HC Deb 29 June 1961 vol 643 cc806-18

Again considered in Committee.

Mr. Willey

I was taking up the point whether there had been discussions between the Government and the Cunard Company—the point which the Parliamentary Secretary regarded as fundamental. He has been kind enough to write to me, and the Committee should have before it what he said. He said: In the course of my reply. I said that so far as I knew there had been no discussions between the Government and Cunard concerning this matter. While this is correct so far as the Q.3 negotiations are concerned, I have, however, ascertained that Cunard Eagle had in fact made formal application for an import licence for these aircraft, and that there had been discussions in connection with the licence between the Company, the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Aviation That is quite contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman said, just as, when he referred to it on Second Reading, it was quite contrary to what he had said before. This is our difficulty in the matter. I do not criticise Cunard; I criticise the Government. The question of these discussions is relevant. The right hon. Gentleman referred to dollar earnings, but Cunard have bought two Boeings and we know that it is considering buying more. It is considering selling ships to buy aircraft. This is a relevant matter, which we should have before us. This is not any criticism of the comercial judgment of Cunard. It is a criticism of the Government, who are advancing an outright grant of £3¼ million and making a loan of £18 million, and not being concerned about all this.

Further, the right hon. Gentleman knows that we have to consider the question with regard to the Q.3 in the light of what the Government are going to do about shipping and shipbuilding as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman has been less than frank about that. He went to the Clyde, to the modernised Lithgow Kingston yard, and he said: My time to be serious about the shipping and shipbuilding industries will be when Parliament meets after the Recess. There may be shocks. There may be difficulties. I think it is a politician's duty to face unpopularity when he knows it to be the truth. It may be management, men or unions who have the difficulties. I intend to interpret my contract in an aggressive way in the near future. I think that he should again be frank with the Committee. If £3¼ million is being provided in this case it is important to know what the Government are going to do about these two great industries.

Time after time the right hon. Gentleman has refused to say anything about his intentions in regard to nuclear propulsion. Previously the Government could not make up their minds about the Galbraith Report. Now the right hon. Gentleman cannot make up his mind. He seems to hesitate about backing nuclear propulsion, because he wants to be satisfied of its commercial possibilities. We want to be satisfied in this case about the commercial likelihood of the Q.3.

These things have to be considered together because, quite frankly, if this is a question of £3¼ million being provided to help the shipping and shipbuilding industries, it would be better provided for nuclear propulsion. We cannot consider these matters unless we know whether or not this present proposition is a commercial one, but the right hon. Gentleman apparently regards it as a prestige matter—and nuclear propulsion as a prestige matter, too.

These are our difficulties. Hon. Friends of mine, and hon. Members opposite have expressed constituency interests. I have a constituency interest in this. My constituency has in it a larger concentration of shipbuilding

workers than any other in Britain—the best and hardest-working industrial workers in Great Britain. We will not benefit directly from the Q.3. We are not bidding; the Tyne is—

Mr. P. Williams

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the workers are better in Sunderland, South, because they vote Conservative.

Mr. Willey

But there are not so many of them in Sunderland, South. They are mainly in Sunderland, North. But both the hon. Member and I are vitally concerned about the future of shipping and shipbuilding, and we get from the right hon. Gentleman ony evasion, and rather tricky evasion at that.

We want to be satisfied that matters are not being concealed from us. The point we raised about the Chandos Committee was, as the Minister knows, that it could not deal with the main, major, over-riding issue because a decision had been taken in the Conservative Party's election manifesto. That is the difficulty hon. Gentlemen opposite are in. I would tell my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale that I came here, as probably the majority of hon. Members came, ready to support this proposal, but the right hon. Gentleman has not satisfied me that it has been considered as a commercial proposition.

I have not been satisfied, but have been bitterly disappointed, as both these great industries have been bitterly disappointed, by the right hon. Gentleman's lack of drive and thrust in tackling the very real difficulties. The months and the years go by, and the difficulties become greater and greater through nothing being done by the Minister. For those reasons, we have no alternative, regretfully enough, but to express our dissatisfaction with the right hon. Gentleman by dividing the Committee.

Question put:

The Committee divided: Ayes 139, Noes 72.

Division No. 232.] AYES [10.7 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Black, Sir Cyril Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)
Aitken, W. T. Bossom, Clive Carr, Compton (Barons Court)
Arbuthnot, John Box, Donald Cary, Sir Robert
Ashton, Sir Hubert Boyle, Sir Edward Channon, H. P. C.
Batsford, Brian Braine, Bernard Chichester-Clark, R.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Brewis, John Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)
Biggs-Davison, John Bryan, Paul Cleaver, Leonard
Bingham, R. M. Buck, Antony Cooper, A. E.
Bishop, F. P. Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Cooper-Key, Sir Neill
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hulbert, Sir Norman Pitt, Miss Edith
Corfield, F. V, Hutchison, Michael Clark Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Craddock, Sir Beresford Iremonger, T. L. Pym, Francis
Critchley, Julian Jackson, John Quenncll, Miss J. M.
Crowder, F, P. James, David Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Cunningham, Knox Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Renton, David
Curran, Charles Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Rippon, Geoffrey
Currie, G. B. H. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool,S.)
Dance, James Kerr, Sir Hamilton Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kershaw, Anthony Sharples, Richard
Doughty, Charles Leburn, Gilmour Shaw, M.
Eden, John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carstialton) Linstead, Sir Hugh Smithers, Peter
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Litchfield, Capt. John Spearman, Sir Alexander
Gammans, Lady Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Spelr, Rupert
Gibson-Watt, David Loveys, Walter H. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Glover, Sir Douglas Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Studholme, Sir Henry
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
G1yn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) McMaster, Stanley R. Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Green, Alan Maddan, Martin Turner, Colin
Grimston, Sir Robert Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Gurden, Harold Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest van Straubemee, W. R.
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Marshall, Douglas Vickers, Miss Joan
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Walker, Peter
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wall, Patrick
Hastings, Stephen Mills, Stratton Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hay, John Montgomery, Fergus Whitelaw, William
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel More, Jasper (Ludlow) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hliey, Joseph Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wise, A. R.
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Woodhouse, C. M.
Holland, Philip Page, John (Harrow, West) Woodnutt, Mark
Hopkins, Alan Page, Graham (Crosby) Woollam, John
Hornby, R. P. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Worsley, Marcus
Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Peel, John Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Peroival, Ian
Hughes-Young, Michael Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Finlay and Mr. Noble.
Albu, Austen Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Peyton, John
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hamilton, William (West Fife) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Bacon, Miss Alice Hannan, William Rankin, John
Benson, Sir George Hart, Mrs. Judith Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Blyton, William Hayman, F. H. Ross, William
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Bowles, Frank Holman, Percy Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Skeffington, Arthur
Chapman, Donald Hunter, A. E. Sorensen, R. W.
Chetwynd, George Hynd, H. (Accrlngton) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Stones, William
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Deer, George Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, Dan (Burnley) Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Diamond, John Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Lipton, Marcus Wainwright, Edwin
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Warbey, William
Evans, Albert McKay, John (Wallsend) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Willey, Frederick
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mellish, R. J. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Gourlay, Harry Milne, Edward J. Woof, Robert
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Monslow, Walter
Grimond, J. Parker, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gunter, Ray Pavitt, Laurence Mr. Redhead and Mr. Cronin.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

10.16 p.m.

Mr. Strauss

I do not propose to prolong the discussions on the Bill, nor do my colleagues who have taken part in the debate up to now. We have expressed our views, adequately I hope and strongly I think, on the Amendments in Committee, and if we had a further discussion it would only be repeating the arguments which we have put. In view of the arrangement reached on a previous night not to prolong the consideration of the Bill unduly, we are under some obligation in this respect.

We do not propose to talk further on the Bill, because we have said all that we propose to say. We do not propose to vote against the Third Reading, because we have no objection to the building of a large ship or a small ship in the shipyards of this country by the Cunard Company or anybody else. We realise that the building of any ships will provide great benefit to thousands of people working in the shipyards and the allied industries.

Our strong objection has been, and still is, against the financial terms in Clause 1. We object strongly to the amount of the loan, and to the arrangements connected with the loan and the subsidy. We expressed our views in the debate on Clause 1. We object particularly to the grant of the loan and the subsidy because of the factors mentioned by my hon. Friends and myself during the debate. For that reason, we voted against Clause 1, but for the other reasons which I have given we propose not to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. S. Silverman

I do not propose to prolong the debate either. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) indicated in his speech in Committee, we intend to divide the House against Third Reading. I should not like to give a silent vote. I listened with great respect and attention to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) just said, but I was utterly unable to understand it. I can very well understand the view that an hon. Member would want not to oppose the principle of the Bill but leave himself free to oppose any detail of it or all its details in Committee. The time for that question to arise is not on Third Reading but on Second Reading. It is on Second Reading that the House decides whether it is in favour of or against the principle of a Bill.

My right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends generally would have been perfectly consistent in not voting against. Second Reading for the reasons he has just given. He would even have been justified in not voting against Third Reading if he had not voted against Clause 1. Every reason he gave for voting against Clause I was a reason for voting against Third Reading, because Clause 1 is the Bill. If my right hon. Friend had had his way in Committee, Clause 1 would have gone from the Bill. Would he still have voted for Third Reading without Clause 1? I am certain that my right hon. Friend advised his hon. Friends to vote against Clause 1 because he sincerely believed that Clause 1 should be out of the Bill. If he believes that Clause 1 should be out of the Bill and yet Clause 1 remains in the Bill, how can he justify not voting against Third Reading? It just does not make any sense. It is the kind of nonsense which tends to bring the whole of the process and principle of representative Parliamentary democracy into disrepute.

If my right hon. Friend thinks that by this kind of action—voting against Clause 1 in Committee but not voting against the Bill on Third Reading—he can somehow or other fool the people into believing that he was for the Bill and against the Bill at the same time, he under-rates their intelligence to a lamentable degree. There is no sense to it, as my right hon. Friend knows full well.

The practical justification which he would not allow but which can be the only one in his mind in trying to reconcile the irreconcilable is one which in any case he will find in practice is of no avail to him. I thought that he was right in his arguments against Clause 1, and anything he left out was more than adequately supplied by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale when he argued against Clause 1. I voted against Clause 1, for the reasons which my right hon. Friend offered to the Committee. Because I voted against Clause 1, I do not feel free not to vote against Third Reading. I shall therefore vote against it.

10.23 p.m.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

From these very benches about twenty-five years ago six to-called Clydeside revolutionaries—the members of the Independent Labour Party—strongly advocated the granting of a subsidy to start work on the building of the present "Queen Mary", which we are now considering replacing.

Mr. S. Silverman

Every one of them ended up in the House of Lords.

Dr. Mabon

That is not quite accurate, but nevertheless we have high hopes that other Members will follow them. I do not think that remark is very fair on Jimmy Maxton or Campbell Stephens or any of the members of the independent Labour Party—the famous six. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne is very much at fault in his history.

Mr. Silverman

David Kirkwood did.

Dr. Mabon

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman re-reads his history. Surely the argument that one did is hardly an argument for saying that they all did. Neither is it a sensible argument that everything which they did preceding that time must therefore be invalid.

Mr. Silverman

My hon. Friend must do me the justice of remembering that it was he who introduced this parallel and not I.

Dr. Mabon

As a matter of fact, now that I have had an opportunity to recall it, David Kirkwood was the only one of the six. The fact is he received the support of the Parliamentary Labour Party at that time. It seems to me an incredible position for those so-called members of the Left now to adopt this reactionary stance, that they should be trying to help the shipyard workers of this country.

Mr. Silverman


Dr. Mabon

We have been misrepresented from time to time on this issue by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), but all of us on this side of the House have made clear that we solidly object to this Bill and the way it has been brought in by the Minister. No Bill has ever had such bad public relations or been so badly treated by a Minister. No Minister has managed to muff at every conceivable juncture every attempt to engender public sympathy with the project.

That does not alter the fundamental fact that the shipbuilding industry is facing difficulties and crises. The skills and crafts of the men are at stake, as they were twenty-five and thirty years ago. It is the obligation of this House to consider all these things. I regard this Bill as part of a larger plan to put the shipbuilding industry back on its feet and in a position to compete with the other shipbuilding industries in the world. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should read the Report of the Advisory Committee on the Shipbuilding Industry in which, of the eleven recommendations, eight concern management and unions and five concern management. I wonder whether the Minister would publish the D.S.I.R. Report which also—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. The hon. Member is being carried beyond the bounds of order on a Third Reading debate.

Dr. Mabon

I am sorry about that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am trying to put the point that many of us welcome the Bill and not simply and solely because of constituency interests. I am glad that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale agreed that we have a right to represent our constituencies and to put constituency interests. If we do not represent our constituencies and voice their interests, who else will?

My constituency will not get the contract to build the ship. Perhaps it will not even get a sub-contract. But that does not detract from my main principle that it is an excellent conception that we should be willing to replace the "Queen Mary". For obvious commercial reasons that can be done only on receipt of loans from the Government and I welcome it. I wish to make clear during this Third Reading debate that I welcome the principle of this Bill.

Perhaps it might have been a better Bill if Amendments moved in Committee had been accepted and if the Minister had not resisted them 100 per cent. in a completely inflexible manner. It is interesting to note that none of the hon. Members opposite moved Amendments of substance although they seemed to be able to produce arguments of substance. That is an example of political cowardice. Many people feel deeply that the Bill ought to have been amended but they did not come forward with Amendments.

To me it seems reasonable and sensible that we should object to the final form in which Clause 1 appears. It was not amended, and we all said that during the Second Reading debate—although we were misrepresented by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, perhaps unintentionally, who said that by speaking against the Bill and particularly against Clause 1, somehow or other we were indicating that we were against the whole principle. That is not the case, and I should like to disabuse the mind of any hon. Member who has that impression.

I am certain that this Bill will get a Third Reading tonight and that will disprove the argument of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. I also believe that had the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale been able to attend our party meeting, which were were fully entitled to have according to the principles of Parliamentary Government, or if he had been able to attend a meeting of the party opposite, he would have been in a position to exercise any influence which he thought right and proper.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is going beyond what is properly in order on Third Reading.

Dr. Mabon

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but this has been a strenuous occasion for many hon. Members, including myself. Having had to sit through speeches of criticism and having been lashed, I wanted to make my point of view clear.

We have had two lectures on Parliamentary Government and I thought that I might nut in my twopence worth, for I felt fully entitled to vote against Clause 1 on the grounds of my complete dissatisfaction with the Clause as it stood and with the Minister who piloted it through.

However, I wholeheartedly approve the principle of the Bill—the principle as such—and, if the Third Reading is taken to a vote, I am prepared to support the Government in the Lobby.

10.31 p.m.

Mr. M. Foot

I wish merely to say a few words in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), who is in favour of the Bill. Since my hon. Friend is for the Measure, he is therefore right to vote for it. I certainly admit his right to do so, although he has not always defended my right to do that.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

That is not true.

Mr. Foot

But may I inform my hon. Friend that a large number of hon. Members are against it, and they voted against Clause 1. That right is all I am claiming. It is a simple proposition.

10.32 p.m.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

It would he wrong for me to try to pretend that the Bill has had a particularly easy or rapid passage. None the less, hon. Members will agree that, on the whole, the debate has been good tempered.

We realise, of course, that the division of opinion on the Bill has cut across party lines, to some extent, but we feel that the alternative would have been to have dropped out of the North Atlantic express passenger service. That is a field in which we as a nation have done well in the past and which provides, at the lowest, some advertisement of our maritime skill in the widest sense.

I would like to close on a note which, I feel sure, would be in harmony with hon. Members on both sides of the House. I hope that if the Bill gets its Third Reading, and this great ship is built, all who will sail in her, and the ship herself, may have good fortune and prosperity.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 114, Noes 1.

Division No. 233.] AYES [10.32 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Cary, Sir Robert Gammans, Lady
Aitken, W. T. Channon, H. P. G, Glover, Sir Douglas
Ashton, Sir Hubert Chichester-Clark, R. Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)
Batsford, Brian Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Green, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Cleaver, Leonard Grimston, Sir Robert
Bingham, R. M. Cooper, A. E. Gurden, Harold
Bishop, F. P. Cordeaux, Lt-Col. J. K. Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Bossom, Clive Corfield, F. V. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Box, Donald Critchley, Julian Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Crowder, F. P. Hastings, Stephen
Braine, Bernard Curran, Charles Hay, John
Brewis, John Currie, G. B. H, Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Bryan, Paul Dance, James Hiley, Joseph
Buck, Antony d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Holland, Philip
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Hopkins, Alan
Hornby, R. P. Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Speir, Rupert
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Mills, Stratton Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Hughes-Young, Michael Montgomery, Fergus Studholme, Sir Henry
Hulbert, Sir Norman Mora, Jasper (Ludlow) Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Michael Turner, Colin
Jackson, John Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Page, John (Harrow, West) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Page, Graham (Crosby) Vickers, Miss Joan
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Leburn, Gilmour Peel, John Walder, David
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Percival, Ian Walker, Peter
Litchfield, Capt. John Pitt, Miss Edith Wall, Patrick
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirrai) Powell, Rt- Hon. J. Enoch Weils, John (Maidstone)
Loveys, Walter H. Pym, Francis Whitelaw, William
Luoas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Quennell, Miss J. M. Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Renton, David Wise, A. R.
Maddan, Martin Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Woodnutt, Mark
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Sharpies, Richard Worsley, Marcus
Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Shaw, M.
Marshall, Douglas Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mathew, Robert (Honlton) Smitners, Peter Mr. Finlay and Mr. Gibson-Watt
Grimond, J.
Mr. M. Foot and
Mr. S. Silverman.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.