§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 8, to leave out from beginning to "for" in line 9 and to insert:It shall be the duty of the Board of Trade (hereinafter referred to as 'the Board') and of other authorities, on whom powers are conferred by the six next following sections, to exercise those powers".
§ The Chairman
It will be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the Amendment in page 1, line 14, to leave out from first "Board" to "a".
§ Mr. Fraser
If the Amendment is accepted, Clause 1 (1) will read as follows:It shall be the duty of the Board of Trade (hereinafter referred to as 'the Board') and of other authorities, on whom powers are conferred by the six next following sections, to exercise those powers for the purpose of providing, in any such locality as is specified in the following subsection, employment appropriate to the needs of the locality.
I hope sincerely that the Committee will agree to the Amendment. We listened with great attention to the speeches made on Second Reading, when hon. Members on both sides of the House made it quite clear that the Government had a responsibility to exercise the powers given in the first six Sections of the Bill in areas where some unemployment was developing, or where it had already developed and was serious at the time of the debate.
Further, we have just returned to Parliament from a General Election. It was made clear by Conservative candidates during the election campaign in those parts of the country where we suffer heavy unemployment at present that, if the Conservatives were returned to power, a Bill would be presented and the Government would undertake the duty of providing employment opportunities in the areas which they had neglected in the previous eight years. 1016 All we are seeking to do, by the Amendment, is to ensure that the Bill, when it becomes an Act of Parliament, squares with the speeches of hon. Members on both sides.
The President of the Board of Trade might feel inclined to reply to a discussion on the Amendment by saying that the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, did not include such mandatory powers as those included in the Amendment. I anticipate the right hon. Gentleman by saying that, when the 1945 Bill went through Parliament, it was generally accepted that whatever party became the Government after the war it would accept in full measure the responsibilities placed upon the Government of the day by the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945.
There can be no doubt that after the war the Government of the day gave effect to the provisions of that Act as if the provisions had been mandatory on them. I was in the House during the post-war years and I cannot remember at any time any Member complaining that the Government of the day were not exercising the powers given by the 1945 Act. There has been a great difference in recent years. No Minister can deny that the Government, in recent years, have not given effect to the powers they possess under the 1945 Act, supplemented by the 1950 Act and ultimately by the 1958 Act.
That is why there has been a constant drift of population from the North southwards, halting a little in the Midlands and then gathering force even more around the London area. This has been going on all the time and is still going on. The unemployment figures issued by the Minister of Labour yesterday show that Scotland already has the highest percentage of unemployed among all the Ministry of Labour regions, and in the last four weeks which the return covers we find that, once again, the increase in unemployment in Scotland is far greater than in any other region.
This is further evidence of the complete failure of the Government to administer the powers which they at present possess under the 1945 Act. It is for that reason that I invite the House now to make clear the intention of Parliament. Is it the intention of Parliament that a duty shall be placed 1017 fairly and squarely upon the Government of the day to give effect to the powers written into the Bill? Those powers are largely repetitive of the powers already possessed by the Government. If they are largely repetitive, one thing we can do as we put the Bill through Committee is to lay responsibility fairly and squarely upon the Government to give effect to them. That is the purpose of the Amendment, which I sincerely hope the Committee will accept.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
The real reason why we move our Amendment is that we have no real confidence in the Government. We do not believe that they will make any greater use of the powers which they seek under the Bill than they made of the powers they already possessed under the previous legislation. Ministers made it absolutely clear, during Second Reading debate, that, by administrative action, they had strangled the previous Distribution of Industry Acts. It is because we wish to have this assurance from them that the Amendment is moved, in the hope that the Minister will be able to tell us that the administration of the Bill in the future will be far more serious and energetic than his Department has displayed in the last three years in relation to the previous Distribution of Industry Acts.
It is absolutely clear that there was no need for further legislation, apart from the fact that the Government were to honour promises they had made in a kind of panic in certain areas during the General Election. The only new power that the Government are seeking in the Bill is the power to give financial grants to industrialists who wish to provide their own factories. I have very serious doubts whether that will be a great inducement to an industrialist to go to what we regard as a Development Area, or, as it is described in the Bill, an area of local employment.
We on this side of the House have always believed that the right policy in these conditions is to move work to the workers and not to move workers to the work. During the past few years people have already begun the pre-war practice of migrating from those areas where—because of lack of Government activity, drive, incentive and initiative—there 1018 has been the highest concentration of unemployment to the great industrial centres of the South and the Midlands.
We press the Government now, because we think that the real test is whether the Government will be sincere in their policy of preventing expansion elsewhere and doing their utmost to induce firms to expand or start up anew in Development Areas. On Second Reading, the President of the Board of Trade and the Parliamentary Secretary, in dealing with industrial development certificates, seemed to raise every conceivable qualification why, in certain circumstances, they could not operate the system rigidly. They advanced to any firm which they did not want to develop in a Development Area every argument and excuse that they could think of when the issue of an industrial development certificate to that firm was being discussed.
Unless the Government show discrimination and say categorically to firms that in no circumstances will they be allowed to expand in the London and Birmingham areas, and so on, unless they have an absolutely overwhelming case, the Bill will be just as complete a sham under the present Government as the previous Act was. I believe that on this the Government will take the line of least resistance in any case of difficulty. That means that there will be no great change in the future.
In judging whether the Government are to be trusted with these powers, a contrast of their record with that of the Labour Government shows clearly the difference which has entered into the situation. The powers which the Government could have used have fallen into abeyance and in nearly all respects the Distribution of Industry Acts have been a dead letter.
From the Answer given to me by the President of the Board of Trade on 17th November, it is clear that, under certain main heads of expenditure in connection with the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945—I am referring to Section 3 which gave the Government considerable powers—over the whole thirteen years of the Act's operation about £13 million was spent. I should like to know how much of the £13 million, an average of £1 million a year, was spent during the time when a Labour Government had control and how much was spent under Conservative Administrations. I am willing to 1019 bet that the bulk of the expenditure was incurred during the Labour Government's term of office, because, for a number of years, under Conservative Administrations, there was an absolute ban ' on expenditure under Section 3 of the 1945 Act.
When we come to consider the other Act, the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, commonly called the D.A.T.A.C. Act, which was supposed to give aid not only to Development Areas, but to other areas also, we find that, since the passing of that Act, the pitiful sum of only £45,000 has been spent. In spite of all the flourish with which that Act was brought in, with the idea of bringing assistance to all kinds of areas in the country which were not being helped under the Distribution of Industry Acts, that derisory sum is all that has been spent.
The Distribution of Industry Act, 1950, was intended to enable firms to move and to give them financial inducements to move into Development Areas. In the year 1950–51, £85,000 was spent. In 1956, the figure was £17,000. In 1957 it was £12,000, and in 1958 it was £13,000. That, of course, is under the main provision of that Act, namely, Section 3.
All this is clear proof to me that the Government have not used the powers which they had to hand already, and we have no reason to believe, on their past record, that we can look to their performance in the future with any confidence As the Committee knows, there are still empty factories in existing Development Areas, and little or no attempt is being made to fill them. In Development Areas there are still unused factories, and that state of affairs has been continuing for some time. It is still almost impossible, or it was until just before the election, for a firm in a Development Area to get an extension agreed.
All these things indicate a lack of drive, a lack of initiative, and a continual drift away from the principles of the 1945 Act laid down by the Labour Government. Unless we can have a real assurance from the Minister we shall have to regard this Bill as a piece of window-dressing. Unless some drive is put into it, it will not bring help to the 1020 very hard-pressed areas of our country and the people living in them will have the right to feel that they have been very badly let down by the Government in these proposals.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I strongly support the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd). We are anxious to have an assurance that the Minister will use his powers in this legislation with vigour. We press the matter because we know that the powers already there have not been used. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees said, additional opportunities are given in the Bill to industrialists who wish to erect factories in areas of imminent unemployment, but all the other powers have been contained in previous legislation.
During the Second Reading debate, I quoted from the excellent report on the Development Areas issued in the 1955–56 Session by the Select Committee on Estimate. I shall not read it in full, since we are in Committee, but, on page 6, there are set out in detail the powers which exist under present legislation. Those powers have not been altered. They are still there. They have not been used.
My hon Friend the Member for Hamilton, speaking for Scotland, reminded us of the high level of unemployment in Scotland. While I agree with my hon. Friend that unemployment is higher in Scotland than it is in any other region of the British Isles, I wish to speak about the situation in a small Development Area within a larger region which I represent, namely, the West Cumberland Development Area. In that area unemployment is very high, partly as a result of closure of mines and partly, of course, because of some of the inherent problems of the area itself which are a relic from pre-war days. We are well aware of these things. We have always been anxious that the powers under existing legislation, the 1945 Act and what is commonly called the D.A.T.A.C. Act of 1958, should be used vigorously for the benefit of our area.
These powers have not been used by Conservative Administrations. I could 1021 quote what has been said by official representatives of the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company to indicate that, under the Conservative Administration before this one, the powers which were there were not used. There has been no vigour applied to the implementation of powers which were there in the old Act of 1945 which were administered very vigorously by a Labour Government.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
For only two years, when Mr. Dalton was Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the first two years after the war, £17 million or £18 million, whatever the sum was, was used, but, after that, the figure fell to relatively nothing at all, to very much what it has been since under Conservative Governments.
§ Mr. Peart
That is not true. The powers—negative powers, I admit—to attract industry and to create advance factories were used. The record is there. The figures tell their own story. I have the detailed Board of Trade statistics of factory development in the country, and in that five-year period there was a great surge forward. Indeed, I am glad that the noble Lord has reminded us that it was a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in his first Budget, allocated £10 million for schemes in Development Areas.
I have not heard any mention of Development Areas from a Conservative Chancellor. I am glad that the noble Lord pays real tribute to Mr. Dalton, the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland at that time, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He more than any other person, even during the Coalition Government, was responsible for the Distribution of Industry Act, and, what was more important, when he was responsible for Treasury policy he saw to it that that Act was backed by proper financial assistance.
Since then, there has been a change. Speaking for my own area, I know that, although the powers have been there from 1951 until the present day, they 1022 have not been properly used by the Government at the centre. That is why we are anxious to be assured, now that the Government are introducing this Bill, that they will act with vigour and drive. They are creating a large organisation for England, Wales and Scotland. I shall not deploy my argument too far, because there are details about the functions of the corporations which we can discuss later, but, although we are to have this huge organisation for England and for Scotland, we are afraid that, nevertheless, the powers provided for will not be exercised in areas like mine. I am sure that every hon. Member, speaking for his own constituency—I should have thought that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South would do the same—will look very warily at the huge bureaucracy which is to be created.
The Government could perfectly well have administered these matters under existing legislation and allowed bodies like the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company to do their job properly, helped by the central Government. At present, we are very much afraid that the powers will not be used. As I said, there is a high incidence of unemployment in my area. Nothing has been done from the centre. The Government are altering the whole structure of the organisation which is intended to attract work to areas of unemployment and areas where unemployment is imminent, but, in view of the past record of right hon. and hon. Members at the Board of Trade, we fear that these powers will not be used and there will still be much frustration.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
The hon. Member for Workington, (Mr. Peart) feared whether the powers inherent in the Bill would be used. I am more anxious about how they will be used. What really matters to every constituency is the definition of what is called, in Clause 1 (2), "a high rate of unemployment". For instance, in the City of Aberdeen and the surrounding area we have 3.7 per cent. unemployment. This involves about 3,000 people. In Greenock and Port Glasgow the rate is over 7 per cent., yet there are only 200 fewer people unemployed there than there are in my constituency.
Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to 1023 bear in mind, when he is considering exercising these powers to bring aid swiftly to what he calls areas of high unemployment, not only the percentage of unemployment, but what it means translated into human terms. I speak here primarily of Scotland. If, for instance, the Government were to concentrate their aid principally on areas with a high percentage of unemployment, shall we say, in the industrial belt or the Clydeside area, areas such as mine would have to wait until the problems in the South were solved, and we should lose skilled workers to the South.
I hope that the Government, in exercising the very great range of powers which the Committee is conferring on them, will bear in mind the whole background to the unemployment problem in any particular locality. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will say something about that.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) has just said. Indeed, many of us on this side of the Committee pressed these points on the Government both on Second Reading of the Bill and in previous legislation, during the last Parliament. But I do not follow her in the line that she has chosen, because it seems to me that that is the subject matter of a later Amendment. I wish to deal with the Amendment which has been moved.
I cannot imagine that the present President of the Board of Trade will not regard it as a statutory duty laid upon him to implement the powers for which he is now asking Parliamentary sanction. I should find it very difficult to believe that the right hon. Gentleman would say, in reply to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and the other speeches made in support of the Amendment, "I do not regard this as a duty at all. I regard the Bill as giving me merely permissive powers. I do not believe that Parliament intends to lay upon me any obligation in the matter."
If the Minister were to say any such thing, I think it safe to say that he would be in violent conflict with both sides of the Committee. Both sides of the Committee really wish to lay upon the 1024 Minister an obligation in respect of the matters in which we are proposing to endower him with powers. I imagine that the Minister himself accepts that.
If the right hon. Gentleman does accept it, is there any reason why he should not accept this Amendment? There would then be no reason in the world why the language of the Bill as drawn, which is purely permissive, should not be changed, as my hon. Friend proposes to change it, into mandatory language. If I am right in what I have said so far, it would not be laying upon the Minister any duty or obligation which he is not ready and anxious, and, indeed, glad to accept. If the right hon. Gentleman says, in reply, "You believe that I shall accept these powers as a public duty, and you assume that the Government will, whatever the wording of the Bill may be, regard it as a statutory obligation upon them to exercise every one of these powers where a case for them under the Bill can be made out", then we reply that we prefer to have the obligation in the Bill because of our bitter experience during the past ten years.
We have heard about Scotland from both sides of the Committee. We have heard from north-east England on this side. I wish to speak about Lancashire.
The north-east area of Lancashire was declared by the former Government a Development Area in 1951. Under the powers which they then had under existing legislation, they had to be satisfied in 1951 that north-east Lancashire was an area of high unemployment and that this high unemployment was likely to persist. That is eight years ago. There has been considerable argument since as to whether the Government did anything at all for north-east Lancashire during those eight years. I do not want to resume that argument. I am content, for the purpose of the present argument, to accept whatever the Government claim they have done in north-east Lancashire during those eight years.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am talking for the moment about Lancashire. No doubt my hon. Friend will have his turn to speak later.
1025 If we put it at the highest level and accept, in such language as the Minister himself prefers, every claim that they care to make about the exercise of their powers in those eight years, I invite them to admit, on their part, that at the end of the eight years they had achieved nothing whatever and that north-east Lancashire was worse off in 1958 than when it was first declared a Development Area in 1951. Indeed, the Government do not deny that. It was because the situation had been getting rapidly and progressively worse that they introduced the Cotton Industry Act in July of this year.
This is not the place to discuss the merits of that Act or its consequences, nor have I any intention of doing so, but it is common ground that it was introduced in July this year because northeast Lancashire was going from bad to worse and had reached a stage at which further drastic action in respect of the cotton trade was necessary—and the cotton trade is the principal trade of the area.
§ Mr. H. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Surely there was another reason. A General Election was pending.
§ Mr. Silverman
I would hesitate to attribute any such ulterior motives to the Government, if only because what they did in July, 1959, was not likely to help them, and did not help them much, in Lancashire when the General Election came.
I do not mind what non-economic reasons they might have had. I am not trying to pursue that kind of argument. I am inviting the Minister to come with me along the argument that I have made so far—that in 1951 we had in northeast Lancashire a high rate of unemployment which was likely to persist, that the Government made it into a Development Area to cure that, and that at the end of eight years, so far from having cured the situation, it was far worse than when they began.
We are, therefore, left with this proposition: either the Government had not sufficient powers under the old legislation or they did not use the powers which they had. Taking the first of those alternatives, there are no new powers on this aspect of the matter in the Bill. There is nothing new at all; it is 1026 not even claimed that there is anything new. One therefore supposes that they must abandon the defence that the rapid and tragic deterioration of this situation in north-east Lancashire in those eight years, in spite of its being declared a Development Area, was due to the insufficiency of the Government's powers.
We are, therefore, left with only one explanation—that they had enough powers to arrest the deterioration and did not use them. This is a new Minister, but it is the same Government, and if I am right in saying, as I said at the beginning, that the President of the Board of Trade will accept these powers, for which he is asking and which we are proposing to give him, as imposing upon him a statutory public duty to exercise them in such a way that they will have some beneficial results, then I am sure that he will appreciate that we are very anxious indeed that the Bill shall be amended from the wards as they now stand, which are the vaguest and least mandatory of permissive words, into the strongest mandatory words which we can devise.
As it stands,The powers conferred by the six next following sections shall be exercisable. …That does not impose a duty on anybody. The Minister can do it if he likes. That is not enough. If it is to be a duty, let it be a clearly expressed statutory duty. I very much commend to the Committee and the Minister the words of the Amendment.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
For ten years I have been trying to persuade successive Governments to introduce light manufacturing industry not only into my constituency, but into the Highland area, which begins at the Mull of Kintyre and ends in Shetland, with the seven crofter counties. We have been the most depressed area for well over a century. It begins with unemployment and moves on to depopulation and then to decay. A little over a hundred years ago we carried about one-third of the people in Scotland. Today, we carry less than one-twentieth.
Towns such as Wick have almost everything in the way of public services. I do not know of any small town in Britain which has more. We have good harbours, good aerodromes—second only to Prestwick in Scotland—and good 1027 roads. Caithness roads are exceptionally good. We have main line railways and a world-famous radio station. We have almost every conceivable public service, including gas and electricity, which might be thought rather unusual in Highland towns. We have shops, churches and schools, and a very high standard of education. Nevertheless, without industry we have depopulation, unemployment and decay; the trinity continues.
I have been trying by letter and by interviews, by personal effort and example, too, to show the benefits which will flow from the establishment of industry in the area, and the Government responded magnificently. I refer not to the Board of Trade or to the Scottish Office, but to the Ministry of Supply and the Cabinet, who decided to put the Dounreay breeder reactor plant in my constituency.
What a transformation that has brought over the scene. Over 2,100 people are employed there. Men are working with full-time engagements. As long as they behave themselves, these are life engagements. They have rates of salary, conditions of work, holidays and pensions such as we have never previously known. If we had had 10 people working in one place it would have been remarkable, but here we have 2,100. Of this number 1,100 come from Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Inverness, Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland, and 1,000 come from over the border. The incomers are settling down magnificently.
The result has been that Thurso and district has changed from being a distressed and impoverished area consisting of the aged and the very young. Previously, the middle-aged, active groups were continually having to move elsewhere to find work. Today, we see young mothers there with new babies and new perambulators. The population and decay have been arrested.
§ The Chairman
Order. I find it very difficult to connect the hon. Member's obervations with the Amendment.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I am trying to make the position plain, but I will try to keep within your Ruling, Sir Gordon. I thought that the House should have a background to this matter.
1028 The Board of Trade and the Scottish Office, in so far as they are related under the Distribution of Industries Act, have, in my opinion, deliberately played down the claims of the Highlands while they have carried out a most praiseworthy development in Northern Ireland. We have seen 140 factories established in Northern Ireland, providing 51,000 new jobs, rising to 70,000 jobs provided by the expansion of the industry already there. Much of the work has been provided for natives of Eire, from the border. I find no fault with that, but I find very great fault with the Government providing £622 million in payment to the Northern Ireland Government since the end of the war, from which this development came about. This has provided over 70,000 new jobs, while the Highland area, which is similar in many respects to the six counties of Northern Ireland, has had fewer than 1,000 new jobs. These 70,000 jobs were not in the City of Belfast, but in the rural areas.
The great company of Courtaulds, at Carrickfergus, is employing 1,200 people. Could we not have had this in Inverness or some of the other Highland towns? Of course we could. There was the will to do something in Northern Ireland. I well remember Lord Morrison of Lambeth always attacking the Government about unemployment in Northern Ireland, and then we had this tremendous rush there. I agree with it and I am all in favour of it, but what a contrast! Why should the Highland area, including all these old towns and these unemployed and under-employed people, be left high and dry?
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) talked about unemployment. In January, unemployment in my constituency was running at a rate of 20 per cent., the highest rate in the mainland of Great Britain. After ten years of unrewarding effort, I introduced a Private Bill in 1957, the North of Scotland Development Corporation Bill, which was backed by every Highland Member. The present Minister of State, Scottish Office, took some part in it.
I did that to correct the picture of unemployment, depopulation and decay, but also to meet the need which would arise when the construction of the Dounreay plant came to an end at the 1029 same time as the construction of the Shin hydro scheme. Unemployment must result from that. That Bill was backed by Highland Members.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I am sorry, Sir Gordon. It is rather difficult when one is so interested in the subject and when one sees the cause and effect. I will stop developing that point and leave it for a later opportunity.
No one can deny that the Board of Grade and the Scottish Office lack the will to develop the Highland towns. They could afford to do so, because there were no mandatory words such as the Amendment seeks to introduce into the Bill. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will accept the Amendment. Why should he do otherwise? What does he fear? We are all out to cure unemployment; that is the meaning of the Bill. Why not accept that as a duty whenever it arises? I hope that it will not be necessary to have a Division, but if there is a Division I shall go into the Lobby with those who want these mandatory powers.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (Abertillery)
I wish to reinforce the arguments which have been very powerfully adduced by my hon. Friends about the looseness and ambiguity of the phrasing of the Clause and to support the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) for considerably strengthening the Clause.
I feel that the words:The powers … shall be exercisable …are much too vague for such an important Bill. I am constrained to put this question very pointedly to the President of the Board of Trade: can he not understand why we feel so strongly about the importance of having a mandatory Clause as the chief operative Clause in a Bill such as this? This is not just pure political partisanship. Our feelings are actuated by the sad and bitter experience referred to by my hon. Friends.
Our pride of achievement in the past is not that we passed the Distribution of Industry Act, because we did not. 1030 The Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, was passed by a Coalition Government, as we are often reminded by hon. Members opposite. Our pride and our great sense of joy is that we implemented it, that we operated its provisions. We did that so successfully that the whole industrial complexion of the country was changed.
Our main criticism of the Government is that they have lagged so very much behind their predecessor in power—the Labour Government of 1945–51—in implementing the powers which were inherent in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, and in the further Acts which were passed, one of which was by a Tory Government. In legislation of this description and its consequences on the well-being of the country there is one obvious test. It is the pragmatic test:By their fruits ye shall know them".
When I think of what has happened since 1951 in that part of Britain which I know best—I make all the necessary allowance for what did not happen during 1957–58, when, supposedly, we were in some difficulty over our industrial production—I realise that between 1951 and 1957 nothing whatsoever happened to the tops of the valleys of Monmouthshire in further implementation of the powers on the Statute Book. We have had continuous unemployment of over 4 per cent. in Blaenavon, in Nantyglo, Blaina, Rhymney, Abertillery. Tredegar, Ebbw Vale and other areas. Nothing whatsoever has been done since 1951 to bring new industries to these areas.
There has been a complete standstill. That is why we say that we must have something much stronger than the words, that power "shall be exercised". I can well imagine the situation. A large industrial concern will be looking for a location in which to expand. It will put tremendous pressure on the President of the Board of Trade for following its own inclinations with regard to that locality, and the Minister will obviously refer it to the Bill. The Bill says "shall be exercisable". That is purely permissive. We think that there is a case for making it mandatory. The corollary of "shall be exercisable" is "shall not be exercisable".
It is our grave suspicion that these words are too loosely phrased to ensure 1031 the proper implementation of the provisions of the Bill. I very strongly support my hon. Friends who have insisted that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton should take the place of this very ambiguous wording in the Clause.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynmouth)
I should like to make a few comments about the Amendment. I am all for giving the Government the very strongest powers that we possibly can, to make the provisions of the Bill work. I have watched developments in the North-East under the various Acts for a very long time. I have listened to some of the arguments in support of the Amendment, and I think that it is directed towards trying to force the Government to take greater action than, possibly, they should be empowered to do. It is not only the Government which have to act; it is also the local authorities and all the rest of the people who live in those areas who have a great interest in maintaining and improving the level of employment. I want to say this, because I think that it is very important indeed. The County Borough of Tyne-mouth has exercised the powers that have been conferred under the various Acts.
I might point out that the original creative idea arose from the then Conservative Prime Minister, Mr. Stanley Baldwin. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is no good hon. Members saying "Oh." I have been in this House for a very long time and I know just what the then Prime Minister did. I am not for one moment suggesting that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite did not make their contribution. We all made our contribution and it is right that it should be so, but the creative idea behind all these Bills, that we should do something by financial aid, by inducement, and by guidance and conversation with those interested for those areas with a level of unemployment above the national average, was that of Mr. Baldwin, and I am not going to allow anyone to deny it.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
Would the hon. Lady not agree that the creative idea arose in 1930, when the then Labour Government had surveys made of the four Development Areas? It was there that the whole idea arose.
1032 These were produced by the universities for the Board of Trade and published by the Board of Trade at that time.
§ Dame Irene Ward
Not at all. The whole idea of setting this up—and the letters that went round from the then Prime Minister to all industrialists—was the work of Mr. Stanley Baldwin. It is, of course, true that many people were discussing unemployment during the 1920s when it sprang to a high level.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Herbert Butcher)
Would the hon. Lady be so good as to relate her argument to the future rather than to the past?
§ Dame Irene Ward
Yes, Sir Herbert, but I think that it is right to make some observation on the intervention from the benches opposite.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Quite apart from this interesting question of whether Codlin is the friend or Short, will the hon. Lady tell the Committee whether she has any good reason to offer why powers under the Bill should not be mandatory on the Government instead of being permissive?
§ Dame Irene Ward
If the hon. Member would only listen to what I have to say he would realise that I am saying that there is quite a difference between the philosophy of right hon. and hon. Members opposite and that of my party. We on these benches do not believe in making everything mandatory. It has been proved to be ineffective, for example, by the forcing of nationalisation on some of our industries by the Labour Government.
The local authority in my constituency, the County Borough of Tyne-mouth, set about getting new industries into the West Chirton Trading Estate through a very active, well-balanced and highly competent trade and commerce committee with a first-class town clerk who made it his object, with the committee, to go round the country, as suggested by my right hon. Friend. It is really the whole basis of the argument in the Bill that one creates a situation and then those who are interested have to do a share of the work. The work must not all come from civil servants or the President of the Board of Trade, however interested or efficient they may be.
1033 In Tynemouth an undertaking was considering an extension which was announced in various trade papers. I was not a Member of Parliament for Tynemouth at the time, because I was Member for Wallsend for a long time, but the trade and commerce committee in my present constituency, with its chairman and the town clerk, used to go to London and sit in the offices of these great concerns and sell to them the advantages which were to be found on the North-East Coast. The result is that, today, we have no more land available for any further extension of industry. But I am glad to say that we have first-class industries on our trading estate and that we have been able to carry out a diversification of industry which has helped us to maintain the level of employment.
I should not be in order if I started to ask my right hon. Friend what he proposes to do about shipping and shipbuilding. That is another matter, but there may be an occasion in our consideration of the Bill when I shall be able to discuss the means of coordination between industry and Government Departments, which is vitally necessary. It is not necessary to put all the responsibility on the Government. Responsibility for making progress must he put on those who are in the areas, which they can make if they are alive to the situation and have the right people.
I should not like to say anything about other parts of the country, because they are not my responsibility. But we have a vigorous, virile population on the North-East Coast and I am proud to pay tribute to the trade and commerce committee and the town clerk of Tynemouth and the very effective way in which they have made use of powers conferred on them in various Acts. If other areas accepted this Bill in the spirit in which it is meant to be accepted, and the people in those areas took the interest and made headway and got themselves out and about to try to sell the advantages available in their areas, I am sure that there would be useful results.
I am sure that there are good land and good water facilities and all sorts of things to offer to industrialists in many parts of the country, but, unless someone 1034 gets out and makes the offer, half of the advantages of these areas will be unknown to industrialists. I know that right hon. and hon. Members opposite do not like industrialists and that that is, perhaps, why they do not always get in touch with them. They should get about and make use of the powers which the Bill extends.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I am delighted to pay tribute to that fact, but so far in the debate no one has said a word about it. All that hon. Members have done has been to attack the Government, and I am not going to allow the Government to be attacked. Instead of attacking the Government, hon. Members should look at what can be clone by local authorities, by local officials and others who are interested in creating employment. I am very upset that the Minister of Labour is not to pay a visit to the West Chirton Estate when he is in the North of England. I am sure that if hon. Members cared to pay a visit to the area they would find that all our efforts have been very worth while.
Having made these submissions in support of the Government, I hope that when I want something else I shall have their support.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
We have been bandying words on the question whether this power should be permissive or mandatory. I have read the Bill carefully and I find that, whether permissive or mandatory, the provision in the Clause is of no avail because, quite clearly, the powers which the Government already possess under existing Acts would be equally effective. I respectfully submit that if the powers provided under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, had been exhaustively used much could have been done in existing circumstances.
I want to make a brief historical survey. I have made many representations to Government Departments under the 1945 Act, but to no avail. During 1035 the past six years a rate of unemployment of from 4.3 to 4.8 per cent. has been experienced in the Furness area and nothing has been done, in spite of the many representations which have been made. Ministers have visited the constituency and have said that D.A.T.A.C. would be more effective. It has been so effective that no industrialist has ever indicated that he desires to come to the area.
The problem of migration has been with us since 1951. Three thousand of my constituents have migrated since that date. While I support the Amendment, I take the view that if the Government are to make the Clause nothing more than a pious expression of intention we shall never solve this problem. The sociological effects of unemployment must be taken into account. The Government must become more dynamic and say to industrialists that they must go to certain areas. Nothing in the Bill makes that possible.
In the circumstances, I cannot hold out much hope of the effectiveness of either the Clause or the Amendment in solving the present problems in many areas. Unless the Government say to industrialists that they should go North where there is a volume of unemployment of 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. instead of going South, where there is only a volume of 2 per cent. unemployment, the Bill will lose its effectiveness. Positive action must be taken if this problem is to be resolved, and there is no indication in the Bill that that is to be done.
§ Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)
I find the pleas and charges of the Opposition in support of the Amendment singularly hollow and lacking in factual basis. The first thing to which I would draw attention is that I think I am right in saying that all previous legislation on this subject was permissive and not mandatory in the powers it conferred. I find it difficult to see why we should change that.
I am sure that we all wish the Government to put the maximum pressure behind their attempts to cure unemployment in certain areas. Nevertheless, I also think it essential that the Government should have the maximum amount of discretion and flexibility in the way they can use these powers. The Labour 1036 Government certainly found this necessary. Hon. Members opposite talk a great deal about how much the Labour Government did in operating the distribution of industry powers, but if one studies the figures it will be found that most of that activity was in the first few years after the war.
It will be found that during the last few years of the Labour Government there was a great diminution in the use which hon. Members opposite made of these powers. They found it necessary, for economic reasons, to vary the pressure either upwards or downwards in applying the powers. I believe that it would be wrong to change from a permissive to a mandatory basis in this Bill.
The only reason which the Opposition advance for the Amendment is their charge against the Government that they have not used the powers in their possession. This is utter nonsense. In the last two years of the Labour Government, from 1949 to 1951, 18.9 per cent. of approvals for new factory building were in development areas. From 1956 to 1958, 20.2 per cent. of approvals for new factories were in Development Areas. In other words, in the last two years the percentage of new approvals in Development Areas was greater than in a similar period of the Labour Government. It is, therefore, not true to say that in those years the Conservative Government put less pressure on new development to go to areas where employment was needed. On the contrary, they were putting on more pressure.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of us from this Box, and elsewhere in the House, have said many times that by 1949 so much factory building was approved in Development Areas that the time had come to stop approvals to enable the work which had been approved to be completed. In those circumstances, would it not be fair if the hon. Gentleman were to look at the completions in Development Areas between 1949 and 1951 as against completions elsewhere and then compare the situation with the last two years of the previous Government?
§ Mr. Carr
I see the hon. Member's point, but it would not be fair to do that, because in the first few years after 1037 the war—after six years of war, the frustration of new development, and the destruction of much property—it was natural that there should be a larger burst of new factory building and new businesses wanting to start up than in the years since. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is no good hon. Members shaking their heads, because that is a fact.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Gentleman has not followed me. I did not say a word about the first two years after the war. The hon. Gentleman spoke about the period 1949–51, which was the last two years of the Labour Government. The work of factory building in the Development Areas went on apace during that period. The hon. Gentleman has compared the percentage of factory building approved in the Development Areas during 1949 to 1951 with the period 1957 to 1959. He should look at the comparative completions in those years and not approvals.
§ Mr. Carr
The hon Member is still fallacious in his argument. The period to which the hon. Gentleman refers, 1949–51, was four to five years after the war. It is now fourteen to fifteen years since the end of the war, and that makes a great difference.
One can argue about the rights and wrongs of the total volume of new industrial development going on at any moment according to the degree of expansion various people think is possible in the economy; but in measuring the extent to which any Government is channelling that amount of development into Development Areas rather than elsewhere, I submit that the percentage basis is the only fair way of looking at the problem. During the last three years the Conservative Government have channelled a higher proportion of industrial development into Development Areas than hon. Members opposite did in their comparable years of office.
In my experience, both while I had the privilege of serving at the Ministry of Labour and in my industrial capacity, I have seen something of the workings of this legislation. It is grossly unfair to charge either Ministers or Departments with not making every possible effort to get industry to come to areas of unemployment. I have seen these efforts 1038 and, as an industrialist, I have been at the receiving end of Board of Trade refusals to allow development in crowded areas. It is not right or fair to charge my right hon. Friends and their Departments with not exercising the powers as they should have done.
Finally, I think that the House and the country should bear in mind that, while we are properly concerned with patches of unemployment, it is a fact that during the term of office of the Conservative Party unemployment in almost all the difficult areas reached the lowest level ever. It has risen again in the last year or two, and that is why this new pressure has been brought to bear. But during the years of office of the Conservative Government unemployment in almost all the most difficult areas has been lower than at any time.
§ Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)
I rise to support the Amendment. The whole crux of the Bill is whether the President of the Board of Trade should have direct or permissive powers. We have been told during the last four months that it is the Government's intention to cure unemployment in particular areas. They must have had that thought in mind, because even after the election I well remember the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) saying that the Government would take powers under the new Bill to direct industry to areas suffering from unemployment more than twice the national average. I think that my hon. Friends from the North will know to which broadcast I am referring.
If the Government intend to solve the unemployment problem in areas of high unemployment, why is not the substance of the Amendment in the Bill? Or does the Minister propose to revert to what happened before the war? I remember the President of the Board of Trade, in 1936, telling the people I lived among in Jarrow to work out their 1039 own salvation. Are we to have something of a similar nature recurring under the Bill?
We have an unemployment figure of 4.2 per cent. in my area. Will the President of the Board of Trade order industrialists to transfer their factories to Whitehaven and Cleaton Moor, where we have about 1,000 men and women out of work? If the President of the Board of Trade says to an industrialist, "You will go to Whitehaven" and he replies, "I am sorry, but it is too far away", what authority will the Board of Trade have for ensuring that its orders are carried out?
Will the Government alter the Clause? It is vitally necessary that that should be done. Will the Government leave it as something that is permissible? Will they leave 1,000 men and women in my division to suffer heartbreak because they happen to be in the north-west of England? Will they leave them to the soul-searing indignity of signing on at the employment exchange? Many of my hon. Friends have signed on at an employment exchange and know what it means? The only experience that hon. Members opposite have had of signing on at an employment exchange is when they have signed on in a totally different direction.
By allowing this power to be permissive do the Government intend to allow 11 per cent. of our disabled men and women in my constituency to continue to sign on at the employment exchange? Would it not be better to accede to the Amendment and give direct power of direction to the President of the Board of Trade to ease the situation in the Whitehaven division so that we can bring fresh hope to those people and give them a decent standard of comfort? By doing that they could make more true the phrase that I hear used so often, "You have never had it so good."
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am told that after a meeting of the early Christian Church it took the bishops and archbishops several weeks to settle down to their normal lives and tell their housekeepers what to prepare for breakfast. If one has been indulging in intense theological discussions over the weekend 1040 at Blackpool it is hardly surprising that when one gets back to the House of Commons one scarcely recognises the faces opposite. One scarcely realises that there is a different philosophy from one's own, and one refuses to recognise that there is a Government of completely different persuasion in power and likely to remain in power for some years to come.
I am sorry that I did not bring with me the figures that I gave in our debates on the Distribution of Industry Act last year. Those figures would contradict a good deal of what has been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite this afternoon. From memory, I recall that Mr. Dalton, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1946 and 1947, spent about £17 million to £18 million a year through the medium of the Distribution of Industry Act. After 1947, the sums expended fell away very sharply to about £4 million, and even down to £3 million. That was hardly surprising, because the right hon. Gentleman found what Conservative Governments have found, the extreme difficulty of getting industrialists to go to these places and spend these sums of money even with Government assistance.
Since those extreme days immediately after a war, when we had to deal with a shattered economy, it has not been possible for either Conservative or Labour Governments to find means of expending sums greater than that in the course of a year. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, naturally, have returned to the House full of wishful thinking about the realisation of their own philosophy, and from the quality of their speeches this afternoon it is clear that they want the Act to be the main means of reducing all forms of unemployment arising in the country.
I jotted down a few figures while waiting to speak. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen opposite have any idea of the amount of money which it would be necessary to spend to overcome comparatively large local figures of unemployment.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
During the Second Reading of the Cotton Industry Bill the hon. Gentleman interrupted me and made an irrelevant point.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
We are now in Committee and I shall take only one and a half minutes longer, after which there will be many hours left during which the hon. Gentleman can speak.
I am dealing only in round figures, but an expenditure of £20,000 million suffices to keep about 20 million persons in employment in this country. By the ordinary unitary method, and realising that we have an unemployment figure of 400,000—and I believe that the Labour Party does not want to reduce that figure by more than 300,000 otherwise we shall be in a state of violent inflation—it is easy to see that £300 million extra must be spent annually to achieve an employment situation which would please hon. Members.
Nobody knows from the Bill how much stimulus the Government must give through the medium of the expenditure of the taxpayers' money to achieve a gross new output of £300 million a year. Assume that it is 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, of a businessman's output that is required to induce him to leave a part of the country in which he is quite happy and go to one of these industrial areas where, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) pointed out, he does not want to go. To make a profit and keep his work-people and indulge in a successful enterprise he has to be practically bribed to go to these places under the Bill.
He will not take a bribe unless it is substantial and justified, and is about 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the new business that he has to put out. That involves £50 million to £60 million a year of the taxpayers' money being poured out of the coffers of the public purse, through the Bill, when it is enacted. Does the Labour Party—and I hope that I will get an answer from the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) who, I dare say will answer for his party, or perhaps from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Jay)—
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
When I resume my seat I would very much like to know from the spokesman for the official Opposition whether they are prepared to see £50 million to £60 million of the taxpayers' money poured annually into the pockets of private enterprisers in this country to fulfil the purposes of the Bill. If they are, let them tell the country so. If they are not prepared—
§ Mr. Rhodes
I thank the noble Lord for his courtesy in giving way. During the election the Prime Minister visited Oldham. He got on to a Lancashire Corporation lorry and mentioned the same figures that the noble Lord mentioned just now. The noble Lord asked if we could say whether £50 million to £60 million should be poured out of the coffers of the public purse to private enterprisers.
May I quote what the Prime Minister said. He said, "Surely, if we pour £50 million to £60 million into Lancashire it is bound to do some good somewhere." That is the answer to the noble Lord. A displaced cotton worker who was standing below the lorry made a very pertinent remark. He said, "Well," and he pointed to the lorry. "There,"
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister answers for himself and the Conservative Party. I answer for myself. That is the difference.
Does the Labour Party want to see this large sum of the taxpayers' money poured into the coffers of private enterprise or would it rather, with me, see the money expended by a different system through the local authorities and through the reduction of taxation so that local businessmen could employ people, which they are not able to do now because they are overtaxed, and thus, in a limited way, reduce unemployment?
§ Mr. Jay
I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman has sat down, but if he has not I should like to ask him before he does sit down whether he is aware that half the factories built in Development Areas since the war have been built by private firms at their own expense and, therefore, that the figures which he has given to the House and the whole of his argument mean nothing at all.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I apologise for not being present for the opening few minutes of this debate, but the fact is that I was standing for an hour and ten minutes on a suburban station in the fog, and now that I am here the fog does not appear to have been dissipated in this Chamber.
Realising that the attitude of the Minister is not at the moment very conciliatory, and that there seems some tendency still to reject the Amendment, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to try to dissipate the fog in my mind. I am sure that he will try. It may be due to my lack of understanding, or to the lack of information which the right hon. Gentleman has given.
It may be that the right hon. Gentleman understands the whole matter and is not prepared to tell the Committee, or, again, it may be that he has not had time to get to understand the matter and cannot convey the information. If he says so frankly, I would be the last to complain if he is in that unfortunate situation. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has been going about the country looking into the bacon industry.
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), to whom I always listen with pleasure, and, indeed, not without sympathy—I have always thought that there was a case both for laissez-faire and for Socialism—would have gone down well at Blackpool. He asked a very fair question which raises one or two very important matters. He asked whether we are to pour public money into private industry. One of his hon. Friends told us yesterday that we poured £400 million into the aircraft industry without any control over it, without any share in it and without any right to reimbursement. He gave the reason. He said that this money was really not for industrial planes, but for military planes, that we have to subsidise such military planes, even those that do not fly.
I would be the last person to embarrass my agricultural friends by going into the matter of agriculture, but whether that be a bad principle or not it is too late for the Tory Government to say that they are not prepared to pour money into private enterprise. I think that it was the late Sir Alfred Mond who said that it might be well to subsidise the unem- 1044 ployed, to say "We will pay subsidies if you find employment".
My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) quoted the Prime Minister—I was interested to hear that the right hon. Gentleman had been to Oldham; we did not notice it at the time, we were very busy with the election, but I remember reading the quotation in the papers afterwards—with his customary accuracy. The Prime Minister said that the pouring of £50 million or £60 million into Lancashire was bound to do someone some good. Of course, it was not poured into Lancashire. My hon. Friend and I tabled a Motion to say that it should be, but that Motion was rejected. The money was poured into the pockets of chairmen.
Had the money been given to unemployed workers it would have increased spending power and provided employment. If we have to give money it might be as well to know to whom we are giving it. Clause 1 is very curiously phrased. I know, of course, that the modern idea is, first, to say that we must do something about this because a committee is kicking up a row. Then we say that we must leave it to the Parliamentary draftsmen and then, again, we say, "Make it as liquid and as vague as possible. We do not know what we are to do, or who is to do it."
We are talking about an expenditure of about £300 million. There was a time when the Committee would have demanded to know how that money was to be spent and to have some information about it. There was a time when we had debates about comparatively small sums of money, debates which imported some passion into themselves.
If I may, I would like to put a question to the President of the Board of Trade. I must refer, as I often do, to Oldham, because it presents precisely the problems which arise on Clause 1. At the time when unemployment was at his highest in Oldham a very large factory became vacant. It is owned by Her Majesty and administered on her behalf by the Ministry of Supply. The administration is singularly inefficient. The factory had been let on a 20-year lease to a firm which was known to be going to close down and permission was given to the firm to break the lease after twelve months. The firm broke the lease.
1045 I wrote to the Ministry of Supply months before the factory was to close down asking for information. I was told that the Department had no information to give. I wrote again when the factory had closed and the Ministry said that it was watching the case carefully. I asked whether the Ministry was taking any steps in the matter and I was told that this was a matter for the Lands Tribunal.
Who is to administer these things? This is really what has been wrong all along, even under the Labour Government, too. We set up all sorts of organisations. In point of fact, I could go into the subject of Blackpool. The Labour Party sets up committees in thousands. As I say, we set up organisations and the buck has to be passed from one to another. There is an industrial committee in Oldham which is a first-class committee, but which is without powers, there is the Merseyside Industrial Committee and there is the Lands Tribunal, which is concerned with the letting of factories. We have all these organisations, but every time we pass a Bill we stick in another organisation with no clearly defined powers which has to get into huddles and consultations month after month.
What does the Bill mean? What are the powers which the President of the Board of Trade seeks to exercise under Clause 1; and if he is to reject powers of direction how much can he achieve under the Bill? How many powers will there be, how many bodies and how long will it take?
These problems are urgent and vital. I have read through the Bill and the powers which we are now seeking to obtain in general terms are not provided for at all. It is quite a typical problem of the Lancashire industrial town. When we talk about taking over the land we ought to realise that there is no land. It has to be cleared. Whose job is it to clear the land?
§ Mr. Hale
If that is so, then Blackpool has done a great deal. This is a matter of personal delight to me. But who does it? We talk about transfers of workers and basic services, but does that include housing? If it does not, is not the whole 1046 thing rather farcical in terms of a Lancashire industrial town?
I never like to talk about this great human problem in party terms. There are a great many people on both sides of the Committee who are moved by these things, and I never like to make this a matter of polemical attack, but is not this Bill just an elaborate piece of window-dressing? What does it mean? What has the President of the Board of Trade in mind for Oldham? The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South says that if people do not want to go to the West Country they should not be forced to go there. That is fair enough. I am a libertarian. I prefer things to be done freely. I think that they are better done that way.
But we are dealing with the problem of Oldham, and the fact that the unemployed are there. There are cotton workers in Oldham who have responded time after time to appeals from various Governments. The cotton worker was asked to accept foreign labour, and he did. He was asked to go into munitions work, and he did. He was asked to come out of munitions and go back into cotton, and he did. Time after time he has responded to appeals, and now he is appealing to the Government. I am very glad to say that Oldham had no responsibility for putting the Government in power, but the cotton worker is appealing to the Government, saying, "What are you going to do for me? What powers will you take and how will they be exercised?" Is he not entitled to ask that?
Is it not rather contemptuous of the President of the Board of Trade to say "I have no concern with the workers in the matter of compensation, and I am not prepared to tell them at this moment what powers I shall take. I want my powers to be flexible and my future actions to be adaptable. I do not want to say what I have in mind."
With very great respect, there was a time when a Minister would have beep impeached for wanting to spend £300 million and not saying why he wanted to spend it. This is exactly what happened with £400 million for the aircraft industry. No explanation, virtually no account, was given; there was no method of checking, except by one of the rather elaborate committees which works very well, and—
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
Is my hon. Friend aware that according to the estimate of the Government there is also £60 million to be spent under the Cotton Bill, and that nobody can find out where it is to be spent?
§ The Chairman
I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that we are not dealing with the Cotton Bill now.
§ Mr. Hale
My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) interrupted. I listened carefully to my former Whip, but now I am talking about the unemployed. We want to know, we are entitled to know—all of us, not merely those included in "Who's Who". We want, and are entitled to, the fullest information on this matter.
Here we come again to the precise problem of Oldham, a town that needed town planning for many years. It has great schemes for town planning, but every bit of that town planning depends on the location of industry, and every bit, obviously, is tied up with this question of what is to be done. Is it to be part of the powers of the President of the Board of Trade to say that there is a large factory owned by the Ministry of Supply to be let by the Lands Tribunal and that he will not authorise another building until it is let? What are the criteria of what are suitable premises and what are not?
Why does not the right hon. Gentleman take powers to enable him to say that there are great mills, wonderfully built mills, in which no more is required than the strengthening of the floors for them to become available as first-class modern factories, which could be let as stores, but which are not used, but to which our people have grown accustomed? Why does he not say that the Government will do something about them, instead of saying that they will try to encourage people to build factories by taking a mythical figure, deducting from it an exact figure, and then allocating 80 per cent. of the difference, if there is any difference, which there may not be? That is the formula.
I would remind the President of the Board of Trade that, after all, this is 1048 the House of Commons, one of the last refuges of democracy today, and that it is no use, at the same time, to say, "I am not prepared to say. I can get these powers by exercising the whip. I can march my troops through the Lobby, and I will not trouble to give you any details or any information. Put your trust in me and all will be well. Leave me vague, wide, undefined but not directive powers, and let me see how they work, and I will exercise them as best I can."
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) will forgive me if I return to the Amendment, and that means returning also to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke).
He seemed, somehow or other, as if he was chastising us by suggesting that we wanted—these were his words—to make this Bill a major means of combating unemployment. I think he must still be in considerable touch with the early Christian fathers whom he spoke about in his speech, because the people who have been claiming that this is a major Bill in relation to unemployment are his own leaders. No one on this side of the House would suggest for a moment that this Clause, either as it is or as it is affected by the Amendment, could in any way make this a major Measure to deal with unemployment.
In fact, this is part of the reason why we have this Amendment before us at all, and we hold out no great hope about a miracle happening if the Amendment is accepted. If the Amendment is accepted, it will not mean very much. I suppose that the President of the Board of Trade will tell us that, but we will equally tell him that there are other Amendments on the Notice Paper to deal with the flexible position to which he will certainly have to refer in reply. I, therefore, hope he will not give us the answer that it does not matter very much.
Let us return to this question of the major Bill. We had the benefit of a visit from the Prime Minister during the General Election. In the west of Scotland, he spoke in three places, and I am very sorry that he had to hurry away to speak in England, because in every place in the west of Scotland in 1049 which he spoke the Tories lost a seat. Wherever he spoke, he spoke of a major Bill to deal with unemployment. He found when he travelled north of the Border that the old clichés about full employment did not work. The Tories up there did not talk about full employment; they changed it to good employment. They found it necessary suddenly to race forward with the promise of a major Bill to deal with unemployment. When they come here, they talk about black spots that are rather irritating, and are not going to be cured in seven years. It sounds more like a seven-year itch.
In Scotland at present there are 91,000 unemployed. Have I got to go back to tell the already depressed Tories in Kilmarnock that the Government are not now accepting what they proclaimed they would do—their duty to do something about unemployment, because that is what we are arguing about under the Bill—that no duty or responsibility is accepted by the Government at all, and that all they are doing is furnishing themselves with powers, which may be exercised—not shall be exercised—under certain conditions? In fact, if we look through the Bill we find that all the conditions are ones whichin the opinion of the Board of Trade …".There is all the flexibility in the world, even with the acceptance of this Amendment.
Will this Bill be anything more than a salving of the conscience of the Tory Party? Is this the maximum they can do to match the pledge given to the people of Scotland, to the people of the North-East and to the people of Wales? If this first Amendment is rejected, it will be the denial of a responsibility and a duty which hon. Gentlemen opposite accepted publicly for the sake of getting votes during the General Election.
That is what is at stake in this Amendment. I was glad to hear the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), because he knows that what we are saying is true. It is more than the power to do a thing that matters; the will must he there as well. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as anybody else that hope came to the Highlands 1050 and the north of Scotland in the early days of the Labour Government. It is all very well the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) sitting there smiling. I have dealt with him before. He did next to nothing before, when the Inverness Press said that at last the tide had turned. The tide has turned the other way today.
§ Mr. Ross
No, I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman had all this morning in which to speak in the Scottish Grand Committee. I know he is dying to make a speech. The fact is that in Scotland there is double the unemployment there was eight years ago. Even since the Prime Minister spoke in the month of October, unemployment has risen by 10 per cent. in Scotland, so the longer the right hon. Gentleman stays in Africa and does not come back to make more speeches in Scotland the better.
We look at the Amendment in the light of what duty the Government are accepting. They are accepting no duty. I saw the Secretary of State for Scotland on Saturday to talk about pit closures, about unemployment in the dock area in Ayr, and about the employment situation generally in Ayrshire. What did he tell us? The right hon. Gentleman said that this would be dealt with under the Bill before Parliament. Yet there is no duty laid upon him here. We are providing powers only, and the question will arise, will the Government use those powers?
We can only say that the Government have not used the powers they have already. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) could make a powerful speech on what the Government did in relation to Central Ayrshire, which was nothing. We did not get a single job provided under the Distribution of Industry Acts or under D.A.T.A.C. It may be we shall get a denial of my statement but, if one is given, the figure will be around sixty-three, and in Ayrshire at the moment we have an unemployment figure of over 6,000.
I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will accept this Amendment as a challenge to their own consciences and to their political integrity in relation to the promises 1051 given to the people of Scotland that they would do something, that they were accepting a duty and a responsibility. Here is the challenge to them: will they accept the use of the powers they are taking in this Bill as a duty, instead of the Committee merely furnishing powers without the Government accepting the duty to use those powers?
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
This is an important Amendment to a Bill which deals with a most vital matter for our people. That is why I want to emphasise the point of view of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). After all is said and done, whatever worth there may be in the Bill, whatever methods the Government intend to adopt to deal with the problem of unemployment and what is in the Bill must be capable of dealing with the problem because our people must have some security. What is the use of preparing a Measure so important for the well-being of the country if there is no provision for ensuring that the powers it gives are to be enforced? If this is to be left to the discretion of the Government or of the local authorities the Bill will be too weak to be of any use.
I was amazed that the noble Lord should support the Government in this discussion.
§ Mr. McKay
The noble Lord also said that the Bill would involve the expenditure of £60 million. It is wonderful to my mind how some individuals have the audacity to be so definite when even the Government cannot indicate what is likely to be the expenditure involved. It is like putting up an Aunt Sally merely to knock it down, and in my view when we are dealing with such an important matter it is essential to deal with it seriously, so indicating our own sincerity. It therefore behoves us to indicate to the country in this discussion that we are determined to implement whatever good there is in the Bill for the benefit of the people we are supposed to represent.
We are trying to amend the Bill because we see clearly that there is a strong probability of unemployment increasing. It does not matter to me whether there are 200,000 or 400,000 1052 unemployed, because the problem of each of those men and women is the same. If it is at all possible we should try to eliminate unemployment. If we cannot overcome it completely there is a moral liability on us to do something worth while for those who are eager to do a job of work for their fellow countrymen.
In the mining industry today we can see the problem which has been created partly by the Government. We can see that there will be increased unemployment there, but, I repeat, it is not important how many or who are unemployed, but only the fact that it is a human problem. Every sensible man wants to be employed. He wants to do a day's work and receive the income for it. If the nation cannot ensure that, it has a moral responsibility to see that the unemployed man is looked after. That is of the essence of the humanity that we are supposed to possess.
The Bill can do some good if it is implemented in the right spirit and with proper determination. If I had the job of bringing in legislation to deal with such a vital problem as this I would say that it was not enough simply to create the framework pointing out what should be done and how it could be done, and to leave it at that. It is intensely important to frame the Bill in such a way that it can be of real use. At the moment the Bill points out what should be done, but does not go on to ensure that the work will be done.
That is what the Amendment seeks to do. We want to ensure that the Bill can be implemented in the right spirit, and we shall be able to do that only if we can say that the Bill lays down what we want to do and provides the powers to do it without any ambiguity.
§ Mr. Percy Collick (Birkenhead)
I suggest that the case for the Amendment has been completely made out. The issue is whether the duties contained in the Bill are to be mandatory or permissive. The hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr) told the House a few moments ago that none of my hon. Friends had cited any facts to show why the Amendment should be carried and these duties made mandatory. I want to give what I regard as sufficient facts to make it abundantly clear.
1053 My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) rightly said that the Bill came to light during the election campaign. The Government then conveyed the impression throughout the country that they wanted powers to deal radically with the problem of persistent unemployment in badly hit areas. We were led to believe that the Government were not satisfied with the old powers existing under the Distribution of Industry Acts, but wanted to enlarge them so as to be able to deal more adequately with the problem. That was the pretence. I say "pretence" because I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West that the Government never had the faintest idea of carrying through this Measure in the way we would like to see them do, or even have the will to carry it through.
Unless the Government have the will to do so the Bill is quite useless, and I have not been convinced by anything that the Minister has said that the Government have the will to act. In fact, I can quote the right hon. Gentleman's own words to this effect. I shall have to do so from memory because I do not have the report of the Second Reading debate, but I recollect that the President of the Board of Trade then said that when the Bill was fully operative the number of people it would cover would be smaller than the number now covered by the existing Distribution of Industry Acts. I believe he mentioned the figure of 14 per cent. If the Bill is to cover a smaller percentage of the population than did the original Distribution of Industry Acts, how on earth can the Government pretend that they are taking greater powers to deal with unemployment in other areas?
I want to give a few facts and explain to the Minister why these powers should be made mandatory. Those who are familiar with the history of Development Area legislation know that one of the ideas behind it was that when a town was dependent on one industry—as so many are in the north of England—the Government, by the exercise of the powers provided in that legislation, could steer industry into that town in order to provide an alternative form of employment.
1054 5.45 p.m.
Birkenhead has that problem. Industry there is confined mainly to shipbuilding and the docks, and when the shipbuilding industry is in a period of depression it has an appalling problem of unemployment. In the inter-war years 40 per cent. of the whole population of Birkenhead was out of work I have always understood—and I do not think that it is open to dispute—that the whole point of the Distribution of Industry Acts was that by using the powers which they provided the Government could steer industry into the required areas. If the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) lived in Birkenhead instead of in Dorset he would not be averse to using the powers of those Acts.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. Member should not exaggerate the position for the purpose of scoring a point. He said that in the inter-war years 40 per cent. of the population of this country was unemployed. The actual figure was much less than that; the total unemployed was 3 million.
§ Mr. Collick
The hon. Member should listen. I said that 40 per cent. of the population of Birkenhead was out of work in the inter-war years.
The whole idea was that by the exercise of the powers contained in the Distribution of Industry Acts the Government could steer industries into the required areas in times of recession in the shipbuilding industry in order to provide useful alternative employment for the work people.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West said, one of the problems of the areas in the north of England is the lack of suitable land for new factories. In Birkenhead we have two major sites which lend themselves to this development, and because of the desire of the town to take advantage of the facilities of the Acts it spent no less than three years in obtaining possession of that land which was previously in the ownership of the old railway companies and was tied up in leasehold agreements with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.
For three years the Birkenhead Council negotiated with all the parties concerned and, in the end, it required the insertion 1055 of a special Section in a Private Act of Parliament of the Transport Commission to secure the release of this land from the leasehold tie-up with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. The land came into the possession of the Birkenhead Corporation which had the one idea of building new factories in order to attract new industries to the town. At that stage the council decided, in its wisdom or otherwise, that since the Board of Trade was the responsible Government Department for the development of industry under the Distribution of Industry Acts, it would hand over the land to the Board of Trade. This took place in 1951. It was three years before we got possession of the land and then it was passed over to the Board of Trade. We have been urging the Board of Trade to build an advance factory on that land from 1951 until now. I personally have discussed this matter with every Parliamentary Secretary at the Board of Trade since 1951.
It is not, as was suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South, that industry will not go there. The point is that there are no new, modern factories to which industry can go. Because of that we have wanted advance factories built. Under the Distribution of Industry Acts the Government have all the powers necessary to do that. They do not want the powers in this new Bill. There have been sufficient powers since 1951 to provide the factories and to utilise the land in Birkenhead which the Government possess.
What have the Government done about it? Precisely nothing. There is not a brick on that land after eight years of Tory rule and that is the record of the Government. They do not need powers; what they want is the will to do something. I hope to goodness that before the President of the Board of Trade replies he will pay attention to these problems and improve the record of the Government. I admit that the right hon. Gentleman has not, perhaps, occupied his present office long enough to know much about this matter. We cannot expect too much from him today.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
§ Mr. Collick
The right hon. Gentleman nods his head in acknowledgment. I understand that. But if he knew half as much about this matter as do my hon. Friends we might have more done. I ask him to have regard to the matter and for goodness' sake to do something about it.
§ Mr. Maudling
This may be an appropriate moment for me to address the Committee. We have had a very thorough discussion of this Amendment. We have heard speeches from hon. Members representing constituencies in Scotland—including particularly the Highlands—in Cumberland, the North-East Coast, Lancashire, South Wales and Merseyside, and, I think, in fact from everywhere.
§ Mr. Maudling
Yes, Birkenhead, I accept the hon. Member's point. I think that really covers the whole range of constituencies or areas most actively interested in this Bill.
I have great sympathy with the motives which underlie this Amendment, but I hope that I can point out that the Amendment itself is misconceived. I think also that in a number of cases hon. Members opposite have not fully comprehended its effect. The real point at issue here is one which was made during the Second Reading debate and has been made again today by the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Collick), the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and, I think, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). It is not the powers in the Bill which matter ultimately, but the use which is made of them.
I do not accept what has been said by so many hon. Members, that this Bill contains no new powers. In my speech during the Second Reading debate I endeavoured to explain in each case what were the new powers involved. I will not weary the Committee by going into that again. Indeed, as we proceed with the Bill we shall have plenty of opportunities to discover these new powers.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
Is it true to say that the only substantial addition to the powers in the Bill—there are many minor modifications one way and another—is contained in Clause 3 about building grants?
§ Mr. Maudling
No. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at my speech during the Second Reading debate he will realise the error of his suggestion.
To return to the Amendment, the point was well made by the hon. Member for Birkenhead, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and others that it is not so much the terms of the Bill which are important as the purpose and will of the Government to implement the provisions contained in the Bill. I accept that absolutely. In carrying out the provisions of this Bill we must be judged by the use we make of them and the results we obtain. That will depend on the willpower we show in implementing the provisions in the Bill. I do not think we can write willpower into a Statute, it is a matter of administration which is different from actual legislation.
The power of the House of Commons over the Executive in implementing legislation is the day-to-day pressure which can be imposed on any Government if they are not doing a thing properly. But I do not think that we can write into a Statute a Clause to the effect that the Government must carry out their powers properly. That is the difficulty here. The point is not whether these powers should be used or not, but the extent to which they are used.
The argument has been made—I do not accept it—that we have not made sufficient use of the powers we have had in the past. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr), my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), my hon. Friend the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) and one or two other hon. Members have dealt with that argument. But the point at issue now is the extent to which the Government will use the powers. That, I maintain, is a matter of administration and not a matter which can be statutorily defined in the actual terms of the Bill.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but is not it the case that in many Statutes there are duties of this sort? For instance, in the Education Act there is this general duty on the Minister of Education. All we are seeking to do here is to take the purpose already stated in the Bill and to enjoin the Minister to use powers to carry it out. Does the 1058 right hon. Gentleman object to having to assume that duty?
§ Mr. Maudling
I am afraid that the hon. and learned Gentleman must have failed to understand my main purpose. My point is that the Amendment is raising the question of whether or not these powers are used, but the real question is the extent to which they are used. Hon. Members opposite would not be satisfied if we made a very small use of the powers, but if we did so, we should still be within the terms of the Amendment.
Surely the point is the extent to which we use them. Whether the extent to which we use them is right, in the national interest and in good time depends on the circumstances of the time and must be a matter of administration. This I absolutely agree is subject to the challenge of the House and is something which our record must show. We cannot settle that in advance or put a phrase like this into the Bill.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Accepting what the right hon. Gentleman says, that we cannot give will-power to a Government by Act of Parliament, will he explain to the Committee in what way, if any, his willpower would be undermined or his powers reduced if he accepted this Amendment?
§ Mr. Maudling
If the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to wait a few moments it is my intention to do so.
May I now turn to the actual effect of this Amendment were it accepted by the Committee. It is, of course, very different from what some hon. Members seem to think. I was very shocked to hear that the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) who, as usual, had read the Bill with care, had failed to read the Amendment to which he was speaking. The hon. Gentleman, like one or two of his hon. Friends, was under the impression that the question raised by this Amendment was whether there shall be powers of direction for the Government to direct industry into particular places.
§ Mr. Hale
I said specifically in that part of my speech that I was replying to the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) who spoke before me, and had talked 1059 about not wanting powers to direct. I said that my remarks on that issue were in reply to the speech of the noble Lord.
§ Mr. Maudling
I took a careful note of what the hon. Gentleman said, and he said that if we rejected this Amendment we should be refusing directoral powers. That is not true at all. It has nothing to do with the Amendment at all. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds) was under the impression that what was at issue here was whether the Government have power to direct.
§ Mr. Maudling
No such power exists. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that we should have such power. His hon. Friend who spoke during the Second Reading debate rejected any such intention on behalf of the Labour Party. I must say to the hon. Member for Oldham, West, the hon. Member for Whitehaven and the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) that if they think there is anything in this Amendment giving the Government more power that is not true. There is nothing in the Amendment about the powers of the Government. The question is whether this particular power should be permissive or mandatory.
§ Mr. Hale
I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman again, but he is directly attacking me. This is the Committee stage of the Bill and the right hon. Gentleman will know that we have to amend one part at a time and other parts afterwards. Unless the right hon. Gentleman accepts this Amendment which places fairly and squarely on the Board of Trade the duty to exercise the powers under the Bill it will affect every other Amendment concerned with the powers which would be used and the extent to which they would be used for the direction and steering of industry by the Government.
§ Mr. Maudling
The hon. Gentleman is very ingenious, but he knows the distinction between whether Government powers should be permissive or mandatory. That is the only point I am making. 1060 If he reads the speech which he delivered with such fluency, I think he will find that I am right.
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) referred to the system of industrial development certificates. This is not affected by the Amendment because, surely, the Amendment refers to the powers in the next six Clauses. I think I am right in saying that this does not cover the part of the Bill relating to I.D.C. procedure. Therefore, nothing in this Amendment is concerned with the use of powers to grant industrial development certificates. In any case, the question of permissive or mandatory powers could not arise on that matter because obviously we have a duty to consider every application for an I.D.C. and to either reject or accept it. Therefore, we have to exercise our power whenever we are asked to grant a certificate. So we must concern ourselves solely with the power of inducing, which is a word I prefer rather than that used by my hon. Friend the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South, but perhaps we may argue that again in the future.
We must turn to the power of inducement which alone is our concern in this Amendment. We must limit the field again because in Clause 4 relating to the power to make grants or loans and in Clause 5 dealing with the power to deal with derelict land, there has been added that the Board of Trade shall act when it considers it expedient. In so far as this Amendment has any effect on Clauses 4 and 5 it would urge us to act where we considered it inexpedient.
§ Mr. Mitchison
With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, surely that is quite illogical. The Board of Trade might consider it expedient, but if this Amendment be accepted, it has the duty to exercise those powers for the purpose of the Bill. If this Amendment be not accepted, there is no duty.
§ Mr. Maudling
The argument of the party opposite is that we do not consider things expedient which it thinks are expedient. I thought that normally the argument against a Government was based on actions of expediency rather 1061 than the principle which the party opposite preferred. Just because the party opposite has good intentions we do not have to have a bad Bill.
§ Mr. Maudling
Just one moment.
To make this Amendment would be meaningless in the case of Clauses 4 and 5 where the decision is placed on what the Board of Trade considers expedient. Again I say that we may be wrong in our judgment, but that will be open to the normal challenge of Parliamentary procedure.
§ Mr. Jay
Will the President return to his own argument. It is not a matter of judgment or policy. The Clauses say that where the Board of Trade considers something expedient it may act. Therefore, it is clearly legally possible under the Bill as drafted for it not to act even where it considers it expedient. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that the effect of accepting this Amendment on those Clauses would be that the Board of Trade, if it considers it expedient, would have to act? Does he deny that?
§ Mr. Maudling
Any person who considered whether Parliament went to the extent of legislating for a circumstance in which the Board of Trade thought it expedient to do something but did not do so, must think that there was some novel motive underlying the action of Parliament in drafting the legislation and placing a compulsion upon the Board of Trade to act when it thought it expedient to do so.
§ Mr. Maudling
For the reasons I have been giving for the last five minutes.
Let us see what effect the Amendment would have upon Clauses 2 and 3, which would be affected by it. At present the Bill gives the Board of Trade power to acquire land, erect buildings, carry out works and make building grants. The effect of the Amendment would be to say that we must do that in any locality where there is a high level of unemployment. Must we do all those things or merely some of them, and, if so, which of them? Surely it is clear, when we consider the matter, that the important element is the detailed decision and the degree to which we act.
1062 In a certain area it might be much more sensible to operate something quite different from factory building, but if we write into the Bill that it is the duty of the Board of Trade to exercise these powers, clearly we are compelled to do something about factory building and building grants even in areas where it is not sensible to do so. Otherwise, no other possible construction can be placed upon so amending the Bill as to change the permissive powers of the Board of Trade to mandatory powers, because mandatory powers mean that Parliament is trying to put upon the Board of Trade a duty to do in terms of administration what it normally would not do as a matter of administration. That, surely, is the only point in changing from permissive to mandatory powers.
§ Mr. Mitchison
The Amendment would not have the effect of obliging the right hon. Gentleman to exercise his powers on every occasion when physically and economically they could be exercised. It would put a duty upon him to exercise those powers, not necessarily all at once or on every occasion, for the purpose set out in the Bill. All that the right hon. Gentleman is objecting to is that where his Bill gives him the powers and no duty the Amendment seeks not to deny him those powers but to enforce the duty.
§ Mr. Maudling
The hon. and learned Gentleman has given his case away. He says that the Amendment does not compel one to use the powers in every case when they can be used. I am advised that that is the effect of the Amendment. Whether it is so, however, or not, what is the extent which he thinks would be the legally proper extent of using our powers if the Amendment were passed? The whole question in every case is the extent to which the powers are used, not whether they are used. If the Amendment were passed, on the hon. and learned Gentleman's interpretation we could presumably meet the requirements of the Bill by any small expenditure, however insignificant. Surely, that would make a meaningless jumble of an Act of Parliament.
I am advised that if we accepted the Amendment, which states that it is our duty to act and to use our powers, we would not be able to refuse any project 1063 that was put forward. We could be challenged in courts of law and it could be argued—I think I am well advised in these matters—that we could not sustain a defence against an accusation that we were afraid to use the powers which Parliament had told us to use. In those circumstances, how would we be able to refuse the claims of Birkenhead and other people? That is the point of the Amendment.
Hon. Members opposite think that the Government have failed to do something. Therefore, they think that by Act of Parliament, with the Amendment, we would be compelled to accept without discretion on our part propositions which are put forward and which they think are good ones but which we may not. Surely it must be quite wrong in the exercise of judgment in matters of this kind to say that it is a mandatory instruction to the Government to do a certain thing. Clearly it is the Government's general duty to promote employment in localities in England, Scotland and Wales where high and persistent unemployment exists or is threatened.
§ Mr. Maudling
The Bill makesprovision to promote employment in localities in England, Scotland and Wales where high and persistent unemployment exists or is threatened".
A Bill of this nature having been passed, and the Board of Trade having been given those powers by Parliament for that purpose, it is clearly our responsibility to Parliament to make use of those powers. If we do not make adequate use of them, Parliament can arraign us for not doing so. It is the control of Parliament over the Administration that is involved here and not the attempt to put a statutory obligation in a circumstance where it cannot be effective and where it makes nonsense of legislation.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is misconceiving both the effect of the Bill as drafted and the effect of the Amendment. He says that he has been advised and I have no doubt he has been. The Committee would like to know whether he has been advised only by his own Department or 1064 whether he has taken the opinion of any Law Officer of the Crown. It seems to me, especially on the last point made by the right hon. Gentleman, that if the Bill remains unaltered, Parliament has no power to complain if the Government do nothing whatever, because the Bill—this is why I challenge the right hon. Gentleman—does not impose any duty of any kind.
The Bill equips the Government or the Minister with power. It enables the Minister to exercise it at his discretion, which means that at his own discretion he may not exercise it. What the Amendment seeks to do is to put upon the Minister a statutory duty to exercise whichever of the powers in the Bill are appropriate to the particular case, whereas the Bill unamended imposes upon the Minister no duty of any kind.
§ Mr. Maudling
The hon. Member has completely destroyed his own case, as he does on occasion. He says that unless the powers were made mandatory, Parliament would have no opportunity to complain. As the hon. Member for Hamilton, who moved the Amendment, said, the powers are not mandatory in existing legislation. The hon. Member cannot say that he has had no opportunity to complain—he has done nothing else for the last few hours. I am surprised that he should fall into that sort of trap. The facts do not always fit his argument.
The reason why I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment is because it is misconceived. I accept entirely that the test of the Government on the Bill is the use we make of it and the will and the spirit behind it. We accept that test and I am sure Parliament will put us to the test on these matters consistently over the next few years. But Parliament will not be helped in the slightest degree by the Amendment, which, if passed, so far from helping the objects which we had in mind, would hinder them.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
In describing to us how inappropriate it would be to use in the Bill the words proposed in the Amendment, the President of the Board of Trade has completely ignored the words used in every Statute containing provisions to be administered by local authorities. Every day, virtually all local authorities give effect to legislative provisions which are written into Statutes 1065 with the words "it shall he the duty of the local authority to do" this or that. Every Act of Parliament that gives power to a board of a nationalised industry imposes a duty upon such a board. We get these mandatory provisions in Statutes because it is the will of Parliament that the job shall be done.
That is the position here. We are not satisfied that the present Ministers are willing to give effect to their existing powers under Statutes, so we are not willing to continue to allow them to exercise their discretion. We now say that it is the will of Parliament that a duty be imposed upon them to do those things written in the first seven Clauses of the Bill.
§ Mr. Maudling
There is a difference between the Government and the local authorities. The responsibility to Parliament lies with the Government, not with local authorities.
§ Mr. Fraser
It is the will of Parliament that the local authorities shall have a statutory responsibility to provide, for example, education services, housing and water supplies. We do not put the responsibility on the Minister to provide those things for the people, but we recognise their essential character and how essential it is for the well-being of the whole community that those services should be provided.
Likewise, we in Parliament take the view, on both sides of the Committee, that it is desirable that action should be taken by Her Majesty's Ministers to deal with unemployment in certain parts of the country. It is because we feel that way that we think it desirable to write in those words that make the operation of those provisions mandatory and not permissive, as they are now.
The President of the Board of Trade did not fall into the same trap as his hon. Friend for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in repeating some of the things that were said on Second Reading upon the relative success of the different Governments since the war in giving effect to distribution of industry policy. I underline the words "distribution of industry policy". I have taken some figures from Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., which is the trading estates company which has built most factories in Development Areas since the war. I have taken two or three 1066 industrial estates all administered by Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., in the area of North Lanarkshire, not an area in which unemployment has been solved, but one in which it is now running at 7 per cent., an area in which over the past twelve months unemployment has been higher than for the past twenty years.
Having in mind that that is the employment position in the area, let me give some figures. Between 1945 and 1951, at the Blantyre Industrial Estate, in my constituency, Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., built 363,000 sq. ft. of factories. Between 1952 and 1959, Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., built 68,000 sq. ft. and the figure at present under construction is 21,000 sq. ft. At Carfin Industrial Estate, in North Lanarkshire, between 1945 and 1951, Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., built 205,000 sq. ft. of factories and between 1952 and 1959, 24,000 sq. ft. At Chapelhall Industrial Estate, again in North Lanarkshire, between 1945 and 1951 Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., built 183,000 sq. ft. and between 1952 and 1959, 26,000 sq. ft. The under-construction figure is nil. At Coat-bridge, again in North Lanarkshire, between 1945 and 1951, the figure was 129,000 sq. ft., between 1952 and 1959 nil, with 75,000 sq. ft. now under construction.
I ask the President of the Board of Trade and the Committee to note those figures. They do not merely show what has been happening in this great industrial area of north Lanarkshire in these post-war years. This is a complete replica of what has been happening in all these development areas. A good job of work was done in the six years immediately after the war and since the Tories took over in 1951, the work virtually came to an end. Between 1952 and 1958, Ministers told us that by their own administrative decision without any Act of Parliament, Sections 3 and 5 of the 1945 Act would not be operated. By administrative decision, they wiped out those powers and they were in abeyance for six years until 1958. Then, when we had 600,000 unemployed, they decided to start operating once again Sections 5 and 3 of the 1945 Act. For several years, Ministers had virtually stopped the whole business of stimulating industrial activity in development areas, the areas of high unemployment.
1067 As we are reaching a decision on the Amendment, let us bear one or two things in mind. Last week, we had a debate on the coal-mining industry and I reminded the House that in the first ten months of this year, the number of persons employed in mining fell by 36,000. That meant 36,000 fewer jobs in the mining areas.
The President of the Board of Trade will realise that in that Second Reading debate we were asked to accept a further rundown in the number of people employed in the coal-mining industry on the understanding that alternative employment would be available for the people in the areas affected.
Surely, he realises that if we are to accept this constant running down in that industry—and he and other Ministers tell us that, despite greater efficiency in the industry by which we will get a higher output per man, other sources of fuel may gradually squeeze out coal—if we have to tell people in those towns and villages in Wales and in various parts of England and Scotland that the employment they have enjoyed, or endured, hitherto, is to be taken from them, we must be able to tell them also that other jobs will become available.
It is because we believe that it is the mind of Parliament that alternative jobs shall be available that we say that this Measure should reflect that will of Parliament by putting fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the President of the Board of Trade the duty of giving effect to the provisions of the Bill.
Not only have we a run down in the coal-mining industry; we have a run down in the cotton industry. I understand that the whole point of the exercise in the cotton industry is to provide employment for fewer people. In those circumstances, I should have thought it more important for Parliament to will that a responsibility should lie on the President of the Board of Trade to find alternative employment for those people, than almost anything else that the Minister is doing in relation to the cotton areas.
§ There are difficulties, too, in the shipbuilding areas. Hon. Members who are concerned about those areas, and who represent them, are asked to bear with fortitude the constant running down of that industry, and we sometimes hear Ministers talking about the need to turn our minds to alternative employment in those areas that have hitherto been almost entirely dependent on shipbuilding.
§ If we are to pass this Bill, which is the only one that we are likely to have for a very long time which deals with Government powers in those areas, let us see that those Government powers are mandatory on the Government. There is no doubt that the will of Parliament can be reflected in a Measure like this only if these powers are mandatory, and that the will of Parliament would not be adequately reflected if we were to leave the provisions as flexible, as free and as permissive as the President of the Board of Trade would like to have them.
§ I had better conclude at this stage, although I have many other statistics that I could have used. I moved the Amendment with the minimum amount of statistics, and dealt with it in more general terms, but I honestly believe that if hon. Members opposite were free to vote as they would like, they would vote for the Amendment. The electors who only recently participated in a General Election, the electors in Lanarkshire, in the Highlands of Scotland—[An HON. MEMBER: "In Sunderland."]—and, I suspect, those in Sunderland, too—the electors in all such areas—want the provisions of this Statute to be made effective, and not allowed to remain in abeyance as were those in the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act. I therefore invite the Committee to declare that the Amendment should be made to the Bill.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 265, Noes 195.1071
|Division No. 7.]||AYES||[6.26 p.m.|
|Agnew, sir Peter||Ashton, Sir Hubert||Batsford, Brian|
|Altken, W. T.||Atkins, Humphrey||Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)|
|Allason, James||Barber, Anthony||Beamish, Col. Tufton|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Barlow, Sir John||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Barter, John||Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Nugent, Richard|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Hay, John||Page, Graham|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Partridge, E.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Bossom, Clive||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Peel, John|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Box, Donald||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hobson, John||Pott, Percivall|
|Braine, Bernard||Hocking, Philip N.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Brewis, John||Holland, Philip||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Holland-Martin, Christopher||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hollingworth, John||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Brooman-White, R.||Holt, Arthur||Ramsden, James|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hopkins, Alan||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Bryan, Paul||Hornby, R. P.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bullard, Denys||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Rees, Hugh|
|Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Renton, David|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Iremonger, T. L.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Chataway, Christopher||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Roots, William|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Jackson, John||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||James, David||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Jennings, J. C.||Sharples, Richard|
|Cole, Norman||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Shepherd, William|
|Collard, Richard||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Cooke, Robert||JohnsonSmith, G.(Holb. &S. P'ncr's, S.)||Smith, Dudley(Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Smithers, Peter|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Speir, Rupert|
|Cordle, John||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Corfield, F. V.||Lambton, Viscount||Stodart, J. A.|
|Costain, A. P.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Coulson, J. M.||Langford-Holt, J.||Storey, S.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Leather, E. H. C.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Leburn, Gilmour||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Talbot, John E.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Cunningham, Knox||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Teeling, William|
|Curran, Charles||Lilley, F. J. P.||Temple, John M.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lindsay, Martin||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Dance, James||Litchfield, Capt. John||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Longden, Gilbert||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Loveys, Walter H.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Doughty, Charles||Mac Arthur, Ian||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|du Cann, Edward||McLaren, Martin||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Duncan, Sir James||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, Colin|
|Duthie, Sir William||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy(Bute & N.Ayrs)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Eden, John||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Elliott, R. W.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||McMaster, Stanley||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Erroll, F. J.||Macmillan, Maurice (Hallfax)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Wade, Donald|
|Farr, John||Maddan, Martin||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Maginnis, John E.||Wall, Patrick|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Forrest, George||Markham, Major Sir Frank||watts, James|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Webster, David|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Marshall, Douglas||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Freeth, Denzil||Marten, Neil||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Gammans, Lady||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Mawby, Ray||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wise, Alfred|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Godber, J. B.||Mills, Stratton||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Montgomery, Fergus||Woollam, John|
|Green, Alan||Moore, Sir Thomas||Worsley, Marcus|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Morgan, William||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Nabarro, Gerald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gurden, Harold||Nicholls, Harmar||Mr. Gibson-Watt and|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Mr. Whitelaw.|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Noble, Michael|
|Ainsley, William||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Albu, Austen||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Peart, Frederick|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pentland, Norman|
|Awbery, Stan||Hilton, A. V.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Holman, Percy||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Baird, John||Houghton, Douglas||Probert, Arthur|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hoy, James H.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Beaney, Alan||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Rankin, John|
|Benson, Sir George||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hn. Aneurin (Ebbw V.)||Hunter, A. E.||Rhodes, H.|
|Blyton, William||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Bowles, Frank||Janner, Barnett||Robertson, Sir David|
|Boyden, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Jeger, George||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Ross, William|
|Brawn, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green).||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Short, Edward|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Small, William|
|Chetwynd, George||Kelley, Richard||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Snow, Julian|
|Collick, Percy||King, Dr. Horace||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lawson, George||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Ledger, Ron||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cronin, John||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stonehouse, John|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stones, William|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Logan, David||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Loughlin, Charles||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hn. Edith|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Swain, Thomas|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||MacColl, James||Swingler, Stephen|
|Deer, George||McInnes, James||Sylvester, George|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Symonds, Joseph|
|Dempsey, James||Mackie, John||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Dodds, Norman||McLeavy, Frank||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Driberg, Tom||Macpherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mahon, Simon||Timmons, John|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Tomney, Frank|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Manuel, A. C.||Warbey, William|
|Evans, Albert||Mapp, Charles||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marsh, Richard||Weitzman, David|
|Finch, Harold||Mason, Roy||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mayhew, Christopher||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fletcher, Erie||Mellish, R. J.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mendelson, J. J.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Millan, Bruce||Whitlock, William|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mitchison, G. R.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Galpern, Myer||Monslow, Walter||Wilkins, W. A.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Moody, A. S.||Willey, Frederick|
|Ginsburg, David||Morris, John||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mod, D. L.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Neal, Harold||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Grey, Charles||Oliver, G. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Oswald, Thomas||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Gunter, Ray||Owen, Will||Woof, Robert|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Padley, W. E.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hannan, William||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Paton, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pavitt, Laurence||Mr. Darling and Mr. Redhead.|
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, to leave out "purpose of" and to insert:purposes of the proper distribution and diversification of industry and for the purpose of".
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. F. Blackburn)
It will be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the Amendments in page 1, line 16, at end insert:
or in which further employment is required for the purpose of the proper distribution and diversification of industry",
and in page 16, line 15, to leave out "Local Employment" and to insert "Distribution of Industry". The three Amendments cover the same point.
§ Mr. Lee
The Government will be aware from the speeches made by my hon. Friends on the first Amendment 1073 that we hope to do the things which they, prior to this Parliament meeting, informed the country the Bill would accomplish. The Tory Party said that this would be the Measure of the Session. On Second Reading I quoted the words of the former President of the Board of Trade, who told the country what would happen if the Tories were returned to power. I pointed out that he had said that the Bill would bea 'revolutionary' Tory plan for tackling unemployment".I then quoted this passage from his statement, as reported in the Daily Express:'It brings a totally new approach to the problem. We intend to tackle unemployment with the methods of mobile warfare' … Nothing so lavish or ambitious, Sir David made it clear, has ever been attempted before."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th November, 1959; Vol 613, c. 309 ]The Committee will have gathered from the speeches of my hon. Friends that we do not see a great deal of the revolutionary in Clause 1. That is why I move the Amendment.
We are seized of the need to bring appropriate industry into various localities, but we do not believe that that of itself is a sufficiently wide objective to merit the descriptions which members of the Government have given to the Bill. In the light of the problems of 1959–60 the words about which we complain are somewhat crabbed, unimaginative and restrictive in their scope. We are seized of the need to provide appropriate employment in various localities, but employment of itself can be appropriate to the needs of a locality without necessarily having a great deal of future in the type of employment which is provided.
I have always been afraid of the interpretation of the Government that our present needs do not require the wider Development Areas which we had under previous legislation. The Government have talked about "local spots of unemployment". The words about which we complain give the impression that it is merely a question of looking at certain local spots of unemployment. I have always doubted, and still doubt, whether local problems can be solved by neglecting the regional development of the area in which those localities are situated.
I do not want to repeat everything we tried to say on Second Reading. I hope 1074 that the Government are seized of the point that in these days in so many areas of the North it is industries and not merely firms which are declining. Many of the industries in the North were those which signalled the approach of the first Industrial Revolution. They are now the ghosts of the Industrial Revolution.
The difference between the Government and ourselves is that we are now concerned to usher in the new industrial revolution rather than merely to produce a sort of higgledy-piggledy arrangement in which there is no real pattern of employment and firms go to areas, perhaps flourish for a short period and then go.
By moving the Amendment, in which we ask the Committee to look at proper distribution and diversification of industry, we believe that we are representing the requirements of a great many areas, especially in the North, which could not be met by the rather narrow words which we hope that the Government will agree to delete. In so many northern areas firms and industries are not merely now contracting a little because of an industrial recession. They have reached a stage of their redevelopment when they can never expand again. One instance is the cotton industry. The Government themselves have said this and have acted upon the premise in the legislation which we have had during the past few months.
The Government are not dealing with an issue which will readily yield itself to bringing two, three, four or a small number of firms into a local area. That is not the problem with which we as a Committee should concern ourselves now. There are areas in which new industries have been established. In such areas we know that there will not be the same need to look to the long-distant future as in areas where old industries are contracting. That, again, is one of the points which the Government could take into consideration, if they will accept these words, in trying to plan the diversification and distribution of industry in a proper way.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) mentioned the coal industry. We have seen the National Coal Board's latest plan for the contraction of the industry. We know, within limits, to what degree it will contract. We even know the areas in which it will contract. The Government cannot neglect that kind of consideration when 1075 they bring legislation of this type before Parliament. We were disappointed that they refused to accept the principle which we argued on the last Amendment. May we take it that the Government do not accept that basically the contraction of great industries will be a huge problem for any Government, not for the next four years, but probably for the next twenty years?
To start now with probably the major Bill of this Parliament on this issue merely looking at small local areas of unemployment is tinkering about with a subject which is of the most vital importance to millions of people. The figures of unemployment for 13th November were published recently. They show that in Scotland unemployment has increased by 4,800 to a level of 4.3 per cent. Will the Minister explain to the Committee, and especially to my Scottish hon. Friends, how he will start to solve that problem by looking at certain small local areas of unemployment in Scotland? These things are happening because the great old industries of the first Industrial Revolution are now declining and going downhill rapidly. Nothing that the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else can do will again permit those industries to employ the same numbers of people as they once could.
In the northern area unemployment has increased by 4,500 in the last few weeks to a level of 3.4 per cent. The reasons for that are basically the reasons which are causing unemployment to increase in Scotland. In the Midlands, for instance, there is a plentiful diversification of industry and, in the main, industries are relatively new as compared with the older ones I have discussed. Unemployment in the Midlands is down by 2,200 to a level of 1 per cent., as against 4.3 per cent. in Scotland and 3.4 per cent. in the northern areas.
There will be fluctuations, but this is the pattern of what will happen in the next few years unless we consciously apply our minds to the areas in which industry will contract and bring to their aid newer and more vital industries having a great future before them. There is no way other than that of remedying the defect which exists in the northern parts of Britain. In London and the south-eastern area there was an increase 1076 in unemployment, but despite that increase the average is still 1.1 per cent. Again, there is the same pattern.
The Government's approach, in the words which we suggest should be omitted, does not lend itself to the sort of problem we are all trying to solve. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will not feel restricted. Merely to bring into action the old provisions of the distribution of industry policy of 1945 will not be sufficient, although they form such a large part of the Bill. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not feel that the conditions which were prevalent when that policy was first applied are the conditions under which he will have to work in the next few years. He said himself a short while ago that those conditions had now disappeared.
We should like to know the mind of the Government. They have said—I want to know whether they are still serious about it—that this is, to theme the most vital industrial Measure the House has ever seen. I quoted the words from a speech by the present Minister of Education, which supported that view. Are the Government still making that their principal plan? Are they saying that they will now carry out in this legislation the promises which they made when they were seeking the franchise of the people recently? That is an interpretation of what was being said in those days. Whilst the Government adhere to an interpretation of this Measure which is purely local in, its aspects they cannot possibly carry out their promises.
We are by no means opposed to looking at small areas and trying to bring succour to localities requiring it more and above the average. We feel that merely to confine one's activities to that, instead of taking the broader view, is wrong. Much attention should be paid to the areas which need new industries and to the requirement of diversification in those areas where older industries are now rapidly petering out. That is the basis upon which the Government should act through this legislation.
I move this Amendment believing that only by that kind of action can we make the Bill worth while. On Second Reading, we agreed that the broad provisions of distribution of industry policy have done an extremely fine job for the people of this country, but we argued then, and we argue now—we have put down the 1077 Amendment to crystallise our arguments—that a Government who believe that they can solve the problems of the 1960s on a shoestring, by bringing in any sort of employer who will agree for a few months or a year or two to take advantage of the financial provisions of the Bill in order to produce things which may not in the end command much of a market, are living in a fool's paradise.
I ask the Government to consider our foreign trade and the needs of our balance of payments. They must ensure industrial development meets the requirements of the nation during the rest of this century and, perhaps, for half of the next. I believe that this, and nothing short of it, will be an essential element if the Bill is to be worth the space it will occupy on the Statute Book. Those, broadly, are the purposes which my right hon. and hon. Friends had in mind in putting down the Amendment.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
I believe that this is one of the most important Amendments on the Notice Paper. I warn the Government that they must not think that they will solve Scotland's problems by patching up small pockets of unemployment here and there. If Scotland's problem is to be tackled successfully, it must be done by diversifying industry, and that is the intention behind the Amendment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) spoke of the decay of the mining industry. Others of my hon. Friends will, I know, want to discuss that matter before the Committee disposes of this Amendment. The fall in coal production has had repercussions widely scattered throughout Scotland. I will leave my hon. Friends to deal with that, but there is another repercussion which is frequently not noticed.
My area contains a port, the Port of Leith. In the old days, we exported from the port nearly 2 million tons of coal per annum. By this time of the year, the tonnage was well over the million mark, but this year we have reached a total of only about 65,000 tons. When one compares that miserable tonnage with the tremendous trade which took place in pre-war years, or even if one compares it with what was taking place during post-war years at a time of coal shortage, one realises the 1078 tremendous repercussions which there are on a semi-public undertaking such as the Port of Leith.
Of course, one cannot just go out and replace 2 million tons of traffic without having not only good will but positive assistance in the way of creating new industry and trade to replace that which one has lost. That is the problem as it affects my own port. What we have attempted to do during post-war years has been to replace this lost trade with a grain traffic. In this respect, considerable progress has been made, through the efforts of the Dock Commission itself, and of private industry. I have in mind an undertaking such as Scottish Agricultural Industries, which has created a very large establishment there. But all that does not in any way make up for the tremendous loss in traffic.
The appalling thing is that the Dock Commission invested considerable sums of money to meet the needs of the coal trade. The coal trade has gone. There is no use now for the equipment, which has become very nearly obsolete as far as the port is concerned, and, of course, alternative employment has not been found for the men on that particular work.
This Amendment would go a long way to help in that matter. In the very near future, we shall have to modernise a certain section and re-equip the port to meet the new trade and, of course, build up a new merchanting trade in the Port of Leith. I should have thought that it was that type of situation which might well have been met by this Amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Lee), because the Bill, as amended, would provide for bringing diversification to a part of the country which sadly needs it.
This situation is not unusual. In the immediate pre-war years, the Port of Leith was one of the black areas in the unemployment surveys which were made at that time. But, because we are regarded as part of the City of Edinburgh, the overall affluence of Edinburgh, if I may so put it, hides the problem of Leith.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
My hon. Friend talks about the overall 1079 affluence of Edinburgh. While Edinburgh might be affluent in the Scottish context, in the national context it certainly is not.
§ Mr. Hoy
I was coming to that.
I was about to say that, in the situation which faced us in the post-war period, our area could not be defined as a Development Area, but the Labour Government defined it as a special unemployment area within the meaning of the Act and so raw materials were supplied to its industry and manufacturers at the same rate as that applying in Development Areas. We want to be assured that, under the Bill, we shall be treated in a way which will enable us to receive assistance to help us to build up new industries and new trades to replace those which we have lost.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) pointed out, while Leith was rather a black spot compared with what might appear to be the affluence of Edinburgh, one is bound to say that, of course, Edinburgh's unemployment rate is more than double that for the rest of the country. The latest Scottish figures show over 91,000 unemployed, and a very steep increase in the number of near-unemployed, which itself is a serious problem calling for special measures. For those reasons, I thought that this Amendment met the purpose we have in mind, not only for dealing with unemployment but for providing for proper distribution and diversification of industry. That is the answer to the Scottish problem.
All the Scottish Members have just received a circular from the Association of County Councils in Scotland. I believe that the Association endeavoured to have a meeting with the Secretary of State; I am not sure whether they succeeded. The county councils of Scotland, through their Association, have said that the Bill should be amended, and they have argued on the lines of the Amendment we have put down. They say that we cannot meet the problem of Scotland merely by tinkering with unemployment. They go on to mention depopulation. How is one to meet this problem if unemployment is driving people away? Industry must be diversified to retain people within these problem areas and prevent the drift away. The 1080 county councils instance, in their letter, the position of the Scottish Borders which is so dependent on the woollen industry, and they say that if this problem is to be dealt with new industries must be brought to them.
This Amendment must surely commend itself not only to all my right hon. and hon. Friends, but also to hon. and right hon. Members opposite. I can see representing Scotland, at present, only the Secretary of State and, of course, the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), who is regarded as an Independent. Only he and the Secretary of State are representing Scotland on the Government benches, but I do not want to make too much of that.
I believe that the Amendment meets Scotland's needs. Nothing less than what we propose will give us what we want. I very much hope that the Minister will say that the Government are willing to accept it because they really are in earnest about solving the unemployment problem that faces Scotland today.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I support the Amendment so ably moved by the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) and supported by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy). No country has paid more highly for the bad distribution of industry than Scotland. Our industrial belt begins at Greenock and goes through Port Glasgow to Glasgow, on through the Lanarkshire towns into Midlothian and Edinburgh, to the fringe areas near the Border, and then up to Dundee and the fringe areas up to Aberdeen.
We have paid a high price in premature death, illness and misery through overcrowding in the conurbation called Glasgow where about—I am not sure of the percentage—75 per cent. of the population live. Certainly, in the areas to which I have referred over 80 per cent. of the population of Scotland lives.
This is what our highly regarded colleague Lord Strathclyde said about almost 50 per cent. of the area of Scotland. It will be remembered that he was a Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland for a number of years and he left only when he went to another place. He is now chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Speaking 1081 in Edinburgh during the General Election, he said:Scotland will never be prosperous in the broadest sense of the word while the Highlands—more than two-thirds of the country—is almost undeveloped.The report goes on to say:Lord Strathclyde, chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, said this yesterday at a dinner to mark the amalgamation of the Commercial and National Banks in Edinburgh. He said industrial development was urgently needed to keep people in the Highlands. He added:' I hope our efforts will not he restricted to the central industrial belt south of Dundee and Perth. Things have changed now in the North. Light, heat and power are in abundance. We must try very hard.'
Distribution of industry south of the Border is very much better than it is in Scotland. There is the great conurbation of London, which has become far too overcrowded, and Birmingham, too, is in a similar state. The Government need not be surprised that this has happened because, of course, if manufacturers of consumer goods concentrate in the large industrial cities of England, they escape all the transport charges which are such a problem in Scotland. We have allowed transport in this country to dictate where we work and where we live. We have made a desert of the North of Scotland—two-thirds of the country, according to Lord Strathclyde, though I should not have thought that the proportion was as high as that. However, it may be so.
This is why industrialists clamour for development certificates to come to London and Birmingham. While I am no believer in directing industry, I am perfectly certain that industrialists can be induced to come to Scotland, just as they have gone to Northern Ireland, as I have already said, where 140 large firms have gone, creating 70,000 new jobs. This can be done in Scotland. Moreover, it is surely important that we should use the North Channel round about Scotland. It is free and open for use, unlike the Channel south about England which is overcrowded and almost dangerous for shipping if there is the slightest fog.
What has been done up to now simply will not do any more. I hope the Government will accept the Amendment. One cannot divorce from the Bill the 1082 words "distribution of industry". I remember the Bill introduced by the Coalition Government and passed by the Caretaker Government. I was then a London Member, and there was full employment in London, but I was pleased that Scotland would benefit from the Bill because I knew all about the maldistribution of industry, the overpopulation and all the illness and disease which flowed from it. I thought that that Bill would cure it, but the Distribution of Industry Act has not been used by the Government. That is the reason that I am an Independent, and that is why my electors gave me a higher poll and a higher majority than I have ever had.
I am not voicing only the views of myself or the majority of the people who live in Caithness and Sutherland. I am voicing the views of the majority of the people who live in Scotland, particularly those in the Highland area. I urge the Government to face up to this problem, not by a pitifully selective method of taking a few pockets of unemployment. I ask them to do it thoroughly, as they have done it in Northern Ireland. If they do it half as well, I shall be grateful.
§ Mr. David Ginsburg (Dewsbury)
My purpose in intervening is to support the Amendment and also to support the Amendment in line 16, which I understand is in order in this debate and which seeks to add the words,or in which further employment is required for the purpose of the proper distribution and diversification of industry.
There are three reasons why we should fortify Clause 1 (2). The first is that the word "imminent" is more limiting than we should like it to be. The second is that the concept of a high rate of unemployment in its literal sense would also be restrictive. The third is because of a general anxiety which I have that the conditions of qualification for aid will be too tightly drawn.
Dealing, first, with the word "imminent", we recognise that the provision empowering the Board of Trade to deal with imminent as well as actual unemployment is a step forward. The trouble with the word "imminent", as the debate will show and to quote Alice in Wonderland, is that "It all depends on what you mean". I believe that the general opinion in the Committee 1083 would be in favour of giving the President of the Board of Trade sufficient elbow room to implement what I understand to be the underlying intention of this part of the Bill, which is to take action in advance of the unemployment occurring and not after it has occurred. The Minister may protest that he does not need any elbow room, but methinks, like the lady, that he protests too much.
May I recall what he said in debate on Second Reading about the word "imminent"? He said:The conception behind that is this; it will be impossible to act wherever there is a distant or vague threat of unemployment, or competition with a particular industry. We regard the word 'imminent' as meaning that there is a discernible fact, for example, the closure of a pit, which is bound to mean the removal of a number of opportunities for employment. Where there is a factor of that kind which can be ascertained, one can say that there is an imminent threat of unemployment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 36.]
I fear that the Minister's definition could be needlessly restrictive. We may know for certain that a specific pit is to close next year or the following year, for geological reasons, or that in the details of the Coal Board's plan it is scheduled that a particular pit will close, but there are also plenty of imponderables in the Board's plan. There are plenty of pits which may or may not close. The picture for 1965, which is not very far ahead, is even more obscure.
If I turn from the coal industry to other manufacturing industries, the Minister's definition would prove even less constructive. If we exclude companies which are at present in grave financial difficulties, it is often very difficult to speak with certainty of the closure of this mill or that factory as a discernible fact. What, surely, we can do is sensibly to assess the prospects of an industry in regard to all the relevant factors—factors in this country and in the export market—and then say that a shrinkage is likely in the basis of employment in a particular area. That is the only realistic point of view. If the Ministers are in earnest about taking action to anticipate unemployment—
§ The Temporary Chairman
Order. I think that the hon. Member is debating the Amendment in line 15. If the Committee would like to take that 1084 Amendment with the present set of Amendments, I have no objection.
§ The Temporary Chairman
That was the wish of the Committee, but I think that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Ginsburg) is basing most of his arguments upon the meaning of the word "imminent" rather than upon the diversification of industry.
§ Mr. Ginsburg
I appreciate the point, Mr. Blackburn. My reason for dealing with the word "imminent" was that it is necessary to broaden the Clause. It is because of the weakness in the wording that it is necessary to enlarge the Clause. I am coming to that now.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I thought that the hon. Member was widening the debate. Industry can be diversified whether unemployment is imminent or not.
§ Mr. Ginsburg
It takes one-and-a-half to two years to build a factory. Allowing for the planning, a high degree of anticipation is required if we are to establish factories in advance of unemployment supervening. If the Minister protests that action on these lines is not in his mind, it is high time that we were told so.
My next reason for seeking to broaden the Minister's powers and to give him more elbow room in the discharge of his duties is that the concept of a high rate of unemployment, which is central to the Clause, is needlessly restrictive. It is restrictive, as I shall show, in definition and in application. We are concerned with unemployment as a symptom as well as a disease, and often if we wait for high unemployment to supervene, the disease may have reached a critical stage.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is aware of this difficulty, since, in his speech on Second Reading, referring to the question of a high rate of unemployment, he said:Here again, I say that it would be very unwise to fix a statutory figure. The needs and conditions of different areas are bound to vary, and, as we proceed with this policy and make progress, I should hope that we would be able 1085 to reduce the level, or criteria, of what is a high rate of unemployment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 46.]
That statement is good as far as it goes. But once again the Minister's good intentions do not necessarily make good law. We in the House have to consider a President of the Board of Trade who may be less forthcoming and more legalistic. It is surely recognised that the concept of the unemployment rate is narrow. It excludes a number of things. For example. it does not adequately reflect short time or retirement from industry by married and older women or unemployment among part-time workers.
We have, therefore, to recognise that unemployment is a significant but not an exclusive indicator of an area's economic decline or weakness. Trends in the employed population and in the industrialisation of areas, trends in net migration arid the level of incomes, are all relevant. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade himself recognised that the 4 per cent. rate of persistent unemployment had proved difficult to apply to Lancashire cotton towns, and hence I submit that a concept along the lines of our Amendment, seeking to provide for the diversification of industry in an area, would make the Bill easier to operate.
If one were to consider the long-term position in the West Riding of Yorkshire and the constituency which I represent, one would ge bound to say that the concept of a high rate of unemployment is far too narrow a criterion. The availability of employment in an area is surely much more relevant from our point of view.
Dealing, first, with the employment position in the coal mining industry, the number of new entrants into coal mines under the age of 18 in Yorkshire has declined by 18 per cent. between 1955 and 1958. At the same time, the number of young men leaving school in the coalfields is likely to rise very sharply indeed in the next few years. Again, in the coalfields there is a female labour reserve of 30,000 women not working for lack of suitable industries.
Let us consider the textile industries of the West Riding. Quite apart from the disguised unemployment which they have experienced in the last year, there is a migration of 1,250 persons, overwhelm- 1086 ingly young people, from the West Riding each year. It is not a coincidence that this is happening. It is not just a question of unemployment. Not enough new employment is entering the area, particularly into the heavy woollen district.
I want to quote some figures, because between 1948 and 1958 the United Kingdom labour force engaged in primary and manufacturing industry rose by 8.9 per cent. in the country as a whole, but rose by only 1.9 per cent. in the West Riding of Yorkshire and, in the textile areas, rose by only 0.2 per cent. This sombre record is surely sufficient justification for our Amendment to add the wordsor in which further employment is required for the purpose of the proper distribution and diversification of industry.
There is one final reason for giving the Minister much more elbow room, and it will perhaps command his support. While I do not always trust the Government, there is someone I trust even less about the Bill at present, and that is the Treasury. The weaker we permit the Bill to be, the more the Treasury will be able to choose to subvert its purposes. If the House of Commons wants the Bill to be generous in operation, it must first be generously defined.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I wonder whether there is not some purpose in the Amendment. As I read it, it seems that it is only repeating what is already in the Bill, and that seems to be a good reason for accepting it, but it also slightly strengthens the Bill. In Clause 1 the purpose is to provideemployment appropriate to the needs of the locality.All that the Amendment asks the Government to do is to draw attention to the distribution of industry in those places so that, according to Clause 13, it will bring about a proper diversification—
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I am sorry. I meant Amendment No. 13. I should have thought that perhaps there was a case for accepting the Amendment. Every hon. Member who has spoken in Committee is concerned about how the rate of unemployment will be interpreted. When we had the D.A.T.A.C.
1087 arrangements it was always understood, although never actually defined, that the rate of unemployment which would qualify for D.A.T.A.C. aid was about 4 per cent. over a period of three or four months. In fact, when the figure was under 4 per cent. in my constituency, we qualified for D.A.T.A.C. aid and were still qualifying for it when the Bill was brought before the House.
It is true that the Title of the Bill is very narrowly drawn—the Local Employment Bill—but it seems to me that, while there is an argument for saying that we should concentrate all our resources rather than try to spread them out as thinly as margarine—I will not say "butter"—there is, on the other hand, the important fact that if we concentrate too much on the industrial areas, then areas such as those in the north-east of Scotland will perhaps not have the proper balance of industry necessary to enable them to meet the changes which are bound to occur in markets overseas. We hope that we shall have a great deal of advantage from increased arrangements with the European Free Trade Area, but it also means that there will be difficulties of adjustments for some industries.
I should have thought that the purpose of the Bill was not only to help areas where collieries are about to close or where there has been a persistently high level of unemployment, but also to assist those areas suffering from conditions of changing markets which are making it necessary for them to readjust, bring in new machinery, and perhaps to switch to new markets and pay off men for a time.
Governments of whatever political party have accepted the view that the Government must accept the general obligation to provide the conditions wherein each industry can get on with the job. We should remember that we are providing the conditions. We are not saying that any industry has to go to a particular area. We are not directing men and women and telling them that they have to go to any area. We are trying by this Bill not only to tackle local unemployment and to stop up the worst gaps wherever they are, but to bring about much more favourable conditions, particularly, I would say, in Scotland.
1088 That being so, I would ask the Government whether they cannot see their way to accept the Amendment. It would strengthen their hands and it carries out what is basically their intention. At the same time, I would guard against the view, which was expressed more an the last Amendment, that by exercising these powers the Government can miraculously force employment to come to certain areas. We provide only the conditions and it is up to our own local areas to struggle for industries. The Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, when I asked whether it had any particular amendment to suggest or view to express about the Bill, said that it had none at present but it was going to set up a Committee which would be composed of industrialists. While it welcomes the help given by local authorities, it feels that it is the industrialists who should make the surveys of their own industries in their own parts of the world. While I myself welcome very much the big survey which is being made by the Scottish Council for the Department of Industry for Scotland as a whole. I think it is for local industrialists in their own areas to make their more intimate surveys of the kind of difficult conditions that industries are meeting.
I know that in my own area the problem which is much the most difficult is that of changing markets. While this is being overcome and industries are readjusting themselves, I would ask whether this should not be the kind of purpose for which the Bill could be used, namely, to provide financial aid or help where it is needed to industries which through a change of market have perforce to switch over to something quite new.
§ Mr. Willis
The hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) did not seem able to make up her mind about what the Bill does. She began by saying that the Amendment strengthened the Bill and that Clause 1 already did what the Amendment proposes. Clause 1 does nothing of the kind. It simply says:… in any such locality as is specified in the following subsection, employment appropriate to the needs of the locality.The words "Employment appropriate to the needs of the locality" refer to the localities mentioned in subsection (2), that is, they are specifically limited to 1089 where there is a high rate of unemployment or where unemployment is imminent. A tragic weakness of the Bill is that it is confined only to those two things. We have been told that the Bill will cater for fewer people than the old Distribution of Industry Act. I do not know how many fewer people it will affect in Scotland, but it will be something like 14 per cent. for Scotland instead of 20 per cent. for the country as a whole. How does it affect Scotland? We should be interested to learn something about that. What are the Government's intentions. Do they intend to distribute industry or not? That is a question which obviously has to be answered.
The Bill is a very small matter unless it does something about what numbers or Committees have now told us it is essential to do something. in 1940 we had a Committee on the Geographical Distribution of Industry, which sat for twenty-nine days. It reported that it was urgently necessary to redistribute industry and that if we did not take industry away from London—and this was before what has happened since the war—the development of London would create a situation which was a danger to the nation's life and development. When we think of what has happened to London since the war we realise how true that is.
The interesting fact about the Committee of 1940 is that one of the eminent witnesses before it and one of those most anxiously concerned about the distribution of industry was the present Prime Minister. He gave a great deal of evidence as to what we should do to make industry go where we want it. The right hon. Gentleman then gave 450 cases as examples where freight rates were pooled privately by firms entering into contracts with the railway companies in order that they might have a level charge for distributing their goods. He went on to say, and this is very interesting in view of the fact that transport is now nationalised:We are suggesting that it should be the aim of national transport policy to average transport costs over the whole of the traffic of the country.
We would welcome that in Scotland. It would certainly help to secure what we desire. We hear a lot about physical controls and directing industry, but the 1090 present Prime Minister also said in reply to a question that… he would withhold derating from firms who did not obey reasonable requests to disperse from the overcrowded areas in the SouthThat was the present Prime Minister threatening industry to withhold de-rating privileges in order to secure what at that time was considered to be absolutely essential. We have had committees sitting since which have pointed to the urgent necessity for this.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) and the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) have pointed out its urgency in Scotland. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not in the Chamber because I am astonished that he should have been so weak-kneed as to have allowed the Bill to be presented to the Committee as it is. I do not know whether he has made any protest about it, but it is obvious from any examination of the Bill that it does not meet the needs of Scotland. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland referred to the Highlands. The Highlands, which are not two-thirds but two-fifths of the area of Scotland, are depopulated, the north-east area is depopulated and the Border area is depopulated. As the hon. Member said, we are now getting all the population into a narrow strip across Scotland. Why is that? What do the Government intend to do about it?
The Cairncross Committee on Local Development in Scotland told us a few years ago what we should do. In the light of its recommendations, I am surprised that the Secretary of State for Scotland should accept this Clause. The Committee said that to promote local developmentpolicy should be guided by three objectives which, in order of importance, are:(i) To accelerate the growth of new industrial communities in promising locations; industrial growth should come first, ahead even of the need to reduce unemployment in other areas.What is happening at present? If we get a new industry into an area we attract men from the surrounding area and thus create a problem of depopulation in that surrounding area. That is what has been happening for years in Scotland and that 1091 is why the population is migrating. Then as soon as this is done the population in the area to which the factory has been moved finds that it is not benefiting from the move after all.
The second objective described by the Cairncross Report is:To make fuller and more economical use of manpower and natural resources that are in danger of being wasted.The third point mentioned in the Report is very important to Scotland, but nothing is done about it in the Bill. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), for example, has a large area in his constituency in which small village after small village and fishing port after fishing port are faced with decline. They are dying and decaying and the Bill does nothing for them. The third objective named by the Cairncross Committee is:To arrest the decline of communities, and the consequent waste of material and social assets which they possess, in cases where a little help might restore them to a thriving condition.In face of this and other Reports which we have had on Scotland, pointing out what is happening, how does the Scottish Office accept the provisions of the Bill?
This is a desperately important matter for Scotland. I have listened to Presidents of the Board of Trade, Ministers of Labour, the present Colonial Secretary and the present Minister of Education and others at the Dispatch Box speaking about unemployment in Scotland and Scottish industry, year after year. They say, "Well, of course, the position is not too good." I think that the Minister of State, Board of Trade said the same thing just now. And they add, "But, of course, we are watching it. There is an improvement here and a little improvement there and something is happening in some other place."
Year after year, while they have been talking, unemployment has been increasing and men and women have been driven to find jobs elsewhere. We have the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in the Chamber now and we have a former Joint Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) who bear some responsibility. Some of our finest men and women, unable to get jobs, are leaving the country. What 1092 would be the position if they did not leave the country? It must be remembered that some of those who leave are some of our best men with probably more initiative than a great many people. It is that initiative that drives them abroad, to London and elsewhere.
What are the Government going to do about that? The Bill is the greatest confidence trick that anybody has ever tried to pull over the public for many years. The Government say, "We are going to do something about unemployment."
§ Mr. Willis
Yes, a major Bill. The Government scrap existing Measures, roll them up into one and add a little bit that does not matter very much. That is their major Bill. The test of the Government's sincerity and of whether they intend to do anything is their acceptance or otherwise of the Amendment.
I represent an area which is not characterised by what is considered to be high unemployment. Parts of Edinburgh and Midlothian are generally considered in Scotland to be an area that is relatively well off, with good employment prospects. The fact is, however, that in spite of being well off in the Scottish context our unemployment is much higher than the national average and the area has problems towards the solution of which the Bill does nothing at all. They are problems about which the local authorities have approached me.
A special committee of the Scottish Council for Industry studied the case of Midlothian. The problem there is that we had a large incoming mining population and we have not had a single new industry set up in Midlothian for years and years. There is nothing for the miners' wives and their daughters to do and the result is that we have the largest commuting population in Scotland. They are going to the Border areas, such as Hawick, to work. It is all wrong that girls from Dalkeith and Wallyford should have to travel to Hawick to get a job. Large numbers also come to Edinburgh to work. In the name of sanity, it would be better to give them jabs in the areas in which they live. It would save a great deal of time, labour 1093 and manpower. It would avoid unnecessary transport, probably help to reduce road accidents and solve many of the problems which we face in that and many other areas.
The Bill does nothing for these people. The Amendment would make it possible for the Government to do something even now. If the Government come forward with the favourite excuses which they have been making for the last eight years, I do not suppose that the Bill will make much difference, but if the Amendment were accepted we at least would have the opportunity of prodding the Government into action. If the Amendment is not accepted we cannot even do that, because the Government will then say, "We have not the powers." We should hear the old excuse that they required fresh legislation to secure the powers to do these things.
I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment and will face the responsibilities which ought to be faced in the matter of the distribution of industry. Unless the Government accept the Amendment, the Bill will not solve Scotland's problems. I am not saying that the Bill will do nothing. We have had little bits of things done for a long time. I agree that the people of Scotland will be greatly disappointed when they realise the Bill's limitations. I could mention other problems of depopulation, but I know that some of my hon. Friends want to speak about them. I plead with the Government to deal with this matter in the manner in which it deserves to be treated. The least step they can take is to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir James Henderson-Stewart (Fife, East)
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) has probably exaggerated the importance of the Amendment, even if it were accepted. At the same time, I have a sneaking feeling that we should do something about the Amendment. All of us, without exception, for many years since and before the war have been saying over and over again that what Scotland needs is greater diversification of industry.
That has been the theme of all our speeches. I believe that that is the intention of my right hon. Friend and the Secretary of State for Scotland. I accept that, but. I wonder whether it would not 1094 be a good thing, if no more than a demonstration of intention, if something similar to the Amendment were included in the Bill.
It is worth looking at the precise words of this subsection. It reads:The powers conferred by the six next following sections shall be exercisable …There is no absolute compulsion upon the Government to exercise them. What is to be exercisable? The Amendment suggests that the sections should be exercisable for thepurposes of the proper distribution and diversification of industry and for the purposeof providing employment.
Are not the two things the same? In the areas of Scotland which I know best—Fife, Aberdeen, and Stirling—to get further and better diversification of industry comes before new employment.
This matter must be dealt with. In practice, by doing the one thing, we shall do the other. Is there a good administrative reason why the Government should not accept the Amendment? I am sure that in their heart of hearts they would like to accept it, and I confess that I do not know the reason why they should not accept it.
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) has quoted the opening words of the Clause. Those words have no force at all, because they merely say that certain powers shall be exercised in certain subsequent subsections. If the hon. Member refers to those subsections, he will find certain things which the Board may or may not do. The only possible reason for the insertion of Clause 1 (1) is to limit the powers. It cannot mean an extension of the powers.
I put this as a very serious point, because the rules of the courts on interpretation, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, provide that courts cannot look at the debate or ask what has been said. It may find from the obvious meaning of the words the intention behind them. Any court would say that the intention is that the powers can be exercisable only for the particular purposes mentioned in Clause 1 (1).
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
I quite see the point. The hon. Member and I are not very much at variance. I was asking 1095 whether there was an administrative reason for not accepting the Amendment. I do not know of a reason, but if there is one I invite my right hon. Friend to tell us what it is. If he feels that he cannot properly accept the Amendment, I should like to know why.
I should like an assurance from my right hon. Friend—it is scarcely necessary, but I should like to have it—that more now than ever before the Government intend to bring about a wider diversification of industry and will use every opportunity to do so. I am sure that I represent the views of nearly all Scotsmen in the Committee by putting that view to my right hon. Friend. I am not being critical of my right hon. Friend at all, but I am troubled and feel that it may well be that an opportunity is being missed to do precisely what the Government want to do in Scotland.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd-George (Carmarthen)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) that the Amendment is a test of the sincerity of the Government. I hope very much that the President of the Board of Trade will not find any administrative reason, as the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) suggested he might, for not accepting the Amendment. There are always administrative reasons why certain things should not be done. I hope that on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman will not hide behind administrative reasons.
I want to raise the voice of Wales in this matter. I shall not quarrel with the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) about which of the Celtic countries has suffered most from the maldistribution of industry in the past. I will only say that I think that both Scotland and Wales are companions in distress in this matter. All that the hon. Member said about Scotland is equally true about Wales. The Welsh people, too, have been driven across Offa's Dyke through sheer economic necessity and because there were no opportunities for work. They are still being driven. The figures of unemployment to not truly represent the actual position. In the area which I represent workers have been driven away as a result of the closure of the steel and tin- 1096 plate works. As a result of the closure of the mines, there is no alternative work for the people.
I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) is right in saying that the redistribution of industry is the purpose of the Bill, but past experience does not give us very much confidence. Our experience of the conduct of the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Bill gives us no confidence that that is the purpose of this Bill. As the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland rightly said, the Government have not previously used their very wide powers in this respect. The proof that those powers were not used in Scotland and Wales is the figures of unemployment published this morning, which show that unemployment in Scotland has gone up and that unemployment in Wales remains at an obstinately high level.
I should like to add to what Members representing Scottish constituencies have said about maldistribution of industry. One hon. Member referred to the Highlands, and said that industries likely to go to Scotland are more likely to go to south Scotland than into the Highlands. This has happened in Wales. Such industries as we have had recently have not gone further west than Swansea.
It is absolutely essential that we should have a provision such as is suggested by the Amendment written into the Bill. It is not merely a question of the distribution of industry in Scotland, but of over-weighting of industries and population in the South and congested areas. We eagerly await the answer of the President of the Board of Trade in the hope that he will take this opportunity of telling us whether he will have a change of heart on policy in this matter.
We recall the Colonial Secretary, when making a statement in the House as Minister of Labour, saying that virtually no purely new factory can be given an industrial development certificate in the Greater London area. We were told that the policy of the Government was to prevent any expansion in congested areas. They say that there must always be exceptions to the ring fence, but that is the Government's escape clause which has enabled a large 1097 Beecham's factory to go to a congested area.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say what he means by the redistribution of industry which he proposes to carry out under the Bill. I hope that he will tell us his definition of extensions and expansions so that we may know whether he means business when he talks about the redistribution of industry. I hope that the Minister will accept the Amendment and tell us that he intends to have an industrial pink zone in Britain.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I want to intervene for only a short time because three speakers from the benches opposite have supported the Amendment. One was the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), who is an Independent, the second was the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart), who is a National Liberal Unionist and is representative of all shades of political opinion in Scotland except ours, and the third was the noble Lady the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), who is a Tory of the traditional school. We have had support for the Amendment from that side of the Committee which leads me to conclude that it is worth accepting. If the right hon. Gentleman refuses to accept the Amendment I have no doubt that the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland, and the hon. Member for Fife, East, will go into the Division Lobby to see that the Amendment is carried.
The Bill is designed to promote employment in any area. It is not a Bill to finance industrialists. It is not a Bill to give subsidies to anybody. Regardless of what technique one uses to promote employment, it is no use promoting employment if, in the changing pattern of trade and in the changing pattern of techniques, the employment that is promoted in 1960 becomes obsolete in 1965.
In promoting employment in any area it is important to promote diversity of the means of employment. Surely, that is the task. When one forms a small engineering company to produce something, one aims within one's experience and knowledge to produce as big a variety of products as possible in case one pro- 1098 duct falls out of demand. If the Government are serious about promoting stable employment in any area, they must promote a variety of industrial, or commercial, or even agricultural functions. There must be a diversity of employment so that there is every likelihood of stable employment in that area.
The Bill is designed to promote employment provided that the Government can find someone who is prepared to give employment in the area designated. If they cannot find anyone I presume that employment will not be promoted. The President of the Board of Trade will have to go cap in hand to all sorts of people and ask them, "Will you come?". He may get them, but by changing technology in industry it may be that they would come for three or four years and then close down unless there was more than one industry. The Amendment should be accepted, because in providing employment it enables the President of the Board of Trade to stimulate diversification.
I do not believe that without some form of direction—which, I believe, will come in time—we shall succeed in promoting stable employment in certain localities. I speak as an engineer. The longer we go on refusing to face a redistribution of the engineering industry the more difficult the problem will become.
There are 13 million people in London and the Home Counties. The roads are blocked, the railways are blocked. and transport costs are very high. It is the problem of high transport costs and not that of manufacturing that worries many small firms. Heavy costs are also due to the high value of land. Those are the problems in the South where there is said to be over-employment. In other parts of the country transport costs are high because the traffic is too thin and the British Transport Commission has to close uneconomic lines. We are, therefore, creating a less favourable situation for industries which may wish to move into any area.
Furthermore, although the South is crowded, about 4,000 to 5,000 people leave Scotland every year. During the last election, we discovered that about 900 engineers had left the Clydebank area. We had their postal votes. They 1099 are down here and I am already dealing with some cases of those who want to go back but have no work available for them. They are skilled men living down here in rooms because nobody can get houses for them.
One sees advertisements for engineers in the Observer. Engineering companies are asking engineers to come to the conglomeration that exists in the South. Some of the companies offer houses. They are creating further social capital in an area that is already over-capitalised, and starving areas that are undercapitalised.
About five years ago I said that the sewerage system in Kirkintilloch was installed by the Normans. That sewerage system is still there. If a big industrial undertaking came into that area it could not operate because there would not be sufficient resources to get its effluent away. Many people do not realise how important water is to an industrial undertaking. A shortage of water can shut down a plant. We saw this happening last summer. As more industry is concentrated in the South the need for more resources is created. The provision of water, roads, and transport becomes necessary. The less that is done in new areas the bigger the problem will become as the years go by.
It is all very well to say that we should direct industry to certain areas of the country. No one believes in direction. I have heard many politicians say that they do not like the idea of the direction of industry, but they directed it in 1939; they directed it in 1940. They directed factories out of the Midlands, as I know, because I was with one of the tool-making firms from the Midlands that was directed. There was no objection to directing us, but when industry contracts and coal mines close, in Scotland nobody, seems to bother that those men have to be directed. They are directed by almost semi-starvation.
On the T.V. programme "Tonight", last night, a number of men in the Forest of Dean were interviewed. Only one young man wanted to leave the area. The rest said that they wanted to stay, but that as the mines were closing there would be nothing there for them, Those young men will be directed by the Minis- 1100 try of Labour. Whatever others may believe, I believe that it is far better to direct machines, bricks and mortar than people.
I come from Wales and I know what it is to be rolled around and out of my native land. I was fortunate enough to be employed by a company which could move its men all over the country as conditions required. I know what it means to be rolled around the country. As a beginning, the Government should accept the Amendment, thus making it an integral part of the purpose of the Bill to take added power to redistribute some of the industry which exists in the conglomeration in the Midlands and the South, thereby promoting increasing diversification and helping to create full employment.
The new town of Cumbernauld, which is in my constituency, has one factory—Burroughs Adding Machines. Unless more industry comes to that town it will be a one-industry town in ten years' time. It will depend upon one factory. As new techniques are brought in, and as the pattern of industry changes, it may be that we shall have to fight the battle all over again to get new industry to replace the existing one, which may be out of use in twenty years' time. Diversification is vital if we are to maintain social values and redistribute our population so that we can create a better life for our workers. It will be a better life for them if we can get them out of the conglomeration of industrial areas and into smaller communities—if we can get them away from the huge mass of industry in which people are compelled to live in industrial areas.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
We have had only three speeches on the Amendment from hon. Members opposite. It does not surprise me that each of those Members represents a Scottish constituency. I am very glad that one of them was so forceful in his criticism of the Bill, and about the actions of the Government since 1951 in the matter of the distribution of industry in Scotland. If the Amendment is not accepted the Clause will merely tinker with a very great problem. I have not much faith in the Bill, no matter how much we succeed—if we succeed at all—in amending it. The 1101 important thing is the will of the Government to do a good job, and in considering what the Government have done since 1951 I have grave fears that that will and desire to assist in this matter just does not exist.
Let us look at the figures for Scotland. It is not a case of a locality here and a locality there being affected; it is a question of unemployment and the diversification of industry on a national scale. Both factors are closely linked. If we examine the figures for the Midlands and for Scotland, published this morning, we find that whereas in Scotland there has been an increase of 4,827 in the number of persons unemployed during the month, in the Midlands there has been a decrease of 2,282.
Why is that? It is because the Midlands has a greater diversification of industry. That has enabled the Midlands to weather the storm very much more quickly than Scotland or Wales, or other parts of England. The two figures are the most revealing ones in all the statistics published by the Ministry of Labour.
The figure of 91,444 unemployed in Scotland proves that it is not a matter of a small locality here and a small locality there. An even more serious aspect of the situation is that 66,000 of those unemployed are men—the breadwinners. That figure is 4.7 per cent. of the entire male working population of Scotland. Further, over 25,500 women are unemployed, or 3.4 per cent. of the insured female population. These figures are far in excess of those of any other region, even Wales, which is the next worst-hit part of the United Kingdom. I quote these figures to show that if the Clause is left unamended there will be less likelihood of a proper distribution and diversification of industry.
Scotland has roughly one-eighth of the population of the United Kingdom, but it has one-fifth of the unemployed. The Under-Secretary of State looks astonished; he is looking for corroboration or otherwise from his hon. Friends. But I have worked out these figures carefully since I received the statistics this morning. It means that Scotland's share of the unemployed of the United Kingdom is 21.24 per cent. Out of every 100 persons unemployed in the United Kingdom, 21 are Scottish men and women.
1102 If we take the increase in the number of unemployed, comparing last month's figure with the latest figure given today we find that Scotland, with roughly one-eighth of the population of the United Kingdom, has 41.9 per cent. of the increase in unemployed. Out of every 100 persons who have become unemployed during the last month, 42 are Scotsmen and Scotswomen. That presents a very serious picture of the situation in Scotland. If the Bill is left unamended it will merely tinker with a little place here and a little place there. It will not bring to Scotland as a whole the advantages that have come to the Midlands, which have caused the great drop in the unemployment figure for that part of the country.
The solution to this problem lies in a proper distribution and diversification of industry. In this connection I have been interested in the speeches made by my hon. Friends. One spoke about what might happen in a mining or cotton area. He said that the Minister would have to show a high degree of anticipation if he was to take steps to deal with the situation in time. The Minister does not need any high degree of anticipation in regard to many areas of Scotland.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) quoted three important points made by the Cairncross Report. The third was one that I quoted in this House in 1953—six years ago. It was to the effect that there would be a decline in the coal industry. The Tory Government have known from reports not just about specific pits. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power will know this. They have had clear knowledge that in the Lanarkshire area the coal industry, from the point of view of the Coal Board, was a dying industry. This is a matter which has been before the Government over all those years and they have done nothing about it. They did not need any intelligent anticipation about that area or the area of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). The facts have been staring them in the face. We do not want words, but actions.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland and I, and other hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies who sit on this side of the Committee, and who feel deeply and strongly on this matter, consider that 1103 there perhaps may be a slight chance of something being done for Scotland if the Amendment is accepted I hope that when we discuss other Amendments I shall be able to raise other matters of great importance to my constituency and to Scotland as a whole; but I say to the President of the Board of Trade, who, I understand, will be in Scotland this week, that if he accepts this Amendment, he will at least be giving us an earnest of the desire and will of the Government to do something.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
I have listened with a great deal of interest to all that has been said today and I listened also to the two-day debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. I have come to the conclusion that we are trying to tackle a very important problem by using old-fashioned methods which have been tried over the last ten or twelve years.
As I listened to some speeches, and especially the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who quoted the Report of the Cairncross Committee, I was reminded of the fact that I gave evidence to that Committee on behalf of the County Councils' Association of Scotland. On that occasion I advocated that the whole of Scotland should be designated as a Development Area under Development Area legislation and that the unemployment problem in Scotland could never be cured by designating small areas which should get special assistance
May I quote my personal experience which I think worth relating to the Committee, because, surely, practical knowledge is of some value? In the village of Banton where I come from there was a mill which during the war years was used as a store. For a considerable period the mill was empty, until eventually we managed to persuade the United Thread Mills from Paisley to take it over. Productivity in that mill—this is the whole purpose of telling this story to the Committee—exceeded the productivity of any of the other mills of that organisation which has interests all over the world.
I believe the reason was that in that mill there were employed people who lived in the locality and they became part and parcel of the organisation. They 1104 began to take a pride in the mill in their own locality. They liked to feel that they were part of the organisation and that they were able to show by their productivity that they could exceed the efforts of those in other areas.
I believe that if we begin to build up industrial estates people from afar who will come to work there will have no interest in the industry employing them. If we have learned any lesson from the past it must be that we have to diversify industry, that it is not a question of the type of industry which is brought into a particular area but the location of the industry. It would be a great crime if the Government proceeded to draw lines of demarcation between one area and another in Scotland and made the same mistakes which have been made over the last few years.
If we have learned anything from our experience over the last few years it is the simple fact that the powers vested in the Government in the Location of Industry Act are as great as any contained in the provisions in this Bill, but the Government were unable to cure the problems which affect us in Scotland. There is apparent a lack of imagination and foresight and a lack of ingenuity. I was amazed and astonished on coming to this House to discover that this Bill is what we call in Scotland "cauld kale het again".
I am astonished that a right hon. Gentleman with the reputation which is enjoyed by the President of the Board of Trade should be associated with this Bill. Before coming to this House I was under the impression that he was a man of ingenuity and foresight; that he was able to put into operation new ideas and new interests. But this Bill which he now presents is only a rehash of what we had before. This is not a political matter, this is of absolute importance to the life not only of individuals but of a whole nation. If we do not bring some foresight and determination to this problem it will never be cured. The only way in which it will be cured by this Government is by the exportation of our labour and that, to some extent, will keep down the unemployment figures.
I implore the Government to reconsider this Bill and to set up a scientific research organisation in Scotland which 1105 will introduce new ideas and new techniques which can be financed by the Government. Such an organisation should be used not only to utilise the scientific brainpower in Scotland—and 50 per cent. of our brainpower from the universities goes to England or across the seas—but to utilise it for the purposes of giving a new impetus not only to new industries but to the oldest industries in the country.
In Bonnybridge in my own area, where we have light casting industries, there is a great need to develop new techniques and ideas. I suggest that the only hope for the small industries in Scotland is the provision of a new scientific organisation established with Government capital. I would go further. Another organisation requiring to be set up is one with an encyclopaedic knowledge of world trade and commerce. I know and respect the great amount of work done by other organisations throughout the land connected with many businesses. I know that they provide a great deal of knowledge and information. But, as a man who operates a business, I do not see anything in this Bill which would induce me to sink money in a new enterprise if I had any spare money to use. I do not think that even the Clause appertaining to financing new projects is sensible. I consider that it is a sham and that it was foolish to put such provisions into this Bill.
I say, with respect, to the President of the Board of Trade and to the Secretary of State for Scotland that this matter is too important to be passed by in the manner in which it has been. They must reconsider this very important Bill. Let them take the whole thing back and give it a little more consideration. Let there be ingenuity and foresight applied to the problems which confront us. Do not let us have "cauld kale het again". Do not let us have another plateful of the old stuff. Give us new ideas. If the Government are not able to do that, let them consult hon. Members on this side of the Committee, and we will help them.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I wish to support the Amendment because it will strengthen the Bill. I am one who believes that the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, was an epoch-making Measure, both from the point of view of economic thought and of economic 1106 action. But, strange to say, the question of the distribution of industry and Development Areas has been left out of the Bill. We are compelled to ask why this is so. I have come to the conclusion that Clause 1 of the Bill has been so drafted as to make a fundamental departure once and for all from the underlying principle of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. Indeed, I believe that behind this Clause is the underlying relief that the time has arrived to move back to the free play of economic and geographical principles in the distribution and the location of industry.
I believe that to be the outlook of the present Government and that that is the diagnosis which explains the Bill. Indeed, on Second Reading, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade stated that he thought that a cogent case could be made out—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Herbert Butcher)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I should be grateful if he would keep his arguments a little more closely related to the Clause.
§ Mr. Jones
I thought I was on the point, Sir Herbert, but I will abide by your Ruling. The Distribution of Industry Act and the diversification of industry was a method of dealing with the economic and industrial life of the country. It was a planned attempt to bring real welfare to the people. The underlying idea was acceptance of the fact that here were old industrial areas which had fallen on bad times, particularly because of the lapse of one basic industry.
According to the 1945 Act, however, it was also recognised that in those areas the communal life had struck deep roots. It was accepted that those areas should be replanned by the introduction of new industries and the application of the principle of diversification of industry. Our object in the Amendment is to improve the Bill by giving to it something which is purposeful, not merely the introduction of one industry into a locality. We want something far better planned and far more purposeful such as we envisaged in the 1945 Act and in the diversification of industry in Development Areas.
It may be argued, as it has been on the benches opposite, that we must 1107 review our competitive position. We believe that through planning and the diversification of industry in our Development Areas, we will not lose in the competitive world. What can we lose by developing Lancashire or the North-East, or North-East Wales or South Wales? How can we lose competitively through the planning and diversification of industry in those parts of the country?
I object strongly to the reversion to the principle of the free play of economic and geographical forces. When those conditions prevailed in the past, what happened was that all the eggs were put in one basket. That was the consequence of the free play of economic forces. When, as a result of economic forces, the basket fell, whole areas became derelict.
We have seen recent expression of the same principle in the drift of population to the Midlands and to the South. That is why we on this side believe that we must control industry and its distribution. We must control the distribution of industry by introducing diversification to these areas, so that the people may live a community life to which they are accustomed.
It was the principle of the 1945 Act, which we have tried to embody in the Amendment, which saved the situation in the Wrexham area. It was when heavy industries were falling down that we had the introduction of new types of industry, bringing a balanced economy to the area. whereby we have had a measure of prosperity that the area never before knew. I support the Amendment because I want the same principle to be applied intelligently throughout the length and breadth of the country.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
The object of the Amendment is to bring about a better distribution and diversification of industry. I want to make a few observations upon that and to limit myself to the issues arising from the Amendment, I speak particularly for a large industrial area, the centre of which is the City of Stoke-on-Trent, with 275,000 people. Living within a few miles' radius of that centre are approximately half a million people in a geographical, economic and industrial area which is cut off from all other 1108 areas. For that reason, there is little diversification.
It was my privilege for many years to work with Colonel Josiah Wedgwood, who was as good as a father to me. I have much for which to thank him. I mention him because for several years before the war I went with him, together with Alderman Arthur Hollins and one or two other men from the area, from Ministry to Ministry pleading that the Government should do something for the area.
Part of the area was known as Kidsgrove, where, in proportion to the insured population, the percentage of unemployed was greater than in any other centre. There were pockets of unemployment also in places like Longton and Fenton. The two principal industries were pottery and mining. Apart from that, there was nothing to any great extent.
At every Ministry we visited, I derived great satisfaction. We could not have been better received or more sympathetically listened to, because the facts were on record. It was as a result of a realisation of the facts by all Government Departments that in 1939 and 1940 we were among the first areas in the country to receive two of the largest Royal Ordnance factories.
As the international situation worsened, it was necessary that those factories should be built on as modern lines as possible and on the best sites, to get the best results. We had the construction of what was known as the Swynnerton Royal Ordnance Factory, where at one time approximately 40,000 people were employed On the other side of the city, between the city and Crewe, was another Royal Ordnance factory, at Radway Green, where a large number of people were employed. The coming into being of those two large Royal Ordnance factories meant that unemployment dwindled to nil. The concentration of industry was carried out in the pottery industry and during the whole of the war the area made a magnificent contribution to the winning of the war.
Swynnerton, however, is now closed. It is quickly becoming another Gretna Green. As one passes by on the main 1109 railway line, one cannot help but be concerned at the large amount of scrap and the large number of locomotives which are simply rusting on rusty lines. This applies to most of Swynnerton. Our position now, therefore, is that whereas, at one time, Swynnerton employed approximately 40,000 people, it is now almost closed and, ultimately will be completely closed. Further, the output from Radway Green is nowhere near what was originally intended.
It is true that we are not faced with unemployment to any great extent, but our two great industries are mining and pottery and there is little diversification. For that reason, I plead with the Government seriously to consider the acceptance of the Amendment, so that they can act in areas of that nature to introduce greater diversification.
This proposal is also strongly supported by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which has already embarked upon financial responsibility—I am not speaking politically—with little Government support or support from any other authorities. They have accepted the financial responsibility for laying out two large industrial sites. They are trying to attract more industries to those sites, and so introduce their own diversification.
For those reasons I welcome the Amendment. The Government should accept it, so that when the Bill is enacted the Board of Trade will have more authority to deal with this type of problem in the sort of areas that I have mentioned.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
This is an excellent Amendment. The Bill says, at present, thatThe powers … shall be exercisable for the purpose of providing, in any such locality as is specified in the following subsection, employment appropriate to the needs of the locality.
The Amendment goes further, and is more specific. It suggests that the powers should be directed to the proper distribution and diversification of industry. That applies very particularly to Cornwall and to my constituency. At the beginning of the century, and until 1920, our chief industry was tin mining, which employed thousands of men. Immediately after the First World War 1110 the industry collapsed, and we had vast unemployment in the district for twenty years.
In Redruth, where I live, over the whole of the 'thirties, unemployment stood at 33⅓ per cent., and over my constituency as a whole it was about 24 per cent. Therefore, we have a very lively knowledge of our own need for the diversification of industry. Never again do we want to be in the position of having all our eggs in one basket, but we seem to be getting into that danger.
In a Question that I have tabled today, I have asked the Minister of Labour to give the unemployment figures for each of the employment exchanges in my constituency, and when I get them the House may be alarmed to learn what they are. Last week, there were 1,000 ship-repairing men unemployed at Falmouth, and it is most likely that that figure will increase during December, because in recent years December has proved to be one of the worst periods for unemployment in Falmouth.
We have also in Camborne-Redruth the Holman group of mining and allied industrial engineers, employing 2,200 people. Were anything serious to happen there we would be in a desperate plight. Already, the I.C.I. factory at Tucking-mill, Camborne, and the smaller unit at Ponsanooth, are under sentence of death, and will be run down during the next eighteen months. Three years ago, the Tuckingmill factory employed about 500 people; by the end of next year there will be none.
What does the Minister intend to do to get industry back to my constituency? What does he intend to do to ensure that there will be a diversification of industry, so that never again shall the fear of mass unemployment be realised in my constituency? I suppose that because we are another small Celtic unit, we feel the draught more. I appreciate all that my colleagues from Scotland and Wales have been saying, because in this small unit of Cornwall we have been experiencing precisely the same thing.
There is a Ministry of Supply factory where there has been redundancy in recent years and we wonder what is to happen next. The Minister knows, or should know, that the smaller indigenous industry of granite quarrying has fallen on very evil days and may be in danger of being 1111 extinguished altogether. I hope that the Minister will accept the Amendment and thereby show his will to see that constituencies like mine have some assurance of getting fresh and diversified industry.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
I join in the chorus of appeals to the Government to accept the Amendment. Some Scottish hon. Members expressed disquiet at the absence of the Secretary of State for Scotland, but I am glad that he is now present because my remarks will relate to Scottish unemployment.
To talk about the proper distribution and diversification of industry is to talk in very reasonable terms. Indeed, it would be very surprising if any Government in any democratic society rejected an Amendment couched in such terms. The Amendment, although presented from this side of the Committee, has already commended itself to all sides, and is nothing but a manifestation of opinion expressed by competent authorities in Scotland.
A memorandum issued by the Association of County Councils for Scotland says that:The powers in the Bill ought to be widened to take account of the need for diversification of industry in various areas.I was, until the General Election, a member of that august body, and I assure the Secretary of State that it is controlled overwhelmingly by representatives of his own political belief. That indicates very clearly that the Amendment is a "must" if we intend the Bill to be a success.
The General Council of the Scottish Trades Union Congress forwarded a memorandum to the Prime Minister, immediately after the General Election, in the following terms:That Scotland's special problem of employment and unemployment will be uppermost in the thoughts of the incoming Government is highly gratifying; particularly is this so in view of the considerable number of men and women who are more than 26 weeks out of work and also because the present situation and prospects in several industries give cause for concernIt seems evident that Scotland's lack of participation in the motor car industry and consumer goods manufacture points to one of the reasons for her having such a persistently high level of unemployment—over 83,000 at present—with 37,000 males and 13,000 females without jobs for over 26 weeks 1112 If the unemployment figures for the development areas of the whole country are studied it will be seen that the Scottish area has more than one third of the total.Therefore, in asking the Government to accept the Amendment, we are asking that steps be taken to ensure not only distribution of industry but its diversification so that adequate employment prospects can be offered to the female element of the insurable community as well as to the male element.
I was very anxious to participate in the discussion, because my constituency is one of the highest rated unemployment areas in the country. When the national average was 2.4 per cent., my constituency was registering about 12 per cent. unemployed of the insurable population. These statements lead one to believe that, unless there is positive wording in the Bill, we can negative the attempts to promote employment, which is the object of the Bill. The purpose of the wording is to strengthen the Bill so that we will be making every effort to ensure that long-term employment will be tackled, once and for all, in a very satisfactory fashion.
Attempts to deal with this problem are not new. In my part of the country we have been making representations along these lines for many years. In the early part of 1959 we made three representations—I hope that the present President of the Board of Trade listens to this—for a meeting with his predecessor. We were refused three times. That is indicative of the indifference of the President of the Board of Trade to the human problem affecting the people north of the Cheviot Hills.
I hope that the present Minister will be much more accommodating. In the area of Coatbridge under the Labour Government between 1945 and 1951 factory space amounting to 129,426 sq. ft. was completed, but from 1951 to today nothing has been completed. That is a shocking indictment of the indifference of the Government of today and yesterday to face up to their responsibilities.
It is my duty to emphasise that this serious problem will be further worsened as a result of the bulge of school leavers which will occur in Lanarkshire in the early 1960s. By 1962, 11,000 boys and 1113 girls will he leaving school in Lanarkshire. An authoritative view within the county is that, unless the economy of Lanarkshire expands by 4 per cent., which is highly improbable, we shall be faced with very grave unemployment among school leavers. I will go further and quote from a memorandum produced by the Director of Education for Lanarkshire:It is not outwith the bounds of possibility that in the mid-1960s a good half of an age group may be unemployed in Lanarkshire at any one time—say, 5,000 young people.
That opinion is confirmed by the Central Youth Employment Executive, of which II have been a member for some time. It states that in certain areas with pockets of unemployment there will be a tremendous problem in employing the young people. The Executive makes it clear that it is the employment factor, and not the bulge factor, which will be the main influence.
Unless we can produce a Bill which is positive and without ambiguity, we are likely to fail in our effort to tackle this problem not only energetically, but very successfully.
I honestly claim, and have always claimed, that the right to work should be beyond politics. It is a fundamental right of the insurable population to have employment. When one comes from an area where there are 4,000 to 5,000 unemployed, where one sees the queues winding longer and longer for the dole day after day, when one appreciates that unemployment saps at the moral roots of the population, it incenses one and fills one with a desire to do one's utmost to remove that economic sickness from our community.
By the insertion of the words "proper distribution and diversification" we shall be approaching the problem in a very positive sense. We shall ensure at least that Clause 1 will be sufficiently strengthened to enable the Bill to become a monument of human progress in many parts of the United Kingdom which are at present beset and afflicted by chronic unemployment.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I join my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) in reminding the Minister that the Amendment does not deal solely with a Welsh and a Scottish problem. There are parts of 1114 England, including my constituency on the North-East Coast, where the problem of proper distribution, and particularly proper diversification, of industry causes every responsible inhabitant of the area grave concern.
All that has been said on behalf of Scotland and Wales can be said on behalf of the North-East Coast. I shall not repeat the very strong arguments which have been adduced, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he considers the Amendment, to think of the agony of soul that was shown by the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) in the course of his speech. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give some answer to the hon. Member as to why these words should not go in the Bill. As a declaration of purpose, they voice what I know on the North-East Coast to be the belief of people of all parties, that it is only by this means that we shall prevent the periodic serious unemployment which has afflicted us for so long and which arouses now the bitterest memories and the most lugubrious expectations of what may happen in the next five or six years unless this Amendment is incorporated in the Bill and made the inspiration of the work to be done under it.
After all, I cannot imagine that, when the Bill was first announced, when the General Election was just getting under way, any Minister expected that he would be able to get away with as feebly worded a Bill as this if the country, to its lasting sorrow—we may be quite certain—returned him again to power.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
In following my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I would stress that the desire for the diversification of industry runs right across party politics in County Durham. Indeed, in my election campaign it was very difficult to distinguish between the views of the Conservative candidate, the Liberal candidate and myself on this subject. The only thing was that the electors fairly decisively believed in me. After the election, I had a very interesting letter from a local newspaper, not of my political opinion, which stressed very strongly that the journal would do all it could in supporting me 1115 in putting the case for this kind of provision in County Durham.
The past history of County Durham and the current economic situation in the county shows how important it is that the Amendment should be accepted. For far too long we have been dependent on the heavy industries, on coal, on steel and shipbuilding, industries which, it is true, have contributed very largely to the wealth of the Commonwealth. When I was in West Africa about three years ago, I was very proud to see the major contributions of the North-East to the real wealth of Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
Somehow, however, during the last few years the Government have forgotten the kind of debt they owe to the heavy industrial areas. My predecessor, Mr. Dalton, the former right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who know this problem inside out, worked after the war as no one else has ever worked on these matters. When one sees the results of that work and witnesses the adaptability of labour and the effect of bringing industries such as synthetic textiles, ball-bearings and aircraft manufacture to our area, one realises that it is not only a matter of social justice for the North-East but that it is a sound economic proposition once industry has been persuaded to come.
Those who live in County Durham know very well its strength. We know also that in other parts of the country it has a bad Press, and people from the South and the Midlands, unless they have been there, do not understand its social and economic strength or what a pleasant place it is to live in. We have particular difficulty in attracting industry. We certainly need the full support of the Board of Trade and, indeed, we need the full support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of Government policy as a whole. Even if this Amendment is accepted, even if the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman are pursued with vigour, we shall still fall down unless there is a major policy of expansion.
A major policy of expansion producing more demand for coal, ships and steel would save the right hon. Gentleman a good deal of worry. I hope that when 1116 the next Budget comes along there will be a big move in that direction, with the Minister of Labour, the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor working together for maximum production and maximum diversification of industry for the benefit of parts of Britain like County Durham.
My own constituency has problems within problems. The unemployment rate in the North-East has gone up. I am pleased to see that juvenile unemployment has gone down, but there are still 752 juveniles unemployed in County Durham, and that is far too many. But within an area where unemployment is still twice the national average there are pockets such as that in Bishop Auckland itself and Crook where unemployment has been more than 4 per cent. for a very long time. Both before the General Election and afterwards, people in County Durham were shocked that the Board of Trade has still not included Bishop Auckland and Crook in the D.A.T.A.C. provisions. Since this Bill may be some time in going through I very much hope that the President of the Board of Trade will quickly do his best to include these two areas within those special provisions. Such places as Cockfield—it always shocks me to say this—where between the wars 60 per cent. of the population were unemployed, still have an unemployment figure far above the national average. In such villages as Woodland and Butterknowle, people are disturbed about what the future holds for them.
All the measures such as advance building, the training of labour, and the special provisions for the removal of many of the eyesores, which were dealt with in such a piecemeal way under the emergency rules not long ago, need to be tied together in a thorough drive for the diversification of industry. If this is done there is no doubt that the people of County Durham will respond. I have been very pleased to see the way in which housing authorities are prepared to provide houses for key workers. I have been very pleased by what the county council has been doing in very difficult circumstances.
About three or four years ago we on the county council were shocked by the Board of Trade's attitude towards efforts 1117 which we were trying to make in conjunction with the Board. The regional controller told us on one memorable occasion that the solution to our problems was for us to advertise ourselves. We did our best in dealing with this major issue which we are discussing today—the issue of diversification in an area where for a very long time all the economic forces have been emphasising concentration—but the only remedy is a vigorous national policy. Such a policy should be applied throughout the North-East and similar parts of the country.
Cannot the Board of Trade consider introducing provisions into the Bill for the use of railway workshops in order to make commodities which are needed in the North-East and elsewhere? Cannot their doctrinaire policy of free enterprise be modified to some extent in relation to the nationalised industries?
I am supported by many people in the North-East in my belief that the Amendment should be accepted and that diversification should be achieved by a drive throughout the area, in the coalfields, in the shipbuilding areas and throughout the region.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
It is natural that most of us have local preoccupations in addressing the Committee on the Bill. I have had approaches from several local authorities in my constituency. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Ginsburg), I have very much in mind the problems of the West Riding and South Yorkshire, but I want, first, to look at one or two of the more general problems which face all of us, including the Government, when considering the Amendment.
I support the Amendment because it does what any good Amendment should do—it moves in the direction taken by the Bill itself. I put it to the President of the Board of Trade that if the Government were to accept the Amendment it would widen the total application of the Bill and of the Measures subsequently proposed.
Is there not some general economic wisdom in the proposition that it becomes all the more difficult to deal with an area which is quickly developing unemployment if we wait too long and do not anticipate what might happen the day after tomorrow? I base my 1118 support for the Amendment upon the formula of "the day after tomorrow".
Obviously, we are dealing with the Bill within the limitations of our economic system. Many of us wish that the distribution of industry could be debated within a Socialist community, in which we could look at these problems in a completely different way. Given circumstances as they are, however, is it not true that there is a body of economic opinion which supports the proposition that to encourage businessmen and manufacturers to make a move into what for them is a new area, the preparations for that move will be all the more successful the more diversification there is in the area?
When we are asked by our local authorities to support them in negotiations with the Board of Trade and its regional officers in trying to attract new industries into an area, we normally look at the points which make the proposition attractive. We are arguing that new industries are more likely to move into areas such as South Yorkshire not at a time when unemployment already exists there, or when it is imminent, but when, over a long period, the prospect of some decline in certain long-established industries is becoming more and more obvious, but, at the same time, there is no immediate crisis and there is a community which makes it attractive for manufacturers and businessmen to move into the area. I have in mind a time when the depopulation which we all deplore has not yet started and when many of the young and able people who are to work in the new factories which are to be transplanted there are still in the area and eager to work.
May I turn to what I consider to be one of the gravest aspects of the problem—the shortage, which we often experience, of craft apprenticeships. Some of the most valuable assets of the North and of any other industrial region reside in the native ability of our working people. It is of great importance that we should look ahead when judging this problem. Nothing should be done to discourage the next generation of craftsmen by measures which necessarily have to be taken quickly when there is a local economic crisis in an area. I think that people who want to apply the Bill correctly both in the interest of the 1119 country and their own interests will say that we ought to accept the Amendment on that ground alone.
There are, however, other reasons which I should like to advance in support of the Amendment. I have mentioned the danger of there not being enough apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. That is showing itself already in some parts of my constituency. People have to travel 25 to 30 miles each day to their places of work, and many of them, after having done that for some time, begin to move away. This is bound to create a serious unbalance in the total make up of the population in these traditionally go-ahead industrial areas. There is bound to be a time, not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but in a number of years, when there will be a lack of the younger section of the population to take the place of those who are now doing the main jobs.
It is our common desire that the coal industry, which gives employment to so many people in my area, should be strong and prosperous, but the first task is to see that that happens. We cannot close our eves to the possibility that, in the long term, there will arise the necessity of providing alternative employment for many people in the traditionally established industries. I should have thought that in an area like mine, where the problem today is not so great, it would be a concept of governmental wisdom to look ahead. They should not wait until it has become an immediate problem, as it is in other areas where there are important coalfields, but should provide opportunities for diversification in five, ten or fifteen years.
If the policy of intelligent anticipation, as I might perhaps call it, is acceptable, what are the difficulties that stand in the way? I know that the Government do not wish to appear to be too much concerned with the direction of industry. There are those who, for various reasons, do not like the Government to take too much action in influencing and directing the economic forces of the country. This is a situation in which the Government, because of their responsibility to the country, should disregard some of these hesitations and put first things first.
1120 The Government should say to the country—and perhaps courageously to their own supporters, because I do not underestimate the courage which a Government sometimes need to talk to their own supporters—"Here is a set of practical problems. There is a good body of economic opinion behind it. There are certain things that go beyond the limited confines of the Bill, but because it is necessary to do them in the present circumstances we are prepared to accept this type of Amendment and go along with a considerable body of opinion."
If the Amendment were to be accepted and the widening of the application of the Bill therefore became an accepted fact of Governmental action, it would still leave it in the hands of the Government, subject to the criticism and approval of the House of Commons, to make distinctions in considering the types of economic aid and immediate encouragement to be given to different areas. I do not ask that the Government should blindly apply the same kind of encouragement to an area of immediate unemployment as to all other areas. That is the business of selection and part of Government administration.
I hope that, on the grounds which I have advanced, the Government will accept the Amendment which, in principle, asks them to look ahead and avoid the kind of economic dangers which cannot be dealt with when they are upon us by taking measures in good time.
§ Mr. Peart
I should like to reinforce the belief of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that this is not a matter which affects Scotland or Wales only. I know that it affects them considerably but we in England also, and especially I, in west Cumberland, feel very strongly about this. I support the Amendment because under the Second Schedule, the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company Limited goes out. I believe that to be a tragedy because we in our area, through the initiative of that company, have practised diversification of industry. Indeed, the area is regarded as a model Development Area for the whole country.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) wrote a Conservative 1121 pamphlet a few years ago in which he praised what was happening in the West Cumberland Development Area during the period in office of the Labour Government. It has been a successful Development Area for various reasons, including the initiative of Lord Adams and members of that company. Diversification of industry has been created in an area which previously relied on the two basic industries, coal and steel. In post-war development, considerable success has been achieved in bringing in new industry. In an area covering the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds) there has been the development of nuclear power, of new engineering industries and light industries.
I want that to go on, but I am afraid that now, because the Bill gives powers to Corporations for England. Scotland and Wales, that successful work done by the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company and by the Development Council will be sacrificed. That is why I want the proposed words to be inserted in the Bill. I want to see even further diversification in the area. There is still coal in the area but pits are closing and, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), in an excellent speech, there is need to stress the importance of young workers, the provision of employment for school leavers and the creation of apprenticeships. That problem is becoming acute in the west Cumberland area. Even on the fringe of the Development Area, in a great tourist centre like Keswick in the Lake District, we should like to see new industries established.
Those who have spoken in support of this need for diversification have included three Conservative Members. I hope that every hon. Member present will say that he believes that the Amendment is right in principle, and I hope that if some hon. Members opposite do not go so far as to support the Amendment they will at least have the courage to abstain and not go into the Government Lobby simply because of the Conservative Whips.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The Rev. LI. Williams
Like my hon. Friends and one or two hon. Members opposite, I wish to express my desire for 1122 the words "diversification" and "distribution" to be included in the Bill. We in South Wales have learned more bitterly than probably any other part of Great Britain the cost of being without diversification in industry. It can be said that before the war all our industrial eggs were in one basket. When that basket fell in the 'thirties the consequences were calamitous.
I speak with real authority on the subject of diversification. I think I can safely hazard the guess that my constituency is more dependent on one industry and that a heavy industry, than any other. In Abertillery, 65 per cent. of the insured workers are in the mining industry, which is a contracting industry. All of us hope that the contraction will be enlightened and phased, but I am thinking ahead.
I have made some quick calculations and I estimate that about 5,000 insured workers in Abertillery have to travel distances similar to those referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) to their place of employment. I equally confidently calculate that only about 2,000 of the insured workers are employed in other smaller industries in the constituency. There is a lack of symmetry and diversification here which is very dramatic.
What will happen to the mining industry? There are about twelve or fourteen collieries, some large, some small, in the Abertillery constituency. We all know that in the nature of things we can expect over the next ten or twenty years a very graphic contraction of the coal industry. We have suffered seriously in the past because of the lack of diversification in this type of community.
Let me give an example. In 1933 the unemployment percentage in Blaina was 93 per cent. I believe that that is the highest unemployment percentage ever known in the history of Great Britain. In 1921 six pits were working in Blaina. By 1926 all six had closed. It is possible that future closures will not come about in such a short space of time, but, as the representative of that community, I cannot but feel very strongly on the question of diversification.
It is very unhealthy that any area should be as dependent as is my area on one industry. It is crazy economics and bad social planning. For those reasons 1123 I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will consider including these two very important and eloquent words in the Bill.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I shall be very short. The City of Lincoln which I represent is prosperous. There is hardly any unemployment. Wages are high. It has skilled engineering works, but it has all its eggs in one basket. It is very sensitive to anything that the Government do. Immediately after Suez orders fell away dramatically and there was unemployment. Immediately the Bank Rate was raised orders again fell away dramatically.
We have all our eggs in one basket, all in skilled engineering. Diversification is what we must have to weather an economic storm. I beg the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
I am speaking at the end of a long tale of great constituency importance. I should like to add my contribution and to emphasise the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) so rightly underlined, that the Amendment is a question of looking ahead. Surely what we want to avoid is waiting until the damage is done, when there is a breakdown of employment and a situation which so many areas have had to face in the past, and then mobilising the machinery to do something about it. The sensible thing to do is to watch for the symptoms of future unemployment and distress.
I represent an area which has a very ancient and proud reputation as the centre of the chemical industry. It has been in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution for over a hundred years. People who watch the symptoms can now see the dangers that lie ahead of us. What help will we get from a Bill of this kind? We are a D.A.T.A.C. area—one might say a marginal D.A.T.A.C. area—but if one looks ahead the most optimistic guess is that the chemical industry will be able to offer employment only at the present level. It will not be able to offer employment for an increased population. It will not be able to offer employment to people who come in from Merseyside. We are, therefore, faced with the problem of getting alternative industries into Widnes which will take 1124 the place of the chemical industry which has obviously passed its period of expansion.
That is the broad picture that has to be tackled. In addition we have the problem of particularly heavy unemployment among women. It is now twice what it is among men. That is a fairly permanent feature. If we are to get a right balance of industry we must introduce light industries which can offer employment to women. We want to be able to bring into the area new expanding industries which can absorb some of the labour which will not be required in future in the heavy chemical industry.
It is frustrating for people of responsibility who are looking ahead and trying to ensure that their town is not hit by economic misery. We do not want our towns to face some of the horrors which my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) mentioned. I was born and brought up in the North-East and I have experience of this problem from the days of my youth. We do not want that sort of thing to happen in Lancashire. Have we to sit down and wait because we cannot at the moment say that we have got the disease? We are not desperately ill but all the symptoms are there. Cannot we have some help? That is the importance of the Amendment. It will pinpoint the question of diversification. If we are to have a balanced economy, with any assurance for the future, we must have mixed industries, with varied opportunities of employment.
There is not one hon. Member opposite who, if he were compiling his investment portfolio, would not take good care to have a great variety of investments, in different kinds of industrial securities, for his own security and for the security of his assets. That is regarded as prudent business. Why, therefore, is it not prudent business for a town to want to be sure of its future, and plan ahead for it? Why should it not want to be certain that it will have employment for its people? Is it not equally important that it, too, should have a mixed portfolio of industry, so that whatever shocks the economy may suffer it will have the chance of being able to expand in the right direction. That is the point of view of Widnes, which should be considered in this sort of Bill.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will indicate that he is prepared to accept the Amendment, so that the Bill will contain a definite promise of a solution to the problem of the diversification and distribution of industry. I enter the debate at this stage because I feel that, especially in regard to Scotland and Ayrshire, the Government have been partly responsible for creating the problem of unemployment which makes the diversification of industry so necessary. In Irvine there is a very high unemployment figure, caused by Government action in closing down the Royal Ordnance factory. That created a pool of unemployment, and there are no other industries to take it up. The Irvine Town Council, by taking over the Royal Ordnance factory site and publicising its facilities, has done all that a local authority could be expected to do. The President of the Board of Trade must realise that it is not fair that a small burgh should be left with this onerous task. The Government ought to be instrumental in attracting industry into the area.
I want to cite another example from my constituency. By the spending of Government money an industrial estate was opened in 1948, under the Labour Government. That industrial estate, at Kilwinning, cost about £100,000 in servicing and site preparation, but so far it has on it only one tiny factory employing a few people, although unemployment exists in the area. I am sure that the Secretary of State has had his attention drawn repeatedly to this situation by local authorities in the area pressing him to make use of this serviced estate, thereby relieving the existing unemployment.
It is a fair criticism to say that unemployment in Scotland is not so localised in character as the President of the Board of Trade makes out. Scotland has 91,000 unemployed, spread over a wide area. Do the Government merely intend to do what they could easily have done under the Distribution of Industry Act? If so, it was not necessary to bring in this Bill. We cannot help but be suspicious because the Government have aggravated the situation. Their action has created the unemployment.
1126 9.30 p.m.
I wish to refer to another direction in which the Government have aggravated an existing problem and it is something with which the Secretary of State is well acquainted. Only by creating new employment and diversifying that employment can we solve the problems which were posed by a deputation in Glasgow on Saturday. I was sorry that a constituency appointment prevented me from being present on that occasion and obliged me to send my apologies. The Government did not take the action which they should have taken in connection with the decision of the National Coal Board to cease exporting 250,000 tons of coal a year from the Port of Ayr to Northern Ireland. Because of that there will be more pits closed in Ayrshire and mining villages will be bereft of employment.
I wish to quote a letter, one of many which I have received. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Is a point of order being raised?
§ Mr. Manuel
I could keep the Committee a long time on the question of the need for diversifying industry in Ayrshire, but I propose to quote from only one of several letters which I have received. It is a letter from the Town Clerk of Cumnock and it reads:Dear Mr. Manuel, I have been instructed by my Council to lodge an urgent protest with the Chairman of the National Coal Board, the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Scotland against the proposed decision of the National Coal Board to reduce exports of coal from Ayr to Northern Ireland. My Council feel that such a decision will, undoubtedly, have a crippling effect on the economy of our Burgh which is at the heart of the Central Ayrshire Coalfield. My Council have also instructed me to ask you to give all the support you can to this protest.It seems to me that unless the Government have a national policy for coal which will fit in with their unemployment legislation we shall have these problems recurring every time there are pit closures in the coalfields. There is no indication that the Government propose to do that or to take steps to deal with the problems which will arise in the coalfields of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire and other parts of Scotland.
1127 It is quite wrong for the Government to imagine that the transference of the export of 250,000 tons of coal from Scotland to the east Midlands will not result in the need for some other industry to be directed to Ayrshire to provide work for the people who will be affected by that transfer. Does the Secretary of State for Scotland realise that this decision will mean that 500 fewer coal trains will be operated by the motive power department of British Railways at Ayr? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there will be a great redundancy?
It is all very well to say that there will be only so many men who will become redundant. Obviously the Government are unaware of the trade union agreements which apply. While people may not be dismissed, they will be transferred to other areas in order to retain their grade; they will be uprooted from their homes and their children will be taken from the schools which they attend or from the employment which they follow. They will have to remove to other areas because there will be no work consequent upon this decision to export coal to Northern Ireland from the East Midlands coalfield instead of from Ayrshire.
I have had no satisfaction from the Secretary of State, the President of the Board of Trade or the Minister of Power regarding the decision to take this coal from the east Midlands to a port of shipment in England at a cost of 25s. per ton compared with the cost of 9s. per ton if it were exported from the Ayrshire coalfield. It is silly economics and does not make sense. Surely, when we have such a massive unemployment figure in Scotland, the President should try to influence the Minister of Power not to create further disappointment and augment this unemployment figure by adhering to a decision to send coal to Northern Ireland from the English coalfield instead of from Ayrshire.
I hope that these things will be taken into account by the right hon. Gentleman and that he will try to do something to wipe away the blot of unemployment which exists in Ayrshire by the diversification of industry and by a policy of proper distribution.
§ Mr. Maudling
I hope that the Committee will be able to reach a decision on this Amendment tonight—
§ Mr. Maudling
I am well aware of that.
This is only the second Amendment which we have discussed today. There are many others on the Notice Paper. I am not criticising any hon. Member. The debates have been very full and every possible interest has been covered, but I hope that we may be able to progress a little faster, because, otherwise, it may take an inordinate amount of time to deal with all the Bill.
There are reasons why we cannot accept this Amendment which I will endeavour to explain, but I have an alternative suggestion to make which I think will go a good way to meet a lot of the points which have been raised by hon. Members opposite.
The hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee), in moving the Amendment, raised one or two points to which I should like to refer to clarify matters which have arisen in subsequent discussion. He talked about the coal areas, which have been frequently referred to, and the fact that we can see in advance that a problem is arising and he suggested that we should be able to act in advance. We consider that the Bill gives us the power to act in advance, the expression "imminent" being the key phrase.
It would not be in order, at this stage, because there are later Amendments, to go into the question of whether the word "imminent" is good enough. Certainly, "imminent", to us, does not mean a very few days, or simply one or two days. It may mean a considerable period. That, however, I will leave until we reach the appropriate Amendment.
Another point made by the hon. Member for Newton and echoed by several hon. Members, including the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), was that we should not approach the problem as though dealing with only small local areas. The hon. Lady used the expression "little localities here and there". There must be some misunderstanding, because that is certainly not our intention. Once again, we can go into more detail on later 1129 Amendments. I would, however, say that in our understanding, the word "locality" covers both a small town and also an area as big as an existing Development Area. We are not thinking of confining localities to small areas. I quite agree with each of the two hon. Members that to try to do that would be a wrong approach to the problem.
A third point made by the hon. Member for Newton and by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) and other hon. Members was that it was no good bringing employment into an area if it would not persist there. That is probably covered by the phrase in the Bill aboutemployment appropriate to the needs of the locality".If the employment will not last there, it is not appropriate to the needs of the locality. I accept that at once.
Those same words cover the point made by the hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) and one or two others about the fact that we must consider not merely the employment of males, but the employment of females, and that there may be special problems in an area which make one type of industry more appropriate than another. All these points, therefore, are covered and, no doubt, in our later discussions, they will be dealt with in greater detail.
The difficulty about accepting the Amendment, however, is a very real one. I accept what has been said by so many hon. Members about the need of distribution of industry within many of the areas of which they have spoken. Many hon. Members have said that their problem is an unemployment problem, either actual or imminent, and that to face it we must have a diversification and variety of industry. I accept that. The Amendment, however, goes a good deal further and would impose upon the Board of Trade a responsibility for distribution and diversification of industry throughout the country. That would place much too heavy a burden upon the Government and the effect would be to deprive those areas that most need help of a good deal of the help that they would otherwise get.
The phrase "proper distribution of industry" is somewhat difficult to define. It could be argued vigorously that the 1130 proper distribution of industry for this country, which depends for its livelihood upon exports, is the most efficient distribution which produces the lowest costs. We must never forget that. If we go on taking action that puts more and more cost upon British industry, we will damage the industry of the country as a whole. Then, we should not be able to develop the unemployment areas, the areas of special difficulty or anywhere else. In dealing with these problems, we must never overload the economy as a whole. I ask hon. Members to remember that when dealing with this problem.
There are definite limits to the amount of assistance that can be given, both to the amount of financial assistance and, what is possibly more important, to the number of firms coming forward with projects who can be induced to go into particular areas. I say "induced", because nearly everybody, except one or two hon. Members, accepts that direction is not something we should contemplate.
The Amendment is concerned with inducements and not with industrial development certificates, which come later in the Bill. The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North, who talked about this matter, will find from the Bill that the considerations which she has in mind are, and must be, applied by the Board of Trade in using the system of industrial development certificates to prevent further agglomeration and congestion in, say, Birmingham, London or the southern part of the country. Here, however, we are dealing with the inducement which we can give to industrialists to go to certain areas.
It would be wrong to accept the Amendment and thereby place a responsibility upon the Board of Trade to try to steer industry not only to areas where there is unemployment or the imminent threat of it, but to areas where there is no such threat but which depend upon a particular industry. There are a number of examples of this and the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) rightly pointed to the case of Lincoln. The hon. Member for Newton referred to the Midlands. Coventry affords an example of a town that is booming but which is very much dependent upon the motor trade. If the motor trade were to take a severe knock, anybody from Coventry could argue that that city would take a severe knock.
1131 I have had representations from other hon. Members on this side of the Committee, too, who are concerned with some of the problems of the new towns, some of which, they say, have a great dependence upon one industry. If we spread the assistance that is available over all these towns, where there is not merely a danger of unemployment, but where there is no danger of unemployment although there is a need, in theory, for diversification, we should run into the danger to which the Report of the Select Committee referred in saying that to spread the special Government aid over 20 per cent. of the country would make nonsense of the whole proposition.
We believe that the right policy is to concentrate the aid where it is most needed and that is what we will be doing under the Bill. Much industry has come into the Swansea area, for example, to which reference has been made, but will not go further west. If we offer industry a wide choice of places to which to go, it will always choose the most attractive. The least attractive place usually has high unemployment and the greatest need but almost inevitably comes at the end of the queue. There is a strong case for not spreading our net too widely.
I would suggest, therefore, that we should concentrate this concept of diversification within the areas that we intend to assist. For what I believe to be cogent reasons of great interest to the areas most badly affected, I cannot accept the Amendment, but I would be prepared to consider inserting an Amendment at a later stage, in Clause 1, that would make it quite clear that, in carrying out the duties of the Board of Trade under the Bill in areas to which the Bill refers, we must have regard to the distribution and diversification of industry.
In other words, I accept the principle that has been argued very cogently by hon. Members opposite in its application to the areas where we are to apply Government assistance, but to go beyond that and apply it over the country as a whole would not be effective, and would greatly undermine and weaken the real assistance that we all intend to bring to those areas that stand most in need of it.
That is the offer I should like to make. I cannot pretend that it covers the whole 1132 of the point argued by the party opposite, but it does represent a genuine attempt to meet the very large number of points which have been made and I am quite certain that it is far better designed to give more, and more effective, help to those especially difficult areas for which such eloquent pleas have been made in the debate.
§ Mr. Jay
The President of the Board of Trade has offered a certain concession to our arguments and, for what it is worth, we are very glad to have it, but I must at once tell him that it is totally inadequate to meet the problem we are discussing. In his remarks, the right hon. Gentleman has gone back on a very special part of the spirit and powers of the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act. All he offers, within the areas that already come within the definition of this Bill—that is to say, where already there is high unemployment—is to take account of diversification as well.
That is not nearly good enough, because the whole burden of our argument is that there are some areas where unemployment is not yet high but where, because they are one-industry, or even one-firm, towns it can be seen that a very great danger of unemployment arises. Without a single exception, every speech made this afternoon from both sides has urged the President of the Board of Trade to accept the Amendment, and it is extraordinary that at the end of such a debate he should ask the Committee to vote against it. It does not do much for the prestige of this Committee or of the House if, after three hours of debate in which hon. Members on all sides have supported an Amendment, the Government merely say that they will use the Whips in order to defeat it.
Let us make it quite clear that the purpose of these two Amendments is to introduce the balanced distribution of industry into the purpose of Clause 1, which is to promote employment. Secondly, and perhaps the most important is to have a form of words which dictates which areas the Board of Trade can take into account for operating all powers in the Bill later on. For that purpose, we propose to say, not merely… a high rate of unemployment …but to add those localities where Government aid is required to promote the 1133 proper distribution and diversification of industry.
What the right hon. Gentleman has not realised, and what many other speakers this afternoon have not realised, is that the present definition is much narrower than that in the 1945 Act. The Government have been telling the country that the Bill is an improvement on the 1945 Act, but there is no question whatever that if the President sticks to his present form of words the Bill will limit the areas much more narrowly than they used to be.
It might be useful if I were now to read words that have not once been quoted in this debate. Subsection (2) of Section 1 of the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act specifies the sort of areas that can be scheduled as Development Areas, and says:Where at any time it appears to the Board"—that is, the Board of Trade—that the distribution of industry is such that in any area not specified"—in the existing Act—there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment, the Board may …add those areas to the list.
That Act does not say anything about areas where unemployment is high, or even imminent; it refers to areas where the danger exists. We did that in 1945, and one thing we must remember is that the Bill gets rid of the 1945 Act and introduces these limiting words.
The words that the right hon. Gentleman now proposes are narrower than those in the 1945 Act in two respects. In the first place, instead of referring to areas where… there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment …the Bill now refers to areas where unemployment already exists. That means that we cannot look so far into the future.
In the second respect, whereas we could previously take account, not only of the danger of unemployment but of the distribution of industry—that is, of diversification—unless this Amendment is accepted we cannot take balanced distribution into account at all. The right hon. Gentleman uses a most extraordinary argument. He says that if we did this we would be laying on the Board of Trade an obligation to take 1134 account of the distribution of industry all over the country, but that was exactly the purpose of the 1945 Act and, indeed, of the 1944 White Paper on employment policy.
Nor does the President of the Board of Trade seem to have read the Title of the 1945 Act. The Title is:An Act to provide for the development of certain areas; for controlling the provision of industrial premises with a view to securing the proper distribution of industry …Obviously, that meant the proper distribution of industry all over the country.
He is also leaving us in a most illogical position because, in effect, in a later Clause, he keeps that Section of the 1947 Act which authorises I.D.Cs., in order to have balanced distribution, for negative restraint in congested areas, but proposes to remove it in the case of the inducements that we are now discussing. By the 1945 Act we could take into account balanced distribution and diversification both for the purpose of restraint on the congested areas and of offering incentives to industry to go to the unemployment areas. We are now to have the absurd position of being able to take balanced distribution into account for one type of area and not for another, and the President of the Board of Trade has given no good reason whatever for that.
The whole of the debate has shown that there are still areas of all kinds, despite all that has been done, which are extremely vulnerable to unemployment because of their dependence on one industry or a few industries. They have been described from both sides of the Committee. There are still towns like Consett and Corby which today are very largely dependent on one firm and are fairly fully employed at present, but where a misfortune to either the industry or the firm could bring great trouble. There are the coal valleys, the shipbuilding areas and the cotton towns. The Nelson and Colne Valley is to an extraordinary extent even to this day dependent on the cotton industry. There are the areas to which the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) referred, namely, the rural and moorland areas of Scotland and Wales, which are very much in need of diversification because there is almost nothing but agriculture and forestry and perhaps a few other industries.
1135 Therefore, although some areas have admittedly been put into a better position since 1945, the need is as urgent as it ever was. It is extraordinary that the President of the Board of Trade after all this experience should want to go back on the situation to which we had at least advanced in 1945. The right hon. Gentleman has a great opportunity now to take a big step forward in diversification in some of the worst areas.
We are told that two, if not three, of our great motor-car firms are at present planning very big expansions. The President of the Board of Trade has the opportunity to be very firm in restraining those firms from expansion in the congested areas. If he uses his powers to persuade the firms to go to areas needing diversification, he will have full support from this side of the Committee. If he persuades one or two of these firms to carry out their expansions, for instance, in the steel areas of Scotland or Wales, which are much in need of diversification, we shall all congratulate him on having taken at least one successful step forward. What we on this side want is not merely to criticise the Government. We want to persuade them to act and persuade industries to go to these areas. The argument for diversification is particularly strong in this case.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has not said his last about this and that, if not now, at any rate on Report he will look at the 1945 Act and, in view of all the Government's protestations, at least agree to go as far as that. I will quote to the right hon. Gentleman his own party's manifesto in Scotland, which seemed to understand more about the need for diversification than he does tonight:
Scotland's overdependence on the old-established heavy industries is reflected, even in the most prosperous times, in a relatively higher level of unemployment. We are determined to correct this disparity …
That is what the Tory Party said at election time, and I understand that the Prime Minister echoed those words. If it is true, in view of the unanimous support for the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman should either tell us now that he will think again or introduce on Report something much more effective than he has so far promised. If he does not, I hope that the Committee will now think it is time to reach a decision and will carry the Amendment to a Division forthwith.
§ Question put, That the words "purpose of" stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 221, Noes 165.1139
|Division No. 8.]||AYES||[9.57 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Channon, H. P. G.||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Allason, James||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Alport, C. J. M,||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Cleaver, Leonard||God[...]er, J. B.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cole, Norman||Gower, Raymond|
|Barber, Anthony||Collard, Richard||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cordle, John||Green, Alan|
|Barter, John||Corfield, F. V.||Gresham Cooks, R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Costain, A. P,||Grimston, Sir Robert|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Couison, J. M.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Gurden, Harold|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Curran, Charles||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Currie, G. B. H.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Dance, James||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Deedes, W. F.||Hay, John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||de Ferranti, Basil||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Bossom, Clive||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hendry, A. Forbes|
|Box, Donald||Duncan, Sir James||Hiley, Joseph|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Duthie, Sir William||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Eden, John||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Braine, Bernard||Elliott, R. W.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brewis, John||Errington, Sir Eric||Hobson, John|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Farr, John||Holland, Philip|
|Brooman-White, R.||Finlay, Graeme||Holland-Martin, Christopher|
|Bullard, Denys||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hollingworth, John|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Forrest, George||Hopkins, Alan|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Gammans, Lady||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Speir, Rupert|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Mills, Stratton||Stodart, J. A.|
|Jackson, John||Morgan, William||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|James, David||Nabarro, Gerald||Storey, S.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Neave, Airey||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Jennings, J. C.||Nicholls, Harmar||Talbot, John E.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Temple, John M.|
|Johnson Smith, G.(Holb. &S. P'ncr's, S)||Noble, Michael||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Nugent, Richard||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Page, Graham||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Partridge, E.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Peel, John||Turner, Colin|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Percival, Ian||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. Alan||Peyton, John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Pilkington, Capt. Richard||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pott, Percivall||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Prior, J. M. L.||Wall, Patrick|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|MacArthur Ian||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Watts, James|
|McLaren, Martin||Ramsden, James||Webster, David|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rawlinson, Peter||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Whitelaw, William|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Rees, Hugh||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|McMaster, Stanley||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Renton, David||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Wise, Alfred|
|Maddan, Martin||Ridsdale, Julian||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maginnis, John E.||Roots, William||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Woollam, John|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Scott-Hopkins, James||Worsley, Marcus|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Sharples, Richard||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Marten, Neil||Shepherd, William|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Skeet, T. H. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|Mawby, Ray||Smithers, Peter||Mr. Bryan.|
|Ainsley, William||Finch, Harold||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Albu, Austen||Fitch, Alan||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fletcher, Eric||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Awbery, Stan||Forman, J. C.||Logan, David|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Galpern, Myer||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Beaney, Alan||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||MacColl, James|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Ginsburg, David||McInnes, James|
|Benson, Sir George||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hn. Aneurin (Ebbw V.)||Gourlay, Harry||Mackie, John|
|Blyton, William||Greenwood, Anthony||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Grey, Charles||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Bowles, Frank||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mapp, Charles|
|Boyden, James||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hannan, William||Mason, Roy|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hayman, F. H.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Callaghan, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Chetwynd, George||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Millan, Bruce|
|Cliffe, Michael||Holman, Percy||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Collick, Percy||Holt, Arthur||Monslow, Walter|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Houghton, Douglas||Moody, A. S.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hoy, James H.||Morris, John|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Neal, Harold|
|Darling, George||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hunter, A. E.||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Owen, Will|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Janner, Barnett||Padley, W. E.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Deer, George||Jeger, George||Pargiter, G. A.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Peart, Frederick|
|Driberg, Tom||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pentland, Norman|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Kelley, Richard||Prentice, R. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||King, Dr. Horace||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lawson, George||Probert, Arthur|
|Fernyhough, E.||Ledger, Ron||Proctor, W. T.|
|Rankin, John||Stones, William||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Redhead, E. C.||Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Swain, Thomas||Whitlock, William|
|Rhodes, H.||Swingler, Stephen||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Sylvester, George||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Symonds, J. B.||Willey, Frederick|
|Robertson, Sir David||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Ross, William||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Short, Edward||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Skeffington, Arthur||Thornton, Ernest||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Small, William||Thorpe, Jeremy||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Timmons, John||Woof, Robert|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wade, Donald||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Watkins, Tudor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stonehouse, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Mr. Mahon and|
|Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
§ It being after Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.