HC Deb 28 April 1964 vol 694 cc197-8
Q1. Mr. Webster

asked the Prime Minister whether he will appoint a committee to investigate the future of public ownership of industry.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

No, Sir.

Mr. Webster

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that, apart from his overt intentions of nationalising steel, road haulage, the pharmaceutical industry, the industrial life offices, and the commanding heights of the economy, the Leader of the Opposition is on record as saying on I.T.V. a year ago that he regarded road haulage not so much on the basis of buying off every lorry, every truck, every little back-street garage"— I am quoting this for the sake of accuracy—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Verbatim quotations are out of order in a question. The hon. Member can summarise what was said.

Mr. Webster

The right hon. Gentleman talked about every little backstreet garage which had four or five broken down lorries, and the goodwill thereof. Is my right hon. Friend aware that this policy is causing great anxiety in the industry, that it is causing threats of unemployment in the road haulage industry, and that it is causing deep concern in industry which seeks freedom to move its goods and wares in the way that it finds most convenient?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition says a number of things which I find it extremely difficult to interpret. I hope that he will make it quite clear what he means on the subject of the nationalisation of road transport.

Mr. H. Wilson

Having made it quite clear in Signposts for the Sixties—of which I will send the right hon. Gentleman a copy if he cannot afford 6d. to buy it—may I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that his own pronouncement about competition in the steel industry sounds a bit strange? Does he really believe that there is price competition in the steel industry?

The Prime Minister

I have looked at the Question very carefully. It does not deal with my pronouncements.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that it seems fashionable at the moment to make suggestions about nationalisation without giving any reasons at all, and will my right hon. Friend say that that example from the other side of the House will never be copied on this side of it?

Mr. Shinwell

If on some future occasion the right hon. Gentleman decides to institute an inquiry into the future of public ownership, will he also include an inquiry into whether private ownership has any future at all?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman must have misheard me. I said that I was not prepared to set up such an inquiry.

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