HC Deb 01 August 1961 vol 645 cc1295-311

11.25 p.m.

Mr. Albert Roberts (Normanton)

I am pleased to have the opportunity of dealing with a subject entirely different from that which we have just debated. In an earlier debate today on industrial injuries the majority of those who took part referred to coal mining and I hope to deal primarily with the coal industry. It is too often forgotten that our sources of fuel are fundamental to our way of life. The Minister of Power and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry always mean well but to mean, or to moan, is not always sufficient. Last week we debated the country's economic situation. The condition of the mining industry has an important bearing on that subject.

In the years 1957, 1958 and 1959 confidence in the mining industry suffered a severe blow. It should be remembered that that was after the House had listened to the Parliamentary Secretary's predecessor giving a glowing account of a future in which the horizon of the mining industry would be one which was ever glowing. The rude shocks administered in those years brought about a slump in recruitment. Summarised reports on the industry have been issued this week and it is startling to find that during the twenty-nine weeks so far of this year only just over 28,000 men have been recruited to the industry. The wastage is 44,000, giving a net loss of 16,000 or roughly about 600 men per week.

What is even more startling is that 60 per cent. of the adults who are leaving the industry are under 31 years of age. There is an acute shortage of men in South Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Midlands, and I understand that there is talk of closing mines in Lancashire to make up the complements in other pits. Although coal is about the only mineral wealth we have and it can last for nearly 400 years at the present rate of extraction, scant attention was paid to this problem in the recent economic debate.

No tangible suggestion has been made in debate for the solution of this manpower problem and I feel that it is time that cognizance was taken of some of the suggestions made by the National Union of Mineworkers on how men might be attracted to the industry. There are mine workers whose take-home pay is no more than £10 a week. Their daughters by tapping typewriter keys can earn as much money. It is time that the Minister and the country realised that something must be done to attract the right type of men into the industry. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, conditions in the industry will become really serious.

It is all very well to say that we can depend on imported oil or imported methane gas. It should be realised that in probably ten years control of all oil supplies will have passed out of the hands of Europeans, judging by the way things are going in the Middle East and in Africa. We shall then be able to rely only on our own indigenous fuel which, as I have said, can last at the present rate of extraction for almost 400 years.

As I said, we need something to attract young recruits into the mines. It is high time we offered them three weeks' holiday apart from statutory holidays. That would attract some of the young people back from other industries. The I.L.O. has already accepted the principle of three weeks' holiday for mine workers. I should have liked to hear something said about this last week because it is really important. Are we to be complacent and sit back? We mist do something if we are to get the recruits. As I have said, there is a wastage of 600 per week, and the situation is growing more serious. Whenever the country is in difficulties, the mine workers play an admirable part. They are a coherent force. They have always been ready to do the right thing when the nation has needed them.

I want to raise an important point concerning mining examinations. The Parliamentary Secretary knows something about this. I echo the feelings of some of the mine workers who feel that the new type of examination to be introduced will bar many of them from becoming colliery managers. The introduction of the new examination or standard will mean that the only approach available to those not in possession of a degree or diploma will be via the new examination; the opportunity of qualifying with that will be not a right for the individual but a privilege, While I accept the view—it is probably the private view of the Parliamentary Secretary—that we may not want the suave kind of colliery manager, at least we want the man to have a decent background, and we want him to be intelligent.

But the National Association of Colliery Managers is not satisfied. It does not mind the standard being raised, but it believes that every individual inside a mine should have equal opportunity and that it should not just depend upon the good will of the National Coal Board. Many young people who leave school at 15 may be anxious to go into the mines; they may continue with their employment until they are 21 and may become shot-firers or deputies, and it may be realised that they are potential colliery managers. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will assure me that if such a young man proves to be the right type he will be able to qualify by right as a colliery manager. As is well known, the National Association of Colliery Managers is not satisfied with the intentions of certain individuals controlling mining examinations, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will take note of this. That is just one facet of what should be done to attract young people back into the mining industry.

The question of a national fuel plan has been raised many times in Questions and debate. Last week reference was made to "plan" being a dirty word. There is nothing wrong in a man redeeming himself or changing his mind, and in the past few weeks many hon. Members have changed their minds. It is high time that we had a fuel plan. I have seen the Lurgi system of producing high pressure gas from inferior fuels, and I am a believer in it. I have seen it in Australia, and it is a success. We have our pilot schemes, but the gas industry is still using a lot of oil.

I believe that if the National Coal Board was given some assurance about the use of oil in the gas industry, further expectations from this method of producing gas would be anticipated to our satisfaction. The consumption of oil in the electricity industry is slightly on the increase. I have always believed that we can produce electricity from our indigenous fuel as efficiently as anywhere in the world. Yet we still have, at the moment, some of our plants operating on oil. There are dangers in that.

I do not want to be narrow-minded on this issue, because I believe that if we are to regain our prosperity we must have cheap fuel and it must be abundant. If we can have a plan for electricity and gas I believe that we can work towards that end. But, at present, in spite of what has been said, we have not got that kind of plan which most hon. Members want. There should be more co-ordination. I know that the chairmen of the Boards of these industries meet from time to time, but that is not sufficient. The Minister should have the courage to say to them that we are going to produce gas and that it will be produced from inferior coal, and that we are going to produce electricity and that it must come from coal.

I believe in refined fuels. How is it that thousands of homes in mid-winter are still at temperatures below 50 degrees? A miner who gets concessionary coal is cold if he moves from the fireside. There are great possibilities here. Why should not every house have some form of central heating? I want to see more heat and power used. We have the means for it in this country. If there is to be industrial expansion at the rate of 3 per cent. per annum, then there can be more demand for our fuel and it would not make any difference to the amount of imported oil.

It is true that our economy should be based on indigenous fuel. At the moment, I know that Lord Robens regards it as part of his job to keep the flag flying. He may be doing so, but he is playing a lone hand, and more could be done by the Ministry than is being done.

We have made some headway with exports. During 1960 we exported 5 million tons of coal. There is no reason why, within the next five years, that figure should not be doubled. I hope that, providing we get the right kind of incentive from the Ministry, and particularly if we join the Common Market, there may be opportunity to export coal to Europe. If our economy is based on such a move, we must realise what it means.

The present situation is a great burden on our balance of payments. In the past, our economy was more or less based on coal and steel. If there is the right kind of foresight towards the demand for power and heat, our mining industry will be efficient, but for that we have to see that there are the recruits for it.

There is far too much play about nuclear energy. Two or three years ago I raised with the present Parliamentary Secretary's predecessor the statement made by Sir John Cockcroft that by 1970 nuclear power would be on parity with power produced by conventional fuels. Sir John has been proved hopelessly wrong. At the moment nuclear energy is really a burden on the taxpayer. Some of the pundits inside that industry have talked about what they are going to do by 1965. My guess is that it will be 1990 before nuclear energy is doing the job that coal can do.

There has been some change of ideas in the last two years. It was Sir John Cockcroft who said in Australia only four years ago what he expected in the course of two or three years. That has not happened. If we really take this matter seriously and if we really think about the prosperity of the country then we are bound to give serious attention to these matters.

I am pretty well versed in the mining industry and I have great faith in it. I am not one of those who would keep men working in the bowels of the earth a day longer than necessary. But I realise that this country will have to depend on its indigenous solid fuel for quite a long time yet. I hope, therefore, that the Parliamentary Secretary will give some assurances on the points that I have put forward.

What the country needs now is leadership and incentive. Provided we can get the right kind of leadership, I am sure that we can to some extent improve our economic conditions. But those inside the mining industry want some assurance. How can we expect young people to go into the industry when, as I have said, those in it received such a severe blow in 1957, 1958 and 1959? They must be given some guarantee about producing, shall we say, 190 million tons of coal a year. They must know where they are going, and their conditions must, as I say, be equal to if not better than those provided in other industries.

I am hoping that some improvement will be brought about and that the Parliamentary Secretary will really take the matter to heart.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)

My hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) has drawn attention to quite serious situations which exist inside the coal industry at the present time. He has related these situations to the general state of the economy of the country, about which we have heard a good deal recently, and he has made suggestions concerning how that industry could be made to contribute to a much better state of affairs than we were led to believe existed in the nation's economy when we heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech the other day.

I wish to speak about another great industry with which the Parliamentary Secretary is not unconnected—I do not mean in his personal capacity but in his official capacity—and which can, of course, make all the difference between profit and loss, so to speak, in our economy. It is an industry not unconnected with that with which my hon. Friend has just been dealing. I am speaking, of course, of the steel industry.

We have been told by the Government, quite rightly, that if there is to be sacrifice there must be equality of sacrifice all round. That, so to speak, is on the positive side of the Government's attack on the problems which have led to the most recent crisis after ten years of Conservative rule. But there is also the other side of the question. Not only must we have equality of sacrifice in order to deal with the economic situation but we must also, in my submission, be extremely careful not to do things which would look like merely doctrinaire ants, done merely because they are believed in by the party that happens to be in power at the moment and because that party wants to do them even though they are not relevant to the solving of the problems which have given rise to the present crisis.

Most of the steel industry has been handed over again, according to the Statute passed by Parliament, to private investors. There is, however, one extremely important steel combine which has not yet been handed over. I refer to Richard Thomas and Baldwins. If the Government give the impression of being partisan at this stage of the nation's difficulties, it will go very hard with them when they ask the steel industry to co-operate in attempting to solve our difficulties. This combine is way ahead, judged by standards of efficiency, good industrial relations, and forward-lookingness, if there is such an expression. By any standard Richard Thomas and Baldwins is right at the top. This shows that who owns the capital is entirely irrelevant to questions of efficiency, good industrial relations, etc.

Therefore, if in the middle of a crisis, which many of us think should not have come about after ten years of Conservative rule, the Government persist in handing this firm back to private investors, in spite of the fact that such handing over could not by any stretch of the imagination be held to be relevant to solving the problems underlying the present crisis, they will show themselves to be wantonly partisan and doctrinaire. This should never happen.

One part of the combine of Richard Thomas and Baldwins is the Redbourn works in my constituency, than which there is no more efficient works. Why otherwise would the Government have entrusted it with so much public money in recent times? It is an extremely efficient and happy works. The employees are thoroughly proud of the works. It is being said—I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary would care to give us any information about it and refute it if it is not true—that greedy eyes are being turned upon the works in order to have it hived off from the combine and sold separately because perhaps there is not a sufficient concentration of capital in the country at present to take over the whole combine. I do not know whether this is so, but it is being said. I can well understand that the greedy eyes of other members of the steel industry may be turned upon Redbourn at present. It would cause great upset if this wanton piece of destruction took place and this efficient works in this efficient combine were hived off merely for the doctrinaire purposes of the Government. I hope that it will not happen.

I hope that there are not any ideas in the Government's mind of choosing this moment to hand back Richard Thomas and Baldwins to private investors and, because of the difficulties attendant upon that operation, of hiving off the Redbourn works in Scunthorpe in order the more easily to be able to carry out the operation of handing the whole combine back to private enterprise piecemeal. The Government should have nothing to do with it, at any rate until the crisis which broke upon us the other day, or which we were told about the other day but which had been coming for a long time, is well out of the way and the problems underlying the crisis solved adequately.

If that is not done, the Government will not be able to escape the charge that they are doing what they are doing not to solve the crisis but to satisfy their doctrinaire ideas as to who should own the capital of big concerns, in spite of the experience with Richard Thomas and Baldwins that who owns the capital is irrelevant and is something about which we should not be arguing in the House, or indeed in the country, when the economy of the country is in the state in which it is at the moment.

My hon. Friend has made suggestions about the coal industry, and I make this suggestion, albeit a negative one, to the Government. The condition of the country's economy is such as to make us all want to come together to try to pull the country out of the situation into which it has been led. I expect that many hon. Gentlemen opposite will turn their noses up a little at the suggestions which have been made from this side of the House. Conditions may be bad, they will say, but Nec tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis, tempus eget. If they say that, it will be a great tragedy for the country, but from conversations I have had, and from speeches made in this House, I know that many hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that times are serious and that they ought to take note of the suggestions from this side of the House even though they go contrary to their doctrinaire ideas. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is in the latter category, and that he will take note of these suggestions.

11.52 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. J. C. George)

We have had a short but interesting debate. I share the anxiety of the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) about the coal mining industry. We all regret the blow to its confidence which that industry sustained in 1957, continuing through 1958 and 1959, but that blow should have taught us the lesson, and indeed it has taught us the lesson, that the only way any major industry can maintain and advance its position is to be efficient and competive. It was because the industry had become uncompetitive that its competitors advanced and the requirements for the coal industry's products were reduced.

The hon. Gentleman said two important things. He said that we must have cheap fuel, and that the industry must be efficient. These are truisms which we should keep before us, and when suggestions are advanced as to how the industry should be handled, they should be advanced with these two ends in view—not to protect the industry against competition, but to make it more fit to face competition.

The hon. Gentleman dealt at length with the serious aspect of the loss of manpower in the industry. By and large the figures that he gave were correct. The recruitment figures for men and boys in the first twenty-eight weeks of the last three years are as follows. In 1959, 14,800; in 1960, 19,260; in the same period in 1961, 27,399. There was a substantial increase in recruitment over that period, but unfortunately there was also a substantial increase in the wastage, especially voluntary wastage. In the first twenty-eight weeks of 1959, the voluntary wastage was 20,690. In 1960 the equivalent figure was 31,587; and in the first twenty-eight weeks of this year 31,356 people left the industry voluntarily.

The figure given by the hon. Gentleman is correct. There has been a loss of 16,308 men in the first twenty-eight weeks of this year. This is a serious matter and the drain is still continuing, not by 600 a week but by 900. That, by any standard, presents a challenge, and no method has yet been devised to stop that drain. An intensive recruitment campaign has been conducted by the Board and personal interviews are arranged with people who wish to leave the industry. Their attention is drawn to the many opportunities which are provided and endeavours are made to restore their confidence in the industry. A lot has been said which has damaged confidence in the future of the industry, but the demand for coal will continue at a high level for many years. Men in the industry may be confident that there will be work for them and for their sons provided that we can make the industry efficient.

The loss of manpower is just the spur needed to concentrate more attention upon mechanisation and the need to concentrate a large number of scattered coal faces and to increase the load factor by working not one or two but three shifts a day where possible. That is one of the key ways to compensate for the loss of manpower. The Board is well aware of the challenge facing it and it has been doing quite a lot to meet the problem posed by the loss of manpower. It has been said many times that in 1965 80 per cent. of the output should be coming from new pits or reconstructed pits. The greatest drive for mechanisation is now under way. In 1961 401) new power loading machines are being installed. By the end of the year 50 per cent. of the output will be power loaded compared with 42 per cent. at the end of 1960. The ultimate objective is complete mechanisation wherever that is technically possible. There will be more electric power provided and more power at the elbow of the worker.

Mr. Edward J. Milne (Blyth)

The Parpliamentary Secretary has indicted his desire to see the future of the industry safeguarded. Can he say whether his Department protested against the measures proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week? Surely he must have been aware that an increase in the Bank Rate and a curtailment of expenditure on nationalised industries would cripple such activities as he has mentioned. Before I intervened the hon. Gentleman had said that no money would be spared. What steps were taken by his Department to indicate that attitude to the Chancellor?

Mr. George

The hon. Gentleman need not fear. The mechanisation programme is not being slowed down because of anything that the Chancellor may have done. It will go on as planned.

The hon. Member for Normanton raised the question of some other attraction to bring people back into the mines. He suggested that somehow the Minister should arrange for three weeks' holiday and that the wages should be improved. He knows that these things are not within the Minister's province, and he will agree that they are far better left to the two sides of the industry to negotiate, as they have always negotiated them and as I hope they always will negotiate them. I cannot give him any assurance on those points, although no doubt they will be noted elsewhere.

Secondly, he raised the question of the mining examination and waxed eloquent upon the fact that opportunity would be lacking when the proposed changes are made, if they are made. I was rather disappointed when, after I had given what I thought was some encouraging news on the matter, he said, In view of the uncompromising attitude of the Minister, I wish to avail myself of the first opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment. I had just said that my right hon. Friend would consider all aspects and the views of many parties before he decides whether to allow the regulations to be altered."—[OFFLCIAL REPORT, 10th July 1961; Vol. 643, c. 15.] They have not been altered and no application has been made to the Minister to alter them. The possibility of changes has long been notified to the industry, the first time being in 1952 and again in 1958; warning was given that these changes might take place. Undoubtedly, if the changes are made, some people will be unable to take the examination in the future who could have taken it in the past. But we are well aware of the views of the N.A.C.M. and the B.A.C.M. on this subject, and well aware of the views of the National Coal Board, and I shall be receiving a deputation from the N.A.C.M. and the B.A.C.M. on the subject.

The matter is fluid. The Minister will consider everybody's views before making up his mind whether these regulations should be altered to bring about the change contemplated, but he will naturally attach very great importance to a decision reached after long and careful consideration by the Mining Qualification Board, the members of which have great knowledge and experience of all aspects of the question. It is natural that he should pay great attention to the Board's views, but he will consider the views of all others who are ready and qualified to comment.

Mr. A. Roberts

Is not this an indictment of some of those holding very high positions in the nationalised industry, for instance, some general and production managers and some at Hobart House, who came up by the way which I want to see preserved?

Mr. George

Not in the slightest. Those men in those positions would certainly have passed the new examinations. All they would be asked to do would be to get a simple qualification—membership of the Institution of Mining Engineers for the first class and the Higher National Certificate for the second class. I have no doubt that the men to whom the hon. Member refers would have passed those examinations and obtained first- and second-class certificates. But the matter is not settled. We are listening to all points of view. It is not beyond possibility that some changes will be made.

The hon. Member referred to planning the future. We are preparing to work two Lurgi plants, one in Scotland and one in England, and possibly there will be more—possibly a different type of plant. This method of gas production has been begun and it will be continued. There is a study group, and the National Coal Board and the Gas Council are represented on it, looking into the future of Lurgi to see whether the Lurgi system can produce gas more economically than it can be provided by liquid methane and to see whether it is the cheapest method of producing domestic and industrial gas. This is being thoroughly studied by experts, and if it proves to be so, then the future of Lurgi is assured.

The fall in consumption of coal by the gas industry is surprisingly small. Last year, it dropped by only 100,000 tons. There is no great swing away from coal to oil. But oil has an important part to play in the gas industry in meeting peak loads. The capital charge for an oil plant to meet peak loads is far less than the cost of a corresponding carbonisation plant. Oil has its part in gas production. Coal has its part in gas production, and other liquefied petroleum products may also have their part in the gas industry.

The gas industry is not a dying industry. It looks forward to an expanding future, contrary to the impression held in some quarters. I have been told that the industry expects to increase its output by about 25 per cent. in the next ten years. In that increase in output, if it comes about, there is room for coal at its present level of consumption. There is room for oil, and there is room for other products required to make a cheap fuel. The hon. Gentleman himself said that we must have cheap fuel. We must not hold back the gas industry—which is fighting for its life—and not allow it to have allies which can enable it to produce a cheap therm and stop the falling away of its customers. That is what the gas industry is doing with a great deal of energy and ingenuity—seeking a cheap therm, using all the means it can find for that purpose, and not swinging quickly away from coal.

Electricity is a great ally of the coal industry and will remain so. Last year, 51 million tons of coal were taken by the electricity industry, 5 million tons more than the year before. Already this year, 2.2 million tons more than last year have been consumed, and the rise continues. In 1975, it is estimated that 125 million tons of coal equivalent will be required.

I come now to the answer to the point the hon. Member made about nuclear energy. The time will come, between the 1970s and the 1980s, when the coal industry will not be able to supply the needs of electricity. That will not be the time to think about the building of nuclear power plants. We must have the techniques perfected. We must have the stations built before then so that we can prove them one after another until we are in a position to have the best type of station built all over the country as required, when coal cannot meet the load. That is what we are doing—neither more nor less.

Plans for nuclear production have been twice altered, and now we are ordering at the rate of one new station a year, which means that, at any given time, from the planning to the completed stage, there will be five or six nuclear plants being built in this country, sufficient, we believe, to give the industry knowledge and experience in these majestic units and to keep our lead in world techniques in nuclear energy. We are doing neither more nor less than just what is necessary to keep us ahead.

I come now to the need to increase the demand for coal. Last year, we had to take 6½ million tons from stock in order to meet the demand. That meant that output was 6 million tons too small to supply the country's needs. This year, if the demand is for 200 million tons, with output not likely to be higher than 190 million tons, there will be a 10 million tons gap to be met from stock. The stocks will not last for ever. If 200 million tons are to be consumed each year, there will be a gap, and it is an increase in output which we need. The mines need no protection. The gas industry does not need to be induced to use more coal. The electricity industry does not need to be induced to use more coal. It is being done already by the electricity industry anyway. The fact is that it is more coal which is needed, not less. The fear is of a shortage rather than a surplus. We do not need a plan to ensure that more coal is consumed. We need an efficient plan to produce more and cheaper coal. That is the position in the industry.

The hon. Gentleman was delighted that we had exported 5 million tons last year and looked forward to exporting 10 million tons in the near future. The hon. Member should know—it has been made public—that the National Coal Board is losing fairly heavily on its exports, and there is a limit to what the Board can lose in the export market. It is all very well to lose for a time if it can be seen that by losing that money, one can build up in the future to an economic price; but that is not evident. The opposition in Europe from Poland is serious. The Poles are prepared to sell at a price which is always less than the British price. The hon. Member should not, therefore, look forward with confidence to 10 million tons being exported. I hope that conditions will change and that we are able to export 10 million tons, but in present conditions that would be too heavy a burden for the Coal Board to bear financially.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I am certain that the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that we are in a difficult position because of the attitude of Poland in its desire to sell coal. As the Minister responsible in this House, does the hon. Gentleman know whether any representations are made on this matter through diplomatic channels? This question is often asked from the Coal Board and among miners.

Mr. George

The Ministry of Power does not make diplomatic representations, but I assume that the matter has been discussed seriously and often.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

Have the Government made any representations?

Mr. George

I speak only for the Ministry of Power, and we do not make diplomatic representations to other countries, but I am sure that the matter has not been neglected.

I share the hon. Member's admiration for the miners. I share with him the experience of having found them to be good people to work with, good comrades in trouble and good citizens. The challenge today is that the industry should make the best use of its men. Having laid out all the facilities and built fully mechanised new pits with excellent arrangements on the surface for handling and cleaning the coal, first-class transport arrangements underground, and well ventilated faces, the Coal Board cannot do more. It can arrange for the pits to be well managed—and they are not short of managers or under-managers; even though the examination may be changed, there are plenty of capable men.

What is wanted is that both sides should recognise the challenge. The future of coal depends upon efficiency. Efficiency depends to a great extent upon management, but it depends ultimately upon co-operation between management and men. That is the key to success. The need is for keen co-operation, and for the regaining by the mining industry of pride in itself in order to restore it to the place that it formerly enjoyed: confidence in the industry is not dying. It will be a great industry for the lifetime of all the people in the mining industry. That message should be put across by all those who have the chance to speak in mining areas. The industry has a great future if it becomes competitive, and it can become competitive if it enjoys co-operation between the two sides.

In reply to the point raised about Richard Thomas and Baldwins, the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) will not expect me to turn down statements already made on the subject. It has been stated in the House of Commons from time to time that it is intended to denationalise Richard Thomas and Baldwins within the lifetime of this Parliament. That decision was made long before the present crisis came upon the country. It was made through the passing of a Bill in this House. It is the will of this House that the steel industry be denationalised, and the Government intend to carry on when the time is suitable to denationalise Richard Thomas and Baldwins. That is about all that I can say on the subject.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

I think that what I said in my remarks was that this was a result of a Statute; that is, that it was the intention of the Government to get rid of the share capital to private investors. What I also said was that it was a most inappropriate moment to do that and that it should not be done until the crisis had passed and the reasons for it were fully understood. It would give an entirely wrong impression for the Government to adopt this doctrinaire attitude. I do not suggest that the Government should never do it, but it should certainly not do it until the crisis is over.

Mr. George

It has already been made clear that it will be done at the right moment.

The hon. and learned Gentleman also spoke of labour relations and efficiency in Richard Thomas and Baldwins as being the hall-mark of nationalisation. I give it one of the highest places in the industry, but the labour relations throughout the steel industry are very good. When Richard Thomas and Baldwins gets relief from nationalisation it will be joining the larger and highly efficient private sector.