HC Deb 02 February 1960 vol 616 cc911-42
Mr. Willis

I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, after "committee)", to insert: or in the case of Scotland, a Scottish advisory committee".

The Chairman

It might be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the Amendment in page 3, line 9, after "committee)", to insert: or in the case of Wales, a Welsh advisory committee". and to have two separate Divisions if necessary.

Mr. Willis

Under the Clause an advisory committee is to be set up which will take the place of D.A.T.A.C. It will be responsible for making recommendations to the Board of Trade for building grants to persons under Clause 3, and for building grants to undertakings under Clause 4. It will play an exceedingly important part in determining the type of recommendation made to the Board of Trade. Because of the importance of the part that is to be played by this committee we feel that there should be a separate committee for Scotland. We feel that because conditions in Scotland are in some respects different from those obtaining in England and probably even in Wales a Scottish committee would more suitably make recommendations.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman spent some time in Scotland, doing what he called listening and learning, but he visited only one small part of Scotland. He did not see the conditions obtaining in the Highlands and Islands, which have problems different even from those in the Lowlands or Ayrshire, and very different from anything obtaining in England or Wales. A Scottish committee would be more willing to recognise these peculiar conditions than would a United Kingdom one.

I also feel that, for reasons over which we have little control, a United Kingdom committee would be apt to underestimate the importance of matters which are important in a Scottish context. Certain undertakings in Scotland which are of importance to that country cease to have the same degree of importance taken in the context of the United Kingdom. That has always been one of the reasons why I believe that we ought to have Scottish administration whenever possible.

I do not blame anybody for this situation; it is in the nature of things that persons who are concerned with areas with large numbers of unemployed are more likely to attach importance to them than to the need for a small factory in the Highlands, employing only 20 men, although in the context of the Highlands such a factory would be a very important undertaking.

On Report, the right hon. Gentleman is to move an Amendment to Clause 1 in which he refers to having regard to the circumstances of the district generally and of any particular description of persons therein". It seems to me that a Scottish committee is more likely to know the circumstances of the district generally and the particular description of persons therein than would a United Kingdom committee, which would probably sit in London. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to see the Bill implemented in the way he suggests a Scottish committee would be better than a United Kingdom one.

There was an article in this month's Lloyd's Bank Review, by Professor Peacock and Mr. Dosser, of Edinburgh University, which was very critical of the policy of the Government.

Mr. Maudling indicated dissent.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Willis

It was certainly very critical of the policy of the Government, in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's dissension. It said that one of the results of the Government's policy was likely to be an increase in inflationary pressures in the Midlands and the London area.

There is also a note on the article in today's Scotsman. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has read it, but, if not, I advise him to read the comment in the leading article in that newspaper. Professor Peacock suggests that the problem of unemployment should be regarded from quite a different point of view from that of the Government; that a number of regional factors should be considered, such as the type of industry necessary in a particular area. There is reference to the great need for much fuller regional statistical information, and much greater information on the regional expenditure pattern and on the have Scottish administration whenever purchases. It seems to me that if the criticisms made by Professor Peacock are sound—and I think that there is something in them—a committee such as we suggest would be an admirable body to deal with this problem. It would help to give a much closer regional consideration to the matter. I dislike using the word "regional" in connection with Scotland. I do not think that the correct word. I should prefer "national". If this matter is to receive the national consideration which it merits, and which Professor Peacock argues that it should receive, and if the policy of the Government regarding unemployment is to be successful, this Amendment should be accepted. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will be sympathetic to our proposals. We feel strongly about this matter. We consider that Scotland would be better served in this way. There is no doubt that Scotland needs better service.

Mr. Ross

I hope that the Minister will not underestimate the importance of this Amendment. It is not just a case of providing an opportunity to proclaim the importance of Scotland. Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that we really mean what we propose.

This advisory committee is important. It must be, since it is dealing with matters which the Government claim are essential and important. It will lead a great new building drive, and so we ought to recognise its importance. I am sure that the Minister will agree about that. The committee will deal with building grants and loans and undertakings. It has to judge whether it is expedient to take action and whether or not a firm which is being investigated will be able to make good without recourse to further aid from the Government. It would appear that it is a purely deliberative committee. It would be better to have one committee for the whole country dealing with the same kind of cases from all over the country.

I suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that he should go a little beyond that and appreciate the history of the problem he is dealing with. If anything stands out it is that Wales and Scotland cannot be treated on exactly the same basis or have applied to them exactly the same policies for a solution that can be applied to the rest of the country. The failure in respect of long-standing grievances of Wales and Scotland has been due to the fact that the Government set up one body of machinery for the whole country.

Not only has unemployment in Scotland continued to be double that of the rest of the country, but it is getting worse. In the application of this centralised policy to the new committee, the Government are continuing the policy of the past. Is the right hon. Gentleman worried about uniformity of application? If this Amendment were accepted the committee would be making its decisions on the basis of general directions laid down by the President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman would have to say yea or nay to any decision made by the committee.

There is another centralised body in Whitehall, the Treasury, which also has to give assent to anything. If the right hon. Gentleman is worried about fairness and justice to the whole country in respect of any decision the Scottish committee could make, he has himself and the Treasury to look after that aspect. We are concerned that there should be advising him in respect of new developments in Scotland a committee fully seized of the conditions in Scotland, not only as to unemployment but in respect of trade prospects and the kind of undertaking that would be desirable from that point of view.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there is considerable concern in Scotland that things have been allowed to happen there concerning which, if they had been allowed to happen in England, action would have been taken long ago. That applies outside this field. I remember a Government committee inquiring into something which could be done at Prestwick Airport. You will, appreciate, Sir William, that I am making no direct reference to the fact that you were concerned in that inquiry. A decision was given and the Government turned it down. Everyone in Scotland believed that if it had related to London Airport the job would have been done even without a committee considering it

The least that the people of Scotland should have is the assurance that the committee given these important tasks and making these decisions should be fully seized of the situation in Scotland. I am sure my Welsh friends can say the same in the case of Wales. A certain aspect and attitude in relation to something happening away up in the Highlands is adopted by a small, impersonal committee in London. We have to remember that part of the advice they will be given will be related to Clause 1 and the question of the relationship between expenditure involved and employment likely to be provided.

It may be that in different parts of the country the committee would arrive at a different decision about the amount of expenditure related to the number of jobs, but the further we go into the Highlands the fewer are the jobs created for greater expenditure. If a rule of thumb system is applied to the whole country it will be to the detriment of employment required in the worst parts of Scotland. It is desirable from the point of view of Scotland that we should have this advisory committee. That would satisfy opinion in Scotland.

If the right hon. Gentleman is worried about lack of uniformity in application and unfairness to the rest of the country, he should remember that the Board of Trade will be able to accept or reject the advice given. In addition, from the point of view of central control there is always the Treasury to consider.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will seriously consider the suggestions made in the Amendment from the point of view of the well-being of Scotland.

Mr. Tudor Watkins (Brecon and Radnor)

So far, the Scottish forwards have had the ball always from the line-out, but as inside-half I have decided to open up the game and to pass the ball to my backs alongside me. By opening up the game of the advisory committee I hope to obtain more information so that we may know exactly what that committee is supposed to do.

First, we have no knowledge at all of the number of the advisory committee and no undertaking that if there is an advisory committee it will contain representatives from either Scotland or Wales. We can obtain that information from the Minister. We are more concerned, however, with getting a separate advisory committee for each country. Perhaps I may point out to the first Scottish forward involved in this game that we are not a region but a country.

The committee envisaged in the Bill is far too large for three separate countries. Each country has separate features. If I may say so respectfully to my Scottish friends, we in Wales also have our own language. The Minister should bear in mind that the question of language may influence much of the advice given to the advisory committee. Even if he does not accept the Amendment he should at least have a Welsh-speaking Welshman on the advisory committee.

I am concerned with other matters, however, which are of equal importance. One important question will be the degree of disablement among the unemployed people. We had a debate on this matter in Committee earlier. It is most important, because the area which I represent contains a large number of pneumonconiosis cases. Special members of the advisory committee will be needed to deal with that problem when determining the question of building grants. In another part of the constituency the question of inaccessibility arises. There are many important features.

Some hon. Members may ask why I want an advisory committee for either Scotland or Wales. They may point out that there will be a national committee. Scottish hon. Members can speak for themselves about this, but I should like to make the case for Wales. Why is it necessary, for instance, in agriculture to have a Lands Sub-Commission for Wales unless there are features peculiar to Wales? Why should there be a separate sub-committee, advisory in character, for hill farming? Why should there be an advisory committee for Wales on afforestation? Why should Wales be divided into North and South for afforestation? Why should Wales have joint education committees unless there are peculiar features which require special advice in this respect? I would mention other bodies such as the Civil Aviation Advisory Council. We are told that we need advice in the air, but what we require here is advice on the ground about unemployment.

The employers have an association in Wales, and there are trade unions with their headquarters in the Principality. The advice from all these bodies, when they gave advice to an advisory committee for Wales, would be of advantage to the Minister. No one should welcome advice in this direction more than the President of the Board of Trade.

9.45 p.m.

If it is advisable to have management corporations for Wales, Scotland and for England, why is it inadvisable to have advisory committees? We welcome a management corporation for Wales, but we should welcome also an advisory committee. We shall not have an opportunity of raising this subject again. If it is not possible to have a separate advisory committee for Wales, would it be possible to have a sub-committee of the advisory committee for Wales and for Scotland? Whether the advisory committee be for Wales or for the whole of the United Kingdom, would it be possible to have on it members concerned with National Parks, which is a feature in which I am particularly interested?

It is inadvisable for an inside half to hang on to the ball too long, so I pass it on to the Welsh backs hoping that they will do very well with it.

Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)

I am not sure whether I speak as a full back or a half back.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Lady is speaking with Scottish colours.

Lady Megan Lloyd George

I am certain that hon. Members have no doubt that Scottish Members are able to speak for themselves. I should like for a few minutes to support them in stressing the great importance of the Amendment. The President of the Board of Trade will remind us that the function of the committee is the same as the function of the committee under D.A.T.A.K.—simply to advise him whether applications which will be submitted to him later for grant are suitable.

What we quarrel with is not so much the composition of the committee, though perhaps that could be improved, but the fact that there is only one committee instead of three, one each for England, Scotland and Wales. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will say that, as the committee's function is purely to decide whether a project is a sound financial proposition, it is not necessary to have three separate committees. The committee has not only to decide that. It must decide whether it is a sound economic proposition. but it must decide also the prospects of success of the firm in a particular locality. That is an absolutely vital consideration. Local circumstances and conditions, labour requirements and the labour available in the area must be taken into account. After all, the purpose of the Bill is not to make grants to firms which are financially sound. Its whole purpose is to provide employment and to attract industries into difficult and inaccesible areas. Therefore, it is vital to consider local circumstances.

I give as an example areas where mines are about to close. Some of them are in valleys which the President of the Board of Trade never tires of telling us are inaccessible. The Government ask how industries can be taken to the valleys. Not much industry may be needed in some of the valleys. It may be that a smaller type of industry would fulfil the need, but how will a committee sitting in London know the difficulties of Cwmllynfell, let alone the fact that its members cannot pronounce it? In fact, I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to pronounce it when he comes to reply.

I would ask him not to dismiss this Amendment by saying "This committee has been there for a long time. We have had it for other Acts, and it has worked very well. It is purely a committee of accountants, industrialists and trade unionists. We cannot disperse them, and have regional representatives and committees." If he is to make the Act work successfully, as we all hope he will, and bring work to these distant and inaccessible areas, I ask him most seriously to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Maudling

Perhaps I enter into this discussion in the capacity of goalkeeper. I think that it would be a great pity to decide this on the basis of regionalism—[An HON. MEMBER: "Nationalism."]—or nationalism, if hon. Members prefer that word. Earlier today we had a discussion of a vigorous and slightly heated character, in which everyone agreed that there should not be discrimination between England, Scotland and Wales, and that it was absolutely essential that there should be no bias in the operation of the Bill. We should remember that the advisory committee is not concerned with policy. Policy is a matter for the Government. The committee will, of course, be operating under general directions given to it by the Board with the consent of the Treasury, and the general directions that we shall give it can, if necessary, cover the various points about disablement and the like that have been mentioned.

The sole purpose of the committee is to operate on those general terms, to examine individual applications and to say whether it thinks that the projects will stand on their own feet eventually, and what help they will need in the initial stages. A very important factor is the remoteness of an area; it is not a question of whether it is in Scotland or in Wales, but whether it is remote, and that is the only factor that should be taken into account in that connection.

Of course, it is very important for the committee to have all the information it requires about local circumstances, and it would be foolish to expect it to contain within itself the local information it wants. As a matter of fact, I believe that there are representative Scotsmen and Welshmen on the committee as it is. The point is that it will have all the information it needs supplied through the Board of Trade controllers—in the circumstances, I hesitate to say regional controllers—and through the other authorities concerned.

It would be quite wrong to suggest that the applications should be dealt with on a differential basis, depending on what part of Great Britain they may come from. Each individual application should be dealt with consistently on the same principles, in accordance with the general directions, and in accordance with all the available local information.

Scottish Members might reflect that recent developments have not been altogether bad from the Scottish point of view. As we all know, the British Motor Corporation recently announced a big extension, in which the total number of new jobs in Scotland will be as big as those in England and Wales put together. That is not a bad start— [An HON. MEMBER: "Chicken feed."] To call it "chicken feed" is silly; 5,600 jobs is not "chicken feed".

Hon. Members may be interested to know what I am told has appeared on the tape this evening. Lord Rootes has announced in Paisley that his group is planning to put up a factory at Linwood, close to the Pressed Steel works. A labour force of 3,500 over about three years has been discussed. I therefore do not think that the arrangements neglect the needs of Scotland—

Mr. Chetwynd

What about the North-East?

Mr. Maudling

That is exactly the point. Once the needs of one area are stressed, quite rightly, the North-East comes up, Cumberland comes up, Wales comes up, which shows that if we are to work the system properly we must have uniformity of administration. Policy must remain with the Board of Trade, and the Board remains subject to the pressures of hon. Members rightly pursuing the interests of their own districts.

The general terms will be laid down by the Board, but I suggest that it would be quite wrong to split the committee on a national or regional basis, thereby implying that individual applications should be dealt with differently just because they come from different districts. I suggest that that is quite out of accord both with the spirit of the Bill and the earlier discussions we had this afternoon.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I can see the force of the right hon. Gentleman's argument that it is essential in working a scheme of this kind that the criteria should be the same. He himself said that it was essential for the fulfilment of this task that there should be on the committee people of local experience who know the local conditions. How does he propose to ensure that? I gather that he will ensure it by making it certain that there will be people with knowledge of Wales and Scotland, as well as other parts of the United Kingdom, on the committee.

The right hon. Gentleman has provided in the Bill for Wales, Scotland and England separately to have three management corporations. He therefore feels that it is essential in the fulfilment of the tasks which the President of the Board of Trade will have under the Bill, when it becomes an Act, to ensure that the administration is divided into three countries. Does he not think that that in itself requires that there should be a similar division in the field of advice? For example, these corporations as they go on will gather experience in this matter. Is that experience to be made available to the committee when it comes to decide applications for grants and so on? These are matters of importance.

This debate is an indication, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, that Scotland and Wales have one thing it common—and I am sure that my colleagues will not mind my saying this—that in this age, when all the trend is for industry to gather together into an ever narrower part of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Wales happen to be on the periphery of that development. We have had a rehearsal this evening of what, I hope, will be a very happy encounter at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday. We are united now, we shall be divided for a couple of hours on Saturday, but we shall come together again.

The desire to have a Welsh committee indicates the very widespread feeling that we are increasingly going on to the periphery. Take, for example, North-West Wales. As an old miner, I have a deep regard for the old slate quarries and the industries there. Not long ago I went to Blaenau Ffestiniog and I saw there communities, among the best in the kingdom, which are constantly declining. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman understands what I mean.

Behind all that has been said this evening is not a plea for charity. We are speaking for communities which have given their talents and skills to this country as a whole for over a century. One of my hon. Friends spoke about Cardiff. I can remember the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) speaking for the miners of Wales. He talked about the "black diamonds" in our pits, and said that Cardiff and the North-East ports kept Britain going.

Over the past few years, the Government have neglected these areas. We welcome the steps being taken now, but behind our speeches is a message from those communities which have played so great a part in the building of Britain. We ask that they shall have a fair and square deal. That is the spirit behind all that we have said.

Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)

I support the Amendments. I should have thought that the President of the Board of Trade would have welcomed them. The purpose of the advisory committee is to give the right hon. Gentleman the best possible guidance and assistance in implementing the Bill. The more informed and detailed is the knowledge which members of the committee have of conditions in particular areas, the more expert and valuable will be the assistance they can give to the right hon. Gentleman in the operation of the Bill.

10.0 p.m.

One of the main functions of the Bill is to deal with problem areas which have proved particularly difficult and which the existing machinery has been unable to assist. By far the greater number of those problem areas are to be found in Wales and Scotland. A great deal of the attention of any advisory committee, whether it be an overall committee or a committee concerned with a particular country, will be directed to problem areas particularly in Wales and Scotland.

It seems to me that there is only one argument which can be raised against having separate advisory committees for the different countries, namely, the need to have uniform application in the implementation of the Bill and consistent advice given to the Minister on the problems confronting him.

There is, surely, abundant safeguard in Clause 4 (2) to prevent inconsistent advice being given in this matter. If the general directions given to the advisory committee by the President of the Board of Trade are adequate, they will ensure that there is not inconsistent implementation of policy between one advisory committee and another. If the right hon. Gentleman in his directions gives the committee the assistance which it deserves under the terms of the Bill, there should be no danger of having inconsistent advice by the committee for Scotland, for example, as compared with the committee for Wales or the committee for England. If there is an advisory committee for the whole of the United Kingdom, one of the cries which will be raised is that there should be persons on the advisory committee from Wales or from Scotland, persons who have particular connections with the industrial life of Wales and Scotland. In many ways, this will produce an undesirable situation. Those on the committee by reason of their knowledge of Welsh conditions and those on the committee by reason of their knowledge of Scottish conditions will fight on a Welsh basis or a Scottish basis within the overall committee. In my view, that will produce an unbalanced approach to the problems with which we are concerned. It would be better to have separate advisory committees working under general directions given in precisely the same form to each but bringing to their particular problems intimate knowledge of conditions in the countries with which they are concerned.

This would follow the pattern which has been adopted in almost every other sphere of Government activity. The Government often extol the advantages of administrative devolution. They are continually claiming credit for setting up in Cardiff offices and departments to deal with the Welsh problems and Welsh affairs. To resist this Amendment would be to go quite contrary to the claim which they make of being interested in administrative devolution as a whole.

Mr. Bence

I was surprised by the reply the President of the Board of Trade gave in refuting the need for having an advisory committee in Scotland. After all, Clause 3 provides in its opening words. For the purposes of this part of this Act the Board may with the consent of the Treasury, and after consultation with an advisory committee … The words are "with an advisory committee".

If an industrialist in the Midlands or in the London area has been refused a development certificate and the Board of Trade says to him, "There is serious unemployment in Scotland. Notwithstanding the possible employment of another 6,000 people by B.M.C. we shall still have 90,000 unemployed," why cannot the President of the Board of Trade have an advisory committee in Scotland with which he can consult rather than an advisory committee established in London?

We in Scotland have a Trades Union Congress, which is representative of all the trade union movement in Scotland. It is shortly to have a conference in Rothesay, I think. Anyone in touch with events in Scotland knows very well that the Scottish T.U.C. plays a tremendous part in discussions on planning, on the distribution of industry and on employment in Scotland. It is a very important body. Since the President of the Board of Trade will be obliged to consult an advisory committee, why should not he be obliged to consult the Scottish Trades Union Congress? When plans are being formulated for establishing new industries or extending old industries in Scotland, there should be consultation with the Scottish T.U.C.

I believe that from time to time the Scottish T.U.C. has had consultations both with the Secretary of State for Scotland and with the President of the Board of Trade. That is a good thing. If that is a good thing for Scotland, why cannot we have an advisory committee in Scotland which the President of the Board of Trade can consult? It is not suggested in the Bill that any advisory committee that may be set up will have power to dictate to the President of the Board of Trade. It is not a question of advisory committees for Wales, Scotland or England giving different points of view to the President of the Board of Trade. If an industrialist wants to go to Wales, the President of the Board of Trade should be able to consult an advisory committee in Wales. If an industrialist wants to go to Scotland, the right hon. Gentleman should consult an advisory committee in Scotland.

This does not seem to be an extraordinary proposal at all. It is usual for big industrial enterprises to consult all sorts of authorities in certain areas if they are thinking of expanding to those areas. I was surprised when the President of the Board of Trade said that difficulties would be created. I think that the Amendment would simplify matters. If a firm wants to go to West Wales or to Llanelly, who better to consult on sites, suitability of labour, and general transport conditions than representatives from West Wales or Llanelly? The President of the Board of Trade should not seek advice from a committee in London, but from a committee in Wales.

I have no doubt that when the directors of the British Motor Corporation decided to set up their factory the organisation's technicians consulted people on the spot. I cannot see why the President of the Board of Trade should not set up advisory committees in Wales and Scotland. The Trades Union Congress in Scotland, which has its own autonomy and is representative of all the trade union movement, is well respected. I believe that it has representatives on the Scottish Council (Development and Industry). It is represented on many of the voluntary economic institutions in Scotland. Surely it would be a good thing for the better distribution of industry if the President of the Board of Trade were to have an advisory committee in Scotland and Wales.

There is another thing about which I have felt rather upset. I happen to be a Welshman representing a Scottish constituency and living in Scotland, so I speak for both Wales and Scotland on this matter. We have been conscious of this for many years. I am sure that the Scots are conscious of it; I know that the Welsh are. It is extraordinary that if the Government want an unbiased committee in the United Kingdom they must have it in London and it must be drawn from England. If they have a Welsh or Scottish committee, it is biased. The President of the Board of Trade emphasised that this was dangerous and bias should be eliminated and, accordingly, there should not be a Welsh or Scottish committee but there should be one here. It is doubtful whether members of the advisory committee will be drawn from native Wales or Scotland.

Mr. Maudling

There are one Welshman and three Scotsmen on the committee.

Mr. Bence

I hope they are not anglicised Welsh and Scots. If they are native Welsh and Scots, it is a little more hopeful. Even in that case, that is dangerous ground. It is better to have the advisory committee for Scotland set up and sitting in Scotland and for the Minister to be able to consult it in Scotland, with a representative of the Scottish T.U.C. drawn from the trade union movement in Scotland included within the com- mittee. My Welsh colleagues have flung the ball about very well this afternoon. I would only say that I hope that at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday they do a little better than they did at Twickenham.

Mr. G. Thomas

I am glad that my first speech for a long time in the House of Commons should be on this important question. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Minister is pulling back. In five Parliaments in which it has been my privilege to serve, I have listened to many a debate on Scottish affairs. I do not pretend that I have listened to them all, but hitherto I have never found the Welsh and the Scots quite as united as they are on this important issue.

It is significant that what unites us is fear for our bread and butter. It is the anxiety of the Scots and of the Welsh, both of whom, in the past, experienced the worst stage of economic depression. Now, in a period of prosperity, as those parts of the United Kingdom that are experiencing the worst measure of such unemployment as exists, with the possibility of more and knowing that our rate is higher than that appertaining over England as a whole, we have a right to say to the Minister that in this Bill he should make sure not only that he has the machinery for relieving unemployment, but that the voice of the Welsh and of the Scottish people is fairly heard.

Earlier today, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who has the honour of sharing with an hon. Member opposite and myself the representation of the City of Cardiff in the House of Commons, spoke rough words against a bias in the Board of Trade against the City of Cardiff. I suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that one sure way of removing even the suspicion of bias is to accept that the people on the spot know better than he does the needs and the circumstances of the area.

10.15 p.m.

I recall that in the Labour Government of 1945–50 one of my hon. Friends, or more probably one of my right hon. Friends, because they put their foot in it more often than my hon. Friends, got into trouble for saying that the man in Whitehall knew best. The party opposite made a great deal of capital out of it. Hon. Members opposite thought the man in Whitehall knew least of all. Now, apparently, the man in Whitehall does know best that the people who come from the two countries referred to are not the best people to advise the Minister on this question.

I congratulate the Scots on the welcome news they have had tonight about the motor factory which is to be established in Scotland. We would have been very glad to have had it in Wales. We would have been glad if the announcement had named Cardiff, but so be it. The factory is to go to Scotland. There is another which we hope will come to Cardiff if the Board of Trade and the motor company concerned know what they are about. But is not the Minister aware that by accepting these Amendments he will give a message to Scotland and to Wales that he is determined that the voice of the people of those countries shall be heard in the planning for employment in their areas?

The Clause, without the Amendments, is almost suffocating in its precautions. I believe that on the grounds of efficiency and of urgency the specialist knowledge of the people of Scotland and Wales ought to be available to the Minister. No one ever appoints an advisory committee without making sure that it is staffed with specialists, with people whose training and background and experience give them the authority to give the necessary advice. Who is more fitted, with the complex economy of these islands, to advise the Minister on problems in Wales and Scotland than the people who live there and who have a share in the industrial and commercial life of those two countries? I hope that tonight the Minister will not be too big to have second thoughts and that at least he will say that he will give further consideration to this question.

Mr. Manuel

I am quite sure that it has been made unmistakably clear to the President of the Board of Trade that there is a wealth of feeling flowing throughout Scotland and Wales on the subject of these two Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman said in his brief reply that this issue should not be decided on the basis of national standards, or words to that effect. I should like to know his reaction in the inner circles of the Government when the Secretary of State for Scotland is bringing forward a case for better treatment for Scotland because of our peculiar problems. Does the right hon. Gentleman take up this completely hard attitude? Is it because he is one of the ablest young men in the Government that we cannot obtain what we ought to have for Scotland in connection with many matters which the Secretary of State has to raise in the Cabinet?

The right hon. Gentleman also said that this question should be decided on the basis of all available information being collated by one advisory committee. Obviously, it would appeal to everyone in the Chamber, because a Scottish Committee could give him all the available information much more easily, concisely and readily than this single Committee for the whole of the United Kingdom.

I am delighted, as I am sure all Scottish Members are, that we have managed to secure another 5,000 jobs, or approximately that number, but do not let us forget that the December Ministry of Labour figure for unemployment is over 98,000. Indeed, I am quite sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is right in saying that it is now over 100,000. Therefore, the jobs created have dealt only with a twentieth part of our problem. We are delighted to have had that improvement, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman is not feeling too complacent because more jobs have been secured as a result of industries going North.

A Scottish industrial committee working on behalf of the Board of Trade would be a very good thing indeed. Scotland has a problem peculiar to itself, one which cannot be dealt with nor ferreted out without a committee composed of and drawn from Scottish interests. Scottish committees could very appropriately be set up by the Government and have representatives on this advisory committee. I am thinking of the Scottish Crofting Commission, which is trying to stop the depopulation of the Highlands. This Commission is not only dealing with crofting, but with ancillary employment, in order to carry out the functions delegated to it in the Act which brought it into being. These problems would be much better dealt with by a Committee such as we suggest. I would also suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, after his visit to Scotland and the sort of feeling that he would have about some of the deputations that met him, this might appeal to him, and that a Scottish advisory committee would be a tremendous fillip in Scotland itself, as well as a guarantee of the sincerity of the Government in their intentions regarding the Bill. It would be some guarantee that a great benefit would accrue if that concession, if it is a concession, could be given. I can imagine that the Board of Trade and the Treasury will place great value upon and have great regard to the recommendations of these advisory committees.

If that be so, I recognise that possibly the President of the Board of Trade will have obstacles to overcome with the Treasury if he gets a stream of information coming to him supporting a great many applications. Nevertheless, I feel that he would be far better buttressed to argue with the Treasury if he had the collective information from the various interests in Scotland, which certainly could present a much stronger case in regard to the inaccessible areas into which it is so necessary that we should direct industry.

While mentioning the question of inaccessibility, I am reminded that the President of the Board of Trade has repeatedly said that the difficulty lies in these inaccessible areas. I have tried, during the various stages of the Bill, to pin-point the problem of the inaccessible areas in the Highland counties where, I agree, the problem is very difficult. I am sure that there again the right hon. Gentleman would have much better information from a committee drawn from Scottish interests, which could help him greatly in regard to the attraction of industries to Scotland.

May I put a last point? I am sure that Scotland's single biggest problem today is the question of unemployment. We have large problems in connection with housing and other things, but although this is our single biggest problem the President of the Board of Trade is not willing to consider having an advisory committee for Scotland.

I tell the right hon. Gentleman that our training and background of government in Scotland has all been around the idea that there were separate Government Departments. In fact, our history is much better than Wales in this respect because we have separate Departments for agriculture, health, fisheries and roads and the Scottish Home Department, all covering a wide field. What are the views of the Scottish Ministers? [HON. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"] I wish there were a Scottish Minister here, because it must have been known that I was going to raise this point. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland can make a reply. What do Scottish Ministers think about a Scottish advisory committee for dealing with the single biggest headache in Scotland, unemployment, which is bearing so heavily and hardly on our people at present?

Where the whole of Government is separated into Government Departments, as I have indicated, do they consider that those problems are more important than the single one of unemployment? I would like to know whether any Scottish Minister is prepared to justify that argument today in the situation surrounding us in Scotland in the areas which are becoming derelict, where there is a hard core of unemployment and where there does not seem to be any relief of it.

I am delighted to see the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland coming into the Chamber. I know that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) will be forthcoming if it is within his power, but I do not know whether he heard my point? I was saying that there were separate Government Departments for education, roads, health, fisheries, electricity and also the Scottish Home Department. Yet, when we come to our single biggest problem, the President of the Board of Trade is repulsing the principle we have in nearly all other directions. What is the view of Scottish Ministers? Have they been consulted about the Scottish advisory committee? We are due a reply on that point before the discussion on these two Amendments closes.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)

We are disappointed and disturbed by what the President of the Board of Trade said in resisting these two Amendments. I got the impression—I hope I am wrong—that the right hon. Gentleman thought that this centralised body, and the general rules issued to it, would be enough to help to solve the problems of areas in Wales and Scotland, which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) rightly described this evening as being problem areas.

The whole point of the argument behind the two Amendments is that we consider that the high and persistent incidence of unemployment in Wales and Scotland requires special attention.

10.30 p.m.

If we are to depend upon a highly centralised body to apply general rules throughout Great Britain, and expect those rules and that procedure to solve special problems, then heavy unemployment in the Highlands of Scotland, for instance, or in Caernarvon and Anglesey, and other parts of Wales, will persist. I support these Amendments because I think they contain a practical suggestion towards making this Bill administratively efficient.

If the Bill is to succeed at all, the administration must be sufficient for its purpose and its machinery should be adequate. The central point is the advisory committee, which will have to consider every application from every part of the country, from Caernarvon to Kent and from Caithness to Cornwall. Therefore, it will have to deal with the needs and potentials of widely differing areas. It will have to evaluate not only economic and geographical factors but also imponderables; psychological factors such as the tradition of labour relations in a given district, the number of school leavers, the pattern of education in that district and its likely development in the light of the advent of new industry.

It is beyond the capacity of any centralised committee such as is envisaged in the Bill to perform that task fairly and adequately. For that reason alone, because such a committee cannot hope fully to take into account the national and local factors which I have described, I think that the Amendments should be accepted.

There is a second argument which rests on our experience of this advisory committee under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, because it is to be the same committee. I make no accusation or complaint against the individual members of that committee which administered the 1958 Act and which we understand is to administer this Bill when it becomes an Act. I am sure that they are admirable people who did their best within the limits of their powers and terms of reference. But the fact remains that the 1958 Act was a failure, partly because that committee could not cope with the flood of applications. On 17th June, 1959, I put a number of Questions to the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to elicit information about how many applications had come from Wales, England and Scotland, how many had been accepted, how many were rejected and how many were still under consideration. That was about twelve months after the 1958 Act had, as it were, got into its stride.

The information was interesting. From Wales 42 applications were received. At the end of the year 8 had been accepted, 12 had been rejected and 22 were still under consideration. The Scottish position was worse, 97 applications had been received during the year —a year is a fair test for an Act which was described by the Government as urgently necessary—27 had been accepted, 8 had been rejected and 62 —two-thirds—of the applications were still under consideration.

Mr. Manuel

They are still under consideration.

Mr. Roberts

I rather think they are; we have no news of their being accepted in the past few months. In England 175 applications were received, 20 were accepted, 41 rejected and 94 still under consideration. After twelve months nearly 60 per cent. of the applications were still under consideration.

There is a further point in connection with those figures. Not only was the committee unable to cope with those applications, but it turned down far too many quite viable applications. The figures of the number of applications given to me in the House were, so we were told, regarded as "firm and eligible." Therefore, less than half of the firm and eligible applications were accepted. which shows that the committee, which was not an incompetent one, was to some extent an ignorant one. It cannot have had access to the full information, or have been able to evaluate the information regarding the applications.

If the Government were in earnest about solving the problems of the areas we have spoken about so many times in discussion of this Bill—the peripheral areas which are specially difficult today and which have been problem areas for generations—they must decide that special measures must be taken to solve these problems. Otherwise, we shall go on for the rest of this century, as we have during the first half of it, living with this chronic problem of unemployment and depopulation in North-West Wales, West Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. If the Bill really means what it says, the Government will agree that committees to advise both in regard to the Scottish and the Welsh problems are administratively necessary for its proper implementation.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) spoke of the slate quarrymen of my constituency and adjacent constituencies. He paid tribute to them as a community and as individuals and I was proud to hear his words. I speak for them tonight and for the fine race of men in areas like the Highlands of Scotland whose future cannot be assured unless through this Bill or similar Measures special means are found for assisting these people and their children to earn their livelihood.

Mr. Ifor Davies (Gower)

As one of the latest recruits to the Welsh team we have heard about this evening, I wish to say a few words in support of the Amendment, which asks for a Welsh advisory committee. I wish to emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon (Mr. G. Roberts) that this is in the interests of administrative efficiency.

I listened with great interest to the comments of the President of the Board of Trade when he emphasised that this committee would have nothing to do with policy but would be merely of an advisory nature. The fact that they are to be merely advisory recognises, nevertheless, that it is of some importance. There are problems which are peculiar to Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) urged that there should be a Welsh-speaking Welshman on the committee. I agree that that is a matter of great importance, but I wish to mention a further matter. The Minister was recently called upon to make a decision about the siting of a plant in Wales. I would voice, in passing, an appreciation of that decision which affects at least the area in proximity to my own constituency. I wish to acknowledge what was done in that direction. I am sure that the Minister received a great deal of benefit from Welshmen in connection with that very difficult problem on which he had to make a decision. Moreover, the very fact that we have a Minister for Welsh Affairs—[HON. MEMBERS: Where is he?]—and, indeed, the very fact that we have a Minister of State is a recognition of the fact that there are matters relative to Wales which need attention and the advice of Welshmen.

I do not wish to delay the Committee, but I would urge that there is a very strong case indeed for having a special Welsh advisory committee. I say this not because there is anything peculiar about Welshmen, although they are said to be persuasive. I hope that the few words which I have contributed to the debate will help to persuade the Committee to agree to this Amendment.

Mr. Dempsey

I wish to associate myself with the Amendment because, with all due respect to other hon. Members, the other section of the United Kingdom which is entitled to an advisory committee is Scotland. There is no question about that. We in Scotland have proved throughout the centuries that we have our own peculiarities. We have our own legislation. Indeed, one of the great arguments for having our own advisory committee is that we have our own unemployment problem, which is a very big one. Obviously, therefore, we must have a competent committee in Scotland capable of advising the Board of Trade that the matter is urgent. Surely that is reasonable.

Unfortunately, Scotland is treated in these matters not as a nation but as a county. Why, I do not know. But it really is a nation. It has it own culture, its own administration, its own executive and also some of the finest brains in the world. I am speaking for that part of the United Kingdom this evening and asking that it should receive the recognition to which it is entitled.

I am wondering tonight whether we have a Secretary of State for Scotland who is prepared to speak up for that country. If he had been prepared to speak up for Scotland as he should I believe that the Bill we are discussing would have been differently drafted. The matters affecting Scotland are complex. Even our legal system differs profoundly from that which operates in England.

I am making every effort to prove quite conclusively that Scotland has made out a case for having its own advisory committee. It is because of the peculiarity of Scotland that we have a Secretary of State, a Minister of State and Under-Secretaries of State. It is because of the tremendous development of Scottish affairs that we have been recognised in that way. Why the President of the Board of Trade should baulk at the appointment of an advisory committee for Scotland is beyond my comprehension. We even have our own Trades Union Congress—

Mr. Willis

A very good one too.

Mr. Dempsey

—specially adapted and specially geared to deal with peculiarly Scottish problems. I cannot be convinced that that is not a recognition of the need for Scotland to have her fair share.

10.45 p.m.

If we had an effective Scottish advisory committee the Ministers would recognise that the United Kingdom does not terminate on the borders of London but stretches to Caithness and Orkney. We believe that we should have competent people who understand the peculiar problems confronting Scotland —who understand, for instance, the problems of the Highlands and Islands and of sheep rearing and hill farming. It is because of all these peculiarities that we have been raising our voice on behalf of the northern part of the United Kingdom and insisting that it should be recognised in the Bill.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

As my right hon. Friend has said, the chairman of the present D.A.T.A.C. committee is a Scotsman and there are two other Scottish members of that committee.

Mr. Willis

That has nothing to do with the argument.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Member should remember his own speech made in an Adjournment debate in 1949 on Scottish government.

Mr. Dempsey

I am dealing not with personalities but with principles. We are fighting for a principle. The principle is that if we are recognised in these other spheres as a nation in our own right, we are entitled to be recognised in the Bill. Other advisory committees have been established in Scotland. I could recite many of them. The Board of Trade has its own organisation there and has recognised the peculiarity of Scottish difficulties. The Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance and the National Assistance Board have Scottish committees. Why cannot the Board of Trade have a Scottish advisory committee? Surely there is nothing unreasonable in making such a plea.

These committees are able to bring the nature of the Scottish difficulties to the attention of the Ministers concerned, in this case the President of the Board of Trade. We are an important, integral part of the United Kingdom, and if we are recognised in all these other spheres we are entitled to be recognised in the Bill. That can easily be accomplished by the right hon. Gentleman accepting the Amendment and allowing Scotland to have its own advisory committee.

Mr. Willis

I was most dissatisfied with the peremptory manner in which the President of the Board of Trade answered the case which was put before him and also with his use of this opportunity to give the latest news "off the tape." I thought that was rather a "Smart Alec" move. I have no objection to his being pleased that a factory is to be taken to Scotland. All my hon. Friends are glad that jobs are being provided in Scotland, but the right hon. Gentleman still has a long road to travel. The Scottish Council has told us that we need 12,000 jobs in Scotland each year. Out of these two concerns we are to get 9,000 jobs during the next three years. I would tell the right hon. Gentleman what he has been told by the Scottish Trades Union Congress: in Scotland we still have a long way to go. The right hon. Gentleman made a very peremptory reply in one instance, but he did not reply to many of the arguments.

Mr. Ross

There have been many since then.

Mr. Willis

There have been some very good ones. My hon. Friend mentioned the time taken to settle applications made to present D.A.T.A.C. committee. No reply has been made to that. This subject has been raised in the House of Commons over and over again. It is a very cogent argument for having separate committees to get the job done more expeditiously. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to think that it is necessary to answer these points.

The single point made by the right hon. Gentleman was that the committee does not deal with policy. He said that the Board of Trade lays down general principles and issues general directions, and the committee acts within them. At times I am astonished at the right hon. Gentleman, who rather prides himself on being an economic expert. I am always of the opinion that he is years behind the times in most of his thoughts, and he is certainly years behind the times about this. One thing above all which has been pointed out by economists equally eminent as the right hon. Gentleman, if not more so, is that unemployment in this country cannot be solved on general principles and by blanket policies applicable all over the country. Professor Cairncross pointed this out in respect of Scotland years ago. The right hon. Gentleman should read the professor's Report. It might help him to do some new thinking. I quoted Professor Peacock tonight, who comes to exactly the same conclusion in the current number of Lloyds Bank Review. Many economists have shown how futile overall blanket policies of the Government applicable to every corner of the United Kingdom are.

The right hon. Gentleman still complacently says that the committee does not decide anything about policy; the Government issue general directions. That is the curse of the Government's policy. That is why road development in the Highlands was held up and Scottish unemployment allowed to worsen during the credit squeeze. The Government were applying principles all over the country based on a situation which existed in London and the Midlands. That is a fantastic policy for a Government to pursue.

The right hon. Gentleman should shake his economic ideas up a little and give this subject some fresh thought. If within the general directions given to the D.A.T.A.C. committee it is asked to take special considerations into account, would not that be better done by a separate committee for the different areas? A separate committee would be better able to apply special considerations more applicable to its area.

It was typical of the slipshod thinking of the right hon. Gentleman that he should say that remoteness is the same anywhere. He said in reply to me, "The hon. Gentleman mentioned remoteness, but of course the problem of remoteness is the same everywhere." Of course it is not, but he does not seem to realise that. The remoteness of the Western Isles or the Shetlands is different from the remoteness of North or Central Wales and the problems in connection with it are quite different. The factors to be considered in dealing with remoteness are different. That is the kind of slipshod argument with which the right hon. Gentleman comes to the Box and insults the Committee by advancing. He insults the intelligence of hon. Gentlemen by coming to the Dispatch Box and expecting them to accept that kind of argument. We expect the President of the Board of Trade to give a better reply than that to a reasoned case.

In moving the Amendment, I did not plead Scotland's needs only, but argued the case as being applicable to both Wales and Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman did not even try to reply to one of the arguments advanced. There are different conditions in these countries. The question is whether they are likely to be better considered by committees concerned only with England, with Wales and with Scotland, or by a United Kingdom committee.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why he thinks that a United Kingdom committee is likely to take these matters into consideration more effectively than are separate committees? We are entitled to reasons—not just this leaning pleasantly on the Dispatch Box and saying that the committee does not deal with policy or anything like that. That was not the argument. Incidentally, it is rather shocking that after a debate that has now lasted for two hours, a Minister should expect a Division without his even replying to what has been said. That is not the way in which to treat the House of Commons.

The President of the Board of Trade may have a very good opinion of himself and think that what is said by myself and by my hon. Friends is not worth answering, but we beg to differ, and as long as we are able we shall do our best to make him face the fact that we at least expect a reply to the very powerful and cogent arguments put forward in the debate.

Mr. Maudling

I shall be glad to add another word before the Division which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) has promised us. I am sorry if my leaning on the Dispatch Box offends him. I hasten to say that his remarks about myself do not offend me in the least. I take them at the value that one should put on most of his remarks.

Having listened carefully to the speeches, I am all the more convinced that it would be wrong to accept this Amendment. It would be contrary to one of the fundamental principles of the Bill. As I pointed out, in an earlier discussion on this matter today—when some representatives of England, apart from myself, took part—it was, I think, agreed all round that this was not a subject for discrimination between England, Wales and Scotland. An unemployed man has just as much right to the care or help of the Government whether he lives on the Merseyside, the North-East, in Scotland or in Wales—

Mr. Manuel

That is not the point.

Mr. Maudling

My point is that we have agreed that there should not be discrimination in these cases, and that applications should be dealt with on the basis of the facts of each instance, irrespective of whether the instance arises in England, Wales or Scotland. Therefore, when we have an advisory committee, one must take into account what it is doing. It has to consider individual applications, and will let us know what it recommends, in accordance with the directions on policy that the Government will issue. The committee, taking into account the circumstances, will have to advise whether an undertaking is likely to be viable over a period, and how much money and support it will need to get under way.

11.0 p.m.

Those two things must be determined on the facts, and not on whether the undertaking is setting up in England, Scotland or Wales. If we were to give the impression that the applications were determined, not on the facts of the unemployment and of the business but on whether it was in England, Wales or Scotland, we should do radical damage to the purpose of the Bill. I want to make that point to hon. Members opposite with all the vigour I can. The purpose of the committee is to get all the information it can get, and it must have all the information possible. It will get all that information—perhaps in part through the regional controllers of the Board of Trade—but, having got all the information, it must decide individual cases in the light of the general directions issued by the Government and on the basis of the facts of individual cases irrespective of the geographical location be it Scotland, England or Wales.

I think that for these reasons, which seem to me adequate reasons, it would be fundamentally wrong and would cause damage to the working of the Bill if we accepted these Amendments, and that is why, if the hon. Member forces a Division, I shall go into the Lobby against him.

Mr. G. Thomas

The President of the Board of Trade would not give way when I wanted to ask a reasonable question, and I feel not at all uneasy in enlarging upon the question I proposed to ask him. Lack of courtesy is not what we usually expect from him. I want to ask whether he is satisfied that there is no discrimination against either Wales or Scotland in view of the present composition of the advisory committee he has announced. He has told us that there will be three Scots, I think, and one Welshman on this committee. I do not know how many Englishmen he requires to advise him, but is he really satisfied that one man will be able to advise him on all the Welsh problems and that he will never be in danger of acting on inadequate information?

Mr. Maudling

I think the hon. Member misunderstood my point. There will be three Scots and a Welshman on the committee and two or three Englishmen, but my point was that they are not on the committee because they are Scots or Welsh but because they are the best people to advise us on these matters. I think the hon. Member will find that these are matters dealt with by accountants, and I always find that wherever two or three accountants are gathered together there appears to be a predominance of Scotsmen.

Mr. Ross

The right hon. Gentleman did not deal with the point about the time-lag, the time taken to produce results. In view of the fact that he presented us with a pretty dismal picture of what happened in the last year and that the Bill's powers are to last only seven times as long, it is important that there should be expeditious decision by the advisory committee. Is the right hot. Gentleman satisfied that what he suggests will be adequate, compared with the three committees we suggest, and that the committee will act adequately and without discrimination in the exercise of its powers?

Mr. Maudling

There has been a great load on the committee, but I think it has very much speeded up recently.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed: In page 3, line 10, after "committee)", insert: or in the case of Wales, a Welsh advisory committee"—[Mr. 1. Davies.]

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.