§ Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 9, leave out "three," and insert "two."—[Mr. Hobson.]
§ Question again proposed, "That 'three' stand part of the Clause."
§ Mr. W. R. Williams
I think it will be within the recollection of most hon. Members that I was on the point of expressing some surprise that the Assistant Postmaster-General had not placed on the Order Paper an Amendment to the original proposal of 3s. for 12 words for telegrams and 3d. per word thereafter.
I do not know if other hon. Members have received complaints from constituents about this extraordinary burden which has been imposed upon the senders of telegrams, whether for social, industrial or commercial purposes, but I have had a number of telegrams and letters asking me to oppose the original proposals and to support any effort made to modify them. I am surprised that the Assistant Postmaster-General has not acted in accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee in this matter. I am glad to see the Chairman of that Committee is present in the Chamber, and I have no doubt he will make a contribution to the discussion later. There were two recommendations from the Committee. The first was that the Post Office and the Treasury should examine various alternative schemes to bring the inland telegraph service into some sort of balance. The second was that the Post Office should pursue its investigations into the possibility of increasing rates for inland Press telegrams.
It does not fall to me on this Amendment to discuss the second recommendation. In passing, I would say that if it had been adopted about 30 years ago, and the equity which we shall try to seek in later Amendments had been secured, there might have been a possibility—I put it no higher than that—that the financial position would have been much healthier. I have never been able to understand why some members of the 1204 community should get priority treatment for Press telegrams at a very low, unreasonable and uneconomic charge. I cannot understand why that has been allowed to go on for so long.
In the interests of equity, I shall support any proposal to readjust the position, if only in a small way, though I must make it clear even to my hon. Friends that I think that it is only the small Press unit which will be affected. The time for catching the big fish has gone, and if we are not careful a little hardship, which will be suffered by reporters of minor events, might be caused.
I cannot understand why the Post Office have not had regard to what is a most important alternative suggested by the Select Committee. In the form of a question—No. 1192—the Chairman of the Select Committee said:If you were given a figure or if you were told that the Treasury were prepared to face a deficit of up to five million, would there be any chance of keeping that deficit down to that figure, especially if you were told you could vary charges at your own will so long as the deficit did not exceed five million?That question was put to the representatives of the Post Office by the Chairman. The answer was:I think broadly that we might work that out; it might oscillate, because you cannot alter charges every six months. It would have to be an average five million a year over a period; but I think if we were told …I underline this—You must aim at a deficit of five million a year and no more, averaged over a fair period, and you may modify your charges to fit that,' we might manage to do so by and large.Then the Chairman said:That seems to be the only practical suggestion at the moment.Having examined a number of suggestions, the Chairman of the Select Committee comes to the conclusion that here is an alternative worthy of consideration. It is still worthy. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) in his place, because he dealt with the point on Second Reading. He will agree that after listening intelligently to that debate he came to the conclusion that it is impossible to make the telegraph service solvent under any conditions. I think that the Assistant Postmaster-General and my hon. Friends will agree. 1205 It is one of the services which it is impossible to make solvent in view of present-day conditions.
Therefore, the best solution is to introduce a basic figure below which we should strive not to go. That must have been in the mind of the Select Committee. I do not say that £5 million should be the figure. It might be too low or too high. However, I suggest that it would have been profitable had the administration considered whether or not to accept that scheme and to accept the responsibility for keeping near that figure.
Nothing came of that suggestion. The Assistant Postmaster-General can correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know he did not even mention it. If I was a member of the Select Committee and the Minister responsible had not even had the courtesy to refer to such a suggestion, I should protest most strongly. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who made the suggestion should protest most strongly today at the fact that the Assistant Postmaster-General has completely ignored it. It remains to be seen whether consideration has been given to the matter. If there has been such a consideration the Assistant Postmaster-General should tell us what are objections.
There was another scheme which appears to have received scant consideration. It was proposed by the Union of Post Office Workers to which my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) referred. The union suggested that 1s. 6d. should be a basic minimum for nine words and that there should be a charge of 2d. a word thereafter. That would make a charge of 2s. 8d. for the 16 words of an average telegram. I cannot see any reference in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Second Reading debate to any serious consideration having been given to that scheme.
I associate myself with the tribute paid to the work of the union. There is something almost unique in the way in which the union have been tackling the problem of the telegraph service, knowing full well that whatever they did in the matter would result in redundancies among their own members. They have had conversations, not only at administrative level, but also at Ministerial level, in their effort to prove that the Minister ought not to 1206 take the drastic step of imposing a 100 per cent, increase knowing, as he must do, that it will kill the telegraph service. That will be only a question of time. If the charge is to be 3s. for the first 12 words and 3d. a word after that, the public will know that it is a prohibitive sum and will realise that it is done only because the Government wish to get rid of the service. I cannot see anyone paying 4s. or 5s. for ordinary telegrams, especially when there is a reliable and speedy postal service like we have. I say that with all due deference to the deferred night service.
The union said that if its scheme were adopted, the deficit would be reduced by nearly £1 million. I have known the time when I could estimate what would happen in the Post Office, but having left it for a year or two I am not now in that position. I can only calculate broadly, and on that basis I believe that the scheme would save about £900,000 per year. That would be a very substantial reduction in the deficit, and if we ally that with the point which I made under the first heading of the suggestion by the Select Committee, we should be approaching a measure of stability.
I am sorry to take so long, but it is important that we should put all these points of view to give the Assistant Postmaster-General an opportunity Jo do what he should have done on Second Reading, and that is to deal with the suggestions which have been put forward. My hon. Friends and I suggest a minimum of 2s. for 12 words and 2d. a word thereafter. At an average of 16 words per telegram, that would be 2s. 8d., which is very near the figure produced under the scheme suggested by the Union of Post Office Workers.
The Assistant Postmaster-General and the Department have disintegrated the Service out of all reason. The Leader of the Opposition was right when he said that we must take a service like this as an entity. It is ridiculous to try to break it up into small bits. After all, it forms part of one service of telecommunications facilities. One cannot break up such a service, for if one did one would not have telephones in the North of Scotland or telephone kiosks in rural Wales. Only in the big cities would such facilities be found.
§ Mr. Williams
I will leave that matter to my hon. Friend, for I might find myself out of order if I pursued it.
Not only have the Assistant Postmaster-General and his Department disintegrated the telegraph service from the postal service, but in his speech the Assistant Postmaster-General was also separating it from the other parts of the telecommunications service. He said that a deficit of £4,500,000 was anticipated this year on inland telegraphs, that for the telegraph service alone the deficit would be £3.1 million, and that we could not take into consideration teleprinters rented to subscribers or the overseas telegraph service.
Why cannot we do that? The teleprinted service to subscribers and the overseas telegraph service could not be carried on for two hours if it were not for the rest of the inland telegraph service which is the framework on which those other services are built. I remember when the services to certain foreign countries did not pay. We did not stop those services; we said that the services on the whole would pay and that those facilities were required in the interests of this nation and other nations.
The Assistant Postmaster-General has not yet shown any signs of doing so, but I hope that after some of us have spoken he will say that he will accept the Amendment. I do not see how he can act otherwise. If he does not propose to accept the Amendment, let him be fair and tell the Committee that it is witnessing the beginning of the end of the telegraph service as we have known it.
I cannot repeat what was said on Second Reading, but I should like to point out that whoever is responsible for endangering the telegraph service, with all its repercussions on strategy, trade and commerce, has done a disservice to the nation. It not only makes it impossible for ordinary people to send telegrams but it makes it difficult for trading and commercial establishments to rehabilitate themselves. We have passed through a very difficult period on the telegraph side since the war. There has been development of the telephone service but it has not been possible for us to do all that we should like to do for trade. In the years ahead there might be increased interest in the telegraph service, but that will not be brought about by doubling the price of telegrams.
1208 I am surprised at hon. Members who come here under the cloak of being business people and tell us that we on this side have no experience of business and that big business knows how to deal with these things. If this is the way that business representatives look after one of the finest industries in the country, we had better get rid of the idea of private enterprise, for there is no private enterprise in this. All that we see here is a spirit of defeatism. Hon. Members opposite say that the ends do not meet, that it is all very worrying and that the Select Committee on Estimates time after time suggests that the Government are not doing their best to overcome deficiencies, and they lose faith and say, "All right, let us kill it. That is the easiest way. What does not exist cannot be criticised." I am surprised that hon. Members opposite who have had experience on the Select Committee and know the inside of this business have not pressed the Assistant Postmaster-General to do something infinitely greater than he has done.
I hope that even at the 59th minute of the 11th hour the Assistant Postmaster-General will stand in a manly way at the Dispatch Box and say that after listening to all the arguments and the case put forward he agrees that the Government have made a mistake and that they will reprieve this service which in the opinion of many of us has been unrivalled in the skill, efficiency and loyalty of those who operate it.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I know that the whole Committee very well understands the deep emotion that underlies the practical approach of the hon. Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams), who has given up many years of his life to this service and we fully understand that these matters must cause him great pain. These situations often arise in the forward march of progress. One knows, for example, how very many people, in the days of the horse, felt very unhappy about the coming of the motor car. Even more recently, one could understand the feelings of the London tram drivers when the trams were abolished. Therefore, I fully understand the hon. Member's emotion, and I think that the whole Committee feels with him.
To return to the question of the Select Committee on Estimates, I would remind the hon. Gentleman that that Committee 1209 has, as its terms of reference, the task of reporting what, if any, economies, and so on, are possible. I fail to see how any Estimates Committee could fail to recommend significant economies when it realises that either the State or other users of the Post Office have to pay for an average loss of 2s. 9d. per telegram.
§ Mr. Hobson
That is a very important point, and one on which the Committee would like an explanation. The terms of reference of the Select Committee on Estimates areto report what, if any, economies consistent with the policy implied in those Estimates may be effected therein.The fact is that the recommendations of the Select Committee were policy recommendations, and that was the amazing thing. I am astonished that there has been no expression of opinion on that point. Here, we get definite recommendations on policy from the Committee on Estimates.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The hon. Gentleman has raised a very important point. It all depends on how one defines policy. If we attempt to define it as narrowly as the hon. Gentleman does, I think we should find that the Committee would make no recommendations of any sort at all. The hon. Gentleman defines policy as any action of a Government Department. I wish that the word policy was not used. I take it that policy means political policy, as distinct from administrative policy, and that is the way in which the Estimates Committee define the word policy. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is a very important point, but I think it is one that cannot ever be settled, and that we must rely on the common sense of the Estimates Committee and of the House in its interpretation.
I now want to say something to the hon. Member for Droylsden about the suggestion of limiting the deficit, which is referred to in Question 1192 of the Minutes of Evidence. It is a question of limiting the Inland Telegraph Service to a definite loss and budgeting for that loss. I am sure that the Post Office gave consideration to the suggestion and probably rejected it for this reason: it all depends on how we vary the charges, and if the Postmaster-General and the Treasury came to the conclusion that the loss must be limited to something like, 1210 say, £2½ million, we would still have had a precisely similar Bill to this Bill in order to meet that desired end.
§ Mr. Wallace
Is not that precisely the effect of the Bill? If these charges are now adopted, they will reduce the deficit from £4½ million to about £2 million. Does the deficit stay there, or will there be another Bill to increase the charges to get rid of the rest of the deficit?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I do not see the point of that intervention. My point is that the estimated deficit for 1953–54 was £4.6 million. I have given the estimate for the economies under this Bill as £2.7 million, which reduces the deficit, as the hon. Gentleman says, to just under £2 million. The hon. Member for Droylsden's suggestion would depend entirely upon what level of loss was to be budgeted for.
§ Mr. Wallace
I am merely asking whether the hon. Gentleman agrees that the Post Office services should carry a deficit of £2 million on the telegraphic services?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I think that £2 million would not be a bad deficit, bearing in mind all the factors involved. I should be very unhappy if the Government introduced a Bill next year to increase the charges still further. I do not think there is much in the argument that we should approach the matter from the point of view of aiming for a definite deficit, rather than in this experimental way of seeing what steps will result from this present proposition. We should have had some such proposal for raising the charges and removing the deficit in any case.
§ Mr. Hobson
This is a very important point, although it is really more appropriate to the debate on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." The extent to which an increase in charges will reduce the deficit is based entirely on the estimate of the Department as to either an increase in traffic or a reduction in traffic, but the fact is that the divisor is not known, and we are bound to get an incorrect quotient when we have no divisor.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that those who are best qualified to make estimates are the people 1211 in the Post Office themselves. The hon. Gentleman has, quite rightly, praised the Post Office, and I think we must allow that they can make better estimates, certainly than I can make myself, of what the result of the change will be. It may be true that they can only do it by an intelligent guess, but I should imagine that their guess would be more intelligent than the guesses of others.
Next, I am surprised that the hon. Member for Droylsden should run two arguments at the same time. First of all, he says that the Postmaster-General should adopt the policy of budgeting for a specific loss—a limited loss—and ignores the fact that that would mean frequent variation of charges and resulting in Bills of this nature every year or two. Then, he went back on the old claim that the services of the Post Office should be treated as an entity. It is not a question of definite right or wrong; it is a question of opinion. I myself feel, as a representative of the taxpayer, as we all are in this House, that it is difficult to justify what may react to the detriment of the taxpayers in reducing any payments by the Post Office to the Exchequer or increasing payments by the Exchequer to the Post Office, or what may mean increased charges to areas of the other Post Office services.
I now want to say a word or two about the actual charges. To the great majority of the people using them, the new charge for telegrams will not be prohibitive. It cannot be maintained that the number of telegrams sent by business and commercial people will necessarily decline, or that every one of these people who used to send telegrams will now cease to send them because they have to pay more for them. I think that the hon. Member for Droylsden is taking an unduly pessimistic view of the health of his old friend and master.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams
I am not the only one who takes that view. The Post Office has taken the view that this charge will reduce the number of telegrams by 33⅓ per cent. The difference between us is that, once we go beyond a certain mark, we can see that the beginning of the end of the service is in sight.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I differ from the hon. Gentleman in one respect only. I do 1212 not think that the service will ever die, at any rate until we reach the position where almost every person in the country has ceased to have any use for telegrams; and I do not think that that time is within sight. It is an exaggeration to say that the proposed increase will kill the service.
I have only had one or two communications at the most from my constituency about this Bill. In our present state of financial stringency we cannot afford to run any department of the Post Office at an exorbitant loss. The Select Committee was right in its recommendation. It went very carefully into the matter, and recommended that the Treasury and the Post Office, in conjunction, should endeavour to bring about a significant reduction. It was no use tinkering with the job. The important word was "significant."
As trustees, as we all are for the finances of the country, and for the users of other postal services as well, the Select Committee was bound to make that recommendation. I welcome the Bill, which will authorise a significant reduction which will not kill the service, which will cause very little hardship, and which will enable the Post Office to carry out its duties towards the community.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I was interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), who was Chairman of the Estimates Committee. He would be the first to admit that it is not the sub-committee that finally makes a recommendation but the full Estimates Committee. As a member of that Estimate Committee, I take a different view of its scope and powers from that of the hon. Member. It was not for nothing that the Report of the Committee said these words in paragraph 13:Your Committee do not therefore find themselves in possession of sufficient knowledge to enable them to advise as to the particular course to be followed "—here are the important words—even were they empowered to do so.It is not within the power of the Estimates Committee to recommend any such course.
I for one would not be a party to the Estimates Committee's Report if I had not considered the matter carefully. We recommended that the Post Office and 1213 the Treasury should, in conjunction, make a thorough examination. There was nothing definite about that. It was not an examination just of the Estimates Committee's scheme, but of any other scheme they thought would reduce the deficit. It is on this point about the reduction of the deficit that the quarrel lies between the two sides of the Committee.
The third question asked in the subcommittee's report was: "What should be done?" The answer given by Sir Ben Barnett in the evidence on Wednesday, 10th June, paragraph 1071, was:To make a great impression on the deficit there are only two alternatives, really, in our view; one to restrict the service considerably, or, two, to impose a substantial increase in the tariff.We considered that in the circumstances there should be an increase in the tariff, but we do not think that the Government have done the right thing. They are not making a substantial increase but one that is colossal. They are doubling the cost from 1s. 6d. to 3s. for 12 words. That is where we quarrel with the Government. Having regard to the circumstances and the history of the service, a substantial increase from Is. 6d. to 2s. would have been sufficient, with the additional word charge at 2d. instead of 3d.
The three sections of the Post Office, shown in the accounts presented to Parliament are, first the postal section, and secondly, the general telegraph section, of which the English service is only a part. There has been no splitting up for the purpose of presenting accounts. The third section is the telephone section. From 1922 to the beginning of the war the general telegraph section never had a deficit lower than about £650,000. It ranged between that figure and £1,600,000. From 1946, the deficit has varied from £1.9 million to £4.4 million. In the light of these figures I want to examine the Government's proposals. Last year, the deficit was £3.6 million. It is estimated that this year it will be £3.1 million and next year £2.9 million. Without any raising of charges, therefore, the estimated deficit for next year would have been lower than at any time since 1946.
In the accounts presented to Parliament, the general telegraph service for 1947–48 showed a deficit of £2.4 million. The Government now propose to double 1214 the rate and by so doing cut the traffic by 30 per cent. They are bound to render people unemployed—but I will come to that aspect of the matter later. Instead of having a deficit estimated at £2.9 million, they will have one of £400,000, lower than at any time this century, apart from war years, when obviously things are entirely different.
If this scheme succeeds we shall have a complete change in the finances of the Post Office. In 1912, the deficit was £1.1 million and, in 1913, £1.2 million. We must remember the changed value of money when considering the justice of the proposed exaggerated increase. The Government are completely changing the whole position in these three sections of the Post Office.
There is no justification for what the Government are doing, not even in the Report of the Estimates Committee. We have to recognise that this is a national service. The hon. Member for Farnham ended his speech by saying that he did not think that this increase would kill the service. If he thought that, why on earth did he start by saying that there is always a certain amount of regret at the passing of things? He spoke about the horse, about how it had gone out of existence as a haulier; how the London trams had disappeared, and so on. Why did he say that, and then finish with a completely phoney suggestion that he did not think that the increase was going to kill the service?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I was merely sympathising with the hon. Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) who joined the telegraph service in its heyday and who has since seen it outstripped by other services. I did not say that the increase would kill the service, but it is a declining service and belongs to the past rather than to the future. I sympathised with the hon. Gentleman because we saw his regret and distress at the decline of this service.
§ Mr. Ross
If the hon. Gentleman saw my hon. Friend the Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) in such emotional distress, it would have been better had he come in with the latter part of his speech rather than the first part, and told him that this was not going to kill the service. His method of applying sympathy is not very effective. The 1215 fact is, of course, that we cannot do without this service. We have only to remember its strategic value, if nothing else.
§ Mr. Ross
I do not know. We shall probably go back to carrier pigeons, on which, occasionally, we have to depend in war.
The Government have taken the first step towards the destruction of this valuable means of communication. The number of telegrams sent last year was 34 million. The Government reckon that this increase will have the effect of reducing their number by some 11 million. If that is not leading to the dismantlement of the service, I do not know what is. A service can only be maintained if people are prepared to work in it, but we shall recruit no one into this service under these conditions.
The telegraph service has served this country pretty well. That is true, not only of the distant past, but even of the present time. I believe that 53 per cent, of telegrams are sent by ordinary householders, and 47 per cent, by business concerns. Let us consider the effect of this increase on businesses. It will mean an increase in their expenses which, of course, they can recoup by passing it on to the consumers.
§ Mr. Nabarro
As the average incidence of industrial and commercial taxation today is 52 per cent., it follows that any increased charges, which are, of course, assessable for tax relief, would result in the Treasury paying 52 per cent.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ross
In other words, the hon. Gentleman is saying that the Treasury will subsidise this increase on behalf of 1216 the business community. They will not do it for the old-age pensioner who has to send a telegram.
About 12 million householders in widely scattered areas depend on the telegraph service because they have no telephones. Surely the Assistant Postmaster-General must realise that the original statement on alternatives by his leading official really means either cutting off the service geographically or economically as far as some people are concerned. By raising the charge to 3s., the Government are putting the service out of the reach of a considerable number of people, and it is obvious that this is where the loss of those 11 million telegrams comes in.
People will not be able to afford to send telegrams, and in cases where it is absolutely necessary for them to do so the increased cost will represent a hardship. Telegrams are mainly sent by private people at times of distress and when a death occurs in the family. Then it is usually not a case of sending one telegram, but three or four.
It would be interesting if the hon. Gentleman could tell us what this is going to mean to hospitals. It may well be that, in view of the increased cost, hospitals will not send telegrams notifying people that there is a bed for them. Instead, they will send letters, with the result that hospital beds will remain empty for a day or two. That is one of the other indirect results of this increase.
The Assistant Postmaster-General should also remember that the telegraph service in the scattered areas of the country is not as good as it was. For instance, delivery has been centralised. In my own constituency, telegrams that were formerly delivered in Darvel, which is on the border between Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, were sent out from the post office in Darvel. They are now sent out from a post office in Kilmarnock, and are delivered by messengers on motorcycles. As a result, there has been a slowing up in the speed of delivery, and in winter it will probably lead to a breakdown in the service if the weather is such that the motorcyclist cannot get through.
Therefore, we are going to be asked to pay more for telegrams and to get a worse service. Admittedly, the Post Office workers agreed to this with a view to preventing an increase of this character. 1217 I think that the saving in Ayrshire has been something like £200 a year. From the point of view of the history of this service, this doubling of the charge is quite unjustified. Had the charge been increased from 1s. 6d. to 2s. it would have been sufficiently substantial, and would probably have met with the support of the whole Committee.
§ Mr. Harry Wallace (Walthamstow, East)
I propose to confine myself to the Amendment, and I intend to be very brief. The Post Office wants to increase the charge for a telegram of 12 words from 1s. 6d. to 3s. and the charge for each additional word from l½d. to 3d. The Amendment proposes that the present rate should be increased to 2s. for 12 words and to 2d. for each additional word, and it is the Amendment that I want to support.
I understand that the surplus of the Post Office is estimated to be between £2 million and £3 million. That surplus applied before these increased charges were proposed. Both sides are agreed that these Post Office services should be regarded as a whole. There is no need to argue that proposition this evening, because it is obvious. Both sides recognise that there must be a deficit on this particular inland telegraph service—and I emphasise the word "inland."
The real issue therefore is the amount of the deficit. I was very pleased when the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Godfrey Nicholson) agreed that there must be a deficit. If I understood him correctly, he would regard it as reasonable if the other services carried this particular service with a deficit of £2 million. I do not know whether both sides would take that view. I did not regard it as reasonable, but I should expect the Post Office to be a little more generous.
The loss is £4½ million. If these increased charges are adopted, it will be reduced to £2 million. That is a very substantial reduction, but it is also based on an assumption that the traffic will fall by 30 per cent. I have never yet heard the Assistant Postmaster-General analyse the effects of a 30 per cent, fall in traffic. There must be a reduction in other costs too, and although I am not saying they would reduce the deficit, I should like to know more about that.
1218 In their Report the Estimates Committee have touched upon policy when they have come forward with a recommendation which doubles the charges as this does and which will cut traffic by 30 per cent. Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) has said, it is more calculated to kill the service. By that he did not mean that every telegram would go out of existence but that the service would be disrupted. No one in this Committee can say that he is wrong.
§ Mr. Wallace
We can, because the assumption is that when these charges are adopted the traffic will go down by 30 per cent., so he is right to that extent.
§ Mr. Wallace
No, it is an estimate. It is a forecast, and the Post Office are very intelligent at forecasting.
It affects policy, and it is going to affect the domestic user of the telegram by making it too expensive for him to use. I should like again to emphasise a point I made on Second Reading. In circumstances of life and death, the ordinary working-class family would have to send not one but two, three or four telegrams. Four times 4s. is 16s.—that is piling it on. It will have a crippling effect on that section of the community restricted to the use of the telegram. I leave out the training hospitals which send out a good many telegrams. It is a reliable method, and it will mean that the cost will go up tremendously in those hospitals. They send a telegram because they do not want bed accommodation to be wasted. They want beds to be occupied as soon as possible.
The Postmaster-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General have been very generous in their praise of the staff —for the help they have given and so forth in meeting these difficulties. During the Second Reading debate I welcomed the declaration that the staff representatives would get the fullest prior consultation. In the face of this problem I hope we shall see developments in consultation between administration and staff, but is this the right way to reward the staff for their loyal service and help? I was in favour of the union's proposal mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member 1219 for Droylsden. This Amendment does not go so far as the union suggested but if it were adopted it would also be a gesture to the staff.
I conclude by saying that to accept this Amendment would be reasonable as a gesture to the staff, and reasonable help to the public, particularly those who cannot afford a telephone and who are driven in urgent circumstances to use the telegraph service. I am sure that it is not the desire of the Assistant Postmaster-General to take positive action to kill the service, but cannot he soften the blow to the extent suggested by the Amendment? Since we are all agreed that the service must be regarded as a whole, and that a deficit must be carried by the service as a whole, cannot this Amendment be accepted and so carry the deficit on the reduced figure instead of adopting these charges which will send up the Post Office surplus from £3 million to £5 million?
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
Up to now the bulk of the argument has been centred on the financial and economic aspects. I want to speak about the human aspect. The old-age pensioner has already been mentioned, but I think that it has not been sufficiently stressed that the majority of old-age pensioners are living alone. In time of crisis or illness they have to summon the other members of their family, or friends, in the main, by telegram. In times of trouble these increased charges will hit them very hardly.
Then there are the old people who are, perhaps, not old-age pensioners but who will also suffer from the increase in their cost of living and will find these extra charges very difficult to bear. I know that it is not easy to discriminate between one section of the community and another. Both on Second Reading and this evening it has been brought out that it would be extremely difficult to discriminate between one class of user of telegrams and another. One could not have different kinds of forms for different kinds of people.
The example of the fishing industry and the losses it will probably suffer as a result of the increased telegraph charges has been instanced to the House and to the Committee. There are other people also. There are the coastwise merchant seamen going from port to port. They 1220 wish to send messages to wives and dependants, to send weekly amounts of money by telegraph money order, to send telegrams saying that they have arrived safely in port, or asking their wives to telephone to a certain call box in a certain port at which they have landed in order to speak to their wives and children.
I represent the Port of Goole in the West Riding, a port which contributes a fair number of men to this very valuable coastal trade, sometimes extending to the Continent but mainly around our shores. This proposal will hit very hard at the wives of these men, who live sometimes in conditions of loneliness while their husbands are at sea, and who look forward at least twice a week to hearing from their husbands by telegram—as I have already said, to receive money and also to hear that their husbands have landed safely. Goole is only one of many similar places where this problem will arise.
When we consider the class of people who use telegrams, not as luxuries, not for inviting friends to cocktail parties and similar social occasions but because of dire necessity, we must not rule out these people, the seamen of Britain, who rely on the telegraph service to maintain communication with their families. At present a telegraph money order may cost 3s. 6d. or 4s. The proposed increased charge will make a great difference. If these men are forced to send their money by registered post instead of by telegraph money order at the increased charge, it will delay the receipt of the money; the wives will be in distress for a few days, and they may be in embarrassed circumstances and unable to meet their regular bills at their local shops.
I hope the Assistant Postmaster-General will consider these points. I hope he will accept the Amendment and withdraw this proposal for so large an increase from 1s. 6d. to 3s. in the cost of telegrams.
§ Mr. Edward Evans (Lowestoft)
I should be neglecting my duty if I did not emphasise what has been stated so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) on behalf of those people who work on the sea and are separated from their families. This problem is very acute in my constituency, 1221 where the feeling of resentment at the attitude of the Post Office is very deep.
It is no good the Assistant Postmaster-General saying, as he said in answer to a Question I asked not long ago, that the increased cost to the industry in applying this extra charge would be one-fiftieth of a penny per stone. It was a very nice, slick answer, and no doubt it may have made some impression among ill-informed people. The fact is that the merchants—those are the persons who have to sell the fish—have increased charges amounting to £200,000 a year, and this is an industry which is concentrated in a comparatively few places and which makes great use of telegrams in the course of business.
As I say, the answer which I was given was slick, but it made no sense at all because it had no relation to the truth. The merchants will have increasingly to use the telephone, and there will, therefore, be an increasing concentration on the telephone service, so that there is bound to be congestion at places like Billingsgate, Birmingham and other big centres of distribution. There will be a great demand for the service, and there will be considerable delay as a result.
I do not know how many communications the Assistant Postmaster-General has had from the telegraph staff. They are embittered; they feel that this blow will disintegrate and almost destroy the service. There is a feeling of frustration and of despair in many cases. It seems to me that particularly on the East Coast it is essential to maintain this virile service which has in the past been of great benefit in the defence of the country in times of hostilities. Apart from the humanitarian aspect of the matter, I hope that the Assistant Postmaster-General will realise that this increased charge is exorbitant and will withdraw it.
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. David Gammans)
I am very grateful for one thing that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) said when he moved this Amendment. He said he was quite satisfied that we had effected every possible mechanical economy within the Post Office on the telegraph side, and I think that that is important because it shows what little scope there is for mechanical economies within our own organisation. Therefore, if this deficit is to be reduced, we have to do it in 1222 some other way. It is no good imagining that some magic reorganisation can do the job for us.
I think I am right in saying that no hon. Member has served in the Post Office longer than the hon. Member for Keighley who, I think, has had more experience of it than any of us here. I am grateful to him for that expression of opinion, because it coincides exactly with my own. I think he also knows of the efforts which have been made by the Post Office in late years by one means or another—one might almost say "by one device or another "—to reduce this loss, and I think he also knows the spirit of the staff and the way in which they have co-operated with us very loyally and have done their best to help in this matter.
I wish I could accept this Amendment. Nothing would give me greater pleasure; and if anything would induce me to do it, it would be the plea put forward by the hon. Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams), who knows the service from inside probably better than any of us. But if I were to do so, all I should be doing would be very largely to nullify the whole purpose of this Bill. On Second Reading, I tried to explain to the House why the Government felt very reluctantly that they had to raise the charges and, above all, to double them. As I said, it was not a popular decision. I wish it fell to my lot to make some popular announcements in the House. We should not have made this decision unless we were convinced that the circumstances justified it.
As the House knows, under the tariff of 3s. for the first 12 words and 3d. for each additional word we are hoping to reduce the deficit on inland telegrams from £4,500,000 to £2 million. Suppose that we were to accept this Amendment and substitute 2s. for 3s. and 2d. for 3d., and then assume—this must be an assumption—that the effect of that would be to reduce the volume of traffic not by 30 per cent, but by 10 per cent. Then the estimated deficit would be reduced by only £1 million, from £4.6 million to £3.6 million.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
Would the hon. Gentleman say to what extent that would reduce the deficit under the general heading of "Telegraphs" in the 1223 statement of surpluses and deficits as contained in the Commercial Accounts, so that we can ascertain the real deficit over the whole of the telegraph service?
§ Mr. Gammans
I shall come to that in a minute. That point was dealt with by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross).
The Government feel that this loss of £3.6 million is far too heavy to be borne by the users of other Post Office services. That is, in effect, what it means. Every extra telegram sent means an extra loss. The traffic is dying, but it is not dying primarily because of the cost; it is dying because more convenient facilities are becoming available. In the past, every reduction in telegraph charges has meant an increase in the loss, and every increase in charges has meant a decrease in the loss. As the hon. Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) said, it is impossible to make the telegraph service solvent. We have to decide at what figure we must fix our charges to the public.
One or two Members have said—I do not think they quite meant it in the sense in which they expressed the word—that the telegraph service would die. It will never die completely; there is a place for it in this country. But in the difficult situation which now exists, when the service is declining not because of the charges but simply because other facilities are becoming more readily available, we have to decide at what figure we should try to stabilise the deficit. If we accept this Amendment we have to ask ourselves whether it is right that a man who sends an inland telegram should receive a subsidy of 2s. 4d. on it. I must remind the Committee that even at the 3s. rate every sender of a telegram will receive a subsidy of 1s. 6d.
My own feeling is that if we were to accept this Amendment the Committee would be quite justified in saying that we did not mean businesss, and were not facing up to the difficulty which confronts us. I am not quite sure on what ground—except the quite reasonable one of sentiment, to which I attach the fullest importance—it is suggested that we should be justified in charging only 2s. as the basic rate and 2d. a word thereafter. As the Committee knows. 1224 about half the telegrams sent are business telegrams, and there cannot be the slightest justification for subsidising business men to the extent of 2s. 4d. per telegram. If that subsidy can be justified, so can a proportionate subsidy on telephones and on letters.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is proposing to subsidise industry by means of the new investment allowance.
§ Mr. Gammans
Whether that is a subsidy or an alleviation of taxation would be quite out of order for me to discuss on an Amendment of this sort. Every argument for such a subsidy could be used in favour of a subsidy for inland letters or telephones, and, in the end, we should all be subsidising each other.
§ Mr. Gammans
Then it is so. But here we are dealing with a subsidy which amounts to the figure I have suggested.
Of the balance of telegrams sent, two-fifths are greetings telegrams, and these represent the more joyous occasions in life. I do not think we are doing anything unreasonable in asking people to pay a decent price for them. Is it right that we should ask the users of other Post Office services to subsidise the senders of greetings telegrams? If we did, the Committee would say, "You are not in earnest in facing this difficulty."
As I have pointed out on several occasions, only 3 per cent, of telegrams sent come into the category of life and death. It is clear from this small percentage that only on comparatively rare occasions do people have to send telegrams of this sort. As one hon. Member has said, it may be necessary on these occasions for a family to send not one but several telegrams, but even so it is a matter of a number of shillings rather than of pounds.
Here we are fixing the rates of the inland telegraph service as a whole, and I do not think we should be justified in basing our charges merely on telegrams which are sent in infrequent emergencies.
1225 especially as we have gone a very long way to meet this point by instituting the half price overnight telegram. Every increase in rates must affect somebody, but virtually all the people using inland telegrams are customers who could, and, I think, should, make a greater contribution towards meeting the cost of them.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
We shall come to the Press shortly, when we discuss another Amendment.
The hon. Member for Droylsden asked if we had investigated the scheme put up by the Union of Post Office Workers. We have done so. That scheme suggested that we should charge 1s. 6d. for nine words and 1½d. a word after that. We rejected that scheme because it would reduce the deficit by less than £1 million and, faced with the position with which we are now faced, we felt that that was not enough. We did investigate the possibility of raising the basic charge to 2s. 6d., and 2½d. a word thereafter, but this would still have left a deficit of over £3 million. While this would make a substantial improvement in the general position, the Government felt that they would not be justified in merely reducing the total deficit on inland telegrams from £4½ million to £3 million.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock raised an interesting point when he suggested that we should consider the telegraph service as a whole, and he went on to say that between the wars the deficit was about £1 million. There is an enormous difference between the situation which existed then and that which exists now. Between the wars the average Post Office surplus was about £10 million, and sometimes more. Now, at the beginning of the financial year, we have an estimated Post Office surplus of less than £3 million. In fact since these last figures were presented to the House, the surplus has been reduced by another £700,000, because of wage claims.
If we had a surplus of £10 million, or were budgeting with a large surplus and without the difficulties of increasing wage claims, I do not know whether we should have made quite the same proposals, but unless the Post Office is to run at a loss 1226 —and I am sure that not a single hon. Member is advocating that—we have to ask ourselves, in the absence of any attempt to make this service a little more solvent, on what other services we should raise the rates.
I do not think any Member would suggest that we should raise the inland postal rate from 2½d. to 3d., or make a further increase in the charge for the telephone service. The justification for this increase is that on this service we are losing £4,500,000 and have reached a stage at which on a telegram that costs 5s. we get 2s. back. We have to make some substantial increase in the charges for this service to bring that difference a little nearer into balance.
I have been having another look at charges made in other countries. It is not easy to strike an exact comparison between theirs and ours, because there is such a wide variety of conditions. In some countries the charge for delivery outside a certain area is much higher than here, although the limits are low. In some cases the accounts are so intertwined that it is very difficult to find out the exact position. Taking the picture as a whole, however, the new charges proposed do not vary very much from what we find elsewhere, and they are certainly much cheaper than they are in the United States.
I quite understand the reluctance of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee to double the telegraph charges. I have equal reluctance myself, I can assure the Committee. However, for the reasons I have given, I regret that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hobson
Although I have listened very intently to the explanation given by the hon. Gentleman I am not satisfied, and neither, I think, are my hon. Friends. I do not think he proved his case. He went into the logistics very carefully, but the only case he seemed to make was that none of us should be subsidised at any time or in any place. We may have something to say about that on the Clause. We feel that the hon. Gentleman's difficulty could be met by an increase of 33½ per cent, instead of an increase of 100 per cent., and because of that we shall have to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, "That 'three' stand part of the Clause."1228
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 215: Noes, 199.1229
|Division No. 74.]||AYES||[7.50 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Gough, C. F. H||Odey, G. W|
|Alport, C. J. M||Gower, H. R.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverten)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Osborne, C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Page, R. G.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Harden, J. R. E.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Heath, Edward||Price, Henry (Lewirsham, W.)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L|
|Bevins, J. R (Toxteth)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Bishop, F P||Hirst, Geoffrey||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Black, C. W.||Holland-Martin, C. J||Redmayne, M.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt Hon J||Hollis, M. C.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hops, Lord John||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Braine, B. R.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Robertson, Sir David|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Brarthwaite, Sir Gurney||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Russell, R. S.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Brooman-White, R. S.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Schofield, Lt.-col. W|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt Hon. P G. T||Hurd, A. R.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Bullard, D G.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.|
|Burden, F. F. A||Hylton-Foster, H. B H.||Shepherd, William|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Iremonger, T. L.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Carr, Robert||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Channon, H.||Kaberry, D.||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Kerby, Capt. H. J||Speir, R. M.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Kerr, H. W.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Cole, Norman||Lambert, Hon. G.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Lambton, Viscount||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Leather, E. H. C.||Storey, S|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Llewellyn, D T.||Summers, G. S.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S)||Taylor, Sir Chares (Eastbourne)|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Deedes, W. F.||McCalHim, Major D.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||McCorquodale, Rt Hon. M S||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon W.)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||McKibbin, A J.||Tilney, John|
|Drayson, G. B.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Drewe, Sir C.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Turton, R. H.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Vaughan-Morgan, J K|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E||Vosper, D. F.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Walker-Smith, DC|
|Fell, A.||Marples, A. E.||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Wellwood, W.|
|Foster, John||Mellor, Sir John||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Molson, A. H. E.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Neave, Airey||Wills, G.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Nicholls, Harmar||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Glover, D.||Nugent, G. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Godber, J. B.||Nutting, Anthony||Mr. Studholme and|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col A||Oakshott, H. D||Mr. Robert Allen.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Hamilton, W. W.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Hannan, W.||Pannell, Charles|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hardy, E. A.||Parker, J.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Hargreaves, A.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hun. C. R.||Hastings, S.||Pearson, A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hayman, F. H.||Peart, T. F.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Healey, Dennis (Leeds, S.E.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Herbison, Miss M.||Popple well, E.|
|Bartley, P.||Hewitson, Capt, M.||Porter, G.|
|Bence, C. R.||Hobson, C. R.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Holman, P.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Benson, G.||Houghton. Douglas||Proctor, W. T.|
|Beswick, F.||Hoy, J. H.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Blackburn, F||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reeves, J.|
|Blyton, W R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Boardman, H.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Richards, R.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Brook, Dryden (Hallfax)||Janner, B.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Ross, William|
|Brown, Rt Hon. George (Belper)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Short, E. W.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Carmichael, J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Champion, A. J.||Keenan, W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Kenyon, C.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Clunie, J.||King, Dr. H. M.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Collick, P. H.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lewis, Arthur||Steele, T.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||MacColl, J. E||Swingler, S. T.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McGhee, H. G||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||MoGovern, J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Mclnnes, J.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Deer, G.||McLeavy, F.||Thornton, E.|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Tomney, F.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Manuel, A. C||Wallace, H. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mason, Roy||Warbey, W. N.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mayhew, C. P.||Watking, T. E.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Messer, Sir F.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mikardo, Ian||Weitzman, D.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mitchison, G. R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Moody, A. S.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E Flint)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Morley, R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Follick, M.||Morris, Peroy (Swansea, W.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Fortran, J. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Willey, F. T.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mort, D. L.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Moyle, A.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mulley, F. W.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Murray, J. D.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Nally, W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Grey, C. F.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hen. P. J.||Wyatt, W L.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oldfield, W. H.||Yates, W. F.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oliver, G. H.||Younger, Rt. Hon K|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Orbach, M.|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Oswald, T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Royle and Mr. Holmes.|
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 25, to leave out from "repealed," to the end of line 28, on page 2.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
I think it would be convenient if we discussed, at the same time, the next Amendment, in page 2, line 30.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I hope we may have some reciprocity from the Assistant Postmaster-General here, because in his last speech he accepted many of the arguments which I am about to put forward, particularly the argument that the country is in no economic position to meet, nor can it justify, the continuance of the subsidy to business men on their telegrams. The Committee has supported 1231 the right hon. Gentleman in saying that it is an impossible situation when the taxpayers and the other users of the Post Office have to pay 2s. 4d. every time a business man sends a telegram. If that is true, then, clearly, the hon. Gentleman will be in an amenable frame of mind when I put to him the facts which lead me to move the Amendment about the rates for Press telegrams.
The sub-committee of the Estimates Committee which considered this matter paid particular attention to the Press telegram rates, and in Question 1241 of the Report of the Minutes of Evidence it was elicited from the Post Office representative present that the loss on Press telegrams was the staggering figure of £238,000. That was subsequently amended, after the Post Office had gone away and weighed the cost of handling the telegrams, to about £150,000. The Estimates Committee were so impressed by this that they asked that steps should be taken to mitigate the loss on the inland telegraph service which arose from this Press rate.
The purpose of the Amendments is to abolish the Press rate altogether and to ask newspapers to pay the ordinary rate which the public will have to pay—3s. for the first 12 words and 3d. a word thereafter. It may well be argued that this is not the time to break with custom and to upset an arrangement which has been in operation for so long. The Estimates Committee paid some attention to that point and said that the Press rates had been in existence for so long that it would not be easy to abolish them or alter them.
What I think this Committee must consider is whether the sanctity of time has justified a preference being given to the Press and I should like, therefore, to remind hon. Members of the way in which this Press rate was instituted. I hope I shall not be out of order, Sir Rhys, when I say that this started in 1858, when a gentleman called Ricardo, not, I think, the famous economist but the manager of the Electric Telegraph Co., wrote to Mr. Gladstone and said that the telegraph companies of this country ought to be owned by the State. I regret to say that I cannot tell the Committee what Mr. Gladstone said in 1858, but this is true: he did nothing at all.
1232 In 1868—and in reading these reports one does so against a background of flowered waistcoats, oiled ringlets and a sturdy man cutting down trees—Mr. Disraeli decided that the telegraph service should be State-owned. This was of particular importance to the Press, and the Press has inherited the legacy from those days.
Now, in those days, the telegraph companies performed a dual purpose. They were, first, the collectors of news in their areas and they were, secondly, the transmitters of news; and the newspapers paid the telegraph companies—this was before they came under State ownership —a rate which covered also the collecting of news. For example, if Mr. Disraeli went to Manchester and made a speech, it was the telegraph company which reported what he said and transmitted to the newspaper a report of his speech. For this the newspaper paid a lump sum to the telegraph company and I will deal later with the way in which that was divided.
When the Government proposed that the telegraph company should be nationalised—when one of the first great nationalisation Acts took place in the middle of the 19th century by a Tory Government—the Press were very worried and anxious about their position and those newspapers which supported this major act of nationalisation were threatened by some telegraph companies that unless they opposed the Bill, or at least withdrew their support for it, their services might be cut off altogether. One section of the Press, therefore, was frightened.
Another section, led by Mr. John Taylor, who was then the owner of the "Manchester Guardian," took the view that this was a very good thing indeed and organised a petition of 177 newspaper proprietors who came forward with a request that the Bill should go through but, what was important, that the newspapers should not pay any more than they were paying to the telegraph companies. There was a third section of the Press which, I regret to say, was venal and corrupt and which had been accustomed to extracting subsidies of one kind or another, and it also had an axe to grind.
But all sections of the Press united in wanting to get as cheap a rate as possible.
1233 Mr. Disraeli's Administration, like other Administrations which we have experienced, very much wanted to get the Bill through, so they said to the Press, "All right. If you will support us on this we will see to it that you get a cheap rate, lower than the rate which you are paying the telegraph companies." Mr. John Taylor, of the "Manchester Guardian," said, "All right. I will give you £126, if you will give me a service of Press telegrams, instead of the £200 which I am paying the telegraph companies, and the other £74 which I save I will put into the establishment of a co-operative news agency." That is a news agency such as the Press Association, which is a co-operative news agency in this country.
Mr. Disraeli, to get the Bill through, said, "That is what we will do. We will give you this cheap rate." And the Press telegram rate was born and has been in existence for many years.
When the debate took place in the House in 1868, it was quite clear that Mr. Gladstone did not think the electric telegraph had come to stay in any case. He was fairly pessimistic about its future and quite convinced that State ownership of the telegraph service would result in the Government reading the telegrams and in the Government being very careful to see that the political intelligence which was despatched was not of an objective kind.
On that occasion Mr. Gladstone was wrong, but the positive fact which arose was that the Press telegram rate was 1s. for 100 words in the daytime and 1s. for 75 words at night, with a charge of 2d. for copies. That remained as the rate until 1915, when the rate of wordage was lowered from 100 to 80 and from 75 to 60 and the charge of 2d. for copies was increased to 3d.
Then, in 1940, the charge was raised from 1s. to 1s. 3d. So that for 75 years, because the Act establishing the nationalised telegraph service was being put into operation and brought in against the wishes of the private telegraph people— who, after all, did not do badly because they got £5 million—and because those circumstances were fairly squalid—there was tremendous rigging of the market, with inspired statements saying that the Government were not going ahead with the Bill, down went the shares of the telegraph companies, speculators came in 1234 and bought up the shares—things which have gone on fairly consistently in our civilisation in deals of this kind for many years; because it was a squalid deal like this, the Press was able to get this fantastically low rate and was able to go on enjoying it from Government after Government for 75 years.
What is the justification of it today? Conditions have altered. The Press of this country, taking it by and large and with the usual reservations one makes, is free in the sense that it is unsubsidised. Indeed, it is the proud claim of the newspaper proprietors, whether the owners of massive organs or comparatively small newspapers, that the Press is unsubsidised and that, unlike other countries such as France, and Germany before the war, no newspaper here exists on the subsidies of anybody but depends for its success on the appreciation of its readers and the appreciation of its advertisers.
For example, we had at the beginning of the war a situation where Reuters, the great overseas Press agency, was in dire straits because so many of its customers had gone. Japan had occupied the East, Germany had occupied Europe. There was a suggestion that the British Government should give Reuters a subsidy, but the newspaper proprietors in Fleet Street said, "No, we will not permit a great agency like Reuters to have a subsidy." They negotiated with the Press Association for the purpose of taking over Reuters—I was a member of the proprietors' negotiating committee. So keen was the Press that not even through an agency with which they were only associated in the sense of being customers—I am talking now about the London daily papers—should any subsidised sources of news come to the offices, that they entered into an arrangement to buy into Reuters and so save it from having to accept a Government subsidy.
Therefore, on moral grounds the Press is against subsidies. On the grounds that a free Press must be free in the commercial sense, the Press is against subsidies of any kind. And now there is no economic reason why the Post Office should give subsidies to newspapers for, I am pleased to learn, the newspapers are doing very well at present. My hon. Friend the Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) has suggested that this 1235 Amendment might work rather harshly on some of the smaller papers, but that is always the way with these things; when there is an instance of a change of cost, it presses more hardly on some people than on others. Taxation is an example. But I would reassure my hon. Friend on this point because the provincial newspapers, which largely are the users of Press telegrams, are showing year in and year out a healthy state of dividend and a generous rate of distribution.
Therefore, they do not want the subsidy they are now getting and which they will get under this Bill. For I hope there is no confusion on the part of the Committee as to whether this is a subsidy that is being offered to them, for subsidy it certainly is. Last year's traffic in Press telegrams amounted to £28,000 on which there was a loss of approximately £65,000. These are the figures which the hon. Gentleman the Assistant Postmaster-General gave only a few weeks ago.
If the Press telegrams were sent at normal rates the Post Office would have received not £28,000 but £175,000 and under this Bill, if there is no change in the volume of traffic, the Post Office will receive £66,000 for its Press telegrams. If, however, the Press pay for their telegrams at the normal rate of 3d. for a dozen words and 3d. a word thereafter, it would be paying £350,000. Up to now the taxpayer, or the other users of Post Office services, have been giving the Press, through the Press telegram rate, a subsidy of £147,000 a year—that is the difference between the £28,000 they paid and the £175,000 which it would have cost them if they had put the telegrams through at normal rates.
Now the subsidy under this Bill, if the Amendment is not accepted by the hon. Gentleman, will be £284,000—the difference between the £66,000 estimated and the £350,000, which is what the Press would be called upon to pay if it had to pay for its telegrams at the public rate. So the subsidy to be given to the Press under this Bill is twice what it is today. Instead of being £147,000, it will be £284,000, and on this estimate of £66,000 it is still estimated that there will be a loss of between £15,000 and £20,000 a year.
1236 If it is argued, as the hon. Gentleman argued just now, that there is no justification for giving to the business man a subsidy of 2s. 4d. on his telegrams, what is the justification for giving the Press a subsidy of between £15,000 and £20,000 a year? We do not want a subsidised Press and nobody is more insistent on that than the newspaper proprietors themselves. They have constantly been inveighing against subsidies of one kind and another. They believe in free enterprise, in standing on their own feet, in facing the future with calm and courage, in every man doing the best he can and the devil take the hindmost. That is, roughly, the tradition and philosophy of the newspapers.
That is admirable from the point of view of the taxpayer, and I therefore suggest that the Assistant Postmaster-General now looks in the direction where honey is waiting for him, accepts this Amendment and so reduces the potential loss on the service by a considerable amount, and abolishes for good and all any suggestion, any possible accusation, that this Government or any other Government, no matter what their political complexion, are subsidising the Press of this country. He would perform two services: he would benefit the taxpayer and he would see to it that the fair name of the British Press is never tarnished.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
My hon. Friend has moved the Amendment with great capability, has martialled the facts, and has stated an unanswerable case. He was wise to base his argument upon the dictum laid down by the Assistant Postmaster-General in the previous debate, when he said that people who can afford it, ought not to be subsidised. Here is a case to which that dictum can be applied, and in the dire circumstances in which he considers the inland telegram traffic to be, this concession which was made in the past ought not to be continued. In fact, it is the one concession which ought to be attacked more than any other because it is a subsidy or a concession, call it what you will, given to the least deserving sections of the community insofar as they are not the least prosperous.
No doubt the hon. Gentleman will say that this is a small matter, but I am wondering whether it really is so. The 1237 arithmetical veracity of the hon. Gentleman has been questioned before and I am wondering how related to fact is his statement about the loss sustained on this part of the inland telegraph service.
It has been said repeatedly that the hon. Gentleman has the best advisers and that they are used to making estimates. There are enough of them here tonight, anyhow. A loss of £238,000 a year was reported to the Select Committee on Estimates, then by some mysterious means that sum is reduced to £150,000. How comes it that an estimate which was originally nearly £250,000 is reduced by nearly £100,000? By what process does this manipulation take place? That statement was dated 22nd July, 1953, and now the Assistant Postmaster-General tells us that that is all wrong. I wonder who told him that. Now we are told (that the loss is £60,000, according to column 1870 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 30th March of this year. What mysterious calculations are taking place? What is the real loss on Press telegrams?
The Select Committee on Estimates is solemnly told, on the one hand, that the loss is over £250,000, and then the Assistant Postmaster-General says, on the other, that that is wrong and that it is only £60,000. We are entitled to an explanation. Has the figure been whittled down because of criticisms in the Select Committee? Is this the intelligent guess upon which we have to rely? All this leaves me full of suspicion. I am sorry to have to be suspicious about the estimate of a Department for which I have learned to have the greatest possible respect. Is this £60,000 the hon. Gentleman's own estimate or that of the Post Office. If it is his own, will the hon. Gentleman explain to the Committee the underlying basis for the £60,000 and equally the underlying basis for the £238,000? Then, as an exercise in arithmetic, the hon. Gentleman might tell us what is the basis for the £150,000.
The Committee is entitled to know what is the extent of the subsidy to the Press. No one will get any Press headlines about this, but apparently something is being concealed and being whittled down. I am astonished that it has been whittled down from that side of the Committee where it is a part of hon. Members' doctrine that they do not believe in private enterprise.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I said whittled down. My hon. Friend is getting a little older and either my enunciation is going or his hearing is not as good as it was. That too is whittled down.
No doubt the Assistant Postmaster-General will say to me, "Why did you not do this when you were in office?" But he has already provided the answer, because I had a substantial surplus on the whole account and, therefore, I felt that it was not necessary to take this step at that stage. That is my defence.
It is proposed, under the Bill, to charge 3s. for every 60 or 80 words or part thereof, so I take it that the Press people will pay 6s. for 120 words while the average citizen, the private user will have to pay 30s. for the same number of words, and most Press telegrams are long telegrams. It is inexcusable to provide preferential treatment for people who can meet the ordinary rate quite adequately. That is the basis of our case.
The Assistant Postmaster-General said that the inland telegraph service is in dire need of attention and that we must double the charge to the ordinary private user. If that is the case, we should not put ourselves in the position under this Bill of subsidising Press telegrams to the extent of over £280,000 a year.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Not only is it subsidised to the extent of £284,000 as compared with the private user, but if one has regard to the cost of the inland telegraph service it is subsidised by over £300,000 a year. What has the Chairman of the Select Committee on Estimates to say about that? Here is a subsidy of over £300,000 a year going to people who can well afford to pay the ordinary rate.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The Select Committee said that the deficit on the inland Press telegram rates a year was originally estimated at £238,000, but the Post Office later pointed out that one factor in the calculation, which was largely a notional one… might have been exaggerated, and that it was possible that a fresh comprehensive study of the matter might lead to a lower estimate of the deficit, perhaps not much over £150,000.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The hon. Gentleman has missed my argument, but I am sure he will be charmed with the modesty of the use of the word "exaggerated." I think that that is a modest way to describe a fall from over £250,000 to £150,000, and now we are told that it is not even that but £60,000, so the hon. Gentleman and his Committee apparently were working on assumptions for which there was little basis.
We cannot justify doubling the charge to the private citizen for the use of the telegraph service while at the same time providing a subsidy of £300,000 a year to the Press people for Press use of the telegraph service. That is our case, and unless the Assistant Postmaster-General can accept our view we shall have no alternative but to divide the Committee.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
I am sure we are all very grateful to the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) for what was a very interesting historical survey. It was quite new to me, and I found it fascinating. The hon. Member, because of his knowledge and experience, is in a particular position to give such a survey.
The point raised by the hon. Member was that the Press of this country has always stood very resolutely against any subsidy. He felt that in one sense we were almost insulting it by giving it a subsidy in this direction. All I can say is that we have never had any representation from the Press that it objected to being subsidised. The Press has seen the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for many days, but I have had no letters from the Press saying that it entirely supported the Amendment.
§ Mr. Gammans
I thought the hon. Member was making a very strong defence of the honour of the Press and its dislike of subsidy, but in this case it does not seem to object to subsidies.
The right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) asked where we got the estimate of £230,000 and why it was suddenly whittled down. He asked whether I had whittled it down—
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The hop. Gentleman should be more careful in his use 1240 of words. I did not ask if he whittled it down, but why he whittled down from £150,000 to £60,000, an entirely different matter.
§ Mr. Gammans
I did not whittle it down, but my financial advisers did so. The reason is that it is many years since the charges have been costed and the first figure was a wrong one. I am quite prepared to admit that. The figure with which we are now dealing is a figure of £90,000. It is a small amount, but I am quite prepared to admit that even if it is a small amount it is the duty of this Committee to scrutinise it with very great care.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, as I do not want any confusion about this, may I remind him that on 24th March he told me in the House:The loss attributed to inland Press telegrams in the year ended 31st March, 1953, was about £65,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 121.]That is the figure I have been using. Now we have a new figure of £90,000 and I wonder if the hon. Gentleman can explain what that represents.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will balance it with the statement he made in the Second Reading debate of 30th March:The revenue received from Press telegrams is now under £30,000 a year and it costs us over £90,000 a year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 1870.]
§ Mr. Gammans
That is perfectly true, the revenue received is about £30,000 and the cost of sending the telegrams is about £90,000—
§ Mr. Gammans
No, the figure of £90,000 was used by the right hon. Member for Caerphilly. The loss was £60,000 a year. We are only dealing with a comparatively small amount, but we must examine it with very great care. The effect of the new charges specified in this Bill will be to reduce the loss from the figure I gave to approximately £15,000. The effect of this Amendment would be to abolish the Press rate altogether—that is what it boils down to.
On the Second Reading debate the hon. Member for Deptford made a very strong speech on the subject. As I told the 1241 House then, there was only one justification for this—history. Press telegrams have been given preference in this country for at least 80 years and, if we were to abolish the concession altogether —we propose to reduce it very considerably, as I have pointed out—we would be doing something which hardly any other country has done.
No, as I explained, the charges now made for inland telegrams bear a very striking resemblance to what they were.
§ Mr. Gammans
I could not say off hand; I think the answer is, "Yes."
These Press charges have been in operation for many years. In that time there have been many Governments of different complexions and none has interfered with them. In the case of the overseas telegrams we are bound by inter national agreement. I mention that only because, if we were to do away with the concession for inland telegrams, it would mean that we were treating our home Press more harshly than the overseas Press. It is difficult to assess what would be the effect—
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The hon. Gentleman is not doing justice to his case. Is it not the fact that our own Press men, our own agents overseas, who send telegrams get a much lower rate?
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not wish to press this point, but we should be treating the home Press more harshly than the foreign Press.
§ Mr. Gammans
More severely then. I think that in fairness we should look at this question apart from any prejudice.
Who are the people who would suffer most from the withdrawal of the concession? During the Second Reading debate one hon. Member said that it would be Lord Beaverbrook. I can assure him that whoever may suffer from the withdrawal of the concession it would not be Lord Beaverbrook. His papers and all 1242 the big London papers, as I am sure the hon. Member for Deptford would agree—
§ Mr. Gammans
—make extensive use of private wires and teleprinters on which, I am glad to say, we make a profit. The people who would be most severely hit would be the provincial papers with a limited circulation. It would not be the provincial papers which are members of a chain, it would be the small provincial papers. I do not know to what extent hon. Members on either side of the Committee feel that this type of newspaper should be penalised in this way.
I do not think that it is a matter of general principle to subsidise business or private interests. If we look at it from a comparatively narrow point of view, I agree that the Press rate could be abolished, but I do not think that in a matter of this sort we should make quite so violent a break with tradition. No Government has done it—the right hon. Gentleman did not do it when he was in office. I am making no party point; I am merely stating that it was not done by his Government, and I do not blame them.
We have raised the Press rate very considerably, but if we accepted this Amendment it would mean multiplying the rate charged by 12 times. This would be a discrimination of another kind, and I hope the House will agree that it would be wrong to abolish the concession altogether.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Of course we are disappointed with the reply of the Assistant Postmaster-General. He has not looked at the situation from the point of view of the newspapers. Almost every newspaper in this country has increased its circulation since the war, and increased its price, either by 50 per cent, or double the previous amount. There is scarcely a newspaper which has not doubled or trebled its advertising rates. This is not a great burden for the newspapers to carry, particularly when so many of them are saying that it is a scandalous thing that hon. Members of this House should have their meals subsidised by the taxpayer—which is an untrue statement.
1243 I should have thought that an opportunity was provided here for the Assistant Postmaster-General to see that the newspapers pay their proper rate, and I hope therefore, in view of the attitude which the hon. Gentleman has adopted, that my hon. Friends will go into the Lobbies in support of this Amendment, and against the Government.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I must say that the reply of the Assistant Postmaster-General was quite unsatisfactory. He half gave the case away. He said that, looking at things from a commercial point of view, there is justification for an increase. He defends the refusal of the Government to accept this Amendment on the grounds of sentiment. I should have thought that in these times of crisis we have far more cause to be sentimental about old-age pensioners than about some independent provincial newspaper owners. In South Wales there are only three really independent newspaper owners. I do not know how many there are in the whole country; but are they in the position that they cannot afford to pay what the ordinary private user has to pay? In the circumstances, I ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to divide the Committee.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I am in a clear position on this subject, because the Select Committee recommended that the Post Office should pursue as a matter of urgency their investigations into the advisability of increasing the rate for Inland Press telegrams. I have only this to say. It is the practice throughout the world to give the Press advantageous rates for inland telegrams. I do not know whether when I was absent from the Committee comparative figures were quoted. In Australia, Canada and New Zealand similar conditions apply.
In Australia the ordinary rate for the general public is 2s. 6d. for 10 words, and the Press rate is 1s. 3d. for 24 words.
§ In France the rate is 100 francs for 10 words, and the Press rate is two francs for each five words.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The rate of two francs for five words compared with 100 francs for 10 words shows a pretty big difference. It is a ratio of 25 to one. That is significant. I must say that on the face of it it is illogical.
It has been the policy of every civilised Government to assist in the dissemination of news and to believe that the dissemination of news is a good thing. From the day when the telegraph service was taken over by the State in 1868, it has always been the policy of every successive Government—Conservative, Liberal and Socialist—to subsidise the Press to that extent. The loss is not enormous. The traffic is not enormous. The alterations made by the Bill will make a difference—
§ Mr. Nicholson
I have never known such a voracity for general information. The hon. Gentleman had better think again.
This is a policy followed by every civilised nation. It would be a striking step if, owing to the passage of the Amendment, this nation alone, of all civilised nations, went back on universal practice.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 185.1247
|Division No. 75.]||AYES||[8.43 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Braithwaite, Sir Gurney|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bennett, William (Woodside)||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bavins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Bullard, D. G.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Birch, Nigel||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bishop, F. P.||Campbell, Sir David|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Black, C. W.||Carr, Robert|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bowen, E. R.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Channon, H.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Boyle, Sir Edward||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Braine, B. R.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)|
|Bell, Philip (Balton, E.)||Brailhwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Cole, Norman|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Iremonger, T. L.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Redmayne, M.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Kaberry, D.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Kerby, Capt. H. J.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kerr, H. W.||Russell, R. S.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lambert, Hon. G,||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lambton, Viscount||Sohofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Leather, E. H. C.||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.|
|Drayion, G. B.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Shepherd, William|
|Drewe, Sir C.||Liewellyn, D. T.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Duncan, Capt. J A. L.||Lucus, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Erroll, F. J.||McCallum, Major D.||Speir, R. M.|
|Fell, A.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Finlay, Graeme||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, G. P.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||McKibbin, A. J.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hllthead)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Studholme, H. G|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marlowe, A. A. M.||Summers, G. S.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Marples, A. E.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Glover, D.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Godber, J. B.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Mellor, Sir John||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Molson, A. H. E.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Gower, H. R||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Neave, Airey||Tilney, John|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Nicholls, Harmar||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Turner, H. F. L|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Nutting, Anthony||Vaughan-Morgan, J K.|
|Harvie-Wart, Sir George||Oakshott, H. D.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Heath, Edward||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Osborne, C.||Wellwood, W.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Page, R. G.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Peyton, J. W. W.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Wills, G.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Pitman, I. J.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hurd, A. R.||Major Conant and Mr. Legh.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Champion, A. J.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Chapman, W. D.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Chetwynd, G. R.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Clunie, J.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Coldrick, W.||Grey, C. F.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Collick, P. H.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bartley, P.||Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)|
|Bence, C. R.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Calm Valley)|
|Bonn, Hon. Wedgwood||Cropland, C. A. R.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Benson, G.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hamilton, W. W|
|Beswick, F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hannan, W.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Blackburn, F.||Deer, G.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Delargy, H. J.||Hastings, S.|
|Boardman, H.||Dodds, N. N.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon, A. G.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Evans, Edward (Lowettoft)||Holman, P.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fernyhough, E.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fienburgh, W.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Fletcher, Erie (Islington, E.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Callaghan, L. J||Follick, M.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Carmichael, J.||Forman, J. C.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Atteroliffe)||Mort, D. L.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Moyle, A.||Smith, Ellis (stoke, S.)|
|Isaacs, Rl. Hon. G. A.||Mulley, F. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Jarnner, B.||Murray, J. D.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Nally, W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P J||Steele, T.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Oldfield, W. H.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Orbach, M.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Oswald, T.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Keenan, W.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Kenyon, C||Pannell, Charles||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Parker, J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Parkin, B. T||Thornton, E.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Peart, T. F.||Tomney, F.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Viant, S. p.|
|Lewirs, Arthur||Popplewell, E.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Porter, G||Warbey, W. N|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Logan, D. G.||Proctor, W. T.||Webb, Rt. Hon M. (Bradford, C.)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Pryde, D. J.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|McGovern, J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wheeldon, W. E|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Reeves, J.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|McLeavy, F.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Richards, R.||Willey, F. T.|
|Manuel, A. C||Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Messer, Sir F.||Ross, William||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Royle, C.||Woodburn, R. Hon. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shackleton, E. A. A||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Monslow, W.||Short, E. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Moody, A. S.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Sitverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Morley, R.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Skeffington, A. M.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Having made quite plain our position in relation to the two propositions in Clause 1, from which we are dissenting, it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we do not now divide against the Clause, which will probably enable us to have the short debate which we are hoping to have on Third Reading fairly quickly. I hope, however, that it will not be understood that we are in any way assenting to the proposals contained in this Clause.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
As I hope I have already made clear, the Government have embarked on this drastic alteration in charges for telegrams only with the greatest reluctance. The 1248 service has been declining for many years, but I should like to correct any impression that the Government feel that it is now dead. People will want to send written messages more quickly than by post when the last post has gone, and the overnight telegraphic service will be particularly useful for this. We are accused of killing the telegraph service, but I have said that it is by no means dead, and I am convinced that it never will be.
As the hon. Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams) pointed out, and as I have realised from the beginning, this increase in charges is of particular concern to the staff of the telegraph service. For many years they have maintained the highest traditions of loyalty and keenness, in spite of the depressing effects of these conditions. Telegraphists have always been noted for pride of craft and they will continue so to be, as I am sure the hon. Member for Droylsden will agree.
We shall make very special efforts to avoid hardship to the staff as the result of the fall in traffic. Negotiations between my officials and the staff associations are going on, and with good will on both sides I do not doubt that we 1249 shall get satisfactory agreement. We are always losing staff by retirement, death and resignation, and much can be done to cope with redundancy by the simple process of not taking on any more staff.
Running a service of this kind is very complex. Many attractive suggestions have been made to us which have proved, on examination, to be unworkable. I assure the House that we shall not give up the search and shall economise in every conceivable way while maintaining the highest traditions of the telegraph service.
§ Mr. Hobson
I do not wish to detain the House for more than a few minutes. We voted against the Second Reading of the Bill, not because we do not think that an increase in telegraph charges is necessary, but because the proposed increases are excessive. We shall vote against the Third Reading because no concession at all has been made to us by the Minister.
We felt that the Minister would look at the proposals we made for an increase of 33⅓ per cent, instead of an increase of 100 per cent., but he has failed to do so. Further than that, he still retains the pernicious subsidy to the Press. I am
§ amazed that the hon. Gentleman did not see fit to give way to the Amendment which was proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer). The whole of the Minister's case was that he was against a subsidy in any form, but if he is against a subsidy to Post Office and telegraph users, why is he continuing the subsidy to the Press? That is a concession that he could well have made.
§ The Bill is bad. It will not have the results that the hon. Gentleman expects. Therefore, we are logically bound to vote against the Third Reading.
§ Mr. Ross
I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) say that we shall vote against the Third Reading. We have made clear how we feel about the Bill. The Minister spoke about the keenness of the staff. He reminded me of what the Minister of Works is reported to have said recently about making people keen. I cannot see the Bill making anyone keen about the Assistant Postmaster-General in his present office.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 198; Noes, 176.1253
|Division No. 76.]||AYES||[8.58 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Colegate, W. A.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Crouch, R. F.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, VV.)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Heath, Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Davidson, Viscountess||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Deedes, W. F.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Drayson, G. B.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Birch, Nigel||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P|
|Bishop, F. P.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Blank, C. W.||Elliot. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Erroll, F. J.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fell, A.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Finlay, Graeme||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Fisher, Nigel||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Kaberry, D.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Gammans, L. D.||Kerby, Capt. H. J.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Gamer-Evans, E. H.||Kerr, H. W.|
|Carr, Robert||George, Rt. Hon. Mai. G. Lloyd||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Glover, D.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Channon, H.||Godber, J. B.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Clarke, Cot. Ralph (East Grim lead)||Gomme-Duncan, Col- A.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Gough, C. F. H.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Cole, Norman||Gower, H. R.||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Piokthorn, K. W. M.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pilkington, Capt. R A||Summers, G. S.|
|McCallum, Major O.||Pitman, I. J.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Powell, J. Enoch||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Prioe, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Thomas, p. J. M. (Conway)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O- L||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Thompson, Lt-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Manningham-Butter, Sir R. E.||Ramsden, J. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Tilney, John|
|Marples, A. E.||Redmayne, M.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Robertson, Sir David||Turton, R. H.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Roper, Sir Harold||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mellor, Sir John||Russell, R. S.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Vosper, D. F.|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Neave, Airey||Scott, R. Donald||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)||Wellwood, W.|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Nugent, G. R. H||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Nutting, Anthony||Snadden, W. McN.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Spearman, A. C. M||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|O'Niell, Hon. Phefim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Speir, R. M.||Wills, G.|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Stevens, G. P.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Osborne, C.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Page, R. G.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O||Storey, S||Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Legh|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mayhew, C. P|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Grey, C. F.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Monslow, W.|
|Bartley, P.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Moody, A. S|
|Bence, C. R.||Hamilton, W. W.||Morgan, Dr. H B. W.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Hannan, W.||Morley, R.|
|Benson, G.||Hardy, E. A.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Beswick, F.||Hargreaves, A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Bing, G. H. C||Hastings, S.||Mort, D. L.|
|Blackburn, F||Hayman, F. H.||Moyle, A.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mulley, F. W|
|Boardman, H.||Herbison, Miss M.||Murray, J. D.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Hobsen, C. R.||Nally, W.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Holman, P.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J|
|Brockway, A. F.||Holmes, Horace||Oldfield, W. H|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Houghton, Douglas||Oliver, G. H.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D||Hoy, J. H.||Orbach, M.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Oswald, T.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||HugheS, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)'||Pannell, Charles|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Parker, J,|
|Carmichael, J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Parkin, B. T|
|Champion, A. J||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Peart, T. F|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Janner, B.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Clunie, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Popplewell, E|
|Coldrick, W.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Porter, G.|
|Collick, P. H||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Price, J. T. (Westhougbton)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Keenan, W.||Reeves, J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, C.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Richards, R,|
|Deer, G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Ross, William|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lewis, Arthur||Royle, C.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lindgren, G. S.||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Short, E. W.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Logan, D. G.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Fernyhough, E||MacColl, J. E.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Fienburgh, W.||McGovern, J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||MoKay, John (Wallsend)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Follick, M.||MoLeavy, F.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Forman, J. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Manuel, A. C||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Cordon Walker, Rt. Hon P C||Mason, Roy||Sparks, J. A|
|Steele, T.||Warbey, W. N.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Watkins T. E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Swingler, S. T.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)||Wood burn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Yates, V. F.|
|Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Thornton, E.||WilIey, F. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Tomney, F.||Williams, David (Neath)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen|
|Wallace, H. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.