HC Deb 20 June 1961 vol 642 cc1265-99

(1) On and after the third day of August, nineteen hundred and sixty-one, hydrocarbon oil produced from shale mined in Scotland shall be exempted from excise duty, and accordingly, on and after that date section two of the Finance Act, 1950 (which imposes a duty on hydrocarbon oils), shall have effect with the addition at the end of subsection (2) of that section of the following words, that is to say, or (c) to oils produced from shale mined in Scotland".

(2) The powers of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to make regulations under section one hundred and ninety-eight of the Customs and Excise Act, 1952 (which empowers those Commissioners to make regulations relating to hydrocarbon oils), shall include power to make such regulations as appear to the Commissioners to be required to give effect to the last foregoing subsection.

(3) Where excise duty has been charged before or after the passing of this Act, and by virtue of this section no such duty should have been charged, or the duty should have been charged at the lower rate than that at which it was in fact charged, the person by whom the duty was paid shall be entitled to repayment of the amount of the overcharge.—[Mr. J. Taylor.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. John Taylor (West Lothian)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

To me, there is something ironic in that form of words in this Motion. I think I must have moved this Motion about ten times, and, therefore, I do not think that it is necessary for me to go over the details of the case again tonight. It is already well known to the Treasury and to Finance Bill addicts.

All I need say is that this new Clause seeks to free from duty oil produced from shale mined in Britain's only shale oilfields in the Lothians, in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill). The reason that it seeks to do this is because it is a special industry, producing a special commodity in a special way, and deserves special consideration. Further, it is not possible to produce oil from shale in Britain at a cheaper cost than that of imported oil. Oil produced from shale must be sold at the same price as imported oil. Again, every other shale oil producing country in the world is encouraging the production of shale oil, and even in many cases subsidising it. In Britain, we tax it.

A further reason is because the industry is being steadily strangled by the duty. There are many other very cogent reasons, but these will suffice as an outline of the reason why we are again making this attempt to secure its remission.

When my hon. Friends and myself first advocated this total remission of the duty, the industry employed 5,000 employees. At its heyday, 100 years ago, it employed 12,000 people, and even less than 100 years ago. Ten years ago, it employed 5,000, and today the labour strength of the industry is less than 2,000. More than 3,000 of its people have lost their jobs through the successive refusals of the Chancellor's predecessors, and a part of the industry has closed down. A very considerable proportion of the redundant workers are men over 50, and many of them are well-known to me. For them, redundancy is not merely a pause between two jobs. It is not an opportunity for a fortnight's holiday on the Income Tax rebate. For them, it is an industrial death sentence, particularly in an area of under-employment.

The story of this industry over the last ten years is a shocking story—a story of the industrial homicide of a good and valuable industry, slowly and painfully murdered by a stubborn, stiff-necked and stupid Treasury brief. However, I venture the prophesy that this time, the monotonous ghoulishness of that brief will be varied to some extent. Probably, we will have a new paragraph or two added to it, and we will be told that even if this Clause were accepted it could not be operated because of the European Free Trade Association commitment—because the Stockholm Treaty prevents fiscal fluctuations.

What my hon. Friends and myself would like to know is what have fiscal adjustments to do with shale oil? We are not proposing to sell shale oil to Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. We can do with all that we can get of it in Scotland. Sweden, which has its own growing and Government-encouraged shale oil industry, is not proposing to export any shale oil to Britain. They can do with all they can get in Sweden. We want to know what sort of crazy agreement this is and what sort of crazy argument it is. Do the Government visualise fleets of tankers sailing up the Firth of Forth loaded to the Plimsoll line with Swedish shale oil? The proposition has only to be stated for it to be shown how ridiculous it is.

The Swedes are reasonable people, with a reasonable Labour Government. They have not the slightest intention of damaging an industry of this nature, any more than we have of damaging their own shale oil industry. There is not the slightest doubt that they would at once agree to an adjustment of that agreement in a case of this kind, where any such adjustment could not possibly affect British-Swedish trade. If the Government do not feel capable of negotiating such an adjustment, I will willingly volunteer to do it for them. I think that it could be done in a ten-minute talk with Gunnar Lange, and that I could produce a result in less than ten minutes.

The E.F.T.A. excuse is nothing more than an excuse. It is not an unsurmountable obstacle. If and when we go into the Common Market I hope that we will send better negotiators to Rome, or wherever it is, than we did to Stockholm. Two of Scotland's traditional industries, which operate in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian—paper-making and shale oil—have no reason to thank that Treaty; very much to the contrary.

8.0 p.m.

When we have debated a similar Clause in the past, Chancellors of the Exchequer and Financial and Economic Secretaries to the Treasury—a long procession of them—have stood at the Box and have said, in effect, that the industry is uneconomic and expendable and, therefore, must die. Some have said it less bluntly than others. The last Chancellor of the Exchequer had the decency and the grace to look ashamed of himself as he stood at the Dispatch Box and stumbled through a brief which had neither logic nor justice to commend it.

It was patent that the Chancellor did not like his brief. Nevertheless, he stumbled through it. The present Minister of Health, when a Treasury Minister, made a vague promise, in reply to the debate four or five years ago, that there were other than fiscal ways of helping the industry. We waited with great expectation for a year, but nothing happened in any other way and another part of the industry died and ceased to function.

The most cynically brutal of all that long procession of replies was one made by the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I am sure that the Economic Secretary, who will reply tonight, will do so with his characteristic kindness, but, nevertheless, it will be the same kind of answer. In a previous incarnation at the Treasury, his colleague was both brutal and cynical in rejecting our proposal. He is back at the old stand again, having miraculously survived after, in my view, a somewhat disastrous record. He has even been talked of as having yet another incarnation in another Ministry within a few days.

I have a vivid recollection of the Financial Secretary's speech that night. I remember the feeling of sick disappointment and dismay with which I listened to the brutal way in which he said, in effect, that the industry had no future, and that the sooner it went the better. I have a still more vivid memory of the distress and dismay which that speech caused to the families in the shale field.

An hon. Member whose first concern is the interest and welfare of his constituents does not look at things from the point of view of figures so much as from the viewpoint of the human material that is involved. It was a sad experience to find men in their 50s being made redundant and discharged with no hope of other work and their families suffering as a consequence. Therefore, clinging desperately to hope, I offer the Economic Secretary this opportunity to retrieve his hon. Friend from the disgusted ignominy in which he is held by many of my constituents who have served the industry and their country well and who deserve this honourable concession to a valuable, proud and pioneer industry.

Mr. J. Hill (Midlothian)

As the Member referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor), and as a large proportion of this industry is situated in my constituency, I support the new Clause. Unike my hon. Friend, this is only the second occasion that I have come with a begging bowl to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking assistance for this industry. I cannot understand the attitude of the Treasury towards this industry if those in that Department really consider what it does for the country, despite their claim that it is dying. If the industry is allowed to die, the country will require to import 5,000 tons of paraffin wax which is produced by the shale industry. Obtaining that wax will cost the country valuable dollars that we can least afford at a time when our trade gap is so wide.

Not only does the industry produce wax; it produces many of the detergents that are so widely advertised on television and publicised in the newspapers. It produces one of the products that makes white "whiter than white", as we are told on television. It supplies four-fifths of the diesel oil used by Scottish transport, whose operators welcome it because it is a better oil than the imported oil. My authority for this is the operators of some of the buses who use the oil in Scotland.

The industry also produces or helps to produce many bricks from the residue. These bricks help the building industry in Scotland and they, too, are badly needed. Ninety-eight per cent. of the product of this industry is of some use and only 2 per cent. is waste. If the Government cannot see their way to help the industry at this stage, it will die within a very short time.

I read the speech of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer when he said that had he allowed his heart instead of his head to rule him, he would have removed the tax. We have been told of difficulties concerning E.F.T.A. My constituency has nothing for which to thank E.F.T.A. Not only is shale oil feeling the brunt of what is happening but the paper industry, another basic industry of the area, is suffering also. We are told that under the agreement the Government are not allowed to remove the tax or to assist the industry in that fashion. My information is that the shale-producing industries of Norway and Sweden are given assistance. Why cannot our Government help us? This industry, the only one of its kind in the country, has been slowly dying for some years.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian and I met the Economic Secretary to ask for the tax to be removed. The hon. Gentleman told us that where the tax could not be removed the Government were considering other ways of helping the industry. I do not care how the Government help the industry as long as they do something for it and allow it to stay alive. The best method of doing this would be to remove the tax.

I have many friends among the miners in the shale industry. When the Local Employment Bill was being debated, I met the Secretary of State for Scotland at St. Andrew's House and put to him the point that many of the men from this industry would not be easy to absorb in other industries. We have been asking for alternative industry to be allocated to the area, which at one time was scheduled and later was removed from the schedule. I know that the British Motor Corporation is building a factory at Bathgate. It seems to me that the Government are of opinion that that factory will solve the unemployment question in that part of Scotland. I wish that I could agree with them.

Like my hon. Friend the Member far West Lothian, I find it tragic to go around the shale areas and see villages that once were alive and thriving slowly dying. These proud people have nothing but despair in their hearts because of the attitude of the Treasury to the industry. I wish that some of the occupants of the Government front bench would go there, as did the Minister of Power recently. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman had a talk with the secretary of the Shale Miners Union because I am sure that that gentleman would be only too willing to give the Minister, and anyone else, all the facts about the industry. I hope that the Minister of Power will use his not inconsiderable influence with the Chancellor to help us to get this tax removed.

When one visits these villages—such as Oakbank and Addiewell—and sees them dying just because this industry is being allowed to die, one is led even more to hope that the Government, and particularly the Chancellor, will think again on this question and will indicate what alternative help they can give to enable this industry to survive.

I hope that all hon. Members will support my hon. Friends and me in this Clause. We are not asking for millions of pounds. After all, it will cost the Treasury only about £600,000 a year. On the other hand, if the Government allow the industry to die it will cost them very much more, especially in unemployment and similar benefits. I urge the Chancellor to help to keep this industry in being, and the best way he can help is by removing this tax.

Dr. Alan Thompson (Dunfermline Burghs)

The main points have already been admirably covered by my hon. Friends the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) and the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill) and there remains little for me to say, although I must make one or two points in support of the arguments they adduced.

There are two categories of people who stand to gain by our proposal. The first are the consumers of the products of the Scottish shale industry. The second are the producers within the industry. Both, I claim, are important. The industry produces about 18 million gallons of diesel oil and supplies about four-fifths of the fuel requirements of Scotland's public transport. This is high-quality diesel oil and claims for its high quality have been stated at various times by the Scottish motor trade, the Falmouth Sub-Committee of the Ministry of Power, and the Institute of Petroleum Technologists. They have all agreed that Scottish shale is the perfect basis for diesel oil and, in view of the statements of those organisations, I need hardly add my comments in support of the quality of this Scottish product.

My hon. Friends have already referred to the production of paraffin wax—5,000 tons of which annually serves a wide range of industries, including the match industry, cosmetics, insulation for the electrical industry—which saves us about 1 million dollars a year.

It is said that if an industry collapses the consumers can, with difficulty, adjust themselves, perhaps by obtaining lower grade products elsewhere. But when we consider the producers and the men employed in the shale industry, we face a very different and serious problem. As has been pointed out, the number of men employed in the Scottish shale industry has been falling steadily over the years; from 5,000 to 3,000, and the latest figure is about 2,000. Heaven knows how many will be employed by the time we have our next debate on this subject.

It is further argued that the dismissed workers can go elsewhere. But hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to have strange nineteenth century ideas about the mobility of labour. They seem to think that if one closes an industry down the men, regardless of age, skills, and so on, simply move elsewhere. Actually, of course, they know very little about the mobility of labour in general and the problems of Scotland in particular.

They know nothing of these small Scottish communities dependent on traditional industries, such as coal and shale. The economic consequences that strike these industries cause highly local problems and, in these highly sensitive areas, create a great impact. It might be said that Scotland has been too long dependent on these traditional industries and that new light industries should be brought in. No one denies that. Let us, by all means, invite new industries to Scotland—but is it unreasonable to suggest that, in this quest for new industries, we should now take the first steps to help an industry that is already in possession of vast natural resources?

8.15 p.m.

The Scottish shale industry has the best possible reasons for being where it is, for its resources are there, below the ground. The last estimate of resources reveals that 450 million tons still remains untapped in the areas covered by my hon. Friend's constituencies. It is an industry which already has the manpower, skill and techniques, which have been laboriously acquired over many generations. It is, further, rich in capital equipment, although much of it is being dismantled even now, at a time of unemployment. It seems ironical that at a time when the Government wish to bring new industries to Scotland, equipment of this type should be dismantled in order to save the Treasury £600,000 a year.

We are told that to help this industry would be uneconomic and would infringe the pure financial principles of the Treasury. But what about the whole range of tax relief and subsidies, based on all kinds of criteria, and some based on no criteria at all, that are being paid?

There are three major considerations that govern our decisions on tax reliefs and subsidies. Firstly, on defence, we encourage some industries which may be helpful if overseas supplies are cut off. Diesel oil falls into this category, as the Falmouth Sub-Committee pointed out. There is, secondly, the Government's desire to maintain full employment. It is admitted that relief should be given or subsidies provided to industries in order to maintain employment. The shale oil industry equally falls into this category. Thirdly, some industries get subsidies and tax reliefs because of powerful pressure groups. The shale industry, however, can claim no more than the eloquence of the hon. Members who represent their areas. The industry has no access to the inner sanctum of the Treasury.

We have, recently, had relief in Stamp Duty costing £1½ million given to City magnates so that they need not continue to stick on stamps.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

Would my hon. Friend not agree that the Secretary of State for Scotland should be a pressure group himself in this respect? After all, it is his job.

Dr. Thompson

I am coming to the Secretary of State in a moment. The shale industry is, of course, hampered in not having an effective pressure group, such as that possessed by big business and other industrial interests, by the distance from London of the shale oilfields. But the Secretary of State, of course, cannot claim this alibi. He sits in an office—when he is there—in St. Andrew's House not more than twelve miles from these villages which are falling into economic decline.

We could hardly have expected previous Chancellors, who knew little about Scotland—and I have a suspicion that the former Chancellor was not clear whether Midlothian lay north or south of Inverness—to have much insight into the problems of Scottish shale oil. But the present Chancellor went to a Midlothian school.

Mr. Willis

It was the wrong school.

Dr. Thompson

Perhaps. If it is not immodest of me to quote words previously used by me, I should like to quote from something I wrote in the Scotsman: Since James Young started operations near Bathgate in 1851 the Scottish shale industry has undergone many changes. Originally designed to provide oil for lamps it now serves a wide range of industries. It has survived several economic crises, and has been a useful source of revenue for the Government. It has served as a model for shale industries throughout the world. American, Australian and European scientists who have never visited the Lothians in their lives speak familiarly of the 'Pumpherston' retort, the 'Broxburn' retort and the 'Philpstoun' retort. It remains to be seen whether these small communities in the Lothians still have more to give to the world's shale oil industry than their names. By granting what we are asking the Government will not be opening the door to vast losses by the Exchequer. They will not be opening the door to losses spread over a nation-wide industry. The Scottish shale industry is so local that it is more like helping a firm than an industry. It is more regional in its impact than nation-wide. Because of this, I consider that the Chancellor should use a little discretion and give this matter the attention it deserves and grant the request that we are making today.

Mr. Barber

The problem which is raised in this proposed new Clause and to which three hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies have spoken—

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Three, so far.

Mr. Barber

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I should have thought that if he had intended to speak he would have done so, so that I could judge his points.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

My hon, Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) wants to deal with the Economic Secretary's points when he has heard them.

Mr. Barber

This is an important matter, particularly to those hon. Members who represent this area. I was about to say that this is a matter which it is right that the Committee should consider with great care, although there are economic considerations which every hon. Member, including those who are closely concerned with the constituencies affected, will agree are highly relevant, and there is also the effect of the Stockholm Convention, by which we must abide.

Nobody who has given any thought whatever to the situation and prospects of the Scottish shale oil industry can be unaware of the intensely human and social aspects which have been mentioned in the debate. Perhaps I might say that it is not least because of these considerations that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State are here to listen to this debate.

The dutiable products of Scottish shale oil are mainly either light hydrocarbon oil or heavy hydrocarbon oil which is used as road vehicle fuel—derv. These are at present liable to a duty of 1s. 3d. per gallon together with other indigenous oils of the same character, whereas imported oils pay twice that amount of duty, namely, 2s. 6d. a gallon. There is at present a preference of 1s. 3d. a gallon, and this Clause would exempt altogether the dutiable products of Scottish shale oil from the hydrocarbon oil duty.

It is well known and accepted, I think, by all that the shale oil industry has for several years been in serious financial straits and cannot now compete on anything like equal terms with imported oils because the costs of shale mining and processing are relatively so high. It has been kept going by the duty preference accorded to the oil products which come from the Scottish shale oil industry—the preference over oils of imported origin. Since 1928—I think that this is a fact of considerable importance which the Committee must bear in mind—when the present duty on imported oils was first imposed at the rate of 4d. a gallon, this preference has been worth a total of about £21 million to the industry.

Mr. Willis

We have had all this before.

Mr. Barber

It is no good the hon. Gentleman saying that he has had all this before. Some of the arguments which have been put quite moderately by his hon. Friends, to which I listened without any interruption, have also been put before. But as we are considering this matter it is relevant to consider all the factors, and I think that the Committee must take into account the fact that since 1928 the preference has been worth about £21 million, and that is not a figure which the industry can just ignore and say that it was dealt with last year.

While the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) may think that it is wrong to say that the industry is assisted in any way because it is taxed and is not subsidised, the fact is that although the industry pays the tax to the Exchequer the cost of the tax does not fall finally upon the industry because it collects the money from the public who buy the derv and motor spirit at prices which reflect a Customs duty of 2s. 6d. a gallon on similar imported oils. Consequently, whereas the petroleum industry sells derv from imported oils at, say, 3s. 11d. a gallon and keeps 1s. 5d., the shale oil sells at the same price and the industry keeps 2s. 8d.

Mr. J. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman has argued that the value of the preference given to the industry over a period of years has amounted to £21 million. He also said that the industry paid only half the amount of duty paid by imported hydrocarbon oil. Does not that mean that the industry has contributed to the Exchequer in the same period £21 million? Is not that a consideration which might be borne in mind?

Mr. Barber

All I would say is that if the shale oil industry had not been in existence and we had imported all our oils, the Exchequer would have been better off to the extent of £21 million. It is undeniable that the industry is assisted by the duty structure, and is assisted at the expense of the Exchequer. Indeed, to suggest otherwise is not to consider the matter objectively, for it is precisely because the duty structure has been such an enormous help to the industry that it is now sought by this proposed Clause to provide even greater protection.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

Since the country has made this enormous sacrifice over the years to keep this industry in existence, is it not a shame that all this is going for nothing and we are going to allow it to die?

Mr. Barber

I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman, with his knowledge of these matters. I imagine that he had this matter to consider when he was Secretary of State for Scotland. It is very odd if he does not appreciate that this has been a real help to the industry.

However, one has to consider the position as it is today and I hope in a few moments to give some figures relative to the situation in 1960. As to what I call the human and social aspects, by far the most important consideration is the effect of the contraction of employment which was raised specifically by the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson). I suppose that those who have looked into this side of the problem will know that when production was at its peak in about 1913, this industry employed 10,000 people. By 1925, the number had fallen to 7,000. By 1928, a Customs duty on imported light oils was imposed, and by 1935 that duty was extended to derv.

Both these measures gave to indigenous oils, including the shale oil industry, a considerable advantage over imported oils. But even so, they did no more than slow down the decline. The consequence was that shortly after the last war the number employed had dropped to about 4,000. There was a further contraction in 1955–56 which reduced it to 3,000 and in 1958 to 2,300. As one hon. Member has already said, it is now less than 2,000. Certainly, the present contraction which is going on will reduce it to about 1,850.

That is one side of the picture, but there is another. The shale oil mining area was scheduled as a development district under the Local Employment Act because of its high level of unemployment, and there are now—nobody, I think, will deny this—many new jobs in prospect in the area. Of course, I entirely accept the point made by the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs that there will be some people—I have in mind particularly some of the older miners—who will find it very difficult to change over to new jobs, even though the jobs may be available in the same area, and I certainly would not want to suggest that there will not be difficulties of that kind.

Mr. J. Hill

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that since the area was scheduled his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has de-scheduled it because this factory is being constructed at Bathgate?

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Barber

I was coming on to that very point. I can inform the Committee that the majority of the new jobs will, of course, be provided by the new B.M.C. factory at Bathgate which is now being constructed, and should begin to provide some employment in September of this year and should employ, I am informed, over 5,000 people by the middle of 1963. There will also be substantial new employment opportunities resulting from the Government's policy of providing work for the area. As the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill) rightly pointed out, as a result of the undoubted improvements in the local prospects of employment further applications for assistance under the Local Employment Act are not at present being accepted.

If, contrary to all our expectations, high unemployment should recur, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has assured me—I have been in touch only this morning on this point—that he will certainly be ready to consider further applications for assistance under the Local Employment Act. [HON. MEMBERS: "Descheduled."] The area has been descheduled, yes; because employment prospects in the area, as everybody will agree, despite the very real difficulties mentioned by the hon. Gentleman about certain categories of persons, are good. The prospects are good at the moment, but if our expectations do not turn out as we hope, then, as I have said, my right hon. Friend will most certainly reconsider the position.

When I spoke on this matter on the Finance Bill of last year I dealt at some length with what I may call the purely economic considerations. I do not propose to go over the whole of that ground again, although it is very relevant. I do not propose to do so because what I said then still stands, but there really can be no doubt whatever that this industry is uneconomic. Indeed, that is why it is, naturally, asking for this additional protection.

However, I should like, briefly, as I anticipated a few minutes ago, to bring the facts up to date. The amount of derv and light oils obtained from shale last year was about 37,400 tons; roughly, 10 million gallons. That was the equivalent of a little more than one-third of 1 per cent. of the total quantity of derv and light oils used in the United Kingdom; less than one-eleventh of 1 per cent. of the total quantity of all hydrocarbon oils used in the United Kingdom.

I am not saying that, because this industry is small, that is a reason for not assisting it by way of duty protection or any other way. What I am saying is that, bearing in mind these facts, one has to face up to the further fact that the industry lost about £225,000 last year in spite of the benefit, whether we call it help or assistance or whatever, of £650,000 which was obtained from the duty preference. Whatever the views of hon. Members may be as to how this problem ought to be dealt with, it cannot, I think, seriously be contended that the industry is an economic proposition.

I now want to turn to the other objection to this Clause, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for West Lothian, which makes it impossible to advise the Committee to accept it. At present, the light oils and derv produced from shale oil enjoy preference of 1s. 3d. a gallon over imported oils including oils of E.F.T.A. origin. This Clause, by exempting the shale oil from excess duty, would increase the preference to half a crown, and that would be, as hon. Gentlemen know, I think, a direct breach of the Stockholm Convention, which in effect, prohibits any increase in the protection of a domestic product against E.F.T.A. products over those existing on 1st January, 1960.

The hon. Member for West Lothian referred to the position of Sweden. I would only make two points about Sweden. First, the hon. Member said that he was sure that some arrangement could be reached with Sweden whereby this oil was excluded from the operation of the Stockholm Convention. I can assure him that shale oil was one of the matters which those who negotiated the Stockholm Convention had in mind but, as he will know, because I have discussed the Convention with him, Article 6 covers all industrial products with no exception.

The hon. Member thought that the shale oil which might be imported into this country would not come from any E.F.T.A. country. But it might well be produced outside the European Free Trade Association area but imported by one E.F.T.A. country, processed there, and the refined oil shipped into this country. One cannot ignore the possibility of shale oil coming from some other country into an E.F.T.A. country and being refined there.

There is one point of particular relevance to which I should like to draw the attention of the hon. Member. I inquired specifically about the Swedish industry, because the hon. Member was good enough to raise it with me when he and his hon. Friends came to see me last December. I am told that there is at present partial exemption from Excise duty given by the Swedes in respect of the Swedish shale oil industry, but that exemption will have have to be abolished under the E.F.T.A. Agreement.

Last December, I discussed with the hon. Member for West Lothian and the hon. Member for Mid-Lothian the position arising from our obligation to eliminate all protective margins of preference by 1965. We are considering at present whether some other form of assistance should be given to the industry. My right hon. and learned Friend is in touch with the other Ministers concerned and is treating this as a matter of urgency so that the industry and those who work in it may know where they stand and can plan accordingly.

Mr. H. Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that his then right hon. Friend, now the noble Lord, Lord Amory, gave exactly the same pledge three years ago?

Mr. Barber

I think that the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I was talking about our obligation to eliminate the protective element in this Revenue duty and it was in that connection that I was saying that we were considering whether some other form of assistance should be given to the industry because we are precluded from increasing the preference. Indeed, we have to remove it altogether by 1965.

Mr. Willis

What assistance?

Mr. Barber

I am not in a position to say, and neither is anybody else, since we have not made up our minds about the form it might take, but I assure the hon. Member that it would not take the form of a fiscal advantage, because we are precluded from giving that.

Mr. H. Wilson

That is just the point. I have not misunderstood the hon. Gentleman at all. These words are only too painfully familiar. The then Chancellor said that that assistance could not be given for other, non-E.F.T.A. reasons, and that the Government were considering what other assistance could be given to the industry. Nothing has happened in the past three years. What reason have we to think that it will happen now? We have to make up our minds before a Division on the Clause is called in a few minutes.

Mr. Barber

I am sorry to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman, because I have already stated categorically that this is a matter which my right hon. Friends have under urgent consideration at present.

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

Three years!

Mr. Barber

With respect it is not three years. I am putting this forward as something which we are considering in connection with our obligation to eliminate the protective element in the Revenue duty, a matter which has arisen from an event during the last three years, namely the Stockholm Convention. It is in that connection that this consideration is taking place.

So that there shall be no misunderstanding, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I must make it absolutely clear that I can give no undertaking other than that we shall reach a conclusion just as fast as we possibly can and that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will bear in mind all that has been said today. With that assurance, and bearing in mind that to accept the Clause would be in direct contravention of the Stockholm Convention which has been approved by this House, I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not press the Clause.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

The speech of the Economic Secretary was very disappointing. He said that he would not quote certain figures as part of his argument about whether this was one-third of 1 per cent. or some other infinitesimal fraction of our total oil needs, and then went on to use the figures, and they were exactly the same figures as he used last year. If one examines the columns of HANSARD, one will find not an iota of difference between the speech that he made last year and the one that he delivered tonight, though perhaps tonight's speech might be even a little worse.

I am a little surprised that the Economic Secretary, of all people, should say "You cannot go on subsidising this industry, because it makes losses and is not an economic unit". What nonsense it is. Did not the Treasury approve of a pay-out of millions of pounds to the cotton industry? Was that because it was an economic unit? Nothing of the kind. The Treasury gives hundreds of millions of pounds per annum to the farming industry to keep it going. It is just about to make an interest-free contribution of millions of pounds towards the new Cunarder. One could quote example after example. Yet that is the argument that the Economic Secretary brings forward to prove that nothing should be done for the shale oil industry.

I was a little amused by the Economic Secretary's argument with regard to E.F.T.A. It is true that he was a little more specific than during last year's debate, when he had to admit in reply to an intervention by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) that the Government understood when they signed the E.F.T.A. agreement that they were doing this harm to the shale oil industry or else they did it in ignorance. But tonight the hon. Gentleman told us that the Government were well aware when they signed the E.F.T.A. agreement that they were signing the death warrant for the shale oil industry in the Lothians. That is quite different from what the hon. Gentleman said last year. If the Treasury knew when the agreement was being signed that it was doing this to the shale oil industry, the Committee and Scotland are entitled to know not from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury but from the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he agreed to the signing of the agreement knowing full well that it meant the finish of the shale oil industry. He cannot avoid collective responsibility as a member of the Cabinet.

8.45 p.m.

This is a serious problem, because, as this agreement begins to work itself out, more and more industries in Scotland will, I am certain, feel the draught. I do not want to belittle the Economic Secretary's statement that the Government are to seek some other way of helping the industry, but I remind him that this matter was raised two or three years ago, and that Lord Amory's promise was quoted in the recent debate on employment and industry in Scotland as a reminder to the Government. So far, however, nothing has been done. Indeed, we have lost Lord Amory, because he is so busy and has now disappeared to Canada where he finds it easier to maintain his business than here. For some reason, he seems to find that difficult here in this country.

Lord Amory is the man who made the promise and so far nothing has been done. The Committee is entitled to know tonight something more specific. We know that, as a result of the unemployment figures, the President of the Board of Trade has been rather quick to take action, because he has descheduled the area, taking it out of the Local Employment Act in the hope that something will be provided in Bathgate for the people who will be unemployed.

It is not good enough for the Economic Secretary to say that, if this does not work out all right, the Government will take action. Why is it that always in Scotland we have to wait until unemployment is actually upon us before something is done? Why do not the Government take action to prevent such a situation arising? That would be good Government.

We want to know from the Secretary of State for Scotland what he proposes to do about this. The Economic Secretary's reply was terribly disappointing. It offered no hope to this valuable Scottish industry. Whether it is small or not, it is valuable and has made a considerable contribution over the years to the economic well-being of a very substantial community in Scotland. The Government offer no hope to them tonight, and I hope that, for the moment, the Government will remember that we are not dealing with one-third of 1 per cent. of oil production but with 18,500 men, their wives and families. That should be one of the strongest guiding points for the Government.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill) pointed out, we may spend considerably more in providing these people with unemployment benefit from which there will be no return. The case for the Clause has been made out and it can only be a matter of great regret to Scottish Members on this side of the Committee that the Government have not acceded to this modest request.

Mr. Willis

I thought that we would have had a word from some of the Government's Scottish supporters, but apparently the Scottish Tory Party is quite unconcerned about the death of Scottish industries. The Secretary of State sits at the death bed of this industry and apparently enjoys it. This is a well-established Scottish industry, and I am astonished that he can sit on the Government Front Bench and be quite unconcerned while his hon. Friend the Economic Secretary pronounces the death sentence on it—because that is what his hon. Friend did.

We have heard all these arguments over and over again, and it seems hopeless to cover them once more, but we should say something about them. The first is that this industry has benefited by £21 million since 1928. In thirty-three years the industry has benefited by £21 million which has been spent so that people in the industry could have employment over that period. Surely their livelihoods and those of their families and the social capital in the villages which are now dying are worth the expenditure of less than £1 million a year, which is what it comes to.

In one Budget the Government have handed out £83 million to the Surtax payers, and yet they grudge £21 million to keep an industry alive for thirty-three years. What sense of proportion is this? What are the values on which the Government make their judgment? This is too rich.

The hon. Member says that the Government do not intend to do much for the district, but that if unemployment comes they will rush in and schedule it, In other words, if their medicine nearly kills the patient, they will send a doctor. But why nearly kill the patient in the first place? Surely that is a foolish thing to do. Why not have the doctor in to start with?

We have 5,000 jobs in the pipeline, says the hon. Member, but it is obvious that he does not know much about this magic pipeline in Scotland. It is a favourite example of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State when he wants to tell us of the successes of Government policy. We always hear about what is in the pipeline. The trouble is that half of it falls out of the pipeline before it gets to the end.

Last July, I asked how many jobs would be provided for the Highlands in the year, and the answer was 700. I asked in January how many jobs had been provided and was told that the number was 400. In other words, half of them had fallen out in six months. That is the magic pipeline and that is why we do not pay much attention to it. We are interested in jobs and not in what is in the pipeline. A man cannot live on what is in the pipeline. That requires a better digestion than the hon. Member has.

The hon. Member then said that our proposal was uneconomic and he told us about the losses, but he did not complete the sum. Had he done so, he would have found that if the new Clause were accepted, the industry would be making about £400,000 a year. We are asking for about £600,000 and the industry is now losing about £250,000, so that if the Clause were accepted, the industry would be profiting to the extent of about £400,000 a year. One of the reasons why we moved the Clause was to put the industry on its feet so that the men in it could get a good living and so that the industry could develop and use one of the few raw materials which Scotland possesses in considerable quantity.

The hon. Gentleman gave us a lot of stuff about E.F.T.A. He told us that the Government were in the midst of negotiations and were hoping that some form of assistance would be given as a result of what would happen under the provisions of the Stockholm Agreement. He did not tell us what he is hoping to achieve by the arrangement which he is trying to make.

Is the hon. Gentleman trying to achieve a situation in which this industry will be kept going at its present level, or is he trying to achieve a position in which the gradual decline in the industry will continue so that by the time the agreement is made the industry will be dead and will not require that agreement? What are the provisions of the agreement? What are the Government trying to achieve? What is the attitude of the Government towards this industry? Do they want it to continue to develop? Do they want it to continue at its present level, or do they want it to continue to decline as it has done over the past ten years?

If the Government do not know the answer to those questions, it is not much use their trying to make any agreement with the E.F.T.A. countries. The Government must make up their mind before they enter into negotiations.

Mr. Barber

I did not say anything about negotiations. If the hon. Gentleman looks at what I said, he will realise that most of what he is saying is irrelevant. There are no negotiations.

Mr. Willis

Let us accept that there are no negotiations. The hon. Gentleman is to make some arrangement. I think he will agree that he is seeking to provide some other assistance.

Mr. Barber indicated assent.

Mr. Willis

The same questions apply. The Government cannot decide what assistance to give until they know the answer to the questions I asked. It is not such nonsense in any case. Whether there are to be negotiations, or whether there is to be assistance, the Government must first make up their mind about their attitude towards this industry. How can they decide what assistance to give if they do not know the level at which they wish to maintain the industry?

The hon. Gentleman made a considerable speech, most of which could have been scrapped, because it has been in HANSARD about nine times already. He could have said, "I do not want to cover that ground again", and devoted himself to replying to the questions about the Government's attitude towards this industry. That is a legitimate question to which we have had no answer. Do the Government aim at an industry stabilised at 2,000 employees; an industry capable of increasing its output; or an industry destined to continue to decline? It is not too much to ask for answers to those questions, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will answer them tonight.

Mr. Woodburn

Last year, I asked some questions about this industry and made what I thought was a constructive suggestion. I suggested that as the Government were not prepared to continue to maintain the industry the British petroleum industry should be asked to agree to take over its maintenance and bear this trifling loss. As the hon. Gentleman showed, it is a mere bagatelle and would hardly be noticed in the tremendous output of the petroleum industry.

The hon. Gentleman nearly made our hearts bleed when he referred to the sacrifice which the Treasury had made during all these years. He referred to the £21 million which the Treasury had spent over many years to keep this industry in existence. Is all this effort to be in vain? Is this terrible sacrifice to be in vain? Is the industry now to be allowed to decline for the sake of £250,000 a year?

I do not think that it depends on the Government. I think that it depends on the British petroleum industry. Has anybody discussed my suggestion with that industry? We ought to get the petroleum industry to agree to carry on this industry and not allow it to die.

9.0 p.m.

If the economics that the Government apply to this part of Scotland—these upland villages which are likely to die—were applied generally, many parts of the country would be rendered derelict and depopulated, and would go back to the wild. It is part of our social policy to see that homes are maintained, and that the people living in those homes get work. The Treasury should not have its economics in little water-tight compartments—or perhaps I ought to say oil-tight compartments. It should survey the whole field. It has a social responsibility for the houses that have been built in these areas. There are new houses that may never be occupied if the rest of the people go.

The villages will not have any industry, because they are in a part of the Pentlands where industry is not likely to develop. This means that another little part of Scotland will be rendered derelict—and all for the sake of £250,000 a year, even though the Treasury has made "great sacrifices" over the years. When I think of the money which has been thrown away as a result of mistakes in war, the idea that this £250,000 will ruin the country shocks me.

Incidentally, if war came this industry would be extremely valuable. It would provide us with at least 18 million gallons of oil, and my hon. Friend has said that there are 450 million tons in reserve. It would be wise to keep the industry ticking over, if only as an insurance that if difficulties occur in the oilfields in the rest of the world at least some oil will be produced in Britain.

Mr. E. C. Redhead (Walthamstow, West)

I enter this debate with some diffidence. I am the only speaker from this side of the Committee who can claim not to have a direct interest of a constituency character, or even of a Scottish character. Nevertheless, perhaps it is not inappropriate that I should make a few observations. I feel that I can at least take a detached view.

I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) opening the debate on what might now be described as a hardy annual. I understand that this is about the seventh occasion on which my hon. Friend has tried to wrest this very small concession from the Treasury. Such experiences as that of my hon. Friend, year after year, in undertaking what has obviously become a vain quest, tends to lead advocates to lose heart and to give up, and to find their advocacy dulled in the process, but my hon. Friend argued his case with passion, forcefulness and strong conviction. That is evidence that the matter is one of deep and human concern in the affected areas.

I was disappointed in the reply of the Economic Secretary. In earlier debates he has brought a fresh mind to bear on problems which have been the subjects of discussion by the Committee, and on this occasion he did at least approach his brief with some recognition of the human aspects of the problem. Disappointingly, however, his brief was basically the same old, turgid repetition of arguments and figures that had been trotted out year after year on the subject. I hoped that he would have sent this brief back and said, "I, for one, as a new performer, want a new script. I want one which is a little more convincing to the Committee than this has proved to be in the past."

We are told that the preferential rates of duty in relation to the shale oil industry have helped that industry in the past, but a great deal of that argument has already been debunked by subsequent speeches. I am always a little surprised when the Treasury speaks of giving help as if it were actively paying out money, when all that is meant is that the Treasury is refraining from taking quite as much in the form of taxation as it would like to take. There is a difference. But whatever measure of help this has given to the industry, it has not been sufficient.

There is nothing wrong in principle or morally in saying that if an industry, valued on other grounds, is uneconomic in present conditions, it should be relieved of some of the taxation burden placed upon it. Examples have been quoted showing how that principle has been accepted elsewhere in Budgetary fiscal policy. I take the view that whatever be the balance of argument about revenue, it is sheer economic folly to ignore the real value of the products of this industry and to allow capital equipment to be dismantled and wasted. Even more, I regret the tragic waste of the skill and techniques of the men employed in the industry. I put that aspect first in my consideration of the matter.

We are asking for a very small concession and one which it is not even suggested would be likely to lead to any widespread repercussions or involve the Chancellor in any difficulties or corresponding demands from other spheres of industry. We have had the E.F.T.A. argument adduced again. I do not think that presents an insurmountable problem. There was one subtle difference in the presentation of the E.F.T.A. argument on this occasion and I suspect that the Economic Secretary was induced, because of interruptions, to slip it into his brief.

One question arises to which there has been no reply. If this agreement were entered into with the knowledge which the Economic Secretary now says was possessed by the Government, clearly what was done was a deliberate and wanton sacrifice of this industry about which the Committee is entitled to an explanation.

I note the sympathy of the Government for those thrown out of work by the steady decline of employment in the industry and that they are prepared to invoke the Local Employment Act to provide new jobs in the area. The Economic Secretary had the grace to acknowledge that he appreciated the difficulties of the men who will be thrown on the labour market. But I do not think that the hon. Gentleman fully appreciates the nature of the problem of men who, as we have heard, are in their fifties. We cannot expect men who have spent a lifetime in one job, and acquired the necessary skills and techniques and an attitude of mind to their job, readily to take up some new work—even though it may be brought into the area where they live—if that work requires totally new techniques to which they would find it difficult to adjust themselves.

We are not impressed by the suggestion that once again the Government are to consider some other form of assistance for this industry. After the stories that we have heard about what has happened before when that has been said and in the light of our experience of what has happened about former Government promises, we want something more specific than the vague assurances which we have heard before being dissuaded from our intention to divide the Committee on this issue.

Mr. Barber

I do not want after these seven years of debates to go over the ground again, but perhaps I might be permitted to deal with one or two points raised by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead) and others. The right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. A. Woodburn) will do me justice in agreeing that I did not concentrate on what one might call the purely economic aspects of this industry, but I thought it right to mention them because that is something which one must have in mind. Certainly no one who has discussed this matter with the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) and the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill)—.as I did, and also looked into it with great care and discussed it with the Chancellor—could ignor what the right hon. Member called the human aspects of the case. I assure the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West that when I referred to that aspect of the problem I was certainly not just paying lip service but meant every word I said.

The right hon. Member also asked about the views of the company. In connection with our obligation under the Stockholm Convention to remove the protective element of this duty, we have been in touch with the company. So far as anything the company has done or may do in future, that must remain a matter for British Petroleum. The right hon. Member, I am sure, will agree that the Government have looked at the way in which British Petroleum and the wholly-owned subsidiary have behaved over the years. They have behaved as extremely good employers. It would certainly be quite wrong and out of keeping, despite our shareholding in the company, to bring pressure on it as to the way in which it should deal with the situation, although I have no doubt that it will take note of what the right hon. Member said.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) and one or two other hon. Members referred to the Stockholm Convention. I can only say to the Committee, as I said last year, that the Stockholm Convention was debated in this House. The European Free Trade Association Bill went through, I think, without a Division. One has only to glance at the Stockholm Convention, and in particular at the relevant article, Article VI, to see immediately the effect that this has on the protective element in any revenue duties. Obviously, one of the most important Revenue duties covered by Article VI must be the hydrocarbon oil duty. It must be apparent to anyone looking at this matter, it certainly was to the company—

Mr. Willis

Was it to the Government?

Mr. Barber

—and certainly to the Government, that the shale oil industry was included. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) continues to make these strange interjections which, not being a Scotsman, I do not quite follow.

Mr. Ross

Neither is my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) a Scotsman.

Mr. Barber

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East criticised what I said about the assistance, help, or whatever one likes to call it, which has been given to this industry and said that I did not complete the sum. I shall complete the sum. I said that the assistance which had been given, as he pointed out, over thirty-three years, amounted to £21 million. I point out that last year the company made a loss of £225,000 despite the duty advantage it got through the protection of £650,000. To complete the sum, I should point out what I think are two very significant facts. The assistance duty advantage, or whatever we call it, was last year equivalent to £5 a week for each person employed in the industry or, to put it another way, equivalent to a protective duty of 125 per cent. Those are facts which one simply cannot ignore, but that is not to say that they are necessarily conclusive in deciding this matter.

9.15 p.m.

I cannot go any further than I have gone already about the consideration which we are giving to assistance for the future. This matter is now being considered. As it is being considered and as we have not reached a conclusion, I cannot—indeed, I am not prepared to—say any more than I have already. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East is not satisfied, that is a matter for him. I repeat finally—I hope hon. Members opposite will bear this in mind—that if they support the Clause tonight they will take action which will be completely contrary to an agreement which we have made with our friends in E.F.T.A. and which was approved by the House of Commons without a Division.

Mr. H. Wilson

After sitting through so many of these debates and taking part in a number of them, the last thing I want to do is to prolong the agony much longer. For my hon. Friends it is an agony to have to hear our arguments turned down year after year by the hon. Gentleman.

I must ask him one question. He has stated as a reason why we should accept the Government's attitude the fact that some of his right hon. Friends are apparently getting together to consider some other form of aid to the industry. This does not fill us with any confidence whatsoever. He must tell the Committee on what lines the discussions are taking place. There is nothing new about them, because they started three years ago. The matter must have been considered then and was presumably turned down, because nothing happened. It was just thrown out during a debate and forgotten about afterwards. We take it from what the hon. Gentleman said that it is not fiscal assistance.

Mr. Barber indicated assent.

Mr. Wilson

We have got that out of the way. I will now see if we can make any further progress. I do not mind doing it on the twenty-question basis, if the hon. Gentleman wants to be childish. That is one question. We now know that it is not fiscal. Is it—could it be—that the hon. Gentleman intends to go back to our E.F.T.A. partners to renegotiate a codicil or addendum to the Stockholm Convention which would enable the Government to give some assistance? Could it be that? The hon. Gentleman is quiet.

Mr. Barber

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was out of the Chamber when I said that there was no question of negotiation. I repeat that there is no question of negotiating with our partners. There is no question of any fiscal advantage. All that we are doing is considering whether there is any way, apart from those two methods, of assisting the industry.

Mr. Wilson

It is quite clear that I have only eighteen questions left. This obviously suggests to any student of the present Government, after long experience of the Cunard affair and other things, that the hon. Gentleman or his right hon. Friends are contemplating some form of financial assistance. As he said that it is an uneconomic industry, it obviously will not be a loan, because the Government would not expect to get the money back, not even if they followed the usual procedure of lending it at low or even a negative rate of interest, Presumably they are considering some kind of subsidy.

It is no good looking at the Secretary of State for Scotland. He would be the last person to know about it. It is obviously some form of subsidy. If the Economic Secretary would rise and confirm this it would shorten the proceedings a little. He could deny it if he wished. We are obviously getting warm. I cannot understand why we must play this sort of game in a dull House of Commons just because the Economic Secretary refuses to grow up.

Assuming that it is financial assistance in that form—namely, by way of subsidy—will the Economic Secretary say whether he is satisfied that this is also in accordance with the Stockholm Convention? It usually takes the Government about a year after the event to find out what the Stockholm Convention means. Is the Economic Secretary quite sure that there is not tucked away in the Convention a provision forbidding the kind of aid about which he is talking? I hope that he will give us an assurance on that. It would be a pity if, after having decided on financial assistance this year, he found next year that the Stockholm Convention forbids it. We know that we shall hear no more about this until next year's Finance Bill. That is perfectly certain.

Even if the Convention does not forbid it, what would be the position under the Common Market? We do not want to be told this year that the Government have found a way round the Stockholm Convention to enable assistance to be given, and then, on next year's Finance Bill, to be told that they cannot do it because of the Common Market, if by that time they have come to any decision about the Common Market. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that this entirely vague reference to some right hon. Gentlemen getting together to consider some form of aid for the industry will persuade us against going into the Division Lobby, he is quite wrong. I know that he is by now probably thinking "Oh, to heck with the lot of it; why do not they get into the Division Lobby and get it over?". That is probably what is going through his mind, but we are concerned with the welfare of the industry.

I am not going into all the arguments again, but we must ask the hon. Gentleman if he will not now come a little clean about the thoughts that are proceeding with such painful slowness through the mind of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Perhaps the Secretary of State will tell us. It may well be that the Economic Secretary is not privy to these great secrets of State. The Secretary of State for Scotland is obviously writing or doodling something. Is the word "subsidy" in it? Will he tell us what is happening? All we shall get at the end of today is a promise that the Secretary of State for Scotland will go to the Lothians and make a speech. They have suffered enough in this area. Are we to have an answer from the Government on what kind of assistance is being considered? Is it compatible with the Stockholm Convention, and also with the Common Market?

Mr. Barber

In regard to the Common Market, that depends on what arrangements, if any, we make with the Common Market countries. In regard to the assurance I gave on urgent consideration of the possibility of assistance, I have already said that I cannot go any further than that, but I can inform the Committee that there is no doubt that we would not be precluded from giving some form of assistance by the Stockholm Convention, so long as it is not of a fiscal character.

Mr. T. Fraser

I do not want to prolong this debate unduly, but the hon. Gentleman has made clear that he is very concerned about the human aspect—the 2,000 workers in the industry. He has said and has repeated that consideration will be given to other ways of helping this industry. This is not the 60,000-dollar question, but the 2,000-worker question, to which we want an answer. What is the object of the exercise? Is the object of the exercise to maintain the industry at about its present level, that is, about 1,850 to 2,000 workers employed? Or is it to give new life to this industry, so that it may expand? Or is it the object of the exercise that the industry, now employing 2,000 workers, will take another three, four or five years to die completely? If the Minister could give this matter his attention and give us an answer to that question it would be very helpful, because it is important.

What is the aim, objective and point of the exercise? Is it to keep the industry at about its present level, to provide that there will be some expansion of the industry, or merely to provide some cushion so that the industry can die without too sudden an impact upon the area? Could the Minister answer those questions and tell us what the point and objective of the exercise is?

Mr. Barber

There really is not anything that I can usefully add to what I have said.

Hon. Members


Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 165, Noes 234.

Division No. 212.] AYES [9.25 p.m.
Ainsley, William Hewitson, Capt. M. Parkin, B. T.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hill, J. (Midlothian) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hilton, A. V. Pentland, Norman
Awbery, Stan Holman, Percy Popplewell, Ernest
Bacon, Mist Alice Holt, Arthur Prentice, R. E.
Baird, John Houghton, Douglas Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Probert, Arthur
Bence, Cyril Hoy, James H. Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Benson, Sir George Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Rankin, John
Blyton, William Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Redhead, E. C.
Boardman, H. Hunter, A. E. Reid, William
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boyden, James Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hilt) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Brockway, A. Fenner Janner, Sir Barnett Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ross, William
Callaghan, James Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Short, Edward
Chapman, Donald Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Chetwynd, George Kelley, Richard Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Small, William
Cronin, John King, Dr. Horace Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Crosland, Anthony Lawson, George Snow, Julian
Crossman, R. H. S. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Spriggs, Leslie
Darling, George Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Steele, Thomas
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Logan, David Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Stonehouse, John
Deer, George MacColl, James Stones, William
Diamond, John McInnes, James Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Dodds, Norman McKay, John (Wallsend) Sylvester, George
Donnelly, Desmond Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Symonds, J. B.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John McLeavy, Frank Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Edelman, Maurice Manuel, A. C. Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Edwards, Rt Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mapp, Charles Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thornton, Ernest
Evans, Albert Marsh, Richard Timmons, John
Fitch, Alan Mason, Roy Tomney, Frank
Fletcher, Eric Mellish, R. J. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Millan, Bruce Wade, Donald
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Milne, Edward J. Wainwright, Edwin
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mitchison, G. R. Whitlock, William
Gourlay, Harry Monslow, Walter Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Grey, Charles Moody, A. S. Wilkins, W. A.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mort, D. L. Willey, Frederick
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Moyle, Arthur Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Grimond, J. Mulley, Frederick Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Neal, Harold Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Oliver, G. H. Winterbottom, R. E.
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Oram, A. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hannan, William Oswald, Thomas Woof, Robert
Hart, Mrs. Judith Owen, Will Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Hayman, F. H. Padley, W. E.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Herbison, Miss Margaret Parker, John Mr. Charles A. Howell and
Mr. McCann.
Agnew, Sir Peter Boyle, Sir Edward Cleaver, Leonard
Aitken, W. T. Braine, Bernard Cole, Norman
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Brewis, John Cooper-Key, Sir Neill
Arbuthnot, John Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.
Atkins, Humphrey Brooman-White, R. Cordle, John
Balniel, Lord Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Corfield, F. V.
Barber, Anthony Browne, Percy (Torrington) Costain, A. P.
Barter, John Bryan, Paul Coulson, J. M.
Batsford, Brian Buck, Antony Craddock, Sir Beresford
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Critchley, Julian
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Burden, F. A. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver
Bell, Ronald Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Cunningham, Knox
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Curran, Charles
Berkeley, Humphry Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Currie, G. B. H.
Bidgood, John C. Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Dalkeith, Earl of
Bishop, F. P. Cary, Sir Robert Dance, James
Black, Sir Cyril Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Bourne-Arton, A. Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Deedes, W. F.
Box, Donald Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) de Ferranti, Basil
Donaldson, cmdr. C. E. M. Kerby, Capt. Henry Rees, Hugh
du Cann, Edward Kerr, Sir Hamilton Rees-Davies, W. R.
Duncan, Sir James Kirk, Peter Renton, David
Eden, John Lambton, Viscount Ridsdale, Julian
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Leburn, Gilmour Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Elliott, R.W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Emery, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Errington, Sir Eric Lindsay, Martin Russell, Ronald
Farey-Jones, F. W. Linstead, Sir Hugh Shaw, M.
Farr, John Litchfield, Capt. John Shepherd, William
Finlay, Graeme Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Fisher, Nigel Longden, Gilbert Smithers, Peter
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Loveys, Waiter H. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Freeth, Denzil Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Speir, Rupert
Gammans, Lady McAdden, Stephen Stevens, Geoffrey
Gibson-Watt, David MacArthur, Ian Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Glover, Sir Douglas McLaren, Martin Stodart, J. A.
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Goodhart, Philip Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Studholme, Sir Henry
Goodhew, Victor McMaster, Stanley R. Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Talbot, John E.
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Tapsell, Peter
Green, Alan Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Grimston, Sir Robert Maginnis, John E. Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Markham, Major Sir Frank Teeling, William
Gurden, Harold Marshall, Douglas Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Hall, John (Wycombe) Mawby, Ray Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Mills, Stratton Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Montgomery, Fergus Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macolesf'd) Morrison, John Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Nabarro, Gerald Turner, Colin
Harvie Anderson, Miss Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Noble, Michael van Straubenzee, W. R.
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Nugent, Sir Richard Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Vickers, Miss Joan
Hendry, Forbes Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Hiley, Joseph Osborn, John (Hallam) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Walder, David
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Page, John (Harrow, West) Walker, Peter
Hirst, Geoffrey Page, Graham (Crosby) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Hocking, Philip N. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Wall, Patrick
Holland, Philip Partridge, E. Ward, Dame Irene
Hollingworth, John Peel, John Webster, David
Hopkins, Alan Percival, Ian Whitelaw, William
Hornby, R. P. Peyton, John Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Hornby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Pilkington, Sir Richard Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Pitt, Miss Edith Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hughes-Young, Michael Pott, Percivall Wise, A. R.
Hurd, Sir Anthony Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Iremonger, T. L. Price, David (Eastleigh) Woodhouse, C. M.
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Prior, J. M. L. Woodnutt, Mark
Jackson, John Proudfoot, Wilfred Worsley, Marcus
James, David Pym, Francis Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ramsden, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Rawlinson, Peter Mr. Chichester Clark and
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Mr. F. Pearson.
Kaberry, Sir Donald