§ 3.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to prevent the recent substantial and widespread rise in unemployment, underemployment, and short-time working which has reached exceptionally high levels in certain areas of England and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and calls upon the Government, by a policy of planned economic expansion and a determined use of the powers existing under the Distribution of Industry Acts, to restore full employment in the country generally, and above all in those areas which are suffering most from trade depression today.The simple purpose of this Motion is to see that men and women now unemployed find useful work. I need not spend very much time discussing why unemployment has risen again to its present high level of over 600,000. Ministers themselves, particularly the Minister of Labour, have been perfectly candid about it. The right hon. Gentleman said himself last autumn, at Blackpool, that the Government's policy would lead to higher unemployment this winter. He said much the same again in this House in the debate on unemployment on 17th December.
The President of the Board of Trade, with his usual candour—we would never accuse him of lack of candour—spoke in the same vein in the House in the economic debate on 2nd December. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was very frank about this when he went to Washington in September, 1957, and his mission told American bankers and officials, as was reported at the time, that this Government would henceforth subordinate full employment to currency policy.
So we need not argue about this today except for just a brief reference to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, who made a rather hysterical comment in The Times on my modest 418 and moderate contribution to the subject. I do not know why he wants to be so partisan. He says that unemployment is due not to Government policy, but to what he calls the "world recession." Really, he alone is out of step. I advise him to read the speeches of the Minister of Labour, otherwise he will be out of touch with the party line as well as out of touch with the facts.
I will comment on just one of the Parliamentary Secretary's wilder misstatements last week. It may have been a misprint, but he was reported to have said that all the Measures to deal with the Development Areas had been passed by the Conservative Government; and thatno Socialist Government, pre-war or post-war, introduced a single Act dealing with the location of industry.For somebody who calls the wartime Coalition Government a Conservative Government it is, perhaps, a minor mistake to forget altogether both the Distribution of Industry Act, 1950, of which I am glad to hand the hon. Gentleman a copy to improve his education, and also the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, which authorises industrial development certificates, and which the hon. Gentleman might well study.
However, there need be no doubt about the main reason why over 600,000 people are now unemployed and short-time is being worked all over the country. The fact is that an extreme deflation policy has been followed by the Government from September, 1957, onwards, at a time when stimulus rather than deflation was necessary. The truth has been admirably put by, of all people, the Minister of Housing and Local Government in, of all places, the new Report on Welsh Affairs recently published, "Report on Developments and Government Action." It says:By the end of 1957, there was no longer any general excess of demand over supply. Instead, deficiency of demand was holding down output … production did not expand in 1958 and, clearly, surplus capacity existed".That is a perfectly fair statement of the economic situation since then. Indeed, at a time when almost every expert authority has been urging expansion, the Government have gone blindly on, deflating employment, production and investment.
419 We are all, I hope, so familiar by now with the human wreckage caused by deflation that I shall say little about that today. But there does stick in my mind the story of one unemployed man of 61 whom I met at the Nelson Employment Exchange, three weeks ago. He had lost his job in a closed cotton mill. As he had dependants, he had to ask for National Assistance and, therefore, to run through his savings before he would reach 65 and be eligible for his retirement pension. He now has very little prospect of finding another job and, though an active and intelligent man, faces a future of living on National Assistance for the rest of his life. That is just one case among 600,000.
What is, perhaps, not so obvious is the colossal national waste which this deflation policy brings. The National Institute of Economic Research Review, to take one example, calculates that 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. of our industrial capacity is now idle. Whatever the exact figure, there really is no question that a huge reservoir of skill, energy, training and experience is running to waste in this country at present, and has been for a year past. Everywhere one finds factories working a four-day week. The steel industry in Scotland is now working at 50 per cent. capacity.
§ Mr. Jay
I said in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman will prolong the proceedings if he makes too many interruptions.
All over the country school-leavers are finding it harder and harder to get jobs. On Merseyside, for instance, in the past eighteen months of the "Opportunity State", the number of juvenile unemployed has trebled, and, of course, the older men and women who lose their jobs find it very difficult indeed to get new ones in these conditions. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, ten days ago, moved a Motion to assist old people to get employment, but we shall not get older people employed unless there are jobs for them to do.
Deflation also strikes a crushing blow at the whole movement for greater productivity and more economic use of manpower. In the early post-war years, 420 when full employment was a reality, many of my hon. Friends urged, for instance, the textile workers to introduce redeployment, and urged those in the coal industry to accept foreign labour. We said then that with full employment all this would mean higher production and not loss of jobs. I met textile workers in Lancashire last week, who said, "We believed you. We did redeploy. We are working today twice as many looms to a weaver as we were ten years ago, and as a result half of us are unemployed." The tragic truth is that in the conditions created by the Government in the past year those people are quite right. With full employment higher productivity means higher standards; but with deflation it means more unemployment.
Another evil consequent of deflation has been the growing repudiation by the party opposite of the pledges of the 1944 White Paper on Employment Policy. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) has been constantly telling us lately that it is not in the power of the Government to avoid unemployment.
§ Mr. Osborne
Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us how he can plan full employment when we have to export 30 per cent. of what we produce and we cannot compel the foreigner to buy what we export?
§ Mr. Jay
I hope that the hon. Member will tell us whether he thinks that full employment in a free society is possible or not. We on this side of the House think that it is. The 1944 White Paper, supported by the Coalition Government at that time, said:The Government accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war.I should like to ask the Minister of Labour whether he accepts that, even if the hon. Member for Louth does not.
Certainly, employment has been neither high nor stable in the past year. Nobody could call it stable, because unemployment has more than doubled in just over two years, and nobody could call it high when the total in civil employment, apart from short-time—has fallen by nearly 300,000 since December, 1947, that is, in fourteen months. The total of unemployment today is 609,000, but it should 421 be remembered that it is 653,000 if we include Northern Ireland, and is 2.8 per cent. for Great Britain and 9.4 per cent. for Northern Ireland. And that is certainly a gross under-statement of the numbers who would be willing to work if suitable jobs existed.
First, there are those who are working short-time throughout the country. Secondly, there are the married women who are uninsured and do not register when they lose their work. Thirdly, there are the dock workers who are not included in the figures; and, finally, there are the older people who have simply retired because they feel that there is no chance of getting another job.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
When the right hon. Gentleman's party was in power, and the figure was between 350,000 and 400,000, did not those same considerations apply?
§ Mr. Jay
Yes, but in those years there were jobs for people to obtain, and that is the argument that I am putting forward.
Most distressing of all is the inevitable emergence in these conditions of acute black spots, and often they are the same black spots which disgraced the country in the 1930s. Does the House realise how far some of these areas have gone back towards the 1930s? In Scotland, in 1955, the total unemployment was 62,000. It is 117,000 now. In 1939, it was 190,000. That means that we are nearly two-thirds of the way back to 1939.
This winter, the percentages out of work have touched 8 per cent. and 9 per cent. in West Wales, the North-West, Greenock, Port Glasgow, and Lanarkshire, and 6 per cent. in various parts of Tyneside and Clydeside, 12 per cent. in Anglesey, over 5 per cent. in great areas of population like Merseyside, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, and some very high percentages in many coastal areas.
Another evil effect of this general deflation is that even the prosperous areas like the Midlands begin to feel depressed, and it is harder to steer industrial extension away from them. Unless there is a policy of expansion generally, no schemes will come forward to steer away to the needy areas.
The other main cause of distress today is the almost complete failure of the Government during the last three years 422 to carry out the distribution of industry and Development Area policy, just when that policy had proved its practical value.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, unless, again, he may have been misquoted, made the ludicrous statement last week, which I quote from The Times, thatAt no time have the Government refused to build or extend a factory for rent in a development area when requested.Not merely is that statement wholly untrue and known by everybody in the areas to be untrue, but the real truth was stated by the then Minister of State, Board of Trade, now Minister of Health, in the House on 5th June, 1956, when he said:… in view of the need for the strictest economy in Government expenditure, it has been necessary to defer consideration of all proposals for the provision of new Government-financed factories or extensions under the Distribution of Industry Act save in a very few cases of special importance and urgency".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th June, 1956; Vol. 553, c. 864.]In effect, in the words of Lord Bilsland, that decision meant thata major Act of Parliament"—the Distribution of Industry Act—'has been rendered practically inoperative …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 27th March, 1957; Vol. 202, c. 805.]
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have a copy of a letter, dated 21st January, 1959, signed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, rejecting an application by a firm in my constituency for an extension?
§ Mr. Jay
Yes. I have some letters myself.
Those, as I have said, are the words of Lord Bilsland, speaking in another place in March, 1957. I do not think that anybody would doubt his knowledge of this subject, and I imagine that the Minister of Labour will not accuse him of either partisan propaganda or of making a bogy out of unemployment. It may be that Lord Hailsham might accuse him, but we must all make allowances for Lord Hailsham, for he has both Munich and Suez on his conscience.
I should like to give the House two examples. The first is of what happened at Coatbridge, in Lanarkshire, where 423 unemployment has been over 10 per cent. this winter. A clothing firm asked in December, 1955, for a new factory on the half-occupied industrial estate near Greenhill. This firm was informed in May, 1956—for it took five months to give an answer apparently—that in the present circumstances there was no prospect of their application for the provision of a factory space at Greenhill being approved. It was deferred and, so far as I know, was still not approved up to last week.
This folly on the Government's part—and I do not apologise for having called it lunacy at Question Time, when it was announced on 5th June, 1956—scored its culminating triumph in the case of the firm of Huntley and Palmer's, on Merseyside. Last autumn, Huntley and Palmer's, who were successfully operating an existing factory on the Huyton Estate, on Merseyside, asked for an extension to be built of 73,000 square feet to employ 430 people.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
The right hon. Gentleman mentions Munich. Is he not aware that Lord Hailsham was a Munich critic?
§ Mr. Jay
The hon. Member is ignorant about this, as about many things. Lord Hailsham fought a by-election at Oxford and got into Parliament, in defence of the Munich policy, in October, 1938. But I am being diverted from my speech.
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will say that no new schemes were rejected. They were only "deferred" for two or three years. If that is his argument, he gives a really classical example of a terminological inexactitude. It will be a great comfort to industrialists who are refused extensions, and workers who are refused jobs, to know that applications have not been turned down but merely deferred for two or three years.
Here was a project in an area with acute long-term unemployment problems, which should have been welcomed with open arms by the Government. But what did the Government do? They refused the extension plan, and asked Huntley and Palmer's if they would like to buy their existing factory from the Board of Trade. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot deny this, because he signed all the letters himself.
424 The firm said that it preferred to rent, and had no wish to buy and pressed its request for an extension. Yet at least three times between the autumn and January of this year the Board of Trade refused the extension plan and repeated the request to the firm to buy its factory. All this time, publicly, the Parliamentary Secretary—I am sure he meant well, but his conduct was rather extraordinary—was protesting his wish to help these areas. At a meeting on Merseyside, on 13th January, he said, speaking of the Government:We are energetically trying to persuade firms to come here and set up new capacity.In the same month as he said that his Department told the firm definitely that it could not have a Government-financed extension because it ought to be able to build out of its own resources. By this time it was too late for the factory to be ready when the firm wanted it.
What a story this is! To save £300,000 invested in a new productive asset leased to a first-class firm, the Government prefers to spend almost as much on paying the dole to 430 people to do nothing for two years. [An HON. MEMBER: "And lose exports."] And lose exports as well. This really is crucifying mankind upon a cross of gold.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
Has the right hon. Gentleman calculated what the State is spending on that number of unemployed? It would be interesting to know, in view of the figure he has just given.
§ Mr. Jay
I will tell the hon. Gentleman this: in spite of all that, the Parliamentary Secretary said at Manchester, only last Friday:I do not think that the Government's policy of encouraging firms to settle in areas of high unemployment has been as successful as the Government would have liked.However, in spite of that, I am confidently expecting to hear tonight from the Parliamentary Secretary that the Government have now approved the Huntley and Palmer's extension. I have been delighted to notice that since the Labour Party announced an inquiry into unemployment, the President of the 425 President of the Board of Trade and his Parliamentary Secretary, swearing that they will ne'er consent to our proposals, have, nevertheless, grudgingly and partially consented a week later.
When the unemployment figure rose to 600,000, there was a concession on rents. When our report was published, the President of the Board of Trade changed his mind on advance factories and derelict sites. When this debate was announced, the Government admitted that it had been wrong all those months about grants for basic services. During the very weekend before this debate—the fourth remarkable coincidence—the Board of Trade stopped obstructing Hoover's extension at Merthyr, where the story had been similar to that of Huntley and Palmer's at Huyton.
Nevertheless, the facts of the last three years, I contend, fully justify Lord Bilsland's charge that up to a few weeks ago the building of Government-financed factories had been virtually suspended in those years. Has this ban been removed even now? Lord Bilsland said last week in the Hous of Lords that he was not clear if it had been rescinded even now. I ask the Government: is it rescinded?
Again, the Parliamentary Secretary said in the House on 10th February, when my hon. Friends were pressing the matter of unemployment, that in the previous two months 63 extensions had been authorised in these areas. That sounds fine, but he added that they totalled 750,000 square feet, an average of 12,000 square feet each. But 12,000 square feet is not a factory. It is not much more than a shed; 750,000 square feet would nuke four or five decent-sized factories, and not 63.
Next, I want to ask the Minister: is there any ban now for this purpose on certain parts of the Development Areas, or is there not? The President of the Board of Trade told me at Question Time last Thursday that he was willing to build Government-financed factories in Dundee, Greenock, North Lanarkshire, West South Wales, North-East Lancashire and Merseyside. When I asked him whether this meant that he was not willing to build factories in other parts of the Development Areas, he did not know. Can we please be told tonight, so that we can know?
426 When the Government were pushed off this absolute ban last autumn, they made the foolish and niggling condition that only schemes to be finished by 31st October, 1959, should go forward. Why October, 1959?
§ Mr. Jay
If this condition were imposed then the Pressed Steel scheme at Swansea, which is one of the really good schemes the Government have adopted the sort of thing they ought to do, could not go forward. If it is not being imposed in the case of Pressed Steel, why impose the October guillotine on other schemes?
To stop building factories in areas of unemployment in order to save money; to keep that up through the year of extreme deflation since September, 1957, and for over six months after the Government announced a Bill to help unemployment areas in April, 1958; to cut the Development Area Vote, as the Government did a year ago by one-third—these, in my view, are acts of folly which alone would justify a vote of censure from the unemployed and from this House.
But this is not the end of the story by any means. Firms already successfully producing and employing labour in Government-owned factories in our Development Areas have been pestered by the Government to buy their factories from the Board of Trade when they have had no desire to do so. To hand over publicly-owned factories in these areas to private firms is—as even the 1944 White Paper recognised—to lose control of employment policy in those areas because firms can, and very often do, use them or sell them for storage.
The second main failure of the Government, in my view, has been their weakness in restraining expansion in London and other congested areas. The figures given by the President of the Board of Trade in answer to a Question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) on 17th February prove this. In 1945, when the population of the Development Areas was about 15 per cent. of Great Britain, they received over 50 per cent. of the new industrial building in terms of square feet. In the three years 1945 to 1947, 427 they received over 45 per cent. of new factory space. Last year, when 18 per cent. of the population lived in Development Areas, those areas received 18 per cent. of the new factory space. That proves Lord Bilsland's charge that distribution of industry policy has been practically inoperative.
Thirdly, the Government have totally banned since 1952 any grants or loans to local authorities under Section 3 of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. That Section deliberately gave the Government power to make loans and grants, over and above the normal, to local authorities for roads, water, power, light, heating, housing, health services, and so on. Such schemes would help to make Development Areas more attractive to industry and these two last years of unemployment would have been an ideal time to initiate them. Indeed, the White Paper of 1944 pledged future Governments to step-up local authority work in times of unemployment, not to reduce it.
Let us remember that the present 5⅞ per cent. interest rate for the Public Works Loan Board, and the abolition of the housing subsidy over the whole of England and Wales, have held back local authority development work grievously in the last three years, just at the time and in the places where it should have gone forward. Birkenhead Corporation, for instance, has had its housing programme, even this year, cut by two-thirds, and has been prevented by the Government from borrowing either on the market or even from the Public Works Loan Board. How can that possibly be justified?
Last Friday, after this debate had been announced and after this Motion had been placed on the Order Paper, the Government hurriedly decided that it would consent to some grants under Section 3. This death-bed repentance was postponed almost to the day of the funeral. I must frankly tell the Government that in visiting these areas last month I advised authorities to put in applications under Section 3, because I confidently expected that the Government would give way on it as soon as this debate was announced.
Even this repentance was marred, as usual, by two niggling conditions. First, all schemes other than water and sewerage are omitted; and, secondly, 428 apparently only certain parts of the Development Areas are to be eligible. Can we know which they are, because we have not yet been told?
The Government have almost totally refused, since 1956, to allow any finance under Section 5 of the 1945 Act to clear derelict sites. It was not until the announcement of the 600,000 unemployed in February that the Government were forced to agree to ease that ban, and even then only for schemes to be finished by March, 1960. Niggling again.
Next and far from last, I believe that a state of muddle has been created throughout the administration of distribution of industry policy by a series of unwilling decisions, taken not on any plan but as a result of abandoning a series of untenable positions. It has been about as carefully planned as Suez. The Ministry of Labour pushes one way and the Treasury pulls the other, and there is not even any collusion. What we get is a compromise that nobody likes.
The Government's mistake last spring, as we said at the time, was extending D.A.T.A.C. powers to new areas, instead of extending the Development Areas themselves and so bringing the full powers to the areas that needed them. I fear that this was because Ministers never understood—and I give the Minister of Labour personal credit for believing that he was achieving something—that D.A.T.A.C. by itself could not achieve a great deal. At the very worst, it is like one blade of a pair of scissors, which is useful as a supplement but not very effective on its own. It has made some valuable loans; and we are all grateful to those who serve on D.A.T.A.C. for what they do. But the almost unanimous opinion which I have found in all these areas is that D.A.T.A.C., by itself, could not make very much difference.
Let us look at what the Government have, in fact, done, and let us take the example of Anglesey, a typical case of niggling and muddling. Having included Anglesey in the D.A.T.A.C. areas, the Government, at the same time, prohibited the old Development Commissioners from operating in the area as they had done previously. In the months since, D.A.T.A.C. has turned down every major scheme for Anglesey; so that this unfortunate area is now worse off than it was before.
429 The real trouble, of course, is the muddle which the Government have created in everybody's minds in the past year, all of which could have been avoided if they had simply and straightforwardly extended Development Areas. We now have Development Areas and D.A.T.A.C. areas. Some powers can be used in the first and not in the second, and others in the second and not in the first. Some of the D.A.T.A.C. areas are in Development Areas, and some are not. Some D.A.T.A.C. powers can be used in non-D.A.T.A.C. parts of the Development Areas, and some cannot. I could go on for a long time, but I will not do so.
All this confusion makes efficient administration impossible. I did not find in these areas a single person, bar one, who fully understood the last refinements of this theology. I regret to inform the House that I met very high civic dignitaries who could not make head or tail of it. Last autumn, the Board of Trade itself issued a booklet, called "Industry on the Move", to explain the true D.A.T.A.C. doctrine to businessmen and others. Even the learned "schoolman" who drafted this "authorised version" forgot that D.A.T.A.C. powers under the limited 1945 application are still available to those parts of Development Areas which are not D.A.T.A.C. areas; and who will blame him? I could give examples, if there were more time, of what this has meant in terms of employment in these areas.
We say that the Government should now entirely abandon their deflation policy, and then take the following practical steps, which are the measures necessary to bring work to these areas. First, they should resume Government-financed factory building throughout the Development Areas, whether new factories or extensions, whether on industrial estates or separate sites, wherever there is a sound scheme.
No more sound schemes should be turned down and the Government's attitude should be to push and energise and no longer niggle, muddle and obstruct. In spite of all his death-bed repentances, the Parliamentary Secretary has still not told us clearly that the announcement of June, 1956, has been rescinded. Will he please tell us today that it is has been, and also tell us that the Government will not try to bully any 430 firms into buying their factories from the Board of Trade, unless they wish to do so? I ask him to prove his sincerity—I am sure that he will—by announcing tonight that he is now giving the all-clear in the case of Huntley and Palmer's, at Huyton, and the clothing firm at Coat-bridge, to which I referred.
The Government must be tough in fact as well as words in steering excessive expansions away from London. Again, this is as necessary for London as it is for the unemployment areas. Those of us who represent Central London constituencies write about 10 or 12 letters every week to people who are wretchedly housed, telling them that almost nothing can be done about it, while in Nelson and Colne there are 500 empty houses. This is national lunacy, not merely in economic but in social and human terms. The unemployment at one end and the bad housing and overcrowded schools at the other are both largely due to the maldistribution of industry. This in itself, incidentally, shows that this problem cannot be mainly cured by trying to transfer workers to the existing congested areas.
We also say that more vigorous use of industrial development certificates to steer expansion away from congested areas will help not merely the Development Areas, but Northern Ireland and the eastern, southern and south-western coastal districts of England, which are in considerable need at the present time.
Thirdly, on Section 3 grants to local authorities for basic services, will the Government now lend sincerity to their death-bed repentances by removing the two stupid conditions: first, that only parts of Development Areas are eligible; and, secondly, only water and sewerage are included? Do not Ministers realise, even now, that it is transport schemes which matter most in these areas, schemes like the Tyne and Clyde tunnels and the Severn bridge, and all sorts of other examples? Can we have an assurance—and there is unanimity about this in the areas concerned—that there will be no condition about finishing these in October, 1959, or even March, 1960?
We are asking that a proper programme of advance factories and not just some sort of niggling token should be launched at once. In the retreat before the demands which we have made, a fortnight ago the Parliamentary Secretary announced three advance factories, one in England, 431 one in Wales, and one in Scotland. In my view, that is again too little and too late. I agree with Lord Bilsland, who uses stronger language than I, and who called it "altogether too paltry".
We now need at least a dozen fair-sized advance factories. We certainly need one at Fforest Fach, Swansea, one in South-West Wales, one in Anglesey, one in Birkenhead, one in North-East Lancashire—which has had bad luck throughout this story—and a number in various parts of Scotland. Next, the Government should set going at once a vigorous programme for cleaning derelict sites in the industrial areas under Section 5 of the Act. In this case, after swearing that he would ne'er consent, as usual, the Parliamentary Secretary hurriedly consented as soon as my hon. Friends started to debate the February unemployment figures.
But here again, the hon. Gentleman niggles and chisels. The schemes are all to be finished by March, 1960. What we really need is a thoroughgoing long-term programme to clear up the industrial ruins which shock everybody who sees them in the notorious Landore Valley, in Swansea—which have been a scandal for fifty years—in Wrexham and in North Lanarkshire. In Landore and Wrexham, there are hundreds of acres of industrial ruins which will take ten or fiftten years, and not twelve months, to clear, and these are as much a deterrent to the industrialists as they are a blot upon the countryside.
Next, in the cotton towns of North-East Lancashire and some of the declining coal areas, Development Area policy ought to be fitted in with the foreseeable decline of the older industries. The Government have a special responsibility here, because coal is under national ownership; and public help is being offered to some sort of cotton redundancy scheme. We say that the aim should be to bring new work into each of these areas, including the pit villages, at least as soon as a pit or mill is closed down. That is not easy, but with planning and foresight it can be achieved.
Next, the Government must make more realistic and substantial concessions on rents of Government-owned factories in these areas. In this respect, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade made a repentance even more uncon- 432 vincing than the rest, when he announced his hurried makeshift concessions on the day when the February unemployment figures were published. He said that in respect of rents on old leases being renewed before 31st January next there would be a five-year rebate on market values. Why only until 31st January next? That is not good enough. It will simply mean that the problem and outcry will reappear in a year's time. It is extremely poor economics from the national point of view to lose the chance of developing these under-employed areas simply for the lack of what, even in the eyes of the Treasury, would be a quite small financial relief.
Finally, if this job is to be done the muddle caused by the piling of D.A.T.A.C. areas on Development Areas must be cleared up. Experience since 1945 has clearly shown that the general method embodied in the 1945 Act was right, and that even with the last three years' stupidities it has produced remarkable results in. the main industrial areas which had the worst unemployment in the 1930s. But experience has also shown that in the more rural areas—for instance, in North Wales, Anglesey, North-East and North-West Scotland, and Cornwall—other methods of bringing in new industry have failed. There is no longer any case for leaving out these areas, or most of industrial Lancashire, from the Development Area list.
Some hon. Members have genuine doubts about increasing this list, because they feel that the larger the Development Areas the more the effort to help them will be dissipated. I believe that that is a total misconception. It assumes that the amount of effort, energy and investment is somehow limited. It need not be limited. Both the energy and the investment should be increased until they are adequate for full development, wherever it is needed, in any part of these islands. I regard unoccupied manpower and undeveloped resources as an opportunity, and not just a problem. What we should do is to match our practical drive and energy with the opportunity, and I believe that in that spirit we should boldly extend the boundaries of the Development Areas.
If the Government would adopt all these measures in that spirit, they would not merely have our support but they 433 would bring immense relief and hope, as well as work, to the now deeply anxious communities in these areas. In a small way the Parliamentary Secretary could prove the Government's sincerity tonight by announcing that the Board of Trade would reopen their offices in Swansea and Dundee, which were closed two years ago, since when unemployment has doubled in both areas.
If, during the last five years, the Government had acted as we now propose, there would not have been 600,000 unemployed persons now. But it remains true that whatever is done now this disease of deflation and unemployment will not be cured until it is tackled by people who both understand the problem and care about putting it right.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour and National Service (Mr. Iain Macleod)
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) has recently been on a tour, as a result of which he has presented some of his thoughts in a pamphlet. He has elaborated those thoughts to the House of Commons this afternoon. Whether that journey was really necessary will probably be one of the matters that we shall debate today. The right hon. Member will recognise that most of the points he raised were essentially Board of Trade points, and I know that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade wants to deal in some detail with points raised in both the pamphlet and the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
Before I come to what I think the House would like to hear from me, which is an analysis of winter unemployment in the light of the latest figures, some of which I now have, I also want to make some comments upon the pamphlet. It begins with a section called "The Facts". Using as polite words as I can, I would say that the facts are pretty selective. Although the right hon. Gentleman had the February figures, he chose throughout to use the January figures, except when the February figures were higher. This course enables him to present an unemployment picture which is no less than 42,000 more unfavourable to the Government than it was in February. He records that the January rise was far greater than the seasonal rise, and that is a fair comment. But he does not 434 record that the February figure, in its own way, was also greater than the seasonal figure, and that both were twice as great—one a rise and the other a fall—as the seasonal figure.
Perhaps because I have written so many party pamphlets, I do not wish to quarrel too much with this section of the pamphlet, but I would say that it was just about due for a second edition. The figures already available to the hon. Member make much of what he has said out of date. More important is the section headed "Action needed Now", with which he concludes his report. He has twelve points, which are two less than those of President Woodrow Wilson, and two more, as M. Clemenceau remarked on a similar occasion, than the Almighty needed.
The interesting thing, not only about the right hon. Gentleman's speech but about this section of the pamphlet, was how very similar his ideas are to the ones which the Government are pursuing, as the right hon. Gentleman from time to time had to admit. He, of course, proceeds from a different diagnosis—and that is fair enough—but when we come to the general prescription, which is what matters, we are in a very similar position. There is nothing new in this.
In the debate on 17th December, shortly before the Christmas Recess, I tried to analyse five points of economic policy which the Leader of the Opposition put before the House, and I awarded myself and the Government four and a half out of the five. It is true that there were some mutterings from the Leader of the Opposition when I did this, and I am not sure that the marking was wholly fair, but at least it was true. The things the right hon. Gentleman suggested we should do are, generally speaking, the things we are doing.
The similarity here is a great deal more striking. For example, concerning advance factories the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North rests some of his case on the situation in relation to British Nylon Spinners, but the existence of a major plant at Gloucester is only one of the factors, and perhaps not the most important one, in deciding the firm to settle in Gloucester. It is true that instances can be quoted, but it is also easy to quote the number of empty advance factories in the 435 Development Areas, which, I believe, now amount to 41. We have recognised—because we are not doctrinaire about this—that we shall have to build three advance factories in different areas, and this was announced on 4th March in this House. The only essential difference is the number—the right hon. Gentleman suggests about six and we have suggested three as an experiment.
§ Mr. Percy Collick (Birkenhead)
On this point of the similarity of the proposals, in Birkenhead it took us three years to obtain two sites of land especially for the purpose of building advance factories. The land is in the possession of the Board of Trade. We have been waiting exactly seven years, and we still have not an advance factory. How can the proposals be about the same?
§ Mr. Macleod
What I said was that it was that it was the policy of both sides of the House—according to the pamphlet and the announced intention of the Government—to make these experiments in advance factories. Concerning the example of Birkenhead, no doubt my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will reply to it. The essential difference in advance factory policy seems to be the number that we should build.
In relation to Sections 3 and 5 of the 1945 Act, which are the fourth and fifth points which the right hon. Gentleman made, he had a lot of fun with this side of the House in suggesting that we were following his lead in these matters. There is in fact, as I think he will admit, nothing between the points he makes and what it is intended to do. His claim is that we have followed his pamphlet. His pamphlet was published on 11th March and the circular in this case went to local authorities, I think, on the 12th. If he thinks, with his knowledge of Government, that we can get the Departments together, get Ministerial approval and Treasury approval and, if necessary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's approval, draft the circular and get it printed by the Stationery Office in twenty-four hours, I am grateful to him for the compliment.
§ Mr. Macleod
I knew the first point, but I am afraid that I have not followed the second point with any particular care. It can hardly seriously be argued although it is good fun to make it as a debating point, that these decisions which have been announced followed the very valuable suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman has made.
He made an extremely interesting point, which we have debated many times in the House, about industrial development certificates being refused in London. I presume that he also means—and we have said this in the House—in Greater Birmingham and in other areas which are relatively highly prosperous. He says—and this is his key sentence—that any new factory or extension which could reasonably go elsewhere should be steered away from the congested areas. I accept that exactly as an outline, very clearly put, of what in fact we are doing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, indeed. The facts, if hon. Gentlemen had followed them, exactly support that.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 30th July fast announced that this policy would be applied even more strictly than before, and not only to Greater London and Greater Birmingham but to other areas, too. At this point, quite frankly, we have a dilemma. I think I am right in saying that virtually no purely new factory is given an I.D.C. in the Greater London area. First, a considerable amount of factory space is given and has to be given to the various service industries which such an enormous area as London needs. Secondly, a very great element of factory building consists of extensions. Of course an extension can be so big that it is virtually a new factory. That is quite true. I accept that if that extension can reasonably be steered away from Greater London to one of the areas where we should like to see it—and the Opposition must realise that we should like to see it go to those areas just as much as they would—then that should be, as it is, the policy. What happens if that extension will take place only, shall we say, in Greater Birmingham, which is where they have asked for it to take place? That is the dilemma which I do not think the Opposition always face, with great respect to them.
437 Surely the best of all results is that there should be a new factory or a biggish extension in one of the needy areas. The second best result is that the factory or extension should be built somewhere, because the worst of all possible answers is where the refusal of the I.D.C. means that the factory or extension does not take place and the economy of this country is thereby the weaker.
This is a genuine difficulty which faces those who try to administer the policy of I.D.C.s, and I know that the right hon. Gentleman recognises it. It is a genuine dilemma. It is also true that virtually no authority is given in the Greater London area for a purely new factory. I have said that the right hon. Gentleman's proposals were essentially what the Government were trying to do. Obviously, because of that, I can scarcely be critical of them. That is not only my opinion but is the opinion of the newspapers, to which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman himself turned eagerly first of all, because their leading articles say exactly the same thing.
The Financial Times said:Mr. Jay presents his proposals with a flourish. But in fact they differ only marginally from what the Government is already doing.The Economist is even less kind. It said:He has to strain fairly hard to make the broad policy he has in mind look very different from the one that he is attacking.The Manchester Guardian said:The only real difference between them is that the Opposition would like the bullying and the bribing to be done more vigorously.It is the opinion of these very distinguished newspapers that this is just a piece of political "me-too-ism." I take that as a compliment both to the Government and to the right hon. Gentleman, because he has had experience of the two key executive Ministries in this matter, the Board of Trade and the Treasury, and it is not wholly surprising that, having examined the position carefully and having had experience of those two Ministries, he should reach somewhat similar answers to those which the Government are putting forward.
On the basis of the quotations from the leading articles which I have read and what has been said in the House, it is impossible to pretend that there is a 438 dramatic or radical difference of approach between the two sides of the House in this matter. If I may mangle one metaphor and two sayings, Mahomet has been to the mountain and he has brought back a mouse.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
But is it not a fact that the Government almost destroyed the distribution of industry policy and are only now attempting gradually to reactivate it?
§ Mr. Macleod
No. The history of that falls into many parts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite should not cheer too soon. If they study what was done in the years 1945–48 they will find that, naturally, a substantial amount of money was spent on this policy in those years, but if they compare the average amount spent between 1948 and 1951 with the average of the last few years—we will give figures if hon. Members like—they will find that there was very little difference. I am referring to the position from the moment the Labour Party decided to reduce expenditure on these matters.
As I have always tried to do in every unemployment debate, I will try to give as good an analysis as I can, particularly as there is such interest in these figures, of the winter unemployment, which is behind us. I will also give figures, some of which are only an hour old and which I collected just before I came to the House, showing the March position having first tried to put them in their setting.
The House knows that I made a forecast on 3rd November last year which created a great deal of interest. As I have explained, I did that because on the whole I took a more optimistic view than many people were taking of the fundamental strength of our economy. I thought that on the whole we should come through the winter months better than many people were prophesying. It seemed to me that some of the rather alarmist things which were being said about 4 per cent. to 5 per cent. unemployment were having an effect on confidence—and the House realises how important business confidence is in this matter—and as they seemed to me unjustified, I made that forecast.
Since then we have had four complete months—November, December, January 439 and February. In addition, I should like to give the March figures. I will spend no time at all on November. The unemployment figures in November increased by 22,000, which was about 11,000 worse than the seasonal increase, but that was in accordance with the estimate which I had given to the House and I was neither particularly cheered nor particularly depressed by those figures. Clearly the deterioration in the employment position was continuing in full, or very nearly in full, in November, as far as one could see.
Next came the December figures. The House will remember that we had a debate two days before the Recess in which I gave figures which had just been collected and which were then an hour or two old. At first sight these figures seemed encouraging. Normally there is little or no change between November and December. The seasonal change averages, I believe, 1,000, and these figures were a few thousands only better than that. For the first time for some months we had done better than the seasonal trend. Frankly, those figures looked hopeful as I gave them to the House.
I must, however, tell the House that the closer analysis on which we embarked as the full industrial figures were received removed that impression, and it was clear that no real improvement had started in December. The underlying trend, although perhaps less noticeable than in November, was still persisting. To take one example, we found that a number of those who had been taken on for the Christmas trade had this year been taken on from the unemployment registers instead of from students and other sources of casual labour as has often been the practice. On closer analysis it was seen that this distorted the figures to some extent. The December figures therefore looked hopeful at first sight and a good deal less hopeful on closer examination.
Next, we had the January figures, which came as a considerable shock to the country. The increase in unemployment was 89,000 and the percentage rose from 2.4 per cent. to 2.8 per cent. Here, strangely enough, a closer analysis began to show exactly the reverse of what had been shown in the December figures. The more detailed analyses came in from industry, 440 the more carefully it was possible to examine the January figures, the more positive signs of improvement could be seen in them. Hidden by those enormous figures were what one can now see was the first sign of a reviving labour demand.
The count of this figure in the winter took place on a day—this is generally true of mid-January—on which a great part of the country, particularly Scotland, was ice-bound and snow-bound, and the figures for the building and contracting and for agriculture and fishing were to that extent considerably unreal. In addition, the Christmas school leavers left school in larger numbers than ever before and entered an already difficult labour market. When one looked at the key sectors of industry—chemicals and textiles, engineering and electrical goods, for example—one could see quite clearly, however, the beginnings of an improvement, and I will come back to this point in a minute.
The February figures, which followed, showed a decrease of some 12,000, which is about twice the normal seasonal decrease. Frankly, I had again expected rather more because I thought that we should have a bigger dividend back from the January weather. On the other hand, when one looked at the key trades one found them reasonably satisfactory. For two months one had had what one hoped was the beginning of a real improvement.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
The right hon. Gentleman said that the January figure was bad in particular because the count was taken on a day on which there was a lot of frost. He said that this applied particularly in Scotland where many building trade and civil engineering workers were unemployed. In point of fact, when the count was taken in mid-February there were 2,500 more unemployed workers in the building and civil engineering industries than in January. The January figure does not seem to have seen unusually high, therefore, and in any case in Scotland there was no drop between the January and February figures.
§ Mr. Macleod
I know that there was not. There was, as I think the hon. Member will recall, very bad weather indeed in February in Scotland, and I personally did not expect a considerable improvement in the position in Scotland, although I expected a considerable improvement in the rest of the country.
441 Before I turn to the March figures, I should like to make a point about the key sectors of industry. Leaving November aside, normally unemployment increases in the manufacturing industries in the three months December, January and February. In fact it increased in those three months by about 11,000, but this was less than half the normal increase in unemployment over the past eight years, which is as far back as I have followed these figures.
Within that, there was a reasonably satisfactory situation in textiles, where unemployment in cotton, which had increased by 1,000, was balanced by a similar decrease in wool. There was a decrease in metal manufacture, which was useful. There were only two or three industries in which the increase in unemployment was worse than normal—these industries were some mining products, wood and cork, and paper and printing—and the difference there was only a few hundreds.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
Do these figures also include those who were non-registered, such as dock workers?
§ Mr. Macleod
All the figures, of course, are of those who are registered at any given time. This has always been the definition taken. There is no new definition. if the hon. Member is making the point—I concede that it is a perfectly fair one that in some industries—textile is one—there are people who are particularly interested in employment in one given mill and if that mill is on short time they often do not register, that was true in 1959 and has been true in all previous years.
I wish now, in the light of that and having tried to put the winter unemployment in perspective with the advantage of hindsight and having seen how the trends developed, some more favourably than I thought and some less favourably than I thought over these months, to come to the March figures which I have just got. I am very grateful for this opportunity to give them to the House at the earliest possible moment.
There has been in Britain between February and March a decrease of rather more than 58,000. The unemployment percentage goes from 2.8 per cent. down 442 to 2.5 per cent. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in every region of England, there have been substantial decreases so that this overall decrease is very widely shared. What is perhaps of even more value is that this seems to be a true decrease in that it is concentrated amongst the wholly unemployed, who have dropped by 48,000.
The figures of Christmas school-leavers, in which the House has been, rightly, so interested and which show a level of unemployment among boys and girls leaving school of 17,000 in January, is now, in the middle of March, 3,347. That is an enormous and very welcome improvement.
The biggest decrease in total unemployment has taken place where, in fact, we would like to see it most, in Scotland. There the unemployment percentage drops from 5.4 to 4.8.
There has also been—these are figures which I have obtained from the Northern Ireland Government—a very welcome decrease in unemployment there of the order of 3,000. That will mean a substantial decrease in the unemployment percentage, although I have not got the precise percentage. The decrease for Great Britain, is the biggest decrease in unemployment, with the exception of the 1947 fuel crisis year, in any March since the war, and it is the biggest decrease in any month since the months of 1947.
Those are some of the bare facts, and the House, I like to think—the whole House—will welcome them as I give them. I am not, of course, yet ready to do the sort of industrial analysis that I have attempted on some of the earlier months. In some of the key sectors—I asked for some of the figures—there has, of course, been a very big drop, which one would expect. This, no doubt, is largely seasonal in building and contracting as the better weather comes and as demand begins to grow in that sector.
There is a very welcome drop indeed in textiles of 3,400 and a drop of over 4,000 in engineering. The one sector which seems to have increased at all noticeably is shipbuilding and ship-repairing. I am told that the reason for this—I am sure it is right; I have tried to find out from two or three of my regional controllers—is the end of the winter ship-repairing programme before new work has come in.
443 Those are the main key sectors which I have looked at, and, with the exception of shipbuilding and ship-repairing, they, again, make pretty good reading. The interpretation of these figures may, of course, be altered to some extent in the light of subsequent analysis. I have given an example of a month which seemed fairly hopeful and which on closer analysis was not encouraging and of the immediately succeeding month which did not seem so hopeful but which, on analysis, showed improvement. I have no reason to think, because this decrease is fully three times what the seasonal decrease could possibly be, that it can be explained by anything but a genuine revival of demand. One figure in March—an important figure—is that the vacancies figure has climbed by 25,000 in the same month.
To some extent, at least, this seems to me to put one side of the House in a little difficulty. I will read the first two lines of the Motion which we are debating and on which, I take it, the Opposition intend to divide. They state:That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to prevent the recent substantial and widespread rise in unemployment …The Liberals, tumbling headlong into the same pit, although they have an Amendment, start to amend too late to avoid these words.
Frankly, I do not see how the Opposition can call on the House to vote on the Motion because it is simply 100 per cent. away from the truth. There has, in fact, been a "recent substantial and widespread" fall in unemployment, and unless the Opposition chooses to move a suitable manuscript Amendment, I do not see how they can possibly move the Motion now before the House. I have no doubt that the Opposition will improve. The first seven years in Opposition are always the most difficult. Nor, indeed, is there any point in the Labour Party getting cross with me. I did not put this Motion on the Order Paper, and I cannot help it if every time the Opposition are asked to name their weapons they pick boomerangs.
We have, of course, on many occasions, and no doubt we shall again, debated unemployment in the House. I think it worth putting on record, because the two Governments have shared the authority in the country in the post-war years, how 444 astonishingly similar—we can say that our ideas are different, and they may be—the records are.
The position now with the later figures is this. If we take the average monthly unemployment in all the months under Socialism, right from the time when there was virtually no unemployment at all in the summer of 1945 to October, 1951, the average monthly unemployment was 334,000. The average monthly unemployment under the Tories was 334,000. Precisely to 1,000, the figures are the same. But, of course, because employment has been very much higher under the Tories, not only absolutely, which would be understandable because the numbers at work have increased, but also as a percentage of the potential working population, percentage unemployment under the Tories has been rather better than under the Socialists.
One is quite entitled to use these figures to say that a Tory Government has done at least as well—perhaps marginally better—than the Socialists. No one is entitled to use these figures to say that we on this side of the House care more than hon. Members opposite do about unemployment. That would be a shabby thing to do. But it is just as shabby to make that charge, on the basis of less impressive figures, in reverse. There are any number of speeches which have been made and which I could recall to this House—and the House knows this—in which that charge is particularly made. But I should like to recall one speech made fairly recently by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Sir T. O'Brien), who is a member of the Opposition and a former President of the T.U.C. I am sorry to learn from my newspaper that the hon. Gentleman is in hospital. Speaking on 5th November, 1958, he said:I am a politician as well as a trade union leader, but I do not believe that it is right for any politician, whatever his party, to suggest that another party is trying to create unemployment in this country. Personally, I do not believe it.I am glad to put that on record. Personally, I do not believe it for a moment either. Nor, frankly, do I think that in their hearts most hon. Members opposite think anything other than that.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The right hon. Gentleman has given the House a lot of figures. Will he give us one more? Will he tell us how many unemployed there are at the moment?
§ Mr. Macleod
Almost exactly 550,000. The precise figure is not available, but it is a fairly simple calculation. From 608,000 one takes 58,000.
There is one more figure which I think should be put to the House, and it arises in part out of the exchange which my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) had with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North. As this has been a world-wide recession, I think it wrong not to show our performance in comparison with the performances of other countries. I have tried to get from my Ministry all the latest figures for the countries of the West, and I have them for the latest available months which are usually either February or January of this year—with one exception—as the House knows one can never get a percentage unemployment figure for France. The "league table" goes like this: 8.9 per cent., Canada; 8.5 per cent., Italy; 8.3 per cent., Denmark; 7.2 per cent., Belgium; 6.1 per cent., United States; 5.6 per cent., Western Germany; 4.3 per cent., Sweden; 4 per cent., Norway; 3.2 per cent., Netherlands, and, last of all, 2.8 per cent. a short time ago—2.5 per cent. now—Great Britain.
Looking back on the year, which has been a year of world-wide recession, there is nothing whatever for us to apologise about; there is much to be proud of in the achievement of our country, I said in the achievement of our country and not in the achievement of any particular political party, because full employment in this country is essentially earned by the people and not given to them by politicians.
I will, if I may, inflict one more forecast upon the House—I am sorry to do this; I expect it is because of the start of the flat racing season The last time we debated unemployment, on 17th December, I said this:We are told that unemployment will be a great issue at the next General Election. I wonder. M any other lances have splintered in the hands of the party opposite. I have a 446 feeling that, as with the Rent Act so with unemployment, it will be the Tories who will be talking about it when the General Election comes."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1958, Vol. 597, c. 1260.]And so I believe it will be. Because we on this side of the House are very used to this story.
We are used, in respect of our economic policy and the Rent Act and our policy regarding unemployment, to enduring vicious and vehement attacks from hon. Members opposite and then, after a decent interval, for those attacks to whimper away into silence. Let the Opposition contemplate the figures of the retail price index now standing substantially where it did in April of last year, and all the different indices which go to show the many ways in which sterling is strengthening. As they hear the ring of these unemployment figures this afternoon, I can only offer them the chilly comfort of those words,… never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
The Minister of Labour and National Service has made a reasoned case based upon an analysis of figures to which no one else has had access. His statements have given great satisfaction to hon. Members opposite. Several times during his speech the right hon. Gentleman used language that ought not to be used in a debate of this character. He referred several times to the fact that we had fun. We all know that it is essential in life to have a sense of humour, but the line must be drawn somewhere. The figures which have been given today indicate something which cannot be denied, in spite of the interpretation which has been put on them. It is that in this country there are still over 500,000 unemployed.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Over 500,000 of our fellow men and women are still unemployed; men and women living on the mere pittance represented by a low insurance benefit; men and women who are as good as any of those hon. Members who this afternoon cheered the brutal facts given by the Minister.
I propose to follow the example of the Minister and to remind him of some 447 statements which have been made. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten that the figure of 500,000 unemployed results from the deliberate policy of the Government. He seems to forget, and cheering "knights of the land" seem to forget, that this calculated unemployment was created largely at the suggestion of the British Employers' Confederation. Two years ago the Confederation issued a statement suggesting that unemployment should be created in this country. Sir William Garrett, President of the British Employers' Confederation, recently stated:It is most important that the Government should not bring about again that situation of 'overfull' unemployment which has been the cause and accompaniment of the inflation to which we have been subjected for the past 12 years.These are brutal undeniable facts which can be checked by any hon. Member.
We on this side of the House welcome the announcement that there has been a decrease in the number of unemployed. If I understood the Minister correctly, he said that there had been a reduction of 58,000. There are now approximately 2.5 per cent. unemployed, but the number is still well over half a million. According to the figures that we have been given, there has been a reduction of 3,000 in textiles and about 4,000 in engineering.
We must examine those facts. I propose, as briefly as possible, in the limited time at my disposal, to examine the facts and to ask the House to consider the situation in its correct perspective, based upon those facts. Then I will make constructive proposals of a short-term and a long-term nature.
The first fact that I want to establish is that all political parties in this country, and therefore all members who loyally support them, are committed to a policy of full employment. For a second time in my life we fought a war in order to save this country. During the First World War all kinds of promises were made, and at each General Election further promises were made. At each new Parliament elected those promises were betrayed. The promises made during the wars to enable us to have the maximum support from our fellow countrymen have been betrayed.
Time after time since the First World War—if anyone doubts this let him go to 448 the Library and ask the Librarian for the White Papers—White Papers have been issued as the result of which the country was committed to the policy of full employment. It is the first terrible indictment of the present situation that, in spite of world shortages and in spite of the backward areas which are spoken about in United Nations, there are still in this country, which is committed to a policy of full employment, more than half a million people unemployed.
I know of no greater tragedy in life than for people to be unemployed through no fault of their own. Before the war it used to be said that many men would not accept employment if it were offered to them. This cannot be said truthfully now. During the war, and for several years afterwards, we had full employment. The statement by the employers speaks of "overfull" employment. Before the war, thousands of men and women were walking about with their heads hanging down thinking that there was no place in life for them. We saw a great change when, during the war and for a few years afterwards, the same men and women were walking about with their heads erect, looking everyone straight in the eye and believing that there was a place in life for them.
We now see a change again in certain areas, particularly in those in which the percentage of unemployment is relatively high. Men and women are again losing hope, thinking that they are not wanted and that there is no place for them. Against that background one would not think that Government supporters would cheer as they have done this afternoon, but would look upon the situation as serious and would make proposals for dealing with it, rather than adopt the attitude that they have adopted this afternoon.
The situation is far worse than the figures indicate. Within a 50-mile radius of Manchester are some of the most hardworking people in the world, yet within that same radius are four times as many people unemployed as there are in the whole of Wales, twice as many unemployed as there are in Scotland and four times as many as there are in the whole of Northern Ireland. Living in the heart of this area, I cannot approach this problem in the way that many Government supporters have done, or on the 449 basis taken by the Minister of Labour and his supporters.
We must examine the official figures. I invite any hon. Member to analyse the statistical evidence upon which my case is based and to deny that within a 50-mile radius of Manchester, 178,000 people are unemployed. In Stockton-on-Tees the number is 5,000, the figure for Liverpool is 24,000, for Manchester it is 11,000, for Salford 2,600 and for Oldham 7,000. I could go on, giving figures for Burnley, Blackburn, Preston, Warrington and other great industrial areas, where men and women, who are as good as any of us, live and work, as they did during the war to enable us to make the maximum effort to save not only our country but all that is best in life. Now nearly 178,000 of them are unemployed and are beginning to lose hope.
I could give figures for the various areas, but there is no need to do so. The blackest indictment that it is possible to make this afternoon is achieved simply by using official figures of the kind that I have put forward. I will turn to constructive proposals and make an examination of the Motion which is on the paper and of the Amendment.
I am always inclined to be critical of people who only talk and make no proposals for dealing with the matters of which they complain. Whether or not we agree with my right hon. Friend who opened the debate, he has made constructive proposals, and they are contained in the pamphlet to which reference has been made. To that extent he deserves credit for the work that he has done.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
The Liberals are proposing that a few words be deleted from the Motion. It is so very easy to talk. We are put to the test when we get responsibility, whether we are prepared to translate our talk and theoretical ideas 450 into realities. We are now dealing with the Liberals. I invite one of them, the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham Carter), to come into the House instead of standing smiling beyond the Bar. The Liberals propose to delete the words of the Motion referring to "planned economic expansion". I do not want to take up too much time because many other hon. Members desire to speak. I want to play the game. I differ from those clever ex-officers who have suggested that we speak for five minutes. They want to carry on as they did in the Army and to have second-class officers. They are not playing the game.
The Liberals propose to delete those words. Of course, I understand this, but there is a fundamental difference between the Minister's political thesis and ours. We are Socialists. We believe that the only hope for mankind is in accepting Socialist ideas. Now that the world is travelling at jet speed that is more essential than ever. The Minister believes—and I am not making a personal matter of this—in the political theory of the Conservatives. There is a fundamental difference between our approach to the problem and his. If Britain is to hold its own in the future, our ideas will have to be accepted. We shall agree to differ for the time being.
Then we come to the Liberals. The Liberals propose to eliminate altogethera policy of planned economic expansion".Almost every country in the world, including the great free enterprise country of America, is adopting some form of policy of economic expansion, yet the Liberals are so out of date that they propose to delete a fundamental proposal of that character. They go on also to propose to deletea determined use of the powers existing under the Distribution of Industry Acts".Although I shall not speak personally, I can speak of officials. I have never known more conscientious officials responsible for administering Acts of Parliament than those officials. If there is anything wrong, it is in policy and not in the administration of the present Acts of Parliament. Yet the Liberals propose to delete that. They go on and propose to deleteto restore full employment in the country generally".451 The time has arrived when all real Liberals should do what some of my hon. Friends did long ago, leave the Liberal Party and become members of the real radical party. All I hope is that they do not assist others in making it more Liberal than it is at present. Now we know where we stand, and I hope we shall not have a repetition in future of what we have had this afternoon. I know there are the every-day political differences and that we have a lot of cut and thrust, and aim at one another. There is misunderstanding and that kind of thing. I make all allowances for that, but I suggest that when we are faced with a situation in which at least half a million of our fellow countrymen are unemployed we ought not to approach it in the way too many hon. Members have done.
I do not think we ought to talk about fun in a debate of this kind. We are faced with a concrete situation and we ought to analyse the figures, as the Minister did and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) did, in accordance with our approach to the problem, and make constructive proposals. I believe that the only hope for this country is a planned economy with a Ministry responsible for the planning of that economy, bringing about maximum production, especially in manufacturing industries. In that way we would make a radical call to our fellow countrymen, and in that way, in this serious situation, Britain would make a great contribution to the export trade.
These ideas are not accepted by many hon. Members whom I respect. Therefore, we can agree to differ about them. I am confident that this is the only road forward for our country. Meanwhile, instead of the unemployed having a mere pittance and having to manage on National Assistance, we ought to give a rallying call to the whole country to remember that it is committed to a policy of full employment. If anyone is unemployed through no fault of his own, the very minimum benefit he ought to receive is at least 75 per cent. of what he received when in employment. That puts a great responsibility on the Government to fulfil their war-time pledges. It puts a bigger responsibility on us to carry out a policy which will deal with unemployment. In my view, that is the mid-twentieth 452 century approach to the problem, and it is the approach which this country should be making.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)
This being the first time that I have had the honour to address this House, I should like to hope that hon. Members will feel able to treat me with the kind indulgence which is customary on such occasions.
I feel all the more inadequate when I think of the oratory with which the name of Buchan has been associated in this House for so long, through the skill of my illustrious predecessor. I wanted to speak in this debate because unemployment in my constituency and in constituencies like mine has been, and is—in spite of the exceedingly favourable figures I was delighted to hear earlier this afternoon—still so serious. Each year since the war the percentage figure has fluctuated between an average of 3 per cent, to 5 per cent. in the summer and 13 per cent. in the winter. At present, it averages about 11½ per cent., but in January this year it rose to over 16 per cent. This is our recurring problem, therefore: one of continual seasonal fluctuations.
The point I want to make is that even during the good weather months the figure still remains about four or five times that of the national average, and I cannot help but find that disturbing. It represents something much more important than a matter of statistics. It represents human frustration, human suffering even as well, and, also, it means a constant migration of some of our best people all the time to industrial centres in the South. It is important, therefore, that something much more effective should be done to support the overall economy for my constituency and other distant constituencies.
It is not as if this were a question of artificial preservation of a forgotten neck of the backwoods from a merciful extinction. In farming and fishing, with its Aberdeen Angus and its herring industry, my constituency is pre-eminent. The towns in it serve both these interests. It is vital—now more vital than ever, as I hope to show—that these towns should remain the flourishing, dynamic communities that they are and that this trend 453 of increasing unemployment and increasing migration, particularly of the younger people, should be stopped.
My constituency is not a place which expects Government assistance to be had for the asking. It is able and willing to help itself first. There is any amount of local private enterprise and initiative on which the Government can rely. The Buchan Meat Producers, for example, started in my constituency for the first time an organisation of farmers who have come together to arrange for their own marketing of their meat.
This body has grown in a few years to have an annual turnover of about £1,350,000, in addition to having saved the Government approximately £104,000 in price guarantee payments because of its success in stabilising markets. It has also been the work of private enterprise by public-spirited individuals in the community which has succeeded in obtaining the two factories which have come to Peterhead recently, and which have done so much to help reduce unemployment in the area.
It is fashionable to regard a problem of this kind in this sort of area as insuperable. There is a legend that industry up there, so far from large markets, cannot pay; that transport is an insoluble problem, and that, in any case, depopulation is inevitable. This is not only fallacious in itself—as the success of existing factories there shows—but an entirely new factor has just arisen to make our thinking and our action on this matter much more urgent.
For years it has been the custom to accept that the population of Scotland is drawn inexorably into the vortex of industry and employment round Glasgow. For years, the prosperity of areas like Fraserburgh and Peterhead have suffered from this movement. But what do we find now? The concertina has contracted so much that it has to expand once more—hence the Glasgow overspill.
It is now proposed that thousands of Glaswegians are to go back to places like Fraserburgh and Peterhead in one of the most significant mass migrations known in Britain since the Industrial Revolution. It is being done at great expense, and at great sacrifice. I cannot help hoping that 454 it will never have to be done again. Government action in the future must be that much more effective in forestalling the move southward in the first place.
I should like to ask the Government whether it would be possible to get more tangible assistance for industries to come to this kind of area in the first instance. We are a Development Area, it is true, but in my investigations into this question I cannot say that I have, so far, found much factual evidence of Government assistance in this respect. The two most recent factories were obtained entirely by private enterprise, though they were built by the Scottish Industrial Estates.
Under D.A.T.A.C., there are real inducements for industry to come to the depressed areas, but that Committee seems to me to be more suitably designed for areas already heavily industrialised than for semi-industrialised constituencies like my own. Only definite financial inducements can overcome the inherent prejudice of industry against investment in a part of the country so far removed from the central markets.
If we could get the factories there, employers would find everything they could possibly need. The labour is first-class, the record of labour relations is virtually unblemished, and, in particular, the response to incentives is excellent. The workers are exceptionally adaptable, and skilful with their hands. It has been said to me by industrialists in both Fraserburgh and Peterhead that nothing is lacking in the way of advantages for industries.
Our problem, therefore, remains to get the industry to come in the first place. Transport is the one great obstacle, but even that is not insuperable if the product is small and expensive, such as precision tools and light bulbs—two types of industry that are already flourishing in the Buckie and Peterhead areas. One of the definite financial inducements that I should like to see introduced is transport concessions to individual factories. In addition to such concessions, ready-made factories have, in the past, proved a powerful inducement to industry, and I hope that the Government will continue that policy.
Further, I cannot help feeling that simplification of the formalities to be 455 endured in obtaining Government aid would be of great assistance in persuading new industries to come to these areas.
My final point, however, leaves the question of new industry to come back to those industries that are already there. Provided that the Government can give full support to any project for expansion which is directed against unemployment in the locality itself, I am quite sure that the people will go far towards dealing with the problem themselves. It is, I suppose, natural to feel that a high percentage of unemployment, combined with a comparatively low total, is not of such urgency as a low percentage in a place like Glasgow which yet entails a higher total, but in a constituency like mine it is not the quantity of unemployment that matters—it is the fact that it exists.
The efforts of the people in the area need full support, and as much financial help as is possible. It seems to me wrong that in East Aberdeenshire, with its outstanding record of labour and private enterprise—and we are not unique in this—we should continue to find it almost impossible to provide equality of opportunity. I should like to see still more Government action to put that right.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) on his maiden speech, and I do so most sincerely. His speech was well worthy of the occasion, and certainly worthy of the constituency that he represents—and it was right of him to mention his well-known predecessor. The hon. Gentleman's constituency is famous for some of its products, not only in Scotland, but throughout the world. I am quite certain that the hon. Gentleman will do his best to maintain its reputation. The House has enjoyed his speech, not only because of the manner of its delivery but because of its content, and I am sure that we will look forward to hearing the hon. Gentleman on many occasions in the future.
I must now address some remarks—perhaps not quite so friendly—to the Minister of Labour. His speech was well worthy of his pamphleteering days at the Conservative Central Office. He sought to taunt my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) 456 with having used figures to suit his own purpose. That accusation cannot be justifiably applied to Scotland. Whether we take January or February, the figures were still at the abnormally high level of 116,000. Indeed, the February figures were fractionally greater than those of January.
When I addressed the House earlier in the year, I expressed the view that the figures were swollen because of certain circumstances obtaining in the building trade, and in other industries that are affected by winter conditions. The Minister said that some of us had quoted some alarming figures of unemployment when we described them as rising to 4 per cent. to 5 per cent.
Even with the fall that the right hon. Gentleman hurriedly announced today, Scottish unemployment still remains in the region of 5 per cent. We have had no breakdown of the figures, but in February our male unemployment was running at just over 6 per cent. Therefore, the figure of 4 per cent. to 5 per cent. that the Minister described as being alarming, and as having frightened people, still obtains in Scotland. That has to be clearly understood.
The right hon. Gentleman failed to mention the number of people in Scotland on short-time work. The last figure I was able to get from the Ministry showed that for every one worker on short time last year, there were four this year. That has to be added to the figure of over 100,000. If the Scottish figure is correct, we still have an unemployed population tonight of 104,000, which means that of every five unemployed in Great Britain one is in Scotland.
In addition, there are a considerable number on short time and, on the Ministry's figures, a considerable number in under-employment. As if that were not bad enough, the last figures that we have been given, while they may not amount to great numbers in total, show that out of every four unemployed young people in Britain one is to be found in Scotland. We have to consider the debate against that background.
I wish to say one thing about the Government's claim for advance factories. We suggested advance factories many months ago. When, in the middle of last year, I forecast what I thought the position would be in Scotland at the end 457 of the year, I was chastised by one or two hon. Members opposite—certainly not by the President of the Board of Trade, who had opened the debate, nor by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Events have proved that even my forecast did not foresee the very high rates of unemployment which have existed in Scotland over the end of last year and the beginning of this year.
At that time, when we were suggesting advance factories, they were being rejected by the Government side of the House, and certainly by Ministers. During the whole of the Christmas vacation my colleagues and I visited every sort of institution in Scotland—the Scottish Council for the Development of Industry, the Scottish Economic Committee of the Trades Union Congress and the Scottish Board for Industry, asking them to aid us in our campaign to establish factories of that kind. It has been only under that constant pressure that this action has been taken.
Let us measure the response. The Minister is saying that Scotland will have one factory and that that will be tried out as an experiment. That can in no way measure up to Scotland's problem. We had a dramatic announcement earlier in the week that we were to have five advance factories in Glenrothes. The Joint Under-Secretary of State made it quite clear yesterday, in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), that those five factories were to be workshops.
§ Mr. Hoy
My hon. Friend describes them as "henhouses". The Joint Under-Secretary was at pains yesterday to point out that they were very small. He was at pains to describe them as workshops and not as factories.
If the Minister has given way at all, he has given way very little. The Board of Trade has to go very much further than that if it to meet Scotland's needs.
It was a slick little trick which the Minister of Labour adopted with reference to Sections 3 and 5 of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. Certainly, I can speak for my colleagues who represent Scottish constituencies-and it cannot be denied by the representatives from the 458 Scottish Office—that for a considerable time we have been advocating that Sections 3 and 5 of the Distribution of Industry Act should be operated. Indeed, I put it in writing to the Secretary of of State for Scotland in February of this year, and it was acknowledged by him on 20th February. It was one more suggestion made to help get industry going in Scotland. It was a suggested means of tackling the problem quickly to meet the needs of the situation. It is no use the Minister of Labour describing what action he took on 12th March, when he has proof in front of him that we have been doing this for a considerable time and suggested it to him in writing in February of this year.
It is not a struggle between two sides as to who will get the credit. Right hon. and hon. Members on these benches do not care who receives the credit, if the people in Scotland are provided with employment. That is what is at issue today. That is what we wish to achieve. I suggest to the Ministers that, when they are making their speeches, if some credit has to be claimed it should be apportioned fairly.
It is not my job to go over all the figures, nor to make a considerable number of new suggestions. I have submitted proposals in many ways to the Scottish Office and I am hoping that the Scottish Office will give them attention.
I have already given the background figures. I have not anything later than February, because it was not possible for me, as it was for the Minister of Labour, to get on the telephone to the local offices—I understand that this was the process employed—to obtain the figures quickly this afternoon in the hope that they would be good and would serve the Government's purpose.
§ Mr. Hoy
This is the normal tactic of the Tory Party. It does it on every occasion. It sends unemployment figures up to the highest rate ever. Then, having brought them down by 50,000, it asks, "Are we not wonderful fellows to have achieved that?" The Tory Party has sent the cost of living up to the highest rate ever. Then the Minister claims credit for not having pushed it through the ceiling. It sent the Bank Rate up to 7 per cent. and then asked, 459Are we not wonderful? We have brought it down to 4 per cent.Everybody is delighted that tonight there are 58,000 more people in employment than there were last month. But we must remember that there are still more than half a million people unemployed and that 20 per cent. of them are in Scotland.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East was careful to point out that, in addition to all the figures which have been returned, there has been a continual drain of people from Scotland and that we have lost thousands by immigration throughout the year, not only from the north of Scotland to the south of Scotland, but from Scotland to south of the Border and even overseas. The continual drain has gone on, or goodness knows what would have been our position today in Scotland.
We submitted a considerable number of schemes and complaints about the closing of Scottish industries. The Scottish Office has agreed to look into the problem. Since then, we have had further communication from other firms. We have just received a letter from the Amalgamated Engineering Union, protesting against the threatened closing down of Wickman's factories on the Hillington estate. This is a further threat to skilled labour in Scotland in an area where unemployment is so bad. We have also had representations from the Lord Provost of Inverness and from the National Union of Railwaymen about the threatened closure of the two big railway workshops. They view the future with considerable alarm in their areas.
For a considerable time we have been suggesting that, if this process continues, Scotland will suffer very badly in the future. Knowing that these things will happen, what positive action will the Government take to meet the new circumstances? In addition to the figures of unemployment, and the closures of industries from the north of Scotland to the south, we have also to fact the fact that about 20 pits in Scotland are to be closed in the near future. What action are the 'Government taking to meet this new situation?
We have suggested many schemes to the Government, some short term to meet the present needs, and some long term. 460 We want some answers this afternoon. The Government took a very silly step when, in the midst of the very high level of unemployment which existed and still exists in Scotland, they decided to put up the rents of factories on the industrial estates, which could only help to drive other people away. We had a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. If I may say so, he was, at the outset, rather adamant about the position which the Board of Trade had taken up, but, after what I should call a very fair exchange of opinion, the Board of Trade then made certain modifications in its threatened increases.
Such moves as raising the rent will not attract people to these areas. I do not suggest that it will be rent and rent alone which will decide whether a firm will come or will stay, but rent is certainly one of the things which could be used in an all-out effort to bring industry or to keep industry there. In the midst of that level of unemployment, it was certainly not the time to say to a company that its rent was to be put up by £4,000 per annum when, in fact, the company was able to show that its gross profits were only £7,000 a year. That is not the sort of thing which will attract people or keep them there.
I do not want to repeat all the figures for factory building, but what we find is that, prior to 1951, if all the factories built in Scotland were added together, we had twice as much space as there was in London and the South. The figures have been reversed since 1951. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland need not looked puzzled about this. Until 1951, for every two square feet built in Scotland, only one square foot was built in London and the South. Since 1951, the figures have been reversed; for every two, or rather more than two, square feet now built in London, we have only one square foot in Scotland.
If the hon. Gentleman is really interested in spreading out the work, he must reverse these figures and divert to the unemployment areas some of the factory building which is going on in the South. If the hon. Gentleman wants that to be backed with figures, I will remind him that Scotland's unemployment rate is such that, for every one man unemployed in London and the South, we have three unemployed in Scotland, and for every 461 woman unemployed in London and the South, we have four in Scotland. Surely there is a very good argument, if argument be needed, for bringing work in to Scotland itself.
In addition to the work on factories which we want to see proceed, we are very concerned about the graving dock. I hope that we can have some information about it this afternoon. As I think most people will admit, shipbuilding, and especially ship repairing, is running into difficulties. In Scotland, pre-eminently on the Clyde, we have a shipbuilding area with a record unsurpassed, yet the people concerned in the industry do not look to the future with equanimity. Where there are signs of a fall in employment, one thing which would help to restore the balance would be the introduction of facilities to carry out really large works of ship repairing.
The graving dock is essential. I am told that one of the factors holding it up is the question of terms, of interest rates to be paid. What interest charges are to be made and what grant will the Government give? I suggest that, at least on this occasion, we should have a statement from the Minister about the exact position with regard to this dock.
As well as the short-term programme, there are certain other things which we must do in Scotland. Apart from the graving clock and one or two other things, which are long term, most of the other schemes we have suggested have been designed to meet our immediate needs. They will not solve Scotland's unemployment problem. Scotland must have light industry as well as her heavy industries. This has been said time and time again. There has been in the Grangemouth-Falkirk area a tremendous extension of the hydrocarbon and petrochemical industry, but what has been done has been to manufacture only the basic materials. No complementary factories have been engaged in the plastics industry. If a real contribution towards employment in Scotland is to be made, then it must be made through such complementary industries. We must have them in Scotland.
Exactly the same thing will happen in the case of the steel strip mill if we merely have a mill which will give a certain amount of steel strip. If we content ourselves with doing that and nothing more, we shall make no great contribution to the 462 economic prosperity of Scotland in the future. Here again, we must have industries which will be able to manufacture with the strip which is produced, that is to say, new light industries such as those making refrigerators, television sets, and the like. Those are industries of the type which will use this material. This is a long-term project, but it is along those lines that the solution of Scotland's problem lies.
In conclusion, I say to the Government Front Bench that we are grateful that there has been this fall in unemployment. It is not really very substantial in Scotland. It still leaves us with a tremendous problem. If private industries and others cannot tackle the job, then, in my view, the State should undertake the task itself. These things must be done by planning. I hope that, before this day is over, we shall have some answers to the problems which still confront Scotland.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)
Scotland has the warmest sympathy from Ulster in the problems which still confront her, but I do not think that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) will expect me to debate them with him. His analysis was interesting. In many respects some of his difficulties and problems are the same as ours. I listened with particular interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolridge-Gordon) who made his maiden speech. It was a very fine maiden speech, and a very able first contribution to the debates of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is always a difficult occasion when one makes a maiden speech, and I felt very much for my hon. Friend as he dealt with problems of his area since they are so much like my own.
I think that this is the first time that Northern Ireland has been specifically included in the scope of an employment debate. I welcome this. As far as I can remember, it is the first time that Northern Ireland has been specifically mentioned in an Opposition Motion. I welcome this. I have one regret, however, which is that one really should not debate the problem of Northern Ireland's unemployment in the same context as unemployment in the rest of the Kingdom. Our problem is a very particular and special one. It is quite different from the problem about 463 which we have been hearing from Scotland and about which we shall be hearing from other parts of Great Britain.
Our problem is chronic. It has been with us for years and years. No Government of any political party have ever succeeded in finding a solution to it.
§ Captain Orr
Some are worse than others. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald's Government had unemployment in Northern Ireland standing, I think, at 28.7 per cent. of the insured population.
§ Mr. Pannell
The hon. and gallant Gentleman, of course, is merely perpetuating a canard. The highest figure of unemployment ever known in this country came fifteen months after the National Government was returned in 1933, when it reached the all-time high figure of 2,950,000. Moreover, it was not during the period of the Labour Government that the maximum figure of unemployment in Northern Ireland was reached; it was during the period of the National Government which followed.
§ Captain Orr
I was talking about Ulster. I was saying that under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald unemployment in Ulster stood at 28.7 per cent. of the insured population. I was not making a party political point of it because no Government has solved the problem. We ought to accept that and consider it.
I am glad to say that the fact that our problem is chronic has been accepted by the Government. On 12th March, in answer to a Question by an hon. Member opposite from Scotland, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin), my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, when asked whether the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) possessed the same powers of finance, and so on, as the Northern Ireland Development Council, replied:No, it does not. But we have always considered the unemployment position in Northern Ireland so chronic as to require continuing special efforts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1438.]We are glad to have that clear statement from the Government and we are glad that that is recognised.
As I have described the situation as chronic and continuing, it might be useful for the House if we had a brief statement 464 of what exactly it is, what we believe to be the causes and effects and what has been done so far. In 1947, the average number of people out of work over the year was over 30,000, in a population of 1¼ million. In 1957, there were over 34,000 unemployed. Last month, not taking into account the figure of improvement announced by my right hon. Friend, there were 44,000 people unemployed. That is serious and something which no person with any feeling of humanity could possibly regard with equanimity for long.
Since the war, the annual percentage of unemployed in Ulster has never fallen below 5.8 per cent. of the insured population. This, again, supports my contention that no Government since the war has solved the problem. That figure has to be compared with the current national average in Great Britain of 2.8 or 2.5 per cent.
What are the causes? They have been advanced many times in the House, but it is worth making a further analysis. One fact which is not generally recognised is that in Ulster we have the highest birthrate of any part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, our labour force is continually being augmented in a manner not seen in any other place.
§ Captain Orr
I have made my own contribution to it. I have five children.
The next fact is that we have no indigenous raw material or source of power. We have to import our coal and the vast majority of our raw materials. In addition, there are other factors, such as the fact that in Ulster we have not had National Service, although we wanted it. Perhaps the most significant factor in the situation is the shrinkage of the labour force in some of our older industries, particularly in linen and in agriculture. In agriculture, the number employed on the land in Ulster has fallen since the war from 23,000 to 12,000. In employment in linen, the labour force has fallen from 44,000 to 30,000 and in textile engineering—an allied industry—it has fallen since 1948 from 6,000 to 5,000. That shows a total shrinkage in the labour force of the old industries of at least 26,000 since the war.
465 In the case of agriculture, the fall is not due to depression, but to mechanisation and expansion. Our agriculture is prosperous and thriving; it makes a substantial contribution to the United Kingdom larder. This has been achieved by a remarkable mechanisation which, in turn, has reduced the number of people in employment on the land. In face of this fact, it is remarkable that our unemployment figures are not much higher. It is indeed surprising in the light of the enormous shrinkage of 26,000 in the existing old industries and in the light of our higher birth rate. The fact that the situation is not catastrophically worse is a considerable tribute to both Governments, both to the Northern Ireland Government and the Government here.
Perhaps I may be allowed to recount what has been done since the war. Since 1039 there have been and are now 20 per cent. more people in work in Ulster. In other words, about 70,000 more people are working. That is a notable achievement and it has been due principally to the assistance which has been given to existing industries and to new industries. In the case of existing industries, over 60 firms have been modernised and expanded since the war. In the case of the new industries, we have succeeded in attracting over 130 firms since 1945. The 130 factories which have been built in Ulster since the war have created new employment for over 36,000 people. Had it not been for these efforts, the situation would have been appalling.
The Northern Ireland Government have provided about 4 million sq. ft. of factory space and their current programme will provide a further 1.3 million sq. ft. which, we hope, will in due course provide another 10,000 jobs. Up to 1958 we had spent £15 million on factories and about £9 million on financial help of different kinds to industry.
§ Mr. Osborne
Of the 5.3 million sq. ft. which has been provided, can my hon. and gallant Friend say how much has been occupied and how much is still vacant and available?
§ Captain Orr
I could not give the figures offhand, but my impression is that there is not very much at present unoccupied and available. I shall come to the 466 question of the full employment of factories, because what my hon. Friend has in mind, I believe, is that the building of advance factories is not necessarily— —
§ Sir David Campbell (Belfast, South)
Perhaps I may help. I cannot give an exact figure offhand, but I can say quite definitely that almost all the factory space which has been provided has been occupied.
§ Captain Orr
I am obliged to my non. Friend. It does not necessarily follow that if we were to embark on a considerable expansion in the way of providing a great many new factories we could always rely upon their being fully occupied.
As I say, we have been helped in all this by the British Government in recognising that ours is a special and difficult problem. The Board of Trade has helped us considerably. It has treated us not only as a Development Area, but as a Development Area of a special character. On this occasion, when the Government are faced with a Motion of censure, it would be churlish and ungenerous if we did not acknowledge the fact. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says that we have not done enough, but his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) told us on a recent occasion that he thought we had done pretty well.
Talking about the difficulties of Aberdeen, and castigating the Government on what they have failed to do, the hon. and learned Member, on 11th March, said:Contrast this with Northern Ireland, where success is being achieved though the geographical position there is worse than in Scotland. Distances from the large consuming centres in England are longer, freight charges as a consequence are expensive and unemployment is greater, yet Northern Ireland is successful in attracting British, American and Canadian industries by the positive policy of its local Parliament, which is to make grants to build factories, to let them cheaply at a mere fraction of London rents, to buy machinery and assist research, to buy fuel and to build special roads, power stations and workers' houses. Is not this a striking example to the three Ministries I have indicated to do something of the same for Scotland, if they really mean it?"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 11th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1419.]Someone reminds me, of course, that while one may be pleased at the efforts already made, none the less, the problem is still there. The problem in Ulster is 467 one of a rapidly rising demand for work, which has only been kept in check by the most prodigious efforts of both Governments, but which has not been reduced and which has not been fully met. Our average unemployment at the moment is about 9 per cent., and it is probably the highest in the country. Therefore, the last thing in the world which anyone with any humanity would wish to do would be to regard it complacently.
The question is what should be done. Is it possible of solution at all, and is there any practical proposition that can be put forward? First, our chief difficulty is that of power. We have to import our coal, and our coal is very expensive. We believe that the National Coal Board treats us reasonably fairly in regard to its prices f.o.b., but there is the cost of taking it across the Irish Sea, and also the cost of bringing the finished product back again. So far as power is concerned, it has been suggested that our problem will be completely solved by the application of nuclear energy and the building of nuclear power stations. I am not at all sure about that. I am not at all sure that we should not, first of all, examine at home the development of hydro-electric schemes more than we have done already, because we have got the water. Secondly, I think we ought to examine carefully the prospect of bringing power by cable across the Irish Sea. I understand that that is at present being examined, and I hope that the examination will be carried out as a matter of some urgency.
Of course, the principal ingredient in the whole problem is that of transport. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East said in his maiden speech, this is the chronic problem of any industry in any development area. What is the answer to it? In our case there is a general and widespread belief that freight charges across the Irish Sea are too high. They are governed by a body known as the Irish Shipping Conference, and some people have suggested that perhaps its activities are a proper subject for examination by the Restrictive Practices Court. At any rate, I understand that there is at present a working party set up by the Northern Ireland Government, with the assistance of the Ministry of Transport, to examine the 468 problem of freight charges with the Irish Shipping Conference.
There are some other examples that one gets from time to time to support thy; contention that transport is too expensive. I had a bill of lading sent to me this week which shows that the freight charges for cartons of canned mandarin oranges shipped from Yokohama to Liverpool was £34, and that the charge for shipment from Liverpool to Belfast was £29 13s. 6d. It cost almost as much to bring the oranges from Liverpool to Belfast as it did to bring them from Yokohama to Liverpool. At any rate, it is clear that this matter ought to be carefully examined.
One gets many examples to support this contention but perhaps the most significant comment in this field, which will interest my hon. Friend, and indeed anybody who is interested in the provision of capital incentives to induce factories to go into the Development Areas, appears in a letter which I received last week from a senior director of a large company which provided a subsidiary in Ulster and which makes a substantial contribution to our employment position. He wrote:We have begun to realise just what the snags really are in running a business in Northern Ireland. We reckon that it costs us only a little under £100,000 a year more to operate in Northern Ireland than to operate in one of our other factories in England. This sum is so large that none of the assisted capital or tax reliefs so far granted can cover it. In the long run, a business cannot afford to continue to operate under uneconomical circumstances, and if we did not believe that there was some chance of getting the situation put right, we would reluctantly have to withdraw to one of the other factories where we have more than enough capacity.This uneconomic factor in operating in Northern Ireland can be put down mainly to the cost of transport and communications. It may well be that the Government is not strong enough to insist that the transport rates be reduced to a level that would make the cost of operating in Northern Ireland no more than in, say, Manchester. Perhaps the answer is for the Government to pay the difference between the transport costs London to Manchester and London to Belfast; or that some special Income Tax allowance should be given on turnover in factories in Northern Ireland.That seems to me to underline the difficulty. It is one thing to give capital inducements to factories to go to special areas; it is one thing to provide free capital, easy loans and availability of good labour; it is one thing to provide power stations, roads, buildings and 469 workers' houses. It is quite another thing to make sure that, once that factory is established, it will continue to be viable throughout its existence.
Therefore, it seems to me that not only have we to provide the sort of inducements that are already provided to attract factories to places initially, but that we have also to consider whether or not some permanent form of inducement can be given to keep the factories there, because, unless we do that, we shall reach the sort of dilemma which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour mentioned a short while ago. If we use controls to prevent expansion in London or in one of the areas which already have too much employment and if, at the same time, we do not ensure that expansion elsewhere will ultimately and in the long term be profitable, we shall either produce stagnation and prevent expansion altogether or we shall set up factories which will ultimately close down again at the first sign of a recession. [Interruption.] Of course they will, as in many places they have already.
Therefore, one has to go further. One has to find some other form of permanent financial inducement. We have to deal with the transport problem. There is the suggestion of subsidising transport. That is very difficult administratively. I used to be attracted to the idea, but I am not so sure now.
I feel, however, that there is a possibility of dealing with the difficulty through tax relief. We should examine whether it is possible to provide some sort of tax allowance based upon the incidence of transport in costs. I do not know whether that is a practical proposition, but, at any rate, we have to seek in our long-term thinking about the Development Areas in general and about Ulster in particular, a long-term permanent inducement like this.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
I am rather interested in the hon. and gallant Member's last point, but I do not quite follow how it will work. If transport costs are deducted in arriving at the calculation of profit, and if the firm is not able to make a profit, surely no kind of tax allowance will be of any assistance?
§ Captain Orr
Yes, but it ought to be possible through initial allowances to take 470 into account the incidence of transport costs. I do not know; I have not myself gone very deeply into the matter. I was attracted by the suggestion in the letter I have just read, and I think that we ought to examine it. I do not see that it is altogether impossible.
I wish, briefly, to mention the subject of Government contracts. We in Ulster recognise that we have been very fairly treated in the matter of Government contracts. That is the one thing upon which we Ulster Members in this House continually bring pressure on the Government, and, on the whole, they have responded very favourably. We realise that in defence contracts there is bound now to be a contraction, and we realise that Government contracts in the future can make only a very small contribution to the solution of our problem. We are very grateful, in particular, for the contract for the Britannia freighter for Short and Harland. It has averted what might have been a very ugly situation for employment in our aircraft industry.
Anybody who places a contract in Ulster need have no fear that the work will not be expeditiously and efficiently carried out. One striking example recently comes from Harland and Wolff. I think it may interest the House. The liner "Orcades", first of seven ships of 28,000 tons for the Peninsula and Orient Steam Navigation Company fitted with a full air-conditioning system, has just left Queen's Island. The work was completed in ten weeks. The job had been turned away by a German firm, which said that the time allowed for it was too short. Dr. Denis Rebbeck, the Deputy-Managing Director of Harland and Wolff, has said that the work was done in ten weeks by putting on three shifts and working round the clock, and there were 1,500 men in the ship at one time. He said:Harland and Wolff were the only firm who claimed to be able to do the work in the time and the fact that they have managed it makes us very proud of what can be done by good organisation and efficient workmanship in Belfast.I propose now to talk about the Motion and to say a brief word about the party opposite. I said earlier that no political party had solved the problem of unemployment. The party opposite has not given us very much help. The first recession which appeared in Ulster was in 1951–52, at the time of the textile 471 crisis. Unemployment figures rose in Ulster. Those of us who represented Northern Ireland in this House drew the attention of both the House and the Government to the problem at the time. What did we get from the party opposite? We got nothing but the taunts and the jeers and the jibes of Mr. Geoffrey Bing, the former Member for Horn-church. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"] Oh, yes, he was. That is true. We got nothing but hostile Motions concerning our police forces and so on.
§ Captain Orr
They look very silly and stupid now, do they not?
We got no help at all. The first interest the party opposite ever took in Ulster's unemployment problem was just before the last Election, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), who, I thought, was going to wind up this debate, went over to Ulster with a party, and went around in Ulster on what I described at the time as an election stunt.
I was taken to task by some of my hon. Friends who said "You must not be churlish. Is it not a good thing to see the Labour Party at last taking an interest in Ulster's unemployment? It will help to bring pressure on the Government. We are delighted at it. Therefore, do not denigrate them." Against my better judgment then I kept quiet, but since then Ulster's unemployment position has been as bad as ever.
§ Captain Orr
Yes, but what help have we had from the Labour Party?
We have not had a word from the right hon. Member for Blyth. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, we have."] We have not had a word from him. We had one intervention from one of his hon. Friends on one occasion, but we have heard little from the party opposite at all.
§ Mr. Jay
When I was at the Treasury in the days of the Labour Government, the Minister of Finance and Commerce of Northern Ireland used to visit me about once a fortnight and I always asked him if there was anything more the Labour Government could do to help in 472 providing more work in Northern Ireland, and he invariably told me that he was satisfied with what we were doing already.
§ Captain Orr
—has just been over in Ulster at a by-election. He said on Monday night, or is reported as saying, that he saw no reason why unemployment in Northern Ireland should ever be any higher than the national average of the British Isles. When the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) was at the Treasury the best figure was 5.8 per cent. of the insured population. Was that the national average for the British Isles? I think not.
The right hon. Gentleman has now appeared in Belfast again, and, of course, it is because there is a by-election in Belfast, East. He has challenged the Ulster Members of this House to vote for this Motion tonight. We shall not vote for it, and I will tell him why.
§ Captain Orr
I know why. We will not vote for the Motion because, by voting for it, we should not provide one single more job for one single more man in Ulster. Secondly, we will not vote for it because we think it would be disastrous folly to hand over the Government of this country to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, disastrous here and for Ulster in particular. Thirdly, we shall not vote for it because we have not the least shred of confidence in them or their policies.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)
The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has spoken about Northern Ireland, which has the highest percentage of unemployment in the United Kingdom. We on these benches have the deepest sympathy with those who are unemployed there. The hon. and gallant Member said that their problem is a very special one, but that is not necessarily because it is chronic, because there are many areas, notably in Wales and Scotland which have suffered the same disability. The hon. and gallant 473 Member, however, has suffered from the additional handicap that Northern Ireland has had to deal with two Conservative Governments and not with one, and we find one more than enough.
Naturally, we on this side of the House gladly welcome the announcement made today by the Minister of Labour about the decrease in the unemployment figures and the fact that the decreases have been in some of the worst areas. But we still have half-a-million unemployed and that is not a matter for rejoicing or cheering. I am sure that the Minister of Labour would be the first to recognise that we still have a very grave problem of unemployment.
The March figures for the last three years have risen sharply. In March, 1957, there were 363,000 unemployed; in March, 1958, the figure went up to 433,000; and now, in March of this year, the Minister has told the House today that the figure is up to 550,000. Over the last three years the unemployment figure has continued to rise.
I should like to take the most important test of the Government's policy, that is, how much employment has been provided as a result of Government policy. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told us in a debate in the House, on 10th February, that, in 1958, 277 industrial development certificates had been issued in Development Areas providing 4,000 jobs in South Wales, 3,800 in the North-East, 3,200 in Scotland, and 1,700 in Lancashire and Merseyside, making a total of 13,000. In addition, 63 extensions to existing factories would provide work for 4,500 people. That is a grand total of 17,500 jobs to meet an unemployment figure of over half-a-million. That is the measure of the success of the policy which the Government are pursuing.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers) indicated dissent.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I hope that when he replies to the debate he will be able to say that that is not so and will be able to tell us that a great many more jobs have been provided or are in the course of being provided. That is the test of the Government's policy. It is no good telling us that it is pro- 474 posed to put this factory in the North-East, this one in Wales and another in Scotland. We want to know how much work they will provide. That is the absolute and final test by which the Government's employment policy will stand or fall.
The Government Ask, "What more can we do? We have no power to compel industries to go to these areas, to Scotland, Wales or Lancashire." But they have some powers. They have a negative power. How far have they used that power under the Distribution of Industry Act? Have they been tough enough? The Economist last week asked,How does one use industrial development certificates more toughly?",and it went on to say:Instead of saying, 'No', should the Board of Trade say 'No, damn you'?The Government can not only say "no", they can mean "no" and that is even more important. They can refuse to grant development certificates. The Minister of Labour said today that there was no difference between the Government's policy and the Opposition's policy. Theoretically, perhaps, that is so, but in practice there is a world of difference.
Let us consider, in this connection, the use made by the Government of these development certificates. In 1958, out of 2,000 factories approved only 277 are in Development Areas. Were all these service factories or extensions? A comparison can be made between that and the practice of the Labour Government, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) referred in his admirable report when he said that for the three years 1945 to 1947 over 45 per cent. of new factory building, in terms of square feet, was in Development Areas and that, in 1945, 311 out of the 651 factories approved were in Development Areas. There is all that difference between the practice of the Opposition and of the Government in that matter.
I should like to take individual cases and refer once more to British Nylon Spinners. That was a most extraordinary story. The Board of Trade first refused a certificate for the company to go to Portsmouth and then gave it a certificate to go to Gloucester. The Parliamentary 475 Secretary to the Board of Trade said in the House:I will not mince my words. I was disappointed that B.N.S. did not go to one of the Development Areas.—[OFFICIAL REPORT,10th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1085.]He could have saved himself that disappointment. He had the power.
This is not the only industrial certificate given last year in respect of an area where there was nearly full employment. One of the most important industrial projects for which the Government ever gave an industrial certificate went to an area of low unemployment.
§ Mr. Rodgers
The hon. Lady is labouring under an error. British Nylon Spinners did not require an I.D.C., because the building was already in existence. Therefore, there was no question of whether we did or did not grant an I.D.C.
§ Mr. Jay
Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that that is quite irrelevant? Although an I.D.C. was not necessary, because it was an old factory, nevertheless the Ministry of Supply owned the factory and only with the Government's consent could the company go there. In the years immediately after the war it was the practice in such cases to take exactly the same decision as one would have done if an I.D.C. was required. Therefore, there is nothing in the Parliamentary Secretary's point.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George
That makes the position even clearer. That is another way in which the Government could have assisted and did not.
It is not only negative powers that the Government possess. They have considerable inducements which they can offer to industrialists under the 1945 Act. The building of advance factories was stopped by the Government. Now they are to start again. They are to build one in Scotland, one in England and one in Wales. That will not carry us very far. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North said today, we believe that the building of these factories should never have been stopped in the first place. Certainly, factory building should now be resumed without delay in these areas.
There was another inducement in the industrial Development Areas about which not nearly enough has been said 476 today. I believe that the inducement was as great, if not greater than any which could be offered. That was the provision of factories let at low rents. I believe that low rent is a decisive factor. One of the greatest problems in developing industry at the present time is to find working capital to finance the development and the Government have made that problem no easier by their credit restrictions. Firms do not want to have their capital tied up, and, therefore, it is much more advantageous to them to rent factories than to purchase them.
There is another point. Rent is an expense allowed against taxation, whereas if capital has to be borrowed to finance the purchase or building of a factory the capital repayment has to be made out of taxed income. So a low rent is a great inducement to any industrialist who is contemplating going into these areas. I would ask the Government, therefore to look at this question.
The Government have given rent concessions already. They have given very small concessions, if I may say so, and only to two classes of tenants: those who are already in the Development Areas, whose leases are falling in and whose rents will be increased after next January, and also to industrialists to induce them to take empty factories. So I ask the Minister to ask his right hon. Friend to consider seriously extending this all-important matter of rent concessions not only to Development Areas, but also to unemployment areas.
When the hon. Gentleman replies to the debate, will he clear up some of the confusion about development areas and unemployment areas? Some are in, some are not, some are half in and some are a quarter in. Some places outside Development Areas have a higher rate of unemployment than areas inside them. Why should Carmarthenshire, with an unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent., Caernarvonshire, with 9.4 per cent., and Anglesey with 12 per cent., not be included in a Development Area? If justice is to be done it seems only right and equitable that those areas should be included. I hope that a new assessment will be made of this whole question.
Now I want to say something about Section 3 of the Distribution of Industry Act, which provides grants or allowances to local authorities for improving basic 477 services. That Section was withdrawn by the Government in 1952. If ever there was a time when it should be reactivated and used, it is now. There is plenty of national development to be done on roads, on sewerage works, on water supplies, and so on. Is there any industrial country in Western Europe which is so badly served by its roads as ours?
The percentage of capital investment in our roads is less than in any other great industrial country. Every other major country has a network of motorways. The other day we had eight miles of motorway opened—and we could not even do that properly—but it was acclaimed as a miracle of progress. Indeed, the Prime Minister said that its opening was a symbol of a new era of motoring and that it was a sign that we were mending our ways. That turned out to be rather premature.
It is difficult to assess what traffic congestion costs industry in overheads. We are told that the number of cars in this country is likely to be doubled by 1966, and according to the analysis of the Road Research Laboratory the doubling of the number of cars is likely to quadruple delays. It seems to me, therefore, that useful work on development could be carried out in this respect.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Down, South spoke of the difficulties of transport in Northern Ireland. It is not necessary to have a seaway separating to have transport difficulties or inaccessible areas. It is important that some of the unemployment areas should be opened up to industrialists. For instance, there should be access roads in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cornwall, Cumberland and Scotland Certainly; we urgently need communications to connect the Midlands with Wales.
I ask the Government whether, in those circumstances, they cannot accelerate the road programme, especially in areas of heavy unemployment. This would provide direct employment and also indirect employment through stimulating demand in other industries. The old computation always was that for every one who was given employment through schemes of this kind, employment was provided for two indirectly.
We are continually being told that agriculture must be made more efficient 478 and more economic. How can farmers bring down the cost of production without electricity, without piped water supplies, with roads no better than farm tracks? Electricity programmes seem to me, particularly in rural areas, to be as fixed as the stars in the heavens. We cannot get one alteration, one advance, one change, even in areas of heavy unemployment. So I ask the Government to bring their influence to bear to accelerate electricity schemes.
We should seize this opportunity, when we have surplus labour available, to develop our resources, to modernise our services, so that in the future our expansion will not be hindered by bad roads, bad services, and shortages of power.
Finally, I was glad that the speech of the Minister of Labour today was so different in tone from the speech delivered by the Lord President of the Council. Lord Hailsham. I will only quote two sentences from what he said the other day in the Harrow, East by-election. About unemployment, he said:It is extremely foolish to raise that issue. The Labour Party ever since they have been in office have sought to trade upon and exploit the anxiety and fears of the ordinary man and woman about their security. This is the miserable truth about their attitude towards unemployment. The truth is that this situation is well in control. This is just another bogey they have invented.I suggest that those words were unworthy of a Minister of the Crown, unworthy of a man who holds the post of high responsibility that Lord Hailsham holds. The fear and anxiety is there. It is not the effect of propaganda, but of unemployment. Fear and anxiety exist in Scotland, in Wales and in the other areas where people remember what they suffered before under a Tory Government. These people remember that unemployment was at its highest for the longest period during their term of office. It is certinly not a bogey and the situation is certainly not under control. We hope that this is not the spirit in which the Government will face or tackle this vital human problem.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I think that I am the first back bencher to speak who does not represent a special area and whose constituency is in no way in serious trouble. That enables me to deal with the issue on a somewhat 479 broader basis than has been open to some of my predecessors.
Before dealing with the problem broadly, I want to refer to Development Areas, since there has been some loose thinking about development area policy. If I represented a Development Area, I should no doubt be guilty of the same weaknesses, but as I do not, I can say something about them in a manner slightly different from that of speakers hitherto.
We can easily over-estimate what we can do for Development Areas and under-estimate the cost of doing what we can do. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has just made a remarkable speech in which he said that all that we did in the—way of financial assistance and special provisions could not keep pace with the birth-rate in Ulster.
Should we penalise the citizens of this country to keep pace with what appears to be an unreasonable birth-rate in Ulster? I am told that it costs £100,000 a year more to run a business in Ulster than to run a corresponding business in Manchester. I ask the House, in all reasonableness, whether it is an economic proposition to try to keep pace with this apparently endless birth-rate in Ulster, at the cost of making our industries less competitive.
I thought that we were fighting a battle for our economic existence. If we are, surely we should try to encourage industries to go to those areas where they can be most efficient. I know all the political difficulties. I know all about the arguments about social capital, and I would go some way to depart from this principle to pay some attention to those precepts, but, nevertheless, I believe that we can too readily accept the need for unlimited aid for these areas rather than say that if we cannot run industries efficiently in those areas people must move to areas where those industries can be run efficiently. I hope that those views will not be regarded as too harsh, but I think that someone should say something about the economic aspects of Development Areas.
Before coming to my main theme, I want to refer to something said by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I was surprised when he said that he had been to Lancashire and had 480 learned some remarkable facts—remarkable to me. He said that apparently the whole of the textile industry had been redeployed—a percentage which I had never known before—and that as a consequence half the people were out of work.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am glad that the right hon. Member has been able to correct what he said, because he certainly conveyed an entirely different impression.
§ Mr. Jay indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Shepherd
When the right hon. Member reads his speech in HANSARD, he will be able to see that I was right.
I was very pleased to see that the unemployment figures for the textile industry have gone down by what is the very large number of 3,000. That is most encouraging, particularly encouraging to me, because I prophesied a short time ago that they would do so.
I want briefly to speak about the general policy towards unemployment. I say at once that hon. Members on this side of the House regard unemployment in social terms as having the importance which hon. Members opposite attach to it. If I had a choice between inflation or the conditions which prevailed in this country between the wars, I would accept inflation. If I had a choice between the conditions which prevailed in this country between the wars and Socialism, I would accept Socialism, much as I dislike Socialism and enjoy the precept and practice of private enterprise.
The purpose of industry is not merely to make profits for people, or to establish great concerns. It is to employ people happily and fully. If we accept the private enterprise concept, we must, as a consequence, accept a high and stable level of employment. I would prefer to accept what to me is the nauseating doctrine of Socialism, if the alternative to that meant that we should have to have the kind of unemployment which we had between the wars.
481 Happily, that is not our choice. Most people in the country are recognising that unemployment in that sense is a matter of the past, and they are accepting the ideas of a full employment society. I said most people, because not all people accept that. There are still backward and inefficient managements in this country who sigh for the days when unemployment would make their job easier for them. I say from these benches that we have no intention of helping those weak, inefficient and backward managements by bringing about such a state of affairs.
It is true that if one is running a business in full employment it is more difficult than when there is substantial unemployment, that is, from the point of view of the management, but not from the point of view of selling the goods. It is true that some people would like to see a return to conditions in which their management jobs would be made easier. Those are the individuals in industry who do not and cannot give leadership. Today, in full employment conditions, if a man cannot give leadership in running a business, he should be out of it, because no business can run successfully today unless it has leadership both at the top and intermediate or N.C.O. levels lower down.
No hon. Member opposite is more concerned with sustaining full employment than hon. Members on this side. I assure the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George), who has left her place so hurriedly, that there is a certain amount of suspicion about hon. Members opposite. They cannot be entirely absolved from criticism for their attitude towards unemployment. I have seen reports of speeches made by hon. Members opposite in which they have apparently regretted the fact that no one under 40 years of age knows what unemployment is. Apparently, they regret that, because it affects the political judgment of the people who have not known it. I am certain that some hon. Members opposite have a very unhealthy attitude towards unemployment. I hope that, as in the case of the backward managements, that attitude will die with time.
The accusation has been made that the Government have created unemployment, and I want briefly to deal with that 482 accusation. We have most foolishly overestimated what a Government can do in these matters. We look back at cur predecessors in the 1930s and say, "What a lot of fools those fellows were!" Indeed, there is some justification for criticism of that kind, but it is far too self-satisfied.
Equally, in the post-war period we have been guilty of thinking that we could more intimately affect the course of industry than, in fact, is the case. It is futile for hon. Members opposite to say that the Government have caused the present unemployment situation.
§ Mr. Robens
Both the Minister of Labour, at the Conservative Party Conference, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House last November, said that there would inevitably be some unemployment as a result of the actions that they were taking. They admitted it.
§ Mr. Shepherd
That is not inconsistent with what I have said. It is true that the Government took certain actions which had the effect of depressing demand. I am pointing out that the part we played in our specific actions was a relatively small one compared with the effect of world economic conditions.
Had the interest rate been kept at 4 per cent. during the last eighteen months I do not think that it would have had much effect upon the trend of unemployment. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that we have an intimate control over these fluctuations of unemployment. We have some control, but we have much less than we had imagined hitherto, and I hope that hon. Members opposite will not try to blame Her Majesty's Government for the total recession.
Although we do not have absolute control, there is a field in which we can operate. Within certain limits we can say that we will pursue a policy aimed at a much higher level of demand, or we can 483 say that that demand must be cut down. It is upon the question of the way in which we ought to operate, and the field in which we can operate, that I want to say a few words. I have no doubt that we could run the country's industry at a higher rate than at present. We have been prevented from achieving the level of employment we would have liked because of the fear, or the reality of inflation.
In this post-war era we are faced with a dilemma of which I hope hon. Members opposite will be conscious. We cannot expand physically because of the great risk attached to such expansion in the form of excessive demands for wages and dividends. It is no good right hon. Gentlemen opposite saying that they can plan this, because they cannot—and the contribution made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to this situation has been most contemptible. Our record, in terms of inflationary pressure for wages in the last six years, is probably the worst in Europe, if not in the whole world. No country has had such a high rate of inflation in relation to its expansion.
We must face that fact, whether or not we like it. I am not foolish enough to believe that this enormous pressure for more wages comes from a rabble of irresponsible trade union leaders. I know that it does not. I know that, generally speaking, they have to battle against their own members, and that they generally try to adopt a policy of reason- able restraint. But I complain at the fact that not a single right hon. or hon. Member on the Opposition Front Bench has ever given these men one iota of support in public.
§ Mr. Robens
That is not the truth. Many of us have made speeches of the character about which the hon. Member is speaking, and have given tremendous support to sound trade union leadership. I have had letters from the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) congratulating me on the speeches that I have made in the past.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I do not know what that latter remark implies, but I know of no instance of a right hon. or hon. Member on the Socialist Front Bench saying that this inflationary pressure for higher wages is against the public interest, and that the Labour Party, as 484 an integral part of the industrial machine, is against a policy of excessive wage demands. I regard this as an abject failure on the part of hon. Members opposite, because it has left in the cold, unsupported, many worthy and competent trade union leaders. If ever they are again faced with this situation I hope that hon. Members opposite will realise where their duty lies, and, instead of trying to curry popular favour, will endeavour to support the forces which operate against excessive wage demands.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
Can the hon. Member give one example of a trade union leader criticising any of my right hon. Friends for failing to support the trade union leaders?
§ Mr. Shepherd
I would not like to say that there are any instances of a trade union leader doing so in public, but I have no doubt that many have done so in private. I will not go into the internecine strife which may be generated between the industrial and political divisions of the Labour Party.
I have made this point in the broad sense because I am conscious that if we had a more disciplined and restrained people we could enjoy a higher standard of living. This and a higher level of employment, failure to deal with the problem of excessive wage demands and dividends, prevents our developing our country as it should be developed. It prevents us from attaining the level of employment which we might otherwise attain. When right hon. Gentlemen opposite are putting down these Motions they might also think of their own shortcomings, and of how much, in the last five or six years, they have failed the country and their own supporters. They might also realise that if we are to enjoy to the full the benefits of full employment we must have a more disciplined people than we have had in the past five or six years—and in providing that discipline hon. Members opposite have perhaps a bigger duty than anyone else.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)
Having listened to the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), I remain of the opinion that no one who Is intimately concerned with the many factors which tend to militate against the increase in employment can remain timorous or avoid 485 entering into controversies on innate ideas and on the observation of facts. Even from a constituency point of view, if the constituency is subject to high or persistent unemployment, with all the economic and social distress and all the degradation and deterioration of character and physique that manifest themselves, we cannot lose sight of or divorce ourselves from the moot point which is inductive of all the prevailing consciousness of uncertainty that is now experienced by many—and experience and thought when projected can constitute a horoscope for a very grave and uneasy future.
We do not literally investigate the twists and turns of facts of economic history for their own sake, but for us to understand vast changes and what further changes are in store for us, the interplay between economic and other motives should be clearly kept in view. While a knowledge of any major shift in the pattern of economic life is always useful in registering what we observe, it is now clear that many of the primary factors which have shaped the distribution of industry have reached the stage when they seem to be a barrier. That necessarily implies a need for overhaul and for changes to be made subjectively as they present themselves in the light of economic movements.
Earlier we heard the Minister say that the Government were prepared to steer industry away from the London area to areas such as Birmingham. Is that enough? I should like to remind the House of a constructive suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) on the date of the Second Reading of the Distribution of Industry (Finance) Bill on 30th April last year. He put forward a plea for a comprehensive industrial survey of Britain as a consequence, if I understood it aright, of the constant flow and undue concentration of the population and material wealth of the country in the London area. The application of this suggestion should be pursued with a clearer purpose because, for more compelling reasons than one, it still holds good today when we are compelled, by the present rate of transformation and dissolving forces, to think and reason, to define and distinguish the rapidly growing changes which necessarily warrant 486 more attention than they have been given.
It has always been understood that mobility of labour and distinct population movements in the past have been the main factors in the country's industrial development. Attention has frequently been drawn to the drift of the population and to the pouring out of a steady stream of men and women to swell the industrial army in the more fortunate parts of the country.
One can well understand, even in our own times, that when work ceases and workers are faced with widespread poverty that aggravates and multiplies their wants, migration is an outlet for their economic salvation. We know that this large-scale factor of population movement has long been a feature of phenomenal growth especially in the London area. As far back as 1936 the Third Report of the Commissioner for the Special Areas warned that this unchecked growth should be determined by effective control. But the example set by this overwhelming growth is now causing alarm and anxiety to many planning authorities, and there is a considerable volume of opinion that the time is now ripe to ascertain how that industrial flow can reasonably be directed elsewhere.
It may be enough to say that many districts have suffered a loss of population and many areas have been made worse as the result of industrial change. This has been most marked in Durham County. The outward movement before the war was extremely high. The figures for the last six years, amounting to over 40,000, indicate the density of this loss to Durham County. While much has been done in the past to avoid the worries attendant upon the conditions of unemployed life, it is not overstating the case to say that one can see a big difference between past population movements and the darkness which is now descending with the declining prosperity of areas where whole populations are involved, as in Durham County.
I appreciate the time and effort taken by my right hon. Friends in their visits to the North-East to see some of the evidence of the Government's stagnation policy. Those of us who are familiar with the north-west Durham area are concerned at the fears and anxieties 487 arising from the relation of cause and effect through the threatened closure of mines, precipitating the downfall of all other allied industries. By the very nature of this black death there never has been a time when whole populations are so much involved. Events are shattering not only the outlook of the mining community but also that of the non-mining community which depends so much for its livelihood on the normal business of trading. It can plainly see the danger signals in this period of economic change.
If it were what the economists call "fractional unemployment" it would not be so bad, because there would be some hope of seasonal improvement. Of course, unemployment is nothing new. It has existed throughout the whole history of the capitalist system. Unemployment is bad enough and cruel enough to any full-grown man, but its worse feature, as we all know, is that the young have to bear their full share in the suffering that is destined to be brought about by the dislocation of industry.
What are redundant miners expected to do following Tory "cripplisation" of nationalisation? The fate of these men, which until recently was presumed to be in permanent employment, is such that they are given very little confidence that their livelihood can be secured consequent on enforced idleness.
What about all those unemployed workers who have acquired their skill and knowledge with every degree of deftness and trustworthiness? What are they expected to do? What about all those of the less skilled and the lower paid who have to face the same financial responsibilities? In this heterogeneous crowd we are given to understand that the British census distinguishes about 35,000 different occupations, but when it becomes a vital question of a worker changing from one industry to another, often with the thought of leaving familiar scenes, friends and associations, he finds that it is futile to grapple with the evils of discontinuity of unemployment and the search for work, because he is unable to escape from asking the question which we all ask—where can they all go, when very few Parliamentary divisions are not crying out for industries in response to the changes in economic conditions?
I was very much interested in a debate on unemployment in another place last 488 week, and particularly interested in the remarks made by the Minister without Portfolio, the Earl of Dundee. He said:It will be our continual endeavour, both by advertisement and by inducement, to persuade and help as many light industries and heavy industries as we can to go into these areas.He was referring to Rochdale and Oldham in Lancashire, to Sunderland in the North-East and to areas in Wales and in Scotland. This is where we see a gleam of hope, because he continued:It is not our intention to pursue this policy as a stop-gap device to mitigate a temporary rise in unemployment, but as a long-term policy, to achieve a better distribution of industry throughout the country and a greater diversity of industries in those areas which are too much dependent on one or two forms of employment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 11th March, 1959; Vol. 214, c. 994–5.]Is this not the case where circumstances of a rapidly declining area are adversely affecting those who have to rely on one form of employment, as they are in northwest Durham, especially in my constituency, where there is no hope of any alternative employment? If the criterion is that outlined by the noble Lord, then we are struck by the fact that it is essential to correct past mistakes.
We are aware that the foundation of a new structure has been undertaken by planning authorities and that this will embrace many of the amenities which we want, such as education, good housing and unemployment, but whatever the precise angle from which the planning authorities approa-.:11 the practical problems, the fact remains that the basic need is the provision of a job on which income, social status and all prospects depend.
It comes unbidden to my mind that much preparation and planning has been carried out in considerable detail in Durham County. Unfortunately, in many respects villages have been condemned to category D, which means the breaking up of existing communities. Because of the effect on their personal way of life, the inhabitants are so much concerned with the wider question of planning that it needs no imagination to discern the symptoms of all that despair which surrounds them. To be candid, we are living on plans in Durham County.
Nevertheless, over and above this, one can say that an important and valuable job has been done in the widest sense 489 of the term, and that is exemplified in the county council's planning work. Industrial sites have been earmarked where rail and road facilities are reasonably good to attract industries, but whatever persuasion has been used towards industrialists urging them to avail themselves of the facilities offered has met with very little response. No doubt industrialists have their own reasons for declining to go to the area and for weighing the risk of any locality when considering the economic factors of the location. While one cannot separate the picture from the general facts and ideas, there seems to be every reason to conclude that the analytical concept of the changing pattern of life itself and the attitude in the minds of all those who are subject to the tragic conflict in industrial change are so well pronounced that an understandable impulse exists to seek recognition of new forms of adjustment.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Halifax)
I hope that the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his somewhat specialised argument about the problems of County Durham. Unfortunately, since the unwise choice of the electors of Seaham Harbour, as it then was, I have no right to go into those problems in any detail.
The debate has shown quite clearly that the urgent problem of unemployment is chiefly confined to some special areas—the Development Areas—and, despite the efforts to revive it, the charge that it is Tory policy which is causing general unemployment has been completely scotched by the Minister's speech. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) quoted the 1944 White Paper, and I hope that his right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) will forgive me if in reply to his interjection I quote what was said by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, because I feel that it is in exactly the same sense that he quoted the Minister speaking of our policies tendency towards unemployment.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition reported to the United Nations in 1951, and I will quote what he said. It is a very hackneyed quotation, but will try to deal with the less 490 hackneyed and less quoted part of it. In making the point that it was the firm policy of Her Majesty's Government to keep unemployment at the lowest level compatible with the avoidance of inflation, he stated that a peak level of about 2 per cent. was correct, and went on to say that, in arriving at a "full employment standard of 3 per cent.", there would be variousfactors arising outside the United Kingdom, such as a widespread fall in the demand for United Kingdom exports or a shortage of raw materials obtained from abroad, might make it impossible for a time to keep unemployment at the low levels of recent years.Quoting the counter-measures which his Government proposed to take, he said that these no doubt would take some time to become effective. He added:Furthermore, the danger of provoking inflation in such a situation would be more acute than in the case of unemployment caused by a decline in internal demand."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1951; Vol. 485, c. 319–320.]I suggest that the Government are perfectly correct in refusing, as the Leader of the Opposition in his turn refused, to use methods, in order to avoid unemployment, which would deliberately cause inflation. My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on the success with which the general unemployment figures have been kept down while the price level has remained more or less steady for the last year.
One of the difficulties of trying to be both concise and constructive is that one tends to become rather critical by leaving out the bits which praise the Government. I think it would be churlish to criticise the Minister after what he has said, and I must confess that the constituency I represent is not one of those, like so many which have been mentioned this afternoon, that has been affected most nearly by the unemployment problem.
Nevertheless, I do not think—good though the Government's record is—that the unemployment situation in this country, no matter how good the figures may be, can ever give cause for complacency. Still less so when those figures are marred by patches of far higher unemployment. Even in those places not affected by the higher rate of unemployment there is still the question of fear. Now, although the facts in many cases 491 may not give cause for alarm, the memories of the people and their knowledge of the past have made them undoubtedly fearful of what might come. I hope what the Minister has said has reassured them to some extent.
Halifax was chosen as being typical of an industrial town with many different industries to make the recent Industrial Health Survey. That it was typical was, I think, shown by the fact that when I obtained the Halifax unemployment figures and applied the percentage factor to them which hitherto had been correct in proportion to the national figures, I arrived at very nearly the same national total figure as the Minister announced. I really do not think hon. Members opposite have any cause to complain at the suddenness of the production of those figures. They could all have made precisely the same calculations themselves.
The figures show that in the machine tool industry and the engineering industry and in the textile trade the improvement is not spectacular but steady. I think in some ways we are to be congratulated on its steadiness. I am more reassured by a slow but steady improvement which is likely to continue than by figures which fluctuate extremely sharply.
However, one must admit, there is still a certain amount of short-time in both industries. I hope I shall not be out of order if I dwell for a while on the question of unemployment benefit for short-time working. I hope the Minister will not consider me over-critical if I deal with the situation which was created under the National Insurance Act, 1957, and the much debated Section 4. I do not want to rehash the whole of the argument, I must admit that I was a member of the Standing Committee which voted, as I did, against the Labour Party's Amendment. I am bound to say that on that occasion I was convinced by the Government's argument that, in removing the undoubted anomaly which then existed, they did not, in fact, create an even worse new one. Now, because of the experience which I have had of the operation of that Section in my constituency, I am not so sure.
As far as I can see, to avoid a situation where a man normally working and being paid full-time rates for a five-day week could draw not one but, as in the 492 Past, two days' benefit if he lost one day's work, we have created a situation where a man normally working a five-day week draws no benefit if he does not work on the Friday. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), who has come in for quite a number of bouquets today, incidentally, pointed out, in the debate on 21st March, 1957, that in many cases the five-day week now produces the same amount of work as a five-and-a-half-day week used to. Each day, he said, carries therefore a higher factor in the week's wages for a five-day week than it did for a five-and-a-half-day week.
Perhaps it is because of my physical nearness to him politically that I find the same obtaining in Halifax. There I have been told of a firm half of which is normally on a five-day week and half of which is normally on a five-and-a-half-day week, the difference being for administrative and technical reasons. The normal output of both sections is carefully planned to be the same for the purpose of an incentive bonus scheme, yet now they are on a four-day week half the employees of that factory draws no benefit and the other half draws benefit. I do not know what the solution to that is.
I am sure it is not the intention of the Government that this anomaly should exist. I hope it can be dealt with in some way. There is, of course, the solution which many firms have adopted of working one week and playing one week, but that is not always satisfactory from the point of view of organisation, maintenance and the proper use of equipment. In attempting to alter this anomaly, it is important to bear in mind that, as we are now, I hope, moving into the era of the shorter normal working week, nothing that hampers that movement should be allowed to obtrude.
I think it equally important for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bear this in mind in the treatment of capital as well as in the treatment of labour. I know this is the period when he has, so to speak, entered a political Trappist monastery. I have no wish to seek to make him break his vows of silence, but I hope the fiscal policy of the Government can be adapted in a way which will give full significance to modern trends in the use of machinery. I am sure we are now trying to keep machinery in use far too long and that the Chancellor could encourage the replacement of obsolescent 493 machinery by fiscal devices. I should like to see improvements made in the way of investment allowances and so on.
The more obvious Ministries dealing with this question of employment are, of course, the Ministry of Labour, the Treasury, the Board of Trade and so on, but there are other Ministers who can play their part. The Minister of Labour can help with regard to call-up policy. There have been some unfortunate cases m which the National Service Acts have resulted, particularly in small firms, in the removal of employees who may have been deferred in order to serve an apprenticeship but cannot be further deferred nor exempted from call-up in order to work in the firm for which their apprenticeship has been designed. In some cases they have been key workers, and this has led to the closing of very small factories. This is a wasting disadvantage which will soon disappear, with the ending of the call-up.
The Ministry of Housing is also concerned with the question of unemployment, particularly in places like Halifax, where it is possible only to obtain a certificate for extending an existing factory. I have a case in hand in which a machine tool works is proposing an extension. The local planning committee has approved, and so have the various other committees of the local authority concerned. The Ministry of Labour has given its blessing and the Board of Trade a certificate. However, there are some objectors to the project, and, quite properly, under the Town and Country Planning Act there has to be an inquiry.
Since this extension would employ between 50 and 60 more people in the town, one would have hoped that the inquiry would take place as soon as possible, but I understand that the queue is so long at the moment that those proceedings will be delayed for three or four months. There should be a little more liaison between the Departments so that when the employment of people depends upon the result, some degree of priority might be given to such inquiries.
Incidentally, there is an additional danger, which has led the council itself to protest, of the town closing the factory altogether. I hasten to add that it could not go to a place of even greater unemployment. As the hon. Member for Sowerby knows, it would go to a place 494 where the unemployment figures are almost exactly the same.
There is one Ministry not often thought of in terms of its effect on employment or full employment, and I am not sure that, in the long run, it is not the most important of all—the Ministry of Education. In a modern technical world, we have to be prepared to use modern methods to meet the technical problems involved. The employment of unskilled and semi-skilled workers must, to a great extent, depend both on an increase in the skill of our skilled men and on an increase in their numbers.
It is quite wrong to imagine that automation will require less-skilled men and fewer skilled men. The degree of skill that will be needed as a result of technical advances will increase very greatly, and that sort of situation will present its own problems. I myself am grateful to the Minister because, apart from the other points he made this afternoon, he showed that he is alive to that sort of problem.
Unless the Government as a whole are prepared to meet these challenges with foresight and flexibility, we cannot hope to survive. No matter how much can and should be done by managements, trade unions and workpeople, their efforts depend to some extent on the Government. In this modern competitive world it is for the Government to create the conditions on which full employment and stable prices depend.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) gave what I thought was very qualified praise to his own Government. That is not surprising because, despite its cleverness, the Minister's speech probably concealed more than it revealed. However, before I turn to that, I want to make a point that I have made in this House in recent weeks.
Hon. Members are probably aware that in the Scottish Standing Committee we are now discussing the very vital problem of red deer in Scotland. To date, we have had eight sittings, totalling twenty hours of debate. I suppose that we had about another six hours on Second Reading. That means that nearly thirty hours have so far been devoted to 100,000 red deer, with probably another thirty hours debate yet to come.
495 We have almost precisely the same number of unemployed in Scotland as we have red deer, but we will be very lucky if, in the twelve months, we get more than six hours to debate that problem. As I say, we shall probably give sixty hours to debates on 100,000 red deer—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] So much for the Government order of priorities.
The Minister made great play of the Opposition making political propaganda out of unemployment. What a wicked thing to do! Coming from him, that is rich indeed. The fact is, of course, that every hon. Member makes speeches on every conceivable subject with political considerations not very far from his mind. When the Minister uses the figures of unemployment in the worst winter in this century in order to get our monthly average between 1945 and 1951 up to his monthly average since 1951, he should not complain if we seek to probe what we regard as one of the basic weaknesses of the Government's policy, and of the economic policy that they are trying to operate.
The Minister should not be unduly sensitive when we take the Government to task on this subject. Despite what he says, there is little doubt that this present situation is a result of deliberate Government policy. We get constant denials of this, but let me quote from what I would regard as responsible organs of the Press, and certainly not pro-Labour Party organs at that. The Manchester Guardian—if the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland), who makes those strange noises, cares to say that the Manchester Guardian is a Socialist newspaper, I am sure that everyone will be glad to hear it—
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland
I am obliged to the hon. Member for giving way. I know that he does not want to make party points, but would he not agree that in a mixed society the Manchester Guardian is the most mixed up of the lot?
§ Mr. Hamilton
There is only one person who is more mixed up, and that is the hon. Gentleman himself.
§ Mr. Hamilton
On 25th September, 1957—shortly after the now invisible ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer had in- 496 creased the Bank Rate—the Manchester Guardian said:Is the Government now prepared to push its policy to the point of causing unemployment, if this is necessary to save the £? Mr. Thorneycroft did not actually say that in so many words in Washington yesterday, but the things he did say seem to bear no other meaning.On 10th October, 1957, the Financial Times—and I suppose the hon. Member for Lanark would say that that newspaper, too, is mixed up—said of the measures that the Government took at that time, that they…may well produce minor recession…It went on to say:…the critical level of unemployment needed to force this policy through is a little under 5 per cent.…We have—or had—rather more than that in Scotland, and it is now just under that, even according to the figure announced by the Minister today.
The Economist of 9th November, 1957, went even further. It said:The policy of risking strikes does seem to be wise in general. Mobilisable T.U. funds in Britain are now only about £10 per member; even allowing for P.A.Y.E. rebates, it is unlikely that big national strikes involving a whole nation would continue for more than three or four weeks.In other words, the Economist divided mobilisable trade union funds by the total number of workers in the trade union movement and made the deliberate calculation that a national strike could not last for more than three or four weeks. I re-quote the first sentence:The policy of risking strikes does seem to be wise in general.That was reiterated recently by the employers in the engineering industry.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
The engineering employers went even further. They said that if the Government had not made such a mess of Suez they could have had a showdown with the workers.
§ Mr. Hamilton
It is no good the Government trying to deny what is so very obvious to the rank and file of the workers in this country.
The Spectator said:Mr. Thorneycroft's economies are designed to cloak a political purpose which is to make employment so bad that Mr. Cousins and other trade union leaders will be forced to drop this militancy.497 That was emphasised and re-echoed by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), who has since left the Chamber. He said that the trouble in this country was that the workers were not disciplined. That was the expression he used not so very long ago in the debate.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan rose—
§ Mr. Hamilton
I do not want to go on speaking for too long. The hon. Member for Cheadle criticised my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) for disappearing after she had made her speech. I am making the same criticism of him.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Let me return to the Minister of Labour's very smart speech this afternoon and use his figures. He drew a comparison between the monthly overall average under the Labour Government and the monthly overall average in the period of his own Government and came to the conclusion that the average was very much the same, 334,000.
That takes account of the abnormally severe 1947 winter, about which we hear so much. Let us include that. Even with that, the total figure today is 550,000, which is 66 per cent. higher than the post-war monthly average for the whole thirteen years. If the Government claim credit because the monthly figure now is 66 per cent. higher than it has ever been over the years since 1945, they are due to all the credit they can take.
In other words, the Minister says that instead of the monthly average of three unemployed workers since 1945 they have managed to make it five. The right hon. Gentleman can take credit for that if he wishes. Certainly we shall attempt to explain to the country that this is the credit which the Government are looking for, and the people might well give the answer tomorrow.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I am not quite sure what the figure for unemployment in Scotland is this month. I do not think 498 that the Minister gave it this afternoon. It would assist me at this juncture if he will rise and tell me the approximate figure.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That helps me considerably. In March, 1957, the figure for Scotland was 63,000. In March, 1958, it was 78,000. In March, 1959, it is 103,000. Again the Government are entitled to take what credit they can derive from those figures.
As the right hon. Gentleman will admit, the unemployment figures do not reveal anything approaching the entire picture. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us what the trend of vacancies was in Scotland, though I rather gather that Scotland had benefited from the trend, in that the numbers of vacancies had increased. My latest figure is that there are at the moment fourteen vacancies for each job in Scotland. There may have been an improvement.
I am quite sure that every hon Member of the House will admit that another disquieting feature is the juvenile problem, the problem of the fifteen to eighteen year olds or even young people up to the age of twenty. It is an abominable indictment of any society that it cannot guarantee a reasonably secure future to boys and girls leaving school. In Scotland there is a much higher proportion of youngsters who cannot get a job than in almost any other region in Great Britain.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
In west Cumberland the figures at just as bad as in Scotland, and I am not being a nationalist now.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I hope that my hon. Friend takes part in the debate and makes that point, if he wishes to embarrass the Government.
Let me quote one example from the Cowdenbeath area. A recent report from the youth employment office in Cowdenbeath revealed that there are 150 boys and girls on the register and only three jobs available, two of them being for shop assistants and one in domestic service. This is happening up and down the country.
499 I had an example sent to me, which I sent on to the Minister. A boy obtained work after leaving school. Twenty-two stamps were put on his card. Then he was thrown out of work. He went along to the Ministry of Labour Office. He was told that he was not entitled to unemployment benefit because he had not enough stamps. The parents went along to the National Assistance Board. They were told they did not qualify for National Assistance either, because their income was too high.
Whether he likes it or not, that boy is thrown on to his parents. They have to keep him. Pits are closing in Cowdenbeath and West Fife. That boy is thrown on to his parents. No wonder lads are leaving home. No wonder we have an emigration figure from Scotland of about 20,000 a year, and in 1957 we had the highest emigration figure for thirty years. No wonder they are clearing out. Let hon. Members try and put themselves in the position of that boy in his early teens who cannot get a job and whose parents have to keep him. If he is worth his salt he will not stand for it and he will go elsewhere and seek a job. That would be a natural reaction.
One should contrast that personal human tragedy at so tender an age with the kind of stagnation that exists in Scottish industry, and, indeed, throughout the economy. For instance, the Scottish steel industry is running at just over 50 per cent. of its capacity today. Then the Tories go round the country telling the people that though they are so efficient the Labour Party has the nerve to seek to nationalise. The sooner the better. Shipbuilding, too, is in the doldrums. The future of the coal industry is being jeopardised by the decreased demand for its products.
The overall production figures for Scotland make startling reading. I shall compare the last three years under the Labour Government with 1954–57. They are the latest figures which I have for the Conservative Government. The Minister of Labour will charge me with being selective in my statistics. I should never lay that charge at his door. Between 1948 and 1951, in the last three years of Labour Government rule, the overall industrial production in Scotland showed a 12 per cent. increase. In the years 500 1954–57 it was 4 per cent. overall. In manufacturing industries in the last three years of the Labour Government there was a 17 per cent. increase. Between 1954 and 1957 under the Conservatives there was a 4 per cent. increase.
During the last three years of the Labour Government there was a 32 per cent. increase in engineering and shipbuilding as against an 8 per cent. increase under the Tory Government. In mining and quarrying during 1948–51, no change; in 1954–57, a reduction of 2 per cent. In vehicles, during the last three years of the Labour Government, an increase of 12 per cent.; under the Conservatives, no change—stagnation. In other manufacturing industries, an increase of 15 per cent. in the last three years of the Labour Government and a reduction of 8 per cent. under the Tories.
Why on earth is this happening? What is wrong with our society, when we are crying out for more roads, more schools, more hospitals, more bridges, more of every conceivable social service and amenity, yet we run our economy at half-cock? There cannot be any sense, reason, logic or justice in that kind of economy.
I believe that the first reason for it is that there has been in Scotland, for a long time, an over-great dependence on the basic industries. We all understand that and admit it. An added reason is the lack of energy displayed by this Government in the pursuit of the distribution of industry policy. The instruments have been there all the time. It is the willingness to use them which has been lacking. I believe that if we are to solve this problem across the Border we must establish more consumer industries in the country rather than depend to such an extent on our basic manufacturing industries.
I believe that, in a dynamic economy, we must pay much greater attention to the mobility of Labour than we have done hitherto. I hesitate to make any suggestion on the matter, although I think that an inter-Departmental committee, or some such organ, should be set up to discuss ways and means of increasing this mobility if we are not to have direction. Nobody wants direction of labour, although, of course, unemployment is a very harsh weapon of direction. It can be used as such, and was so used in the 'twenties and 'thirties. There was effective 501 up to London. All the Welsh people and all the North Country people one sees in London today came in the 'twenties and 'thirties. They were directed, though not at the conscious direction of the Government. They came at the direction of the hungry belly. That is what directed them.
Over all, what is needed is a policy of industrial expansion. I conclude by asking the Government these questions. Are they now embarking on a policy of industrial expansion? What is their estimate of the expansion which is required in the next twelve months to bring unemployment down to the level that they think is necessary to stabilise the economy and get rid of inflation? If we have an answer to that question, if they tell us that they intend to expand the economy to a certain level, what then? It seems to me that we shall have the whole process beginning again. Once one expands under this kind of economy, one immediately faces the risk of inflation again. There will be the credit squeeze again. In other words, we shall have precisely the kind of situation which we have always said will inevitably occur under this type of economy—boom and slump, the ripples not, perhaps, as big as they were before the war, but there just the same.
Is it the Government's intention to keep unemployment at the existing level or to bring it still further down? Is it their intention to do anything special for Scotland, particularly, to brine Scotland's level down to the level prevailing in the rest of Britain?
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. George (Glasgow, Pollok)
The hon. Member for Fife. West (Mr. Hamilton) has enjoyed himself among the red deer and unemployment. He regretted the small number of speeches that we have had on unemployment. After the figures given by my right hon. Friend today, the party opposite must be quite glad that the debate is nearing its end. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not at air."] A few moments ago, the hon. Member for Fife, West quoted figures of production performance during the last three years of the Socialist Government and compared them with the production performance during the past three years.
502 What was the result of those figures he produced? The result was that, in 1951, the Socialist Government, because of the position they had brought about in the country, had to give up.
§ Mr. George
Did they not? Was it not at the end of the three years to which the hon. Gentleman referred that the Labour Government had to lay down the reins of Government because they could no longer control the situation? That was the result of the three years of high production.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
Will my hon. Friend not agree that it might be quite instructive to look at the 1951 Budget speech of the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition? It is made perfectly clear there that production must be tied to exports.
§ Mr. George
Yes. Further, the hon. Member for Fife, West tried to denigrate the performance today. Yet what is the result after the three years of production, if not rising production, to which he referred? We have a steady economy, a sound balance of payments, our reserves are rising, and there is confidence abroad in the way we are managing our affairs. That is the difference between the two.
§ Mr. T. Fraser rose—
§ Mr. George
The hon. Member for Fife, West, quite rightly, showed great anxiety about the position of juveniles in the employment market. Obviously, he had not heard the great news. I regard this as the most important part of the news we have. We were told that the number of unemployed juveniles had fallen from 17,000 to 3,000, a very remarkable and very welcome reduction.
The hon. Gentleman said that he would use the unemployment situation as propaganda, if it suited him.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
If the hon. Member who has the Floor does not give way, the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) must sit down.
§ Mr. Hughes
Surely, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I may have an opportunity to ask the hon. Member to give way without an immediate intervention from the Chair.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) does not give way, the hon. and learned Member must sit down.
§ Mr. Hughes
With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you did not give him the opportunity of giving way. I was about to ask him politely to give way.
§ Mr. George
To use unemployment as propaganda is a heartless exercise. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I speak of unemployment not as one single problem. In Scotland, we now know that we have 103,000 problems. I can sympathise with those who are unemployed, because I have been unemployed. I have been on both sides of the fence. I have had to suffer unemployment for seven months, and I have had to send men home without a job. I know what it means as a young man to be unemployed, with no discipline to go to work day after day, with nothing to do and nothing to face as one gets up in the morning. I know also the sorrow of a manager who has to send a man home to his wife to tell her that he has lost his job.
These are not facts to use for propaganda. The country expects that, when we in this House discuss unemployment, we shall have facts and, perhaps, reassurance.
§ Mr. George
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who opened the debate for the Opposition, and the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) spoke of people being frightened of a recurrence of what happened in the 'thirties.
§ Mr. George
Of course, that is what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite want them to be. They want them to be frightened. I ask the House to look with me at what happened in the 'thirties and compare that with the situation today. I think that hon. Members should do that to reassure those who have been frightened by talk about the 'thirties coming again. I want to take a period of years because I believe that the only true judgment can be gained by comparing one year with another, not by taking one odd month in a year. I shall look at the worst five years of the 'thirties and the last five years which have just passed.
In 1930, unemployment in Scotland was 18.5 per cent.; in 1954, 2.8 per cent.; in 1931, 26.6 per cent.; in 1955, 2.4 per cent.; in 1932, 27.7 per cent.; in 1956, 2.4 per cent.; in 1933, 23.1 per cent.; in 1957, 2.6 per cent.; in 1934, 21.3 per cent.; and in 1958, 3.0 per cent. The figures bear no comparison whatever. There is no relevance today in discussing the question of the 'thirties, or of giving any hint that that is what the people expect.
We have heard continual cries about the Tory failure in the unemployment market. Let us consider the extent of the Tory failure with which we are challenged. The party opposite had the crisis of 1951 and ran away from it. [Interruption.] In the following year, in which the consequences were shown on the employment market, unemployment in Great Britain was 3.3 per cent. The Conservative Government had a crisis in 1957, but we did not run away from it. We faced it. In the year following the crisis—1958—which is the year by which we must judge, we had an annual rate of 3.9 per cent. unemployment. The Tory failure, therefore, is 0.6 or 1 per cent. in that one year.
There is also a significant difference between the two periods. After the 1951 crisis, it was relatively easy to get into the world market again. We could sell anything, anywhere, at any time, and Germany and Japan were not strong competitors. In 1957, however, it was not easy to fight our way back into the world market, because that market was slowing down. [An HON. MEMBER: "After six years of Tory Government."] The Tory Government carry authority only in Britain and not over the whole world. 505 More important than that, however, Germany and Japan were, and still are, extremely strong competitors.
If we have arrived at this state in 1959, after an American recession, after a slowing down in Europe and after a shortage of cash in the fundamental countries, and if we have weathered that recession in the manner described by my right hon. Friend today when he gave us the unemployment figures of European countries, the nation has every reason to feel confidence in the year that lies ahead.
That is not to say that we do not have a serious position—far from it. There are 103,000 people unemployed in Scotland. Their position is extremely serious. When we have black spots, such as we have in certain areas, the position demands serious and urgent consideration. That is exactly what it has had.
Scotland is in a special position, as it has been for years and years, that it is hit quicker and harder in times of unemployment than any other part of the country.
§ Mr. George
The hon. Member for Fife, West was all wrong in his facts when he said that we have too great a reliance upon heavy industry and too small a share of durable consumer goods industries. It is foolish to make that allegation without, at the same time, saying that a great deal has been done to remedy the position. In the last ten years, a great deal has been done to cure it. We all recognised long ago that the Scottish position must be altered by a greater diversification of industry and this has been brought about.
It was said today that we have not been getting our share of factory building. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) had a new way of stating it. The story used to be that Scotland got 12 per cent. of the factory building when the Socialists were in power, but does not get 12 per cent. today. According to that argument by the Socialists, if we had continued to build merely the same amount of footage as they did during their time in office, and if we had kept Scotland's share at 12 per cent., we would be free from blame.
Instead, we believe in getting a lower share of a far greater amount of building 506 and since 1952 we have built in Scotland 27 million sq. ft. of factory space. The Socialist performance has been recalled. It is a useless argument to compare these things, but comparisons have been made. In the six years of Socialism, 13 million sq. ft. of factory space was built, or a ratio of one sq. ft. in Scotland for every two sq. ft. in London. In the next six years of Conservative and Unionist Government, not 13 million, but 22 million sq. ft. of new factory space was built.
Our figures are 36 per cent. higher than those of the Socialists, who have tried to give a percentage to show that we have done less for Scotland than they did. That is an unrewarding exercise for them. Had they been in power for the next six years, I do not believe that they would have built as much factory space as we have done. The fact is that Scotland has had 40 million sq. ft. of new factories since the war.
Now that unemployment has hit us again, we are shown still to be vulnerable. What we must consider is why, after 40 million sq. ft. has been added to our factory space, we are still hit quicker and harder than anywhere else. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) gave exactly the same description of Ulster. What has happened is Scotland is that there has been a decline in the old and established industries which has almost cancelled out the new jobs created in the new factories, in almost the same way as it has happened in Northern Ireland.
There has been a substantial decline in farming and fishing, as my hon. and gallant Friend said, as a result of higher efficiency. There is the same story in textiles and in other industries. We have lost many thousands of jobs by increased efficiency, by obsolescence and by the natural decay of industries. We have, however, had 25,000 completely new jobs, nearly all of them in the Scottish industrial estates. That has been the measure of the reward for our 40 million sq. ft. of new factory space. It has been shown clearly by what has happened in the last six months that Scotland's traditional position, which has existed since 1945, has never been any different than that Scottish unemployment has been double the English level, both in good times and in bad. This has not been altered 507 by our additional 40 million sq. ft. of factory space.
We must, therefore, ask ourselves what has gone wrong in Scotland, even though we have attracted all the new industries, including the new American industries, which are of vital importance to Scotland and which play a great part in her economy and in her export trade. We should pay credit to the American businessmen who saw the possibilities of Scotland, and sunk their capital in it and gave to Scottish employment that impetus which has proved so valuable. But in spite of all we have done and all the other extensions which we have made, Scotland's unemployment is still double that of England in good times and in bad.
It has been pointed out, rightly, that through the years we have been losing our workers because of emigration. The figure, however, is not 20,000 a year, as the hon. Member for Fife, West said, but 11,000 a year. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am willing to be corrected.
§ Mr. George
My figures are 11,500 people—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO."]—and 4,500 workers. If I am wrong, I am glad to be corrected, but my figure of 4,500 workers lost annually by emigration from Scotland is taken from Government publications. If Scotland had had a comparable level of unemployment with England during those years, we could have prevented the emigration of those 4,500 workers each year by having jobs for them. Thus we would have 30,000 more people in work.
What must we do to prevent that kind of thing in future? What must we do to ensure that a young man born in Scotland can look forward to working and living out his life in Scotland, just as a young man in England can do today? This is the minimum we should ask, and if we have to do that, we have to help that development and stop emigration by forcing people to go out to find work abroad. Therefore, we must consider what are the different things we can do from those we have already been doing.
508 First, we must recognise that the influx of United States industry into the United Kingdom will not be as easy in the future as it has been in the past. The Common Market breakdown is making matters difficult, and we cannot depend on that source any more. We cannot, as a nation, look forward to a future in which we are always begging throughout the world for other people to start up industries in our land. Scotland must have a re-awakening, and provide its own money for the development of its own industries. That is the first thing that we have to see is done.
We have to look forward to the marvellous picture of the future which has been created by the provision of the strip mill in Scotland. I believe that the strip mill at Colvilles can play a tremendous part in building the long-term future in Scotland, and this is an important change. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member opposed it."] I opposed the strip mill, but not the split mill. The strip mill is there, or will be there in four years' time, and I say that the Secretary of State for Scotland did not get nearly enough credit for that achievement. I am quite certain that it was his persistence in the Cabinet that brought it to Scotland.
There will be a strip mill there producing 100,000 tons of strip in four years' time, and it will be up to Scotland and its industrialists to see that the new industries are there to consume that strip, and to make possible the further extension of the strip mill and thereby ensure greater diversification. But I believe that that is not enough. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about State Money?"] I am coming to State money, I believe that our policy has been extremely sensible, and that Scotland has been well catered for by the Government in the matter of factories. I do not think we can look to the future now on the same basis as before—of looking for other people and their money to come in and help Scotland. There is an unbalance of industry within Britain, and that is why Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have higher unemployment.
There is not enough capital in Scotland to make a quick change in the diversification of industry. We have too few companies in Scotland with millions of pounds to expend. We have to do two things with State money. We must go South, and, 509 by presenting a picture of profit, helped by State money, we must induce two or three of the English giant businesses to expand in Scotland—the electrical industry, the motor vehicle industry and the consumer goods industry.
If we can spend money on a strip mill, surely we can spend big money on inducing industries in England to come to Scotland quickly and put Scotland on the right road to a much brighter future in the years ahead.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) accused the Opposition of making party propaganda on the present high rate of unemployment in this country. I think he made a pretty good election speech himself, but surely he would agree that it is the clear duty of the Opposition to examine the Government on every available opportunity on an important question of this kind. The hon. Gentleman realises that there is anxiety and concern, and indeed real fear, not only amongst those who are unemployed, not only amongst the 103,000 people in Scotland now unfortunately out of work, but throughout the country amongst those people who are actually in work, and that we should fail in our duty as an Opposition unless we took the Government into account on this vital question of unemployment.
One of the things which has emerged during this debate is that our unemployment problem has two aspects. There is the sharp rise in national unemployment, which is attributable, at least in part, to Government action. We were all delighted by the statement of the Minister of Labour this afternoon showing that the figure was down by over 50,000. There is also the local chronic unemployment which exists in various parts of the country. These areas have been discussed during the debate. The position in Northern Ireland was raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), and there are areas in Scotland and parts of England and Wales where unemployment is persistent.
It is with those areas I wish to deal, because in my own constituency the figure 510 of unemployed at present is 12.6 per cent. of the insured population. Nor is that the whole story, because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) emphasised in his speech today, there are the women who no longer sign the register because there is no work for them, and there are the young people, the school leavers, of whom in my division there are about 700 every year, a number which, with the bulge, will grow to about 900 in 1961, for whom there is no hope of work. Out of the 700 school leavers in Anglesey during this year, not more than about 150 will be able to obtain employment in their home county.
This is the problem which is constantly worrying us in Wales, the twin evils of unemployment and depopulation. It is against that background that I want to examine the Government's record, the Government's acts and omissions in dealing with this problem. I want to be as factual and as fair as I can in doing so.
Yesterday I went through the annual Reports on Government Action in Wales during the last six years. They made very interesting reading, and I found that almost identical references are made to the unemployment problem in each Report. I take the Report for 1954, for example. In paragraph 27 we read:…there are a few areas where the rate of unemployment has been comparatively high. Some of these areas are in North Wales.…This problem of local unemployment is receiving special attention from the Government Departments and local authorities concerned.In the Report on Developments and Government Action for the period 1st July, 1957, to 31st December, 1958, which came out a week or so ago, under the heading "Unemployment" we see this sentence:…throughout the period the highest percentages were those in North West Wales.Under the heading, "Effort and Achievement in Wales" we read:In Anglesey progress remained disappointing.The people of Anglesey—I am one of them—and the people of the other affected areas in England, Scotland and Wales will be forgiven if they regard the Government's promises with a certain amount of misgiving in the light of the record.
511 We had an able and competent speech by the Minister of Labour today. He is always interesting to listen to. It was significant to note that he thought there was a resemblance between the Government's policies and the polices put forward by the Opposition. It is always very encouraging and heartening for us when the Government say they are following Socialist policies, however ineffectively. However, his speech, although it was able and competent, did not give the true picture. The true picture is that unemployment in Scotland is over 4 per cent., in Wales over 4 per cent., in Northern Ireland over 9 per cent. The more we look at the dismal record the more confusing does the picture become.
While in Wales we were told in 1954 that our unemployment problem was "receiving special attention" from the Government Departments, the Government put Bank Rate up and investment in the public sector was cut down, and Government Departments were busily engaged in cutting down road schemes, rural electrification schemes, the work of the River Boards, and so on. If this was the "special attention" we were receiving it was something we did not expect. Far from helping us, the Government have been creating more unemployment in those areas. Then we had the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, which was supposed to herald a new dawn for us.
The Minister of Labour is fond of speaking about weapons. Today is was the boomerang. In his speech on Second Reading of that Bill he said:…the Bill seems to us an essential weapon to have in our armoury"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th April, 1958; Vol. 587, c. 397.]It certainly has not killed any dragons in my part of Wales. Far from being an essential weapon, it has become a walking stick for our peripatetic Minister of State for Welsh Affairs. It is more of a Tory slogan in Wales than an Act of Parliament. In spite of promises, the Act is not working.
I should like to give the House an example. A few months ago an industrialist of substance applied to D.A.T.A.C. for a loan of £20,000 to build a factory in Anglesey. Had this factory been built it would have employed 150 men, which would have meant a great deal to us. The application was rejected. 512 We have not been told why on the ground that these negotiations are confidential, but I would say to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade that this was a bitter disappointment to the people of Anglesey. It was the only hope we had of any new source of employment.
How will the Act, in these circumstances, help us? I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, when he winds up the debate, will be good enough to tell me how this much vaunted Statute will help the people of Anglesey, which has the highest rate of unemployment of any county in the country.
Again, when the Act came into operation the Government instructed the Development Commissioners that they were no longer to operate in areas which were scheduled under it. We were not told about this when the Bill was debated in the House. We should have been told, because the Development Commissioners were giving us a good deal of help. We pressed the Chancellor to revoke the instruction, and then we found in a Written Answer to a Question on 12th February that the Commissioners would now be permitted to operate again in our areas. That is an example of the haphazard way in which the Government deal with this matter—not by a statement at the Dispatch Box but by a Written Answer to a Question. Then there was the circular from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, which was sent out to about 60,000 managing directors, calling attention to the needs of certain areas. I believe that there were about 820 responses to that letter.
Certain areas scheduled under the main Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, were again scheduled under the 1958 Act. Why was that? It seems to me extremely difficult to understand. If those areas were scheduled under the 1945 Act, and thereby received the benefit of Section 4 of that Act, why were they again scheduled under the 1958 Act? All in all, it is reasonable to say, if we look at the record, that there is a lack of design, of panic measures taken without sufficient thought, and a total inability to grapple with the problems of these areas which have chronic unemployment.
Surely, the Board of Trade can do much better than write 60,000 letters to managing directors. It would be better 513 to make a more selective and studied approach. Why cannot the Board of Trade, with all the machinery it has at its disposal, survey the whole range of industry? Many industries are not suited to Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Carmarthenshire and Merioneth. Heavy industries are not suited, but there are other industries which are suitable, where transport costs are not significant. There is the pharmaceutical industry and precision engineering, for example.
Why cannot the Board of Trade study that limited sector of private industry and find out precisely what sort of industries could profitably settle in these areas? Having done that, why cannot it then make a more personal approach to the managing directors of those industries? It is to this limited sector that I should like to see the Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade directing their attention.
We hear a great deal in these debates about figures and statistics, but when we deal with the problem of unemployment there are no statistics or figures; there are only people and communities, and it is the duty of the Government to direct their attention to the needs of those communities and to serve them. The hon. Gentleman knows, or should know, of the drift from Wales. We are constantly told by the party opposite that we should take no account of the difficult pre-war years and should not constantly hark back to them. It is difficult for us not to do so, because we remember that in that period half a million Welsh men and women had to leave the Principality. There are parts of Wales which have never been the same as a result, there are derelict towns and villages, and it is our duty, regardless of when the General Election may come, to press the Government on this matter.
Why are Government supporters so preoccupied about an election? It is they throughout this debate who have been talking about election propaganda. At this moment electioneering is irrelevant. The important thing is that people should be found work in their own communities. It is for the people at the right time to decide whether the Government have done their duty or not, and they will so decide.
514 I hope that after this debate the Government will take a more humane view of our problem, will study the machinery at their disposal, and will use every instrument they have to solve unemployment.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I agree entirely with the closing words of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes). This is a human problem and only those who have been unemployed know what it means. I have been in that position and therefore I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will not accuse me of being indifferent.
The most important thing to the unemployed is not whether the Tories did badly in 1930 or the Socialists did badly in 1945 to 1951; it is, can they get jobs? They are not a bit interested in our political warfare about who did worse than the other. What they want is jobs. What can we do to get them jobs and what are the problems? Those are the questions with which we should be grappling.
At least there will be 58,000 men and women in this country who will be happier today than they were a month ago because they are back at work. I hope that next month, irrespective of party, the unemployment figure will be less by 100,000. We want to see men back at work.
I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) one or two practical trade points. The Motion calls upon the Government…by a policy of planned economic expansion…to restore full employment…In a free society that is impossible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am saying that, and the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said it the other night in this House. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who with others is saying "Oh" with a long face, should face the facts; it is impossible in a free society to guarantee full and eternal employment.
§ Mr. Osborne
Do not say "Oh" to me in funereal tones. We have 50 million people in this country. We grow enough food for 30 million. We have to import 515 40 per cent. of foodstuffs and 100 per cent. of raw materials. We have to pay for that with 30 per cent. of our production.
I know the difficulty in selling because I am engaged in manufacturing. A company with which I am associated is opening a new factory in South Africa, because once the South Africans have sufficient production in their country they will put a ring fence round it and no more goods will go in. No Government, therefore, can guarantee full employment. We are facing the same problem in New Zealand. We are prospecting in Australia, where exactly the same problem is arising. We have a factory in Canada which has the same problem and where the authorities say, "Once we can build up our own production, we will not have imports." It is no good the right hon. Member, the long-faced man from North Battersea, shaking his head over things he does not understand. I wish to goodness that he had the problem to tackle.
The Motion asks for the impossible. It is impossible by political action in our country to guarantee full and eternal employment. Does the right hon. Member for Blyth think that we can have full employment merely by taking in each other's washing? If he cannot compel the foreigner to buy British, how can he guarantee full employment to the men who make the goods for export? That is a question which must be faced by both sides of the House. Unless we export 30 per cent. of our production, we have no imported food and no raw materials.
How can the Opposition promise—and this is where it is so dishonest to put down Motions of this kind—the ordinary people that they will have continued full employment when they know that they cannot make foreigners buy our goods? The 70 per cent. of the goods which we sell in the protected market, the home market, can be shunted to this or that part of the country and I agree that there should be direction in that case. I am all for direction in the case of the protected home market.
However, even with the power to do that with 70 per cent. of our production, we still have to sell 30 per cent. overseas, or we are not able to buy the raw materials with which to make the 70 per cent. which is sold at home. If the country were pockmarked with Govern- 516 ment factories built in every constituency where an hon. Member has rightly pleaded for his constituents, that would not solve the unemployment problem. We would still have to make our sales abroad.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) was speaking about his problem. On the back page of The Times last week there was a big advertisement saying, "Come to Northern Ireland". Lovely factories were shown—I wish that I had one—at 9d. a square foot. In London, the charge is 7s. to 10s. a square foot. In addition, the Northern Ireland authorities offered 33⅓ per cent. towards capital outlay. Yet Northern Ireland cannot get enough industrialists to go there. What is the use of telling the people that we can solve the problem of unemployment by building Government factories everywhere? The problem before the nation in this expanding industrialised world is, to use a colloquialism, that we have to produce Rolls Royce quality at Ford prices. This is a matter of joint enterprise between the trade unions on the one side and the manufacturers on the other.
We have to make the people conscious of the necessity for that to be done. Two weeks ago, I was at the Leipzig Fair and there saw products from the Communist world. I was astonished by what even China was offering in the way of machine tools. The prices of some of the goods frightened me. I talked to one of our steel representatives there and he told me that the East Germans were prepared to offer steel at £2 a ton less than our price. How can we force the foreigner to buy British against that?
I found that the West Germans were selling to the East Germans ten times what we were selling to them. When I got back to Berlin, I told the Berliners that they had no right to object to our trading with East Germany when they were doing ten times as much trade with East Germany as we were. I am not prepared to let Dr. Adenauer settle my unemployment problem or my trade problem. Many people believe that somehow our problem will be solved by great expansion of East-West trade, Anglo-Soviet trade.
I should like to give the House a few figures in that connection. A friend of 517 mine who returned from Moscow only last Thursday said that the Prime Minister had made a remarkably favourable impression amongst the officials and top people there. The atmosphere is good. I understand that Mr. Khrushchev offered to buy a quantity of the very consumer goods the sale of which would help to solve our unemployment problem. While the atmosphere is favourable, will we send a trade mission to Moscow? We must not allow the atmosphere to grow cold. Further, we should not send an office boy. We should send a top Minister, together with half a dozen of our top industrialists who are already doing business with Russia. They should go there and do business on the spot. If we leave the matter for three or four months the opportunity may go, and it may never return.
I warn hon. Members opposite that the old talk of a buying basket of £1,000 million has no reality. The Soviets are short of cash. They have not the cash to buy more goods from this country. I learned from one of my friends the other day that it is the traders and not the politicians who will solve the unemployment problem. I learned for the first tune that one of the leading Iron Curtain countries—I will not say which one—offered 90-day bills instead of paying cash against shipping documents. That shows that that country is desperately short of cash.
The question, therefore, boils down to this: what can we import from the Soviet bloc which will do the least harm to our own industries and will provide the Soviets with cash to purchase the goods that we want to sell them? Last year Russia sold about £60 million worth of goods to this country and bought from us only £23 million worth. The other £33 million was spent largely in raw wool and raw rubber, which was good for the sterling area as a whole but no good for this corner of it.
The Soviets are asking if we can find them credit facilities. I do not know whether we should do this, but I should like to know if we are prepared to find some five-year credits in order to finance the export of British consumer goods into the Eastern market. One of the ways in which we can minimise the harshness of the Communist world is to help raise the standard of life of the people living 518 in it. The more we can sell to them the better. Is there any chance of our making available any such credits?
One commodity which the Russians can offer us and which would do little harm to our country is oil. Before the war R.O.P. sent us a lot of oil, and over the last six months I have seen correspondence in which Russian fuel oil has been offered at 6¾d. a gallon, as against 1s. ⅜d. a gallon at Anglo-American prices. But this oil is offered in lots of 10,000 tons, and only the biggest industrial enterprises can handle it. At present there is no distribution system. Is there any means by which we could take from the Russians a limited amount of fuel oil, ensuring that the money earned was used in making purchases from this country?
May I remind the House that oil imports into this country over the last twelve years have risen from 2 million tons in 1946 to 28 million tons last year? The amount that we spent on oil last yea' was £440 million. If, therefore, 10 per cent. of that could be imported either from Rumania or from Russia, it would enable them to buy our goods and thus provide employment in hon. Gentlemen's constituencies, which would be an extraordinarily good thing to do.
I understand that the Board of Trade has given licences for only a limited period of time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] If hon. Gentlemen would listen they would learn of the difficulties of doing this trade. It is a very costly business to convert from coal burning to oil burning and no great organisations will spend all that money unless they are sure that they will have regular supplies of oil in the future. May I have an assurance that they will have supplies in the future?
I hope that Anglo-Soviet trade possibilities will be exploited to the utmost for both political and economic reasons. We have to remember that sales by Russia to us last year amounted to £60 million whereas our total exports last year were about £3,250 million. It is a fleabite. That will not solve our unemployment problem. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to disabuse his colleagues' minds because he knows that any Motion which suggests that any Government by political means can guarantee the people of this country full employment is an utter fraud.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. WolrigeGordon) on his maiden speech this afternoon. It was a carefully prepared speech and delivered in a manner which, I think, pleased the House.
The Minister of Labour pleased the House very much indeed today when he was able to announce a reduction of 58,000 in the number of unemployed. This is welcome news to all of us. I think that it was tinged with some relief, to judge by the look on the faces of hon. Members who support him, and that their cheers were mainly due to the relief which they felt that for the second month in succession the right hon. Gentleman was able to announce a reduction in the figures.
In a way, the right hon. Gentleman spoiled what, if I may say so, I thought was an excellent Parliamentary performance. His memory is stupendous, and he was able to give us unemployment figures for many countries almost as though he were reading someone else's bridge hand. But I thought that he was taking the jubilation at the reduction of 58,000 in this month's figures with rather too much complacency, because, although there has been this reduction it does not make one iota of difference to the terms of the Opposition's Motion. I will come to that in a moment and say why.
After the Minister had announced these figures, I looked at the March figures over the past few years. The truth is that the number of people out of work in March, 1959–550,000—is exactly twice as many as in March, 1951, the last March when a Labour Government were in office. There is nothing to be complacent about, because it must be remembered that throughout all the years from March, 1951, the March figures have shown an increase. There was a reduction in only one year. I will not weary the House with all the figures, but there has been steadily mounting unemployment.
In March, 1956, it was 266,000; in 1957, 363,000; in 1958, 433,000; and in 1959, 550,000. It is still a very serious matter indeed when the figure is 120,000 more than it was in March of last year, and it does not call for the suggestion which has been made in the debate that the reason for the Motion was to create 520 some party capital—the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, described it as a bogy—or to create some political advantage out of unemployment and its misery.
The Opposition are here in the House not to rubber-stamp the Government's actions. The whole Parliamentary system is designed for the Opposition and other hon. Members to draw the attention of the Executive to what they regard as social problems which need remedying. This is the task which we have undertaken and which we shall proceed to carry out. We should be equally as justified in putting down the Motion tomorrow, even after the announcement made by the Minister today, as we were at the time when we put it down. The Motion reads:That this House deplores the failure of Her Majesty's Government to prevent the recent substantial and widespread rise in unemployment, underemployment and short-time working…Nothing which the right hon. Gentleman said today destroys the value of those words. If the House does not deplore the rise in unemployment, then, in my view, it is neglecting its duty to the public which elected it.
What is much more serious than the fact that unemployment is still over half-a-million in March, 1959, is that the unfilled vacancies must now be only about 179,000. I have added the 25,000 which the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to tell us will be in his figures, when they are produced, to the 154,000, which was the last issued figure. This means that there are three unemployed people for every vacancy, wherever it is in the country, and, therefore, two-thirds of the unemployed have no opportunity or possibility of obtaining a job at all.
Surely that is serious. When hon. Members speak about unemployment in general it must never be forgotten that during the period of the Labour Government there were always more vacancies than jobs. The problem in those days—I shall come to this later, because in my opinion it is the chief problem today—was to bring the jobs to the people, but it was never the position in those days that fewer jobs were available than people looking for them.
I know that the Minister was unable to give us these details for the latest figures which he announced, but another 521 very serious aspect, certainly of the last issued figures, is the fact that over 50 per cent. of those who are unemployed have been unemployed for over two months. That is where the seriousness begins to show itself.
There are two other very special cases which should rouse the House from any complacency caused by the announcement of this reduction today. The first is in relation to school-leavers. There never has been a time since the end of the war when it has been more difficult to place boys and girls leaving school in jobs. Wherever we talk to those at employment exchanges who are responsible for trying to place youths in jobs, we find that they say that this is one of the most difficult tasks they have had; and it has grown tremendously in the last months.
This is a very serious matter socially as well as economically. It is a very bad thing indeed if boys and girls leaving school are taking a considerable time before they get into a job. The dangers of youngsters going into blind alley jobs and into jobs for which they are not suited become apparent when there is so little choice and chance before them.
Then we have the problem of the man over 50 who finds himself unemployed. There was a debate in the House a Friday or two ago on the problems of finding work for elderly people. In the main, hon. Members were describing the problems of those 65 years of age and over. Here is a real problem for the man over 50. He is in the position of being unable, very often, to get further employment, because in the superannuation schemes in operation at over 50 he is not regarded as eligible for membership. At over 50 in competition for jobs with many people younger than himself he is regarded as too old.
The man at 50, having worked for thirty-five years or more, and finding that he has a very hard task of obtaining a job, comes up against a sort of social misery which cannot be described. For the youngster leaving school and the man over 50, the problem of finding a job is very great indeed and one to which we are drawing attention in putting our Motion before the House.
The Minister had a great deal to say about the way in which the figures have been used in the last two months, but 522 he did not tell us anything about the missing jobs. I should like sometime to have from the right hon. Gentleman some reasons why a number of jobs have just disappeared. In August, 1957, we probably had the peak of employment in this country. At that time, there were 23,336,000 people in work and 259,000 unemployed. Roughly, the number of vacancies equated the number of unemployed at that time. So there were jobs available for 23,595,000.
If we take the figures the right hon. Gentleman gave us today and the figures published last month, we have a total of 22,820,000 people in civil employment and 554,000 unemployed. If we add those together we get the number of employment possibilities of those registered at the exchanges of 23,374,000, which means that 221,000 jobs have disappeared.
The percentage of unemployed people to the total working population can always remain at the 2.8 per cent.—2.4per cent. while the number in civil employment and the number unemployed added together keeps decreasing, but the truth is that there are 221,000 jobs which have disappeared. No doubt they represent married women who today have not bothered to register at the employment exchanges. So our real unemployment is still much higher than the figures announced based on the counting of the cards.
If we take now the short-time working to which our Motion draws attention, and the under-employment that still exists, and the 221,000 missing jobs, we have a very real total of unemployment which, even though we may have a very high proportion of our population employed, is still a gross waste of our human and physical resources. It is to that that we have to direct the attention of the Government. We say that in a world that is crying out for goods and services, such a waste of human and physical resources is not a great compliment to a Government that have all the legislative authority for dealing with the problem of full employment.
There can be no argument that it was Government policy that led to unemployment. That has been said by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The decision of the Government to deflate the 523 economy was taken because of fear of inflation, and what they have, in fact, done is to make the unemployed bear the burden of an inflation for which the Government themselves were originally responsible. They are shown as being responsible for inflation but, to get the economy on to a more stable basis, they deliberately took the steps they announced and, as a result, produced the present high level of unemployment.
It may be said that if we relate the number of people working to our total population we probably have a higher percentage of employment than any country in the world; and that, therefore, even half a million unemployed over all is not really too bad when compared with what is happening elsewhere. Of course, if we only had 2.4 per cent. of unemployment everywhere it might be a fair argument for saying that we had reasonably full employment. But it is not like that at all.
The Minister said today that unemployment was running now at 4.8 per cent. in Scotland. That means that anyone out of a job in Scotland has the same chance of getting a job as though there were 1 million unemployed—not half a million. In North Lanarkshire, where the last figure was 9.3 per cent. the person out of work has the same chance of getting a job as he would have were unemployment running at 2 million over all. Reference has been made to Northern Ireland. There, one person in 10 is out of a job. One can pick out these black spots. In Wales, the figure is 4.6 per cent. overall, but Llanelly has 8.6 per cent. The Tyneside, with Jarrow and South Shields, has 6.6 per cent. All these represent the same problem as we would have were there over 1 million unemployed people.
It seems to us that it is to those black spots that the Government ought to direct their attention. It has already been demonstrated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) that there is legislation in plenty for doing this job. The Acts passed by the Coalition Government, and the subsequent Act of the Labour Government, gave all the authority they needed to direct jobs to these areas. In our view, there has been a lack of administrative initiative in not dealing with the problem in the black spots.
524 We are to have an even more difficult situation in future in the black spots. A complete change is taking place at present in the whole pattern of industry. We see it in the coal-mining areas, where pits are beginning to close—and, I think, will close with increasing rapidity over the next few years. We have it in the Lancashire cotton areas. Now, strangely enough, we have it in the aircraft industry—one of our most modern industries. It is strange to think that this industry, which was in its infancy only a few years ago, is now declining and it is estimated that there will be a reduction in the number of people employed by about 20,000.
Unless the Government ensure that work is taken to these areas, undoubtedly we shall never have a situation in which we can have full employment, because there is a limit to the amount of migration that can take place. If all those people who are out of work in black spots began to trek to places where employment prospects are more reasonable, we should have a complete social upheaval. We should have something similar to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North referred to, both in his pamphlet and in his speech today, when he said that in Nelson and Colne there were 500 vacant houses while in other parts of the country where industry was better there was a great need for housing.
It is absurd that we should not understand that to create deserted areas and "deserted villages" is another wrong use of our physical resources. Therefore, not only on social grounds, but on economic grounds, we should be directing and diverting industry into these areas.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade would deal with some of the problems which have been raised concerning his Department. At the same time, he said that there was the greatest difficulty in persuading private enterprise to take a factory extension to another part of the country where it would be useful in providing jobs. I wonder whether the Minister realised, when he said this afternoon that the possibility was that if one forced that individual too hard he would probably not bother about the extension, how he was condemning private enterprise for its lack of social responsibility.
525 Industry in this country will have to understand that it must have social responsibility as well as some responsibility to its shareholders. There is no question that industrialists cannot be permitted to create a situation in which they are not prepared to assist in meeting the social necessities of the people of these islands. Those industrialists who are unpatriotic or unsocial-minded enough to deny factory extension where it is required, merely because it is inconvenient, have no right to be running their businesses. If a case has ever been made for an extension of public ownership, it was out of the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, when he told us that that was the attitude of some industrialists.
The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) told us that it was quite impossible to have full employment in a free society. Mr. Khrushchev has always said that, but we in democratic countries have always taken the view that we can achieve full employment and that we can constantly see a rise in the standard of living under democratic methods. The answer to what the hon. Member for Louth said was given in 1944, when the Coalition Government produced their White Paper on Employment Policy.
I want to remind the Government that the proposals which it is said that they have now accepted—they are the proposals which have been described by my right hon. Friend—were the proposals broadly speaking laid down in the White Paper. The reason we have this Motion before us tonight is that the Government have not acted in accordance with the White Paper to which they were a party in 1944.
How does that White Paper begin? In the foreword it says:The Government accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war. This Paper outlines the policy which they propose to follow in pursuit of that aim.I want to quote three short passages from it. The first one is in the chapter dealing with the general conditions of a high and stable level of employment. In paragraph 39, it is said:Total expenditure on goods and services must be prevented from falling to a level where general unemployment appears.526 This the Government have not done. Then, in paragraph 40, it is said:Thus, the first step in a policy of maintaining general employment must be to prevent total expenditure (analysed in paragraph 43) from falling away.The analysis in paragraph 43 is as follows. First, there is private consumption expenditure, that is to say, expenditure on food, clothing, rent, and so on. Then there is public expenditure on current services, that is, expenditure by public authorities on education, medical services, national defence, etc. Next, there is private investment expenditure on such things asPrivate capital expenditure on buildings, machinery and other durable equipment".Next, there is public investment expenditure, namely,Capital expenditure on buildings, machinery, roads and other durable equipment by the central Government, local authorities or public utilities.The Government have run away from that pledge in 1944. They have run away from it by the policies that they have adopted. They have prevented the local authorities from building houses. They have prevented the local authorities from spending money on works which are desperately needed. By the Measures they have taken, particularly in relation to high interest rates, they have failed to carry out the pledge in this White Paper that they would closely relate public expenditure with the need for maintaining full employment.
What we on this side have said consistently since 1944 is that we stand by this White Paper on Employment Policy. It was to this end that the Distribution of Industry Acts and the other Acts were designed and passed through the House. Our complaint about the Government is that, by their own folly, in taking the lid off everything, pressed hard by their own supporters, on the basis of "Tory freedom works", they produced an inflationary situation, and they have been able to meet it only by producing unemployment as an antidote.
What will be the result of the new priming of the pump, as the result of the injection of the public money into the economy on which they have now agreed? What happens when unemployment goes lower again? Do we start again on another inflationary spiral? Shall we then have some more panic 527 measures? In other words, what is the policy in the mind of the Government? The truth is that there is no policy. They are merely meeting the situation as it arises, and the people who are the pawns in the game are the half million unemployed—which figure will rise and fall as the seasons go by.
The Motion on the Order Paper is a Motion that no Member of the House could afford to vote against if he were free to do so. It deplores the rise in unemployment, in under-employment and in short-time working. No hon. Member opposite can deny that there has been this rise in unemployment, There is under-employment and there is short-time working. The Motion deplores the fact that we have the black spot areas and that the Government have not taken the necessary steps to make sure that industry goes to these areas well in advance so that the worst effects of unemployment may be mitigated at the earliest possible time.
It is plain that there is no hon. Member, if he were free to do so, who could vote against the Motion if he really believed in what the White Paper said in 1944, that it is the responsibility of the Government to create the circumstances in which we can have high and stable employment. That is why we shall go into the Lobby tonight, because the Government have failed to maintain a high and stable level of employment and have taken measures which have resulted in a good deal of misery and hardship for hundreds of thousands of people.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers)
This debate has shown the deep concern of both sides for the important and human question of employment. No one was more eloquent or more acutely aware that unemployment is certainly something more than a matter of statistics than my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon). I should like to add my congratulations to him on an auspicious maiden speech. I am sure that we can look forward to greater contributions from my hon. Friend. Perhaps he may make a contribution to our debates even greater than his distinguished predecessor.
It is right that all of us should feel a deep concern, whatever the reasons for 528 unemployment and whatever its scale. To the unemployed person and his family, it means hardship, anxiety and loss of confidence. Whether there are many or few in the same boat really does not matter. It makes a great deal of difference, however, to the prospects for the individual whether the problem is one of mass unemployment or is essentially a local problem for which solutions have to be found.
Right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree that the present situation bears no resemblance to that of the 'thirties. There is nobody on either side, who believes that there will be mass unemployment, and the country should know this. I agree, however, with the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) that grave problems face the over-50s who may have lost their jobs and that there are grave problems facing the school leavers who may find themselves going to dead-end jobs. We are acutely aware of this.
I should like to make a few general remarks about the problem of employment and unemployment. Full employment, a strong external position and the end of inflation are all desirable objectives to which everyone subscribes. To say that they are all important, however, is not the same as saying that they can all be achieved simultaneously in all circumstances and at all times, particularly in a country such as ours which is dependent so much on exports. To pursue one of these objectives at the expense of the other is relatively easy, at least for a time, and especially if the one chosen is full employment at any price.
From the criticisms made by both the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and by the right hon. Member for Blyth, who opened and closed the debate for the Opposition, are we to take it that that is the objective that the Opposition would have pursued for the last throe years even if the price were uncontrolled inflation and a weak external position? If it is, a terrible price would certainly have had to be paid in the long run. The relative price stability of 1958 would not have been achieved and we should have had a crisis in our balance of payments.
It is very doubtful whether, even so, the objective of full employment, for which all else, apparently was to be sacrificed, could have been attained. As 529 a country we live by exports, but we should undoubtedly have priced ourselves out of world markets and, instead of adding to our reserves, we should have run them down to a danger point and disrupted the whole sterling area system of payments and paralysed half the world's trade.
How, then, in the midst of an acute crisis and after cutting ourselves off from the export trade, should we have been able to finance our imports and continue to run our factories? That is what I ask the critics on the benches opposite to tell us. I maintain that in these circumstances we should have had unemployment on a massive scale. It is a travesty to say that the Government have sought deliberately to create unemployment, as the right hon. Member for Blyth said. The purpose of our policies has been to put the country on a sound footing, as no other policies, we believe, could have done, and I think we can claim that the economy is now much stronger than it has been since the war.
Now, having got the country on to what we believe is a sound footing, we are as eager as anyone to expand, and, indeed, out policies have for many months been directed to encouraging expansion, consistently with our other objectives of avoiding inflation and maintaining a strong external position. The Motion urges us to adopt a policy of planned expansion, without any explanation having been given tonight of what is meant by "planned expansion". If it means relaxing restrictions and stimulating various sections of demand, progressively as the economy can stand such measures, this is what we have been doing, are doing and will continue to do.
After the general relaxations which we have authorised, which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, the increase in the public investment programme has been to the tune of some £160 million, especially for housing, roads and railways, and special attention has been given in these programmes to plans for areas of relatively high unemployment, which should please the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George). If steady progress of this kind is planning, then I agree that we are already planning.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
If this is correct, why is the Minister of Housing and Local Government not allowing local authorities to build up to the full capacity which they believe they can? Why is he still insisting upon allocations?
§ Mr. Rodgers
I do not think I ought to go into a housing debate tonight.
If planning means subsidising the expansion of particular industries and discouraging expansion elsewhere at the dictate of the gentlemen of Whitehall; if it means trying to interfere with market forces, instead of harnessing them to our purpose; most of all, if it means indiscriminate expansion, followed by a system of rigid controls when expansion has gone too far; then we are not planning, and we never intend to plan in that way.
I am sure that the House will be asking what are the immediate prospects. Consumption has increased, and retail sales are at a higher rate than a year ago. Private investment overall will be about the same level as in 1958. We have yet to see the full effects of the increase in public investment, but there is no doubt that this will make a significant impact on the economy and on the number of jobs available. Altogether, we say that at home the movement is upwards. This has already been shown in industrial production, which has risen recently, and conclusively in the encouraging figures which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour announced today.
On the external side, we are, as we always are, and as we always must be, very much dependent on world trade. The fall in our exports last year was, despite the remarks of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, a significant cause of unemployment. Indeed we reckon that it has accounted for at least half the increase in unemployment since the beginning of 1958. I was taken to task for saying this by the right hon. Gentleman, but I remain unrepentant in asserting that.
A good deal of the fall in exports was due to the fall in earnings of the primary producing countries, the obverse of the falls in import prices from which I admit we as a country have benefited. We must expect our exports to these countries to 531 remain depressed for some months yet, but we look for the turning point some time during the course of this year.
As regards the economy in general, therefore, we believe that we have every reason to expect an increase in demand at home and, later in the year, abroad, and the general movement of production is already upwards, while prices remain stable and our external position is strong.
We are not in any sense complacent. In particular, we are not complacent about this all too human problem of unemployment, but this—I think we ought to say it—is the overall economic situation as we see it.
§ Mr. Rodgers
Let me try to sum up the steps which the Government have taken to deal with these pockets, if I may so call them, though they are much wider than "pockets"—these large areas of local unemployment. The general measures which are well known to everyone have, of course, a considerable effect on the needy areas. But in addition to them, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North has catalogued in his pamphlet, we are taking a great many other steps to try to deal with this problem.
First of all, we have brought in the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act which enables us quickly, in a matter of weeks, to give financial assistance anywhere and not merely in the large industrial areas which could be scheduled for factory building. Perhaps the House would like to know the latest D.A.T.A.C. totals. I repeat that I am sorry that more use has not been made of this instrument, but the figures to date are that D.A.T.A.C. has recommended 27 cases, 10 in England, 12 in Scotland and five in Wales, and at the moment a further 53 are under consideration.
The hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) asked me why an application for his constituency had been turned down. I am afraid I cannot give him the reason for that. The way D.A.T.A.C. works is that there is a committee of independent businessmen, one trade unionist and an accountant, and they adjudicate on a case and recommend to the Treasury whether or not the case 532 should be considered as eligible by the Treasury. I am afraid I have no information, therefore, about individual projects once they get to the stage of an application.
§ Mr. C. Hughes rose—
§ Mr. Rodgers
I am afraid I cannot give way because I have a lot to say.
We have been building factories in the worst hit areas and have extended our new factory programme, previously confined to Dundee, Greenock and West South Wales, to North Lanarkshire, North East Lancashire and Merseyside. We are not averse to adding other areas if local conditions justify it, but we put the areas, first, where we believe the need is greatest. I hope that that does answer a question which was distinctly put to me by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Rodgers
No. As I have said, we gave those areas particular priority, but we keep in mind other areas.
Examples of the custom built factories as opposed to advance factories undertaken in the last 12 months are those for Morphy Richards at Dundee, for I.B.M. at Greenock, and for Pressed Steel a Swansea. We believe—we have never hidden this—that tailor-made factories are in the main what industry requires. Nevertheless, we have also announced that we are prepared to build three advance factories on an experimental basis, and the places we have chosen for these three experimental advance factories are, first, in Scotland, at Coatbridge, and secondly, in North Wales, in Anglesey, and thirdly, in England, somewhere in the Merseyside Development Area.
We have been finding tenants for empty Government factories; for example, the Admiralty factory at Greenock, which has been taken by Acme Wringers. We have also carried out extensions to existing Government factories throughout the Development Areas. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am sure, 70 extensions have already been approved and are estimated to give 5,000 jobs, and a further 22, to give 2,500 jobs are being negotiated now. Recently also, as the 533 House knows, we have announced that grants would be available under Sections 3 and 5 of the Distribution of Industry Act for clearing derelict sites and towards schemes for improving water and sewerage services. We await local authorities' proposals on this. We have also granted rent concessions on empty factories and on the renewal of leases where the current market value is above the original rent. Lastly, we have been operating a stricter policy on the granting of industrial development certificates so as to steer away as many firms as possible from the congested areas provided that they can operate in other areas as efficiently. I shall return to that point in a moment.
This is just the outline of what we have been doing in the last nine months to provide employment in those areas where, unfortunately, unemployment is high. I believe that to any fair-minded person this is not a bad record for nine months. I must turn quickly to the problems of one or two special areas, and in doing so I should like to say that because of the brevity with which I can deal with those areas I am not in any sense minimising the gravity of the unemployment figures in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Time does not allow me to go into great detail on all these matters.
Hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies have contrasted the share of factory building constructed in Scotland by this Government with that constructed by the Labour Government. I think that it was the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) who raised the point. But what are the facts about Scotland's share of post-war factory building, both private and governmental? I would ask the House to listen to the figures carefully.
In the seven years from 1945 to 1951, 26.3 million sq. ft. were approved as against 27.9 million sq. ft. in the seven years from 1952 to 1958. That is to say there was an annual average of 500,000 sq. ft. more than in the preceding years under the Socialists. Is it, therefore, fair to say that Scotland has been treated badly in the last seven years? [HON. MEMBERS "Yes."]' As for the comparison with Great Britain, Scotland's share of the total amount of factory building approved and started in Great Britain did not suddenly decrease from 534 1952. The sudden decrease—and there was a sudden decrease—occurred in 1949 when Scotland's share fell from 11.8 per cent. of approvals in 1948 to 5.7 per cent. of approvals in 1949. In the four years 1945 to 1948 the area approved in Scotland, expressed as a percentage of that in Great Britain, was 13.8. In the three years 1949 to 1951, under the Socialists, this fell to 6.6 per cent., and in the seven years since then, from 1952 to 1958, the equivalent figure is an increase up to 6.8 per cent. I think that that is an adequate answer to those hon. Members from Scotland who have complained that we have not dealt fairly with their country.
Turning to Northern Ireland, although unemployment is alas very high, here again the percentage increase is much less than in many parts of Great Britain in the last year. Much credit is due to the Government of Northern Ireland whose policy of industrial development has met with a great deal of success, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) admitted. Over 130 new firms from Great Britain and overseas have been assisted to set up manufacturing units in Northern Ireland since the war. This is in addition to assistance given to local firms. The additional employment provided by these projects is at present over 35,000 and is likely to rise to over 45,000. This does not take account of further expansions which are contemplated.
Although the figures are still unsatisfactory, which no one would deny—and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South did not do so—there are special problems here, such as declining traditional industries, problems of transport and the like. I think that the Board of Trade can claim a share in the achievements, as the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland himself publicly acknowledged only a week or two ago.
Now I turn to Wales. Hon. Members have also criticised this Government for failing to bring new industry to Wales. We on this side of the House do not accept that criticism. We are fully conscious, as the hon. Member for Anglesey pointed out, of the distressingly high unemployment figures, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman and the noble Lady the Member for Carmarthen to bear in mind the facts. In January. 1958, 535 seventy-four new industrial buildings and extensions were completed to bring over 2,250 new jobs to the Principality. In addition, at the end of the year a further forty-seven projects—including Pressed Steel, which is by far the largest factory ever financed by any Government in a Development Area—were under construction, to bring about a further 9,000 jobs, and this without taking into account the Newport strip mill. Only this week Hoovers have announced new projects m the Merthyr area to supply about 500 additional jobs there too. We foresee, therefore, having 11,000 new jobs for Wales in the not too distant future, and I hope this will be at least some solace to the noble Lady.
My right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs and I would not wish at all to minimise the real employment difficulties in parts of Wales, but we would like recognition of the real achievements of the present Government in certain directions. However, as I said earlier, we are not complacent, we are always willing to learn, and so I turned hopefully to the Jay Report which came out, very opportunely, last week. At last, I felt, here was a chance to learn something new. I admit I would not have been above following a distinguished precedent and stealing the right hon. Gentleman's clothes if they had been wearable, but when I came to examine the garments the right hon. Gentleman has shed I found them no more than a miscellany of ill-fitting and worn-out transparencies which I do not covet.
I will not go through the Jay Report paragraph by paragraph because that would weary the House, but I will take the three sections into which it is divided. First, there is what he humorously calls "The Facts". If I had time I could show that these are full of inaccuracies. The right hon. Gentleman accused me of inaccuracies today, but I could point out an enormous number of inaccuracies in the so-called facts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read them."] Well, let me take one or two of them. I will take factory building. The period 1945–48 was one of intensive building to put industry on a peace footing and make good war damage, and in those years £37 million of Government factory building was authorised. But from 1948 to 1951 the 536 yearly average was £4.6 million. From 1951 until now the yearly average is £4 million, and in the current financial year projects to the value of £6.9 million have been authorised. Is this a reversal of policy? Hardly a reversal of policy.
Or let me come to the point which the right hon. Gentleman tends to make so much of, the control on building licences. We have been taken very much to task for operating this slackly. It is remarkable that if the industrial development certificate is such a useful instrument, it did not begin to be used by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite until 1948. If this really effective weapon had been used immediately after the war when industry was on the move hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite might have been able to criticise us, but let us see how much it has been used since 1948. Since it was introduced approvals in the London region covered 11.6 million sq. ft. in 1949. In 1958, with our slacker policy, we authorised only 9.9 million sq. ft. What a failure of the Socialist Government to take the tough line which hon. Gentlemen opposite now advocate that we should take!
I could go on to talk about industrial estate companies and all the rest, but I will now answer one specific question put by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North. He asked whether we should schedule a number of new Development Areas, including North Wales, large parts of Scotland and parts of Cornwall, with the object of being able to build factories in those areas. Existing Development Areas cover 19 per cent. of the country. The Government view on this matter was put by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade as recently as last November. He was dealing with the suggestion that we should consider the possibility of de-scheduling some areas. He put the suggestion for the consideration of the House that there was no point in adding more areas unless we de-schedule others.
That view had been expressed before in these words:The Government has throughout maintained the principle that to justify scheduling it must be shown that an area not only has a high rate of unemployment, but that the numbers of unemployed are high in the aggregate. This principle alone might be taken to dispose of the claim to Development Area status of such places as the Nantlle Valley and Blaenau Festiniog in North Wales and 537 Camborne and Redruth in West Cornwall, where, though the rate of unemployment is much higher than the national average … the number of persons unemployed or liable to be unemployed is not significant in the national total. There are, furthermore, obvious objections to scheduling areas with very small or sparse populations since the whole conception of a Development Area implies some degree of interchange and mobility of labour between neighbouring industrial centres and a labour market large enough to provide industrialists with a balanced labour force … It follows, therefore, that this remedy cannot be applied to small pockets of unemployment …I have been reading not from a Conservative document but from the 1948 White Paper on the Distribution of Industry, in the production of which the right hon. Gentleman doubtless took a prominent part.
The House is being asked tonight to divide an the alleged failure of Her
§ Majesty's Government to prevent recent substantial and widespread rises in unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman felt that this was perfectly in order since unemployment was still high. It would have been all right if we were to vote in March on the figures of December, or January, but there has certainly not been any substantial and widespread rise in the last two months.
§ I am perfectly certain that tonight the House will decide, as the country will soon decide, which party is most likely to provide a solution of this distressing and human problem, and I am sure that the House and the country will decide the right way.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 247, Noes 309.541
|Division No. 66]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Edelman, M.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Albu, A. H.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Baird, J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Balfour, A.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Fitch, A. E. (Wigan)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bern. Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Fletcher, Eric||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Benson, Sir George||Foot, D. M.||Kenyon, C.|
|Beswick, Frank||Forman, J. C.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Blackburn, F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Ledger, R. J.|
|Boardman, H.||Gibson, C. W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Gooch, E. G.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Greenwood, Anthony||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Brockway, A, F.||Grey, C. F.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Logan, D. G.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hale, Leslie||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McCann, J.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hamilton, W. W.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hannan, W.||MacDermot, Niall|
|Callaghan, L, J.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||McInnes, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hastings, S.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hayman, F. H.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Chapman, W. D.||Healey, Denis||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Mahon, Simon|
|Cliffe, Michael||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Clunie, J.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)|
|Coldrick, W.||Holman, P.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Holmes, Horace||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Houghton, Douglas||Mason, Roy|
|Cronin, J. D.||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hoy, J. H.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Monslow, W,|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moody, A. S.|
|Deer, G.||Hunter, A. E.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Mort, D. L.|
|Diamond, John||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Moss, R.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Moyle, A.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Janner, B.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Timmons, J.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Panoras, N.)||Tomney, F.|
|Oram, A. E.||Ross, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Oswald, T.||Royle, C.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Owen, W, J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Padley, W. E.||Short, E. W.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Paget, R. T.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Weitzman, D.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Skeffington, A. M.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Pargiter, G. A,||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Parker, J.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Paton, John||Snow, J. W.||Wigg, George|
|Peart, T. F.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Pentland, N.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Sparks, J. A.||Willey, Frederick|
|Popplewell, E.||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Prentice, R. E,||Steele, T.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Price J. T. (Westhoughton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stonehouse, John||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Probert, A. R.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Pursey, Cmtlr, H.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Randall, H. E.||Summerskfll, Rt. Hon. E.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, S. T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Redhead, E. C.||Sylvester, G. O.||Woof, R. E.|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Reid, William||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thornton, E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Godber, J. B.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Cole, Norman||Goodhart, Philip|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Cough, C. F. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cooke, Robert||Gower, H. R.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cooper, A. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)|
|Anstruther-Cray, Major Sir William||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Corfield, F. V.||Green, A.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Ashton, H.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimond, J.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Crowder, Petre (Ruisllp—Northwood)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Cunningham, Knox||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Balniel, Lord||Currie, G. B. H.||Gurden, Harold|
|Barlow, Sir John||Dance, J. C. G.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Barter, John||Davidson, viscountess||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Batsford, Brian||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harris, Frederick (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Deedes, W. F.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||de Ferranti, Basil||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Donaldson, Cmdr, C. E. McA.||Hay, John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Doughty, C. J. A.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Bevlns, J. R. (Toxteth)||Drayson, G. B.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Duncan, Sir James||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Duthie, W. S.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hesketh, R. F.|
|Body, R. F.||Elliott, R.W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Errington, Sir Eric||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Erroll, F. J.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Braine, B. R.||Fell, A.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Finlay, Graeme||Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Fisher, Nigel||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Holt, A. F.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Forrest, G.||Hope, Lord John|
|Hornby, R. P.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Fort, R.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Bryan, P.||Foster, John||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Freeth, Denzil||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A (Saffron Walden)||Gammans, Lady||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Carr, Robert||George, J. c. (Pollok)||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gibson-Watt, D.||Hurd, Sir Anthony|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Glover, D.||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Mathew, R.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Speir, R. M.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Nairn, D. L. S.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Kaberry, D.||Neave, Airey||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Keegan, D.||Nicholls, Harmar||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kerby, Capt, H. B.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||Storey, S.|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Kimball, M.||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Kirk, P. M.||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Lagden, G. W.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Oakshott, H. D.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Teeling, W.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Temple, John M.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr, Capt, L. P. S.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Leburn, W. G.||Osborne, C.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Page, R. G.||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Partridge E.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Peel, W. J.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G.(Sutton Coldfield)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitman, I. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Pott, H. P.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Powell, J. Enoch||Wade, D. W.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|McAdden, S. J.||Profumo, J. D.||Wall, Patrick|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Ramsden, J. E.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rawlinson, Peter||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Redmayne, M.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Webster, David|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Renton, D. L. M.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Robertson, Sir David||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Robinson, Sir Roland(Blackpool, S.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maddan, Martin||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maitland Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Roper, Sir Harold||Woollam, John victor|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Russell, R. S.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Sharples, R. C.||Mr. Legh and|
|Marshall, Douglas||Shepherd, William||Mr. Edward Wakefield.|