§ 3.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, at the end to insert:(3) On the coming into operation of this Act the Board shall make an order (hereinafter called "the original order") listing the localities which in the opinion of the Board are such localities as are specified in the last foregoing subsection and the Board may from time to time make further orders removing from or adding to any previous order a locality which was included or, as the case may be, not included in a previous order:Provided that the original order and any order removing a locality from a previous order shall not be made unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament and that an order under this subsection, of which no draft has been laid and approved as aforesaid, shall be subject to annulment by resolution of either House of Parliament.The purpose of this Amendment is to lay down that the lists of areas to be assisted under the Bill shall be decided by the House of Commons rather than simply by the Board of Trade on its own. If the Amendment is accepted, then the position will be that when the President of the Board of Trade seeks to remove any area from the list of areas to be assisted he will have to seek an affirmative order by the House; if he wishes to add an area to the list he will have to ask for a negative Resolution. This issue which we are now discussing really governs the whole of the rest of the Bill. It is only if an area is included in this list that any of the other positive powers in the Bill apply. It is, therefore, of the first importance that we act correctly in deciding which areas are to be on this list.
The main difference between the Bill before us and the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, which the Bill repeals, is that under the previous law the House of Commons had to approve an Order before there was any alteration in the 232 list of Development Areas. That will no longer be the case under the Bill which the Government want us to accept and the decision will be wholly in the hands of the Board of Trade acting administratively.
The President of the Board of Trade, and the Government in general, have told us that this is their most important Bill of the Session. I believe that this is the most important innovation in the Bill and that we should give it a little attention this afternoon. We are in the rather odd situation that we are discussing the whole of the Bill without any idea of what the areas are to which the Bill will apply.
The situation was different under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. When that Bill was before the House the areas were listed in precise detail in a Schedule to the Bill, and Clause 7 laid down that those areas could not be altered without the laying of a further Order before the House.
All we know now is that at some stage, either during the passage of the Bill, or after the passage of it, if it is passed, the President of the Board of Trade will issue a list of the areas to which he proposes to give assistance. I believe, and I think that most of my hon. Friends agree, that it is unsatisfactory that we should be discussing the whole of the Bill without any idea of what the areas are.
From the Minister's remarks on Second Reading we know that the list which he apparently has in the background will apply to about 14 per cent. of the population of Great Britain. That is not much more than half of the areas to which these powers now apply.
We do not know what the areas will be. Before the Bill goes much further, could the Minister not tell us what this list is, even if he does not accept the Amendment? Can he tell us the areas that he has in mind? If he cannot do that, can he not at least tell us when, whether in Committee, on Report, or on the Third Reading, this list will be published to the world?
Under the 1945 Act no alteration could be made in the list of Development Areas without an affirmative Order by this House. We have not gone as far as that. We are asking only for an 233 affirmative Order when an area is deducted from the list. That is a very moderate proposal. That is the kernel of our case on the Amendment, and this is most eminently a question which should he decided by Parliament, because the expenditure of money is very closely involved in this definition of areas.
I hope that that argument will appeal to the noble Lord the Member for Dorset South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), who has been looking very narrowly at the expenditure of money under this legislation. If these are areas within which public money can be expended, that in itself is an argument for giving Parliament control over of what the areas are to be.
What are the Government's reasons for striking out of the previous legislation the provision that it is for Parliament to decide on the list of areas? The main change in the Bill is that the Government have struck out that provision. They have not given a reason, either on Second Reading or since, why this important change should be made. I can only suppose that the reason is that the Government are afraid to come to the House and ask for an individual area to be taken out of the list of those to be assisted. Need they be so timid? Need they have such a poor opinion of the judgment of Parliament in this respect? I think that the Minister is under-rating the power and ability of the House of Commons to form a just and unbiased judgment about these things.
The only evidence that has been brought forward for the argument that it is impossible to trust the House of Commons with this decision was the unfortunate experience of the previous President of the Board of Trade—now the Minister of Education—when he came along one day and said that he was thinking of removing Tees-side from the list of Development Areas. No reason or explanation was given for that. There was no suggestion either that other areas were to be added to the list. Not unnaturally, there was despair and despondency in the area concerned and there were protests to the President of the Board of Trade. He abandoned that plan and quietly administratively de- 234 scheduled, as he called it, large parts of the country.
That was an unfortunate incident, but I do not think that, because the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Education acted with rather characteristic tactlessness on that occasion, we should make this constitutional change and say that Parliament is never again to have the right to express an opinion on this matter. That is not an adequate argument. If, instead of making this alteration, the President of the Board of Trade said that the list was out of date; that it was necessary to have a different list and that he wanted to remove certain areas because unemployment in them was much better and add other areas in which new problems had arisen, the House would probably accept that and make an Order. I do not think that we need be so pusillanimous in this matter as the Government seem to be after that one experience.
There is another argument which I should like to put forward. We know that the British motor industry has important expansion plans. I was glad to hear the Minister's speech last week. His attitude seemed to be improving, perhaps through having listened to some argument from this side of the House. He publicly urged on the motor industry the case for putting these expansions into areas where unemployment existed. We wholly support him in that. We hope that he will stick to his guns. He now has a greater opportunity for an advance in the distribution of industry policy than any other Government have had since the war.
What the Government do not realise is that if they have Parliamentary sanction behind them when the choice of the areas which are to be new Development Areas—or whatever they are called—is made, they will have more power to tell industries which want to expand of their own accord in congested areas that they cannot do so. I hope that in considering this the President of the Board of Trade will realise that if he has to be firm in dealing with a large firm which wants to expand in a congested area he will be all the more able to do so if he has the support of public opinion. If he could say that his action was designed to bring new employment to areas like 235 Scotland, he could refuse an industrial development certificate for London on the specific ground that new employment was needed in Scotland and elsewhere. If, at the same time, he could say that the list of areas was one which had received the sanction of Parliament, he would have greater moral authority for saying, "You cannot expand in a congested area".
The Minister of State for Scotland is usually rather quiet during these debates, but I hope that my argument will appeal to him. I believe that it is in the interests of the Government—even the present Government and the present President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of State for Scotland—to look at the Amendment sympathetically and put themselves in the same position that the Government were in under the previous Act when the areas themselves, and not merely the powers, had Parliamentary sanction. I hope that the Government will not sweepingly take out of the hands of the House any right in future to say which areas should be in the list.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
On a point of order. May we have your guidance, Sir Gordon, as to the way in which you propose to treat our later discussion on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill"? The idea seems to be current that because of the wide scope of the debate so far you may feel inclined somewhat to restrict the amount of time spent on that discussion.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I should have thought that the acceptance of the Amendment, however well intentioned it may be, could be a handicap to the smooth administration of this Measure. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman showed that he is still thinking in terms of the situation which existed many years ago. He is imagining that the conditions obtaining today are the same as those which obtained not merely at the end of the last war, but even before the last war, when the special areas were first created.
On reflection, he may concede that those areas were situated in parts of the 236 country which had suffered especially from chronic unemployment for a long time, and that when they were first created those areas were thought by Parliament to be likely to exist for very many years and to be somewhat inflexible and unalterable. I submit that the position today is radically different, and that we now have to conceive of a rapidly changing economic format in our society. We have to conceive the possibility of these areas having to be changed repeatedly and often.
In those circumstances, I should have thought that Parliament was not the correct body to perform the function of deciding which areas should be included. It might well be too large a body to perform that function.
§ Mr. Gower
Yes. But I should have thought that the Board of Trade, with its expert knowledge of this problem, was better equipped to make decisions of this kind without the political pressure that must ensue from many—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Perhaps hon. Members will wait for me to finish. I am not speaking of political party pressure; I am speaking of the sort of pressure from constituencies, to which we are all subject.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The last example of such pressure that we had on this matter came from the hon. Member himself, during the Second Reading debate. He brought strong pressure to bear on the Board of Trade to prevent a factory being closed in the Treforest Trading Estate. Does he think that that was unfair pressure?
§ Mr. Gower
Does not what the right hon. Gentleman has just said bear out fully what I have said? Does it not show that I, like all other hon. Members, am likely to take a human course in this debate? I should have thought that in the circumstances the Board of Trade would be better able to deal with these decisions, since it has to make them more often and has expert knowledge in the matter. 237 I also think that the procedure required now should be completely different from that which obtained under the former Act. It seemed to me that the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) was allowing himself to be closely governed by that Act, and was not looking forward to a different kind of future.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
George Lansbury and Annie Besant once said that we should constantly analyse ourselves before speaking critically of others. I want to apply that remark to what I regard as the colossal cheek of someone in circulating a timetable for this debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) finished his speech at ten minutes to four. Since that time he has made an interjection, which has taken up even more of the timetable.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
That is what I wanted to emphasise. I have studied Standing Orders, and I also made a very careful scrutiny of Erskine May, at lunch-time today, and it appears that a timetable is not mandatory on the Committee. I thank you, Sir Gordon, for emphasising that that is so. It seems to me that some people ought to remember that there are other parts of England besides London and the steps of the Board of Trade.
In my view, the Amendment is a very good one. The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum says that the Clause, which the Amendment seeks to change,provides that the powers for promoting employment are to be exercisable in any locality of high unemployment.It defines "high unemployment" in a very unsatisfactory manner. I want to make some observations in this connection, in the hope that the Minister of State will listen to them and be good enough to supply answers before we part with the Clause.
I want to speak upon the narrow interests of Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire and Lancashire. Those areas are entitled to have an explanation of certain undefined passages in the Clause, and are also entitled to know how the 238 Measure will be administered. In introducing the Bill, the President of the Board of Trade stated very clearly that its object was to provide help for areas of high and persistent unemployment. Is it the opinion of the Board of Trade that that definition applies to Lancashire, where no fewer than 68,000 people are unemployed?
We have had persistent unemployment there since the end of the war. but because the density of the population is greater than in any other part of the country it is not possible to measure adequately the suffering of the people hidden behind that unemployment percentage. The number of people unemployed in Lancashire is twice as high as in the whole of Wales or Northern Ireland, whose case has received so much support from hon. Members opposite because of the political outlook of its Government. Will the provisions of the Bill apply to Stoke-on-Trent? We want to be given a definition of the word "high" and to be told upon what basis it will be determined. We also want to know the Board of Trade's interpretation of the words "consistent". "imminent" and "area".
When the Labour Party was dealing with these problems we all tried to work to the common objective of bringing about the best results for the great industrial areas which suffer so much from unemployment. For those reasons I am pleased to have the opportunity of supporting this Amendment. I wish to ask the Minister of State, who is well-informed and knows the difficulties of these areas, whether we may have answers to the questions I wish to put before we part with this Clause. It may be many hours yet before we do so, despite the fact that we have been allocated only an hour-and-a-half for the discussion, because some of us could speak for half-an-hour on this matter alone. But we want to limit ourselves and to play the game, despite the example we have had of Members lording it over us and speaking for 20 minutes when there are a large number of hon. Members representing other parts of the country who wish to speak.
Will the Bill be administered in accordance with the facts? What are the facts? In Northern Ireland, there are 32.927 unemployed—
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member seems to be straying from the Amendment, which relates to how areas are to be specified.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Thank you. Sir Gordon.
If you will be good enough to look at the Amendment, you will see that it is asking for an answer to the very interjection which you have made. We want the localities to be specified so that we shall know where we stand when the Bill becomes an Act. I can understand your desire to keep hon. Members within the narrow limits of this Amendment and I am endeavouring to keep in order. I was emphasising that in the specified area of Northern Ireland there are 32,927 unemployed and that area has received the maximum amount of attention. In Wales—I am making no reflection on Wales—
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
I would if it were necessary, but I have too much in common with, and too much sympathy for, the people who live and work there.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Or Scotland, but in Scotland they get results by shouting. They have four new towns, not one—but I must watch the Chair and keep in order.
In Wales, there are 3,259 unemployed. In the North-West, there are 68,626 unemployed. If any hon. Member doubts these figures I invite him to go to the Library and look at the November issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette and check them. In the City of Stoke-on-Trent not one brick have we had from the Board of Trade—
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
—but we have 2,600 unemployed, and that is one of the reasons why I support the Amendment.
In North Staffordshire, we shall suffer in another way. Several pits are to be closed. We have been given an assurance that the workers who will be affected will be transferred; that those under 45 who work at the pit face will be trans- 240 ferred. Not many men over the age of 45 work at the pit face, but what is to happen to those men who are over 45? And what about the disabled men who are doing light work? There will be no employment for them. Their position will be terrible. Again, I invite the Government to examine the official figures when they will find that in the South generally, and in the London area especially, there are few disabled men. Most of the disabled men are found north of Birmingham.
I hope that the Minister will pay attention to the fact that in our view it is very unfair and unrealistic to calculate the unemployed figure on a percentage basis, because in densely populated areas like Manchester, Salford, Stoke-on-Trent. Liverpool and parts of Lancashire the percentage figure which is quoted hides the suffering of unemployed people, who number almost 70,000. In Manchester, there are 8,300; in Liverpool, the figure is 2,405; and in Stoke-on-Trent there are 2,600. On an average, there are approximately 2,000 unemployed in every town in Lancashire, yet for twenty years we have watched millions of pounds being spent in other areas. Huge factories and factory extensions which ought to have been built there have been lost to the area.
We consider that the provisions contained in the Bill should be applied to areas like Lancashire and North Staffordshire, where there is no diversification of industry although all Government Departments have admitted in the past that we have a good case. We are suffering now because of our contribution to the winning of the war by accepting two Royal Ordnance factories in place of diversification of industry. For those and other reasons I support the Amendment. I have spoken as briefly as possible to set an example, but, at the same time, I have tried to deal with the concrete issues.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The speech of the hon. Member for Gower was one of the most astonishing that I have heard in this Chamber for some time— [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member for Barry."] The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). I apologise.
We listen with respect and attention to speeches from hon. Members representing constituencies in Wales and in 241 Scotland and from hon. Members who represent other parts of Britain. But the theory that the President of the Board of Trade is now to decide every issue without any constituency representation seems to me astonishing. I would not have paid so much attention to it but for the fact that there is a clear indication that this is the view which the right hon. Gentleman himself is 'beginning to take in relation to the Cotton Industry Act and other legislation. The tendency to say, "We are giving no information which is not wrested out of us by force" is becoming a serious proposition.
Without the slightest shame, indeed with pride, I propose to raise a simple constituency point as briefly as I can. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) has already put some of the points which I intended to make. I will be as non-controversial and as honest as I can in the circumstances. I think that the Minister of State is sufficiently acquainted with the area to know that the point I am making is correct.
Oldham was scheduled as a Treasury assistance area early this year when the unemployment figure was high. Since then there has been an improvement in the figure. This is partly due to seasonal employment and, in part, it results from extra purchasing capacity, and so on. It is not possible for anyone to judge just how far the improvement is temporary, or to what extent it may prove to be reasonably permanent. At least, the improvement is welcome, but it marks a situation of increasing gravity and very real hardship.
At one time there was in Oldham a high percentage of skilled labour in employment. Today, the figure is much smaller. As the Minister will know, we had Textile Machinery Makers Limited and when I first became a Member of Parliament 6,000 or 7,000 men were employed—I speak from memory and I cannot guarantee every figure I use. Today, the number employed is a little over 2.000. I was happy to see the new models last week and to realise that the prospects are at least encouraging. Had the Government accepted an Amendment which I moved to provide support for British machines, they might have been even more encouraging.
242 Already, the A. V. Roe Aviation Works, which also employed several thousand men, is now down to about 2,000 employees, according to my recollection. Those were two places where a great percentage of highly skilled workers were engaged in 1945. We have had the Ferranti Works as well, whore electrical workers were employed and which provided high wages and a high standard of skilled employment. All our efforts to attract new industries over the years—and our committee worked extremely hard—resulted in the introduction only of industry which employed unskilled labour, such as making mackintoshes. A high percentage of it was women workers. We need employment for women: I am not suggesting that we do not.
Last week, I had the opportunity of looking at the records of one of the unions in Oldham representing mule spinners. Mule spinners were the most highly skilled and, on the whole, the best paid, of all the operatives in the textile industry. It is no longer any use talking about the prospects for mule spinning. Mule spinning is on the way out and the greatest percentage of loss in the spinning section is in the mule spinning section. The records show that men who, a few weeks ago, were capable of earning £14 to £15 a week as mule spinners, have had to get unskilled employment at £7 or £8 a week. This is a major tragedy. It is true that the low employment figure can cover a grave situation. If men are subjected, as they are in these days of hire purchase, to purchase by instalments, the magnitude of their problem is very considerable indeed.
We do not know how long we shall be a Treasury assistance area. Very few results have come from that. I do not say this in a party sense, for one does not expect results to flow immediately from it. I know that some applications are now under consideration and that one of them is of considerable importance. The President of the Board of Trade has undertaken not to terminate that system summarily and Treasury assistance areas may continue, but it is perfectly clear that in any planning for the future of our town we want to know a great deal more than we do know. So long as the President of the Board of Trade says, "My lips are sealed" 243 the work of the development committee is at a standstill. Everyone sits back and waits. I know that there is an argument against this. The Minister will probably say, "We want them to wait for the time being, because we want to bring them to help the worst hit areas."
That might be a reasonable consideration in his mind, but this area, which at present is benefiting from a reduction in unemployment, has to face the closing of many mills in the course of the next few months. Some improvement coming from other sources will be balanced by the closing of mills under the Cotton Industry Act, so we shall still have many problems to face. I am speaking of the area I know, but similar considerations will apply in other areas, such as the Potteries and elsewhere. That is why it is of the greatest importance for us to know a little more.
Without wishing to use any controversial phrase in making this appeal on behalf of my constituency, I must say that it is rather arrogant of the President of the Board of Trade to say, "Leave it to me. I am asking the House to give me powers and I shall only say to the House that I shall exercise them to the best of the ability I possess. I do not propose to give you any information on how I propose to exercise my powers, where I propose to exercise them and what areas are to benefit, nor to give an estimate of the expenditure and the sort of benefit likely to accrue." I beg the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
I hope that the remarks of the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) did not express the view of the Minister in charge of the Bill. If they did, there seems to be a very grim outlook indeed for many places threatened by, or which are actually suffering from, unemployment.
It would be a very sad day when a Member of Parliament did not feel it his duty to bring pressure to bear on his Minister to look after the employment and well-being of those in his constituency. I hope that the day never dawns when the hon. Member has to go to the Minister to press forward claims of his constituency—at least, I hope that he 244 will be spared the humility of having to go back on the words he used today.
Another reason he put forward for the Government not accepting the Amendment was that there are likely to be frequent changes in the make-up of the areas concerned. I should have thought that was a major reason why the Government should accept the Amendment. Because we feel there are likely to be changes by which some areas will be put into the list and others taken out, local authorities and hon. Members will not know where they are. Therefore, we feel it incumbent on the Government to bring before the House of Commons what they intend by the Bill.
Nowhere in the Bill is there provision whereby an hon. Member can get an idea of whether his constituency or the region he represents is to be within the terms of the Bill. There is no list and no clearly defined areas. Every effort we have made to extort guidance from the Minister has failed. There is complete lack of knowledge about this matter and a complete unwillingness on the part of the Government to meet us on it. We are being asked to buy a pig in a poke. The Government say to us, "Let us have the Bill and then we shall tell you." They do not even say that. They say, "We shall issue a list"—which, I presume, we shall be able to find by some means best known to them—but if they wish to drop some area out of the list they can do so without anyone knowing about it. To mix the metaphor a little, instead of our having to buy a pig in a poke, I hope that the Minister will now let the cat out of the bag and let us know his intentions.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that when the 1945 Act came in, Teesside—certainly the North Riding—was not included in the original Schedule. Because of pressure by hon. Members concerned, and by local authorities in particular, special meetings were held in Middlesbrough at that time, as a result of which South Durham and North Riding were added. Who can deny that that has been a godsend to that area? If that action had not been taken, in the main by local authorities, we should have been deprived for the past thirteen years or so of the benefits of the Distribution of Industry Act. Anyone who 245 has been there and seen the new factories and the trading estate will have seen the benefit of that area being scheduled at that time.
I mention this because, as my right hon. Friend said, it was the intention of the former President of the Board of Trade to deschedule that area. That brought the whole matter to the forefront during the last Parliament. We were able to mobilise considerable opinion in the House and in the country. The right hon. Gentleman was forced to drop his plans for descheduling and to de-schedule, in effect, by administration. Industrialists on Tees-side are worrying whether they are to be within the scheme or not. We have had representations from individual manufacturers who want to know if there is anything in this Bill for them. Are there to be concessions for them in the matter of factory rents, for instance? Are there to be concessions to them in the allocation of Government contracts and the building of further factories?
Those who are already in possession of a Board of Trade factory in the area want to know what their position will be if the Minister does not include them in the list. Will they find the facilities which they at present enjoy will continue in the future, or will they be left completely to their own devices? I ask that greater publicity shall be given to the Government's intention. It is because of the drive of public opinion behind the Development Area concept that we were able to make as much progress as we did. We brought into the spearhead of the business local authorities, industrialists, trade unions, and so on, so that it was possible to make an advance.
If we leave it to the Board of Trade somewhen to make a list and to add to it and subtract from it as it wishes without any publicity, we shall be losing the great value of public opinion behind the Bill. It is not that I do not think that the Board of Trade has the interest of the areas at heart. Those employed in this section of the Board of Trade have done a good job in the past and I am sure that they will do a good job in the future, but we ought to know what they are doing and ought to have the possibility of expressing ourselves in this House, whether we agree with them or whether we do not. I should have thought that the Minister himself would 246 have welcomed the utmost Parliamentary support in his efforts to steer industries to these areas.
I do not like the idea of the Board of Trade having completely arbitrary powers to subtract from or add to the list at the whim of the President of the Board of Trade. Therefore, I hope very much that we shall be told by the Minister of State exactly which areas are to be in the list. I should certainly like to know whether Tees-side is to be included. If the Minister tells me that it is to be excluded. I should like to know that today, so that we can make our plans accordingly, rather than wake up one day in April and find from a notice pinned up somewhere in the Board of Trade that Tees-side has been dropped from the list. I hope that the Minister will give urgent and sympathetic consideration to the Amendment.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
I was astonished at the remarks made by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). As a Welsh Member, I feel it my duty to say that I do not agree with him.
As it is phrased, the Bill gives the Government a blank cheque. As a Cardiganshire man, which is equivalent to being an Aberdonian, I dislike blank cheques. It may be that the Bill has purposely been left vague as an excuse for the Government doing nothing. However, the areas where the worst unemployment is to be found ought to know whether the Government are or are not catering for them. If such areas are not in a locality, they know where they stand. If they are in a locality, they also know where they stand. At the moment, an area has no idea whether the Government will do anything for it or not in the future.
My generation has been blamed for all sorts of things. We do not know what it is to have large-scale unemployment in our country now, thank goodness, although in the last two years there have been signs of a recurrence of what used to happen. In Glyn-corrwg, in my constituency, before the war not an ounce of coal went away for eight years and the number of unemployed varied between 800 and 1,000. We do not want that again. Today, there is one industry in the valley, and if something happened to the mines there would be nothing to 247 which the men could turn. There is a factory built by the Board of Trade which has been lying empty for years. It is a beautiful factory, but not one person is employed there. The unemployment figures for females and young people are bad, for these are the people who are not catered for in my area.
The Amendment gives precision and definition to the Bill. "Locality" is something definite. One has something to aim for and something to which to invite industry. Today, we have great noises in the wind about the possible siting of two new motor car factories. I sincerely hope that one of them will go to South Wales. If a definite locality were laid down, South Wales would know whether it had any hope viz-à-viz the Government or not.
The people in the worst areas of unemployment in West and South-West Wales want to know whether there is any hope for them, whether there is to be a casting back into the depression of the inter-war years. If a locality is defined, they will know that there is hope. If the whole position is left vague, it may well be that nothing will be done for them, as in the inter-war years.
§ Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)
Bearing in mind the object of the Bill and the nature of our responsibilities, this is no doubt a subject which will as the years go by be referred to year in and year out. I feel it my duty to support the Amendment; the listing of the localities will give rise to numerous illustrations for the maintenance of employment which can be given more consideration.
The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) has come under heavy fire because of one statement that he made. He also spoke about our conceding rapid economic changes. All of us have sufficient understanding to know that economics in the main, though not wholly, are supposed to guide the course of human development. I can assure right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that there is more than enough evidence to draw attention to localities where the wrecks of industries as a consequence of economic changes are, in effect, far too serious and tragic to be dismissed.
It may well be true that the workers are earning more money than ever 248 before, but whatever the conditions of positive boom which have arisen in a number of industrial areas or whatever material prosperity may exist for those speculators who are supposed to possess the shrewdest brains in the City, with money rolling in like huge waves at the seaside, many of us, particularly on this side of the Committee, cannot fail to be disturbed by many of our vivid apprehensions which are aggravated by so many contributory factors.
Many of the vast and far-reaching changes which are occurring in the nature of the economic organisation are continuously and seriously affecting localities, so that the dread of instability and insecurity influences us to advance cogent reasons for supporting the Amendment. I would not for one moment dispute the claim made by the President of the Board of Trade last week that there has been considerable improvement in many of the Development Areas, but for the sake of the Amendment I must also say in connection with the North-East Development Area that there is a mistaken belief that it runs along on and about the coastline. I agree entirely that shipbuilding and ship repairing on the coast and up the Tyne are at present experiencing a hand-to-mouth existence and should receive every conceivable consideration and assistance.
There are other localities in this Development Area in which not even a pigeon dovecote has been built. What is often overlooked more than any other factor is that the North-East Development Area consists of 56 local authorities covering 1,232 square miles. Each one of those local authorities has a common economic interest as one of the principal cohesive elements. Approximately 2,350,000 people live in the Development Area. In many localities economic changes continue to react so severely that it is becoming harder and harder with every day that passes to find alternative employment. To some extent activity is restricted, with the marked impression that it can never again be what it was. People are just bewildered by a series of events which seems to be taking the ground from beneath them, as a consequence of the passing of the old economic life without it being 249 replaced by newer means of gaining livelihood.
Many interesting and disturbing examples can he quoted. Time and time again, in sharing the interests of other hon. Members, I have had to draw attention to the dominant fear of school leavers of not being able to obtain employment. The phenomena of the economic factors are well known. For instance, one local authority in my constituency—the Ryton Urban District Council—decided recently to sack all married women employees. This proposal caused quite a stir. It has been a very controversial subject. It should be accepted that it was not just merely engineered. This policy was forced upon the local authority, because it was imbued by a spirit of what it thought right in the management of its public affairs to make some small contribution towards providing employment for those young school leavers who are in desperation.
We are always ready to approve measures which naturally claim our attention in favour of human needs, but there are strong reasons for pressing for the restoration to economic health of particular localities. We are trying to persuade the Government to agree to this in the Amendment. Fears from what we know have been with us for a very long time in some of the localities in North-West Durham. The experience of the last few years must certainly convince the most incredulous that, no matter to what side they turn their eyes, they will not fail to see and understand the nature of the depressing spirits which are sinking deeper into the public mind with the growing restlessness due to the outlook of future prospects.
All of us have a trusted responsibility in our own essential duty to watch over the interests of our constituents, but we must face things as they are. Just as the workers are compelled by their social and economic status to sell their labour for money to exist as workers, so must capitalists sell their commodities on the markets for money to exist as capitalists. Under the system by which we live there is not much choice about this. Even Robinson Crusoe, the favourite fictional character and shining example of an individualist, proved after a few years' work on an isolated island to be a very 250 wealthy man in his way, notwithstanding the fact that he possessed the tools and weapons to earn his livelihood without any possibility of exchange. There was one good feature, namely, that they could not push him out on to the dole.
What we have to face is that there are substantial numbers in fear of losing their livelihood without any opportunity to exchange their labour power.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. S. Storey)
The hon. Member is going rather wide of the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. Woof
Thank you very much, Mr. Storey. I appreciate your Ruling. but what I was trying to do was to build up my case as to why the Amendment is necessary to protect and safeguard these localities. What we must bear in mind are the circumstances which bear relation to sweeping economic changes—such changes as those brought about by the Coal Board's future planning, especially the kind which is being pursued in the Durham coalfield, with the obvious deduction that when it inevitably unfolds itself it will lead only to more and more frustration on such an insecure existence. The effect of the present contraction coincides with a marked increase of alarm which can be measured by a larger scale of interests which are common in the decline of industrial and commercial activity.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power appears to have provided the answer to what we are seeking in the Amendment. Speaking on the Coal Industry Bill, in referring to the disruption in the mining villages, he said:We are determined that whatever can be done by Governmental powers will be done to prevent hardship at that point. The Local Employment Bill, which recently had its Second Reading, is intended to serve that very purpose. It is no good people saying that this very important piece of legislation is futile. It is an important step forward to deal with unemployment …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1959; Vol. 614, c. 153.]If that be the objective, and if we are led to believe that this is to emerge as an effective instrument to relieve hard-hit areas, whatever the conditions or methods applied may be, I cannot argue much against what the President of the Board of Trade said last week in giving his definition and exposition of industry 251 being three times X per cent. higher in some places than in others. We do not expect industries to be established in remote villages or on out-of-the-way pit heaps. But we do expect the Government, without any camouflaging of intentions, to use their giant powers to ensure the right planning of industrial location as an effective means to reverse the present unfavourable trend, and so link industry more closely to the needs of all those who must, for one reason or another, live in such localities.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order, Mr. Storey. Would it be in order for me to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again"?
This very important Amendment calls upon the Board of Trade—and that means the President of the Board of Trade—to do certain things. So far as I can see, although I may be wrong, there is not on the Government Front Bench any representative of the Board of Trade at all, either to listen to the debate or to reply to it. I am sorry—I am wrong. I see that we have present with us the Minister of State, Board of Trade, so I withdraw what I said. I can only say that the changes in the Government are so frequent, and the demotions so incomprehensible, that it is difficult to follow them all.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I am not prepared to accept the hon. Gentleman's Motion. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon.
§ Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)
I am definitely one of those who feel that it is necessary that those areas and towns available and eligible for aid under the Bill should be specified, but we must have a great deal of sympathy with what would be the position of the President of the Board of Trade if we were to put this definition and distinction into the Bill.
The Government have been accused of trying to sell the Committee a pig in a poke. They have also been asked to let the cat out of the bag. I have been trying to decide exactly what that cat or that pig may be. As far as I can see, only an expansion of industrial perfec- 252 tion will cure the problem of unemployment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is how I see it, and that is what I look for in this Bill for my own constituents.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
If the hon. Member thinks that to be the purpose of the Bill, may I ask whether he recognises that, in a time when industrial production is soaring, industrial unemployment is soaring too?
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
The purpose of the Bill is to cure unemployment in the country, but from the remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite I understood the pig in the poke to be a definition of the areas. I do not think it possible to give such a definition at present.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—Nobody can guarantee—and I think that this is the mistake that the Labour Party makes—what the rate of industrial production will be at any given time and, therefore, the amount that will be available to cure unemployment in any given area at any given time. To do so is to attempt an impossibility. Therefore, total planning is also an impossibility.
Like the country as a whole, I have enough confidence in the judgment of the President of the Board of Trade in deciding when areas should be added or taken from the list to wish to avoid putting on him the obligation of writing all those areas into this Measure. Furthermore, I am absolutely confident that when areas are to be added or taken away—and that is obviously the more difficult decision to make—my right hon. Friend's decision will be made in such a way as to allow the House every opportunity of arguing against it, if necessary. That is all we can ask for—[Interruption.]—and that is all that we can do.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will the hon. Gentleman explain how he thinks that the House—without this Amendment or a similar one—would be able to question the Minister's acting or failing to act in a particular case? He will remember, I am sure—and this is not a hostile interruption by any means—that the way in which this House carries out the functions he thinks that it should carry out depends on the powers we have under our own procedure or on what better powers are given by this Bill. The 253 whole purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that we can have an early opportunity to look into these things.
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
The areas that are to be eligible for assistance under the Bill are defined by Clause 1—
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
I am prepared to accept that definition, because I am prepared to accept the judgment of the President of the Board of Trade.
What has struck me about the speeches of a number of hon. Members is that some have revealed fairly low percentages of unemployment in their constituencies with a very large number of men involved, while the constituencies of other Members, including my own, have very high percentages and comparatively very low totals. That seems to indicate a very important part of what this Bill can do.
For example, in my constituency, there are between 500 and 1,000 men available for employment by any industry coming into the area. An industry that can employ 500 men would be a mere drop in the bucket in a place like Liverpool. There is, therefore, a case for saying that those industries that can offer employment to a smaller number of men should be thought suitable, first and foremost, for location in those areas where only a few men are available. It must be remembered that the Government have as great an obligation to distant communities with a small number of inhabitants as they have to large cities like Liverpool.
I very much hope that this will be one of the effects of the Bill, and one of the effects of the specification that I would like to see, so that the Government may know to what areas, towns and districts. industry should be directed.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
In a debate of this character it is only natural that each of us should put forward a constituency point of view. That is our duty, and I hope that we will fulfil it. I have to tell the Board of Trade, the responsible Department, that this Measure is lacking in precision in its proposals for dealing with local employment. The Amendment seeks a higher degree of precision so that local authori- 254 ties now experiencing unemployment in their areas, and facing the danger of an intensification of it in the next few months, will know just what their position is.
I do not think that any Bill has been more discussed in the distressed areas and those areas where industries are contracting than has this one. I welcome that. I welcome the interest of local authorities, as it shows their grim determination to avoid a return to the bitter days of mass unemployment in the 'thirties.
I have the honour to represent a mining constituency, which is well known to hon. Members. If I were to take up the time of the Committee, which I do not propose to do, I could paint a very grim picture of what we have experienced there and are now experiencing. I know something about the contraction of an industry, because I was working in a pit when it was closed down. On the 3rd February, 1937. three pits in which I had worked closed down like a bolt from the blue and 1,237 men and boys were thrown into the ranks of the unemployed.
There are two experiences in the life of a mining community which strike terror into the hearts of the people. One is when a violent explosion takes place. It does not need me to depict the feelings of those men and of their wives and families. The other is when a pit closes down. We have had experience within the last few years of an industry that is contracting. Not more than 20 or 30 years ago there were 80,000 miners employed in the mining industry of Lancashire. Today there are 38,000. That position is becoming intensified by the decisions and policy of the National Coal Board. Pits are closing or are threatened with closure within the next few months. Each pit that closes intensifies the problem of unemployment. It is, therefore, very important that those localities should know the precise terms of the Board of Trade's proposals.
I recall the experience which we had under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. Promise after promise was made by the President of the Board of Trade that he would do something to relieve unemployment. We had to go cap in hand, begging, like a cripple at the cross, as we say in Lancashire, for employment 255 for the men who had been rendered unemployed through no fault of their own. We are asking by this Amendment that the Board of Trade should come out openly and tell us the areas where the proposals in this Bill will be applied. In my area, there are seven urban authorities, but only one will come within the terms of the Bill. How can the horrors of unemployment be expressed in terms of percentages? We cannot do it truthfully. Therefore, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) that the percentage of unemployment prevailing in a district should not be the determining factor as to whether or not it is in need of help.
As I have said, pits are closing down. We have had an announcement from the National Coal Board of what it proposes to do. We cannot escape this. We have to face up to it. Coal does not grow like cotton. When coal goes out of commission, districts are left derelict unless someone does something to help them. Bryn Hall colliery has closed down and there are 450 men unemployed. At Long Land colliery, 500 men are unemployed; at Garswood Hall, 600 men are unemployed; at Park Lane, one seam, 300 men are unemployed; and at Maypole Colliery, 1,300 are unemployed. If districts of that character do not warrant mention in the Bill, the people in those localities will be in a difficult situation and will not know their position.
Industrialists are asking now how the Bill will help them. Our people are asking, "When will the Bill bring some relief to our unemployed miners and textile workers." I want hon. Members to have this picture in their minds so that they can understand why we on this side of the Committee are so insistent that the Amendment should be accepted by the President of the Board of Trade.
Much to my regret, I do not share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd), who praised the Board of Trade. Our people, because of what they have experienced in the past, are a little bitter against the Board of Trade. Here and there it has done good work, but it has also missed doing a lot that it should have done.
256 Let me give the Committee the position in one part of my constituency. "A few months ago, one cotton mill closed down. Three wagon works, one steel rolling mill, a by-product plant and a cement and crushing works have ceased to operate. The Board of Trade, with all its avenues and contacts to bring industry into the stricken areas, has failed to render one iota of help to that area. The trouble is that there are too many local authorities in the North-West, the North-East Coast, in Scotland and in Wales all clamouring for employment, for factories, for industry, yet the Board of Trade, apart from what it has done under the Distribution of Industry Act, has failed to realise its full responsibilities to the citizens and workers of this country in providing employment. We are, asking therefore, that there should be a higher degree of precision in this Measure. That is what the Amendment is seeking to provide.
I agree wholeheartedly with the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South. Local authorities are asking, "Where do we stand? Where do we come in? To what extent are we to be included within the ambit of the Bill?" This is all that we are asking, and surely it is not too much. It will not cost anything. The Treasury does not come into this. Let it be stated precisely, either in the Bill or in the regulations which will follow, what is the position of the local authorities who are affected very seriously by the contraction of industry.
I have experienced the closing of a colliery and being in the ranks of the unemployed. I have tramped the county for nine months without being able to get a job for love nor money. Why? Because I happened to be a trade union representative. Should that be? In this enlightened age in which we live, should a man be condemned because he is a trade union representative to be unemployed?
There is dignity in labour, and there is degradation in enforced idleness. I want to see a Bill which will afford some dignity to the men and women with whom we are really concerned, the greatest and bravest set of people that this country has ever known. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South has often 257 reminded us, we have been through two world wars in which they played their part and played it well. Shall we neglect them now by failing to state in the Bill exactly how and where local authorities are to be helped to provide employment for the unemployed, which will certainly become intensified if we fail to do what should be done?
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. F. J. Erroll)
I think it may assist the Committee if I intervene briefly at this stage to indicate the Government's point of view about this Amendment. We regard it as an Amendment of great importance, and, therefore, without wishing in any way to curtail the debate. I think I should give the Government's view. It may help anyone else who wishes to contribute to the proceedings hereafter.
In the first place, in reply particularly to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I must remind the Committee that the Bill is not the 1945 Act revamped. It is a new conception born of the experience of both Governments since the war in implementing the 1945 Act. In the 1945 Act, the concept was to name large areas and list them in the Schedule, those areas being large areas which had experienced prolonged or, as I think it was called before the war, structural unemployment. That was the 1945 conception, which has been modified over the years.
In this new Bill, we are moving away from that conception of large areas specified in a Schedule and we are directing our attention to localities which may be either large areas or small areas. They may be small where, for example, they are isolated townships in remote rural areas, or they may be relatively large in the case of areas still affected by unemployment. The Bill, therefore, is one designed to deal with a changing situation, and this is essentially a matter which should be decided by executive action. It is not properly a legislative matter. Statutory Instruments are, of course, legislation, albeit subordinate legislation they are essentially a part of the legislative process.
During the debate, there have been two principal points made in support of the Amendment. First it is said that if there is to be a list it should be available 258 now so that the Committee could know what places were being discussed. That was subordinate, really, to the bigger issue in the Amendment, namely, that Parliament should exercise complete control over the list, by affirmative procedure in respect of the initial order, by affirmative procedure when any place is to be taken off the list, and, if I have read the Amendment aright, by negative procedure when there was to he an addition to the list.
My right hon. Friend appreciates the genuine concern of Parliament in this matter, and I can assure the Committee that he has considered the matter very carefully indeed. He has come to the conclusion, this being an executive matter, that it is better that the list should be published by the Board of Trade rather than that it should go through the legislative processes envisaged by the Amendment. Perhaps I should make the point that, while many hon. Members opposite referred, quite rightly, to the 1945 Act, there is the example of the 1958 Act where there was no statutory procedure as here envisaged hut where the list was published subsequently by the Board of Trade—a procedure which has worked out extremely satisfactorily.
§ Mr. Erroll
Because of our experience of the working of the 1958 Act, we can confidently submit to the Committee our case for continuing the practice in the new Bill.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
What is the differentiation on which the hon. Gentleman relies between the old legislation and the new which makes the new an executive act in any sense in which it was not an executive act under the legislation which we are repealing?
§ Mr. Erroll
They are, because, for one thing, there are powers to make grants for factory building in a way which was not possible hitherto, and there are a number of other purposes which are new to this type of legislation.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The hon. Gentleman says that executive powers are more desirable now than in the 1945 Act because the powers here are much wider. A minute or two ago, he said that he was following the good example of the 1958 Act, where the powers were very much less than they were under the 1945 Act. Moreover, he says that the 1958 Act has worked successfully. I must tell him, as one who represents a rather large Development Area—indeed, my constituency is part of a Scottish Development Area in which there are as many as one-third of the unemployed in all the Development Areas in the whole of Britain—that we believe that the 1958 Act has not worked well at all.
But, in any case, this is surely no reason why we should have the decision left entirely to the Minister as to which areas will be assisted or not assisted. The Minister has written many provisions into the Bill which we regard as matters of administration which need not be dealt with by Statute at all, but this is surely one thing which ought to be under the control of Parliament.
§ Mr. Erroll
A very good one—the hon. Gentleman always speaks very well—but I hope that he will not expect me to be diverted by every point he makes. His comments about the 1958 Act would not really be proper for me to discuss at this moment; I cannot go into the merits of that Act now. I believe it to have been a very good Act which has worked very well. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not in Scotland."] Yes, it has worked very well in Scotland, where a large part of the money has gone.
Under the 1958 Act, the list was published after the Bill became an Act. This was a procedure which has worked very well and has enabled the Executive to proceed swiftly and effectively in the alleviation of trouble in places named in the list.
§ Mr. Jay
As we now know that a list is to be published, can the Minister of State, at least, tell us in what form it is to be published, and can he give us an assurance that there will be no alterations in the list one way or the other 260 without some public statement? Thirdly, will he tell us when it is to be published?
§ Mr. Erroll
I was coming to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman about publication. As the Bill will not be law until April, it would obviously not be appropriate to publish the list now. It must be an up-to-date list when it is published. It will come out next year. We shall be able to publish an up-to-date list when the Act comes into operation. It will be published then rather than at the present time.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
If the hon. Gentleman cannot give us the list, will he tell us the formula on which he proposes to base the list.
§ Mr. Erroll
I do not think that that request really falls within the ambit of this particular Amendment, which deals simply with whether the list should be subject to Parliamentary subordinate legislation or not.
As regards the proposal about making Statutory Instruments—
§ Mr. Erroll
I do not think there will be any doubt about that. If the list is altered after the initial list is published, the changes will be made public whether places are added to the list or places are taken away from it. I am very glad to give that assurance to the right hon. Gentleman, if he had any doubt about it.
The procedure suggested by this Amendment would not be very satisfactory even if the Government were to adopt it. The original Order, subject to affirmative Resolution, could not be amended by the House. It would have to be accepted or rejected in toto. Much the same applies to affirmative Resolutions dealing with removals from the list. Here again, there would be no possibility of amending the list of removals or the precise area of the places which the Statutory Instrument proposed to remove. I agree that such Statutory Instruments can be withdrawn, but it is not a very common Parliamentary procedure I do not remember right hon. Members opposite, when they were in office, being very willing and ready to withdraw Statutory Instruments when we in opposition chose to take objection to 261 details in them. We have had experience of these matters both in Opposition and in Government.
For these reasons, therefore, we do not think that it would be practicable to accept the Amendment. Certain hon. Members referred to the difficulty of putting pressure on the Government unless this procedure were available to them. I think that hon. Members opposite and my hon. Friends do themselves less than justice if they think that they are unable to put pressure on the Executive unless they have the device proposed by the Amendment. Pressure would still be put upon the President of the Board of Trade, as my right hon. Friend realises, by letters, by deputations and by meetings with Members of Parliament and local authorities. Parliament itself will still have many opportunities for commenting on and criticising the Government's record or, in the view of hon. Members opposite, possibly the Government's failings in general under the Bill or in regard to particular localities. It can be done by Parliamentary Questions, by Adjournment debates, or by debates on the Estimates which provide the Vote under which the Bill will be operated.
I do not think that a refusal of Parliament to accept a removal from the list in any case could compel the Government to spend money on a locality which in their opinion did not require assistance. This clearly is a matter of executive decision, with Parliament in its traditional role of the watchdog of the Executive. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will not feel it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division.
§ Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)
My opinion is that the Bill will in no way touch the problem that the Government seek to solve. What I am concerned about, even in the new conception which is being put forward, is how the Bill will operate in the interest of County Durham. We have always been a Development Area. Durham now faces a very bleak future. If the Government's policy on coal is to continue and if the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries decline, as they are doing at present, we are entitled to ask the Government whether Durham is to be one of the counties to receive help under the Bill.
262 For the last four years we in Durham have been crying out to the Government for new industries. We are fearful of our future. There has been a drift of population from County Durham for many years past and unless work is brought to the area this tendency will continue. We are entitled to ask whether Durham will get help and be placed on the list which is to be issued.
The figure of unemployment in County Durham, in which there are 31 employment exchanges, is 25,744–19,839 men and 5,905 women. There is an unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent. In South Shields, the figure is even higher. The future of the shipyards in South Shields will be very bleak unless something is done for them.
Having put the county position, I want now to speak about my own division. Collieries have amalgamated in my division. Men suffering from pneumoconiosis, light-rate men, sick cases on light work, have not been found other work. The remainder, in the main, have been found work. The union has done its best to find work. The National Coal Board cannot place the men. How will the Bill deal with men like that? Are we to be told, as we were told between the wars, that these men are to be thrown on the scrap heap and that there is no further use for them? In my district, there is no alternative work to meet the needs of these men. There is unemployment among able-bodied miners because there is no other work for them in the district. While everything is being done to find them work, other unemployment is arising. Another colliery in my area is to close down and some men thrown out of work as a result will not be able to find other employment in the district. This is the result of the Government's coal plan.
On behalf of my constituents who have to bear the brunt of the Government's economic policy, I am entitled to ask what the Government propose to do to provide work for these men. Will they be placed on the Government's list? Unless they know the position, they will live in fear and apprehension about their future. We shall have a repeat of the depopulation of Durham which occurred between the two world wars 263 under a Conservative Government. We should be told what is to happen to people in Durham.
What will the Bill do for children leaving school? Recruitment to the mines is curtailed under the five-year plan. There is no employment available in the mining villages for young people leaving school. The number of school leavers will increase in the next three years. What is there in the Bill for them? Will they come under the Government's list?
Also, what will the Bill do for unemployed women? Once again, a huge unemployment market is beginning to build up in Durham. I know that the Minister of Labour has been to Durham. He spoke odd words to the people last week. The future in Durham is bleak and the Government should not leave us rotting on the scrapheap as they did between the two world wars, but should tell us whether we shall receive help under the Bill.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
At the start of the Committee stage we had hoped to do a little amending, changing and strengthening of the Bill, which, after all, is only an example of timid, tinkering Toryism. However, I did not think that we should have quite the attitude that we had from the Minister of State. Only a few short weeks ago hon. Members opposite were disporting themselves throughout the country as dedicated democrats, but now they come along and display themselves as what they really are at heart—just brazen bureaucrats.
What we are doing here is something which the Tory Party used not to object to very strongly, when hon. Members opposite kept us up for hours and hours over delegated legislation.
§ Mr. Ross
The Tory philosophy was clear in the Minister's speech. The Minister said that it is not a matter for Parliament but for executive decision. I went back to my constituency this week-end. Unemployment in Ayrshire is approaching 7,000. When the Prime Minister spoke in Ayrshire during the General Election he said that there were serious pockets of unemployment but that when the Government were returned to power they were determined to deal with them with a new major Measure on unemployment. When I was making my first report to the constituency after the election I was asked, "What about Kilmarnock and the new major Measure?" I said, "I am sorry but I cannot tell you. The Government are taking powers to do something about unemployment, but they have turned down an Amendment making it their duty to do something with the powers when they have them. Next week we shall ask them to publish a list of the places which they will help. But they may refuse to publish such a list." I cannot tell the people of Kilmarnock or Irvine, or other parts of Ayrshire, whether they will be assisted by the Government.
The Amendment asks them to do only one thing—when the Bill is passed to produce a list of areas which will be eligible for help, to bring it before the House and to let the House discuss it. I agree that we could not amend it, which shows the limited obligation which we are asking the Government to accept, but we could discuss and approve, it, and, above all, the Government would have to declare in the House for the first time what they mean by a "high rate of unemployment," by "imminent" and by "likely to persist." They would have to defend their own criteria and the selection which they make. Is that what the Government fear? That is all it can be.
During the Labour Government the Conservatives went around the country with sheaves of Statutory Orders and week after week we heard about delegated legislation. In those days we had a measure of control, because under the Affirmative Order procedure the Government had to obtain the support of Parliament. Today we are told by the 265 Minister, "This is a matter for executive decision". It is to be decided by somebody, somewhere in the Board of Trade, who will make up his mind that a certain area will be helped and another area will not. We are giving a tremendous amount of industrial patronage to somebody, and we are to spend a lot of money under the Bill.
§ Mr. Ross
We may well do so. The only guide we have is the £3 million to £5 million which has been spent hitherto. This decision as to where it will be spent and who will benefit from it is to be taken by somebody appointed by the President of the Board of Trade, for the Bill says that "the President of the Board of Trade" or "the Board of Trade" will mean "anyone in his employ".
Does the Minister of State think that this is justified? He certainly gave us no justification for it today. Why should Parliament he asked to abrogate its responsibility to its own people? Why should Parliament hand it over to the President of the Board of Trade, for him to hand it over to some civil servant and not to come back to Parliament with the original list and the changes in the list in order to justify it before the country and the House?
I had hoped that last week-end the President of the Board of Trade might have learned something of the feelings of the people of Scotland about how we have been treated under this legislation. I do not know whether he has. For all I know, he may still be in Scotland.
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. WolrigeGordon), who displayed his youth and callowness, declared that he had confidence in the President of the Board of Trade and the Board of Trade. This is, in fact, a confidence trick. But I am sure that there are few hon. Members opposite prepared to exhibit the same degree of confidence that the President of the Board of Trade will be fair and just in every respect to each constituency and to each area and locality, and relatively to each area and locality.
266 Members of Parliament will feel that their constituencies are entitled to assistance even more than areas which are being helped.
Would it not be fair to the Government to justify what is being done, proclaim its virtues before Parliament and the country and obtain the support of Parliament for it? I think that any democratic Government would have preferred to do it this way rather than to have it done by some unknown bureaucrat, and then have to stall at the Box and give no answer to the hon. Member who asks a Question.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East said that we should have ample opportunity of getting the Minister to defend his decision. He should know well that at Question Time, when we raise a point of order because the Minister has not answered the Question, Mr. Speaker says that the Minister is under no obligation to answer the Question.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I remember two previous occasions when I found the discussion in the House in Committee supremely distasteful. One, which the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will recall, was when Parliamentary boundaries were being redistributed under the Representation of the People Act, 1949, when every hon. Member was fighting every other hon. Member for a greater area of territory. The second occasion was when the road programme was extremely limited and the Government had not announced their complete scheme. Again, every hon. Member was rising in his place at Question Time and in debate day after day demanding more roads for his constituency.
Today, we have the same thing. Let us face it that Parliament is not at its best when Member after Member rises and makes the sort of speech which is being made today, staking out a claim, never forgetting to mention his own constituency, and claiming as much State "lolly" as he can get. 267 There is no wonder that the Government have rejected the Amendment. We have a long way to go before we have to consider which constituency will benefit, but we are having Second Reading speeches, hoping that a humble supplication will suffice to turn the mind of the Board of Trade to our respective constituencies so that more money can be granted to the industrialists in our area to get away with higher profits. I am ashamed of the Labour Party and the way they are going on.
But that great day will come if the Amendment is accepted by the Government and Orders in Council are brought to the House; the real fighting match will then take place among right hon. and hon. Members opposite to ensure that not one square metre of their constituencies is left out in the application of this Act. It not being possible to amend a Resolution of the House, either negative or positive, attempts will be made to reject it by different sections of the Labour Party who are not completely satisfied that enough of the taxpayers' money is being poured into their constituencies.
Nothing would more clearly portray the fatality and futility of the principle underlying the Bill than the quality of speeches which are being made today and which will be made six months from now on Orders in Council if the Amendment is adopted. I hope the Government will reject it. I hope very much that when the Bill has gone through Committee, Report and Third Reading and has been passed, as, no doubt, it will be, by a docile House of Lords and becomes an Act of Parliament, from that moment on the Government will publish no lists of any sort or kind which give the taxpayer's money for these quite absurd ends.
§ Mr. Percy Wells (Faversham)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has given a fair indication of how the unemployed would be treated if people like himself were in power. I support the Amendment, because I received no reassurance from the interjection by the Minister of State a short while ago.
I have in mind what happened after the Government announcement that they 268 were closing Sheerness Dockyard. No fewer than three Ministers from the Dispatch Box assured me that a Bill would be introduced that would make my fears of serious unemployment on the Isle of Sheppey groundless. That was used as an excuse for not scheduling the Isle of Sheppey as a distressed area. We were told then that the reason why it could not be scheduled was that the unemployment figure was not twice the national average. It was not until deputations had appeared at the Board of Trade and the Admiralty and Questions had been asked in the House of Commons that the area was scheduled, by which time unemployment on the Isle of Sheppey was about 5 per cent. Today, unemployment there is over 6 per cent. The dockyard is due to close entirely at the end of March, by which time it is anticipated that there will be an unemployment figure of from 8 to 10, or even 12, per cent. on the Isle of Sheppey.
Does the Minister of State remember the pressure that was applied at that time and how the months went by before we were scheduled as one of the areas to benefit under D.A.T.A.C.? Not much assistance has come as a result of that scheduling. The argument used at the time for not scheduling the Isle of Sheppey was mainly that little could be done. We were told that it would not help us very much and that all that the Government could do when people applied for industrial development certificates was to refer them to the Isle of Sheppey and tell them that if they wanted to develop there they would be allowed to do so.
What will we get out of the Bill? During the General Election campaign, my Tory opponent promised quite a lot of things to the electorate in the event of her being returned to the House of Commons. One of the Tory leaflets distributed on that occasion stated as follows:Many of you who may have had to seek employment elsewhere will now be able to stay and enjoy a future of better wages, better opportunities and a better standard of living than you have ever known before. … Wages and prosperity, with a new bridge, island road and electric railway already in being, the future for Sheppey is bright indeed.Note this:It is all yours.269 What I and the people of Sheppey want to know is, what will the Minister do? What does the Bill do to provide the necessary alternative employment that will be required—which, in fact, is already required—when the dockyard finally closes?
§ Mr. Snow
Practically every speech that has been made in this debate has been made by hon. Friends of mine—I am talking about serious speeches and not the kind of speech we heard from the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke)—who have immediate or prospective anxieties about the unemployment level in their constituencies.
With the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), I am the only Member in this long-drawn-out debate to speak about a particular problem of the Midlands. Unlike my hon. Friends who have spoken, broadly speaking, we have no present unemployment problem. Nevertheless, there is a situation which requires the sort of definition that the Amendment seeks.
We are not only faced with the overall threat which is directed against the mining industry, largely as a result of the tender feeling of the Government towards the oil interests, but we have the deliberately designed threat, which is the responsibility of both sides of the House of Commons, of what will happen when the overspill problem comes into effect. This is largely a matter which might have been discussed on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", but there is a particular matter to which I would like to draw the attention of the Committee concerning the position in which we find ourselves in the Midlands.
In the town of Tamworth, for instance, in my constituency—I make no apology for raising a constituency point—we have the position that in the immediate future we shall have 7,000 workers coming in from Birmingham with their families. Anxiety has been expressed in my constituency at a conference on industry attended by all interests, employers, employees and Government Departments, concerning not only these workers who are to come in. for whom houses are being provided, but their families also.
270 We have the situation that although, under the Town Development Act, industry has been stimulated—certainly, provision for the siting of industry has been stimulated—the Government and, more specifically, the Board of Trade are refusing permission for large companies from Birmingham to come into the receiving areas.
I make the point because nobody would dispute the right of those areas which have high rates of unemployment to receive priority concerning industry. The Minister must, however, understand that there are current agreements between the local authorities concerned—that is to say, the county council in the case of Staffordshire, the Borough of Tamworth being a case in point, and Birmingham—which have been regulated under the terms of the Town Development Act and recognised by the Government, in which it was implicit that there should be emigration of industry from Birmingham into receiving areas; yet it is the Government themselves who are stopping this.
We understand that there must be some sort of priority, but we want to know what will be our position in, say, a year's time when the situation in these areas of high unemployment may be worse and when provision under the Bill might have taken effect. We are still left in the position that we do not know what the attitude of the Government will be. We are all responsible for the situation in which this mass emigration is taking place. We are not crying wolf, but we are simply being prudent to ask the Government where we shall stand in the matter.
On more than one occasion, I have drawn the attention of the House to the apparent dichotomy of thought between local planning authorities and the Board of Trade in the matter of industrial development certificates. We get the ridiculous situation in which the Board of Trade grants an industrial development certificate, only to be frustrated by the local planning authority. We get the reverse situation in which a local planning authority, under the terms of the Town Development Act, urges the development of industry, only to be frustrated by the Board of Trade in the sort of cases of which I have spoken. 271 We on this side of the Committee do not accept that there should be an implicit principle in the Bill, that there should be a limitation on the expenditure in providing additional employment. There is plenty of slack in the national economy, if all the Conservative statements are to be believed, and in the light of the Government's tax reliefs there is plenty of slack left for adopting a generally generous attitude towards the provision of additional finance to stimulate employment. I have heard the Minister say more than once in the debate that there is only a certain amount of money to go round and that everybody cannot join in. I should have thought that this was a completely wrong way of approaching the matter. The acid test is whether unemployment is imminent or likely, in which case provision must be made.
If the Government have organised mass migration of labour and have recognised agreements between various local authorities to permit labour to come out of these vast conurbations, and if thereby a a demand for employment in the receiving areas is anticipated, we say, in relation to the Amendment, that the Government should make their position quite clear.
§ Mr. Joseph Slater (Sedgefield)
I think that it will be agreed that the maintenance of full employment should be the first consideration of any Government. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) sought to make a speech which was contrary to the appeal made from this side of the Committee and which proved that he does not agree with my first statement that the maintenance of full employment should be the first object of any Government.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is committed to it.
§ Mr. Slater
Whether the noble Lord believes it or not, it must be remembered that full employment does not just happen. To ensure it requires planning and vigilance on the part of any Government, and we on this side of the Committee know from past experience how Tory Governments were responsible for mass unemployment. When unemployment raises its ugly head it wastes economic resources, and the means of production 272 are not fully utilised. Houses are not built, food is not grown, and goods not turned out in the quantities which the people need. It must be remembered also that few people, irrespective of whether they themselves are in employment, escape the effects of unemployment. When a pit closes down, everyone is affected and the effect spreads from industry to industry because it follows that if a man is unemployed he cannot afford to buy essential goods.
I wonder what would have happened to the country and its people if a Labour Government had not been returned to power in 1945. I often wonder what would have happened to the north-east area, from which I come, bearing in mind that the area depended then on a few heavy industries and was particularly hard hit in the period between the two world wars. In 1932 unemployment on the North-East Coast rose to 38 per cent., and even during the period of the rearmament programme it was still 15 per cent. in 1937 compared with 10 per cent. for Britain as a whole.
As a result, migration from the North East took place and about 130,000 people left the area between 1931 and 1939. The passing of the Distribution of Industry Act gave new hope to the people. There was the introduction of new industry into these areas, the building of Government factories, the securing of orders for those factories through Government Departments, and the steering of new employment into these Development Areas. It was a great achievement. Young people of school-leaving age were no longer dependent upon seeking work in the basic industries, particularly the mining industry in which their fathers had been compelled to engage because of economic circumstances. Parents in the north-east and in the County of Durham, in which I take great pride, have no desire whatsoever that their children should experience what they experienced in the difficult period between the two world wars.
It is said nowadays that we are entering a second industrial revolution. We are often told in the House of Commons that mechanical labour is replacing hand labour. No one here knows more about hand labour than I do. I produced coal for 1s. 1d. a ton by hand labour. Hon. 273 Members opposite have not had that kind of experience, which many of us on this side of the Committee had before we came to the House of Commons.
The changing methods of the present day demand a rethinking and a new approach. We cannot stand aside and see these new replacements being responsible for men and women being thrown out of work without doing something to accommodate them again in employment. This is not so much a fight for existence as a fight for the right to make a living. Unemployment created not by economic factors of boom and slump but by the introduction of new machines and new materials means that the workers have a just claim for protection and security. The first charge on industry ought to be the welfare of the worker who has made the prosperity of that industry.
It may be, as has been pointed out by my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in the North East that we have a lurking fear that when this Bill becomes an Act it will not give us the kind of protection which we have had since the war from the Distribution of Industry Act. The increasing unemployment last year and at the beginning of this year has created the fear in our people that there is a possible danger of returning to the pre-war situation. Many people regard my constituency as a mining constituency, but that is not so. Many forms of industry are represented in it, including agriculture, engineering, the chemical industry, mining, and new towns and trading estates. Those constitute the complexity of the constituency.
There are six collieries there. I was asked during the General Election what would happen to people in my constituency if one of these pits were to be closed. The Government were shouting, "Produce more coal" two years ago and we were told that the nation needed it. Application was made for the absorption of foreign workers into our basic industry. The men in the industry knew fall well that if that absorption had taken place their circumstances would have been greatly changed.
I should like to know whether the Bill will take care of these men by bringing new industries into these areas. I have read reports of debates at local councils 274 on the need for a direction of industry to meet the demands for employment which will arise if these pit closures take place. I have said outside this Chamber that if the worst came to the worst and these pit villages were affected through the closing down of the main industry of the area the responsibility must rest with the Government in power to bring in alternative employment and not to allow village life to be disrupted. I do not want to see that disruption taking place again in my lifetime, but what is to be the extent of the "locality" to which the Bill refers?
We must remember that when the Development Areas were set up, they were sited so as to include the areas most affected by a high rate of unemployment. I would ask the President of the Board of Trade what would be the Government's estimate of "a high rate of unemployment" calling for action to be taken. I am a little sceptical whether, if the Bill is passed, we shall get the same sort of cover as that which we have had from the operation of the Distribution of Industry Act. Will it be a good thing for the areas affected to be left to the mercies of the Board of Trade for positive assistance to be granted?
I fully appreciate that the President of the Board of Trade would say—and quite rightly—that he has every confidence in his Department seeing that the right thing is done. I would not expect him to say otherwise, but some of us have had experience with Government Departments before we came here, and we realise that results have not always come our way. I have put Questions to the Minister of Labour about vacancies on the Aycliffe Trading Estate. The reply was to the effect that there were only forty-four vacancies, mainly in engineering construction and textiles. I followed up those Questions with one to the President of the Board of Trade regarding sites on the Aycliffe Trading Estate for further development.
Why did I ask these Questions? The reason is that I am afraid that as the new town develops within the next two or three years, accommodation for the people in it will be limited. If people resident in the new town cannot find employment there, how will they be able to continue to live there and meet the cost of high rents and the many other 275 commitments which have now been imposed upon them? I appreciate that these are very pertinent questions. Like other hon. Members, I feel that I have a duty to those people who have come into this area from all parts of the country—not just from other parts of Durham—to become residents in this new town. I hope to be told by the Government that as a result of the introduction of this Bill, these people will not be adversely affected after coming from other parts of the country to live in the new town of Newton Aycliffe.
We are in the early stages of this Parliament, and the Government no doubt will be faced with new forms of redundancy because of the adoption by industry of new techniques and new processes. I take it that the Bill was introduced with the object of taking care of such circumstances as they arise, but the solution of these emergencies as they arise will not be effected as easily as some people imagine through the passing of this Measure.
I believe that when Measures of this kind are being introduced, employers of labour and the trade unions ought to be brought into the picture as well. According to information given in the Report on the mining industry, six pits are to be closed in Durham. These pits are not to be closed because it is impossible to produce any more coal from them; nor are they to be closed because there is no further need for power for the operation of industrial machinery. They are being closed because new means of providing machine power have been developed to the exclusion of coal as the staple means of power supply. Political upsets in the Middle East could make us bitterly regret the day when we wantonly rendered obsolete our important sources of fuel supply in this country.
Having said that, I hope that the North-East as a whole will not be left out of the picture when assistance is being asked for, and when this Measure is being implemented in order to offset the rise in unemployment which is bound to come as more young people begin to leave school and as men are made redundant in their respective forms of employment.
I wish to quote from one of our local newspapers in the North-East, the Evening 276 Gazette of Monday, 7th December, which had this to say in its editorial:Something should he done to halt the drift of young people away from the county in search of work. Otherwise the melancholy history of the pre-war years looks like repeating itself.The visit of Mr. Edward Heath, the Minister of Labour, to the North-East last week, suggests that he is aware of the problem which exists. Its seriousness is indicated by the fact that in the last eight years it is estimated that 30,000 people, most of them young, decided that there was no future for them in Co. Durham and left.That is a repetition of what happened during the period between the two wars. have already quoted to the Committee the figure of 130,000 people who left during that period. Now this is happening again, and we find that 30,000 young people have left the county during the last eight years. What is to happen in the next eight years? I am very sceptical whether the operation of this Measure will give us the same security which the Distribution of Industry Act gave us from the end of 1945.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I want to confine myself strictly to the limited purpose of the Amendment which the Committee is now considering, and I apprehend that the Minister of State correctly stated that purpose when he said that, broadly speaking, its intention was to secure that in any list, or the alteration of any list, of areas which are to have the benefit, such as it is, of this Bill, Parliament should retain control. That, we may accept, is indeed the purpose of the Amendment.
I find myself in the somewhat odd position of being reinforced in my support of that Amendment largely by the reasons which have been given against it from the other side of the Committee, and I am thinking in particular of the speeches of the Minister and of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). The noble Lord drew a vivid picture of conflict between hon. Members in the House of Commons each competing with each of the others and with all of them to get a bigger share for his own constituency of whatever the Government, had to offer within the terms of their power.
The noble Lord found that picture very distasteful. So do I. I can remember it in the old days, when things were much worse than they are now, in those dread- 277 ful years between the wars, of which this House and the country are so ashamed that they hate to be reminded of them at any time. Indeed, it was a distasteful thing, but what does the noble Lord want? Does he say that because it is distasteful to be competing for a share of too small a cake, that, therefore, we should abandon, on behalf of our constituents, their share? Of course, not. The noble Lord does not need the cake, but we are speaking on behalf of those who have no bread.
We have to compete, and if there is something distasteful in the struggle, the Government could cure that, as my hon. Friends have pointed out. There is no need why, even on the Government's own view of this legislation and the need for it, there should be any limit whatever to what they provide, except such limit as is offered by the needs of the situation with which they are dealing. If there are some places that need this exceptional treatment, then what reason can there be for withholding it?
The Government have said time after time that there is a limit to what they can do. While there is that limit and while the number of places which need help continues to grow, as continue to grow it wil1, the competition for a share, which the noble Lord finds so distasteful, must necessarily go on. What we are concerned with is not whether it shall go on or shall not, but where it shall go on, haw it shall go on, and who in the end will determine the apportionment.
I acquit the noble Lord of not wanting full employment, except in so far as he is limited in getting it as everyone is limited who shares the political and economic philosophy of the party of which the noble Lord is still, I think, nominally a member. Subject to that limitation, I concede his good will. But that is not the question. The noble Lord does not like the Bill. He is entitled to say, "It is distasteful; get rid of it; there is competition on the Floor of the House; get rid of it." He is logical about it, and he says also that we should get rid of the Bill as well. There might not be much sense in that view, but, at any rate, it is consistent.
However, that is not what the Minister of State says. He does not deny that there should be competition. When we say that if the Government do not accept 278 this or something like this Amendment then their actions will remain uncontrolled, the Minister of State says that there will be ample opportunity for pressure. He is quite right. There will be pressure, he says, from Members of Parliament; there will be pressure from outside; there will be pressure from delegations; there will be pressure from deputations; he will be pulled this way and that way by everyone who thinks that he has a right or duty to defend someone else's right, to some benefit under the Bill.
The effect of not accepting the Amendments is not to preserve the Government from pressure and from competitive pressure. It is to transfer the competition from the open forum of the House of Commons to the secret lobbies, the committee rooms and ante-rooms of the Minister. Is that good? Is that better? Is it not much better if the Government start from the position that they cannot give everybody what they want, and cannot give everybody even what they need, because the resources at their disposal are so much less than the legitimate demand for them that there must be a competition in which some will win and some will lose?
If one starts from that position, from which the Minister of State has frankly declared himself to start—although the noble Lord did not—let us have it in the open. Let the Government tell us which are their places and what are their reasons. Let them tell us why one place is in and another is out, so that they will be relieved from the accusation that they may have submitted to improper pressure based on political arguments and party political considerations, or to motives of quite another kind. If they transfer this kind of competition from the open Floor of the House of Commons to secret deputations, pressure groups and that kind of thing, they run a risk which they need not run and they gain nothing for running it. Out of the Minister's own mouth there has been established irresistibly the case for the Amendment, and I hope that the Government will reconsider it.
Finally, the Minister of State said that the Government did not want open Parliamentary control because this was an excutive act. That is a strange constitutional proposition. Since when have executive acts been exempt from the 279 control of Parliament? All we are concerned with is how control shall be exercised, whether efficiently or inefficiently. There is no such thing as an executive act for which Parliament must not ultimately take responsibility. The hon. Gentleman knows that perfectly well.
It does not matter whether the man in Whitehall knows best or does not know best. Under our constitution, he still has to defend his view to the House of Commons and, if he cannot persuade the House of Commons that he knows best, then he does not. Of what are the Government afraid? There is not so much difference as the hon. Gentleman pretended. Even if there were, I do not see how his argument follows. As has been pointed out, the powers under the 1945 Act were wider than those under the 1948 Act, not narrower. Yet the hon. Gentleman relies on the experience of nominating areas without Parliamentary control under a narrower Act on the ground that it was wider. It does not make any sense.
There is no way of justifying resistance to the Amendment except what can only be a more or less sinister interpretation, that the Government know how little they intend to do, and what changes they want to make and which they are afraid they could not easily carry through the House of Commons and which they prefer to carry through quietly and with as little interference from Parliament as possible. It is for that reason that I hope my hon. and right hon. Friends will carry the Amendment to a Division, unless we get a much better reply from the Government than we have had so far.
§ Mr. Willis
After the very powerful and cogent arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I do not want to say much. The arguments which he advanced should be seriously considered by the Minister of State. The hon. Gentleman said that our ideas were progressing, that we had moved a long way since 1945 and that we now had a new situation and, therefore, had to have new methods to deal with it.
Is that true? Have we progressed from 1945 and must we, therefore, have new methods? We are not to have any 280 scheduled areas, but we are to have specified localities. I am not certain of the difference between a specified locality and a scheduled area. The hon. Gentleman himself said that a specified locality could be very large and might include the Highlands of Scotland, two-fifths of Scotland. Is that correct? What is the difference? In what way are the powers different? The hon. Gentleman claimed that the powers were rather larger, but is not that more of an argument for placing these matters before Parliament when taking the decision to schedule or deschedule an area?
The Minister of State went on to develop that argument. He said that we had progressed to the 1958 Act and this was the method which we had adopted under that Act so there was no reason to change it. He forgot that the 1958 Act did not deschedule areas. It was supposed to add to and not detract from the 1945 Act. Now we are replacing the 1945, the 1950 and the 1958 Acts.
The important thing to which I wish to draw the hon. Gentleman's attention is that, so far as we know, the application of the Bill is to be on a very much smaller scale than the application of the Acts. We do not know, but we understand that instead of about 20 per cent. of the population being covered by the provisions, only 14 per cent. are to be covered. That is a very considerable reduction. Yet the hon. Gentleman says, "We are not going to ask the House of Commons to discuss how that reduction should be made." That is an impossible position.
The Bill does not even specify clearly the basis on which the reduction is to be made, because there is no agreement as to what the word "imminent" means. We have had a great many definitions of that, but without any specification of how the Government intend to work. The Government ask the Committee to give them a free hand, a blank cheque to deschedule one-third of the areas which are at present scheduled. There is an obligation at the very least, if the Government want this, upon the Government to tell us what their mind is about this and what the general effects will be.
I want to ask once again—I am sorry to revert to this—what is the position in Scotland? What is the position in England? Is the reduction to be made 281 mainly in Scotland? Or mainly in England? Or is it to be equally shared? I am certain that my English colleagues will have a great deal to say if most of this cutting down is to be borne in England. So will my Welsh colleagues. I am sure that we from Scotland will have a great deal to say about it if it is to be mostly in Scotland.
We are entitled to be told what is in the Government's mind, what areas are likely to be affected, and what populations are likely to be affected. We are bound to ask because we are denied by the Government's Bill—unless the Government accept this Amendment—any other opportunity of discussing this. We cannot discuss this again. It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say that there can be deputations and delegations and Parliamentary Questions. That is not, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) pointed out, a discussion on the Floor of the House on how we should regard the country as a whole.
I beseech the hon. Gentleman to consider the Amendment much more seriously than he has up to the present, because the answer he gave was not logical, and certainly constitutionally, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne painted out very ably, was very bad indeed. I sincerely trust that the hon. Gentleman will do at least two things. I should like him, of course; to accept this Amendment, but if he does not accept the Amendment we need a far better reply than we have had up to now, and we also require far more information than we have had as to what the effects of this cut of one-third will mean in its application to the country.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
We have heard from hon. Members on the other side of the Committee some very moving speeches about unemployment in their own areas, which, in my view, have just as much right as anyone else to enjoy the benefits of the Bill. I say that as a Member from the Highlands, where we have been neglected for over a century. We have not even had crumbs of comfort—except Dounreay, which has proved so successful. It proves that we can take to industry like ducks to water.
What is wrong with the Bill is that the cake is not nearly big enough. I have 282 just been glancing at the figures of expenditure under the Acts. During the last three financial years they work out at about £3½ million annually. That, surely, is a most inadequate sum.
Would it not be much better to take the Bill back, take it away altogether, and bring in one which would deal fairly with all the people? I am sure that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), whose constituency is so severely depopulated, as mine is, and which, like mine, needs so much, would be just as generous in his views as I am. The fellow on the North-East Coast, or in Staffordshire, has just as much right to a job as any other man. Fancy £3½ million out of a £5,000 million Budget! It is a case of pennies where pounds are needed.
Surely it would be very much better if the Government, this Government who have such a large majority, to remedy the situation, instead of paying unemployment pay and National Assistance on a big scale, were to apply the money to constructive work, like the brilliant work which was carried out in the North of Ireland, where a miracle happened—70,000 new jobs, not by direction, but by inducement through good legislation, a good local development corporation, and abundant money—our money. The British Treasury paid £622 million to Northern Ireland to carry out this great development. It was done even in rural areas. And there is a channel between the two countries. It was a very difficult performance, but it was done.
Surely, then, the Government are capable of facing and tackling unemployment in Britain. Both parties in the State have supported full employment for years. We should make this attempt. The more I have listened to the debate the more I have come to feel how utterly inadequate is the Bill.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
By now the Minister must understand something of the feeling there is in the Committee about this Amendment. There has not been a single speech made from either side which has supported the rather stubborn stand which he is taking. He is really defying the sentiments of the Committee, and to no purpose. By accepting the 283 Amendment he can remove the apprehensions and fears felt by those representing areas where there is a measure of unemployment today and where the future prospects seem bleak. What the hon. Gentleman can do is remove those fears and those apprenhensions. Instead, he sits there, statue like, refusing to make any concession.
One of the tragedies of the House of Commons in recent years is that Bill after Bill goes to Third Reading exactly as it was presented to the House for First Reading. No matter how strong the supporting arguments for Amendments may be, no matter how logical they may be, Ministers demand that their Bills should leave the House in exactly the same form as that in which they came in. It is preposterous that on an issue of this kind, and on which the Committee has made perfectly clear what it wants, the Minister should remain so stubborn.
The Minister himself said that the 1958 Act had worked successfully. All we want him to do is to accept this Amendment, which will give the same measure of control and the same information as given under the Acts of 1945, 1950 and 1958. We want to be assured, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said, that these decisions will not be made solely as a result of what I would call behind-the-scenes lobbying. We do not want these decisions made on the basis of whom we know, but what we know. We want to decision to be made in the House of Commons. We want the people whom we represent, and the country, to know the motives which have guided the Minister in his decision.
There has not been any support for the Bill from either those sitting alongside the Minister or from those behind him. Why does the Minister think that he knows better than everybody else? Why he is he so cock-sure when he has less experience of these matters than many hon. Members who have taken part in the debate? From what the Minister has said, it appears that he wants to do good by stealth. He is saying, in effect, "I will not tell you how I am going to do it. I will let you know when I intend to do it, but you can rest assured that I shall do it". We 284 do not accept that. Furthermore, until we know how much money the Minister intends to spend we have little doubt of the ineffectiveness of the Bill.
Since this type of legislation was introduced, many years ago, money has fallen in value. The amount of money that has been spent in terms of hard cash has become less each succeeding year. How can this problem be solved by spending the miserable sums of money that the Minister mentioned?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Member, but I hope that he will devote his remarks to the Amendment and not to a Second Reading speech.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
I am very grateful for your Ruling, Sir William. I assure you that if that Ruling had been given two hours ago it would have helped. I ask only that you are not stricter with me than you were with other hon. Members, and that you give me the same licence and liberty that was extended to other hon. Members. I will leave the point that I was making.
I am sorry that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not in his place. I tried to catch him before he left the Chamber, because I thought that it was necessary that he should know that I intended to refer to him. The noble Lord spoke about the "mad scramble" that there would be if the Minister accepted the Amendment, because each hon. Member would try and stake a claim for his own constituency. The noble Lord has always been well fed. He cannot appreciate that, at times, our men were hungry. Perhaps it is only natural that he can accept life philosophically. Perhaps it is possible for him always to display good manners and dignity, but when he talks about a "mad scramble" he ought to know what unemployment means to the men whom we represent. He ought to know the degradation that our people have suffered. He ought to try and understand why we want, to use his phrase, "more State 'lolly'".
The noble Lord represents an agricultural constituency. Let him go back to the farmers and tell them that he does not believe in them having State "lolly". 285 How would he fare if he did that? How can the noble Lord criticise these areas of high unemployment for receiving State "lolly" when he represents a constituency which receives more State "lolly" than any other? He never mentions that. What right has the noble Lord to tell the Committee that he is opposed to this doling out of State "lolly"? If subsidies were withdrawn from the farmers tomorrow nobody would object more fiercely, and arrogantly demand their return, and scramble more for his share, than the noble Lord.
I ask the Minister to consider the Amendment again. He knows the feelings of the Committee. We could make good progress if he used a bit of common sense and understood how little we are asking him to give away. I therefore hope that the Minister will now have second thoughts about the Amendment.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I want to raise one or two points. The Amendment is intended to improve the machinery for dealing with a vital problem and thus make the Bill more effective. During the discussion great emphasis has been laid on the unemployment that exists, and the signs that it will increase very shortly.
A dark picture has been painted in a letter which I received from the union concerned with shipbuilding and engineering in the Tyneside and Blyth areas. The letter emphasises that the picture is so black in the Tyneside area that it is likely to develop in other areas. It is, therefore, essential to prepare the framework and the legislation to meet what may become a national problem. I have intervened to give the Committee an idea of what the people working in those industries think of the situation.
The letter points out that one great marine engineering firm has not received orders for propulsion machinery for two years. Another large firm expects to dismiss one-third of its workers within six months. Another large firm is working only four days a week, and in some trades in that area 30 per cent. of the men are unemployed.
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), and some other people, are worried about the money that might be involved if we amend the Bill. Whichever side 286 of the Committee we are on, I am sure that we all realise that money is the small matter, if, by spending money, we can secure the object of a Bill which is aimed at using all the machinery and finance that we can get to meet what will become a great problem in the future unless there is a change in the economic situation.
Money is a small consideration when dealing with the problem of unemployment. If we allow unemployment to increase we will increase the expenses of the Exchequer. We will reduce the wealth of the nation because men will be walking the streets instead of producing wealth. The outlook is black and that is why the Amendment has been tabled. We on this side of the Committee recognise the problem. We desire to have legislation that will enable us, with greater ease, to bring the problem to the House when things begin to get worse. It is a big problem now. About half a million people are unemployed. If the position deteriorates the situation will be serious.
The point is that the Amendment attempts to promote legislation which will provide more opportunities to discuss the problem. That is why hon. Members on this side of the Committee are spending so much time on it. We feel that, whatever may be the point of view of the Government, they should not put anything in the way of free discussion at intervals, as the necessity arises.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The Minister's performance reminded me of the performance he gave on television in the course of the General Election campaign, when he was supposed to be sitting in a train. I have no doubt that he remembers that performance. It was smooth, oily and plausible. He told people how good things were, and how better they were to be. Today, the smoothness, the oiliness and the plausibility are still there, and seldom can such oiliness and plausibility have cloaked such a dangerous constitutional doctrine as he was putting forward. I do not think that he realised precisely what he was doing. His speech has focussed attention on the constitutional issue at stake.
Whenever the Government are asked for a definition of "imminent", or "high unemployment", or "sustained unemployment" they say, "We must not 287 define these things, in the interests of flexibility. It is precisely because we want flexibility that we must have an executive decision". In other words, the Government are saying that the Executive will draw up the list. An anonymous person will draw up the list, based on undefined criteria, and we shall be presented with a fait accompli. The Minister says that we can exert pressure. We can ask our Questions, lead our little deputations, and have little Adjournment debates, but no greater opportunities are offered than in any of those fields for stalling, back-pedalling, evading and deliberately refusing to answer.
Only today I have had word from the Board of Trade that it will not meet a deputation from the Fife County Council tomorrow on matters concerned with the Bill, precisely because, as it says, if it meets Fife it will have to meet every other county council. When this list is produced, if I say to the Board of Trade, "I want to lead a deputation from the Fife County Council to the President of the Board of Trade", what guarantee have I that he will not give precisely the same reply and say, "If I meet Fife, every county in the country will want to meet me"?
What conceivable reason can there be for the Board of Trade not producing its list and being answerable to all hon. Members? It cannot be that there is a shortage of time. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said some time ago, we are in for a shockingly boring four years. We have had the Betting and Gaming Bill, the Lord High Commissioner (Church of Scotland) Bill and the Judicial Pensions Bill. What a list! What tremendous pressure we are to be under!
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) brought a good deal of courage into the discussion. He mentioned £3½ million as being the total sum involved. That is one-fifth of the cost of the new aircraft carrier that we are now putting into commission.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Yes. It is one-hundredth part of the cost of Suez—and we are still paying that bill.
Why are the Government not prepared to put their list in front of us, so 288 that we can have the scramble which the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) so much deplores? If the scramble does not take place in public we can be sure that it will take place behind closed doors and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said, there is much scope for jiggery-pokery behind closed doors. There is much scope for patronage, unfairly wielded, by unknown people outside the House of Commons.
Are the Government refusing because they think that there is now no time to adopt this procedure? Can it be that the Minister has no confidence in the list? Or is it just a basic disbelief in democracy and democratic procedure? Had the boot been on the other foot—if the Labour Party had been in power and had suggested this sort of procedure, hon. Members opposite, in their hordes, as at the time of the Labour Government, would have been protesting about the dangers of anti-democratic procedures and the evils of delegated legislation. But because they form the Government—and will certainly get their majority in the Division Lobby—they turn up their noses in arrogant contempt not only of hon. Members on this side, but of some hon. Members on their own.
There has been only one speech seemingly in favour of the Government, and I am not sure whether that was really in favour of the Government. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolridge-Gordon), who is not here, talked one way at one moment and the other way the next. The Minister rose in an attempt to keep to some kind of timetable, but he is well behind schedule now. Had he been sitting in the same train in which he appeared in the television programme he would have been several hours late. He will not get away with this matter quite as easily as he thinks. I hope that the debate will continue for a considerable time yet—until he tells us in quite specific terms why he cannot accept this proposal, and ceases to insist that he must present us with a list and say, "You can jolly well take it or leave it."
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I support all that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton). I raised this question during the Second Reading debate. I pointed to 289 the danger of creating a large corporation over which we have no Parliamentary accountability, and on to which the Board of Trade can fob all our questions on specific matters. I am glad that my hon. Friend has stressed the dangers of a too powerful Executive.
I want to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question concerning my own area, West Cumberland. We are a successful Development Area. There are problems there, but the administration of the area has been praised from all sides, and by every Select Committee that has investigated the organisation. Now, under the Bill, the successful West Cumberland Development Company is to go out of existence. What is worse, during the previous day's debate I expressed my fear that West Cumberland would be fragmented, so that White-haven, Workington, Maryport and all the other towns in the West Cumberland Development Area would compete against each other and be developed as separate units or entities. Now that we are descheduling there is a new concept of Development Areas. I believe it to be wrong. When I put the question to the President of the Board of Trade he refused to answer. When I specifically asked whether West Cumberland would be treated as a unit, or be fragmented, the Minister remained silent.
I wish to know whether the present position will still obtain. If not, is that why the Minister refuses to give the list and why Parliament is being ignored? I beg hon. Members opposite not to dismiss this matter lightly; not to be "Lobby fodder". After all, they inveighed so often against the Labour Government and said that we were creating bureaucracy. Here is an opportunity to resist bureaucracy, not to strengthen the Executive and weaken local initiative and organisation in areas like my own. I wish that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) were still in the Chamber, because if he was sincere in what he said earlier he would support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I will willingly sit down now if the Minister of State will indicate that he wishes to intervene. I hope that this debate will not end without the Minister making a further intervention. It makes a farce of our proceedings if 290 he fails completely to deal with the powerful arguments advanced by hon. Members from both sides of the Committee.
There have been powerful attacks on the attitude of the Government from hon. Members opposite. We want to know whether the Minister of State pleads guilty to legislating to take this matter out of the hands of Parliament altogether? We wish to be clear about whether that is the attitude which the hon. Gentleman is adopting. Is he subscribing to the doctrine that the unelected Board of Trade knows more about the problems of unemployment in the localities than the elected representatives of the people?
Is it part of the hon. Gentleman's idea which he shares with the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) that Members of Parliament must not be permitted to make representations about unemployment in their constituencies and that we must, by this legislation, set up a barrier so that they shall not be able to discuss these things except by going to the back door of the Board of Trade?
I and my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in North Staffordshire have had a long experience of correcting information obtained by the Board of Trade. We know the number of occasions on which we have had to go to the Board of Trade and state what was going on in the localities we represent. Let the Minister of State, who knows something about this, ask at the Treasury who was correct in forecasting the result of reimposing Purchase Tax on pottery. Was it hon. Members from the Potteries and local people who made representations to the Treasury when this was done, or was it the Treasury?
Consider the Board of Trade, and its responsibility for the closure of the Royal Ordnance factory at Swinnerton, and other measures taken by the Government which have created a great deal of unemployment in North Staffordshire. Was it the people in the localities who knew what the results would be, or was it the Board of Trade which was correct?
My hon. Friend, the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) and I know—and we can prove from the records—who was correct about such information. We also know that the 291 figures about unemployment produced by the Ministry of Labour are not accurate. The Minister does not know the situation in many localities, especially where there is a high proportion of married women going to work. Those who are intimately connected with certain industries in different parts of the country know that the unemployment figures in the Ministry of Labour returns do not reveal the real situation in those districts and the need for developing new industries there. We know that it is necessary for people from those localities to tell the bureaucrats and the Ministers what is the true situation and what effect certain industrial measures and Government policies have had in creating unemployment.
I want to know whether Newcastle-under-Lyme is regarded by the Government as a big unemployment area. I have been elected to represent the people there and I am entitled to be able to tell them. Certainly, those there who have suffered from the effects of unemployment, and have seen the figure fluctuate between 3 per cent. and 6 per cent. during the last five years, consider that unemployment in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been relatively high. We wish to know whether the Board of Trade takes that view. I want to know whether the representatives of the people who know the localities in North Staffordshire are to have any further say in the problem, and whether the area is to receive any aid.
The Minister of State wishes deliberately to circumscribe the power of this Committee and of the House of Commons precisely for the purpose of limiting the powers in the Bill and the amount of positive action which the Government will take to cure the unemployment problem. That is why I reckon that we ought to continue this discussion until we get a more satisfactory answer from the Minister.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
During the Second Reading debate on the Bill practically every hon. Member on this side of the Committee who spoke showed a marked objection to the attitude of the Government in not defining in any way where the new Development Areas would be. We said then that this was 292 bound to be one of the points to which we should return during the Committee stage discussions. As has been pointed out by so many of my hon. Friends, the trouble is not merely the omission of the Development Areas from this legislation, but the way in which the Government are attempting to gain by stealth what they cannot get by consent.
What is happening as a result? Every hon. Member in the Committee why has a Development Area in his constituency is apprehensive that it will cease to exist. The Government, by their attitude, are maximising unrest and opposition, in some cases where it is unnecessary that there should be opposition Hon. Members on this side and, indeed, hon. Members opposite, have cause for apprehension. They say to themselves, "If I do not get on my feet and voice my opposition to this procedure, it will be taken that my area does not matter."
How can the Government say, "We are sincere in our desire to have a look at the whole of the Development Areas. At the same time, we know that we are to condense them slightly, but we will not tell you in which direction?" By doing that they are causing hon. Members to say to themselves, "If I do not now argue the case for my particular area, it is natural that the Government will say 'He did not object about his area and, therefore, we will put a blue pencil through the name of that area'".
We have spent a long time discussing various Amendments and I suggest that would not have been necessary if the Government had not sought to use stealth instead of being frank about their intentions. I can think of four vital Amendments which we have discussed during the two-and-a-half days which we have spent on this Committee stage, none of which need have been argued had the Government "come clean" about their intentions. I do not wish to go through the list of those Amendments, we all have them in mind. I ask, has the Minister of State the power to accept this Amendment? His right hon. Friend is not present today. I am not complaining about that. Probably he has a good reason for being absent, but when a Minister in charge of a Bill, for good reasons, cannot be present for the Committee stage, he has no right to send a deputy unless he gives that deputy the 293 power to accept an Amendment if he is convinced that the argument warrants acceptance.
Much of the criticism from my hon. Friends is due to the fact that they do not believe the President of the Board of Trade has conferred any powers on the Minister of State to accept Amendments which we are moving. In other words, the Committee is being treated in a disgraceful way and this proceeding is somewhat of a farce. I ask the Minister of State, when he replies to the debate, to tell us precisely where his right hon. Friend stands on this matter. We have heard arguments cogently put from, I should think, every Development Area in Britain. We have had no replies from the Ministers concerned to say that those particular areas are not now needing the scheduling process and, therefore, the financial benefits which result. Can we be told of one area which, in the judgment of the Government, does not now require Development Area certification? I shall give way at once if the Minister would like to answer.
§ Mr. Willis
The Minister of State ought to think that he is sitting in that train that I mentioned.
§ Mr. Lee
—throughout the two days of Second Reading, and again today, it has been demonstrated, is that the Government are bringing a completely closed mind to the discussion. Several of my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), have pointed out that whereas, in the Schedule to the 1945 Act, all these Development Areas were clearly defined and we were able to argue the pros and cons of the matter in the public light of the House of Commons, now the Government are seeking to take from the Commons the right of determination in public, the right of decision following argument in public on the balance of these things when arguments have been produced. The Government now seek to take that away from us. If we are going into a phase in which this kind of thing can be passively accepted even by hon. Members opposite, the day may not be 294 long distant when even they will regret what they have let the country in for.
I do not wish to make a long speech as the arguments have been put very well indeed, but I put it to the Minister of State that the Government really must come clean on this matter. They must have seen that they are maximising opposition from representatives who, quite frankly, are frightened. We are frightened and that is why we are fighting tooth and nail to get a definition from the Government on the question of Development Areas.
If the Government will not give that, they are thwarting the whole democratic will of Parliament and trying to get behind closed doors the power to play off one Development Area against another. They have not told us how much money will be allocated. Where they agree with the principle they will not say whether money will be forthcoming. How can it he hoped that under conditions of that kind they can get hon. Friends of mine, who are passionately concerned about future employment in their constituencies, to be passively silent while that goes on?
I appeal to the Minister to answer the three questions that I have put to him and, if he cannot accept the Amendment, at least to say that he will take this matter back and bring a form of words forward on Report.
§ Mr. Erroll
I have listened with great interest to the speeches of right hon. and hon. Members since I intervened in the debate nearly two hours ago. I therefore wish to intervene only very briefly to remind the Committee that the Bill is essentially one which, if passed, will enable the Board of Trade to do certain things. It is essentially a Bill giving powers to the President of the Board of Trade. If Parliament grants those powers, the Minister and the Department will exercise them and the President of the Board of Trade will be accountable to Parliament for the use he makes of them. He will also be accountable to Parliament for the manner in which he exercises his judgment.
As hon. Members will readily appreciate, it would be a complete change of principle and would alter the whole character of the Bill if in giving the 295 President of the Board of Trade those powers Parliament were then to decide that it must insist on making all the decisions itself—
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Surely the hon. Gentleman appreciates that, in the Bill, his Government, for the first time since we have had legislation of this kind, are making a fundamental change. That is why the debate has lasted for so long. Until now the areas in which money could be spent for this purpose have been defined in the Act itself. Except for the little Bill we had last year, and which dealt only with new areas, not old ones, the Government, for the first time, are making this tremendous change.
This is a very important matter. I hope that it will be possible to return to it on Report, because, it is a most important constitutional issue. The President of the Board of Trade is not present. I am sure that he must have good reasons for not being here, but this is a matter of cardinal importance. We cannot leave it as it is. I ask the Minister of State whether he will consider, with the President of the Board of Trade, the arguments put forward from both sides of the Committee. I particularly direct attention to the need to view this matter from the standpoint of good parliamentary government, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), and to the danger if this matter is taken out of the hands of the House of Commons. I therefore ask the Minister of State to have consultations with the President of the Board of Trade before the Report stage.
§ Mr. Erroll
I think that when I give way to a right hon. Member to make an intervention he should not try to make a further speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I had spoken myself for only a few minutes. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are in Committee."] This may be Committee, but, even so, it is not customary, in Committee, to make whole speeches in the middle of someone else's speech.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The last thing I want to do is to be discourteous to anyone, but we are in Committee and this is an important matter. I did not think that my intervention lasted for too long.
§ Mr. Erroll
I do not intend to lose my temper.
I fully realise, as does my right hon. Friend, the important nature of the matter which has been discussed, but his information is that, while this represents a change from the 1945 Act, it does not represent a complete change—as I explained earlier today—because we have now the experience of the 1958 Act. A list was not published in that Act, nor, indeed, was one demanded during Committee stage on that Bill. It has worked well by extending the 1945 Act to a whole range of new places.
Turning to the method proposed in the Amendment, this would not be a very satisfactory arrangement for achieving the purpose which hon. Members opposite have outlined as being necessary. It would not enable the House of Commons to decide all these matters. All that would happen in the case of the initial list, would be that it would come before the House on an affirmative Resolution. There would be no additions to, nor deletions from, the list. It would be in the nature of turning Parliament into a rubber stamp. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly I am sure that hon. Members would not wish to be parties to that. It is noteworthy that under the Amendment additions would be subject only to the negative Resolution procedure, whereas if places were being taken off the list it would be subject to the affirmative procedure. No good reasons have been given for this difference in procedure.
My right hon. Friend studied the principle behind the Amendment very carefully before he came to the decision which I have tried to explain to the Committee. If, in listening to the arguments, I had felt that a material point had been put forward by the Committee which my right hon. Friend had not already considered, I should not have hesitated to communicate urgently with him and to draw him out of the urgent 297 meetings which he is having to attend. Having listened carefully to all the arguments, however, I feel that there is no new matter to convey to him which would justify my adopting the suggestion made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that I should agree that my right hon. Friend should reconsider the whole matter on Report.
In the circumstances, therefore, I hope that hon. Members will be content to let the Amendment go.
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—298
§ Mr. Silverman
My point of order is that the debate had not concluded, and I think that I can say with confidence, Mr. Williams, that I was on my feet before you were on your feet to put the Question. I wanted only to put a question to the Minister of State, and I hope that, in the circumstances, you will allow me to put it. Does he not regard it as a new point that at the end of three and a half hours' debate not a single member of the Committee could be found to support the Government view? Is not that a new point which the Minister ought to consider?
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 195, Noes 245.301
|Division No. 13.]||AYES||[7.3 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Grey, Charles||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mahon, Simon|
|Awbery, Stan||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Grimond, J.||Mapp, Charles|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Marsh, Richard|
|Beaney, Alan||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mason, Roy|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Blackburn, F.||Hannan, William||Mellish, R. J.|
|Blyton, William||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Boardman, H.||Hayman, F. H.||Millan, Bruce|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Healey, Denis||Monslow, Walter|
|Boyden, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Moody, A. S.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morris, John|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hilton, A. V.||Mort, D. L.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Holman, Percy||Moyle, Arthur|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Holt, Arthur||Neal, Harold|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Howell, Charles A.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hoy, James H.||Owen, Will|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Padley, W E.|
|Callaghan, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Carmichael, James||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Chapman, Donald||Hunter, A. E.||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Chetwynd, George||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paton, John|
|Cliffe, Michael||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Collick, Percy||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Janner, Barnett||Peart, Frederick|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pentland, Norman|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jeger, George||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Darling, George||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rankin, John|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Deer, George||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Reid, William|
|Dempsey, James||Kelley, Richard||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Diamond, John||Kenyon, Clifford||Rhodes, H.|
|Dodds, Norman||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lawson, George||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Ledger, Ron||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Evans, Albert||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lipton, Marcus||Ross, William|
|Finch, Harold||Logan, David||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Fitch, Alan||Loughlin, Charles||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fletcher, Erie||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Short, Edward|
|Forman, J. C.||McCann, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||MacColl, James||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||McInnes, James||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Ginsburg, David||McLeavy, Frank||Snow, Julian|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Whitlock, William|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Willey, Frederick|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Thornton, Ernest||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Steele, Thomas||Thorpe, Jeremy||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Tomney, Frank||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Stonehouse, John||Wade, Donald||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stones, William||Wainwright, Edwin||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith||Warbey, William||Woof, Robert|
|Swingler, Stephen||Watkins, Tudor||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Sylvester, George||Weitzman, David||Zilliacus, K.|
|Symonds, J. B.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wheeldon, W. E.||Mr. Cronin and Mr. Probert.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McLaren, Martin|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Allason, James||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Arbuthnot, John||Freeth, Denzil||Maclean,SirFitzroy(Bute&N.Ayrs.)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Gammans, Lady||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gardner, Edward||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Balniel, Lord||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Glover, Douglas||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Barter, John||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maddan, Martin|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Goodhew, Victor||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gower, Raymond||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bidgood, John C.||Green, Alan||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gresham Cooke, R.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grimston, Sir Robert||Marten, Neil|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gurden, Harold||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Bossom, Clive||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Box, Donald||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Mawby, Ray|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Braine, Bernard||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mills, Stratton|
|Brewis, John||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hay, John||Morgan, William|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Morrison, John|
|Bryan, Paul||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Burden, F. A.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neave, Airey|
|Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(SaffronWalden)||Hendry, A. Forbes||Nicholls, Harmer|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Noble, Michael|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hiley, Joseph||Nugent, Richard|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hirst, Geoffrey||Page, Graham|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Holland, Philip||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth,W.)||Hollingworth, John||Partridge, E.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hopkins, Alan||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Peel, John|
|Collard, Richard||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Percival, Ian|
|Cooke, Robert||Hughes-Young, Michael||Peyton, John|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Iremonger, T. L.||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Cordle, John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Coulson, J. M.||Jackson, John||Pott, Percivall|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||James, David||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jennings, J. C.||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Cunningham, Knox||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Ramsden, James|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Dance, James||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Rees, Hugh|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kimball, Marcus||Renton, David|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kitson, Timothy||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Lambton, Viscount||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Doughty, Charles||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Leavey, J. A.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool,S.)|
|du Cann, Edward||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Roots, William|
|Duncan, Sir James||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Duthie, Sir William||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Russell, Ronald|
|Elliott, R. W.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Shepherd, William|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Litchfield, Capt. John||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Longbottom, Charles||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Longden, Gilbert||Smithers, Peter|
|Farr, John||Loveys, Walter H.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fell, Anthony||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Fisher, Nigel||MacArthur, Ian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Tapsell, Peter||Turner, Colin||Whitelaw, William|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Teeling, William||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Temple, John M.||Vane, W. M. F.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Woollam, John|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wall, Patrick||Worsley, Marcus|
|Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Watts, James||Mr. Gibson-Watt and|
|Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Webster, David||Mr. Chichester-Clark.|
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I beg to move, it page 1, line 16, at the end to insert:(3) Anything required or authorised to be, done by this section in relation to any locality in Scotland shall be done by the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State acting jointly.The Amendment, if carried, would add a new subsection to Clause 1. The new subsection lifts in their entirety the words appearing in Section 16 of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. When the 1945 Act was put on the Statute Book, the Secretary of State for Scotland was given a responsibility for the economic wellbeing of Scotland which he had not enjoyed hitherto. By leaving these words out of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman would appear to be contracting out of the responsibility he has had since 1945. It is strange that this should happen with the present incumbent of the office, indeed with the party at present sitting on the benches opposite, because the Tory Party in Scotland—whether they call themselves Unionists. Liberal-Unionists or Conservative-Unionists, no matter what they call themselves—have boasted for a good many years that they are the party which will give Scotsmen more control over Scottish affairs.
If the Secretary of State says that he will accept the Amendment, I will quickly resume my seat. If he is not able to say quickly that he will accept the Amendment, we must assume that the party opposite, having promised the electors that they would give Scotsmen more control over Scottish affairs, is now acquiescing in a plan by Her Majesty's present advisers to take from the Secretary of State the responsibility of deciding which parts of Scotland should receive the special treatment that is to be afforded to some parts of the country under the provisions of the Bill.
If the Secretary of State thinks that the wording of the Amendment, which is 302 lifted from the 1945 Act, is unsuitable and would give to him greater powers than the powers I am insisting he should have, namely, the powers of determining the areas to have special assistance, let him say that he accepts the principle of what we are urging upon him. We will then withdraw the Amendment to allow him to find a more appropriate form of words. We are not arguing about words. We are arguing about the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland in relation to the economic well-being of the country.
One of the things that flowed from the inclusion of the right hon. Gentleman in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, was that the Scottish Home Department was strengthened to enable the right hon. Gentleman to do his job. Another consequence was that the right hon. Gentleman started publishing White Papers entitled "Industry and Employment in Scotland". The first of these White Papers was published in 1947. The right hon. Gentleman will agree that the best debates from the point of view of Scotland in the House of Commons since the end of the war have been on these White Papers. If the right hon. Gentleman is not to be jointly responsible for determining the areas to be assisted tinder the Bill, is he also to stop publishing the White Papers?
I remember the publication of the first White Paper in 1947 covering the period from the end of the war. Nothing much happened in 1945 to be reported on in 1946. I checked up recently and this is what I found in paragraph 38, arising from the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility under the 1945 Act:Altogether, 510 new factory building projects (together with 213 minor schemes) in Scotland were approved between the end of the war and 28th February, 1947, with an employment potential of 68,700 persons. In addition, there is the 1,680.000 square feet of 'advance' factory space, which has not yet been allocated to industrialists.303 This was the evidence of the great drive being made by the Secretary of State for Scotland with the powers he was given under the 1945 Act. We are anxious that the right hon. Gentleman should have equal powers under the Bill, when enacted. We must not allow him to give up being Scotland's Minister in these matters. The need now is not less than it was in 1945.
It is true that by 1951, when we discussed the White Paper, hon. Members who then represented the Tory Party had no criticism to offer of the then Government. I well remember replying to the debate on the White Paper on that occasion. There was not a single criticism of the Labour Government's inability to deal with the situation, or their lack of drive in dealing with it. Nor was there any criticism that steps which might have been taken in some parts of the country were not taken. There was no such criticism in 1951, but every year since 1951 we have had criticisms coming from both sides of the House about the Secretary of State having fallen down on his responsibilities under the 1945 Act, culminating in what is now before us—a proposal that the Secretary of State will be withdrawn altogether from these statutory provisions.
I hope that the Secretary of State will not seek to emulate the President of the Board of Trade in the debate on the previous Amendment. The President of the Board of Trade had apparently accurately anticipated all that was to be said in three-and-a-half hours of debate, and had taken a decision in advance as to what his view was to be after about three-and-a-half hours of speech making had concluded.
I hope that the Secretary of State has not made up his mind about this Amendment, unless it is to accept it—and if he had given any indication of his acceptance I would willingly have cut short my speech. Even if he has it in mind not to accept the Amendment, I hope that he will listen to what is said, and if it is the case, as it was on an earlier Amendment, that the weight of argument is in favour of his accepting the Amendment, I hope that he will accept it.
Let him remember that in the General Election, Scotland voted for greater 304 efforts being made to bring employment to the areas where there is much unemployment. The Secretary of State may give us the actual number of people who voted for each party, and on his side he will claim all the different computations and permutations of different kinds of Liberals who are not Liberals at all.
Nevertheless, he cannot get away from the fact that of the 71 Scottish constituencies, 38 returned Labour Members. As one returned a Liberal Member, and one an Independent Member, that leaves 31 hon. Members who are loyal supporters, or who are reputed to be loyal supporters, of the Conservative Government. Let him remember these things as he listens to this debate. If he does, I think that he will be convinced that he should accept the Amendment.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
It might be helpful if I intervene rather unusually early, though I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment. I will, of course, consider carefully what I hear, but I think that the arguments I shall put forward are convincing. I hope that they will convince hon. Members opposite, because I understand their concern. I have thought over the matter very carefully, and have discussed it with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and others of my right hon. Friends, and I am personally persuaded that to accept what I understand to be the intention of the Amendment would not, for reasons I shall give, be of advantage to myself or to future Secretaries of State.
For the purposes of this discussion, I assume that the Amendment relates to the scheduling, otherwise, as drafted, it would cover practically everything in the Bill. I am advised that to accept it as drafted would involve the Secretary of State for Scotland in acquiring, jointly with the Board, any land in Scotland required under Clause 2, and being concerned in the erection of buildings. The Secretary of State would also have to be a joint lender when a loan was made under Clause 4. I could go through a detailed list of the things to which I assume it is not the intention of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) that the Amendment should apply. I assume that to be the intention, because that detailed type of action would be 305 extremely cumbersome and could not fail to cause unnecessary delays and complications, legal procedure and all sorts of other things.
I therefore assume, for the purpose of this discussion, that the hon. Member for Hamilton has in mind Section 16 (1) of the 1945 Act, which states:Anything required or authorised to be done by section seven of this Act in relation to any area or part of an area in Scotland shall be done by the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State acting jointly.Those powers refer straight back to Clause 7 of the present Bill, which covers nothing but the actual scheduling of the area. I ask hon. Members opposite to think with me about what the real effect of again taking these powers in this Bill would be. They are, in fact, restrictive powers, because when we read into an Act of Parliament that the Secretary of State, or whatever Minister it may be, shall act jointly with another Minister in respect of certain parts of the Act, there is an inherent implication that he is not so much concerned in the rest of the Act. That is exactly what I want to avoid, because it is quite clear that, whenever one works any system of collective responsibility, this practice of defining that one Minister shall act after consultation with another, or shall act jointly, is not really relevant, although there are certain cases where it is unavoidable.
Where there is a question of statutory action, as there was in the 1945 Act, there is a ease for it, but the Committee has decided that these localities will not be dealt with by statutory action of the House. Where there is no statutory action, I would say—and I do not hesitate to use the word "flexibility" again —that it is much better for any Secretary of State for Scotland in the years to come to be part of the collective system of government which discusses and decides what is to be done, than to be narrowed in his action in any way by being responsible only for part; and for it to be said that he is concerned only in that particular respect.
I shall not go into history, but the hon. Member for Hamilton described a situation that existed after the passing of the 1945 Act and which, so he claimed, produced certain results between 1945 and 1948. He must know from his own experience that it was nothing to do with 306 the precise wording of the Act that produced results and, of course, I assure him at once that I have every intention of continuing to publish a White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland. It is quite clear that I have responsibility, though not detailed Departmental responsibility, in relation to industry there, and to the general state of Scotland, and I would say without hesitation that I would continue to publish a White Paper—
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it was because of Section 16 of the 1945 Act that the Scottish Home Department was strengthened, thus enabling the Secretary of State to publish a White Paper? Was it not because of that that a White Paper was published? If that is so, what is the reason for not continuing it?
§ Mr. Maclay
I am not in a position to know precisely why. I did not inquire why that White Paper was started only in those years. I assure him, however, that since 1947–48 there have been great advances in organisation, inevitably, as the working of the Acts of 1945, 1950 and 1958 have made them necessary. The co-operation of the Scottish Office with the other interested Departments is very close indeed.
It is just as important in this kind of matter for the Secretary of State for Scotland to be in close touch with the Minister of Labour as it is for him to be in close touch with the President of the Board of Trade. It is just as important for him to be in touch with other Ministers involved, and if one specifies that only at one or two specific points in a Bill shall the Secretary of State act jointly, it tends to be restrictive. I am quite certain that anyone who has had to work under the conditions of a Measure containing those words will agree with me—
§ Mr. Jay
The right hon. Gentleman thereby lays it down as general doctrine that it is bad practice to specify that the President of the Board of Trade should act only after consultation with another Minister, but is he aware that in this Bill the wordswith the consent of the Treasuryoccur about half a dozen times? If he looks at Clauses 3, 4, 5 and 7 he will find that the President of the Board of 307 Trade cannot act except with the consent of the Treasury.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) should point that out, having himself been a Minister at the Treasury. However, I was intending to deal with that point in any case, because there is an exception that occurs in practically every Act of Parliament that I have ever had to do with, and that is the use of the phrasewith the consent of the Treasury".It is one that, for a variety of reasons, continues.
There may be conditions in which it is desirable to lay down that the Secretary of State for Scotland shall act in conjunction with or after consultation with another Minister. That may well be so when statutory action is envisaged. There was no such provision in the 1958 Act, and I can give figures to show whether the lack of that provision was detrimental to Scotland. I can assure the Committee that it was not—
§ Mr. Maclay
It is not nonsense. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his opinion, but mine is the result of many years of work, not only as Secretary of State for Scotland, and of experience of varied industrial problems in Scotland ever since I have been a Member of Parliament; and of experience of the working of the Distribution of Industry Acts under the Labour Government and since. While I accept that the hon. Gentleman is entitled to his opinion I do not think this to be nonsense. It is a very carefully considered opinion.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Fraser
Would the Secretary of State agree that when he himself answered Questions this afternoon and talked about the amount of money made available under D.A.T.A.C., he misrepresented that this had been done under the 1958 Act? Most of it was in fact done within the whole Development Area and not in areas under D.A.T.A.C. The biggest dollop of the lot was to British locomotives.
§ Mr. Maclay
I will give the hon. Gentleman the figures. There is no need for him to get heated about this.
§ Mr. Maclay
Of all the cases recommended for grant under the 1958 Act, I am advised that 40 per cent. by number have related to Scotland and that in itself is evidence of what I have been saying.
A very substantial part of this number has related to the Highlands. I will try to get the figure and give some information later on about it. I admit that in percentages of cash the figure is not so high, for the simple reason that a great many of the undertakings that D.A.T.A.C. was designed to help in the remoter areas were small ones. I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree, as any hon. Member will who knows the remoter parts of Scotland, that a small grant to a small firm can be as important to the whole locality as a large grant to a very big firm in another area.
§ Mr. Maclay
I have put forward my reasons why I think that it would be a great mistake to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Willis
Concerning the remoter areas and the importance of them, is not the person best able to judge that the Secretary of State himself?
§ Mr. Maclay
It depends on the particular procedure to which the hon. Gentleman is referring. I have been discussing whether it was right for the Secretary of State to be joined with the President of the Board of Trade on a relatively narrow point, which was the defining of localities.
I think that it is narrow in relation to the whole Bill, because the Amendment covers the whole range of the Bill and I do not think that anyone would argue that I should be a joint landowner with all the complications and legal difficulties that would arise.
I think that this is an important point. All I can assure the Committee is that I am quite certain that I myself and future Secretaries of State are in a strong position to see that the right thing is done for Scotland, in relation to the 309 whole of the country as well as to Scotland itself. I hope that hon. Members will accept what I believe to be a very powerful and cogent argument.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I do not intend to join issue with the Secretary of State on whether the Amendment is correctly drawn or whether if interpreted widely, it would mean difficulties of joint land ownership, whether he would become a joint lender in certain circumstances, or whether, if interpreted narrowly, it would be too restrictive. The important point about the Amendment is that in the view of most Scottish Members it will be absolutely vital that the Scottish Office should be very fully consulted, and not only consulted but that attention should be paid to what it says about the implementation of the Bill.
The first question is what areas are in fact to get help under the Bill. Secondly, I personally was rather alarmed by some of the remarks by the President of the Board of Trade in earlier debates in Committee when he gave us to understand that depopulation was wholly outside the Bill arid would not be taken into account at all. The fact is that if we leave any area of high unemployment long enough, it will eventually become depopulated because the population will go. If that is one's view about what should happen, there is no reason for helping Lancashire, because, if we leave it alone, eventually the people will leave if they have no work.
Another thing about the Highlands and Islands is that there is a very severe degree of under-employment. There are many people working on small crofts who are not earning a living by modern standards but who are not technically unemployed. They need other forms of activity to bring them up to a reasonable standard of living.
A further point in relation to that is that one of the great difficulties about bringing employment up there is the services. Services are dealt with in the Bill and power given to improve them. These services are directly a matter for the Secretary of State for Scotland. The question of roads, transport and so forth is his concern and not the concern of the Board of Trade. If the Bill is to work smoothly it is absolutely vital that 310 the Secretary of State and the President of the Board of Trade should work hand in hand on that subject.
Further, although, of course, the Board of Trade has offices in Scotland and, in the North, has a very efficient officer in Inverness, there are at present various organisations, which the Secretary of State well knows, which are extremely important to the Highlands and which report to him. There is the Crofters Commission, the Herring Industry Board, the White Fish Authority and so forth. The activities of these organisations will be of great importance in relation to the Bill, because many of the occupations which the Bill could encourage in the Highlands and Islands will be tied up with what these boards are trying to do. It is, therefore, extremely important that the Board of Trade and the Scottish Office should work hand in hand over this.
The few cases which I have tried to press with D.A.T.A.C. have involved that Committee in rather prolonged investigations in the very far north of Scotland and I have found it useful to consult with the Scottish Office on these matters. I think that the services of the Scottish Office are used in making certain investigations on behalf of D.A.T.A.C. That is obviously a good arrangement and one which should continue. I am not saying that D.A.T.A.C. has done enough. We have tried to work it and that has meant a joint operation between the Scottish Office and the Board of Trade.
I think that, apart from what the Secretary of State has already said, the Committee has a right to be assured that not only will the right hon. Gentleman be consulted about the Bill but that he will play a very active part in the implementation of the Bill in Scotland and that he will represent to the best of his ability—and if possible better than usual—the peculiar problems facing Scotland over unemployment.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
I am not in favour of the Amendment, because I think that it is unnecessary. I am one of those who think that the powers of the Board of Trade should be strengthened, because, of all the Departments of State, the Department which deals with overseas trade is one which is peculiarly suitable for extending its activities in Scotland. 311 I do not support the Amendment because I think that, in practice, the Secretary of State is in very close consultation with the Board of Trade. The remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) did less than justice to the fight which the Secretary of State has put up, against very great opposition—
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
The opposition came about in this way. For economic reasons, it was obviously more practical to establish a large part of the steel strip mill in the South.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The noble Lady is making a very great claim there. What she is saying is very interesting. Was the decision about the siting of the steel strip mill made, not on economic, but on political grounds?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I think that that is partly true, if I may reply to the right hon. Gentleman's question in that way.
On economic grounds, it was probably right that the steel strip mill should be wholly situated in the South, but, bearing in mind the unemployment in Scotland and, if one cares to call it that, the political situation—if right hon. and hon. Members opposite want to make politics out of everything—the Secretary of State was able to fight very hard, which is, after all, his duty, and win for Scotland a substantial part of that project.
§ Mr. Fraser
What we want the noble Lady to tell us is who it was the Secretary of State was fighting. Presumably, he had his discussions in the Cabinet. Was he fighting the other members of the Cabinet?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I imagine that a similar battle may be going on now about the ultimate decision to be made by Ford Motor Company, which wishes to rebuild and extend at Dagenham. From the industrialist's point of view, it is obviously often much better that he should be able to extend in the area where he is established already. There- 312 fore, there is very great pressure not only on the President of the Board of Trade, but also on the Cabinet as a whole in these matters. For instance, many firms might prefer, if they are interested in the Common Market, to establish themselves on the Continent rather than in this country, unless they can choose their sites.
I believe that the Secretary of State exerts great influence as matters are now, and I do not think that the Amendment, although it is understandable in its drafting, would achieve the object hon. Members have in mind. I should like to see the powers and activities of the Board of Trade extended in Scotland.
I inquired whether the closure of certain offices of the Board of Trade had, in fact, been detrimental to our prospects in Scotland. The President of the Board of Trade was good enough to go into the matter. I gather, from the evidence available, that since the closure of the Board of Trade office in Dundee there have been more demands and inquiries for industries to establish themselves there than there had been before.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Perthshire, North)
Is the noble Lady suggesting that, as a direct result of the closure of the office in Dundee, more work came to Dundee? If she is suggesting that, I would suggest that we should close all the offices of the Board of Trade in Scotland and get rid of the regional office, too.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
The hon. Lady probably did not listen to what I said. According to the statistics which are available, it is clear that the closure of the office has not resulted in any detriment.
The President of the Board of Trade should examine the whole structure of his Department as it affects the Inverness area. The Inverness office is situated at what is supposed to be a point equidistant from Wick and Dundee. I find, on inquiries from my constituents, that the district officer and his assistants visit Aberdeen, for example, about once 313 or twice a week, but only once during a whole month does an officer from that area visit the chamber of commerce. The chamber of commerce says that it has had very great help from the Board of Trade office in London. It does not mention Glasgow. The chamber of commerce says that it has had very great help from the office in London and, of course, it is in continuous touch.
In my view, there should be a much more positive approach. We should ask the various areas, whether they be cities, burghs or small districts, to make, each in its own place, a careful survey not only of new industries which are needed, but of the capabilities of existing industries if they were put into touch with fresh markets or they showed how they might be able to expand or adapt their present capacity. There would be a very great opportunity here. We really have no accurate and intimate survey of these matters.
It is true that the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) is making a wide survey over the whole of Scotland and a great deal of information is already available. But each area should go into its own intimate requirements, and this can be done only as a result of a positive approach on the part of the President of the Board of Trade. If this were done—obviously, it would have the backing of the Secretary of State—the purpose of the Amendment would be served. The first words of the Amendment refer to "anything required," not only anything authorised. I presume that that is a reference to information required, to statistics required. It is impossible for a body such as the Scottish Council to go fully into the requirements of a small area or even of a large area such as Aberdeen.
I ask, therefore, that the President of the Board of Trade should re-examine the whole structure and position of the Board of Trade in Scotland with particular reference to a closer survey conducted in the local areas. He would have the support of the Secretary of State in this. It is in the interests of every Secretary of State to try to solve these long-standing problems in Scotland. Since the Board of Trade covers overseas markets, it is important not to curtail its activi- 314 ties, but to extend them. I hope that, if the President of the Board of Trade replies to the debate on this Amendment, he will say whether he intends to re-examine and strengthen his authority north of the Border.
§ Mr. Willis
I found it rather difficult to follow the speech of the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir). I expect that, when she reads it, she will herself find it difficult to follow. If I understood her aright, she wanted more power for the Board of Trade. That did not seem to me to have very much to do with the Amendment, which, of course, is concerned with placing responsibility on the Secretary of State for specifying localities which would be eligible for aid under the Bill —a rather different point.
The noble Lady really does not require more powers for the Board of Trade. What she was really suggesting was that it was not doing its job. I suggest to her that, if she really wants more power to get things done in Scotland, she would be more likely to see that result achieved if responsibility were placed upon the Secretary of State rather than upon a United Kingdom Minister, for the very simple reason that it is very difficult to give a United Kingdom Minister powers and then to say to him that he must have greater powers in a particular area of the country. On the other hand, we, through the Secretary of State for Scotland, are frequently able to gain additional advantages for Scotland because we have a Minister responsible for Scotland who can be charged with the administration of those powers which are peculiar to Scotland. That, I think, is the reply to the noble Lady.
Once again, I thought that the Secretary of State was rather illogical. He began by suggesting that, if we put what we propose into the Bill, it would give him power in one respect but exclude him in other respects. He finished by saying that he did not want any power in respect of other provisions of the Bill because they were such as could be far better entrusted to somebody else. When the right hon. Member reads his speech tomorrow, he will, I think, find that that is what we said. 315 The issue is a very simple one. Who knows most about Scotland—the President of the Board of Trade or the Secretary of State for Scotland?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Since when has my hon. Friend acquired this unbounded confidence in the Secretary of State for Scotland?
§ Mr. Willis
I am talking of the Secretary of State in a non-personal sense and simply as an officer of State. It is obvious that by the character of his office he must, or at least should, know far more about the needs of Scotland or any particular area of Scotland than the President of the Board of Trade.
What is even more important is this. The President of the Board of Trade, responsible as he is for the United Kingdom as a whole, is apt to regard as unimportant the problems that we regard as important. I do not blame him for that. He thinks in terms of industries employing 10,000 to 50,000 people and of industrial conurbations double the population of some of the areas with which we are concerned. He is rarely concerned with the small places with which we are frequently concerned. In that context it is inevitable—this has always been the case with people considering the question of responsibility for England and Scotland—that to the President of the Board of Trade the problems of Scotland should be seen in a different light from that in which they are seen by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
If a small village in the constituency of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), such as Helmsdale, is dying, that is a small matter to the President of the Board of Trade compared with the rest of the country, although he says at the Box that he is concerned about it; but to the Secretary of State for Scotland it should be a much more important matter. Orkney and Shetland are important to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). They are not so important to the President of the Board of Trade, but they are far more important to the Secretary of State, so much so that he is prepared to go 316 against his anti-nationalisation principles, and is prepared to introduce a Bill to nationalise things for their benefit. I am confident that the President of the Board of Trade would never do that because it is a small matter to him. He would not be prepared to sink his principles for this relatively small matter. I cannot see any effective reply to our argument.
I should like to refer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. There are bodies in Scotland concerned with finding employment. The hon. Member mentioned the Crofters Commission, which, under Section 2 of the Crofters (Scotland) Act, has an obligation to make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Scotland, not to the Board of Trade. It has an obligation to make recommendations which concern a vast variety of things, including employment. Other bodies report to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I seriously suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he is the man who knows, or at least should know, far more about these matters than the President of the Board of Trade.
That seems to me to be the basic principle which we are trying to establish. We are anxious that the Secretary of State should continue his responsibility, and we do not think that he will continue it if he is left out of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said that the other Act was different. Under that Act, areas were scheduled.
§ Mr. Willis
That seemed to be a sufficient argument for him to be included in the Measure, but what is the position under this Bill? We do not schedule areas but specify localities.
§ Mr. Willis
That is the wording of Clause 1—any such locality as is specified".The only difference is that a Bill has been introduced to add something to the Schedule of the original Act, but in this case a locality is specified. We have had a very long argument about the way the matter should be carried out, but what is happennig in practice is that an area is picked out and it is said, "This area 317 should receive support."But that is done under both Measures. The original Act did that, but it did it in the form of scheduling areas.
That Measure was supplemented by the 1958 Act. What is being done by this Bill is exactly the same in practice. It is said, "This area or borough, or whatever it may be, should get support". What is the difference? Why does the Secretary of State now wish to be left out of this process? Why does he wish to contract out of it? Is he anxious to shed this responsibility?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
In view of the fact that the Secretary of State is rather bashful, may I suggest an explanation? He does not want to be associated because he thinks that any action he might take might increase unemployment.
§ Mr. Willis
Surely there is no argument for the right hon. Gentleman contracting out. I ask him to think of his high office and not lightly to shed power given to him in the past.
I thought that all Scots Members on both sides of the Committee wanted to add to the power, authority, and position of the Secretary of State and to make him increasingly responsible for Scotland, and not to cast away his existing powers. I ask him to look at the matter again, bearing in mind the arguments, to see whether he can accept the Amendment. If not, he should produce an Amendment on Report to put in the Bill what we think should be in it.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I do not share the views of hon. Members opposite on this Clause. I would remind them that the writ of the President of the Board of Trade runs throughout the United Kingdom. I know that an attempt was made by Mr. Tom Johnston during the war, or immediately after it, to have the functions of the Board of Trade transferred to the Scottish Office. The late Sir Andrew Duncan, who was then President of the Board of Trade, resisted that strongly, as he was fully entitled to do.
I should also like to remind the Committee that no duties are imposed upon the President of the Board of Trade by Clause 1. What possible point can there be in attaching another Minister who has no duties at all under the Bill, thus 318 making two men without duties? I think that that would be an absurd situation which should not be considered for a moment.
§ Sir D. Robertson
Let us look at the record and see in what way the cooperation which the Secretary of State said he has had with the Board of Trade in the years since he came to office has assisted Scotland. As hon. Members know, I have been acutely concerned with the Highlands. In this respect, my right hon. Friend has been of no assistance whatsoever. In fact, he has been an obstructionist.
When I brought in a Bill designed to relieve very serious unemployment—which I knew would happen and which, in fact, happened eighteen months later —entitled the North of Scotland Development Corporation Bill, the Minister who wound up the debate was a Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. To avoid the defeat of the Government on that Bill—they would have been defeated in a wholesale manner—the Minister who was to wind up did not wind up. He suddenly sat down. By arrangement with a backbench Member, who got up to speak in the remaining three minutes, the Bill was talked out. Was that helpful to Scotland and the Highland area?
The unemployment to which I am referring amounted to 20 per cent., the highest on the mainland of Scotland. I have heard hon. Members opposite talking about 6 or 7 per cent. In my constituency, it is now 14 per cent. and it will be 20 per cent. again in January, unless a miracle happens. So I do not want any more of the Secretary of State for Scotland, none at all.
§ Sir D. Robertson
But that is not all the record. Question No. 6 was asked in the House this afternoon by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) complaining about a shortage of bricks. There is no shortage of bricks in my constituency. We have an abundant supply of bricks, but they lie idle and unsold while the kilns are 319 closed down. The Secretary of State for Scotland, however, is bringing in builders who will use cement from the Thames and sand and rubble to build concrete structures—200 houses in Thurso—while our own native raw materials lie idle and unused.
Is that helpful to Scotland? The Secretary of State has brought up London builders into my area, where we have been well served for ages with competent native craftsmen who have carried on from father to son. They have built all the houses and schools for us. Now, however, because four schools are required in a hurry in Sutherland, after two years of utter neglect and wasting of time, a London firm is brought in.
The Secretary of State permitted his Assistant Secretary, who was responsible for the building of schools in Scotland, to come up to attend a meeting of Sutherland County Council on the day that a decision was reached as to who should get the contract. He addressed the county council, the elected representatives, whose duty it was to award the contract. As a result of the plea made by this official for the London firm, a dead heat ensued. The contract would have gone to the native contractors, but the county council was so influenced by being told that Gilbert-Ash, Limited, was the only firm capable of building these schools that the in-comer got the job.
Is that helping industry in Scotland? Is that finding more employment for the unemployed 14 or 20 per cent., bringing in firms who will never employ apprentices?
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. S. Storey)
Order. The hon. Member must relate his remarks more closely to the Amendment.
§ Sir D. Robertson
With respect, Mr. Storey, this is an appeal by the other side of the Committee to include the Secretary of State for Scotland. I do not want him included. Surely, I am fully entitled to give my argument. Could I give a more convincing argument in an area where such serious employment exists and where we have tradesmen and craftsmen like those employed by Alec Sutherland, Limited, and Hall's, of Aberdeen, magnificent firms who have been main contractors in their 320 own right, but who now are denigrated to become sub-contractors or discarded altogether? These firms employ apprentices. Wimpey's and Gilbert-Ash do not employ apprentices. They employ tea boys to take the tea round.
§ The Temporary Chairman
That has nothing to do with the Amendment. I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself to the substance of the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. Hamilton
Is it not relevant, Mr. Storey, to argue the cogent reasons why the Secretary of State should be kept clear? I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member that the less we see of the Secretary of State, the better. Surely, the hon. Member is entitled to state that view.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Member is entitled to argue that the Secretary of State should be included, but he is not entitled to embroider the argument in the way he has been embroidering it.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Further to that point of order, Mr. Storey. Will you bear in mind that the hon. Member has three-quarters converted me to his argument?
§ Sir D. Robertson
If I have done that, it is a great achievement
I will not labour the point further, Mr. Storey, in view of your continued resistance to what, I thought, were legitimate arguments as to why I thought we should not have the Secretary of State. At least, I hope I have convinced hon. Members opposite, particularly Scottish Members, that it would be to the advantage of Scotland to leave this matter in the hands of the President of the Board of Trade. I genuinely believe that some of the difficulties of Scotland have arisen through a conflict between the two offices. Instead of co-operation, conflict has resulted.
As long as the law remains that the writ of the President of the Board of Trade runs from Lands End to John 321 o'Groats, it would be far better to leave it like that and to put the full responsibility for trade and industry where it belongs, upon the President of the Board of Trade. If he has the will to do the job, it can be done. The previous occupant of the office did not have the will to do anything except that miraculous and wonderful achievement in Northern Ireland at the cost of the British taxpayer.
§ Mr. Ross
Yes, the hon. Member is. I remind him that he made an impassioned speech the other night about the needs of his constituency, depopulation, and all the rest of it. Who answered that debate? It was the new "White Knight", the President of the Board of Trade, who said that, as far as the hon. Member's area was concerned, there came a point at which the line had to be drawn and the Government could do nothing. Now, therefore, the hon. Member is landed with two of them, a President of the Board of Trade, against whom he voted the other night, together with me, and now he tells us the sad and all-too-true story of what has happened to Scotland and to his part of Scotland under the stewardship of the Secretary of State. I appreciate the hon. Member's dilemma and, to a certain extent, I share it.
The Amendment poses the question whether we should have the one or the other, or the pair of them. The other day, I asked a Question of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I asked him whence stemmed his statutory responsibility for the economic well-being of Scotland. The Answer I received was that apart from his responsibilities to agriculture under the Agriculture Act, 1947, and so on, his industrial responsibilities stemmed from the Town and Country Planning Acts, from the Distribution of Industry Acts, 1945 and 1950, and from the Housing and Town Development (Scotland) Act, 1957. The last of these relates purely to industry in relation to overspill.
322 To find what the Bill does, we must look at the list of repeals in the Third Schedule. We find that the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, is to be entirely wiped out. In wiping it out, we wipe out the statutory responsibilities contained therein of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The same thing applies to the Distribution of Industry Act, 1950. If we proceed hereafter to question the Secretary of State in relation to any of the items covered by the Acts which are to be repealed, he will tell us that the responsibility is no longer his but belongs to the President of the Board of Trade. Those are facts in relation to the law as we are accepting it tonight.
I am not as pessimistic as the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland. I think that some day we may get another Secretary of State for Scotland. We may even get the hon. Member himself.
§ Mr. Ross
My hope is that we have in the new President of the Board of Trade, who has recently had the enlightenment to go to Scotland to find out for himself the feeling up there, we may have someone who is prepared to prod the Secretary of State to do the job that Scotland expects him to do.
I have not the slightest doubt concern-the people of Scotland. They consider that what we are asking should be accepted as a responsibility by the Secretary of State for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that this relates to only a wee bit of the Bill and he asks why we do not do it for the rest.
I am beginning to wonder whether the right hon. Gentlemen read through their own Bill. If the Secretary of State reads the Bill he will find that he appears quite often in it. He is there in Part II. He is equally in Part I, in relation to local authorities, and I wish that he would read the Amendment, which refers to requirements and authorisations under Clause 1. And if he reads Clause 1, he will find that it relates to the next following six Clauses.
What are they that he should think that he should have nothing to do with them? There is the provision of premises and sites. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he, as Secretary of State, should have nothing to 323 do with that. The noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), who has gone away to think about the illogicality of her speech, talked about the local authorities doing certain things. Who is responsible for the local authorities carrying out their functions in Scotland? It is the Secretary of State. His planning responsibilities affect the local authorities and there is nothing more natural or desirable than that he should be concerned about them.
Why should the right hon. Gentleman leave this to the President of the Board of Trade alone? Talk of the man in Whitehall. The President of the Board of Trade is usually in Stockholm, or somewhere else, yet this is one of the matters in respect of which the Secretary of State can say, "I have enough to do. Let us leave it to the President of the Board of Trade". Good heavens! The President of the Board of Trade has little leisure to look after the North of Scotland. I wish I had the confidence of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland has even in the President of the Board of Trade, because my feeling about the Bill is the hon. Member's feeling—that it is a bit of Tory tinkering and window dressing to salve their electoral conscience.
Clause 3 of the Bill says that… the Board may with consent of the Treasury, and after consultation with an advisory committee appointed by the Board …",do certain things. Why cannot the Secretary of State participate in these? Here is a Board that will advise about sites and things which must be done to create employment. Why should the right hon. Gentleman not participate there? There is nothing wrong in that.
Then we come to the next item, under Clause 4, ofGeneral power to make loans or grants to undertakings.The right hon. Gentleman should have some say in that. I certainly hope that the fate of Scotland is not to be left entirely to an English-dominated Board of Trade. It will be very difficult to convince the people of Scotland, if we do not make progress under the Bill and the Secretary of State does not appear in it, that we have had fair treatment from the Board of Trade.
324 Clause 5 deals with derelict land and this is one of the responsibilities of the Secretary of State, even as Clause 5 (3) presently stands, for it says that the Secretary of State for Scotland… may … make grants, in such manner as appears to him …in relation to dealings with land by the local authority. Therefore, what we argue for is something absolutely desirable if the present responsibilities for which the Secretary of State answers and which the people of Scotland expect him to exercise are to be continued.
The only argument put forward by any Scottish Member against the Amendment, apart from that of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland, which we appreciate, is that of the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South. She spoke of the Secretary of State fighting to secure strip-steel mills for Scotland. She would have found it difficult to tell us who, among the Scottish Tory Members, are fighting alongside him. I do not remember the noble Lady's voice being heard in the fight. But the fact is that when the right hon. Gentleman was putting up that fight he had responsibility under the Distribution of Industry Act.
If this Bill is enacted, and the right hon. Gentleman continues the fight which we are told he is pursuing in relation to the motor car industry, he will have no statutory responsibility. I would have thought that as he had the support of every Labour Member and of the T.U.C. in Scotland and the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) the right hon. Gentleman would have been willing to accept continued responsibility for industry under the Distribution of Industry Act, which the Amendment gives him.
I assure the Secretary of State that we want him to succeed in that fight, but we do not want to be told, when he raises the matter in the Cabinet, that this is not his responsibility but that of the President of the Board of Trade. That may well be what will happen, and then we shall have to try to question the President of the Board of Trade. What a hope we have there.
We had some Questions to him on the Order Paper today, but we are in the unfortunate position that we are allowed 325 three Questions each for Oral Answer every six weeks. The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for education, local government, agriculture, fishing, electricity and a whole host of other things, for which English Members have about eight Ministers, to each of whom they can put three Questions. And when we Scottish Members come to Tuesday and want to question the Secretary of State on these things we are limited to three Questions, and then we discover that if we want also to put Questions to the President of the Board of Trade he comes to the Box to answer Questions after the Secretary of State. The result is that we get unsatisfactory answers from the Secretary of State and no answers at all from the President of the Board of Trade.
I hope that the Secretary of State will think about this matter again. This is not an ill-considered Amendment. This was conceived to retain present responsibilities for the economic well-being and progress of Scotland, and I hope that the Secretary of State will take it as such. It was well-meant from the point of view of himself and from the point of view of Scotland.
We appreciate the struggle which the right hon. Gentleman is experiencing in seeing that justice is done for Scotland in the sharing of present expansion. We think that the Amendment will help him in that respect.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I find myself in great difficulty about the Amendment, because I thought that there was much logic and point in the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). I fail entirely to understand this sudden affection for the Secretary of State for Scotland which seems to come from my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) and my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross).
§ Mr. Hughes
That only adds greatly to the confusion, because the only note of optimism struck by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock was that this was the office and that the personality might go. But what a hope. The only hope—
§ Mr. Hughes
That is precisely the dread that was inspired in my breast. I can see the possibility of the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for Scotland going to another place and the present Minister of Works succeeding as Secretary of State for Scotland. But I gathered from listening to the speeches of my hon. Friends in the last few months that they regarded the Secretary of State for Scotland as the most incompetent Minister that has occupied that office since the time of James Stuart.
Now, they want to draw him in. The hon. Gentleman opposite said he was not a pessimist, but what is the definition of a pessimist? A pessimist is a person who, offered the choice of two evils, takes both. So I am left in this dilemma. Certainly, there are very great arguments against the Secretary of State for Scotland being asked to "muck up" anything more in Scotland. Take the Highlands. This was a case of solving, or partially solving, the problem of unemployment in the Highlands, and scores of us in the last Parliament, when the Agriculture Bill was before the House, remember how the actions of the Government in regard to the M.A.P. was greeted with great resentment by the farmers in the North of Scotland, who said that if any free grants were to be withdrawn the crofts and the farms would be left derelict, because unemployment would ensue.
When the hon. Gentleman says that the Secretary of State for Scotland is again advancing on the problem of unemployment, I can well understand his apprehension. Indeed, I would say that if one Minister has contributed to the problem of increasing unemployment in Scotland at present it is the Secretary of State for Scotland. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), in one of his restrained supplementary questions at Question Time today, pointed out that the Secretary of State for Scotland was completely dilatory in the creation of new towns in Scotland. The new towns are closely connected with unemployment, because there are many building workers now unemployed in Scotland. Why are they unemployed? It is largely because 327 the Secretary of State for Scotland introduced legislation to decrease the rate of subsidy, and because of his failure to force upon the Government any measure to reduce the rate of interest.
So we are to have this incompetent Minister dragged in by this Amendment. I do not know exactly how I am to vote upon this matter. I am in a genuine dilemma. I look round and see before me the President of the Board of Trade. I feel that after his excursion into Glasgow last week I have completely lost all faith that he will be the "white hope". He seemed to put the blame for unemployment in Scotland on the Scottish industrialists. I do not know how he will solve the problem with the Secretary of State for Scotland, if they ever have to act jointly, because the argument of the Secretary of State for Scotland for his political existence is that he is the most energetic Minister, who is trying his best to drag the motor car industry from Dagenham into Scotland.
As far as I can see, there will be a tug-of-war between the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Scotland if this Amendment is carried. I cannot see any reason for believing that a tug-of-war between two Ministers will help to solve the problem of unemployment. Therefore, I am in this dilemma, and I hope that some other hon. Member for Scotland will help me before we divide the Committee.
§ Mr. Hoy
We have had some peculiar arguments from the other side of the Committee in the course of this short debate.
First of all, the Secretary of State for Scotland said that if the Amendment was carried, he would have to be consulted on everything, and that that would not be right. That was the first leg of his argument. Then he went on to say that if he was mentioned in one Clause only, everybody would take it for granted that he was not interested in the rest, and so he felt that he ought to be excluded altogether. It seems to me to be a most extraordinary argument, which was matched only by the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) who argued in the course of her contribution to the debate that Dundee has been better off since the Board of Trade closed its office there.
328 Apparently, as a result of that closure, Dundee became more prosperous. I think the logic of that conclusion is to take the President of the Board of Trade out of the Bill altogether and to put the Secretary of State for Scotland in. If there was any logic in the argument, that indeed was it.
I do not want to argue with the Secretary of State about whom he is fighting. It was said by the noble Lady that the Secretary of State had had to fight members of the Cabinet to get the strip mill for Scotland. Indeed, I do not think he did, because the only Minister he might have had to fight was not a Minister at that time. The only Minister who openly opposed the coming of a strip mill to Scotland was the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power when he was just a back bencher like most of us—the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George). He was not even in the ring at the time, and it would be interesting to know, if he was not there then, who the Secretary of State was fighting.
The Secretary of State has entrusted the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) with the task of surveying Scotland and Scottish requirements. He has reason to do this, because in Scotland today between 91,000 and 100,000 people are unemployed. Very nearly 5 per cent. of our male population is unemployed at present. As a result of all this, a Committee has been set up to inquire into the problems of Scotland and to find solutions, if it can, or at least to suggest solutions. When it was set up, it was not suggested that the Committee, having made an examination of this problem, should then report to the President of the Board of Trade. The Committee was set up so that it could present its report to the Secretary of State for Scotland, and he, under the powers given to him in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, could then use those powers to provide the answers to the questions that were placed before him.
Hon. Members opposite who represent Scottish divisions, went out of their way to go for my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who opened the first debate today, and to taunt him with his remark about the man in Whitehall knowing best. Certainly, they would be unable to repeat that 329 argument, in view of the decision which the Committee took on the last Amendment. Now, it is suggested that all these questions that have an effect on the trade of Scotland will not be the responsibility of the Secretary of State, but will be the complete and sole responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade.
That will put us in an intolerable position, because in the last few years of this tremendous unemployment problem in Scotland we have been able to put questions to the Secretary of State about all the industrial estates, the closure of factories, and so on. We have placed responsibility for those questions on the shoulders of the Secretary of State, but if this Amendment is not accepted, I can see that we may well be prevented from putting Questions about these problems on the Order Paper.
It ill becomes a party which said that it wanted greater devolution for Scotland to seek to get rid of this responsibility, which above all others is fundamental to Scotland, since unemployment is so heavy in our country. I should have thought that on every consideration my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) would have got over his dislike of the Scottish Office and the Secretary of State to see to it that the responsibility for Scotland was recognised at the Scottish Office. We are not seeking to personify the issue. We are seeking to give to the Scottish Office the right to have a say in the working and placing of Scottish industry. That is what the Amendment seeks to do. If the Secretary of State rejects it and if he is supported by hon. Members opposite, let Scotland know that it is the Scottish Tory Party which is getting rid of its responsibility for Scotland's problems by passing them on to the Board of Trade and leaving Scotland without a voice in the working of its economy.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am very glad to have this opportunity to speak on this subject, because my constituency has been freely mentioned in the argument. Like most of my hon. Friends, I came to the Committee fully convinced of the merits of the Amendment, but, like my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), I found that the Amendment ran into very heavy 330 opposition from the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). The hon. Member did something which we have had to think about —he knocked out my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire completely, a remarkable thing to have done. We shall see the hon. Member crossing the Floor at any moment now.
The hon. Member made the case that in trying to associate the Secretary of State for Scotland with the working of the Bill we were doing the worst possible thing for Scotland. My hon. Friends have suggested that in having the President of the Board of Trade associated with it we are doing something bad, too. It is said that only pessimists choose two alternatives, both of which are bad. Frankly, I am a pessimist about the Bill and, in any case, I will take both choices and support the Amendment. It seems elementary sense to have the Secretary of State associated with the Bill while not excluding the President of the Board of Trade, as the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) seemed to suggest. We want them acting jointly in this respect.
The hon. Lady suggested that Dundee benefited by the closing down of the local office of the Board of Trade. I cannot think from where she got that suggestion. She produced figures on the subject and I suppose they came from the fact that for a year or so prior to the closing down of that office the Government had ceased to send industries or to encourage industries to go to Dundee, under the totally mistaken impression that the problem was solved.
The problem of unemployment in Dundee then returned and the Government met that by closing down the office altogether. Far from benefiting, Dundee suffered very greatly and bitterly resented the closing of the office and the discharge of those very able civil servants who had done very fine work, under both Governments, for industry in Dundee.
We believe in having a United Kingdom Minister as well as a Scottish Minister associated with the working of the Bill. This is a United Kingdom problem in the sense that industry must come from the United Kingdom as a whole. The answer to the difficulty is to be found in the terms of the Amendment 331 —having both Ministers associated with the Bill.
In Scotland, unemployment is a very special problem and the sensible answer is to have both Ministers concerned with it. We are thinking not of particular personalities but of the offices concerned. If the problem is to be tackled at all under the Bill—and that becomes increasingly doubtful—in Scotland it must be tackled by these two powerful Ministers working together. That is what the Amendment seeks to provide.
The Secretary of State's argument was extraordinarily perfunctory. When he said that he had nothing to do with the Bill, that was almost to say that he had nothing to do with Scotland.
That is the overwhelming problem in Scotland. How can the Secretary of State for Scotland object to his name being written into the Bill at this point? It will assist him to assert leverage over Scotland in the working of the Bill. Can the Secretary of State explain more clearly than he has done before the reasons for his objection to the inclusion of his name, and therefore his function, into the Bill?
If the Bill is a serious attempt to bring industry to Scotland and to help both areas like the Highlands and the small industries in Dundee where greater assistance and bigger-scale industries are needed—and Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland where even greater assistance is required—why does the Secretary of State object to being included? Surely the Amendment could not do any harm. It would do a great deal of good.
§ Mr. Maclay
The speech of the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) seems to be symptomatic of the unwillingness to understand what I was saying—or perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was not present when I spoke earlier.
§ Mr. Maclay
I understood what the right hon. Gentleman was saying. There would be substance in his argument if Section 16 of the 1945 Act referred back to all the powers of the Board of Trade under that Act. In fact, it refers back to Section 7 and is confined there to an alteration of the Schedule of Development Areas.
332 I do not think that I need go over again the arguments that I tried to put as clearly as I could earlier, that the question of scheduling Development Areas is not the be-all and end-all of the 1945 Act. It was only one important part of it to decide what areas would be eligible for the benefits available under the Act.
As has been pointed out earlier today, and in our previous debates on this subject, the system of Development Areas as such disappears with the Bill and a different form of achieving what we believe to be a better objective is brought in. It does not involve the statutory procedure of an affirmative Resolution or a negative Resolution, or whatever the parliamentary term may be. The significance of being associated with the President of the Board of Trade no longer remains.
If it were a question of radically changing the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland in relation to industries in Scotland, I would listen to, and probably accept, a great deal of what hon. Gentlemen opposite said, but I repeat emphatically that this is a complete exaggeration of the position. I would look at the position again if there was an argument that because the Secretary of State ceased to have anything to do with the listing of unemployment localities he ceased to be answerable for many of the things that he is answerable for now. It is worth pointing out that the Secretary of State for Scotland, whoever he may be, is held answerable in Scotland—and somethimes answerable in the House by a rather wide interpretation of his precise statutory function—for many subjects which are basically the responsibility of another Minister. That system has developed over many years, but it has to be kept within reasonable bounds. I am certain that there is not the slightest intention of altering the range of questions that I answer as a result of the alteration of the procedure.
I emphasise that it is worth considering what advantages there are in having the Secretary of State for Scotland mentioned in this way. I can see conceivable disadvantages. It can never be said that the Secretary of State for Scotland has nothing to do with the Bill. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) implied that because the Secretary of 333 State for Scotland was not mentioned in the Bill I had nothing to do with what happened under the Bill. That shows a failure to understand the whole system of the working of the British system of Cabinet Government. I think that I would be out of order if I went into that this evening.
I do not believe that the insertion of my name, as suggested by the Amendment, would add to the ability of any Secretary of State for Scotland to do the job that must be done in Scotland in relation to the Bill. I suggest that it has some disadvantage. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I do not think that they should. There may be a disadvantage in being singled out for one particular function. I believe that the situation is better left as it is, under a system of collective Government responsibility, with the Secretary of State for Scotland continuing to work with the President of the Board of Trade and his other colleagues on these matters of vital importance.
I can assure the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) that the closest contact will be maintained with the Board of Trade and all the other bodies which deal with subjects of interest to him and me, and to the whole of Scotland. We have been evolving an organisation to deal with just those questions, and one of the merits of our Scottish structure is that we can focus certain matters upon the Secretary of State for Scotland and, through him, straight on to his colleagues in the Government. That system will go on developing, at any rate as long as I have anything to do with it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) mentioned a subject about which I know she feels very strongly, and which I have already mentioned to my right hon. Friend. She spoke about the structure of the Board of Trade in Scotland. That is something that we shall continue to examine. The prime responsibility is my right hon. Friend's, but I have views on it, and they will be expressed to him.
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) will realise that I do not accept the implications of many of his remarks. He referred to Northern Ireland on two or three occasions. I recognise that he 334 intended to make a comparison between the Highland counties of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but that was not always apparent in the wording he used in some of his interventions, including that which he made today. Therefore, to clear up any misunderstanding, I should point out that I am informed that 36,000 new jobs have been created in Northern Ireland between 1945 and 1958, as compared with between 80,000 and 90,000 jobs in the Scottish Development Area alone. One does not want to talk about a country which is having its own difficulties, but I must be allowed to show that the Scottish figure forms a higher proportion of the insured population than does the Irish figure. I understand that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland intended his remarks to apply to the Highland counties, but that fact was not apparent from the way in which he put the case.
§ Miss Herbison
The right hon. Gentleman has given the figures for Northern Ireland and Scotland from 1945 onwards. Surely he is aware that the special provisions for Northern Ireland are very recent, and that it would be much more helpful if he would give the comparative figures for Northern Ireland and Scotland since those provisions were introduced.
§ Mr. Maclay
I do not have the figures broken down by dates, but I will give the hon. Member that information if she will put down a Question.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is under a complete misapprehension. I sat through the whole of the Second Reading debate without being called—although my constituency was very gravely affected —and I also sat through every hour of the Committee stage last week and this week, and never at any time did I say anything to convey that my comparison with Northern Ireland was with Scotland. It was solely related to the seven counties of Northern Scotland. I referred to the developments in Northern Ireland because it is such an outstanding performance on the part of a Government who have failed so miserably in the Highlands of Scotland.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member will no doubt look at exactly what was said, but I think I was correct in assuming 335 that there might be some misunderstanding about his words.
I have mentioned most of the points which were raised. I repeat that if there were real substance in the points made by the hon. Members I would be the first to agree with the Amendment. If I thought that the Bill would weaken the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland in relation to matters which are so much the concern of Scotland I would be the first to agree to accept the Amendment, or something on the same lines. But I am convinced that there is no substance in the Amendment, and I have the positive feeling that, on balance, the Secretary of State for Scotland today and in the future will be in a better position without the words suggested being put into the Bill. Therefore, I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
That part of the Scottish Press which is sympathetic to the Government is constantly appealing to hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies who are on this side of the Committee to cease criticising the Secretary of State and to join with the right hon. Gentleman in working for the benefit of Scotland.
But what encouragement do we get? The Secretary of State and his predecessor have a dreadful record of "selling Scotland down the river." If one has facts to support that contention, one has no right to withhold them from the people of Scotland. In the housing and rent legislation, where there was a situation in Scotland totally different from the rest of Britain, one has evidence of this. Previously, we had Scottish legislation, but we had it replaced by Amendments to Scottish legislation in what was primarily an English Measure.
The same thing happened in respect of agricultural legislation last year. Now, in this Bill, the Secretary of State, with puny arguments in defence of what is being done, says he is taking himself out of the 1945 Act. He did say that, in effect, by what he is doing. He was in the 1945 Act, which is being repealed, and we are seeking to put him back into this legislation by this Amendment. But the right hon. Gentleman says that he wants to stay out.
336 The Bill is designed to determine the areas to get special assistance. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) would not determine areas in his constituency to be assisted. The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) and the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) would not know whether parts of their constituencies were to be included in the list to be drawn up by the President of the Board of Trade. If the President of the Board of Trade is to get any information about this subject, who will give it to him? Is it not the Secretary of State for Scotland?
The Scottish Council (Development and Industry) put certain submissions before the Secretary of State for Scotland in March of this year and it received a reply in June. Lord Polwarth, who is a political supporter of the Government, said that the Secretary of State had shown no appreciation of the fundamental problem. Then, just when the General Election was on, Lord Polwarth agreed with the Secretary of State that the Scottish Council should inquire into the economic ills of Scotland, upon which the Council had pronounced in March of this year and offered a solution. But by October, it was starting to examine the economic ills for which it had prescribed a remedy six months earlier.
At whose invitation did the Council undertake this job? Was it at the invitation of the President of the Board of Trade? Did he ask the Council to look into the economic ills of Scotland? Not at all. It was the Secretary of State for Scotland. What will the right hon. Gentleman do with the Report of the Council when he gets it? Will he hand it to the President of the Board of Trade? Is it not the Secretary of State who should be able to advise the President of the Board of Trade about which areas in Scotland should get the special assistance that is notionally available under the Bill?
§ Mr. Maclay
I have tried to make it clear throughout the last hour or so that it is the Secretary of State, of course, who will advise and who will be consulted in all these matters. It is no use trying to establish that that will not happen, because it will, and I have said so.
§ Mr. Fraser
We have reason to believe that it has not been happening in the 337 past. In any case, we are Members of Parliament, and if the Secretary of State tells us that this is to be the position, we say, "Why not put it in the Bill?"
After the Bill becomes an Act, the 1945 Act will go. If the Glasgow Corporation, or Hamilton Town Council, or Lanark County Council, or Ayr County Council ask for a deputation to be received by the Secretary of State because they want part of their areas to be listed for special consideration, the Secretary of State will be able to say, "I have no responsibility; you are knocking at the wrong door; go to the President of the Board of Trade". But if this Amendment be accepted those authorities will be knocking at the right door when they go to St. Andrew's House.
One has only to look at the Ministry of Labour returns. On 16th November, we had 91,444 unemployed in Scotland. There is no other Ministry of Labour region in Britain which comes anywhere near this total, or anywhere near our percentage of 4.3 per cent. for the country as a whole. There are many areas in Scotland where the percentage is very much higher than 4.3 per cent. Is it not right that Members of Parliament should say that in writing provisions into an Act of Parliament to enable Ministers to deal with these problems we should ensure that the Secretary of State should have to act with the Minister who will be primarily responsible for the Bill when it becomes an Act?
I can say without any fear of contradiction that it was Tom Johnston who started this; and there is not a leader writer on any of the Scottish newspapers who would at this moment say that Tom Johnston's advice was not good advice in 1945 and is not good advice in 1959. Only last week in our Scottish newspapers, Tom Johnston was appealing to the Secretary of State to take action and to Scottish hon. Members of all parties to give him support in the action that he should be taking.
These appeals are not directed to the President of the Board of Trade, but
§ to the Secretary of State for Scotland. One thinks of the loss of population from Scotland by migration. The net loss from Scotland by migration every year amounts to 25,000 people. It is not surprising that the President of the Board of Trade has not been concerned with this matter. He has not been concerned with the depopulation of the Highlands. The office of the Secretary of State is concerned about it. If we, as Members of Parliament, take the view that the Secretary of State should be responsible in this matter, we should write it into the Bill and not allow the responsibilities of the Scottish Office to the obscured by any dislike of, or lack of confidence in, the present incumbent of the office.
§ I ask the Secretary of State about the figures of unemployment. Apparently this is a laughing matter to the Secretary of State. He was annoyed when I showed some heat about it, but I think that I am justified in doing so. I would not be doing my job as a Member of Parliament if I were not concerned about there being almost 100,000 unemployed in Scotland. Only last month, when the United Kingdom figures for unemployed rose by 11,500, Scotland's share was almost 5,000. Are the figures of migration contributed to by the Secretary of State having responsibility under the 1945 Act? Is that why he wants to get out of responsibility, or is it because he and his hon. Friends have in recent years been failing to do their job?
§ We in Scotland have no right to ignore the fact that while, during the past eight years, almost 1 million jobs have been created in England, not a single job has been created in Scotland. These are the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland. He has no greater responsibilities than these, of which now, by Statute, he seeks to unshoulder himself. I hope that my hon. Friends will have no hesitation in going into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 182, Noes 238.341
|Division No. 14.]||AYES||[8.55 p.m|
|Ainsley, William||Bacon, Miss Alice||Benson, Sir George|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Blackburn, F.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Beaney, Alan||Blyton, William|
|Awbery, Stan||Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Boardman, H.|
|Boyden, James||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hunter, A. E.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Probert, Arthur|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Callaghan, James||Janner, Barnett||Rankin, John|
|Carmichael, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jeger, George||Rhodes, H.|
|Chapman, Donald||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Chetwynd, George||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Collick, Percy||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Corbet, Mrs, Freda||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Ross, William|
|Cronin, John||Kelley, Richard||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Kenyon, Clifford||Short, Edward|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Darling, George||Lawson, George||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Ledger, Ron||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, Julian|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Deer, George||Logan, David||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dempsey, James||Loughlin, Charles||Steele, Thomas|
|Diamond, John||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McCann, John||Stonehouse, John|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacColl, James||Stones, William|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McInnes, James||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Evans, Albert||McLeavey, Frank||Sylvester, George|
|Fernyhough, E.||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Symonds, Joseph|
|Finch, Harold||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Manuel, A. C.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mapp, Charles||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mendelson, J. J.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Ginsburg, David||Millan, Bruce||Wade, Donald|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Monslow, Walter||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moody, A. S.||Warbey, William|
|Grey, Charles||Morris, John||Watkins, Tudor|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mort, D. L.||Weitzman, David|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mulley, Frederick||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Neal, Harold||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Grimond, J.||Oliver, G. H.||Whitlock, William|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Oswald, Thomas||Willey, Frederick|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Owen, Will||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Padley, W. E.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Hannan, William||Paget, R. T.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Paton, John||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hilton, A. V.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Holman, Percy||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Houghton, Douglas||Peart, Frederick||Mr. Mahon and Mr. Howell.|
|Hoy, James H.||Pentland, Norman|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Brooman-White, R.||de Ferranti, Basll|
|Aitken, W. T.||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Allason, James||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Doughty, Charles|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Chichester-Clark,R.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Balniel, Lord||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||du Cann, Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Duncan, Sir James|
|Barter, John||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Duthie, Sir William|
|Batsford, Brian||Cleaver, Leonard||Elliott, R. W.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Cole, Norman||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Collard, Richard||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Cooke, Robert||Farr, John|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Cooper, A. E.||Fell, Anthony|
|Bidgood, John S.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Finlay,Graeme|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cordle, John||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bishop, F. P.||Coulson, J. M.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Bossom, Clive||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Freeth, Denzil|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Critchley, Julian||Gammans, Lady|
|Box, Donald||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gardner, Edward|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Cunningham, Knox||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Braine, Bernard||Currie, G. B. H.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Brewis, John||Dance, James||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Deedes, W. F.||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Roots, William|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gower, Raymond||Maddan, Martin||Russell, Ronald|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Maginnis, John E.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Green, Alan||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Shepherd, William|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gurden, Harold||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marlowe, Anthony||Smithers, Peter|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marshall, Douglas||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marten, Neil||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hay, John||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mawby, Ray||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hendry, A. Forbes||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mills, Stratton||Teeling, William|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Temple, John M.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Montgomery, Fergus||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hobson, John||Morgan, William||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Holland, Philip||Morrison, John||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hopkins, Alan||Nabarro, Gerald||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Noble, Michael||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Nugent, Richard||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Turner, Colin|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, Graham||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|James, David||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Jennings, J. C.||Partridge, E.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peel, John||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Johnson Smith, G.(Holb&S P'ncr's,S)||Perclval, Ian||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Peyton, John||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Wall, Patrick|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pilkington, Capt. Richard||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pitman, I. J.||Watts, James|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Pitt, Miss Edith||Webster, David|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pott, Percivall||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Powell, J. Enoch||Whitelaw, William|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Prior, J. M. L.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Ramsden, James||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Rawlinson, Peter||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Woollam, John|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rees, Hugh||Worsley, Marcus|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|McLaren, Martin||Renton, David|
|McLaughlln, Mrs. Patricia||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ridsdale, Julian||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Mr. Bryan.|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
§ Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, at the end to insert:and(c) to the prospects of providing employment for persons partially incapacitated by industrial Injury or disease.The purpose of the Amendment is specifically to include as one of the considerations in determining prospects of employment in any locality the position of the partially disabled. There are at present 54,000 unemployed disabled persons in this country out of a registered total of employed disabled persons of 716,000. Therefore, the rate of unemployment is 7.5 per cent. The Committee will further appreciate the position when I remind hon. Members that the National 342 Coal Board employs 60,000 partially disabled men. We know from our experience in the mining industry that day in, day out, men sustain accidents.
They are injured and disabled, but, in fairness to the Coal Board, it must be said that 65 per cent. are given rehabilitation treatment and are able to return to their pre-accident employment. Another 31 per cent. are fit only for light employment. They are not in a position to return to anything resembling their normal work. These figures increase year in and year out. Another 2 or 3 per cent. have to be trained for work outside the industry entirely.
The broad outline of the situation in the coal mining industry is that the 343 National Coal Board is doing a great deal to cope with its disabled employees, but, as we have been reminded quite recently, 200 collieries are to be closed in the next five years, and those closures will take place largely in areas where pits have been closing this year and last. They have been closing in Scotland, as well as in Lancashire, and now we are told that six pits are to close in County Durham. These closures are in areas where there are already considerable numbers of disabled workmen.
I want the Committee to picture the position of these men. For a long time we have been debating the position of the able-bodied unemployed. Taking the most optimistic view of the situation, it may be that the Coal Board will be able to absorb numbers of redundant workers by transferring them to other collieries—that is the intention of the Board—though it will probably mean that those able-bodied men will, in the main, be transferred to employment miles from where they live.
What is to happen to the partially disabled? The able-bodied men will go mainly to pits where there are a large number of disabled already employed, and I expect that after these closures the Board will not be able to continue employing, or to re-employ the partially-disabled men made redundant. We know that during the next twelve months eleven pits are to close in South Wales. Those collieries already employ a large number of disabled men. In Wales, at present—and what obtains in Wales obtains also in Scotland—there are 5,612 unemployed disabled persons and, of those, 564 require sheltered employment. Already the situation is serious enough, but what is to happen to these men after the proposed closures next year and the year after?
Who are these men? With what type of men are we dealing? First, there are those requiring sheltered employment; men who have lost an arm or a leg, or who have lost an eye and whose vision in the other eye is seriously impaired. There are men in the moderately-advanced stage of pneumoconiosis, who are able to do only the lightest work. That is the present position, and these men, suffering these disabilities, have no hope whatsoever of being re- 344 employed in the industry. There is no hope for them unless special measures are taken by the Government to cope with this position. In addition to the industrially disabled, there are the war pensioners.
We have these people, many of them young, disabled by natural causes, and it will be a grim future for them. They are not in a position to do anything like normal work in a colliery unless work is specially provided for them. Therefore, we are asking in the Amendment that special consideration should be given to these individuals.
When we are dealing with those who require sheltered employment, we have to realise that there are many who can do only a sitting-down job. The National Coal Board has provided them with some sort of a job for the time being. If they become unemployed because pits are closed, what hope will they have of getting anything like normal employment in the open labour market? Their chances are very thin indeed. I ask the President of the Board of Trade to give special attention to this problem.
Again, the position of the disabled is far worse than that of the able bodied. These men cannot continue getting unemployment benefit indefinitely. When a man is disabled his unemployment benefit depends upon his contributions record. He can now get unemployment benefit for a period of nineteen months, because the Government have abolished Section 62 of the National Insurance Act. Previously, under Section 62 a person unemployed, provided he was genuinely unemployed, continued to receive unemployment benefit indefinitely. The Government abolished Section 62, with the result that the maximum unemployment is now limited to nineteen months.
I want the Committee to picture the position of a disabled man who has worked in a colliery. He has been provided with fairly suitable work. When the pit is closed it is difficult for him to be transferred to another colliery. What will be his position? If he is disabled and unable to obtain employment for nineteen months or less according to his contributions record, he will be forced on to National Assistance.
I have given figures to the Committee, but behind those figures are human 345 tragedies. These were able-bodied men at one time who have given their lives to the industry—skilled miners or skilled engineers. Through no fault of their own, perhaps because of a fallen roof or a runaway tram, which can happen at any moment, their ambitions for the future have gone and they are reduced to what is described as the labouring class.
We are not talking about the able bodied who may have a chance of getting other work. We are talking about the disabled, and their chances of getting other work are thin. With an arm off or a leg off, gasping for breath with pneumoconiosis, what are their chances of getting employment? We have not had a Remploy factory constructed in this country for the past seven years. There are thirteen Remploy factories in Wales, yet in West Wales there are about three. These seriously disabled men look to the future with grave foreboding. With further closure of collieries where they have had sheltered work under the Coal Board their position becomes ever more serious.
It is bad enough to be unemployed when able bodied, but to be unemployed when one knows that one's labour power is limited and that one cannot do ordinary remunerative work, is far worse. It is a very grim future for these men. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to take particular note of what is said on these matters by many of us who represent mining constituencies. We are not at the moment concerned with the chances which may be open to the able-bodied. The National Coal Board has, in the past, absorbed very many disabled workers, but it cannot re-employ them all. In West Wales and mid-Wales—
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Finch
—there will be many villages left with only the old or disabled men. The right hon. Gentleman should turn his special attention to this task. Remploy factories or special factories should be established to deal with the problem. It is peculiar to the mining districts, and it is to the mining districts and valleys of South Wales and Scotland that I ask him to direct his attention, where the situation is, indeed, becoming extremely serious. It is, as I 346 say, all the more serious because these men will be without unemployment benefit at the end of nineteen months at the most, and they will have to go on National Assistance.
Men who have worked hard all their lives do not want to go on National Assistance. When they were young and able to work they had good wages. Now that they are disabled, they should not be forced to go on National Assistance. That they have not unemployment benefit is shocking. I have difficulty in speaking with restraint on this matter because I know these people. I know men who are coughing their lungs out as a result of silicosis or pneumoconiosis, men who have given their lives to the mining industry, winning the coal which the nation wanted at the time we wanted it. We must pay special attention to them, whether they be in Wales or Scotland. They deserve the best that the nation can give them.
What applies to the industrially disabled applies also to the war pensioners. In Wales there are war pensioners now who have not had a job for years. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to go most carefully into the whole matter.
When we commenced the Remploy undertaking, it was expected that 12,000 men would be employed in the Remploy factories in this country. Today, the figure reached is 6,000, just half the number we originally intended. As I said, we have not had a Remploy factory since 1952. What applies in my constituency applies perhaps, in even greater measure to other places in South Wales and in Scotland. The present Remploy factories are not employing their full quota.
There are seriously disabled men today for whom there is no hope. It is sometimes said that trade is not good and things are not going satisfactorily, yet we are supposed to have an expanding economy. The right hon. Gentleman should at once turn his attention to Remploy and see what he can do to give these men some sheltered work. This debate is really a very serious one. We are talking not of able-bodied men but of the disabled who can no longer do ordinary work. They will have no hope unless the Government are prepared to act quickly on behalf of this deserving section of the community.
§ Mr. G. Elfed Davies (Rhondda, East)
I support the Amendment because I realise how very great will be its effect upon many men living in my constituency and upon many others throughout the mining industry or wherever heavy industry is predominant.
For many years, the mining industry has suffered serious loss as a result of industrial accident and disease. In the past, useful employment has been provided for many disabled men within the industry itself on the lighter jobs which invariably arise in mining. However, as a result of the contraction of coal mining, the number of those for whom suitable employment of this type can be found within the industry itself must inevitably decline.
I should like to instance the situation in my constituency, which is already suffering from this problem, and it is becoming more intense. The Mardy Colliery, at the top end of the Rhondda Valley, is being reorganised under the plans of the National Coal Board. Under the reorganisation plan, it was intended that three collieries should be closed and the manpower from each of them should be absorbed in this colliery. The first, the Bwllfa Colliery, in the Aberdare Valley, has already been closed.
So that the transfer could be effected without undue hardship to the people concerned, a committee consisting of members of the National Union of Mineworkers and the Coal Board was set up to organise the transfer. The transfer was carried out very well in this case. Once that was done, that part of the reorganisation project was satisfied. The men from the Ferndale Colliery were finally absorbed in August this year, except for a small number who were kept on for dismantling purposes. The joint transfer committee found difficulty in fitting in the disabled and surface workmen. A small number of men were unable to find suitable employment and they became redundant.
The process of transferring men from the third colliery, Tylorstown, has been put into operation. In October this year, the first 75 men were transferred. This process will be speeded up in the coming months. There were 656 men employed at the Tylorstown Colliery on 30th September this year, 100 of whom were 348 surface workers. These are men who have suffered injury underground and now work on the surface because they can no longer do the work which is necessary underground. Many of them are suffering from pneumoconiosis. Of these 100 men, 85 per cent. are disabled and cannot go underground. With all the good will in the world—and there has been good will between the members of the Coal Board and the miners' representatives on the committee—there will not be places available at Mardy for the men from the Tylorstown Colliery. It is obvious that Mardy is now almost completely manned. The lighter work underground is being done by disabled men from the colliery already closed. What is to happen to the men who will not be able to find suitable employment at the new colliery? The men who will become redundant have to face the stark fear which they knew once before.
To this number must be added men already upon the disabled register within the locality of Rhondda. From the latest available figures, on the registers of the three employment exchanges in Rhondda—Ferndale, Tonypandy and Treorchy—there are at present 509 disabled persons. We are faced with the prospect of those 509 being increased by at least 100.
These are the figures which we know, but we do not know what will happen with regard to other collieries in Rhondda. It will, therefore, be appreciated why I am anxious that the Minister should accept the Amendment.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) that it is necessary that more Remploy factories should be introduced into the area. I am concerned that whilst the level of unemployment in a locality might not reach the percentage which will be deemed necessary for that locality to benefit under the Bill, there could be a high and persistent level of unemployment of a peculiar character similar to that which I have attempted to portray. The Amendment would give the President of the Board of Trade power to act where that situation might arise. I believe that it is essential that he should be given this power. These disabled men are entitled to ask that they also may be given the right to work and that they will not become the 349 forgotten army, as happened too often in the past.
I urge the President of the Board of Trade to accept the Amendment without qualification.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
I intervene at this stage because I may be able to assist the Committee. The purpose of the Amendment is to make provisionIn determining whether and in what manner to exercise their powers … the Board shall have regard … to the prospects of providing employment for persons partially incapacitated by industrial injury or disease.That is, without doubt, a responsibility of the Board of Trade. I very much agree with what hon. Members opposite have said.
I should, however, point out that a provision of this nature already exists in the Bill. The Amendment would not add in any way to either the powers or the duties of the Board of Trade. If one looks back to line 11, page 1, the powers contained in the Bill are to be used to provideemployment appropriate to the needs of the locality".That rather dry phrase means, clearly, that one must look not only at the number of people unemployed in any place, but at what those people are: for example, whether there are more women or more men unemployed.
If it is a problem of unemployment among women, one must try to provide the sort of work that women can do. If there are large numbers of school leavers in the area, one must think in terms of their problems. Without doubt —and this is very much in our minds—if there are a large number of disabled persons in the locality, we must seek to provide employment appropriate to their needs.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not want to make a speech later. Is he not overlooking the words which he has quoted—appropriate to the needs of the locality"—must be read subject to the definition in subsection (2):The localities referred to in the foregoing subsection are any locality …When one looks at the factors to be 350 taken into account in defining the localities to which the President of the Board of Trade must have regard when considering what is appropriate to the needs, those factors do not include the provision which my hon. Friends have proposed. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman desires to do that, he must extend the definition in subsection (2), otherwise we will have no power to deal with it.
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think that is so. Subsection (2) defines the locality in which we can exercise our powers. The question that then arises, both under the Amendment and under subsection (1), is how we use those powers in those localities. The Amendment states that in using those powers, we should have regard to the problem of disabled unemployed people. All I am saying is that we are already bound by the phraseappropriate to the needs of the localityin the exercise of our powers in any given locality. I assure the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who is an expert on these matters, that I have looked closely at the position. I think he will find that I am right in saying that the purpose of the Amendment is already covered by the phrase which we deliberately inserted in page 1, line 11.
I come to the other point which arises so often on these things when it is said, "All right. If that is so, why do you not accept the Amendment?" There is the good reason here, which often crops up in these things, that when one outlines a general principle covering a whole number of different categories, that is clear. They are all covered. But when one enumerates one example and one does not refer to the others there is always doubt in law as to whether the other categories are to be covered.
The phrase… appropriate to the needs of the locality …is meant to and would cover both this very important matter of the needs of the industrially disabled and also the needs of school leavers—and there was a good deal of reference the other day to the problem of school leavers in certain areas. If we were to insert the Amendment in the Bill at the place suggested we should not add in any way to the 351 powers and duties of the Board of Trade in respect of the industrially disabled. We should throw doubt on the position of school leavers, because we should be referring to the disabled and not to school leavers. By picking out one and not referring to the other we should throw doubt by all the rules of statute-making on whether both were included.
I am most concerned in getting this Bill through that we should get it right. This is a matter on which both sides of the Committee have exactly the same purpose, and I suggest that if the Amendment were passed it would not do what the Opposition want it to do, any more than is already being done in its existing provisions. In fact, it might prevent other things being done which the Opposition also wish to see done.
§ Mr. Finch
According to Clause 1 (2) the "localities" referred to in subsection (1) areany locality in Great Britain in which in the opinion of the Board of Trade … a high rate of unemployment exists …There may not be a high rate of unemployment in a locality but there may be a high rate of disabled men, and that is why we wish to have this matter specially referred to by means of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think that that would be the effect of the Amendment, because the Amendment is to subsection (3) which deals with the exercise of powers under the Bill which, under subsection (2) are exercisable only in areas of high and persistent levels of unemployment. I gather that the suggestion now being made is the quite different one that in determining these localities the Board of Trade should have regard not merely to the level of unemployment but to who are the unemployed. That, with respect, is a quite different point from that raised by the Amendment, and it would not be affected by the Amendment at all. The answer which I have given is based on the effect of the Amendment which has been put forward.
This is a new point, that in determining whether powers should be exercisable in the locality one should have regard to the large numbers of disabled persons in that area. I do not know off-hand 352 whether it will be right to confine that to one category and not to have a reference to school leavers and other matters. I will be quite frank with the Committee in saying that this is a new point. I should be perfectly happy to give it consideration, as I am always ready to give consideration to any new point, but we should be careful in picking out one category not to exclude another which we could wish to have included.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
It may well be that what the right hon. Gentleman is saying is correct—that in a sense the Amendment does not come in in precisely the place it should come; but I gather from what he has said that he is sympathetic towards the idea. I wonder whether he would give an assurance to the Committee that he will seek ways and means of introducing what is desired by my hon. Friends, if not in this part of the Bill then in some other appropriate place.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am in a difficulty here, because I have been asked my reactions to a point that does not really arise upon this Amendment. I say to the Committee quite frankly that this is something new which I should like to have the opportunity of considering. I cannot consider it with any commitment, because it is a new point, and it would be foolish of me to give a snap judgment.
On the Amendment as it stands, I am quite clear that it would not help, and might hinder. On the separate point, the placing of an obligation on the Board of Trade to give special treatment to the disabled under subsection (2), which is concerned with the determination of localities and not the exercise of powers. that is a matter I should like to think about. In doing so, I am sure that we will bear in mind the dangers of introducing one special class and thereby excluding other classes which might also require special treatment.
If the Committee press me on this Amendment as it stands I should have to say that I could not possibly accept it. In any case, I will look at the new point which has been raised and see whether I can help, but it must be entirely without commitment.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I do not want to close the debate, but the President of the Board of Trade has made a promise to consider some of the special problems with which we are deeply concerned. May I put one aspect of the problem to him as one of those who represent mining constituencies? We have had a great deal of experience of this problem and are very concerned about it.
The President of the Board of Trade, before he came to his present office, used to speak for the Minister of Power in the House, and we have taken part in many debates with him on the coal mining industry. As he will know, we are faced with a problem of contraction in the coal mining industry. We have argued that when it does take place it should be phased and planned. We have had experience of this before, and I myself spent eleven years before I came to this House as an officer of the National Union of Mineworkers and was for a time president of that union. Perhaps I may be allowed to draw on my own experience, because that was a period of contraction as well.
We were faced with two kinds of unemployment problem. There was the general problem of able-bodied men who were without work, and there was also the special problem of those rendered idle by the closure of pits, who had been disabled and were—to use the old-time phrase—only fit for light employment. It was a tremendous problem to find work for those who were able-bodied, and sometimes work was found for them in those days by their transference to other areas. I am not arguing that point now. We all know perfectly well what was left behind was a very big pool of people unable to get work because the pit in which they had been working had closed and they could not be transferred to other areas. Therefore, special provision had to be made for them.
This is now to be a very serious problem again. I speak here, like many of my hon. Friends as one who has had experience in coal mining. What we are going to see in the future is not only the closure of pits, but the concentration of the industry. To take the case of my own area, I can foresee now that in the not too distant future four or five small collieries employing several hundred men will close, and those men will be absorbed, so far as they are capable of 354 being absorbed, in one new pit employing about 2,500. My hon. Friends know what happens in such cases, and it is that one pit employing a total of 2,500 men will not be able to employ the proportion of disabled men which four or five of the old pits could do. We have seen that before, and it is inevitable, and this is, therefore, the problem which confronts us.
What we want to be sure of, first, is that the provisions of the Bill will enable the Government to act, and that, with those provisions there, the Government will act. Under the 1945 Act, when the Labour Government sought to deal with one special aspect of the problem, finding work for those disabled by pneumoconiosis, the late Sir Stafford Cripps was President of the Board of Trade. He set up a special committee and invited Mr. David Grenfell to become chairman. That committee, under his chairmanship, recommended that special provision should be made in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, for this kind of disabled worker.
Ten Grenfell factories were built in South Wales. They were built under the provisions of the 1945 Act to deal with what was regarded as a special kind of problem. We are concerned about a similar problem. We want to make sure that problems of this kind will be covered and that the Bill will not be limited. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the limitation of subsection (2), but we are concerned that disabled men left in localities without work because pits have been closed should be given due consideration. even though the level of unemployment itself does not constitute a special problem.
The Grenfell factories each employed 120 or 130 men. The concentration of the coal mining industry may result in similar numbers of men being left without work in certain areas which would not meet the criterion of the Bill in that there would be not a high and persistent level of unemployment, but a special kind of unemployment.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the position was covered by the phrase "appropriate to the locality", but I am not sure whether that is the kind of phrase which will cover the kind of case I have in mind and which was the kind of case which we had in mind when the Labour Government set up Grenfell 355 factories. This is a matter on which we feel very keenly indeed.
Remploy factories have been mentioned. Not one has been built in the last seven years. Let the Government consider the loss and the waste, the loss of productive capacity. The disabilities of these men vary. We are particularly concerned about men disabled by pneumoconiosis, who, in a sense, are a special kind of disabled worker. When I was Minister of National Insurance, and had some responsibility for industrial injuries legislation, I was especially concerned about those men. Experience has shown us that we have been pursuing the right course and that when these men have reached a certain stage of disability the correct thing to do is to take them out of the pits before the disease develops too far. We have learned a great deal from experience and from work done in hospitals.
However, this is a continuing problem and there may be areas of almost full employment where men of this type are constantly being required to leave the pit, in their own as well as in the interests of the industry. Such men may be left high and dry without any provision if the criterion in the Bill is interpreted strictly and legally, even though there may be 50 or 60 men disabled by pneumoconiosis and unable to work in the pit.
§ Mr. Bernard Taylor (Mansfield)
Why does my right hon. Friend refer only to pneumoconiosis? What about those suffering from emphysema and chronic bronchitis?
§ Mr. Fernyhough
Could not this matter be met by an administrative change? The disabled are already registered and their numbers are known. It would be easy to ascertain the total without jobs in any area, and where that percentage was high special action could be taken.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about limitation and qualification. One qualification is that a high rate of employment should exist or be imminent and likely to persist, whether 356 seasonally or generally. Is that limiting? The problem is a very special problem of unemployment and raises human issues.
The President of the Board of Trade has been good enough to say that he appreciates our arguments. The Amendment is a limiting Amendment. The Minister was not here earlier when we had a long discussion about areas that are to be defined and which we sought to bring within Parliamentary control. We want to make sure that we will be able to question the Minister in the House and not have to rely on Adjournment debates, which are not Parliamentary control.
We are very concerned that areas like those I have mentioned benefit under the Bill. That is why we are not satisfied with what the right hon. Gentleman said. We shall continue to discuss the Amendment and perhaps, later, the Minister may be able to tell us that in some way, within the Bill itself, there will be power to deal with the special problem to which I have been referring.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Suppose one concedes to the Minister that to make this a determining factor in defining the locality one has to amend subsection (2) instead of subsection (3). Even on that proposition is there not this further point, that the powers in subsection (1), as we know from the previous Amendment, are permissive and not mandatory? In other words, the Minister may decide, no doubt provisionally, whether or not, even when one has a locality, the powers shall be used in respect of that locality. Is that a question which is dealt with by subsection (3)?
Subsection (3) as it stands contains only two criteria. These are to be applied by the Minister in determining whether, having got the locality under subsection (2), the powers shall be used. The first point is the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided. The second point is the consequential effect on employment in such localities. If we were to add the Amendment that is proposed, would it not add to the powers of the President of the Board of Trade by enabling him to use those powers where those criteria apply?
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked what we meant by "level of unemployment" and whether that would rule out a small number. The wording in the Bill is not "level", it is "rate of unemployment". I think that is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman's point. We would not rule out a locality because it was small. By "rate" we mean the ratio of unemployment.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The point I was trying to make was that a high rate of unemployment could still leave a locality outside the criteria to be used. I was raising the point of the special problem of disabled people.
§ Mr. Maudling
I was coming to that. I should like to appeal to the Committee on this. The Amendment as put down on the Notice Paper refers to the use by the Board of Trade of its powers in certain localities. I have already explained to the Committee that the Amendment, which merely says that we shall have regard to the position of the industrially disabled adds nothing to what is in the Bill in the words:… appropriate to the needs of the locality.At the same time a very important point has been raised. I have already said that I would like to consider it. Thinking about it already it seems to me that when we talk about persistence, the fact that a large number of people are disabled in an area clearly indicates that unemployment is more likely to persist. I should like to follow up this line of thought and think about it. I cannot do more, however much we debate this point. We must get on with the Bill and I appeal to the Committee to allow me time to think over the points that have been raised to see whether I can meet them.
§ Mr. Jay
Surely the President of the Board of Trade is not right in saying that if the Amendment were accepted the Bill would not be strengthened. As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) pointed out, the words in subsection (1) are merely:the powers … shall be exercisable for the purpose of providing … employment appropriate to the needs of the locality.Subsection (2) says that in exercising its powers the Board shall have regard to 358 certain factors. Surely, therefore, if he accepted the Amendment the position would be not merely that these powers would be exercised if the Board wished, but that the Board would be under an obligation to have regard to this factor. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must agree that this would carry the situation further.
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman at all in that interpretation. Clearly we have to endeavour to provide employment appropriate to the needs of the locality, because the power, in so far as it is exercised—and we assume that it is to be exercised, otherwise we are talking about nothing—must be exercised to provide employment appropriate to the needs of the locality. We cannot determine—[Interruption.] I am endeavouring to assist the Committee.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is not so apparent. In any case, hon. Members are not succeeding. Subsection (1) says:The powers conferred … 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.When we decide to exercise the powers—and subsection (3) does not apply unless we do so decide, any more than subsection (1) does—we must determine what is the employment appropriate to the needs of the locality. Before we determine what is appropriate, we must see how many disabled people there are, how many school leavers, and how many women.
Therefore, in exercising our powers under subsection (1), we must have regard to this point. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he studies the Clause he will find that what I am saying is quite accurate.
§ Mr. Ifor Davies (Gower)
I appreciate the olive branch which the President of the Board of Trade has extended so far, and greatly welcome the sympathy which he has expressed with the spirit of the Amendment. I feel that we should not allow any legal quibble to prevent this discussion reaching an amicable conclusion. To use his own words, I feel 359 that we should have great regard to the human appeal contained in the wording of the Amendment. It is not asking too much for him to accept the wording in principle, but I would press him to accept the Amendment, worded as it is, because of some very important matters which have not yet been mentioned.
In moving the Amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) referred to certain figures. I believe he said that 54,000 disabled persons are now unemployed, and I would add that included in that figure are 4,300 seriously disabled who, in the words of the recent Ministry of Labour Gazette:have no likelihood of finding employment except under special conditions".The Amendment is an appeal on behalf of those people. That is why we must press the right hon. Gentleman to accept the wording in principle. I have listened for three days to the debate on the Bill and have heard many speeches in support of Amendments. With due respect to speakers supporting previous Amendments, I would say that this one is the most important that we have yet considered, because in the words of the President of the Board of Trade it deals with the human factor. We must realise that the people we are discussing are not among that category who have been described as never having had it so good. These people have never had it so bad.
It has been and will be freely admitted that the difficulties of finding employment for the disabled and those certified as fit for light work only are to be found mainly in the mining areas and areas where there is heavy industry. Therefore, I do not apologise for referring to my own constituency of Gower. I regret that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not in the Chamber. He made a remarkable attack this afternoon on hon. Members who even mentioned their constituencies. But we have been sent here to refer to our constituencies. I have no desire, however, to make a speech which is confined to constituency matters, because I regard this as a national matter, especially when there are over 54,000 unemployed disabled persons.
I know from personal experience, as a member of a disablement advisory com- 360 mittee, that there is nothing more heart-breaking than to sit as a member of a committee receiving, month after month and year after year, people with certificates marked "for light work only" who come full of hope and about whom one knows little can be done. I am pleased to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour is present. I wish to pay a tribute to the officers of the Ministry in the employment exchanges and the D.R.O.s who, in spite of extreme difficulties, work at the almost impossible task of trying to find employment for disabled persons.
Reference has been made to Remploy factories. There are only ninety factories in England, Scotland and Wales, and this is a matter which I consider requires urgent attention. Since the Remploy factories were opened in 1946, men and women have been helped to acquire new skills and have been given a chance to earn their own living and gain independence and self-respect. Remploy factories have to sell the products of these disabled persons at retail prices and, therefore, it is not possible to make a profit financially. This has led to criticisms of the Remploy factories but, while they give new life and hope to thousands of afflicted people each year, it can be said that in terms of human happiness they never make a loss.
As I said, I have no wish to make this a constituency matter but a national journal, the Guardian, commented last Wednesday about the village of Cwmllynfell in my constituency and that name will ring a bell with every Welsh Member of Parliament and probably a number of English Members as well. It is an area which has been stated, not by me, but by the national journal to which I refer, as having a long-term out-look of slow decline. Some of the people in that village who are able-bodied persons may find employment nearby, but those left will be the disabled people. Where will they find employment unless the President of the Board of Trade accepts this Amendment and ensures that employment is found by the provision of factories for persons who are incapacitated by illness and disease? I ask the right hon. Gentleman not only to promise but to say that he will accept the Amendment in principle and introduce the spirit of it into the Bill.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison
I wish to support those of my hon. Friends who are anxious to get the Government to accept the Amendment. The President of the Board of Trade said that he was willing to consider it, but he does not think the place where we ask for it to be inserted is the correct place in the Bill. I am not concerned where it is placed so long as it is put into the Bill.
I listened with interest to my hon. Friends. They have spoken about collieries which will be closing. I have had very sad experience of the closing of collieries over a number of years. Last year three closed in my area and almost 1,000 jobs were lost. If we take into account the few years before that, we find that the loss in that one industry in my area was about 2,500 jobs.
§ Miss Herbison
This problem of the seriously disabled is very much with us, and, with all respect to you, Sir Gordon, I want to show that I am in order.
§ Miss Herbison
That is what I intended to do. When these collieries have closed the National Coal Board in the main has been able to find work in other areas for the fit and well, but has not been able to find work for the disabled, not even the seriously disabled. The result is that in mining villages in my area and many other parts of Lanarkshire there are men who are described as longterm unemployed. They go on from month to month and year to year as unemployed. This is a most distressing and heart-breaking matter, not only for the men, but for their families.
I had two instances brought to me recently. One of my constituents, a miner, wrote to me and said that he was suffering from pneumoconiosis. His doctor said that he was suffering from pneumoconiosis and the specialist in the hospital said the same, but the Pneumoconiosis Board said that he was not. He obtained work outside the mining industry, but in an area like mine jobs disappear and he became unemployed. Because he is most anxious to work, 362 he make application to another firm. He was X-rayed and told by that firm that they were sorry they could not take him because he had dust in his lungs. That man was told by the Pneumoconiosis Board that he was not disabled. He is in an area where employment is difficult to find and when he finds a job, he is told that he is not fit to do the work.
Another man came to me in great distress. He was not a pneumoconiotic. He was disabled from industrial dermatitis. When that was supposed to be cured, he was advised that he must never go back to the work where he had contracted it. He tried everywhere to find work, but could not, and when he came to me it was to tell me that he had been informed that he would no longer be able to draw unemployment benefit. For those disabled men and many others who would be fit for light work there is not only the degradation of long periods of unemployment, but, under the action of this Government, there is the added degradation of the withdrawal of Section 62, and they have to go for help to the National Assistance Board.
Why I feel very strongly about this is that if those men from my area, disabled as they are, were living in the Midlands, in London or in the south-eastern region, they would be in a job. They would not be classed as unemployable, as they have been classed in our area.
It is because we feel so strongly about these people that we beg the President of the Board of Trade, if he does not think that this is the right place to insert the Amendment, to find the right place to insert it into the Bill. Unless it is inserted into the Bill there will be very little hope for these disabled men in the future.
§ Mr. T. Brown
In a few words I want to support the Amendment. Coming, as I do, from a colliery district, I cannot help but feel the importance of an Amendment of this character; but while we are claiming that the Amendment ought to be accepted—and rightly—and that provision should be made for partially incapacitated men, I have been asking myself to what extent we can find employment for them. That is the vital question which we must ask.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) enumerated the vast 363 army of the partially disabled. When the President of the Board of Trade intervened immediately after the Amendment had been moved, I thought that at last, after seven hours, we were to have a little humanitarianism. The right hon. Gentleman was very human. He said that he realised how important and human this matter was, and it is on those grounds that it will have to be approached. Whether it is done through this Amendment or through some other Amendment suggested by the President of the Board of Trade later, it will have to be approached from a human point of view.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), I have spent a lot of my time trying to find work, when things were normal, in the coalfields for partially incapacitated men. How often have I been deceived into thinking that my desires could be realised. In fact, there was insufficient light work to absorb these men.
I want to raise another point which is very important. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty told us about the numbers involved. If we examine the numbers in Lancashire we find that they are rapidly contracting, as I said in a previous speech; formerly 80,000, we are now 38,000. The contraction of the coal industry to the degree that it has contracted in the last few years will make it impossible for the National Coal Board to absorb the partially incapacitated men. The President of the Board of Trade will, therefore, have to apply his mind to finding other employment in industry for these men.
Apart from the physical difficulties which these men have experienced for many years, there is the age factor. An analysis of age groups has revealed to me that between 50 and 54 there is a certain number; between 55 and 59 the number is exactly the same; and between 60 and 69 the number is exactly the same. Not only does the physical disability brought about by injury and industrial disease affect these men, but their age is also a determining factor against them finding employment.
If the President of the Board of Trade cannot find it in his heart, upon the advice given him by his Department, to accept the Amendment, will he give a 364 categorical assurance that between now and the Report stage he will find room in the Bill for a provision which will help these men in the unfortunate state that they are in and in the unfortunate localities in which they live? The right hon. Gentleman is known to many of us. I have had experience of him on other Bills and he has always been very accommodating when it has suited his purpose. I hope that he will be accommodating tonight when it suits our purpose and give us an assurance that he will accept the Amendment in principle and try to find a place in the Bill for a provision which will bring some ray of hope to those who have been described through the ages, and are still described in the mining areas, as "the forgotten men of industry". I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the overall circumstances of these unfortunate men in the unfortunate districts in which they reside.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty, in the concluding part of his speech, referred to speed. He said that it was of urgent importance to come to the rescue of these men. Will the right hon. Gentleman put it before the Cabinet and ask them to restore Section 62, so that these men will have some hope if they do not get work?
§ Mr. Charles Grey (Durham)
I wish to say a few words in support of the Amendment. We all realise that, compared with the total number of unemployed, we are not dealing with large numbers. The total number is about 452,000. The disabled unemployed persons total 57,000. The figure I have given is 3,000 more than that given by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch). However, if he looks at the records he will find that I am correct.
The importance of the Amendment should not be lessened by any comparison between the number of disabled unemployed and the total unemployed. We are dealing now with a class of people which should receive special treatment. I firmly believe that a society which is conscious of its responsibility to the disabled and handicapped in life cannot rest content unless the best is done for this type of person.
I have a rather hesitant feeling about accepting what the right hon. Gentleman 365 said. I would much rather that he accepted the Amendment. That would make us much happier. If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept the Amendment it will be tantamount to ignoring the special needs of the disabled.
It has been said that these people constitute a special type of unemployed. That is right. They are not like ordinary individuals. One can say to a fit unemployed person, "If you go to a certain district you will get work." That has happened before and, while I do not advocate it as a principle, it will certainly happen in the future to a greater or lesser extent. One cannot say that to these disabled people because, by the very nature of their affliction, or disease, they must work where they live. It is not possible for them to travel long distances to work.
It is for that reason that in many of the employment exchange areas we have this solid, immoveable core of disabled unemployed persons, and it is understandable that that core nearly always exists in the areas of heavy industry. For instance, many coal miners have become victims of various diseases and other disabilities owing to the hazards in that industry. That is a common problem in County Durham. In October, 1958, the number of disabled unemployed workers there was 2,100, but by October of this year it had risen to 2,554. I have every reason to believe that, since then, the increase in the national unemployed figures has been reflected in the numbers of unemployed disabled workers. The President of the Board of Trade must pay attention to this hard, solid core of disabled unemployed in County Durham.
It has been rightly said that this problem involves only a relatively small number of people, but the class to which I now want to refer involves really an infinitely smaller number. I have in mind unemployment among residential school leavers. When we discussed school leavers last week, this special type of young person was never mentioned, but they are part of the problem, and their position should be brought before this Committee.
I do not know the numbers of unemployed handicapped children who have received training in schools. I only know that the Durham County Council is concerned about the position now 366 developing. There are about seven training schools in the county where these handicapped children are trained to do a job of work. It is now being found that, once trained, they cannot find a job.
I know that hon. Members will not laugh at the figures. They are very small. In August, 1959, there were twenty-three reports. These related to 6 employed, 14 unemployed, and 3 too young to be employed. The unemployment figure is only 14, but if all the local authorities in the country are as progressive in their treatment of these children as the Durham County Council, we shall have a sizable problem in the future, and it is a problem that should be looked at within the terms of the Amendment.
I hope that even though the numbers are very small, these children will not be totally ignored. We must not lose sight of the problem, because that would be to defeat the aim of us all, which is to give these unfortunate youngsters some sense of purpose in life.
It has been proved that if these handicapped children are properly trained, as most of them are, they can perform a useful function both for themselves and for the country. It must, however, be recognised that the job is not completed by merely training these young people. They must be helped to find a job. The function is twofold: first, to train them, and then to help them to get a job. Once that has been done, the dual function is completed. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will give his mind to these issues.
§ Mr. Iorwerth Thomas (Rhondda, West)
I should like to bring the Committee back to the point made by the Minister. On this agonising and special problem, I am rather inclined to believe that we are pushing at a door which, if not fully open, is open sufficiently for us to see that his mind is receptive, if not to the phrasing of the Amendment, to the spirit which lies behind it.
I think that the Minister is seized of the importance of the Amendment and its implications and that here lies a problem within a larger problem. Ever since I came into the House, ten years ago, the problem of disabled persons has been frequently debated and we are debating it again tonight. I am sure that the Minister will realise that if the 367 Bill stands unamended this special problem will be submerged in the larger problem which the Bill is attempting to solve.
Having regard to the conflict of opinion on the legal aspects of the Clauses debated by hon. and learned Members, I am wondering whether it would not be appropriate for the Minister, when he is rethinking this problem, to consider introducing either a Clause or a series of Clauses which would recognise this as a special problem requiring special treatment and that the plight of disabled persons should not depend upon the phrase, "Locality with a high rate of unemployment."
The Minister is, I believe, aware of the importance of the problem and, also, of the difficulties involved. Why, therefore does he not provide for a new effort specifically directed to this point? Although the Board of Trade has powers already to deal with the problem of the disabled, until now, all the agencies and machinery within the Department have failed to solve it.
There has been reference to the well-intentioned and ambitious scheme which we know as Remploy and the very efficient way in which the corporation manages the Remploy scheme. It has made a serious effort, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) has told us, whereas the target for Remploy was 12,000, the present attainment is only 6,000, just half. That agency has failed in its purpose. Therefore, there must be some new method sought by the President of the Board of Trade to deal with the matter.
The Board of Trade has certain powers in connection with what are known as the Grenfell factories. I think that it will be admitted by the Board of Trade itself that what we know as the Grenfell factory policy has been an absolute failure. Out of all the Grenfell factories in Wales—I think that there are 10 or 12 of them; I am nat quite sure—only two are operating under the 368 Grenfell terms. Thus, in addition to the failure of the Remploy scheme, there is also the failure of the Grenfell factories policy in Wales. Moreover, within two months from now, there will be only one Grenfell factory in Wales operating under the Grenfell terms.
If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of strengthening the powers of the Board of Trade to establish further Grenfell factories, I shall not be satisfied with that. The condition attached to the operation of a Grenfell factory is that the industrialist must employ disabled people to the extent of 50 per cent. of his personnel. Is it fair to transfer the obligations and responsibilities of the State to the shoulders of a good and wel-intentioned industrialist? We have had our experience in the Development Areas, and the same will apply in the black spots, the localities or areas of high unemployment, within the terms of the Bill, and we should know by now that it will be fatal to the whole pattern, stability and durability of the economic expansion hoped for under the Bill if we enforce the Grenfell policy.
The risk is very great, especially in our competitive world today, that an industrialist who has been offered a factory and has been forced to accept the Grenfell terms, requiring him to employ disabled persons to the extent of 50 per cent. of his staff, will, because of the handicaps and higher cost of production, endanger the employment of the other 50 per cent., the able-bodied men in the factory.
Therefore, in view of the ambiguity and lack of clarity in the Clause as at present drafted, the President of the Board of Trade, since he has rejected the Amendment, should seriously consider introducing new provisions into the Bill specifically designed to solve this problem as a special problem within the larger problem, not just allow it to be attached, as it were, to the main subject of high unemployment in the areas referred to.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)
I think we all appreciate the argument put forward by the President of the Board of Trade that he cannot in the Bill single out certain categories without the danger of excluding others, but really there is a very great difference about the class of people with whom we are concerned in this Amendment. The other categories were of the able bodied, whether they were school leavers or whether they were women workers, but here we are dealing with a category which has been recognised by successive Governments to present very considerable difficulties. After all, there is a condition laid down, that before Government contracts are granted, a certain number of disabled should be employed. Why is that? Everyone knows perfectly well that the reason for that is the difficulty—the very great difficulty indeed—of finding employment for the disabled.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the Amendment is covered in the Bill because of the words in subsection (1) which say that the purpose of the Bill is to provide:employment appropriate to the needs of the locality.I would ask him, who is to provide this employment? What chance have the disabled in areas where the rate of unemployment is already very high? They will have to withstand great competition indeed in these areas.
Just imagine what is to happen in these areas we are discussing. Two hundred pits are scheduled to close in five years, not only in the Midlands but in Scotland and in Wales where, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) pointed out, the rate of unemployment is already very high. What will happen? The National Coal Board says: "We shall be able to reabsorb some of these men." But there will still be able bodied miners who will not be reabsorbed in these pits. What hope have the disabled of securing employment in competition with the able-bodied miners in the areas where the rate of unemployment is very high? The difficulties of providing light employment in those areas are increasing. The opportunities of providing suitable light 370 work for injured and sick miners are becoming less because of the schemes of surface and underground reorganisation and mechanisation, and at the same time the wastage from accidents and illness remains constant. Therefore, this problem of providing suitable light work in outside industry for ex-miners is becoming greater and is likely to become greater as time goes on.
I would ask the President of the Board of Trade to give special consideration to this matter. It is a pressing matter in many mining areas. Hon. Members from mining constituencies have mentioned examples. Of course, it is well known that the incidence of silicosis in South Wales, particularly West South Wales, is tragically high. I will quote only one figure. In the Amman ford area in Carmarthenshire there are 249 unemployed, according to the figure issued the other day, and of those 81 are disabled. That is about 33 per cent. disabled in this fairly small mining area. Many of those men are only 45 or 50, still in the prime of life, with a long time to wait before they come to their pensionable age. What is to happen to them?
Is the President of the Board of Trade really suggesting that industrialists will go down to those areas and provide employment in light industries for them? Goodness me, we cannot even get industries to employ able-bodied miners who are unemployed. Therefore, we ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the matter most seriously. I hope it is true that in spirit he is with us, but that the flesh is weak. I should like to see the flesh being a little bit more willing, too. I should like to have an undertaking from him. I should like him to say not only that he will accept this Amendment in principle, but that on Report he will make provision to carry it out. Otherwise, the only alternative is for us to vote against the Minister.
§ The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (Abertillery)
The Committee will have noticed that a large percentage of the speakers in the debate have been from South Wales. That should be understandable, because we in South Wales have suffered almost peculiarly, certainly to an exceptionally high degree, from an industrial disease called pneumoconiosis. 371 Some years ago, the figure was as dramatic as this. Although the labour force of the mining industry employed in South Wales was one-seventh of the total labour force in mining, 80 per cent. of the people suffering from pneumoconiosis in the mines of Britain were to be found in South Wales. I know that the figure is not quite as high as that now, but that was the figure some years ago. This makes it obvious why we who represent the mining valleys of South Wales should be perturbed at the apparent unwillingness, at this stage at least, of the Minister to accept the Amendment.
I would like the President of the Board of Trade to exercise his imagination. I would like to take him to the mining valleys of South Wales. He knows that the mining industry inevitably is a contracting industry. He knows also that there is a high percentage of disabled workers, registered and otherwise. I would like him to remember that many disabled workers have not registered because they know that what few chances they now have of getting a job would be fewer if they were registered disabled workers.
Here we have a contracting basic industry. Scores of people, in all the valleys of South Wales, are handicapped because of an accident which they may have received in the mining industry or are handicapped by the crippling disease of pneumoconiosis. What is the future for them? As my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) told us in his moving speech, the likelihood of their being reabsorbed into mining will now diminish. The paucity of alternative industries in the mining valleys of South Wales is a disgrace to a civilised nation. Not one new factory has been set up in three or four of the mining areas in Monmouthshire and East Glamorganshire.
Obviously, the people who suffer from this dread disease of pneumoconiosis cannot be regarded as mobile labour. In the very nature of things, they cannot be expected to think in terms of migrating to the Midlands or to the London area. By and large, they belong to the older age groups and for obvious reasons they would be the very last to think in terms of moving to new areas.
372 There is no alternative industry in their own area. The Remploy factory has been stationary in its intake all the years I have been in the House of Commons. There has been no expansion at all. The figure seems to be divinely ordained to remain what it is, and one of the greatest and most imaginative things that has ever taken place in industrial development in Britain has been stultified. The picture is very foreboding and I cannot exaggerate or over-emphasise the urgency with which my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in South Wales, Scotland and England are now posing this question to the President of the Board of Trade.
It is desired by means of the Bill to do something positive about unemployment. We claim that one of the most important facets of this problem in Great Britain today is the unemployment of people who, through no fault of their own, have suffered from some industrial disease or have had the misfortune of some accident at work which has incapacitated them.
I think of the valley in which I live and in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) is my neighbour. We know these people intimately. We meet them and we know about their problems. We know how frustrated they feel as they look to the future and see what few prospects there are now becoming less and less.
I should like to quote the words of a great man. I only wish that he were alive and standing at the Dispatch Box now. That Box would be resounding through this place were he to use the words he used in December, 1943. I am referring to the late Ernest Bevin. He spoke in a debate on the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, as a result of which the Remploy factories were set up and a statutory obligation was placed on employers to employ 3 per cent. of disabled persons. There was a great breadth of vision in those days and a real warmth and a desire and a determination to do something for these people. This is how Ernest Bevin put it:This country will not be able for the next 50 years to afford an unemployed man or to allow a man to be kept away from industry because he is unfit or injured."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1943; Vol, 395. c. 1349.]373 I should like to think that my hon. Friends have spoken in that spirit, from the great example that was given to us by that great man.
§ Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)
First, I should like to apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) for the error I made earlier in addressing him by his Christian name.
I should like the Minister to accept the responsibility for the disabled which is placed upon him by the Amendment. I speak as one who has had over ten years' experience of the problems of the disabled, having been a member of a disablement advisory committee which has interviewed a large number of people in the effort to find them work. Many have been the heartbreaks when we have had to say to large numbers of men and women, "We are sorry that we have to turn you down on this occasion." In my own area, 11 per cent. of disabled men and women are out of work. We expect that one of the collieries will be closing soon, and that will mean that the number of unemployed disabled people in the Cumberland area will increase. This is a problem on which Scottish and Welsh Members have already spoken. We seem to be thinking mainly of men and women who have lost a leg, or an arm, or who are suffering from a lung disease, but there is another type of person who must have recognition—the blind.
I have not heard anyone speaking about the blind. I know from personal experience of the hardship and heartrending efforts and the soul-searing of a blind person who cannot find a job. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment so that direct help can be given to the blind.
I agree that Remploy has done a good job in its efforts to help the disabled, but, as I said in July, the Government themselves have been responsible for sending fewer orders to Remploy than should have been the case. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to send more work to Remploy so that more disabled men and women can be employed in Remploy factories. He should have the right to tell private industry that it must employ disabled people or set up special 374 factories to give them work. That is the Government's responsibility.
The Bill speaks of a high rate of unemployment, but I should like it to have a special reference to disabled persons, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give that his special consideration. He has a heavy responsibility. When considering the disabled the thought he should have in mind is:Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me".That is his responsibility.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I cannot help feeling that the President of the Board of Trade is unnecessarily making his own heavy weather of the Amendment. My hon. and right hon. Friends have made out an overwhelming case for saying that the people covered by the Amendment ought to afford the right hon. Gentleman one consideration to which he should have regard when considering whether he will exercise the powers which Clause 1 gives him.
In a sense, we have been beating at an open door, because quite early in the debate the right hon. Gentleman indicated that he was in full sympathy with the spirit and object of the Amendment. I am sure that he has been able to say. "Amen" to every one of the powerful, eloquent and moving speeches which have been made in the last hour and a half. His difficulty has been, as I have understood it, that he has somehow managed to convince himself that to accept the Amendment would not alter the Bill and would not add to his powers in any significant or appreciable way.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at the Clause and the Amendment again to see whether he is not misleading himself and putting himself in the position of resisting an Amendment which he wants to accept, which he can accept, and which would be valuable to him.
We are dealing with only one thing in subsection (3). Subsection (1) gives the President of the Board of Trade powers which he may or may not exercise, according to his discretion. We tried to persuade him to change that and to accept a mandatory duty wherever the qualifications of subsection (2) were established to his satisfaction. We still think that he might have done that. If 375 he had, the Amendment would not have been necessary.
For reasons that we need not go into again, the right hon. Gentleman felt that he could not do that. He felt that he had to exercise a discretion about when he would and when he would not exercise the powers given to him by subsection (1). We therefore have the situation that if everything required by subsection (2) has been satisfied and there is a locality in which the powers are exercisable, the Minister has a discretion, administratively, to say whether he will or will not apply the powers to that locality.
That discretion is not unfettered. What he shall have regard to in exercising that discretion is the subject matter of subsection (3) which we are now seeking to amend. If subsection (3) remains unamended, the Minister will have no power to take these matters into consideration when considering, in regard to a locality which is a locality under the Bill, whether to exercise his discretion there.
Subsection (3) is quite clear. It names two factors, and two factors only, to which he shall have regard.
§ Mr. Silverman
Of course not. I was about to say so. These are the only two factors to which he is directed to have attention. These are the only two factors which are mandatory. He shall have regard to (a) and he shall have regard to (b). It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman indicated by his intervention, that he may have regard to other factors as well. When he is dealing with the factors to which he may have regard—though he may not—he could no doubt take into consideration this factor too. But that is what the Committee does not want, and that is what—as we all understood from his speech—he does not want. What we want is that in exercising his discretion this factor shall be as mandatory upon him as the other two are.
Under subsection (3) he is bound to have regard to the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employ- 376 meat likely to be provided, and also to any consequential effect on employment in other such localities. Under that subsection, unamended, however, he is not bound to have regardto the prospects of providing employment for persons partially incapacitated by industrial injury or disease.We want him to have regard to that as well.
We cannot understand why he so obstinately refuses to accept an Amendment which would make mandatory upon him something which he has indicated he wants to have regard to. There can be no purpose in resisting the Amendment. It is quite mistaken to say, as he said in his first speech, that if the Amendment were accepted it would make no difference. It would make one clear difference. It would make mandatory upon him that which is not mandatory upon him at the moment, and that is what we want. I do not think that I can add anything to that. My view may be wholly mistaken, but I do not think it is. I have heard nothing to make me reconsider that view, which I formed very early in the debate, although I am ready to change it if there is anyone who can show that it is mistaken.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have been getting some very strange legal advice. This is not the first occasion on which we have had this kind of discussion in Committee. It seems to most of us perfectly clear that the thing that he wants to do is provided for by the Amendment; that if he accepts it he will have what he wants, and that there is no understandable reason why he should so obstinately refuse it.
§ Mr. Jay
We can now reach a decision on this matter. There are two separate issues before us. The first is whether, in deciding which areas to schedule, we should take account of the situation described by my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman points out that our Amendment would not have that effect, and he has undertaken to meet us on this at a later stage in the proceedings.
§ Mr. Jay
The right hon. Member did not make any promise, but he undertook to consider it. For that we are duly grateful and appreciative.
The second issue is whether, in exercising the powers in the localities chosen, it shall be mandatory on the President of the Board of Trade to take account of these difficulties. I cannot believe, without purporting to be a lawyer, that it can be the same thing to say that powers shall be exercisable and, on the other hand, that they shall be exercised. If they amount to the same thing, why did the right hon. Gentleman refuse to
§ accept an earlier Amendment in which we wished to make certain powers mandatory?
§ Because we still feel that there is some difficulty about this matter, I hope that my hon. Friends will press it to a Division. In the last resort we all want something to be done to help these people.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 135, Noes 209.379
|Division No. 15.]||AYES||[10.58 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hayman, F. H.||Peart, Frederick|
|Awbery, Stan||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pentland, Norman|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hilton, A. V.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Beaney, Alan||Houghton, Douglas||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunhartonshire, E.)||Howell, Charles A.||Probert, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Hoy, James H.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Blyton, William||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rankin, John|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Boyden, James||Hunter, A. E.||Rhodes, H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Janner, Barnett||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Callaghan, James||Jeger, George||Ross, William|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Collick, Percy||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Kelley, Richard||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lawson, George||Steele, Thomas|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stonehouse, John|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, David||Stones, William|
|Deer, George||Loughlin, Charles||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Dempsey, James||Mahon, Dr. J. Dickson||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Diamond, John||MoCann, John||Symonds, J. B.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||MacColl, James||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Evans, Albert||McInnes, James||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Finch, Harold||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Fitch, Alan||Mahon, Simon||Wade, Donald|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Forman, J. C.||Manuel, A. C.||Warbey, William|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mapp, Charles||Watkins, Tudor|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mendelson, J. J.||Weitzman, David|
|Ginsburg, David||Millan, Bruce||Whitlock, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Monslow, Walter||Willey, Frederick|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moody, A. S.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Grey, Charles||Morris, John||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mulley, Frederick||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oswald, Thomas||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Grimond, J.||Owen, Will||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil(Colne Valley)||Paget, R. T.|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hannan, William||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Mr. Short and Mr. Sydney Irving|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bidgood, John C.||Browne, Percy (Torrington)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bishop, F. P.||Bryan, Paul|
|Allason, James||Black, Sir Cyril||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bossom, Clive||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bourne-Arton, A.||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Box, Donald||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Barter, John||Boyle, Sir Edward||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Brewis, John||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Brooman-White, R.||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Cole, Norman||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Collard, Richard||Hughes-Young, Michael||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Cooke, Robert||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Cooper, A. E.||James, David||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees, Hugh|
|Cordle, John||Johnson Smith,G.(Holb.&S.P'ncr's,S)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Coulson, J. M.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Critchley, Julian||Kershaw, Anthony||Roots, William|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Kitson, Timothy||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Cunningham, Knox||Langford-Holt, J.||Sharples, Richard|
|Curran, Charles||Leavey, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lindsay, Martin||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Dance, James||Litchfield, Capt. John||Smith, Dudley(Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Longbottom, Charles||Smithers, Peter|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Longden, Gilbert||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Loveys, Walter H.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Drayson, G. B.||MacArthur, Ian||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|du Cann, Edward||McLaren, Martin||Tapsell, Peter|
|Duncan, Sir James||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Teeling, William|
|Duthie, Sir William||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Temple, John M.|
|Elliott, R. W.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Errington, Sir Eric||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Farr, John||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Fell, Anthony||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Maddan, Martin||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maginnis, John E.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colln|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W).|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Marlowe, Anthony||Turner, Colin|
|Freeth, Denzil||Marten, Neil||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Gammans, Lady||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Tweedsmulr, Lady|
|Gardner, Edward||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||vane W. M. F.|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Mawby, Ray||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Mills, Stratton||Wall, Patrick|
|Goodhart, Philip||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Ward, Rt. Hon. George(Worcester)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Montgomery, Fergus||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Gower, Raymond||Morgan, William||Watts, James|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Nabarro, Gerald||Webster, David|
|Green, Alan||Noble, Michael||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Gurden, Harold||Nugent, Richard||Whitelaw, William|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Page, Graham||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Wise, Alfred|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd)||Partridge, E.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Hiley, Joseph||Peel, John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Percival, Ian||Woollam, John|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hobson, John||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Holland, Philip||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Hopkins, Alan||Pitman, I. J.|
|Hornby, R. P.||Pott, Percivall||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hornshy-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Powell, J. Enoch||Mr. Legh and Mr. J. E.B. Hill.|
§ Mr. Maudling: I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 11 and 12.
It would also be convenient to discuss at the same time the Amendment in line 16, to leave out "and", and the Amendment in line 20, at the end to insert:
(c) any place so situated that workers living in the locality, or in any such county district, burgh or county as aforesaid, can conveniently work at that place".
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
That would be convenient.
§ Mr. Maudling
I can quickly explain the purpose of the Amendment. It is to 380 put right a flaw in the Bill as drafted. In subsection (4) we have provided that the powers of the Bill should extend not only to the locality as defined in subsection (2) but also to the travel-to-work area around the locality and any receiving area or overspill area connected with it. We have not provided, however, for the travel-to-work area around the overspill. There is one example in Stockton where this would take effect. We are seeking to make it clear that this applies not only to the travel-to-work area around the locality itself but also to the travel-to-work area around any overspill area included under paragraphs (b) and 381 (c) of subsection (4). I am confident that this purpose will meet with the approval of the Committee.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 16, leave out "and".
In line 20, at end insert
(c) any place so situated that workers living in the locality, or in any such county district, burgh or county as aforesaid, can conveniently work at that place".— [Mr. Maudling.]
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The next Amendment selected is that in page 2, line 25, leave out subsection (6).
§ Mr. Jay
We do not propose at this stage to move this Amendment, Sir William; not because we do not agree with it—indeed, we are much opposed to this subsection—but in the confident hope that we may discuss it on Report, and so not prolong these present proceedings. I will, therefore, refrain from moving the Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Ross
That is a very important Clause, and I have one or two questions to ask in relation to it. Seldom have we been able to say that any Clause has been discussed at such length and received such a battering, and such a lack of support from the benches opposite, and yet come out unscathed. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley), has anything to say, perhaps he would stand to say it—
§ Mr. Arthur Tiley (Bradford, West)
I have noticed that hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) makes most of his best contributions while seated.
§ Mr. Ross
I do not exactly know what that has to do with it. It is a great pity that the hon. Gentleman was not present during the discussion. He would then have found that the Scottish people are very much concerned as to how this Clause will deal with their position. We have nearly 100,000 unemployed in Scotland, and my constituents expect me to make speeches on Bills like this, and Clauses like this, especially when the Government proclaimed this as the major Measure to deal with the problem 382 and we then find that they do not, even in this major Clause, accept the duty of doing anything about it at all.
All we have in this Clause is the Government displaying power. They are prepared to create powers, and to accept the powers from Parliament but they do not accept any duty to do anything with those powers when they have got them. They are polishing their swords and their spears, and displaying them. Then, I suppose, they will put them on the shelf again.
First of all, I want from the President of the Board of Trade the answers to some questions in relation to lines 14 and 15:… in the opinion of the Board of Trade … a high rate of unemployment exists … and is likely to persist …What does that mean, and how will he judge? It is not for me to suggest what a high rate of unemployment shall be, because the Bill lays down that that will be a matter for the opinion of the Board of Trade. What will the right hon. Gentleman judge to be a high rate of unemployment? Is it to be a high rate in relation to the percentage of people unemployed, or is it to be related to the actual numbers of people unemployed?
Kilmarnock has at present a rate higher than that of the rest of the country, and about as high as that of the rest of Scotland. The number has gone up recently, and we now have 1,600 unemployed. That is in an area that was once considered the ideal in terms of diversification. Will he consider that to be a sufficiently high rate to allow Kilmarnock to be considered as a locality under the terms of the Clause?
If the President of the Board of Trade is rather frustrated by repetition of this kind of question he must appreciate that he has brought it on himself by failing to give what everyone in Scotland, and everyone in the areas of unemployment have expected; that the areas of unemployment would be so treated that they could expect continuing help. Kilmarnock is only one town, the unemployment there has persisted for over a year, but we do not know how long the right hon. Gentleman will judge unemployment must last before it strikes the Board of Trade that it is likely to persist. How will the Board of Trade 383 judge it, and when will it judge this question of persistence—after six months or after a year, or when? These things have a special bearing on the prospects of employment of the people in a particular area. If there is no indication that the President of the Board of Trade is prepared to do something, and do it quickly, people move away.
Quite recently, we had in my area an example of the kind of thing which happens. One of our large companies, Massey-Ferguson, announced that it intended to dismiss 120 people. When the time for the actual dismissals came, there were only 95 of them there to be dismissed. People had gone. Some of them, no doubt, are working now in London or the Midlands. This kind of thing happens, although we are presently in a Development Area, because this enlightened Government are accepting the advice of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) and not spending any money. Families must be uprooted, houses are left empty, and the places provided for in the school building programme are not taken up.
Can the Minister give any reasonable indication of how he proposed to administer this series of qualifications or specifications? Usually, when we read in a Bill that localities are to be "specified", we take that to mean that we shall have a list of localities. Now, we discover that "specified" means that the matter is to be covered by a formula which we ourselves cannot judge. We have no means of judging it. It depends entirely on the opinion of the President of the Board of Trade. I do not stress the word "imminent" because we dealt with that during our discussion of a previous Amendment, and a rather dusty answer we got.
Subsection (3) provides thatIn determining whether and in what manner to exercise their powers under this Part of this Act for the benefit of any such locality as aforesaid the Board shall have regard—(a) to the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided".When we discussed on a previous Amendment making an addition to the matters to which the President of the 384 Board of Trade ought to have regard, in a bright interjection the right hon. Gentleman said, "But this is not excluding everything else. Because a thing is not specifically mentioned, that does not mean that it will not be taken into account". I put the reverse question to him: why did he find it necessary to put in paragraph (a) at all? I should have thought it went without saying that this was one of the things which the Treasury and the Board of Trade, in spending money, would take into account, namely, exactly what they would get for the money.
But the Government have found it necessary specifically to put this into the Bill, and they state that this is the first thing to which the Board of Trade shall have regard. It smells a little of money-saving economy. The right hon. Gentleman should know as well as anyone, since he has been round the country, that there are parts where unemployment is relatively heavy but where it will cost far more to create a single job than it would in some other areas. If he lays it down that the first duty of the Board of Trade in spending money is to have regard to the amount of employment which will be created, there will be certain areas which are presently suffering which will continue to suffer for a long time because it would cost more to make employment available there than it would in some other more easily accessible parts.
What is the purpose of this provision? How is it to be administered? Having regard to the interjection of the President of the Board of Trade to which I referred, why is it here at all?
I come now to subsection (6). I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) found it necessary to leave this point to the Report stage. There is no guarantee of what will happen on Report. From the point of view of Scotland, I want to know why the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the period should be seven years. Is there some fatal fascination about the figure 7 which he feels? Is it that, when he went over the Bill, he had European free trade in mind, and he thought that this was one of the lucky things he had struck upon, so he had better put the figure 7 into this Bill as well? The way things are turning out it 385 is not so lucky. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should give us some indication why he thought that seven years was right.
We have come to the conclusion from listening to the speeches by the President of the Board of Trade and his understudy—and the Minister of State will recollect the speech he made in the Scottish employment debate, which was just about as good as the others, and just as patronising and unreal—that we have been hearing the same speeches for over seven years; for they all said that the Government would not rest until the situation in Scotland was as good as in the rest of the country.
§ Mr. Willis
My hon. Friend will have noticed that we now have seven Ministers in Scotland to do the job.
§ Mr. Ross
I will leave it to my hon. Friend to develop that point. The fact is that since 1951 we have had eight speeches all proclaiming the faith of the Government in new thinking; and in eight years what they have done is to double unemployment in Scotland. But along comes the President of the Board of Trade with this Bill and he gives us the indication that the Government are going to solve the black-spot problem in seven years.
As I said earlier, it looks as though they regard unemployment in Scotland as a seven-year itch. But why seven years? Are we to get this written into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill in the future? After its operation for thirty years we are still continuing the 30 milesan-hour speed limit through the Expiring Laws Continuance Act.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member is not. It is not in the Clause. He can ask only why it should be seven years, or why it should not.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member is not entitled to argue on the Question "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill" that it should be eight.
§ Mr. Ross
I am not. I am arguing about why it should be seven and I am entitled to do that. Everyone else is entitled to do so. Why is it seven years? Why is it not six? Why is it not five years or four or three or two or one? Why are the Government so satisfied in relation to this part of the Bill that we should be limited to seven years' use of it? It means that the Government are convinced either that they can cure the evil in seven years or that after seven years they will dismiss it as incurable and are prepared then to do nothing at all about it. The implication is that if the position is bad in seven years' time they will dismiss it. If after the passage of seven years we have got only the same rate of progress it will mean that Scotland, after another seven years of Toryism, instead of having 91,000 unemployed will have 180,000 unemployed, and that the Government are prepared then to let these powers go.
I do not think we have had any satisfactory explanation of this Clause so 387 far and no justification of what the Government are doing, and no satisfactory explanation of these definitions of criteria to specify an area the expenditure, or the extent. As to the actual specification of localities, I would ask the President of the Board of Trade how he proposes to do it and when he proposes to do it.
A very important point was brought up during discussion of the Amendments by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), that we are repealing the present legislation and wiping out the present Develpment Areas but till such time as the President of the Board of Trade decides there will be no new list of localities which would attract the benefits if benefits they be of this Bill. Therefore, I think it is important for us to know exactly what timetable the Government have in mind for the publication of the list of places which are to benefit. I shall be very grateful indeed if the President of the Board of Trade will address his mind to these few simple points.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
There are a number of assurances which I think the Committee is entitled to receive from the Government before we part with this Clause. This Clause lays down the number of localities which are to be selected for Government assistance, and by that act, of course, it isolates other localities which are not to receive Government assistance. The Committee, throughout the discussion of the Clause so far, has been principally concerned with what is likely to happen in the mining areas where pits are likely to close and unemployment will be created.
We have had an example already given to us today of a very large Board of Trade factory in one of these areas which has been completely empty all along. I wonder what the cause of that is, and whether there is an explanation that this factory is going to come into existence at the psychological moment when a pit is closed in order to absorb the unemployment which thereby arises.
Arising out of that example, can the Government say in a general way whether it is their policy to start opening factories, to start inducing organisers of private industry, directors of research organisations, and so on, with Govern-assistance to get ready to go into mining 388 areas when the pits are closed and to take up the slack of unemployment which thereby arises? If that is their intention there a difficult situation arises which may ensue if and when the reason for the closure of the pits is no longer apparent.
Since the war we have had one or two occasions, notably during the Suez crisis, when oil suddenly was cut off from this country and very great efforts were made to produce very large stocks of coal as quickly as possible. Those large stock are now lying on the surface in enormous quantities. They may disappear. The pits will be closed down.
In the next ten or fifteen years, there may be another oil crisis arising from an international situation and it may be necessary to reactivate the pits at short notice. What will happen then? Apparently, the Government will have arranged, through the aid of the taxpayer, to put down factories, light industries, and so on, almost on the surface where the mines are to absorb the local unemployment. If the new factories are operating on a large scale and turning out light industries and the miners have been retrained and all the rest of it, and if these factories are sited on top of the pits, what people will be brought in at a later stage to reactivate the mines? How will they be accommodated in the mining areas? All the accommodation, all the local authority housing and the miners' cottages, will by that time be occupied by those who are working in the light industries. That is one example of what is likely to arise under the Clause and I would be grateful if the Government would give attention to it and answer the problem involved.
Another question of the same sort that arises is leapfrogging from industry to industry as unfair competition produces a local depression. We have already had examples under the Distribution of Industry Acts of Government assistance being directed to a particular area under the old depressed area idea and subsequently under the Distribution of Industry Acts and indirectly unfair competition has been caused to arise to the detriment of established industries.
I have an example which I will quote without giving the name of the company 389 involved as I have not obtained permission to give it. It is, however, a prominent railway carriage and wagon building company in Yorkshire, who wrote to me on 10th November in these terms:In our industry (railway rolling stock manufacture) we had inflicted upon us in this country"—"this country" meaning England—a very grave and serious hardship—owing to the demand which was apparently made in Scotland to find employment—by the Government placing a factory at the disposal of a new company, to whom the Transport Commission gave exceptionally large orders for railway wagons and carriages. The effect of that action has simply been, whilst finding employment in the Glasgow area, to put hundreds of men in this country, both building and repairing wagons, out of a job. Recently, we had one case where, although this company quoted the lowest price for some carriage stock, the order was given to the subsidised factory in Scotland. The effect really has been 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am not obliged to give any names. The chairman signed the letter. I have not obtained the permission of the firm to quote the details and to explain exactly who it is. I am not called upon to lay it upon the Table as it is not an official document, and I end at that point. I merely say that this is one example from many which must have arisen in the past and will arise again.
The new technique of a much more subtle approach in defining localities on a small scale—my right hon. Friend said earlier today that they might be as small as townships—will not bring disillusionment and bewilderment arising from a large firm in Yorkshire as regards what happens in Scotland. That was what happened under the old Acts. What we will now get is disillusionment, bewilderment, jealousy, rage, resentment and annoyance arising between one small township and the area immediately surrounding it which might not have been included in the area by definition, and where the people all know each other and know their quality and know what is being produced in their localities.
I think that we will get into a situation where one town which has unemployment of 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. is getting a certain amount of Government 390 assistance at the taxpayers' expense and getting up to a stage of full employment, because that is the object of the Bill. We shall then have a situation where that town has full employment, against a background of industrialism which has never had support at all and which has always had full employment.
We shall get immense jealousy arising between localities in the same county, or even in the same urban district, because one firm has Government assistance and another across the border has no Government assistance. If we have cases of this kind arising out of old Acts, the cases arising out of the Bill when it is in operation will be much more formidable and will do much more social and political damage. That is another reason why I think that the Committee would be well justified in voting against the Clause, which is an essential part of a Bill that makes veritable economic nonsense.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
I do not want to abuse any privilege which the noble Lord may have or any confidence placed in him, but he alleges that a factory has been built in Scotland which has taken away several workers from a factory in Yorkshire. He is not required to give the name of the factory in Yorkshire, but for accuracy's sake he should give the name of the factory in Scotland.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The question of accuracy applies equally to the factory in Scotland as to the factory in Yorkshire.
§ Mr. Peart
I reinforce the plea made earlier. I want to speak specifically about the exercise of powers under Clause 1. Before we approve of the Clause, I should like to know how the powers will be administered in my own area. I am certain that hon. Members opposite will not mind my asking this at this later hour, although it was mentioned in earlier discussion of the Bill. [Interruption.] Certainly, I shall make a constituency speech. That is what I am sent here to do. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is sent here to represent Dorset, South, and although I disagree with him I must say that he 391 represents it very well. He must not complain if I speak of my area.
I represent the Workington constituency which lies in the Development Area of West Cumberland. We see from the Bill that the whole fabric of Development Areas is to be altered and surely the noble Lord is not complaining that I should be anxious about my constituents and their future under Clause 1 and about how these powers will be exercised. We have a right to come to the House of Commons and to advocate policies for our constituents. Surely the noble Lord will not complain if I do that.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I do. I do not want to sound pompous, but constitutionally the hon. Member is sent here to take part in the government of the country. He is not sent here as a delegate to obtain State "lolly" for his constituency.
§ Mr. Peart
I am sent here to argue about the Bill. I believe that it is a bad Bill and I said so on Second Reading. It may well be that on other matters affecting the Clause I shall have a point of view, but I assert that I have a right to represent the views of the area which I am elected to represent in Parliament.
§ Mr. Peart
I am sorry, Sir Gordon. I was a little provoked by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South. He made a fatuous comment and on reflection he will find that he was being a little pompous and pedantic. I was arguing that the powers conferred on the Minister by the Bill may harm a Development Area.
I believe that that is a fair comment Time and again in our discussions I have shown how the Bill will affect the West Cumberland Development Area. Even at this late hour, may I be given some details on how these powers will be administered in my area? The whole Development Area concept is to go and we are now to have a large management corporation, which I deplore and which I would have thought that the 392 noble Lord would have assisted me in condemning as a large bureaucratic organisation.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke indicated assent.
§ Mr. Peart
I am glad that the noble Lord agrees with me for once.
How will these powers affect my locality? Will West Cumberland be covered by Clause 1? How is the administration to be set up, since the Development Area unit is to go? Will West Cumberland be fragmented? That is all I ask.
I would have thought that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) and other hon. Members opposite who come from Development Areas would have had the courage to get up and to defend that concept. I hope that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South will join with me in my plea to find out what will happen in our areas in the North, the North-East and West Cumberland.
I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to give me an answer, even at this late stage. What will be the position of West Cumberland? How will it be administered? Will each town in my area have to compete with other towns? That is all we ask. It is right that we should ask that when we are dealing with a very important Bill which will destroy the whole concept of Development Areas. In principle this is a bad Bill, but before we give our approval to the Clause without dividing the Committee, we should be given answers to these questions. As in Scotland, in my area we have a high level of unemployment about which we are anxious. It is right that we should criticise in detail the policy and administration which affects a large section of the community in West Cumberland and in the Development Areas throughout the country.
§ Mr. Willis
I rise to try once again to get an answer to a question which I have asked during the discussion of the Amendments proposed to the Clause. During our debates, we have had it made plain to us that we are to get no information about what is to happen under the Clause, but the President of the Board of Trade has at least told us that 393 the Clause means that about one-third of the people who at present benefit under existing Development Area legislation will no longer benefit.
§ Mr. Maudling indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Willis
That is what we have been told. We have been told that there is to be a reduction in the number of people affected from 20 per cent. to 14 per cent.
§ Mr. Willis
I was being very modest. I never try to score points off the Government. I want to be fair to the Government and I have therefore put the figure at a modest one-third. Nevertheless, that is a very big reduction. Do not let us make any mistake about that. Before we pass the Clause, this being the last opportunity we shall have to discuss the subject, we should be told more about it.
I am glad that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has returned to the Chamber because the Secretary of State is no longer present.
Is this reduction to be spread evenly throughout the United Kingdom. Is there to be a reduction of one-third in the number of people affected in Scotland? The position in Scotland is that after eight years of Government by the party opposite the unemployment figure has been doubled. Having achieved that, the Government propose to give less assistance than they did before. That is the strangest kind of thinking that I have come across for some time and is contrary to what hon. Gentlemen opposite said during the General Election.
The people of Scotland are entitled to know what the Bill will do. It was in Glasgow that the Bill was first announced by the Prime Minister. The Bill was to be a great thing for Scotland. In fact, it was dug up especially for the benefit of Scotland to make the Prime Minister's tour rather more effective than it might otherwise have been. That is how the Bill came to be hatched, arid the right hon. Gentleman ought to 394 come clean about what the Bill is designed to do. What is he afraid of? Why is there all this secrecy? Is the right hon. Gentleman ashamed of what he is doing?
§ Mr. Willis
Judging by some of the activities that the right hon. Gentleman has been indulging in recently I doubt whether he does.
Is the decrease to be spread evenly over the country? If the decrease is to apply only to Scotland, the result will be to create a wave of opposition to, and resentment against, the Government. We ought to be told. Why can not we be told? I am not asking the President of the Board of Trade to tell us all the places that will be affected. The Government are wrong in concealing this information. In fact, they are doing something worse than that. They are being grossly dishonest with the British people. They talk a lot of clap-trap about how they propose to deal with the problem of unemployment, but it is evident that they do not trust the people.
We have heard a lot of clap-trap from right hon. and hon. Members opposite. I am not asking for a detailed list of the places in Scotland that will be affected, but we are entitled to know the extent to which Scotland will be affected. We are also entitled to know to what extent England and Wales will be affected. That is not much to ask. Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether he accepts the proposal put forward by the Government? Are the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Office parties to the Government's proposal that, instead of getting more assistance, Scotland is to get less after its unemployment figure has been doubled? If Scotland is to get less assistance, how much less? That is a fair question, and one to which we are entitled to receive an answer.
That brings me to my second point on subsection (3) (a), which says:to the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided;What does that mean? In a number of districts in Scotland it is necessary to spend more money per head to provide jobs than it is in the South. There are 395 areas in the Highlands and elsewhere where the cost per head per job is a great deal more than it is in other areas, for reasons that we all understand.
What do the Government mean bythe relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided"?I take it that the Treasury will decide this matter. Incidentally, I do not see anybody from the Treasury here tonight. Is this matter to be decided on a kind of flat-rate basis? Are the Government prepared to accept the proposition that to build a factory at Wick—where there is considerable unemployment—or elsewhere in the Highlands, will require far more money than will be required to build a factory in the South? Or does the subsection mean that there is to be a uniform consideration of the matter, based upon some sort of formula which happens to be in the mind of those at the Treasury?
I do not want to delay the proceedings on the Bill. I do not like sitting up late at night any more than anybody else, but up to now the Government have been so dodgy, cagey and secretive about the whole business that the only thing we can do is to persist in our endeavour to elicit information which is of the utmost importance to a large number of people.
§ Miss Herbison
I had hoped to make a much longer speech than I shall now do, because of the lateness of the hour. I was most interested in the points made by the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). He was very worried in case Government money was used in order to provide light industry in mining areas, where pits were closing. He has shown very clearly and honestly that he is completely opposed to all the provisions of the Bill, and it may be that some of us would rather have his honesty of expression than the arguments put forward in the country by some of his hon. Friends during the last eight years.
But the noble Lord does not know much about mining if he thinks that if we have another Suez in nine or ten years' time we can wave a magic wand and reactivate—to use his own word—pits that have been closed all that time. After such a period a pit would be in no 396 fit condition to be reactivated in an emergency.
The right hon. Gentleman has not yet made clear what the provisions of the Bill will do for the areas now known as Development Areas, or for Scotland. I wonder whether, in framing this Clause, he paid any attention to a very fine document produced by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) called "Employment in Scotland", which puts in very clear terms the question that we have been putting for many years and upon which the Scottish trade unions have been continuously pressing the Government. It says:To raise the number of new manufacturing jobs in Scotland from 4,100 annually to about 12,000—the rate shown above as required to match growth in the United Kingdom as a whole—calls for forceful and maintained official policy.This document criticises throughout its length the lack of forceful and maintained policy by the Government.
I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman what magic there is in the Clause which will produce the results that the Prime Minister speaking in Scotland during the election campaign, told us would be produced. I want to know what magic there is in this Bill which will give us the 12,000 manufacturing jobs which are so desperately needed in Scotland. I have examined the Bill very carefully and I have sat through almost the whole of the Committee stage discussions. After some of the statements made by the President of the Board of Trade I have very grave doubts about whether this Clause will deal with the serious problems which face us in Scotland as well as in other parts of the country.
The President of the Board of Trade said something which seemed to me to show a lack of understanding of why people leave certain areas. I want to know whether the Clause will prevent a great number of people leaving Scotland every year. The right hon. Gentleman said:To extend that—he was referring to help—to an area where people are not seeking jobs but where the problem is that people prefer jobs in another area would be to extend the purposes of the Bill…".— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1959, Vol.614. c.1300.]397 Unless the right hon. Gentleman understands that people do not leave my constituency, for example, to go to the east of Scotland or to Ayrshire or to England because they want to, but because they are forced to through lack of employment, he cannot begin to tackle the problems with which we are faced. I should be relieved if the right hon. Gentleman would tell me what powers the Government are taking through this Clause to deal with those problems.
I am glad that the President of the Board of Trade visited Lanarkshire last week. I am glad that the industrialists who met him indicated to him the great opportunities which exist in Scotland, and spoke so highly of our workmen and dealt with the problems with which I know the right hon. Gentleman will be faced if he desires to do his job properly. After that visit the right hon. Gentleman must realise those problems. My fear is that there is no desire on the part of the Government to do something. I ask the President to show us that not only are there the powers in the Bill but that the Government desire to exercise them.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
There are two aspects of this Clause which I think should be clarified by the President of the Board of Trade. Subsection (3, b) could be very misleading. In subsection (3, a) we talk about…the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided…and in subsection (3, b) reference is madeto any consequential effect on employment in other such localities.Some workers have been travelling to their employment all their lives. If work is found in the areas mentioned in the Bill, does it mean that it is less likely that employment will be found for these men nearer their homes, despite the fact that they have been travelling all their lives?
There are countless thousands, especially in the county areas but also in the built-up areas, who add hours to their daily work because they have to travel to their employment. If, under paragraph (b), the labour position is to be affected in the areas to which they must travel, and if this will militate against the provision of employment for them at home, then it is not a desirable 398 feature of the Bill. Would the President of the Board of Trade clarify that for me?
I want to return to the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) on subsection (6). Reference has been made to the fact that the Outer Seven may have had an influence on the choice of seven years in the Bill, and to the fact that it may have been influenced by the inner seven in the Scottish Office. I wonder whether the President of the Board of Trade, during his visit to Scotland, heard the story of Bruce and the spider and whether that had any bearing on the choice of seven years. The Bill states clearly that the powers will expire after seven years.
I am anxious to discover what influenced the President of the Board of Trade to choose seven years. What formula did he adopt? What method of computation? There is one leading question which I want him to answer. Did he pay regard to the length of time we have had unemployment in Scotland? We have had it for nearly forty years, since the end of the First World War.
Apart from the notable contribution made by the Labour Government through the Distribution of Industry Act, unemployment has always been a great sore in our midst. Under the Distribution of Industry Act, between 1945 and 1951 the Labour Government built in my constituency 129,469 sq. ft. of factory space, but since 1951, under Conservative Governments, not a single square foot of factory space has been provided in my constituency. Apart from the Labour Government's notable effort, we have always had unemployment. I have never accepted and will never accept that these people are unemployable. If they were registering in the congested employment areas of this country there would be jobs for them.
In view of the fact that we have had unemployment for forty years, I wonder whether the President of the Board of Trade had regard to that fact before he fixed seven years as the period over which the Act will operate. How he intends to overcome in seven years what we have suffered and endured for forty years beats my mathematical calculations. In his speech winding up the debate, will he give some reasons for this figure of seven years? 399 During the General Election I was convinced that whichever party came to power, adequate steps would be taken to break the back of this problem once and for all. The Tory manifesto laid down in no uncertain terms that a Conservative Government would take adequate steps to deal with this problem. I cannot understand how the present steps can be so described. It may be that I am influenced by the fact that I come from an area that has never yet known the meaning of full employment—that may be—but my duty here is to represent these people—a hard-working, energetic community—and to express their feelings. I should be very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he could give me some substantial, logical and convincing reasons for laying down that the scope of the Bill should be limited to seven years.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Although the hour is late, I make no apology for doing something that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has accused others of my hon. Friends of doing. I ask for "lolly" for my constituents. I am not ashamed of that. What is more, I shall come here as often as is necessary to fight on behalf of my constituents for the first natural right of any man. I shall come here as often as the Government fail to resolve the problem existing in my constituency. The noble Lord can look at us in his righteousness and tell us that all we want is the "lolly," but let us see what he would do if he were faced with my problem.
I do not consider myself to be a delegate from West Gloucestershire to the House of Commons. It is my duty to look after my constituents and also to exercise my judgment on national issues. My problem is this. I have the first pit closing on 28th December—a Christmas box of unemployment for over 300 miners. Unemployment is running at 3.2 per cent. in the Forest of Dean at present. This is important, as I shall presently deal with the issue of imminency and the possibility of unemployment further developing.
The next pit will close in 1960, and two more will close within two years. 400 That means that 2,300 miners will be unemployed in the Forest of Dean. It is no good the noble Lord talking about reactivating pits in my constituency. The water problem there is such that once a pit is closed it will never be reopened. The noble Lord appears to agree, in which case that part of his case is destroyed by his own admission—
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
No. There is a difference between completely closing a pit and allowing it to become derelict, and keeping it on a care and maintenance basis, so that it is not producing its full output.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Well, I cannot understand it. In addition to that future unemployment of 2,300, we already have about 800 men going out of the district every day of the week to work elsewhere.
In my maiden speech I welcomed this Bill, because I felt that it made a fundamental departure from the previous policy of the Government. The effect of the word "imminent" has now been slightly revised by the right hon. Gentleman's acceptance of the principle, and this does give the Government the opportunity to anticipate the development of unemployment. Previously, on the other hand, there had been insistence on the two conditions—a high rate of unemployment, and persistence—before the Government would give any assistance at all to areas facing unemployment.
My predecessor, Mr. Philips Price, who represented the constituency so well for twenty four years, only six months ago, when unemployment in the Forest of Dean was 4.6 per cent., raised the matter in an Adjournment debate but was refused assistance by the Government on the ground that, although unemployment was high, it was not persistent.
The President of the Board of Trade has agreed to a much wider interpretation of the word "imminent" than that to which he was previously committed, because of pressure from both sides of the Committee. But what I am concerned about is that there does not seem 401 to be a great deal of will displayed by the right hon. Gentleman. This is the vital factor. Unless there is will and determination shown by the Government in their use of the provisions of the Bill, particularly Clause 1, areas like mine will not derive any benefit from the Bill at all. It is reasonable to ask, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman, before he expects us to vote on this Clause, should give us a definite assurance that he is prepared to act with determination wherever the problem of unemployment arises.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
I am grateful to you, Sir William, for calling me after my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) because I really owe him an apology for interrupting him during the course of his excellent remarks. That interruption was stimulated by the very badly informed comments of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). I cannot help reflecting that, if it had been the rule that in the Cabinet or in the Admiralty subsection (3, b) applied, he would not now have my torpedo experimental establishment, and I should have the two establishments which previously were located at Weymouth. There was certainly—to quote the Bill—a consequential effect on employment in other such localitiesin that decision. If the noble Lord had been in that situation, would he have excused Members of Parliament representing constituencies so adversely affected, as mine has been, if they had felt—to quote the noble Lord—jealousy, rage and all those other primeval sins to which he referred? If he waxes indignant about the position of Dorset, surely, those who have been similarly affected already in the past are entitled to make a similar complaint. I would point out to him that in the same speech, full of jealousy, rage and whatever else, he was also lecturing us on this side on the constitutional proprieties of Edmond Burke. Burke died a long time ago, although the noble Lord is still with us. But he still seems to assign to Burke's thinking the entire constitutional theory of Parliament.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West was right in argu- 402 ing that we ought in part at least to be delegates for our constituencies. There is no one else to look after our constituencies, particularly when we have such a President of the Board of Trade and such a Ministry as we have had for the last eight years.
I regard this Clause, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West, as being the most important part of the Bill. It is the blank part of the blank cheque, and we are being asked to sign it. It is almost meaningless. It is almost an exercise in dialectical metaphysics. We do not know anything about anything. It is not logical positivism, it is existentialism in government. Let us look at it for a moment in relation to the transitional nature of the parts of the Bill which are effective in substance in Clause 1.
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that we cannot have a list; that the list will come out some time, we do not know when; that this Bill will not be an Act brought into effect by Royal Assent but only when by Statutory Order made; that, therefore, the Act will have to be confirmed by Order, with another Order to include the various places concerned in the list.
§ Dr. Mabon
I am grateful to my hon. Friends. It is an executive Act, not a legislative Act. I wonder what Burke would have said about that or whether the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset. South is particularly enamoured of the doctrine. I am sure he must have at some time contributed articles to newspapers about the danger of executive action over legislative action.
I have heard that Dorset is not badly affected by unemployment. For many years, as long as I have been in the House of Commons, my constituency has never had a lower average of unemployment than 5 per cent. of the insured population. At present it is almost 8 per cent. Although the President of the Board of Trade may have visited us, as other Presidents have before him, it has not made one bit of difference; nor do I think it will. But the point I am disputing is that the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Scotland have been trying to prove that 403 although there are about 3,000 people queuing up each week at Greenock Employment Exchange to register for unemployment benefit, in fact they have virtually solved the unemployment problem. In a rather amazing speech on Second Reading the Secretary of State said that we had solved the problem "at least on paper." This is what I want to know: in the interregnum what happens? Are we to be on the schedule later on, or are we to be satisfied for the moment?
I have been told by Ministers—by the Minister of Labour, for example—at least by innuendo, that I have quite a nerve asking questions about unemployment in my constituency. He reminds me that in the D.A.T.A.C. provisions of the Distribution of Industry Act some £3 million was given to Greenock for the Clyde graving dock. It was not given to Greenock, but to a consortium of private industrialists, many of them extremely wealthy men owning wealthy companies, making tremendous profits. But even under the capitalist system—and this should make the noble Lord shudder—they are unable to find the wherewithal to build that dock of their own accord.
§ Dr. Mabon
Perhaps it was. The exact terms of the D.A.T.A.C. loan on this occasion have not been made public so far. Perhaps most of it was on loan. I hope it was. Perhaps part of it was in grant. I shall wait with interest to hear what the Government statement will be.
My argument is that it is not adequate to turn round to constituencies like my own and say, "You have had so much help. We have solved your problem on paper. Therefore, please do not press us on this matter of where you stand." This was said in effect in the House two or three weeks ago.
I want to know, will my constituency be on this list? There are other Members, who because of the high unemployment rate in their constituencies, and who have not had Conservative Ministers telling them how brilliantly they have solved on paper their employment difficulties, are entitled to get up and ask 404 that question, but I, as one of those who have been told this, certainly am so entitled, because it will be difficult to persuade the 3,000 unemployed that the problem has been solved on paper and difficult to tell them that it will be five years before we solve this problem—
§ Dr. Mabon
As my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) said, in my constituency even 7 per cent. unemployment is considered to be quite good. That is considered to be quite a fair state of affairs. In the Prime Minister's words, with 7 per cent. unemployment we have never had it so good—except under the Labour Government when it was much lower than that, of course. But during the pre-war years under the Tories the unemployment figure in the constituency was 20 per cent., 30 per cent., 40 per cent. of the insured population. Perhaps, then, it does not seem very much when we suffer a mere 7 per cent. under post-war Toryism.
The fact is that we are entitled to know this, in the areas which have been not just Development Areas but areas with a long historical association with this great problem of the distressed areas and the special areas. I think the present Commissioner for South-East Asia was a Special Commissioner dealing with Greenock. I do not know whether there is a similarity between it and underdeveloped territories, but in 1938 to 1939 in Greenock and other parts of Scotland he was the Special Commissioner, and not very much good was done all that time. I hope that better results will accrue in Asia. However, we are entitled in these constituencies and before we assent to this Clause to know whether we are to be included in the list or not.
The President of the Board of Trade or his predecessors have had a lot to do with difficulties in Greenock and Lanarkshire and other well-known black spots of unemployment in Scotland and elsewhere and he should be willing to state whether or not these will be on the list. I do not see why I should be at all agreeable to seeing this Clause going through without that assurance. I am certain that the noble Lord if placed in my position—for at least I must try to 405 regard him as a conscientious Member of Parliament—would insist on that same assurance that we are asking for tonight.
There is another thing which alarms me about this Clause. That has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). It is in subsection (3, a), and that is the ratio, which I dislike intensely. I should like to know more about it. I do not know exactly what it means. Again we are back to the doctrine of metaphysics. It almost surpasses the incredible abstruseness of the Rating for Valuation (Scotland) Act 1956, to interpret which would have baffled the greatest metaphysician.
§ Dr. Mabon
He is above these things. He has the heavens on his side.
What does that paragraph mean when it saysthe relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided"?Is that employment in relation to men or in relation to man-years? For example, if it is shown that a factory can be constructed at a certain site and that it will provide, let us say, 500 jobs, is the question to be whether it will provide 500 jobs for five years or 10 or 20 or 50 years? What is the life-expectation of work in that factory? It seems reasonable that we should calculate it in man-years if we are to take the ratio but we are not told about that. The President of the Board of Trade could use this as a sort of blank cheque trying to draw on our balance of good faith and do nothing in return. He can use this as a calculated argument against any one of us by saying "I am very sorry but I cannot build on that site because the cost is far too high in conformity with the United Kingdom ratio."
That is the other question. Is it a United Kingdom ratio? Are there to be differential ratios between different parts of the country within subsection (3 a)? If so what is the ratio for Scotland and what is the ratio for Wales and what is it for certain parts of England? What is the ratio for certain parts within Wales, within Scotland and within England? These are all fair points. We are entitled to know exactly how the scheme is to be administered. No matter what 406 the noble Lord the Member for Dorset South says it affects every one of us significantly and personally.
I know that since I came to Parliament, as the unemployment climbs so does the attendance at one's constituency "surgeries". So does the queue of people with varying problems, including National Assistance and unemployment benefit, grow. We are entitled to know what can be done to bring down unemployment and to see that this queue of human misery and distress is reduced. I hope in my time of representing the town of Greenock in the House of Commons to see it removed altogether, at least in relation to the difficulties arising from unemployment.
I shall be interested to know the explanation of the United Kingdom ratio or whatever ratio is to be used. The President of the Board of Trade will be aware that when in Greenock last week, he was told of a site in the town which we are anxious to see cleared—it can he discussed under other Clauses—and made open for a large factory. Albeit it is a derelict factory, but I know the finance involved by the company which presently holds the ground, as does my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who some time ago paid us a valuable visit and one which helped him in coming to his excellent recommendations in the report which he produced shortly after his visit round the country to these areas.
Knowing the finance involved, I know that the cost to the Government would probably be high if they wanted to invest or build a factory there, and probably it could be disqualified by the President of the Board of Trade under subsection (3, a). Why should I agree to this proposal if it will devalue the possibility of Greenock having its difficulties solved in reasonable time?
The last paragraph of the Clause is the most ridiculous, but since we have a good sense of humour in Greenock and Renfrewshire—indeed, in Scotland—we cannot help laughing at the Clause. It is a simple and well-known fact that we have had unemployment for a long time. It is almost endemic in some of our towns. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie said. at least before 1951 our citizenry could see with their own eyes the factories being 407 constructed. Like my hon. Friend, however, I can say that no new Government factories have been built in my town on the initiative of this Government since they came into office.
Ministers in the Government may preen themselves about managing to get one new firm in from Glasgow, let it be noted, which itself is an area of high unemployment with a figure of well over 4 per cent. unemployed. The Government have taken a firm from Glasgow to replace an establishment which, as I said earlier, went to the South of England, which is overstuffed with jobs and where there are no job-hungry areas, at least in Dorset and elsewhere.
It is outrageous that we should have to read in a Bill like this that the Government give themselves seven years to solve all these difficulties. They should be seven years somewhere else and should not spend seven years solving this problem. That will be a Parliament and a half. In other words, it is an election dodge. This is window-dressing, not only for the last election, but for the next one. They will say next time at the hustings, "There are still a few years to go, ladies and gentlemen. We have had a hard time in the past five years, but we passed that magnificent Bill which does this, that and the other." Then will come the floods of statistics and the Government spokesmen will say, "Do not worry. Within a further three years. we will solve this problem."
But perhaps they might be strong enough in a new House of Commons with an increased majority, as they no doubt think, to be able to say, "The country is finished with this distribution of industry nonsense. Back to laissez-faire, now in the hands of the new-Liberal-Conservatives. We do not have to worry about these silly-billies or about little towns that are crying out, or about log-rolling and about delegates coming along and asking for assistance. We can crush them, and laugh at them. We shall not have to bother about them."
That is why I am concerned about the Clause and indeed about the whole Bill. But here is the first Clause of the Bill and it is with great reluctance that I shall agree to it. But what can we do? It is this or nothing. The President of the Board of Trade should be reasonable 408 and should tell us what areas will be put on the list, what these ratios mean, and what the whole Clause means in order to try to allay the fears of those of us from many parts of the country who represent areas of high unemployment.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Manuel
Like the rest of my Scottish colleagues, I make no apology for introducing constituency problems and asking for an assurance from the President of the Board of Trade that these problems of unemployment and other matters dealt with in the Clause will be kept constantly before him. I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman replies to the debate he will be able to give assurances on some of the questions which I propose to ask him. We have tried on innumerable occasions during debates on these matters to get the right hon. Gentleman to be a little more forthcoming so that we might be able to take back some reassurance to the areas which we represent.
I do not want to lay it on too hard for the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) was fairly sore with him, but most of us come here completely imbued with the spirit of trying to do something to right the wrongs and to create some betterment in our constituencies. The noble Lord does it, although the interests which he represents may possibly be different from those which I represent. I am quite sure that he studiously reads his mail and turns to constituency problems, as I hope I do, with the idea of helping his constituents.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has no doubt voted against farming subsidies and the support lavishly given to South Dorset.
§ Mr. Manuel
I am afraid, Sir Gordon, that I was getting out of order, but I think that reference to this matter has been allowed previously.
I have been discussing the high rate of unemployment at length with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East 409 (Mr. Willis) in connection with the provisions of Clause 1 (2). Cannot the President of the Board of Trade give us more enlightenment? During the current year rates of unemployment in my area have been 17.8 per cent. for a long period at one place, and 13.8 per cent. at Kilwinnig, where there is an industrial estate that has cost £100,000 in site preparation and servicing and where there is one tiny factory employing a few people. Most of the workers in that town, which has a high rate of unemployment, travel outwith the burgh to go to work. Does that mean that the town would qualify under subsection (4, a), since work could be provided in the locality?
What is the significance of the word, "high"? How high is "high"? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that any rate which is above the national average, taking, say, a period of a year? If the national average is 2 per cent. and there are places in my constituency with rates of 5 per cent. and 6 per cent., would those rates be considered to be high? Does "high" mean some rate over the national average?
We are also disturbed by what we have elicited about the number of insured workers covered by these provisions. We have ascertained that the Distribution of Industry Acts covered about 20 per cent. of the insured workers in the country and that the new legislation will cover only about 14 per cent. What proportion of that 14 per cent. is made up of Scottish workers? There are now about 91,000 unemployed in Scotland. If the spread is now 14 per cent. and not 20 per cent.—and those are United Kingdom figures—what proportion does Scotland need in order to get some alleviation of its present unemployment problems?
If we can have answers to those two points, at least we can take something of significance to our constituents this week-end.
§ Mr. Maudling
Many points have been raised, but many of them have already been answered in discussions on Amendments as we have gone along. I will deal with those which were not covered.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) asked a number of pertinent questions, as he always does. He and a 410 number of other hon. Members asked what was meant by a "high rate of unemployment." This is not a new phrase. It is taken from the 1958 Act which says:…in the opinion of the Board, a high rate of unemployment exists and is likely to persist.There is no change and there is nothing new. It means a high rate of unemployment in relation to the country as a whole. That is clearly what it must be and it could not mean anything else.
I would be against defining in the Bill, or as part of the discussion and decision on the Bill, a particular figure. As I said during the Second Reading debate, I think that we should be very unwise to fix a statutory figure. The needs and conditions of different areas are bound to vary. As we proceed with this portion of the Bill and make progress, I hope that we shall be able to reduce the criterion of what is a high rate of employment. It is a high rate relative to the country as a whole, and one would hope that the lower the general level of employment the lower one could bring the criterion of what is a specially high rate. Unemployment of 7.5 per cent. in Greenock is obviously a high rate. There is no doubt about that.
The second point raised by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock was what was meant by the words "likely to persist." That phrase clearly means likely to persist indefinitely unless some action is taken by the Government to do something about it.
The hon. Member then referred, as did the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), to what was meant by subsection (3, a) which says that the Board shall have regard:to the relationship between the expenditure involved and the employment likely to be provided;We would consider that in terms of employment lasting over a considerable period of time. There would be no point in getting firms into an area unless that was so.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is the intention; the actual money coming from the Government is part of this expenditure.
I accept that in some areas it costs more to provide jobs for a hundred people than it does in other areas. Consider, for example, the Clause dealing with building grants. The building grant will be 85 per cent. of the difference between the cost of a standard factory and the current market value in the particular district. But the current value will vary, and the more remote the district the lower the current value will be, and therefore the building grant will automatically be higher. Subsection (3, a) is not intended to cut across the sensible point that one must recognise that in some areas it is more expensive to provide a hundred jobs than it is in others.
I think that proposals could come forward to us under the clearance of derelict sites where it could be argued that that would provide employment. If, however, an enormous expenditure of £1 million was required to provide jobs for a hundred people that would be a foolish way of spending the money that is available. All this means is that the money available is limited. It is not limitless. While the money that we have to spend is there, it is only common sense to see how we can get the best value for it.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman referred to Clause 5 of the Bill. If he reads subsection (1) he will see that it proposes to encourage expenditure there that will not provide additional employment. He will see that he is providing for the expenditure of money for the clearing of sites without there being any consequent increase in employment. If it is going to make an area only a little more productive than it has been hitherto, how can the right hon. Gentleman calculate the employment likely to be provided in determining expenditure? He is setting himself an impossible task. After three days of discussion I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have realised that there must be something wrong with the Clause.
§ Mr. Maudling
I think that the hon. Gentleman should look at the Bill himself before he accuses me of not understanding it. He said that under Clause 412 5 (1) we were taking powers to spend money without any relation to the provision of employment. That is untrue because Clause 5 (1) says:…expedient for the purposes of the Part of this Act…and the purpose of this Part of the Bill is the provision of employment. The hon. Member should look a little more closely at the Bill before criticising me.
§ Mr. Fraser
This is really important. We were told during the Second Reading debate that the work to be done here was not necessarily for the provision of employment. I gave examples of work done under the 1945 Act, where areas were cleared for the purpose of providing playing fields, and so on, where no question of providing employment arose, and the Secretary of State assured me that that would be so under Clause 5 (1).
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Maudling
If the hon. Member will think back to my remarks during the Second Reading debate he will remember that I said that things like playing fields might well come within the compass of the Bill. The point is not whether the provision of playing fields provides employment, but that we must be satisfied that they will make the areas concerned so much more attractive to industry that there is a reasonable likelihood of industry coming to the area. But we can discuss that matter when we come to Clause 5. [HON. MEMBERS: "It will be too late then."] Would hon. Members like me to say that the opposite will be the case? Would they like me to say that we should have no regard to the amount of money to be poured out to provide a small number of jobs? That shows haw preposterous is their argument.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
We must also take into account the amount of money spent on unemployment benefit. A great deal of money has to be spent on that in Scotland. It must run into millions of pounds. Surely that will be taken into account in arriving at the ratio between expenditure and jobs created?
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
Can my right hon. Friend give 413 the Committee an undertaking, at some stage, that there will be a limit to expenditure in this matter?
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I am trying to answer the points made by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, but if he will persist in trying to make speeches I cannot possibly do so. I was going to deal with the point he made about the seven-year limit. I am trying to do him the courtesy of answering the points he raised, and I hope that he will do me the courtesy of listening to my answers. It might be helpful to all concerned.
He asked why we had any provision about the powers lapsing after seven years, unless Parliament otherwise determines. This seems to be a sensible provision. If we tackle this business vigorously enough, within seven years a substantial change may well have taken place in the situation. It may well be that the time will have arrived for the Government and Parliament to look at the question again. Hon. Members opposite say that the Bill will be successful only if its provisions are carried out with determination. If we tackle it within seven years, as I am sure we shall, a lot of changes will have been wrought. If hon. Members opposite form the Government in seven years' time they will do something different anyway, and if we are still the Government then they say the Bill is so unsatisfactory that they would like us to revise it. In those circumstances, I cannot see why the Opposition object, unless they feel that the provisions of the Bill should go on for ever.
§ Mr. Maudling
Because not in every case is there likely to be a change in the situation in seven years.
§ Mr. Maudling
Because that is a reasonable time, taking into account the 414 time taken to build a factory. It is not a magic figure, but it is the best one we can think of. What is the objection to a provision that says that the Government and Parliament should look at this provision in seven years' time?
The final point made by the hon. Member concerned the so-called list. He asked when it would be made public. The point has also been raised about the interregnum. There can be no question of an interregnum. The provision takes effect on the appointed day, and until that day the existing legislation is unchanged. Before that date we shall have to publish a list of places which in our opinion will qualify under the Bill, but we do not intend to do that, or to exercise these powers, until we have obtained them. When we have obtained them we will publish and make clear the list of places which in our view fall within the definition of the Bill. I think there has been—
§ Mr. Maudling
Once again I think there has been a great deal of misunderstanding on this. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) talked about one-third of the people being robbed of the benefits of the Bill. If he will be good enough to look again at what I said during the Second Reading debate when I was talking about the figure of 14 per cent., he will see that I said thatthe list is unlikely, in a global scale, to depart very much from the current 14 per cent. comprised by those areas currently receiving assistance under existing legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol.613, c.46.]So one can fairly say that the localities on the list will be about as large in total size as those now getting help. As I explained during the debate on an Amendment to this Clause, a number of existing areas called Development Areas where there is no longer a high rate of unemployment will no longer qualify for help. They will not need it and so they should not have it. That seems to me a straightforward statement of the position.
The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) asked about the nature of the management corporations. It would be more relevant to raise that matter when 415 we discuss the Clauses dealing with the establishment of the corporations and the termination of the existing system.
§ Mr. Peart rose—
§ Mr. Peart
I have raised this matter three times. I can understand if hon. Members opposite have no sympathy with the development of the North-East, but I am pressing the case for West Cumberland and I am asking how the powers will be administered. Will the estimate of local conditions be left to some local organisation responsible to the corporation?
§ Mr. Maudling
The powers will be appropriate. The policy will be entirely a matter for the Board. The management will fall to the management corporations. It would be more appropriate to discuss this on the later Clauses.
My hon. Friend the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) talked about the difficulties which would arise if one wished to reactivate a mining area in an emergency and all the people had meanwhile found other employment. I see the point, but it is not possible to keep people unemployed and available for an emergency and so we must face that difficulty. My hon. Friend also talked about unfair competition from special areas. Again, I see his point, but we must recognise that it is inherent in the whole scope of this legislation to tilt the scale in favour of firms in areas of high unemployment where labour is available. It would not be sensible to have a situation in which there was an acute shortage of labour in one area and a large surplus of labour in another area. The purpose of this legislation is to tilt the scale in favour of those areas where labour is available. Although I agree that it could cause concern and heart burning, that must be inherent in the whole purpose of this Bill.
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) asked what magic there was in Clause 1, what specific powers we are taking. We are not taking powers in that Clause. It defines the purposes for which we can use the powers and will enable us to concentrate the help which we can give where it 416 is most needed. The extension of the powers comes in later Clauses and the extent of the adequacy or inadequacy of them can better be discussed when we discuss the relevant Clauses.
The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) asked about the meaning of subsection (3, b). The point here is quite simple. We must have regard to the consequential effects of employment in other such localities. A scheme which merely helped the employment problem in one area by creating a problem in another difficult area would not make sense.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Does that mean that people who have to travel to their employment will be condemned to travel all the days of their life?
§ Mr. Maudling
The Bill does not make provision for travelling. Where there are two areas of unemployment it would be foolish to deal with one at the expense of making things more difficult in the other.
§ Mr. Maudling
That does not arise on the Question, "That the Clause as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I will not give way again. I have given way an exceptional number of times and I am trying to cover many points.
Another point, following what I was saying, was made by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel). How glad is the Committee to have the prodigal son back again! He asked about the meaning of subsection (4, a). The only purpose of (4, a) arises from the fact that where there is an area of high unemployment we can often deal with it by providing factories outside that area. As long as the outside area is still within travel-to-work distance, it qualifies for assistance under the Bill.
§ Mr. Manuel
The right hon. Gentleman knows my interest in the area. 417 There is a high rate of unemployment and hundreds of people are travelling out of the area, but within the area there is an industrial estate with only one tiny factory in it. Would it not be better to cure the unemployment by bringing industry to that estate rather than cure it in some other place by taking people outside the area?
§ Mr. Maudling
In general, where there is a high rate of unemployment the sensible thing is to provide employment in the district, but in some cases it may be better or more practicable to provide it outside. This subsection gives us power to do that if we wish.
The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) seemed to dislike the word "imminent", but we have agreed in earlier discussions that I will look at that again. I reject the accusation by the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) that I base the Bill on logical positivism. As a good follower of Bradley and Caird, I resent that and I hope that it will be withdrawn.
Hon. Members opposite have said that what matters is not so much what is in the Bill as the spirit in which it is administered and the will to administer it. I entirely accept that challenge. It is no good the Government constantly saying, "We are determined …" We can
§ prove the determination only by action. If the Committee will co-operate with us in getting the Bill through, we will set about it.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson: Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him a question? Does he believe that within seven years the problem of the jute industry in Dundee will be solved, or the general problem of providing employment in Scotland, to such an extent that this kind of legislation will not be needed indefinitely into the future in order to provide a proper industrial balance in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Maudling: I do not say "solved", but so much progress should have been made that the problem will have changed considerably in nature and therefore we should want to look again at the legislation, because it might need changing to meet the changing situation.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 146, Noes 20.419
|Division No. 16.]||AYES||[12.58 a.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Drayson, G. B.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Aitken, W. T.||du Cann, Edward||Johnson Smith,G.(Holb.&S.P'ncr's,S)|
|Allason, James||Elliott, R. W.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Errington, Sir Eric||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Barlow, Sir John||Erroll, F. J.||Kitson, Timothy|
|Barter, John||Farr, John||Leavey, J. A.|
|Batsford, Brian||Fell, Anthony||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Fisher, Nigel||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Longbottom, Charles|
|Bossom, Clive||Freeth, Denzil||Longden, Gilbert|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Gardner, Edward||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Box, Donald||George, J. C. (Pollock)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Brewis, John||Gibson-Watt, David||MacArthur, Ian|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||McLaren, Martin|
|Bryan, Paul||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Godber, J. B.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Goodhart, Philip||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Goodhew, Victor||Maddan, Martin|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Maginnls, John E.|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Green, Alan||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Collard, Richard||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Cooke, Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Marten, Neil|
|Coulson, J. M.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Critchley, Julian||Hirst, Geoffrey||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hobson, john||Mawby, Ray|
|Curran, Charles||Holland, Philip||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hopkins, Alan||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Mills, Stratton|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Morgan, William|
|Doughty, Charles||James, David||Noble, Michael|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Shepherd, William||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Page, Graham||Skeet, T. H. H.||Watts, James|
|Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Webster, David|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Smithers, Peter||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Peel, John||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Percival, Ian||Teeling, William||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Temple, John M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Pott, Percival||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Wise, Alfred|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Turner, Colin||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Rees, Hugh||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Van Straubenzee, W. R.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Roots, William||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Wall, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Sharples, Richard||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)||Mr. Brooman-White and Mr. Finlay.|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Dempsey, James||Kelley, Richard||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Loughlin, Charles||Whitlock, William|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Manuel, A. C.|
|Hannan, William||Peart, Frederick|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Ross, William||Mr. Mahon and Mr. Probert.|
§ Question, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill, put accordingly and agreed to.