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Pearson, A.
Donnelly, D. L. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Peart, T. F.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Janner, B. Porter, G.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Edelman, M. Jeger, George (Goole) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Proctor, W. T. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wells, William (Walsall)
Pryde, D. J. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) West, D. G.
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Rankin, John Swingler, S. T. Wheeldon, W. E.
Reeves, J. Sylvester, G. O. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Wigg, George
Reid, William (Camlachie) Taylor, John (West Lothian) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B
Richards, R. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth) Wilkins, W. A.
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Thomas, David (Aberdare) Willey, F. T.
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Williams, David (Neath)
Ross, William Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Shackleton, E. A. A Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Short, E. W. Thorneyeroft, Harry (Clayton) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Shurmer, P. L. E. Thornton, E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Thurtle, Ernest Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Timmons, J. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Turner-Samuels, M. Wyatt, W. L.
Slater, J. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Yates, V. F.
Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.) Viant, S. P. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Sorensen, R. W. Wallace, H. W.
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Watkins, T. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES,
Sparks, J. A. Weitzman, D. Mr. Bowden and Mr. Popplewell.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E) Wells, Percy (Faversham)

Resolution agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being after Half-past Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN, pursuant to Order, left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.