§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Sir Martin Redmayne (Rushcliffe)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:but humbly regret that the Gracious Speech contains little promise of progress in the modernisation of industry, notably in the fields of transport and technology.It is with some difficulty, after the events of the last few days, that the House turns to the more mundane business of the debate on the Address, and I need little excuse to remind the House of those paragraphs of the Gracious Speech with which our Amendment is concerned. 945 The first of these is that which deals with the encouragement of British industryto achieve greater competitive efficiency by re-organisation, the more general use of advanced technology, and better use of manpower.The second is that which promises legislationto remove statutory limitations impeding the proper use of the manufacturing resources of the nationalised industries.The third is the paragraph reading,My Ministers will bring forward proposals for the more effective co-ordination of inland transport. You will be invited to approve a measure designed to promote greater safety on the roads.The fourth is that which relates to the legislation arising from the Devlin Report on the docks.
The first, that dealing with technology, sensibly couples the more general use of advanced technology with greater competitive efficiency by re-organisation and the better use of manpower. This seems a far cry fromharnessing Socialism to science and science to Socialism,which was the slogan which the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) used at the Labour Party conferences of 1960 and 1963. That was good rousing stuff, good vote catching stuff, even if the purport of it became a little less clear the more it was examined. But the fact remains that somewhere, somehow, between then and now the right hon. Gentleman has lost the harness. This present approach is sensible enough, but it seems to me to lack the confidence of yesterday's bright morning.
What we may hope to discover from today's debate is just where these good intentions have gone astray. It may well be that the Minister of Technology is the wrong man for the job, appointed perhaps for the wrong reason. It may well be that the conception of a Ministry of Technology has produced, in the words of the Estimates Committee this summer—and that is an all-party committee—a machine which is "slow" and "top heavy". But, given the conception of such a Minister and such a Ministry, there must be a variety of ways in which it can be put to work, and some of them have been forecast. It can gather information as to what, in the Government's opinion, is required in industry and pro- 946 duce certain, if limited, assistance. Some attempts on these lines have been made in respect of the computer industry and on machine tools. But, in respect of machine tools, I should like to know whether the Government adhere to the policy proposed in "Signposts to the 'Sixties" in which they said,In machine tools, our aim will probably be best realised by means of competitive public enterprise—the establishment of new, publicly-owned plantsand so on. In our opinion, this would be going very far. I hope that we may be told to what extent it is still the policy.
Again, given this conception, it might use the power of necessary Government purchasing to stimulate production by the most modern methods. That was forecast by the Prime Minister as long ago as November last year, but we have heard very little of it since. If Socialist policies were to be pursued to their logical and previously forecast conclusion—and there are rumours that it will be pursued to that conclusion—it might go into business itself to spur private enterprise into technological development. All those things might be done, and I do not say now how we should receive them.
The purpose of the debate from our point of view is to persuade the Minister to come out into the open and to tell us what he is doing as Minister of Technology in a Socialist Government to harness Socialism to science, for as yet we are largely in the dark. His Parliamentary Secretary, speaking at Erith as recently as 28th October, is reported to have said:The Ministry has now got to get down to the job of producing incentives for the technology sector of this country on a scale never known before.That is fine, but it is surely a little late to be only now getting down to the job.
Admittedly, the atmosphere in which the Minister is doing whatever he is doing was not improved by the Chancellor's postponements of expenditure on capital projects, notably in education. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) has pointed out, it was the opinion of the University Grants Committee that the 1965 university building programme, as announced, was the absolute minimum 947 required to meet the Robbins estimate of the short-term demand for places. Again, with respect to the technical colleges, with the numbers increasing at the rate of 70,000 each year and with enormously increased pressure on the colleges arising from the Industrial Training Act, the six months standstill on building starts is clearly a serious blow to industrial training and, therefore, to the modernisation and efficiency of British industry. I must ask the Minister of Technology whether he put up any fight at all against this action. I suspect that he did not, or, if he did, that he was not strong enough.
One must suspect—-and I say this with no personal disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman—that a Minister brought in from outside for a job which needs, above all, an intimate knowledge both of the Government machine and of the more abstruse aspects of the industrial machine must find himself considerably out of his depth. I do not doubt that the right hon. Gentleman welcomes the opportunity given him today—by the Opposition, if I may say so —of explaining to the House what it is that he has been doing in the past year and what it may be that he hopes to do. I do not doubt that many of my hon. and right hon. Friends will explore these matters further, and certainly my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) will do so tonight, perhaps rather less urbanely than I, when he winds up the debate. I am given to understand that urbanity is my besetting sin.
As for me, I must turn to transport. I have also searched long and zealously to find what the Minister of Transport has done this year. It seems to me that he "did nothing in particular" but, alas, I cannot find "that he did it very well "In one matter he was decisive enough. He was determined that the road programme should not be cut. On 3rd March he said about the road programme,We are determined not to cut the programme.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1965; Vol 707, c. 1311.]On 10th March he said,… we will adhere to the programme which we inherited …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1965; Vol. 708, c. 391.]948 He said it very loud and clear. But in the debate on 3rd August he was at pains to explain to the House, neither loudly nor with any clarity—for all that it took several columns of HANSARD— that he had been persuaded that postponements of the programme were necessary.
But when one looks at the savings which are achieved, this decision seems lunatic. In the debate in August the Minister said that if he then stopped all new works for the financial year he would save only £2 million, and the assumption from this was that the savings on the figures which he gave would be about £1 million. In fact, it appears from a Written Answer given on 3rd November that the saving may be £7 million in this financial year, but this includes projects which would have been delayed for reasons unconnected with the Government's economic measures, so that we are still in the dark as to what the actual savings in this current year may be. But they must be between £1 million and £7 million.
It is hard to believe that this sum, whatever it may be, makes any worthwhile contribution to the Chancellor's problem in this present financial year. We were told in the debate that the contribution in the following financial year would be £4 million. Possibly that figure, too, will need adjustment, and we shall be pleased to hear from the Minister what the adjustment will be.
If that figure is also wrong and these cuts are designed in fact to make a contribution on a larger scale in the following year, they must make nonsense of the Minister's implied intention to restore them to the programme in the following year. I ask him for a firm statement of whether it is his intention to proceed with next year's programme as already planned plus the deferred projects, which is what we were given to understand, or whether we are to expect another batch of deferments in, say, January for the following six months so that the present deferments can take their proper place in the programme.
When one gets down to it, would it not be better for the Minister to admit that all of this was a most mistaken policy pressed on him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer so that there could be fair 949 shares of postponements for all? I believe that to have been the real argument. Would he not have done much better to convince the Chancellor that the increasing productivity of the road construction industry depends above all on continuity and on greater continuity and that there is a strong case for longer-term planning, even longer-term than has been experienced in the past, for long-term contracts relating to a series of starts so that contractors themselves can achieve greater continuity in the use of labour and machines? If, as I suspect, he will, the right hon. Gentlemen gives an answer relating to the proper apportionment of resources, he must realise and he must admit that there is a most considerable reserve of resources already within the industry which longer-term planning would release at no economic cost.
In the debate on 3rd August, the Minister complained, I thought with some sense of grievance, that the Opposition had bequeathed to him a road programme which was increasing at the rate of 14 or 15 per cent. each year. Yet the Government's National Plan says nothing which suggests that that policy and that rate of growth was wrong. It says:Exchequer expenditure on new and improved major roads, which is now planned five years ahead and reviewed each year, is rising rapidly … Despite the rising rate of expenditure, the present programme will not fully keep pace with the growth of traffic and on many of our roads, and particularly at peak periods, congestion will unfortunately get worseThere can be no possible doubt that for many years ahead the road programme must be above, and well above, the average of national growth. In this we certainly have nothing with which to reproach ourselves, and this is a policy which in due course we shall pursue again. It is only evidence of the right hon. Gentleman's ineffectiveness in the Government that he has apparently been unable to convince his colleagues that this is an essential economic truth.
I have quoted one extract from the National Plan, and I want to avoid quoting many, but I must say that the most striking feature of the transport section of the National Plan is its dissimilarity from Labour views and policy expressed both before and after the election. For example, as we all know, in respect of railways the Shadow 950 Minister of Transport before the election and the present Minister after the election both said that major closures would be held up until the regional boards had drawn up comprehensive plans, and they so have been. Yet, in spite of these declarations, which, after all, were not a first thought on coming into Government but were planned thoughts from long before, the National Plan continued to forecast the elimination of the railways working deficit by 1970 based on the proposition that:substantial progress continues to be made in implementing closure proposalsThe Minister cannot have it both ways. Either the Plan represents what he is seeking to do, or he should say that it does not.
Equally, it has always been one of the planks in the Labour platform that Conservative Governments have favoured private road haulage to the detriment of the railways. Yet the Plan itself confirms the fact that:The rapid growth of road transport in recent years appears to have arisen to a greater extent from a faster growth in activities that depend on the services of road transport than from actual diversion from rail to roadThere was no favouritism and no diversion and no bias in my right hon. Friends' policies in those days and the Plan admits it.
Again in regard to the railways the Plan sets out in paragraphs 10 to 13 of Chapter 12 an account or history of British Railways under Lord Beeching, whose appointment Labour repeatedly criticised and whose services the Government have since rejected. Above all else, Labour has held tenaciously to the doctrine of the integration of transport which is actually mentioned in the Gracious Speech and to which I shall refer in more detail in a few minutes. But the House should note that there is no reference at all even to co-ordination—if the two words are synonymous—in the transport chapter of the National Plan.
The fact is that the necessary trend of transport policy as set out in the National Plan and the time-honoured doctrines of the Labour Party are as different as chalk from cheese and the National Plan itself is a very good monument indeed to what has been achieved during these past years. Here, then, we have two 951 positive steps which the Minister has taken—first, his ready adherence to the Conservative road programme and, secondly, his acceptance of the evolution of Conservative policies in the National Plan.
Yet a host of problems have lain in his in-tray. For example, there is the Smeed Report on Road Pricing, a most significant and interesting report on which the Government should certainly make some statement of policy. There is the mounting pile of recommendations for rail closures. There is the problem of congestion in London, ever-worsening despite the emergency schemes put in hand by the London Traffic Management Unit, again a brain child of the Minister's predecessor. The improvement of the commuter services is under consideration. There is the second Beeching Report which the Minister dismisses as not being relevant to present problems, but some of whose recommendations are specifically mentioned in the National Plan as part and parcel of progress towards reducing the railways deficit. There is the Geddes Report on Road Haulage Licensing. There is the Report on experimental studies of rural bus services. There are the liner trains.
On 9th November, the Prime Minister said:We have given authority for the liner trains to go through"—this was a powerful phrase hovering between Marshal Petain and the Windmill Theatre—and have made the Government's position clear to the trade unionsUnfortunately, the trade unions do not appear to have got the message and only on Sunday last a senior official, presumably of the N.U.R. was reported in the Sunday Telegraph as explaining the union's present case on liner trains with the words:They may prove to be the salvation of our industry but we do not want private hauliers coming and skimming off the profitsIn those words—and let us face it—lies the whole spirit of what a good Socialist believes in—integration, or more politely and acceptably, co-ordination. In the words of the old tag, "What's yours is mine and what's mine is my own" Coordinate with me, but do not be so rash as to expect any co-ordination from me.
952 The fact is that the Labour Government and the whole Labour Party have an entirely split mind on the whole subject of private enterprise and the profit motive. I went last week to the annual meeting of the Institute of Directors. [Laughter.] Why not? Every hon. Member would gain a great deal by going to that most interesting meeting.
§ Sir M. Redmayne
I will arrange for an invitation to the hon. Gentleman if he wants it.
The Chancellor went to that meeting and cooed like a turtle-dove about the necessity for profits, happily disgregarding the words of his own Prime Minister in the House the day before who, when boasting of the Government's taxation policy, said that it would attackthe arrogant citadels of fiscal privilege in order to create a climate of equity and justice" —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 35.]How much the Prime Minister and the spokesman of the N.U.R. must dream of the day—I do not think that it will ever come—when the Government's majority will be sufficient for the right hon. Gentleman to put the skids under private industry!
I appreciate that the Minister will complain that some of these problems which I have said are lying in his in-tray have been in his hands for only a few months. But it is now a full year of government and surely some of them are ripe for decision. I hope that we shall hear something worthwhile today. But the truth is that even if he seeks to justify his actions during the last year by retailing something of what he has done he will be hard put to it, if he is hard put to it to claim anything in the National Plan, to claim any success which is not an inheritance from his predecessor. "Marples must go"—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has gone."] He has gone to learn a great deal which the present Minister does not know.
The fact is that transport is a field so thick with warring interests that almost any action by a Minister, if he is a Minister inclined to take action, particularly action so decisive as that taken in this field by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey, produces instant 953 and hostile reaction. The slogan "Marples must go" was to my right hon. Friend a badge of pride, a signal of achievement. I wonder whether a similar slogan relating to the present Minister could be regarded in that light. My right hon. Friend has gone, as hon. Members have said, for very obvious reasons, and transport and the Ministry of Transport are the worse for it. On my way down the motorway only two days ago I saw a dusty vehicle on the hard shoulder which had broken down. On the back, scrawled in the dust, was the message, "It must be Fraser in my tank". So much for the past year.
I turn to the proposals in the Queen's Speech which are the concern of the Minister of Transport. I am not sure whether he is to claim paternity for the Bill relating to the Devlin Report. Of course, the initiative lay with the Minister of Labour. About that I will only say that I hope that the Government will not be persuaded by the diehards in their party that they should not act, by legislation or administratively, on all the recommendations of that very good Report.
Next, there will be the Bill concerned with road safety. We shall be interested to learn from the Minister whether this is to concern itself solely with the implementation of that part of the 1962 Act which deals with drink and driving or whether he has more far reaching proposals. If the latter, I would say only this at this stage. None of us can fail to agree that the promotion of road safety must have the highest priority, but at the same time every effort to improve road safety must be level-headed and free from any sort of hysterical reaction to casualty figures, which, although of course serious enough taken in isolation, are only a small part of the inescapable toll from all causes of death by misadventure.
We should not allow ourselves to be panicked into unnecessary speed limits, especially overall speed limits, which offer only a doubtful contribution to the problem when there are so many other factors on which we should concentrate—standards of vehicle maintenance, road lighting, road design, road signs, mobile police, and so no. Nor do I accept the argument that the experience in the United States of the overall speed limit is 954 necessarily relevant to our own problem. Whatever else may be said about the American way of life, it has led to a situation in which American vehicles are much more uniform in performance than those on our roads.
In our case, a high overall speed limit might be a positive persuasion to drivers to drive unsafely at the maximum, although lacking the capacity to do so. The fact that our economy in respect of motor vehicles differs from the American is no citicism of our own motor industry which thrives on the fact that its range is so diverse. We should seek to treat ourselves as being adult in these matters and to bring others who are less adult in their behavious—the careless, the selfish and, above all, the impatient—up to the general standard and not to drag the competent down to the level of the incompetent. We shall be wise if we have that principle in mind when we consider the Bill.
I should like to hark back briefly to the question of fog hazards on the motorway about which the Minister answered a Question last Wednesday. He has since had a meeting with the police and county surveyors last Friday, and I hope that he will have something to say about it today. The right hon. Gentleman shows himself to be unduly cautious. I put to him the proposition, which may or may not have merit, that he should consider the temporary installation of fog lights on the motorway similar to aircraft landing lights. I am sure that it ought to be possible to obtain equipment with which to instal a chain of fog lights on a considerable length of motorway attached perhaps to the existing marker posts which are a common feature of many lengths of motorway. The Minister said the other day that the current is not available for them, but every road sign on the motorway has current for the purpose of illumination, and surely for experimental purposes that would be sufficient.
I raised the question of rearward-facing foglamps on vehicles. The right hon. Gentleman said that this could be only a long-term policy. Of course it could be only a long-term policy if it is to be compulsory. I should like to know whether they can be permitted for voluntary use so that those of us who use the 955 M.1—that splendid but anxious road— can have a means of protecting ourselves if we are held up in congestion.
The whole problem of visibility on motorways stems from the lack of any measure of distance and speed. On any other road the dim glimpse of a tree, the sight of a rough verge, the feel of a corner give a driver some sense of his whereabouts, some check on his speed. But on the motorway by day, when the visibility is variable, there is no hint of danger until something looms out of the fog, and then it may be too late. By night, even in clear conditions, the effect of a long vista of rear-lights is mesmeric. It is the man with slow reactions who fails quickly enough to discern that the vista is no longer on the move who can be innocently the greatest danger to his fellow travellers. There has been a good deal of comment on the suicidal behaviour of drivers who drive dangerously in these conditions. I believe that often they do not wilfully drive dangerously. They simply lack the necessary reaction to appreciate quickly enough when there is a change in the speed of traffic which they are following.
I said the other day that we would support any bold and large-scale experiment. If some of the right hon. Gentleman's experiments are not as successful as others we will not cavil at them on that account. But we cannot support a vacuum; we cannot support nothing. I hope that we shall hear today that the right hon. Gentleman has some concrete propositions in this matter.
I must turn to two paragraphs in the Gracious Speech which offer a good deal more lively controversy. The first is that proposing legislation to remove the limitations impeding the proper use of the manufacturing resources of the nationalised industries. The railway workshops have done a good job in their day, and still do a good job. With the passing of steam, the work required of them has been less, although there are still 5,000 diesel and electric locomotives in their care. But it is claimed, particularly by the railway unions, that they should be permitted to maintain their labour force by taking on work outside the immediate requirements of the railways in competition with private industry. This claim is made in spite of the fact 956 that all thought in industry—this must be equally the concern of the Minister of Technology—and a large part of the National Plan, is devoted to methods of saving labour and re-using it to better purpose.
It is also repeatedly suggested that the inability of the railways to do work other than for their own use stems from some high-handed action by the Conservative Government. I would remind the House that this principle was specifically enshrined by the then Labour Government in the 1947 Act and has not been changed since. It is still, as far as I know, supported by British Rail.
§ Sir M. Redmayne
If it is not correct, the hon. Gentleman will have every opportunity to say so.
Evidence taken by the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in 1960 on this subject is at best conflicting in respect of the ability of the railway workshops to cost their production of new output separately from their major work of maintenance. Without such accurate costing, no one can tell the extent to which work sold outside at prices competitive with private industry is profitable in its own right. Inevitably there is a grave risk that such work undertaken solely to maintain the labour force will do nothing but add to the already enormous deficit of the railway operations in general. I will not pursue these arguments now; they will arise in full on the Bill.
However, the Government propose to move in a wider field. We all have recent recollections of the increase of acquisitions by the Transport Holding Company, and particularly of the ingenious device by which the Transport Holding Company, by disposing of a part interest in its own Bristol Commercial Vehicles and Eastern Coach Works, which had been previously manufacturing vehicles for the nationalised industry alone, has obtained through Leyland Motors an outlet to a wider market.
The Transport Holding Company was a creation of the previous Government. It has done a good job under good management. Yet it was never the intention of the previous Government that the 957 company should have the unfettered right to expand at will its already large share of the transport industry. Of course, if an expansion is based only on good commercial reason, one must look carefully at it and perhaps accept it. At the same time, one must remember that the share of road haulage vehicles of the Transport Holding Company has risen sharply— from 5 per cent. to 9 per cent. of the total fleet since even the Geddes Report was published. And added to that are the vehicles used by British Railways. These nationalised industries, through these two sources, hold about 15 per cent. of the total road haulage stock. It should not be forgotten, either, that the Prime Minister is on record as saying in an interview after his return from Washington last year:We have the system today where all the profitable traffics are cleaned off by road haulageThat is patently inaccurate, and the National Plan proves that it is inaccurate. The right hon. Gentleman went on:We have said in our policy statement that we shall rebuild the integrated system, not so much on the basis of buying off every lorry, every truck, every little back-street garage … but on the basis of taking the lid off the already nationalised British Road ServicesThe Government cannot be surprised, therefore, if we regard these propositions with some suspicion. In the Prime Minister's words, in the debate on 9th November, he put it like this:…the manufacturing establishments of our publicly-owned industries"—and that goes wider than transportwill be freed from the vexatious, not to say ideological, restrictions on their ability to make a full contribution to our national production drive, including exports"—[OFFICIAL RF.PORT, 9th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 37.]It may be vexatious that a nationalised industry should be expected to stick to its last, but it is not unreasonable to think it should do so until it can make a better job of that with which it has already been charged. As for the national production drive, there is certainly room for improvements in the productivity of the nationalised industries in their respective fields. But what concerns me much more is the remark at the tail end of the Prime Minister's description of this intention, which was not contained in the Speech itself, to the effect that they should 958…make a full contribution to our national production drive, including exports".Once again we have a restatement of the age-old Victorian fallacy that exports are to be got from the surpluses of home production. Or, if it is not that, are we to assume that it is the Prime Minister's intention to have something different; say, that the manufacturing establishments of the nationalised industries are to be encouraged into the export trade in full accord with modern practice—that is, that there should be set up a market research organisation, an export sales organisation and that these things should be done so that the railways can have the full technical and commercial facilities at its disposal, based on up-to-date knowledge of the operating conditions of foreign railways? If that is the intention, then it is an enormous addition to the present manufacturing side of the railway industry.
If these industries are to go into the export trade on these terms—and since the risks of loss in such a trade are immeasurably greater—are we now to see the taxpayer subsidising the failure of the nationalised industries in the export field, on top of their deficits at home? I am sure that this would not be regarded as a particularly attractive proposition from the taxpayer's point of view, and I doubt if even the ideological enthusiasm of the Labour Party and those who support it would stand up to it for very long.
When one considers the subject and the words of the Gracious Speech, one realises that it is as well to consider the position in respect of the coal industry, the electricity industry and the gas industry. What about the gas industry? At present, that industry takes all its appliances and equipment from independent manufacturers, and this applies also to its manufacturing equipment. Is it the Government's intention to give manufacturing powers to this industry as well? I hope that the Minister concerned will answer that one. It seems to me obvious enough that the Prime Minister, foiled in his frontal attack on the commanding heights of the economy, has already determined—and has now ordered—that the heights shall be taken in the flank.
There has recently been in the Press some attempt to deride the use of the term "creeping nationalisation" It 959 matters little what term is used, the effect will be the same; an infiltration of the private economy supported by taxes drawn from the private sector. This is the real Socialism and the country, and perhaps the Liberal Party, should be awake to it.
Let the Government understand now that if we see in the Bill the intention to allow the nationalised industries to expand their activities in direct competition with private industry in a deliberate attempt to gather industrial power into the hands of the State, we shall oppose it just as hotly as we shall oppose the nationalisation of steel—for the effect, though slower, will be as damaging to our industrial strength.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Is the right hon. Gentleman also going to oppose the creeping nationalisation of industry in which the State is already providing millions of pounds of capital to develop, such as the motor car trade and the steel industry? Is the right hon. Gentleman objecting to that kind of creeping nationalisation as well?
§ Sir M. Redmayne
I do not accept that as a definition of "creeping nationalisation". In any case, I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will wish to make his own contribution to the debate.
I turn to that sentence in the Gracious Speech which promises proposals for the more effective co-ordination of inland transport. In this respect, I will quote some remarks made by the Minister in reply to Questions as long ago as 8th February last. The right hon. Gentleman said, when referring to transport:I think that most people in the country nowadays accept that there is wasteful competition—most wasteful competition—in the provision of our transport services, and that there is very great need to achieve greater co-ordination, which is the object of the exercise ".He went on later:If this country is ever to get out of the difficulties it is in, it will have to get rid of wasteful competition. That is exactly what we are seeking to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1965; Vol. 706, c. 33–4.]The Government cannot have it both ways. Are we to understand that in pursuit of the doctrine of integration of transport competition is wasteful, but that in 960 pursuit of the dogma of freedom for the nationalised industries it is beneficial? Are not the two things exactly opposite in meaning? I am inclined to ask, in answer to the Prime Minister, "Who is being ideological now "?
The fact is that integration, or coordination, of transport is the hoary pith of Labour dogma. It is the pathetic belief that by waving the wand of integration— although it is not a wand in fact but a thickish statutory stick designed to steer traffic into channels ordained by Government—it can be possible, without affecting the efficiency or the costs of industry, to produce profitable loads for means of transport which cannot earn the right to carry those loads by fair and efficient competition.
It was said earlier in the year that the Prime Minister offered to Dr. Beeching the task of studying the possibilities of integration. It was said equally that this was not acceptable to the Cabinet—unless Dr. Beeching would do this work with Socialist watchdogs at his elbow. It was said that, not unreasonably, being a single-minded man, he refused to do the work under those conditions; and the Government and transport lost a most valuable servant.
So they turned to Lord Hinton, and made him a temporary civil servant for their greater security. It was said later in the year that Lord Hinton had reported to the Minister in a sense most unacceptable to him and had been told to start again and to get a different result. As we noted, during the Recess Lord Hinton was quietly transferred to a post within the Government's patronage and since that time all has been wrapped in mystery, despite the efforts of the Parliamentary Secretary, who did his best to inform us, though unsuccessfully.
We shall listen with interest to the proposals which the Government now propose to bring forward against the best advice which they could command, and in view of the successive promises of an early statement I hope that we will hear them from the Minister today. I do not anicipate that they will have much of a reception either in the House or in the country. And indeed, if the attempt to integrate or co-ordinate is to be carried out with he same singular lack of success which has dogged the vital proposition 961 of liner trains, if the unions are to be as stuffy and old-fashioned in the implementation of integration as the Government which in this day and age propose it, then we shall be in a very poor fix. The fact is that the National Plan itself proves beyond doubt that both road and rail are capable of providing services which meet the growing needs of industry.
Co-ordination exists, though undoubtedly it can be improved if some of the outdated prejudices can be shaken off. Services are, and can be, further provided by rail, road or sea which, by the free choice of manufacturers, can best be used to suit their particular purpose, market and product. Surely the Government would do better to abandon the ageing hobbyhorse of integration and concentrate on the far more worthwhile task of seeing that the transport facilities of the country are capable of carrying the loads which must come to them in ever increasing quantity if we are to see any industrial and economic progress.
As for the Minister, let me say this. During this week I had the pleasure of listening to Peter Ustinov making a speech to the Institute of Directors. He said—although I am not sure that I agree with him—that in all political parties today the distinction between Left and Right is dead and that in its place there are only, in any party, the progressive and the petrified. With regret, I can only say that neither in this House nor in the country has there been any remote suspicion that the Minister is progressive. Nor would it appear that his role in the coming year, as defined by the policies of his Government, is likely to show him in any different light. Petrified policy, petrified Minister, for an industry which deserves, by its very nature, a different fate. I trust that it will not have to wait too long.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Tom Fraser)
I should inform the right hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Sir M. Red-mayne) straight away that for at least 80 per cent. of his speech it appeared to the rest of the House that his right hon. Friend who will wind up the debate for the Opposition was petrified. [HON. MEMBERS:"He was."] It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to 962 make personal attacks on me, but I will begin by taking up one of the points he made towards the end of his speech, when he made a most offensive allusion to Lord Hinton. He said that Lord Hinton had been called in to do a job as a temporary civil servant and that—or so I gathered from his remarks—he had, during the Recess, been removed to another post under Government patronage. [Interruption.] I thought that it was an offensive remark.
Lord Hinton was not removed to another post under Government patronage. Lord Hinton had a post with the World Bank at the beginning of the year. When I asked him to do a job in the Ministry he said that he would need to get leave from the World Bank to do the job temporarily. He asked the World Bank for leave to do that job for the Government in this country, always making it clear to me that as soon as he had completed the job he was to undertake he would wish to take up his appointment again with the World Bank. In due course, he said to me that he had completed the job which he had been given to do and would it be all right if he returned to his appointment. What was I to say? "Of course ", I said, and he went back to the World Bank. Thus, he was not being used merely as a tool of the Government. Nor was he shoved into some other post.
§ Sir M. Redmayne
If that is—and I do not doubt that it is—a true statement of the fact, I will admit that in that particular respect I was mistaken, and I withdraw that particular aspect of what I said.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.
In moving this Amendment it appeared to the House that the right hon. Gentleman was going to urge upon the Government, and was going to commend, some measures forthe modernisation of industry, notably in the fields of transport and technology.I heard every single word he said, but I did not hear him make any such suggestion at all. Not one single proposal did he make as to any way in which industry could be modernised, notably in 963 the fields of transport and technology, or, indeed, anywhere else.
The right hon. Gentleman started his speech by saying something about technology and industry generally, addressing his remarks to the Minister of Technology, and I have not the slightest doubt that my right hon. Friend will reply adequately to that part of his speech later on in the day.
Then he went on to deal with transport, and, understandably, he started with the road programme, and, of course, he said that the Opposition were in no way ashamed of the road programme which they bequeathed to their successors. Nor did he think they were ashamed for having failed to bequeath to their successors a growth in the economy out of which expansion of the road programme was to come. Nor did he say that, notwithstanding the present economic situation they left, they would not have had a much bigger cut in the road programme than that announced in July this year.
The truth is that in the early summer of this year the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were demanding a very severe cut in public expenditure. They have not yet told us where the cut was to take place. They were demanding a cut in public expenditure. The Government, having inherited programmes of public investment not being matched by a growth in the economy, had to increase taxation to make it possible to carry through those programmes. Did the Opposition vote in favour of the increased taxation necessary to carry the programme through? No. Of course they voted against the increase in taxation. So they wanted the Chancellor of the Exchequer to spend more money, but they were not willing even to take that which he now has from taxation to incur that expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman just does not have a case at all.
Of course he repeated what his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolver-hampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said at the beginning of August, when we last debated transport, about the danger of the men and the machines being out of work. We wanted continuous work on the road programme. What he was not 964 able to do was to show us that as the consequence of the decision taken in July this year the men and the machines are idle. And, of course, they are not. What we made clear at that time was that the industry was in great danger of being overloaded. And it was. It most certainly was. I said at that time that we had £300 million worth of work in hand, and we still have.
What we did at that time was to cut our coat according to our cloth. We had to match our commitments to the resources available, and we did that. We took care to ensure that it was the most essential roads which were continued without any interruption at all. The roads to the docks were excluded from the deferment. Roads in the development districts, in unemployment areas— had they been stopped it would probably have led to there being more unemployment in those areas—were not deferred at all. Roads on which work was already in hand and which, if the next part of them were not done, would have been rendered worthless were not stopped either; they were not suspended at all. As the result of our applying our deferment to public capital works discriminately, as we have done, we have ensured that the industry has continued to be fully engaged, and we have ensured that the nation is getting the best possible return for the investment it is making.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that growth of the road programme is essential for the economy to grow, just as essential as if the investment were made in machinery? Does he not realise that our charge against the Government is that their cuts always act against investment and not consumption?
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has got it quite wrong, because his party was arguing for cuts in public investment earlier this year. That was what it was arguing for—cuts in public investment.
The truth is that we have at the moment, notwithstanding the deferments of July, the biggest road programme under way this country has ever had. This happens to be so. The biggest road programme this country has ever had is under way at the present time, but if 965 the Opposition is at all a responsible Opposition, and argues that there could have been no deferments in that road programme, argues that the programme which was lying ahead of us in the early summer this year should have been allowed to proceed uninterrupted, will they tell us what else they would have cut so that we could have continued with the road programme uninterrupted? Would they say from what other programmes they would have taken the resources required to maintain the programme uninterrupted? What reduction would i:here have been in schools or in hospitals or in houses? Really, the right hon. Gentleman should tell his supporters in the country where he would have made the cuts. But they have not thought of where they would make the cuts.
They are not really making any assessment at the present time of the economic situation within the country, the way in which we can best employ our resources in the interests of the nation. What they are doing is recognising that there are some people who complain that the roads are not being allowed to proceed as rapidly as we had hoped—as if the Tory Party would not have made a very much more severe cut than that which was announced by the six months' deferment announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July this year.
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to a few other matters. I liked the reference he made to liner trains; I liked that one very much indeed. He referred to the liner trains and boasted about his bold, courageous right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples). What was his attitude to the liner trains? He said that he would not give to the Railways Board approval for the capital investment in liner trains till it had reached complete agreement with the unions as to the operation of the trains. That was the decision from this bold and courageous right hon. Friend of his.
If I had waited for that, the first liner train would not have run last night. There would not have been a penny invested in them. They would not have started building them, or started the terminals, and the first train would not have run last night.
§ Mr. Fraser
It was the right hon. Gentleman who decided the date of this debate.
But they would not have been built at all if I had not given approval, which his right hon. Friend would not give, because his right hon. Friend apparently did not have the courage to take the decision. I thought the right thing to do, after I had met the unions and got their attitude to the liner train terminals, was to go ahead with this technological development in rail operation in this country, so that when we got them running, as we have now got them running, we could iron out the difficulties, we could sort out the problems, we could go on to reach agreement with the unions, as I hope very much we shall do. But in any case, if we had waited to get the decision of the unions before we started we would not have spent a penny on the liner trains. Really, that was a disgraceful attitude on the part of the previous Administration.
§ Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)
Could the Minister tell the House what proportion of the ultimate investment envisaged in liner trains has so far been authorised and has taken place?
§ Mr. Fraser
I cannot give an answer to the last penny. All I can say is that the Railways Board has asked me for £6 million and I have authorised expenditure of £6 million in the liner train services, and if the Board comes back to me for more I do not think it will find me very difficult to persuade.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the problem of congestion in London. I noticed that he was encouraged to do this by a speech which was made by the Leader of the Opposition the other day. In the week of the Motor Show the Leader of the Opposition discovered that there was very great congestion in the streets of London —and that the Minister of Transport was doing nothing about it! This is what the right hon. Gentleman was saying. Did not they know—at least the right hon. Member for Rushcliffe should know—that a Measure was passed two years ago, the London Government Act, at the instance of the then Government, the present Opposition, transferring this 967 year all responsibility for traffic management in London from the Minister of Transport to the Greater London Council? They did it. Five years ago there could be a Marples pink zone. Today there cannot be a Fraser red zone, because there is no legal authority to do it.
Of course, they asked me what I am going to do to deal with the congestion between now and Christmas. I can only say that I am in the closest touch all the the time with the Greater London Council and with the Metropolitan Police, and I understand that on Thursday of this week, two days hence, they will announce their plans to deal with the problem of London traffic in this period leading up to Christmas. It is their responsibility. I think it takes a bit of swallowing, all this nonsense, all this criticism from the Opposition that the Minister of Transport, who has no legal authority to intervene at all, should somehow or another just push aside the greatest local authority in the world which got its present responsibility for roads only some six months ago.
But this does not mean that I am not concerned with congestion in London. In the early summer of this year, as the House well knows, the London Transport Board told me—it did not have to ask me, it merely told me—that it was going to put up the fares in the spring of this coming year, and it said that in consequence of this fares increase it calculated it would lose 1 million passenger journeys per day, Monday to Friday. I did not believe that London could take 1 million passenger journeys per day loss to public transport without more private vehicles being used. I did not think that London could take the additional private transport that would follow from that decision, so I made an arrangement with the London Transport Board that it would not increase its fares, but that the Greater London Council, together with the London Transport Board and the Metropolitan Police, would carry out a review.
§ Mr. Fraser
The right hon. Gentleman, who was sound asleep while his right hon. Friend was speaking, has perhaps not quite woken up and has not followed the discussion. I was saying that in the early summer I made an arrangement that the London Transport Board would not increase its fares and that the Government would make good any loss in revenue, and that at the same time I obtained agreement that the G.L.C., the London Transport Board and the Metropolitan Police would make a review of the traffic management measures which they could put into operation which might make it possible for the Board greatly in improve its bus services in London, including Marylebone. I wanted to see whether we could so improve the facilities by which the Board catered for the public need in London that we could put additional restraint on the use of the private car and provide an acceptable alternative service on public service vehicles.
The G.L.C., the Board and the Metropolitan Police produced a report a couple of weeks ago. It is not for me to expand on the extent to which this will assist the Board in doing its job, but I would have thought that anyone who had made a study of the problems in London, not to mention any of the other great cities in this country, would have recognised that there was a need to give clearer passage to the buses, to give greater priority to the buses, if London was not to die by strangulation. If the quality of living in London is to be maintained, it will mean the provision of more and better public passenger transport, and more people using it.
The right hon. Gentleman remembered that the Smeed Report was published while my predecessor was in office, and he asked when I would take action on it. I think the recommendation of the Smeed Report which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind concerns the "black box", and he went on to talk about road pricing. He knows that it would take many years to introduce this system of road pricing. This is not something that can be done overnight, but perhaps he did not realise that. He probably thought that all I had to do was to make an Order saying that from tomorrow everybody will carry one of the little black boxes while driving in London so that it will be possible to measure the miles they do and 969 charge them accordingly. This is not such a simple matter as that, and I am not sure that the best way to deal with it is to impose this restraint on private cars using the streets in the Central area of London.
For some time I have been discussing this matter with experts, including the Road Research Laboratory, of which, of course, Dr. Smeed is a member. Incidentally, perhaps I might remind the House that the Road Research Laboratory was brought under the Ministry of Transport by this Administration so that we would be able to work more closely together. I am in touch with the Laboratory and other experts in this field to consider whether, and to what extent the Government can take administrative and fiscal measures to deal with the private car, but we have to be reasonable about this. It is no crime to own a private car, and certainly no crime to want to drive a car once one owns it.
Various suggestions have been made about issuing permits on the basis of need. Up to now I have had the impression—in fact I still have it—that it would take a veritable army of bureaucrats to administer a system under which permits were issued to drivers on the basis of need. I do not know from which side of the House Members would qualify for a permit to drive into London, if from either side. Suggestions have also been made for the issue of supplementary licences, and for the introduction of different systems by which the Government might impose some form of road pricing.
The House must recognise, and the right hon. Gentleman really ought to know, that the Government could take action in this field only on the basis of statutory authority, which means that we have to know what kind of steps we are going to take before we seek to introduce new legislation in the matter, and I have not the slightest doubt that if we were to bring forward legislation on this subject at this time the Opposition would rise in their wrath to defend the right of the motorist to drive where he wanted, and when he wanted. I have not the slightest doubt about that, but we will not hesitate to bring our proposals to the House when we are ready to do so, and that may not be very far off.
970 The right hon. Gentleman asked some questions about co-ordination. In every developed country in the world one finds that the authorities are seeking to coordinate the different forms of public transport. That is certainly true throughout the whole of Europe. I also know that no country in the world has solved the problem. In this country, under a Labour Government in 1947, we made a brave attempt to deal with the problem by introducing the Transport Act of that year. A co-ordinated system was being built up, but the Tories set about reversing the process as soon as they took over in 1951. They introduced various Acts, culminating in the 1962 Act which wound up the British Transport Commission and put an end to any attempt by the Commission to get co-ordination in inland transport. The Tories' solution was competition, and this was plainly and foolishly said in 1962. They said that anything that did not pay ought to be scrapped.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
My right hon. Friend has talked about the same thing in Manchester. Everybody sympathises with the great difficulties that are involved, with the necessity for doing something, and with the magnitude of the problem, but, as my right hon. Friend knows, the proposal for closing the four railway stations in Oldham and thus congesting roads already congested and costing millions of pounds to widen was turned down by the Transport Users Consultative Committee two months ago. We are still awaiting that decision, and until my right hon. Friend makes it there is complete uncertainty. The Railways Board is proposing to withdraw privilege fares and to make travel more difficult. If that decision is not announced, there will be a much more increased tendency to use traffic on the roads, and the sooner it can be announced the better. It is a matter of great importance to the town that my right hon. Friend should make that announcement.
§ Mr. Fraser
I think my hon. Friend appreciates that it would be a bit difficult for me, in the course of my speech today, to make decisions on every proposed passenger closure in this country and to recollect and take a spot decision on the advice that I have from the T.U.C.C. in each case.
971 My hon. Friend says he has waited six weeks or two months for a reply after the T.U.C.C. report on hardship. It does not make a recommendation in favour of closing the line, or against closing the line. It makes a report on the hardship which would arise if the service were withdrawn. Consequent upon receiving its report it is frequently necessary for me to have consultations with the Railways Board and sometimes, further consultations with the T.U.C.C. I cannot say what the precise state of play is in the case of the Oldham line, but I have heard what my hon. Friend has said and I will have a look at it.
I do not think that that detracts from anything I have said about the Tory Party's determination to scrap everything that did not pay. I have certainly reprieved a number of railway lines that lost a lot of money because I believed that the services were essential in the area, that they were meeting a social need that otherwise could not adequately be met. In a good many of those cases I believe that the aim of co-ordination was furthered by the refusal of consent to closure. In other cases, equally, I have believed that co-ordination was assisted by my granting consent to closure and by concentrating our attention on the provision of alternative public services.
I want to go on to show how I have approached this matter of co-ordination of transport. It would have been easy for me merely to return to the provisions of the 1947 Act. That is not what we promised in our election manifesto. I am not saying that there may not be a case for establishing some kind of central authority, but I consider, rightly or wrongly, and I think rightly, that it would be better for the Government to identify the problems, and there are many, and bring forward solutions. That is why I put a number of studies in hand. I said I hoped that they will report before the end of the year. I never said at any time since I took over my present job 13 months ago that I would be able to report before the end of this year. I recognised the magnitude of the task which lay before me, and I recognised that countries all over the world have been grappling with this problem and not one has found a solution. I did not think it likely that I would find the solutions and be able 972 to bring them forward before the end of 1965. So I always said "Give me until the end of 1965."
These studies have proceeded against the background of my belief that very great social benefit arises from reversing the current trend and putting traffic now carried by road on to the railways. I believe that many people, of all political parties, and of none, are convinced that the social needs of this country would be more adequately met if we could get a lot of traffic now travelling on the highways back on to the railways. It would obviously mean a fuller utilisation of the nation's investment in our railways system.
§ Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withing-ton)
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge the merit of the traffic surveys which were initiated by his predecessor, and which, when they come to report, will make a great contribution to what he is now doing?
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes. The conurbation, transport and land use surveys to which the hon. Gentleman refers were started by my predecessor and by myself. A good many of them are going on. All of them are of very long term, because they are not just traffic surveys, they are transportation and land use surveys, and they will be of very great importance. It will not be possible to determine the full range of transport services in the conurbations until these studies are carried out. In some of the conurbations it is likely that they will conclude that the only proper way to provide a public passenger transport service will be by the creation of one great new authority, which will run the buses and the trains, and perhaps other forms of public passenger transport. I think that this is very likely, and in any case there will have to be better co-ordination than there is at present.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication whether these studies will be published and generally available? Can he also indicate whether the special study in connection with Metropolitan congestion will be eventually published because, though Metropolitan congestion is under discussion, the principles for its solution can be applied to every other conurbation and town in the country which is suffering?
§ Mr. Fraser
I have always made clear that the studies I have had carried out are not studies in a form which leads to the preparation of a report capable of being published and being debated in the House. I have always made clear that these studies must go on in a Government Department which is doing its job properly. They are studies which lead to the Minister bringing forward proposals to the House and it is then that the relevant material collected in the course of the study will, I hope, be put before the House so that there may be an intelligent discussion about it.
In expressing my desire to have traffic moved from the road to the railways, and to try to ensure that the railways will get a better share than they have been getting in the past of new traffic, this does not and cannot mean that all existing railway lines should be preserved. On the contrary, I believe that it is essential to stop wasting the precious resources of the nation on unproductive services, so that we might have more resources to devote to technological advance on the railways, on which the country's social and economic wellbeing depends. I believe that we do not have as good a railway service as we ought to have, as we could have. We built the first railways in the world. We undoubtedly at one time built the best railways in the world, but we are not doing that at the present time. More and more people are convinced that we are not doing it because we spend so much of our resources carrying on with railways which are old and little-used, employing manpower unproductively. If we are going to make sense of the National Plan, from which the right hon. Gentleman quoted so extensively, it will be necessary for us to proceed with the closure of a lot of unproductive services and release a lot of railway workers from those unproductive services, so that we may concentrate our attention on those railway services which will provide an ever-improving transport service, and relieve a lot of pressure upon our roads.
In dealing with closures I have not merely looked at the loss incurred. This is the point I tried to make to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham a few minutes ago. I have taken the social aspect fully into account and I have ensured all the time that regional plans 974 for economic development are not put in jeopardy. Regional economic development and planning councils are consulted in all cases. It is a fact that the final decision remains with me, and I have to carry the can at the end of the day, not the T.U.C.C. or the regional planning councils, or anyone else. I have to take the credit or the blame at the end of the day, and I find that there is very little credit, but that there seems to be blame all along the line.
I should say, however, that the Railways Board is very much alive to the challenge of our times. Despite what I have said about our not having as good railways as some other countries we find that modernisation and technological progress is going ahead. There has been a considerable extension of electrification, and modern signalling is going in which is as good as the best in any other country. The company trains have been well worth while, carrying oil, steel, cement and motor cars, in addition to the liner trains to which reference has been made. Investment is now running at £120 million a year.
I now want to deal with the Transport Holding Company about which the right hon. Gentleman had something to say. It is an astonishing thing that after the Tories had sold off all the lorries they could sell to private enterprise—that is what they did after 1953—the remaining British Road Services maintained such a high standard of service to its customers. It provided the most efficient public road transport service in this country.
The previous Government stood in the way of expansion. The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to realise that there was a difference between the two sides of the House in respect of the limitations put upon the nationalised industry His right hon. Friend did not permit the Transport Holding Company to acquire any new businesses without his approval —and it did not get his approval. I, on the other hand, removed the need for it to come to me for approval, except in cases where it incurred an expenditure of more than £250,000. I encouraged it to go out and acquire private enterprise companies which would be a valuable addition to its enterprise.
It has been able to do this to a substantial extent. It has made acquisitions of private enterprise companies to the 975 value of about £8 million. As the right hon. Gentleman admitted, this has meant a considerable strengthening of the public sector of road haulage. This brings me to the point at which I must say something about the way in which we shall get road-rail co-ordination going. Since I have been in this office I have impressed on the British Railways Board and the Transport Holding Company that they are accountable, through me, to the same shareholders—the British public. I expect them to co-operate and to coordinate their services, and not engage in wasteful competition with each other. We have to get the Chairmen of the Boards together to discuss what they have been doing and to understand that they have been engaging in wasteful competition with each other. That is the sort of thing that I am now bringing to an end.
One of the results of this policy is that, consequential on some of the studies that I have been talking about, which have been carried on during this year, I hope to announce quite soon an arrangement under which British Rail and British Road Services will jointly operate a new parcels and sundries service throughout the country. Each will play the part for which it is best fitted in providing the kind of services to which I think the customer is entitled. I am also seeking further measures of freight co-ordination by which the railways will undertake the longer hauls for which they are best suited. On the passenger side, I am in touch with all the main transport authorities in an endeavour to get improved road-rail co-ordination—to get the buses to meet the trains, and to have bus stations at the railway stations. I want better arrangements for connections and, where possible, through ticketing. Of course, there are difficulties in the way, and vested interests are involved.
The British Transport Commission did not make much progress in this field in the time it had responsibility for the matter, but if there is the will to make substantial arrangements I am sure that they can be made. I started on this when I had to deal with the withdrawal of rail passenger services, 12 months ago. I have taken this very much further now, and am in touch with all the main providers of public passenger transport 976 services. I am sure that we can make a big contribution in this field.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned docks and ports. I have been speaking for too long, and I must not delay the House much longer. At times of heavy trade there is much cluttering up in the docks, together with congestion and frustration. I believe that too big a proportion of general mechandise cargoes moves from the factories to the ships by road. More should go by rail. This will be facilitated by the adoption of the system of containers, loading and collection in the areas of manufacture. In this way it will be possible to use the railways to a much greater extent than they are being used at the present time in taking general merchandise to the docks.
The Economic Development Council for the Movement of Exports is now urgently considering every aspect of the situation, and collecting information not hitherto available and bringing together all the many and disparate interests involved in this activity, on which so much depends. But more berths are required, especially deep water berths. The Government got the National Ports Council interim plan in July. This plan recommended the modernisation of 46 existing berths and the construction of 72 new berths in 14 major ports at a cost of £150 million.
The Committee recognised that other work was also needed and estimated that no less than £234 million would require to be invested in port facilities in the next five years. Investment of this magnitude has to be carefully planned to ensure that the nation gets the best return for the employment of its scarce resources. Those who have complained that decisions concerning schemes costing tens of millions of pounds have not been taken in the intervening four months since July have little regard for the magnitude of the exercise involved.
The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the Devlin Report. As he recognised, Lord Devlin's Committee reported to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and it will be he who will be responsible for the legislation which is to follow.
The right hon. Gentleman also had something to say about the nationalised 977 industry's manufacturing powers, to which reference is made in the Gracious Speech. First, I removed the administrative restrictions put upon railway workshops by my predecessor and the wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Transport Holding Company. As a result of my removing those restrictions the railway workshops are now able to take orders to build oil tankers to run on British Railways. It was a disgraceful thing that the former Minister would not allow the railway workshops to build oil tankers for oil companies to run on British Railways.
About £17 million of public money is invested, or in process of being invested, in the modernisation of railway workshops. It would be indefensible if we were to leave the statutory restrictions upon the railway workshops, preventing the proper utilisation of these publicly-owned manufacturing resources. The right hon. Gentleman is right: as promised in our election manifesto, the statutory restrictions will be removed in a Bill which we shall bring forward at an early date. He need not fear that there will be any subsidised undermining or undercutting of private enterprise industry. I doubt whether he or anyone else really thinks that there will be any danger of railway workshops being subsidised so that we shall have subsidised competition with private enterprise industry.
What is really feared is that the railway workshops will start manufacturing for markets outside the railways in competition with private industry, and will do so with such efficiency and success that private industry will begin to feel the draught before long. I have probably gone on for too long, and I do not want to go on any longer.
Since we are talking about technology in transport as well as in other aspects of British industry, I want to say that we need all the advance we can get in technology in the interests of the country's prosperity. In the transport industry— certainly on the public enterprise side— we are taking full advantage of the technological improvements which have emerged in recent years.
The investment which has been undertaken both by the Transport Holding Company and by the British Railways Board testifies to this. They have been 978 given every possible encouragement under the present Government. We are not only encouraging investment but are taking steps to ensure that the investment will not be used competitively by one side of the industry against the other, but that the efforts of the whole of the public enterprise industry and, I hope in time, of the private enterprise industry too, will be co-ordinated so as the better to provide the transport service which the country needs.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. William Deedes (Ashford)
I noticed a few days ago a forecast, dealing with this debate, which said that the Minister was keeping something up his sleeve for his speech. In the event, it seems that this report was an exaggeration. I was dismayed by the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I was dismayed because it did not seem to offer awareness of the fact that, in so many respects in inland transport, the right hon. Gentleman is being overtaken by events. I find this a dismal feature of the Gracious Speech as well. Nothing he said showed any awareness of this fact or offered any proposal to act accordingly.
Of course, it is said to be all our fault, but this is a singularly bad subject for that approach. It is no good throwing back at us the question, "What did you do in the course of your 13 years?" because in this subject of all subjects, a great deal was done. In Dr. Beeching's Report on the railways and in Professor Buchanan's study of the roads, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) bequeathed the right hon. Gentleman two very good legacies. Both those technicians provided admirable examples of the technological approach to major physical problems and the right hon. Gentleman has great advantages in the amount of work they put in.
Where are they and their proposals now? Admittedly, both Dr. Beeching and Professor Buchanan postulated a rather radical approach to both road and rail which may not appeal to a Government so strongly conservative as this one. In view of the present approach of the party opposite, it must have come as something of an embarrassment to some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to discover that the railways had been nationalised.
979 Even so, let me implore the right hon. Gentleman to take courage. I am certain that he will have the support of the Liberal Party in pursuing a dynamic transport policy—
§ Mr. Deedes
No, I will not give way at the moment. The hon. Member can say what he has to say later.
Yet, for a long time, we were told that these two men represented the wrong approach—
§ Mr. Deedes
Without co-ordination of their efforts, it was said we could have no solution. The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that no country has solved this problem. A study is going on and we are to have the fruits of it in due course. The fact is that co-ordination is no better after 15 months of a Labour Government. Instead, the situation is steadily deteriorating. It is not the inaction which I find dismaying: it is the underrating of the nature of the problem.
I want now, as an example, to touch on one aspect only of this problem, but one which profoundly affects the lives of the constituents of many hon. Members, particularly those in the Home Counties or near London. I wish to say a word about the daily movement to and from London. As every hon. Member is aware who represents a constituency within 60 miles of the capital, this journey is increasingly a regular feature of life for millions and for a growing proportion of them it is a nightmare—" A Long Day's Journey Into Night".
The right hon. Gentleman said that we have not as good a system as we ought to have and which we want to have. His remark would be received with mocking laughter by some of the commuters who travel in my area. What frightens me is the apparent failure to grasp that this situation is getting steadily worse, and why it is getting steadily worse. Even to hold the present situation—I am talking now about the enormous traffic movement every day in and out of London— we should have to spend money on our lines of communication to the capital on a scale which has not yet been considered.
980 It is certainly not considered in the National Plan. I was interested to see what the National Plan had to say on this point. It forecast a decline in investment on the railways between now and 1970. How does that tally with what the right hon. Gentleman has just said?
What about the movement he spoke of from private to public transport? The South-East Survey—which appears to have got lost in the First Secretary's in-tray and which some of us look forward anxiously to hearing about in due course —gives some outline of this problem. I do not believe that the figures it gave were correct, although my Government were responsible for it. I do not blame right hon. Gentlemen for spending a little time in re-checking some of the data in the South-East Survey. In round figures, it told us that office jobs in London were running up by about 20,000 a year and that there could be about another 200,000 commuters, because of office development, entering and leaving London by about 1970.
It went on to say—on a basis of evidence which escapes me—that British Railways might be expected to cater for another 450,000 peak hour commuters in return for an expenditure on rail of about £100 million—£30 million of it on the Southern Region. I do not believe a word of it and I advise the Government not to believe it either. I believe that Dr. Beeching was very much nearer the mark.
I will remind the right hon. Gentleman of what Dr. Beeching said on this crucial subject. Page 20 of his Report in 1963 reads:In essence, the problem is this. The capacity of the system carrying these services is limited by physical restrictions, particularly at the London end where so many services converge, and these restrictions could be removed only at very high cost. Many services are already saturated at peak hours, to the point where passengers suffer extreme discomfort and the volume of traffic continues to rise. The level of fares is too low to finance costly increases in system capacity, but the demand goes on getting heavier.I hope that the Minister will agree with me that it goes on getting heavier all the time.
Examining the causes, I accept straight away that office development in London is a big factor—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am trying to deal with this problem seriously. It is fair to add that 981 the last Administration would be open to the charge not that they allowed too much office building in London but that too much went on without sufficiently close study of the resulting traffic needs. That I would accept—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is no good hon. Gentlemen just concentrating on this and thinking that this is the answer.
Added to that are the workers who formerly lived in central London, who are now living in the outer ring and who now contribute about 7,000 families a year to the commuters on top of that total.
Then there are factors which no survey has yet mentioned. We have the policy of the Government, for which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is the main instrument, for dealing with the London housing problem by accelerating housing development in surrounding counties. The curious decision about Hartley, where somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 people are to go shortly, is one example of that. That policy must result in greatly increased use of travel facilities to London. That is clear.
Next we have the policy which the previous Administration initiated of adding expanding towns to new towns round London. We have Peterborough, and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Housing has added Northampton, Ipswich, Newbury and possibly Ashford. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can tell me whether this point is being made the subject of a technical study, because it ought to be. My impression is that a far higher proportion of the new population is commuting and will commute from expanding towns than ever did from new towns. At the birth of new towns 20 years ago, we believed that a self-contained community ought not to be closer than 40 miles from London, that is to avoid the magnetic field. Today, I would say that that figure is certainly over 60 miles and it might be over 80 miles. Within that limit, people will travel to and from London to work in ever-increasing numbers, and inside that distance a high proportion of new out-of-London population will try to keep jobs in London. I see no sign in anything that the Government have said or 982 done that they realise what these consequences will amount to.
Again, we are reaching saturation point in the morning and evening road traffic moving in and out of London. As the chaos that we have been witnessing in recent weeks deepens, some of those travellers will be thrown back on to the railways. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman hinted at that himself. Even if we have to introduce ultimately, as I believe we shall, a system something akin to toll gates around London applying some sort of price mechanism to vehicles wishing to use the inner areas of Central London, the argument that I am using still stands. During the next five years there will be a further move from the roads in and out of London to the railways in and out of London, and what has already happened to the buses suggests that. I think that I am right in saying that the movement from buses to rail in the last decade represents a fall of 25 per cent. in the loads carried on buses. That is not from buses to motor cars. A very sharp increase in that share has gone to British Railways and to the Underground.
The final reason why the problem is going to mount is that, for social reasons, the urge to live outside. London and ever a little further outside London is going steadily to increase during the next decade. All experience in other capitals points to that trend. I think those hypotheses are broadly sound—and the first thing that I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman is that we ought to know far more about them.
There ought to be established right away a department of transport studies for the Metropolitan region. That is a crucial region for national movement and efficiency, and we ought to know more about the relationship of future population in the Home Counties and the sorts of demands that are going to be put on our railways and other communications in this region. There is need to estimate the sort of populations that we shall have to deal with in the course of the next decade. Beyond a certain point we cannot plan these population movements and trends. They will happen, and nothing short of physical controls will stop them. But we ought to be able to predict rather more accurately what those movements 983 may amount to than we appear able to do now.
To show how little we know, the Southern Region, which is responsible for at least, if not more than, half of that great population movement, has no clear idea what the demands will be in the next decade. The right hon. Gentleman said that the railways are alive to the challenge of the times. That is good. I agree. But are they alive to the demands which are going to come on them in the next five years? As far as the London Region is concerned, they are not. How can they be? We have not the machinery for ascertaining the facts and, when one thinks of the millions of people involved, it is an appalling situation. As far as they can, the railways are meeting the demand by cramming in more traffic, but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the point is reached where capacity becomes the enemy of punctuality, because one hitch recoils not on two or three trains, but on six or eight. That is one of the main reasons for the failures on the railway system leading into London over the last few months for which the right hon. Gentleman, most unfairly, is always to blame.
We are asking the railways to deal with an enormous increase in peak traffic hours on almost the same basic system as they have had since the war. There comes a point when a souped-up system can be souped-up no more, and I suggest that we are appoaching that point on all the railway roads leading into London. The commuters curse British Railways and curse the right hon. Gentleman. In reality, the railways have gone a very long way to extracting the utmost out of their system by increased efficiency, and certainly I would say that of the Southern Region.
It is ludicrous to call the huge daily handling of workers in and out of London inefficient. There is no other capital in the world that does it. The truth is that we are without the social data and the capital resources to put right what has become an intolerable situation.
I want to end by laying stress on this urgent need for a thorough technical survey on the demands of the next decade as they will affect movement in and out of the capital. I am sure that it will point to the need for new construction 984 on a scale that no one has yet thought of, including our Administration and the Administration opposite. It may well be that we shall have to think in terms of building a new and very costly underground system south of the river, where only a fraction of the network of the Underground system operates at all; or perhaps it should be an overhead system. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the whole weight of what goes underground north of the Thames falls upon the Southern Region's electric system, with very much resulting confusion to longdistance rail traffic.
It is no good bemusing ourselves with jargon about checking London's growth, or decentralisation, or, still worse, staggering hours. No one is going to stagger hours unless he is compelled to, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will admit that. Staggering hours is a chimera unless there is compulsion, which there cannot be, and the traffic schedules on all railways into London at peak hours prove that that is still the case, after 10 years of exhortation. By the end of the century, there may be a change, and London may be a different shape altogether. But that will not bring comfort to travellers in the next decade, and it is the next decade about which I am concerned.
I will not raise at any length the question of the Channel tunnel, which will increase enormously the complication of all the system. I will not ask the right hon. Gentleman what the decision is, because I realise that it is a big one. I hope he accepts, however, that a Channel tunnel will require another railway system altogether, and it will require very profound thought about the road system needed to handle up to a quarter of a million vehicles in and out of the tunnel in the course of a weekend. I am not anti-tunnel, but I am hopeful that before a decision is reached, people will weigh up what the physical consequences of it would be.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of coordination. In my view the co-ordination which has to be sought is between the planning departments of six or eight counties round London, London itself, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who knows a good deal of what is going on, and the transport undertakings.
985 That kind of co-ordination is crucial for the lives of millions of people, but before we can co-ordinate anything on those lines we must know more about the relationship of population trends to transport needs, particularly in the South-East. Until we do, travel to and from work will be increasingly hell. Our present methods of bringing people in and out of London are costing us millions of man-hours, and inefficiency on a prodigious scale. We have contrived in recent years to transfer slums from the back streets of east and south London to the railway tracks. Anyone who has witnessed what goes on at Liverpool Street will appreciate what I mean.
I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for that, but I do blame the Government for under-rating the problem. I should like a clear answer to the question: is the Minister willing or not willing to put in hand this transport study on the lines I suggest? Is he prepared to get the facts? A great many people will be profoundly interested in his answer.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss (Vauxhall)
The whole House listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), which was in marked contrast to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Sir M. Redmayne), as it contained a number of constructive suggestions. I must admit that I agreed with nearly everything he said. It is true that the transport problems have been very much under-estimated by the Government and by everyone else. Some of the proposals advocated by him will have to be given much more serious consideration, and many of them adopted, if we are to solve our problems; particularly the need for more Underground lines in London and, maybe enforced restraint on road transport in our big cities.
More traffic studies of the London area are needed, but here I must add a cautionary word. When people demand more information and studies, I am always rather fearful that the demand may be an excuse for inaction. Looking at transport matters nationally, it is not the lack of information that is the trouble, but failure to put the information we 986 have into some form of coherent policy, and then into action.
The right hon. Member for Rushcliffe opened the debate with a speech that was largely political—naturally enough in the circumstances, because this is a political occasion. I shall not answer all his points—my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport did so very effectively. When the right hon. Gentleman ended his speech by saying that my right hon. Friend was a petrified Minister he was a little far from the mark, as my right hon. Friend's reply showed himself to be a very spirited piece of petrification. He answered with great effect the case that was put against him.
We all admit—or, if we do not do so publicly, we should—that the Minister of Transport has the most difficult job in the whole Government. He has to deal with a range of almost intractable problems, and any solution he puts forward, even if only an amelioration, is bound to raise a mass of criticism and opposition from some quarter or another. He has to deal with both road and rail problems, and at every stage must consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is to do anything at all adequate. To meet the London situation alone requires hundreds of millions of £s.
My right hon. Friend faces various problems. There is the problem of road transport, urban congestion and the extension of the inter-urban roads—the motorways, in particular. Secondly, the huge loss on the railways, and the closure of services, workshops, and the rest. All these things are creating enormous dissatisfaction amongst users of roads and railways and those who work on them, yet anything my right hon. Friend does to try to help the situation may bring satisfaction to some but will almost certainly infuriate many more.
I will not speak about the railways. As many of my hon. Friends here know the problem so well from personal experience—and are very critical of many aspects of my right hon. Friend's administration—I would rather leave comment to them. I am speaking today on transport, for the first time for many years, from the delicious irresponsibility of the back benches. I hope therefore that my right hon. Friend will not mind if in some of my remarks I am rather critical of 987 him. If I am it is more in sorrow than in anger.
The Minister's greatest difficulty is coordination. We used to call it integration and now we call it co-ordination, but whatever word we use the subject is equally difficult, and whatever way it is tackled will be equally unpopular. We all know what the problem is. It is of no use just stating, as my right hon. Friend did and as others do, that there is too much going on the roads and not enough on the rail. That is a platitude. What we want to know is: what can be done to overcome the present ridiculous situation in which the roads are overcrowded, leading to frightful congestion, delays and accidents, while the railways are losing enormous sums of money yet could deal with three times their present amount of freight and passengers? Can we do anything to get a satisfactory and acceptable co-ordination? If we cannot do very much beyond what is being done in the way of liner trains, and so on, where then do we go from there?
I am worried that those who consider the problem of our transport system shut their eyes to the basic trouble, and prefer to pretend that it is not there. The basic trouble is that in this country—as in every other country, almost without exception—we are bound to have a substantial loss on the railway system. We can have our liner trains—they may ameliorate the situation—and we can improve here or there, but increasingly in this country, as everywhere else, the roads are taking more goods and passengers and the railways are taking less.
It is of no use just looking at this as something horrid that will disappear one day. It is no use holding up our hands in horror, and saying that perhaps in 1970 or 1975 the railways will pay. We have heard that sort of talk for years past —that one day everything will be all right. It has never happened, and it will not—it just cannot be done. At the same time we have to make up our minds that we must run an efficient railway system. Someone, therefore, has decisions to make, apart from plans of co-ordination. There are no doubt many purely operational methods of co-ordination that can be looked at, and perhaps put into effect. They may be useful and may save a little 988 money, and, maybe, they will be convenient. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem is what general transport principles are to be adopted by the Government.
This is not a question of road versus rail. It is a question of public interest versus private interest. By private interest I mean perfectly legitimate private interest. It is obviously in the public interest that many more goods should go by rail than go at the moment—enormously more—but it is in the perfectly justifiable private interest of manufacturers and industrialists to send their goods by road as it is often cheaper, safer and quicker. How are we to get those goods from the road to the rail?
It is exactly the same with passengers. It would obviously be in the public interest if more used the railways for long distance travel, but they prefer to use their own cars for good reasons, or long distance buses, because these are cheaper or more convenient. We either have to force people to send goods by rail, or throw up our hands and do nothing. Or possibly make such a revolutionary change in the present fares and freight charges on road and rail as to induce goods which at present go by road to go by rail. It is the same with passengers.
§ Mr. Hogg
I am not trying to score a point, but when I hear the word "obviously" I am always suspicious. The right hon. Member says that it is obviously in the interests of the public that a great deal more traffic should go by rail than by road. I wonder why it is so obvious and why he thinks that is the case.
§ Mr. Strauss
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Member will take it from me that what I meant was that it is desirable.
§ Mr. Strauss
It is obvious in a situation where the roads are overcrowded and the railways have not enough trade that it is desirable that the roads should be relieved of some of the transport and that it should go by rail. I should not have thought that the right hon. and learned Member would question that for a moment.
989 I suggest that the Government should say one of two things. They should either say that it is possible by a complete change in freight rates between road and rail to get goods from the roads on to the railways, or they should say —maybe they should say this as well— as it is inevitable that the railway system of this country will lose enormous sums of money for years to come, may be as far as we can see ahead. We must decide how the deficit should be met. It can be done by deliberate subsidy from the Government. It should be openly admitted that this is the right thing to do as in France and other countries. At present we spend 9d. in the £ Income Tax on keeping the railways going. Why not admit it as Government policy that the railways are to be kept in a state of efficiency by a straightforward Exchequer subsidy?
Or—and this is a matter for Government decision and I want to know what the Government think on these lines— they should say that national transport should not get a subsidy and therefore if people choose for their convenience to use the roads on a large scale but yet want an efficient railway system, road users should pay sufficient in taxation to keep efficient the railway system which they use on many occasions, especially in emergency. In short, there should be a cross-subsidisation between the two forms of transport. Either that or State money in the form of subsidies. One or other of those policies should be arrived at and publicly declared.
§ Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)
I am completely with my right hon. Friend in his argument if he will preface his argument on the vital consequencies which flow from his reasoning by saying that the first priority has to be that the basic costings of road, rail and air transport must be seen to be equitable and fair.
§ Mr. Strauss
Yes, I think that is very important. There has been much controversy about the costings of road and rail transport. I do not know about air transport. I do not think there is yet any agreement about how properly to cost road and rail transport with its maintenance and other charges, but it is highly desirable that that should be done and I agree with my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
Soon after I took office I was able to get the services of an economist to make such a study. He has been looking into the question and I had hoped that he would be able to give me the information by now. He has not been able to do so, but I hope that some time in the spring we shall have this knowledge which is very much needed.
§ Mr. Strauss
The gentleman, is I know, a very able economist, but there are many other first-class economists in the universities who have been working for years on this problem; but there is not much agreement on the subject.
When my right hon. Friend tried to carry out his duty to bring forward a scheme of integration and co-ordination, I must say he went about it in the most clumsy way possible. Early in the year he appointed a complete outsider who knew nothing about transport—Lord Hinton. He is a brilliant man, but to bring him in from outside to present a programme of co-ordination was bound to lead to failure. It could do nothing else.
Then my right hon. Friend horrified many of us on this side of the House as much as hon. Members opposite when he suggested that this brilliant administrator and economist should spend a year studying the subject and produce a secret report which no one was allowed to see except himself; not those employed in the industry or Members of Parliament, the local authorities, or the public. I was amazed that my right hon. Friend should agree to such a proposal. I was even more amazed by the excuse he gave that this man would be a civil servant and therefore it was inappropriate for him to make a public report. Yet the most brilliant report published in the last few years was produced by Professor Buchanan who was then a civil servant. However, that chapter is now closed.
Speaking personally, and without responsibility, what I would have done —I said this in this House when the Beeching Report came out and when we opposed it strongly—would have been before any of the Beeching proposals were put into effect to ask Dr. Beeching himself to make a complete investigation of the transport system of the whole country. We should have had that report published and when it was before us we 991 could decide to act upon it or not as we thought fit. I should have liked Dr. Beeching to have done this. My right hon. Friend tried but he failed. I do not know the grounds of the failure. Dr. Beeching has stated that he could not carry out his task in view of the conditions imposed upon him. He said that publicly.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
He said within the time available, because he was determined to return to I.C.I. on 1st June.
§ Mr. Strauss
Perhaps my right hon. Friend does not realise what Dr. Beeching said in public. I will quote him. In an interview which was published in the Observer Dr. Beeching was asked:But would it not have been a good idea for you to conduct this wider investigation, this over-all look at Britain's transport, before you wentback to I.C.I.? Dr. Beeching's reply was:Well, of course, other people's opinions may differ about that. But personally I am sorry that I saw no possibility of doing it satisfactorily under the conditions that were finally proposed.This meant that, if those conditions had not been proposed, Dr. Beeching would have been able and willing to do it. I do not know what those conditions were. I think it is a thousand pities that any restrictive conditions were put on him at all and that they prevented him from making this report. Such a report from him would have been exceedingly valuable. If it had been made, we might now have been in possession of information which would have enabled the Minister to put concrete proposals before Parliament.
Both my right hon. Friend the Minister and the right hon. Member for Ashford dealt with the subject of congestion in towns. It is not only in London that there is great congestion. There are other towns where congestion is already bad and is getting worse. It is no good saying that the Greater London Council is responsible for London and that the problem is a matter for that Council. This is a national problem. It must be recognised that vast numbers of people want to use their private cars, for perfectly good reasons. As the Buchanan Report says, people regard their cars as an extension of their homes. That is 992 very well put. They like being in their cars travelling to and from work.
For a variety of reasons, congestion will get worse in all towns, not only in London. We are coming to the end of the devices which traffic management committees, traffic engineers, and all the other very clever people who have done grand work, can possibly think up to obviate the trouble. Before long there will be nothing more which can be done to increase the flow of traffic. When that day arrives, something else must be done.
Two solutions are advocated by those who want to dodge the issue because it is an unpleasant one. One proposal is to put a number of car parks in the centres of cities and so absorb all the cars. As my right hon. Friend will agree that is likely to make the situation worse. If there are huge numbers of car parks in or near city centres, at the rush hour— early in the morning when cars are coming into the centres, or late in the evening when they are leaving—the congestion will be worse, because a large number of cars will have been attracted into the city centres which otherwise would not have been there.
Moreover, it is no use just advocating putting into effect the Buchanan proposals in relation to separation of traffic. They would cost thousands of millions of pounds. But as Professor Buchanan said, if these schemes were carried out completely there still would not be enough room in town centres for all the traffic wanting to pass through them.
Therefore, it is time that somebody decided that something must be done about this great problem, apart from the devices which have been adopted up to now. The choice is simple. There must be restriction on the number of cars in town centres by frustration or by planning. The Government may well say, "We do not want to plan. It is too difficult Let people be discouraged from going into town centres by frustration". The trouble about such a solution is that by so doing really essential traffic—those who need to be in the centres of towns for purposes of industry, commerce, services, and so on —would be prevented from entering. We want to ensure that cars which should be going into town centres are able to do so and are not held up by cars which need not be there.
993 Therefore, either there must be restriction by frustration or restriction must be achieved in some planned way. My right hon. Friend has said that he is considering planned ways. In the end, they all boil down to some form of tax on the car. The car is being taxed already. High prices are being charged for car parking in city centres. I think that is right. Logically, there is no difference between charging high prices for car parking in city centres and charging high prices for cars travelling in city centres. My right hon. Friend mentioned the Smeed proposals. I should like to be told whether intensive investigation is going on as to the practicability of these proposals.
§ Mr. Strauss
Whatever restriction is imposed will obviously be highly unpopular on all grounds. On political grounds a man will say, "I want to go into the centre of the city. I am a poor man. I cannot afford to pay the price whereas a rich man can. Therefore I am being penalised "Because of its unpopularity—again I am speaking with the irresponsibility of the back bencher—I prophesy that no Government will bring forward this solution in a year which is likely to be an election year. However, such restriction will have to be imposed some time. I hope that the Minister will give this matter very urgent consideration.
I come to the vexed subject of accidents in fog on motorways. I am becoming impatient on this matter. Many people have spoken as if this was the first fog on motorways, as if this was the first pile-up of cars that we have had, and as if we were tackling the problem afresh. Nothing of the sort. There was a frightful fog early in 1964 when there was a pile-up of 200 cars on the M l. There was a row about that. There was a debate in the House about it, in which I took part. We were then told that experiments were taking place. The then Minister of Transport said that he was experimenting with all sorts of things on the M.5 and he would see what could be done. One of the bad habits of the Ministry of Transport, as well as of many other Departments, is to go on experimenting far too long. In that debate in 1962 I asked why on earth there should not be put along motorways illuminated signs of speed 994 limits, which could be varied by the police at any given time so that, in case of fog, according to its density there could be a speed limit of 30, 20, 10 or even five miles an hour.
All these things were taken into account, I hope, but nothing whatsoever was done. I believe that the time for experiments has passed. We can still go on experimenting to some extent, but it is time that something was put into practical operation. If one of the solutions for avoiding accidents were to be a high speed limit—say 75 miles an hour—on all roads, including motorways, I certainly would not oppose that, contrary to the opinion which has been expressed elsewhere. Such a restriction might very well save large numbers of lives. More evidence is needed on this subject. There are very few roads in the United States where people are allowed to travel at speeds in excess of 60 miles an hour. A motorist travelling a long distance at a steady 60 miles an hour arrives pretty quickly at his destination.
However, there is no point in having a 70 mile an hour speed limit in the winter, as my right hon. Friend suggested, but not in the summer. If there is a case for such a speed limit in the winter on clear days, there is a case for it in the summer.
My right hon. Friend has a pile of troubles. Whatever subject he tackles, there will be very great difficulties. He must appreciate that he will be attacked and criticised whatever he does. He will be attacked and criticised even more if he does nothing, because we can all lose our patience so easily if nothing is done. My right hon. Friend is in for a hard and difficult time. His predecessor had the advantage over him that he was very good at blowing his own trumpet, he was a master of publicity, and he was a very good gimmick merchant. My right hon. Friend has not got those qualities. He is a much more modest person. This does not mean that he is not much more sound in his outlook than his predecessor.
I warn my right hon. Friend that he will get into a lot of trouble. But he has a great opportunity to solve some of these grave social problems. I have no doubt that, given sufficient time, my right hon. Friend will seize the opportunity and initiate changes and spark off ideas which 995 will have a material and beneficial effect on our national life.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) will forgive me if I do not follow in the debate his most interesting speech. I want to turn the debate for a few minutes to Scotland and to technology. In the same way, I hope that the Minister of Transport will forgive me for not taking up some of his points, because whereas his heart is in Scotland his responsibility for the roads is not. That lies with the Secretary of State for Scotland, whom I should have liked to ask, had he been present, what roads in Scotland outwith development districts are being postponed under present Government policy.
I am certain that the key to Scotland is communications and transport, and that any postponement, whether of the A.74 dual carriageway from Glasgow to Carlisle or of some first-class or even second-class road, is of equal importance. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he hears these words in some other place, to bear in mind that the dual carriageway to the Scottish border is of tremendous importance and that the delays which I fear are taking place cause great concern. I know that the Minister of Transport would like to help his country. If he could in any way accelerate the construction of the M.6 from Kendal to the Scottish border he would be doing a great service, because the conditions on that road are becoming intolerable. The Carlisle bypass is urgently required. I go to Carlisle regularly and I find that even the back streets of Carlisle are becoming quite impossible. We want industry and tourists to come up to Scotland but at the moment that movement is being strangled.
I am sure that the Minister of Technology knew when I rose to speak what subject I would bring up. It is the Atomic Energy Authority in Scotland, which means, of course, Dounreay and Chapelcross. Those responsible for both these stations, which are of great importance to Scotland, are crying out to know what the future holds for them. I speak particularly of Chapelcross. It is possibly one of the least known but most efficient of the atomic energy stations in 996 the country. It now employs about 850 people so that in a rural constituency such as mine it is a major industry. In terms of power it is carrying a load factor of about 98 per cent. Hon. Members can read all about it in the Eleventh Annual Report of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. The staff are held in the highest regard. They were used in the commissioning of the Hunter-ston station and for the Tokai Mura reactor in Japan. Like all who are interested in the prototype fast reactor, they want to know when an announcement will be made about that reactor and where it will be sited.
The Minister came to the area this summer to see and to listen. I hope that he was captivated by the possibilities of Chapelcross. We now await impatiently and expectantly for this decision. The Eleventh Annual Report states on page 26 that the design, the specifications and the estimates were completed for the prototype reactor. This Report was written up to the end of March. Surely now, eight months later, the Government are in a position to tell us their intentions. I know that they had to await a report from the Atomic Energy Authority but I think that they have had ample time now to make up their minds.
On 27th July, in answer to Questions, the Minister said that the prototype fast reactor as a producer of energy for transmission to industry must be adjacent to an industrial area. Chapelcross is geographically in the centre of Great Britain with industry to the north, south, east and west of it. Surely that is a far better geographical situation than obtains at other possible sites in the south of England or at the northern tip of Scotland. It is also on the national grid and there will be no need for unsightly pylons.
I emphasise that geographical position should be a paramount factor in the making of the decision. There is also ample room on the site, ample water, ample labour, a first-class apprenticeship scheme, good housing, good schools, first-class recreational facilities, good communications and, above all, a real warm welcome awaiting the fast reactor. This has not been always so with atomic energy projects, but not in Dumfriesshire. The people there would welcome it, but there is no word about this or 997 other developments. There is nothing to encourage retention of existing staff—indeed there is a small but steady wastage —and nothing to encourage new staff, which we would like to see. This is creating a despondent frame of mind. There is no word of increased generating capacity, of laboratory extensions, or of a desalinisation plant. The Minister set up an advisory committee on technology in Scotland. Has this committee considered the Atomic Energy Authority within Scotland in the concept of the regional surveys?
To turn for a moment to the computer industry in Scotland, is the advisory committee considering the situation at Edinburgh University? The authorities there requested in 1964 that they should have a computer. They set up a Department and then we had the Flowers Committee appointed. This Committee should have reported in April but we heard later that it would report in June or July. When shall we have a computer at the University? The talented group of scientists there have to take a bus trip to Glasgow University to work on a computer. This seems to be a retrograde step in a technological age.
Scotland requires industrial development. We urgently desire to have the prototype fast reactor sited in Scotland or, failing that, one of the A.G.R. systems mentioned in the country's future fuel policy. I trust that I have impressed upon the Minister that Chapelcross should be the site, on every possible technical count. It is up to the Minister to tell us tonight when and where we shall hear some news about this fast reactor. Scotland is urgently awaiting his decision.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
I adopt the words which my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) addressed to the Minister of Transport. No matter what he does in his Department, the Minister will be subjected to an enormous amount of criticism. But I echo also the other words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall, that he must face this criticism and let us have action. Let him take his decisions and let the criticism come, from whatever quarter.
It is ironic that the Opposition should have moved an Amendment in the terms 998 which we have heard. In face of the 13 years of neglect of all transport matters by the Tory Party, it ill becomes right hon. and hon. Members opposite to move an Amendment of this kind. The right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), who was the chief Tory public relations man, paid for by the Government, spoke of the Beeching Report and the Buchanan Report. What did the Tory Government do about the Buchanan Report? They paid no more than lip-service to it. They paid no more than lip-service to the Jack Report on Rural Bus Services. A whole host of committees of inquiry and investigations went for nothing during the thirteen years of their Administration.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro) rose—
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to make his speech in due course.
It has been the same sad story in transport almost throughout all the years since the advent of the motor vehicle. We had our first Transport Act in 1930, and since that time, with one exception, the Statute Book has been littered with legislation affecting motor vehicles and transport generally, but dealing with them in a piecemeal manner. The one exception was the Transport Act of 1947, which was the first attempt to bring some sort of common sense and co-ordination into transport. It was short-lived. The advent of the Tory Government in 1951 put an end to any firm progress which could have been made with an integrated system. But even in the short time for which it was in operation, it brought transport, particularly rail transport, for the first time into solvency.
We all know the sad story of railway finances in the post-war years. Even with the small amount of co-ordination left at that time, in the years 1951, 1952 and 1953, not only were all working costs and interest charges met but a profit was shown, in the first year £100,000, in the second £8 million, and in the third £400,000. From 1953 to 1964, under the Tory régime, the nation had to face a loss, not a profit, of over £1,000 million in transport. The nation should be made fully aware of this fact and should realise what hypocrisy it is, to say the least, to move an Amendment in the terms set down.
999 Each self-contained unit in our transport system has very little relation with the others. Little but lip-service was paid by the Tory Administration to a road programme which was to give us about 1,000 miles of motorway by the early 1970s. We are accused by the Opposition of reducing our road programme. Because of the financial difficulties in which they left the nation, we have had to make some adjustments, and they taunt us with cutting down the programme. But what were their programmes, in fact, apart from the lip-service which they paid to them? The last Minister of Transport, that wonderful propagandist, and his predecessors launched their programmes year after year. In 1954, the Minister was supposed to authorise a road programme right up to 1963, but the difference between authorisation and work completed in those nine years showed a deficiency of £239 million. Yet the Opposition now have the audacity to put down an Amendment like this.
During the same period, there were proposals put forward by county and borough surveyors for 2,700 miles of motorway to be constructed by 1983, but little or no note was taken of this, with the consequence that our present motorway system is not interlinked so as to develop its true value in meeting the industrial needs of the nation. It does not link the ports and it has no provision for adequate radial and feeder roads. The road programme of the Tory Administration did little or nothing except add to the congestion in our towns.
Instead of making a real attempt to cure some of our problems, with multistorey car parks, peripheral parking and the rest, effort was wasted on parking meters and arguments about parking meter charges. It is nonsensical that central and local government expenditure should go to the making of good wide streets if these same streets are then cluttered up with parking meters. It would have been much more sensible if a broader outlook had been taken. Multistorey car parks ought to have been developed, the Government themselves taking some responsibility for meeting excessive land charges in the places where such car parks would have to be sited so that the garaging fees could be reasonable. In this way, the motorist could 1000 have kept his vehicle off the streets instead of adding to the congestion. All of us are guilty in this. There has been particular reference to London, but street congestion is a great problem in our Provincial towns and cities as well. The whole story shows the complete lack of vision of the past Tory Administration.
Inevitably, my right hon. Friend's task will be difficult. There have been more committees of inquiry and investigations into transport than into any other subject. But the time has now come when we can no longer afford to wait for further investigations. Sufficient knowledge is available. As in any enterprise, the time has come when present and future developments dictate that a decision must be taken. My right hon. Friend's decision will be a political one, and, in making it, he must ensure the carrying out of the reference in the Queen's Speech to the further co-ordination of inland transport. The longer the present policy is continued, with the closing of branch railway lines, passenger and goods stations and workshops, the more difficult it will be to co-ordinate.
An article in yesterday's Guardian referred to the fact that a decision to stop further closures should have been made two years ago. My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall referred to the heavy capital expenditure undertaken by the Railways Board in modernising many workshops. But the ironical fact is that once these costly schemes have been carried out, many workshops have been sold off to private enterprise while the antiquated workshops have been retained. After incurring great expenditure in modernising many workshops, the Board had to hive them off to private enterprise on the instructions of the Tory Government, carrying out the 1962 Act.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is allowing this to continue. We welcomed his observation last March when he said that he would encourage the railway workshops to embark on a more ambitious programme. But that depends on legislation which is not yet forthcoming. Consequently, instead of expansion we have chapter and verse of cases where the workshops are not being allowed even to produce their own requirements.
1001 This is a very serious matter. I do not think that my right hon. Friend is entirely responsible. It is the responsibility of the Cabinet, and the Cabinet should give instructions to stop any further rail closures pending a co-ordination scheme. I do not say that more branch lines will not have to be closed—probably they will —but certainly, pending the co-ordination of transport, they should be halted. You, Mr. Speaker, are now a non-political man, but you are still a right hon. Member of this House, and I remind you that the cross-Channel car ferry from Southampton has been handed over to a Norwegian firm. There are other examples of the same sort of thing. At Eastleigh, modern workshops are being handed over to private enterprise while antiquated works on the other side of the track are being detained.
It is claimed that, in this way, costs are being reduced. That is nonsense. Despite the closures the deficit has been continually increasing year by year. Lord Beeching said last year that he had reduced the deficit by £20 million. However, I believe that the deficit will have mounted again this year and that at the moment it is running at about £140 million instead of £120 million.
A new vitality must be instilled into the Railways Board. Instead of following a defeatist closure policy, it must go into the attack to attract traffic. It is now concentrating on city-to-city lines and on the so-called liner trains—which are nothing new although a lot of hullabaloo has been raised about them. It is popular on the benches opposite to talk about the opposition of the N.U.R. to liner trains, but the liner train running last week did so with the full co-operation of the N.U.R. because it was loaded by railwaymen who are used to a collection and delivery service, which they ran even under private enterprise. There is no difficulty about liner trains.
The truth is that, in running down the railways collection and delivery service, hon. Members opposite want this lucrative work hived off to private enterprise hauliers which, in the end, would mean not only a deleterious effect on the railways but putting many long-distance lorry drivers out of business as well. The private enterprise hauliers would be able to cash in on the large expenditure of 1002 the Railways Board on terminal equipment and telecommunications in programming and development.
The hiving off of lucrative projects is causing great dismay. We look to the Government to reconsider the situation and to prepare a scheme for co-ordination, allowing the railway workshops and other public undertakings to develop. In the meantime, they should stop further closures. The amount saved by these closures is infinitesimal when compared with the global deficit and turnover. The railways want a revenue of £478 million to £490 million and the maximum saving by closures has been about £20 million. One must compare this with a deficit of over £1,000 million. The question of closures is not merely one of the money saved on a particular branch line. Transport is a service as distinct from a normal commercial undertaking. The House should adjust itself to look on transport as a service. Once we get that idea in our minds there will be some hope.
One cannot regulate any given commodity to any particular form of transport, for so many different criteria are required by producer and consumer. I hope that my right hon. Friend will look-further at co-ordination, at pricing and at scheduled services among other things. If he does, he will perform a useful service and we could look forward to a scheme of co-ordination.
I wish him well in his task. Sometimes I have subjected him to tremendous criticism but he will understand that it is not personal. We pledged ourselves to a co-ordinated integrated transport system and we must honour that pledge. The difficulties faced by the Government in the first months in office in clearing up the mess left by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have made it difficult to carry out that pledge but now it seems that we are turning the corner and so we look forward to a co-ordination scheme from my right hon. Friend.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)
We have just listened to a remarkably conservative speech—conservative with a small "c"—against change, against innovation and against progress—in favour of doing things as they have been done for years.
1003 I am sorry that the Minister is about to leave, because I was about to say that he cannot get away with the suggestion that the cuts he has been forced to make —temporary as he hopes they are—are in some way to be attributed to our policies while in office. It was Goebbels who developed the technique of the big lie— keep on hammering it home so that in the end people come to believe it. I was not sure whether the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne West (Mr. Popple-well) was a propagandist in the cause of the big lie or whether he has fallen victim to his own propaganda when he spoke about 13 years of neglect.
When one hears the claim that the difficulties of the Government are attributable to their inheritance from the last Government, it is important to remember that in the election campaign right hon. Gentlemen opposite were at one and the same time talking about a financial crisis and all the things they would do in office. They said none of these things would involve any increase in taxation. It is against that background that we are entitled after a year to ask what progress is being made.
The only progress one sees is, by and large, paper progress. There are masses of paper plans for houses, schools, hospitals and roads—and the nation's transport users have a "paper tiger in the tank". This will not do. It is largely to the question of transport and in an effort to make a constructive contribution that I make my intervention.
The right hon. Gentleman hinted that some restrictions on the use of private cars in our big cities may be on the way. If they are, it is important that he should make up his mind as quickly as possible on the type of restrictions he proposes to put before Parliament. These things can greatly affect car production, apart from anything else, and in doing so our capacity to sell abroad. We need clarification of this as soon as possible.
While one can understand the right hon. Gentleman's concern about traffic difficulties in our big cities, let him not delude himself into believing that if he can stop cars coming in he will get more people on to public transport. I assure the Minister that if he cares to go to my constituency of Walthamstow or the neighbouring constituency of Wanstead 1004 and Woodford, where I live, to see for himself what public transport is like at the morning and evening peak hours, he will understand that if he makes it more difficult for people to use the roads he will add immensely to the difficulties of public transportation. It is not enough to think of buses in the central area as though a city such as London revolves only around the central area. London depends on the arteries by which it is fed.
The Minister should go and look at Tokyo. His predecessor is there at the moment studying automation and all the improvements which are being made in road and rail transport in that go-ahead city. In Tokyo he would see the remarkable things which have been done in a space of three or four years to take arteries into and through a big city. These are the lines along which we must think in solving some of our own road transport problems.
I sympathise to a degree with the Minister of Transport, as I would sympathise with any Minister of Transport. For years I sat behind my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) listening to the criticism and taunts which were hurled at him, despite all the things which he tried to do. There was criticism despite all the legacy of a sound foundation which he has left for those who succeed him. A Minister of Transport performs a thankless job, faced with the greatest difficulty, and it is therefore vital that every bit of new thinking possible should be done by the Minister in charge of this Department.
Among the new thinking which must command attention is the possibility of building toll roads in Britain. It is all very well to speak, as did the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss)— and the Minister himself hinted at it— about the possibility of further charges on the motorist for the privilege of owning and driving his motor car. There must be very few members of the community who in one way or another contribute more to the total volume of taxation than the motorist already does, and if the motorist is to be further taxed he will rightly ask what he is to get in return.
The Minister should not only visit Tokyo to see what they have been able to do to improve communications from outside the city, which is now the greatest 1005 in the world, into the heart of the city. He should also visit Italy at an early date and look, as I was privileged to look this summer, at the Autostrade del Sol, which runs all the way from the Swiss frontier down to Naples—a magnificent piece of engineering. It is relevant for a Scottish Minister of Transport and for everyone interested in the welfare of Scotland to consider the astonishing effect which that motorway has had on Italy.
Not only has it provided the most efficient and modern means of road communication in Europe, but it has opened up and placed completely new values on a depopulated part of Italy which people had written off as useless. It is bringing back new life to what I suppose one might call the Italian Highlands. It would be no bad thing if the Minister seized the opportunity of his office to make his No. 1 target a motor road from Dover to Inverness, modelled on the Autostrade del Sol. It could be a toll road, and we should pay for the pleasure of using it. If hon. Members shake their heads at the idea of a toll road and if they remain convinced that unless we can have it free we do not want it, then none of these improvements will ever be industry?
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
Earlier in his speech the hon. Member complained that the motorist was taxed far too heavily now. One of his right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench agreed with that comment. May I suggest that to tax the motorist further for the use of roads for which he pays very heavily already would be anti-social, unreasonable and contrary to the principles of fair play to the motoring industry.
§ Mr. Harvey
The hon. Member could not have been listening to the Minister of Transport and his right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall who suggested further imposts on the motorist for no tangible benefits at all. I am sure that the motorist will resent paying more for nothing, but he will not mind it nearly so much if he is asked to pay more but is to get positive benefits from it in new roads.
Consider what this road has done to Italy and what it could do to Britain. It could be part of the answer to the 1006 depopulation of the Highlands. This is a way in which we could hope to bring new industry to vast areas which at the moment are considered useless, which are being written off and from which people are moving away. This could be an answer to the depopulation of the Highlands and to the far too great a population in so many of our cities in the South. Unless we are prepared to think imaginatively and to raise money in such a way as this in order to get things done, we shall face a situation in which, all the time, far too little road construction is facing far too many cars and no Minister of Transport will ever be rated a success in his office.
I urge with all the force that I can command that we should think again in this country about the great advantages of toll roads, not just as a means of communication but as a major social service to the whole of the hinterland, which could be opened up through the use of such roads. If the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) still has any doubts about it, let him go with the Minister to Italy to see the cars and lorries which are paying to use these roads and which obviously find that it pays them to pay for these roads, because the journeys are completed much more quickly and the saving in wear and tear and time is considerable.
It is all very well talking about new ways of making the railways more efficient, desirable though this may be. We are in the motor age. We are in an age in which it is much more efficient to move goods for export into the docks by road. They can be moved much more quickly that way and they catch ships with a much greater degree of certainty and with much less delay if one is moving them in one's own lorry into the docks. People who are asked to make more use of the railways will need a lot of convincing that the railways can handle goods expeditiously, will not lose them and will get them where they are wanted on time.
We must face the fact that in a country which is moving forward, roads will matter more and more, and the present rate of road building is not merely high enough. The rate of road building envisaged by my colleagues when we were in office was not nearly high enough. The limiting factor, of course, is money, and 1007 the Minister's difficulty is with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Minister will be able to overcome this difficulty only if he can say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "Given toll roads we can finance much of this for ourselves." One of my hon. Friends suggested that there should be tolls around the cities to stop cars from coming into the cities. How much more important it is that we should have tolls in the countryside to encourage cars on to efficient roads which, as I have said, can open up and revitalise vast areas of the country.
Bearing in mind that many hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, I will confine my remarks to that one subject. I hope that what I have said will make the Government, the Minister and his Department think again about what I believe to be one of the major means of breaking through the difficulties which exist in getting the volume of road construction which this country needs.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)
I have heard most of the debate this afternoon and this evening, and it seems to me that most of the speeches from right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been purely tactical in content and not devoted to any serious appraisal of the transport requirements of the country for the next decade. I was horrified that the Opposition Front Bench spokesman was so startlingly complacent and even cynical on the issue of road casualties. In the speech of the Opposition spokesman there was no word to ask whether the driver had eyes, no word about the behavioural attitude of the driver. The whole emphasis was on means and methods. There was no encouragement to the enforcement forces of this country, though it is obvious that a stricter enforcement of the existing law is clearly overdue.
Much of the Minister's statement was a vigorous but defensive attitude to the tactical approach by hon. Members opposite. He reminded us that he wants facts before policy. He wants to identify the problems before the proposals, and he said that he will perhaps let us know something of his thinking by the end of 1965. He touched on the co-ordination of the parcels service, and I await the details. If this is an indication of his thinking, I want to hear much more of it.
1008 But it is on transport policy that I want to concentrate. As I had feared, the Gracious Speech fails to indicate legislative action on inland transport. It would be wrong of me not frankly to indicate my disappointment that during the next 12 months we are not to have legislation in this field, although I accept that proposals will be forthcoming. Many in the country and many of my hon. Friends want this year a transport policy and a development plan backed by legislation which will be adequate for the next decade. That being so, some of us, I am afraid, must become more vocal and indeed more insistent in expressing that need in this House, to the Government and to the country. I say this after very careful reflection on the progress which has been made in the last 12 months. I was reflecting a few moments ago on the fact that it appeared possible for the 1945 Labour Government to evolve out of the maelstrom of war, with the few facts then available, the major Transport Act, of 1947, revitalising and reorganising the whole structure of transport in the country. This took less than it will apparently take the present Government when the Ministry of Transport is full of facts and theories and has so much data available. I say that with some disappointment.
Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed an intense growth of the private sector of transport. Without much regard to road space or traffic problems, cars have rolled off the assembly line, aided by hire purchase, very efficient salesmanship and a very powerful lobby in the House of Commons, with many friends among hon. Members opposite and so many friends in Government until a few months ago. We have now reached the stage when, by sheer volume, the car is strangling its own usefulness in the towns and, by sheer misuse, maiming more and more people every day. Moreover, endless lines of vehicles in the towns and villages make crossing the highway a dangerous hazard for young and old, and even a risky operation for those of us who are a little more nimble. We have open war between personal movement on the highway and the mobile, armoured internal combustion engine. The machine is now out of hand. It harasses our walking lives and conditions all our movement needs.
1009 In this constant conflict in which legal discipline is playing a smaller and smaller part, it is beyond doubt that pedestrians are subsidising nearly every form of vehicle user on the roads, rail, or in the air. Yet we are unable to get any authoritative statement from the Ministry about the basic problems of the costings of those three and the fourth, water transport.
I was encouraged to hear my right hon. Friend say that there was now an economist in the Ministry. He said that as though it were a great event in the year 1965. It is clearly a condemnation of the years which have gone. But I register a slight regret that this need was not appreciated at least 12 months ago.
Social benefit studies are required. What was done by hon. Members opposite about social benefit studies, apart from the one isolated incident when, with London Transport facing the problem of trying to get another London underground line against the claims of private enterprise in this great city, the then Minister was driven into a social benefit study?
But if we are to have such studies, they should not be confined to the roads. Whatever justification for social studies there may be in respect of the M.1, the M.6, or any other motorway, I urge hon. Members opposite to come out of their dogma and consider having social benefit studies of the situation which would arise from electrifying the public transport system and developing the public sector of the road system.
A quick analysis of the problem would fall under three headings. First, we must find the answer to the problem of equity and discipline among existing transport users and transport providers. Secondly, we must consider the problem of more transport space, roads and railways in London, underground or not, and we must make such a study factually, not in the emotive words of the Road Federation—" We want more motorways "— leading from an argument of fact to an argument of emotion. Thirdly, we have to resolve the struggle among road, rail, air and waterway interests and ultimately consider whether public investment is efficiently used and equitably shared.
1010 I intervened in the notable contribution of my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) when I pointed to the absolutely basic need, before any of us in any party, including my own, began dictating or making suggestions about this or that form of transport, to make an examination of basic costs in order to have a pragmatic approach to the problem. If any of those basic costings revealed subventions from the public purse, that would be bound to force one to conclusions about that form of transport.
I read the Government's paper on costings data in their recommendation to the Geddes Committee—a recommendation from which I differ—and I also have reservations about Dr. Beeching's data. I see that other transport interests also have different estimates of road costings. Have we reached a time when all the experts disagree, or is it that dogma prevails even among the experts?
I find it inconceivable that we must continue to dilly and dally waiting for more reports when all around us the road law is being flouted by drink, by speed and the use of unfit vehicles. How many more reports do we want when it is clear that enforcement of the law must be strengthened? In a few weeks I shall be able to make a speech here saying that it is a waste of time to strengthen the law when enforcement of the present law is so feeble. The existing law must be enforced. I give my right hon. Friend's predecessor credit in that he was vigorous about this matter. I hope that my right hon. Friend will act with even greater courage to ensure quicker legislation and, about all, enforcement.
After long thought and some experience of the courts, I believe that the time is now overdue for operating a quite separate traffic policy system and separate traffic offences courts. Do not let history hang on us that we could not deal with the new problems. Both the changes I have mentioned are overdue and I hope that the Minister's mind is not closed to them. I am prepared to go even further and, although this may be a startling suggestion to hon. Members, I believe that the time is now imminent when the record of every motorist which is held by his insurance company should be available to the police and the courts, so that the pedigree of the motoring 1011 career of any erring motorist can be used as some criterion to decide whether he is a suitable person to drive a vehicle on the roads.
I turn now to the subject of equity among existing road users. The fiscal and operating facts and costs are now becoming clear. Despite the inclusion of petrol tax in their costs, it is now clear that commercial road users are heavily subsidised by other vehicle users, perhaps mainly those using personal transport. It seems that the Government's homework has been done and it is to be hoped that some time in the spring we shall see the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his proposals for making more equitable the basic fiscal conditions in which each form of road transport operates. I was delighted and charmed to find that in one edition of The Guardian of 10th November—it seems to have been left out of some other editions —there was what appeared to be an official hand-out on this point. Under the heading of "Transport" it said:The Government's proposals of co-ordinated transport are expected before the end of the tax year.My ears pricked up when I read that and I hoped that I was able to read into this the kind of thoughts which other people are putting into words on this point.
If, as is inevitable, public transport will require areas of subsidy, these subsidies, even for railways, should be geared to criteria. I was a railway man and I say, without complaint, that the open-ended nature of the subsidy to railways is dangerous. That should be geared to criteria also. If the Minister would gear it to a criterion of track costs and policing he would be paying out much the same global amount but he would be gearing it to an engineer's criterion of a measured cost. This would enable the Minister, when he is dealing with the problems of branch closures, to be able to say "What is the effect in this branch line?". If the Minister has given subsidies to the line and its customers still fail, in the face of operating costs, to make ends meet, then there would appear to be a powerful argument that the line is not wanted. At the moment the Minister is using a criterion which is known only to himself. Little is known of it outside.
1012 The second problem is that of more transport space and better use of existing space to meet the increasing need for personal transport. Heavy capital expenditure is involved, and, providing the priority is right, I see no reason at all why new road construction and major road improvements should not be initially financed in the same way, on the basis of loan and interest, as we finance water, education and even railway capital investment programmes. It need not necessarily be "above"the line" in a budgetary sense, and one would hope that the Minister would not have a closed mind on this question.
The amount of transport space which is required is linked with the problem of the transport policy as a whole. It is here that the Government's approach is, to say the least, very inadequate. The failure to outline a national policy in their second year of office will be noticed more and more in the country and not least by Members on this side of the House. I say, gently but firmly, to the Front Bench, that we must pursue the Government vigorously for that policy and get them to spell out what integration means. I have often said that the word "integration" has become a slogan. It is time that the slogan was translated into terms of practical politics and a practical policy. My plea to this House, and to my Front Bench, is that there are enough facts for the main lines of policy to be drawn out. I am prepared to accept from the Minister that his party and mine gave him very little practical advice when he came into office. I am prepared to accept that the preceding Minister had pigeon-holes full of advice. But we have had 12 months when the facts have been there. Some of us—and I am one of them—have tried to give ideas to the Minister.
The Trades Union Congress has issued an agreed policy for transport. In principle and in substance it is going the way ordinary people want transport to go, but I beg the Minister to get away from the paper problem, to the policy problem. I ask him to give heed to the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall and my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell), urging the Government to listen to the anxieties in the country over the problem of transport for the family. The public is looking for 1013 a solution. It is prepared for a national solution but it is not prepared to tolerate vested interests from either side of the House. The Minister can and must look for the solution, and during the next few weeks he ought to be able to find it.
If he can come before the House by the end of this year and give it the kind of policy that will fit the nation for the next 10 years, then I believe that, upstairs or on the Floor of this House, we could write the legislation evolving out of that policy, and could let it become available and operative during the next 12 or 18 months.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
I wish to be as brief as possible, because I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. I will not comment on the speech which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) has made. He has introduced one or two new ideas and some ideas which are old and which various Ministers of Transport have rejected in recent years. Much of his speech exhibited that conservatism, with a small "c", of which one of my hon. Friends complained and was going back to Labour policies which have been current for very many years. Nor will I make any attempt to fill in the policy, with which the Minister of Transport complained we did not supply him, because the object of our Amendment was to complain that he was not explaining what his policy was. I merely wish to make one point about the difference between the wording of the Gracious Speech and the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister at Swansea on 25th January, 1964.
The Gracious Speech says:My Ministers will bring forward proposals for the more effective co-ordination of inland transport.The right hon. Gentleman, speaking in January, 1964, said:We have demanded an integrated transport plan, co-ordination between road and rail and the allocation of traffic between them.In other words, the Prime Minister was demanding an integrated transport plan and the allocation of traffic. In the Gracious Speech all that is asked for is more effective co-ordination which, according to the speech made by the Minister of Transport, refers to such mat- 1014 ters as the parcel delivery service, and the buses meeting the trains and quite small matters of that sort. It seems that in the last few months the responsibilities of office have caused the Government to adopt a more cautious and moderate line. I hope that that is true, but I am not sure that it is because the words "co-ordination" and "integration" have been bandied about so much that they have lost all their meaning, and like the words of Humpty Dumpty in "Alice Through the Looking Glass", they have been twisted to mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean.
As I pointed out many times in the House, I was concerned, in a very junior capacity, with the railways' "square deal" propaganda campaign before the war. I believe that many of the ideas about transport which still haunt politics originated in that campaign and were slogans invented by publicity agents for the purpose of furthering private enterprise railways. The Minister repeated what I know to be a publicity agent's slogan. He talked about "wasteful competition". That was an expression paid for by the railway companies as a means of discrediting their rivals, and it is still current.
The basic idea of that propaganda campaign was that there were more transport facilities available than were needed, and that since the railways were underused all forms of transport should be integrated and the traffic allocated to one or other form of transport. I had very grave doubts about that policy at the time. I doubted whether the basic assumption was true, namely, that there was too much transport. It certainly is not true today. There has been a great increase in the volume of traffic carried, and the proportion carried by the railways has gone down. Eighty per cent. of the tonnage carried and 55 per cent. of the ton mileage now goes by road. The railways are still under-used. The principal reason is not a switch from rail to road; it is that the growth industries have been those industries which find it more convenient to use the roads.
For instance, between 1952 and 1962 there was an increase of between 30 and 40 per cent. in industries concerned with food and drink, tobacco and construction. Those are all industries which find it convenient to use road transport. On the 1015 other hand, the coal industry declined 10 per cent. If one could isolate the domestic coal trade from the commercial users of coal, one would find that the percentage of decrease must be very much more. The increase in the steel industry was only 13 per cent. There are many other examples. There is a tendency for factories and trading estates to have their layout arranged with a view to using road transport, not rail transport. It is almost impossible in many cases to make a rail connection. In those circumstances, we cannot get the traffic back on the railways by allocation.
The right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) advocated forcing the transport back on the railways by making it too expensive to go by road. The only result of that in many instances would be to force up the price of the goods produced and probably to force them out of the export market because they could not go by rail in many cases. The obvious answer is for the railways to make the best use of their own advantages and to cut redundant services in the manner suggested by Dr. Beeching. If we are to talk about being modern in a modern age, we must make the best use of the existing facilities and of future facilities. In certain cases it is still better to use the railways than the roads, but we should not obstruct the railways in doing the things which they can do well.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) spoke about liner trains. It is absurd that raliwaymen should object to road hauliers using the liner trains. It is the best hope which railwaymen have of getting some of the traffic back from the road hauliers, apart from prohibiting hauliers altogether. The advantage of liner trains to the long distance haulier is that he can use the railways at the terminals and do only short haul work and put the long haul work on the railways. He can then keep his lorry at home and not have to send his driver away for a night, thus incurring expense and possible losses due to not having the lorry under his own observation.
The idea of liner trains is attractive for the long distance road haulier provided that he can use them. But if the railwaymen insist that he should not use 1016 them and that they can be used only by cartage and delivery men employed by British Railways, a great deal of the usefulness of the service disappears. I hope that that attitude will not be persisted in.
A mistake was made—and not by a Labour Government, but by a Conservative Government—in the Transport Act, 1962, Section 53 of which has had some surprising results. That Section dealt with shipping interests which could complain to the Minister of Transport that if the railways made a charge for the carriage of goods by rail which was inadequate to cover the full cost of affording the service, the Minister could make a general direction that such charges should not be made. This protected coastal shipping. The idea was that it was unfair for a nationalised industry which was making a loss to be subsidised by the taxpayer and to undercut coastal shipping by charging less than the full cost of affording the service, including the due proportion of the central charges. I served on the Committee which agreed to that provision at the instigation of Members representing the North East Coast on the ground that it would help coastal shipping.
However, the Section is having unfortunate and unexpected results in the West Country because the old Great Western Railway was never at any time able to maintain itself by its passenger services. Unlike the Southern Railway, it always depended on its goods traffic to keep it going, but now the domestic coal trade is very much smaller. As a result, there has been a diminution in its earnings. There is, therefore, a surplus of capacity in the Western Region and there are trucks available which could be filled with traffic if a cheap enough charge were made. The railways are prevented from offering a smaller charge, particularly for coal traffic and china clay traffic, because of Section 53 of the 1962 Act.
In 1964, 750,000 tons of china clay were carried from Devon and Cornwall to destinations in the rest of the United Kingdom: 327,000 tons, about 40 per cent., went by sea; 237,000 tons, about 30 per cent., went by road; and 235,000 tons, again about 30 per cent., went by rail. In that year, 850,000 tons of coal went into Devon and Cornwall by sea; 1017 500,000 tons by rail; and 150,000 tons by road. The absurd thing about these figures is the large proportion carried by road.
We in the West Country, particularly in Cornwall, are not very well served with roads. In Cornwall, the only roads we have leading "up country" are the A30 and the A38, both of which are poor and subject to traffic jams. It is impossible to increase the goods traffic on those roads. People always choose one form of traffic rather than another, for one or other or a combination of two reasons—either the form of transport they use is cheaper than another form or it is more convenient. With the rather indifferent roads which there are in Cornwall, it is clear that the reason why such a large proportion of coal and china clay is carried by road cannot possibly be convenience. It must be cheapness.
Therefore, it would be a good thing if the railways were allowed to charge cheaper prices, and they would then probably get back a proportion of that traffic. I do not suggest that there should be any restriction on road traffic, but that the railways should be allowed to charge an attractive price. They would be willing to do it but for this Section which is benefiting road haulage rather than shipping.
It is important to us in the West that this should happen, because the line from Plymouth to Penzance is deemed to be a "grey" line, that is to say, it is one which is not capable of earning enough to justify capital expenditure on improvements. It is a line which could easily be improved. It was built on the cheap in the early days and there are many curves in the line which could be improved with very little expenditure and which would improve the service for passengers as well as goods.
But we are not likely to see that higher proportion of capital spent on this fine, unless we can improve the goods traffic. We could do that both for china clay and coal if the charges could be adjusted in a proper manner. I hope that this matter will be looked into.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)
I always listen with great interest to the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) and I am particularly interested in his remarks about the use of road instead of 1018 rail traffic for certain purposes. I regret that I have to agree with him to a great extent in this regard because I have noticed, with my intimate knowledge of the whole Merseyside docks system, that we are using road transport to the detriment of rail transport. Whether this is the best answer or is purely for the benefit of people who have the facilities for loading the ships as quickly as they can, it is the case. But whether it will be the case in the future is a matter for inquiry and for the adjudication of experts such as I acknowledge the hon. Member for Truro to be.
Many things have been said today, on which I want to comment. When I first came into the House, the late Aneurin Bevan, on hearing a remark on something which went back to my boyhood and which I thought was an inequality in industry, told me, "You must always remember that history started when the Labour Government came in in 1945." The date has now been altered and, from the comments today, it appears that history started only in 1964.
I would say to the Front Bench speakers whom I have heard today that whatever has been said about the dreadful situation in London and the terriffic and horrible carnage on the roads, as one who is very much a provincial Member —for the County Borough of Bootle—I believe that, unless the Government had carried out a great deal of decentralisation, we should never have attracted the Giro Bank, a wonderful achievement for us, or new office blocks.
I must acknowledge to the party opposite that when they were in power they listened to my voice when I told them of the difficulties experienced by young girls leaving our colleges and grammar schools in finding adequate and dignified work. Therefore, I acknowledge that decentralisation from London has at least meant more dignity for many people in the provinces.
I hope that this practice goes on. Whatever is said, it must inevitably solve the traffic problem if Government offices are spread all over the country. The main thing for any party to remember is that there are people in other parts of the world and other parts of the country who need many of the privileges and cultural activities which have for too long been the asset of this part of the country alone.
1019 I should like to turn to the subject about which hon. Members know that I would speak in a transport debate, and which is important in Liverpool. I am the only hon. Member from Liverpool who has spoken today and I hope, therefore, that I can do our problems justice. We have many problems. Recently, at a meeting of the Transport Institute in Liverpool, Mr. C. A. Dove, the Director-General of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, said:Time presses; it may be later than we think.The port industry needed firm information as soon as possible on ship design and methods of packing and dispatching cargo. The Merseyside section of the Institute of Transport adhere to this.
He made a very important point when he said that it takes longer to build or alter a port than to build a ship or a container depot. He went on:The port industry is on the threshold of revolutionary changes in many directions "—I would support him in that, especially in respect of the revolutionary changes which are coming in labour—not least in the acceleration of the movement of cargo through the ports and to and from them by land and sea.He pointed out that his visit to America impelled him to the view that they are over the threshold, and that time is very short.
We already know that the accent in our ports is on a quick turn-round in ships, and it is of this that I am thinking. There is one other point which was made at this meeting which I hope will not enter into today's debate. We have often felt in the north of England—I do not say that I have participated in this opinion all the time and to a great degree, but it is nevertheless an opinion held there—that there is no place in this island for rivalry between the North and the South.
I do not wish it to be thought that I am pressing the view of Liverpool against the national interest. I say what I do because I believe that this is the biggest exporting port in the country. Therefore, I believe that I am speaking in the national interest when I speak about Merseyside and the Port of Liverpool.
1020 I do not want to criticise the Front Bench or the previous Minister. The Merseyside Docks and Harbour Board has spent £54 million since 1945 on modernising conditions, and this has brought an improvement in recent years. We have a tremendous entrance which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen, the Langton-Canada improvement scheme which has given us seven new berths, and we have the Tranmere oil jetties which can take 90,000-ton tankers and which are bringing 10 million tons of oil per annum into the port.
These things have been achieved. We are asked to make a more intensive use of existing berths. That is being done by financial inducement to traders to clear the quays quickly and by penal rents for unduluy long periods of storage. We are asking for £5 million to be spent on other berths and for the modernisation of the berths to be kept to a limit in order that it shall not take too long, because in every year that a berth is out of action we lose 150,000 tons of cargo from that one berth.
I want to say something which may encourage the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology who, quite apart from his present appointment, has a lifelong association with the Transport and General Workers' Union, of which I have been a member for 34 years. The dry cargo handled by the Mersey Docks in 1964 was 84 per cent. higher than it was in 1950, and the expectation is that by 1980 the dry cargo handled will be 100 per cent. over 1960, which means that in 20 years we will have doubled the output of that great port.
Of the whole of our 210 berths, we have only 22 which are deep-water berths. That is a very serious matter in these days of larger ships, and there are more deep-water berths in Antwerp than there are in the whole of the United Kingdom ports.
I will not go on with that report to any great degree, because I do not want to weary the House with too many details. It is quite obvious that we have to have a radical improvement on Merseyside in the facilities for exporting. Prompt deliveries of cargoes from this country are essential to our prestige and to our economy, and we are anxious to get rid of any bad old habits that once prevailed in the Port of Liverpool.
1021 One point that exercises my mind is that there is a plan for a new dock. I have a copy of it before me, and the existing plan is for £65 million worth of work. At the moment, we are only going ahead with £35 million worth, on the first leg. I would like to ask the Minister of Transport, in view of the fact that so many docks in our country are old, whether that is the right attitude to adopt in these days of challenge from abroad. The plan is also asking for £5 million to be spent on old systems.
I speak as a man who has worked in the docks in one capacity or another for the whole of his life. I make no claim to have always been a labourer. I was able to occupy other positions which gave me a balanced view of what I believed and what others believed was necessary for the progress of our country in terms of sea transportation. There are seven miles of existing docks in Liverpool, in one straight line. They are older dock systems, but they are still useful and they need to be modernised. Ship repair facilities are needed, and we must remember that our new ships are not necessarily going to be of massive tonnages. As has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Truro, there is a great coast trade, and there is other trade in the Port of Liverpool involving ships of 9,000, 10,000 and 11,000 tons. These berths are very valuable.
There is yet another and more important reason, to which I hope the House will listen with some generosity. The working conditions and social conditions, if I can call them such, of dockers working in those parts are completely archaic. They would not be tolerated in any other modern industry. It is time that there was a change, and I am not merely asking for a change but demanding a change, in the interests of dockers, ship workers, boilermakers and everyone else. If we do not make a change, we are going to be short of men.
In only a decade, from 20,000 dockers we have made a reduction down to 12,000. People say that we will not cooperate and that we do not co-operate. But we have co-operated, and we have reduced manpower in the Port of Liverpool from 20,000 to 12,000 with more efficiency. The men are accepting new machinery and new techniques. But it 1022 is no good having new roads to bring goods to the port unless the cargoes can be got on board ship and away to sea in the most expeditious fashion.
There are restrictive practices, and one of them I will admit quite openly. There is a restrictive practice on Merseyside which some of us abhor to a degree. It is a thing called the "welt". Hon. Members will see that it is mentioned in the Devlin Report. It has its place in the industrial history of Liverpool.
When men were working dirty cargoes in a bad atmosphere, for the sake of their health they could not afford to stay down in a hold for more than one hour. They went down for an hour and then came up for an hour, working turn and turn about on an hourly shift. When the war came, the Port of Liverpool was badly bombed. My own town in particular had the greatest devastation of any town in England. The families of the men were asked to move out of the town, but the men remained, living in canteens, doss houses and anywhere they could. The late Ernest Bevin appealed to them to keep the gateway to the Western Ocean open because, without that gateway, the country would fall. The welt helped to save the nation then, because men worked day and night, hour and hour about or four hours and four hours about, sleeping as and when they could.
That is a historical fact, and when people talk about restrictive practices they should try to get them into perspective. In modern times on normal cargoes, the welt cannot be kept for very much longer. Every reasonable docker on Merseyside and in the country knows that it is time there was a change.
Having tried to put it into personal perspective to help hon. Members, I hope that when people make adjudications on it, they will bear in mind the tremendous record that our dockers have established in unloading cargoes in peace and in war, even taking into account the restrictive practices which are there.
However, they are not the only restrictive practices. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen would be surprised to know that there are thousands of men working on Merseyside for employers who have never owned so much as a truck. They have a telephone and an office. They are equally a restrictive practice in the 1023 port and belong to the days of long ago. They have no part in the working of a modern port. Indeed, the position has been recognised to such a degree that the Liverpool Dock employers have agreed voluntarily to a reduction from over 100 employers to precisely 14.
We have had trade union difficulty in Merseyside. I want to know why we could not have one employer. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board have just entered into the field and, if they do everything in their usual first-class fashion, I cannot see why we should not have one employer, if not now, in the years ahead. We could plan towards that end. We should also have one trade union on Merseyside. The multiplicity of trade unions or the duplication of the working of certain aspects is causing a lot of trouble. We have at the moment two sets of workers, the organised and the unorganised, and the organised are organised into two trade unions. That is not beneficial to the port, and these things should be said openly and honestly.
As I have said, one of the most important things is to get cargo to the ships by the best possible roads, and I would be neglecting my duty if I did not bring to notice certain facts, although the Ministry must be aware of them. Probably the biggest single dock system in this country is the Gladstone Dock. The roadway out of that dock system is no more than 25 feet wide, and it is causing tremendous blockages of transport. The solution is to widen the bridge at Sea-forth, where this new massive dock is to go—that must be done extremely quickly —and that road must be widened. There is nothing in that road to stop the work.
I further ask the Minister: when, in God's name, are we going to get completed the new Southport road which will ease the whole strain on this system for people coming into Liverpool from Southport 25 miles away? For 40 years we have been asking for the completion of this road. Could not the Minister of Transport give a little more consideration to this matter? The road is already about half completed. Or perhaps he could give us a little more capital to help us get nearer completion in order to ease the very grave problem of access to the Liverpool Docks. It is the queueing of lorries and the organisation of ships 1024 that is holding back the expeditious use of the new techniques we have.
I have already said, but I want to re-emphasise it, that it will be difficult to get the right sort of labour in the dock industry. I have no doubt that this will be the position in all our major ports. I live and work among the dockers in my constituency, and I know that their boys are not going to the docks. We have given better housing facilities but, in doing so, we have given them a better glimpse of the stars. Their boys are now going to grammar schools, technical schools and universities, and they will not go down to the docks unless there is a great improvement in the wages, conditions and hours down there. The members of the new generation have no intention of putting up with what their fathers put up with.
Trade unions and people's right to strike have been criticised in recent days. Only the other day the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber) pointed to a lot of the difficulties there are in the trade union movement, but he must have known that on that very day at a meeting in York people were working to get rid of restrictive practices, and had, in fact, succeeded in making arrangements to get rid of them. A great deal has been done already. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke about the boiler-makers, and particularly the boilermakers at Cammell Lairds, he must have known that none of us applaud their sort of action. The right hon. Gentleman must know that Sir Thomas Yates was given a very arduous and difficult job. He succeeded, after six months of negotiations, in producing an amalgamation of the two unions concerned.
If we are to be honest about what we want in the future, and if we want cooperation and co-ordination, let us tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, instead of trying to score mean little points off each other. I am not interested in the past; there has only been war and trouble and upset in the past. I belong to a town that is proud of its motto—" Respice, aspice, prospice " —"Look to the past, consider the present, plan for the future ". We know the past and the present, and we look to the future. Let us get the acrimony out of the docks, in particular, and let people 1025 cease from making these little points, as they do.
I was not brought up in the Marxist school. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) may be an extreme Right-winger, and regarded as one by his friends and colleagues, but as he pointed to where I sat, and spoke about departing from Marxism, I must say that I was not brought up in that way but in the Catholic Social Guild. The documents that form the basis of my views and the views of a lot of people in Merseyside and throughout the country are documents like "Rerum Novarum ","Divini Remptoris ","Quadragesimo Anno","Mater ete Magistra", and Papal Encyclicals. Let hon. Members read those documents. Their authors make Marx sound like an enthusiastic amateur. I therefore take objection to people who do not know the industrial set-up—and certainly do not know my set-up—challenging me in that fashion. I made up my mind to say that, lest there should be any dubiety about it.
A very important thing is exercising my mind and the minds of people in Merseyside, and I have been in touch with the Ministry of Transport about it. We in Liverpool have had a long connection with the Cunard Company. In I960 I worked very hard with the hon. Members for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Alldritt) and Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) trying to settle industrial disputes. We, and nobody else, settled the seamen's strike in 1960. That was a hard battle, fought over many weeks.
We settled that strike in the hope that we should retain great shipping companies such as the C.P.R. and the Cunard Company at the Port of Liverpool for the benefit of all concerned. We heard with regret yesterday a rumour, and it may be a very substantial rumour, that the Cunard Company might be leaving our port. I want this House to know how disappointed will be the commercial, shipping and other industrial interests of Merseyside if that great maritime organisation leaves the Port of Liverpool. Instead of there being an attraction from the South to the North, it seems that the South is attracting from the North.
Mr. Speaker, you have given me a great deal of time—I have probably taken up too much time—but I speak not only 1026 for myself but for people born and bred in the same environment as I was. The docks, the welfare of the docks, the progress of the dock system and the good relationships inside that dock system are absolutely essential to the economic benefit and prosperity of the country. I hope that when the Devlin Report is debated it will be along the lines of trying to bring to this industry a dignity that has never before been there—a social dignity and a personal dignity that we have never had. I hope that the House will take notice of at least some of the things that I have said, and I am very grateful for the opportunity of having been able to say them.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps I might first express my personal pleasure at speaking under your chairmanship. This is the first opportunity I have had of offering you my congratulations, and I am glad to have that chance.
I was concerned lest we might have a rather ragged debate this afternoon, as we are dealing with the two separate subjects of transport and technology, but I cannot help thinking that this debate has once more illustrated the profound interest taken in transport on all sides of the House.
With hon. Members on both sides of the House, I join in commiseration with the Minister of Transport for what after all is his most unenviable task. I wish also to join with that the name of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary who once more is in his place, tireless as ever. I think I am right in saying that he replied to no fewer than 32 Adjournment debates on transport matters during the last Session. Once more we have the pleasure of speaking to him through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in his speech on the Address last week, regretted that the Gracious Speech made such a very small reference to transport. He referred to the fact that only three lines of the Speech, in the last paragraph but two, dealt with that subject. I agree with my right hon. Friend that we had a right to expect more on this vital subject. We had a right to expect more because the whole economy of the nation is very largely dependent upon an effective transport system and we cannot 1027 look forward to an improvement in the economy and to making our export drive really effective until our transport system has been speeded up and improved.
I am led to the conclusion that the brevity of the reference to transport in the Gracious Speech means that we are not to see any very considerable improvement upon the former Administration's programme for road development, at least during the coming 12 months. If that is the case, it is a matter for great disappointment. Because of the Measures announced in July by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it appears that instead we shall have a cut-back, or at least a delay, in the road-building programme. This is a matter of grave concern to everyone, not only in this House but throughout the country.
Another matter which I was very surprised to find omitted, not only from the Gracious Speech but from the remarks of the Minister of Transport in his opening speech this afternoon, was any comment on the 1962 Transport Act. The right hon. Gentleman did not indicate that he intends to widen the powers which he has under that Act. Section 27 of that Act provides thatThe Minister, may, after consultation with any Board, give to that Board directions of a general character as to the exercise and performance by the Board of their functions in relation to matters which appear to him to affect the national interest.I have always maintained—and I have said so before in this House—that this Section has enabled the right hon. Gentleman to escape from what I regard as a moral obligation on the part of the Government to prevent certain of the closures of goods stations and other parts of the railway system on which closure orders were issued prior to October, 1964, from taking effect. I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would indicate that he at least proposed to bring in some form of Amendment to give him wider powers in this respect. In Labour's manifesto at the last General Election, under a section headed, "Plan for Transport ", we find in the first paragraph reference to:paralysis on our national highwayswith special reference to congestion in the summer months.
Twelve months later we have the right to find some positive proposals in this 1028 matter. In the second paragraph of the same Section there is an attack on the previous Conservative Administration for adopting and enacting the first Beeching Report. It says that:axing of rail services under the Beeching Plan … made things worse.That means that there has been greater congestion as a result of that policy. In paragraph 3 of the same section there is a promise that:major rail closures will be halted.We are always in difficulty about what is a major and what is a minor rail closure. If the rail closure happens to affect us individually, no matter how small the line may be, it becomes a matter of major concern to us. If, on the other hand, it is remote from us, it becomes a minor closure. This is one of the most difficult of all definitions. The time has come for the Government to say quite unequivocally that they will not authorise any further rail closures, at least until such time as they have produced their co-ordinated transport policy, about which we have heard so much.
In that same section of the Labour Party's manifesto, in paragraph 6, we have these very telling remarks:Labour will ensure that public transport is able to provide a reasonable service for those who live in rural areas.As one who represents a constituency in a rural area, I can certainly say that that pledge has not yet been fulfilled. The fact that in some cases rail closures have taken place in rural areas has had precisely the opposite effect to the intent spelled out in those words.
It is important that the Government should take another look at the whole question of the rail programme. I am convinced that the electorate believed as a result of statements which appeared not only in the manifesto, and not only in speeches by hon. and right hon. Members opposite, but in Press reports and articles at the time of the General Election, that the Beeching Plan would at least be halted until such time as a co-ordinated transport programme had been evolved by a Labour Government. But that has not been the case. Even within the last couple of months there have been two examples within the boundaries of my constituency where two new rail closures have been ordered, although of course 1029 they have not yet been confirmed by the Minister. I trust that they will not be confirmed.
The tragedy is that rail closures have taken place without provision being made for an adequate alternative service in the sense that road conditions are very often quite inadequate to meet the additional demand put upon them. Whenever a rail closure takes place in these cases it is imperative that money should be allocated for necessary road improvements because in many cases the closure not only results in congestion upon narrow country roads but has an even worse effect, an increase in the accident hazard. There was an example of this in my constituency when there was the closure of the branch line between Lostwithiel and Fowey. There double-decker buses have to pass in a road which in places is no wider than 15 ft. and the dangers are considerable, and it is a two way traffic road. Last summer a school bus was involved in an accident, although fortunately there were no children on board at the time. This kind of accident should be avoided. Where such rail closures are contemplated it is imperative that the Government should provide the necessary money for essential road improvements.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
Is my hon. Friend aware that in having buses substituted for the line which has been closed his constituency is in luck? I know of a line which was to be closed. We were told that adequate bus services would be provided. Fortunately, somebody got out a measuring tape and found that the distance between the road surface and the bridge would be inadequate. Therefore, the line had temporarily to be kept open, because no bus could get under the railway line. Yet we were assured that this was an adequate alternative.
§ Mr. Bessell
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for that example. It illustrates to an even greater extent the lack of planning and co-ordination in this matter. It is one which is of vital concern to hon. Members on all sides. I hope that we can have an assurance tonight from the Minister of Technology, when he replies, that the Government will take a much closer look at all proposed rail closures in the months ahead.
1030 I believe that the railways still have a vital part to play. I join those hon. Members who have congratulated the Minister of Transport on the introduction of experimental liner train service. I realise that this is only an experiment, but let us at least see what it is like, how it works, and how effectively it serves the country before we condemn it. This is one positive step forward, and we should pay tribute to the Minister of Transport for the initiative he has taken in this matter, particularly in the last few months.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)
I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that every rail closure proposal is now being submitted to the appropriate regional planning board and regional economic planning council. Therefore, we shall now have the advantage of the advice of the planners on the spot, people who are acquainted with the local road conditions.
§ Mr. Bessell
I am grateful to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. I am afraid that this will not satisfy me. I do not think that it will satisfy any right hon. or hon. Member who represents a constituency in the far west. To illustrate the point, I will take the case of the proposal to close the branch line between Looe and Liskeard. I understand that this has already been submitted to the regional council and that the council has recommended a closure. To me, it is incredible that this could happen, since it means that between June and August about 45,000 passengers who previously travelled by rail will now have to travel on a road which is totally inadequate for present demands, let alone the very considerable additional demands this will place upon it.
§ Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol West)
I do not under-estimate the problems of the West Country, which I know as well as the hon. Gentleman does. Perhaps he would like to tell the House what the Liberal Party's solution is to this very difficult problem, because wholly uneconomic services are to be cut to save public money and in the West Country there are roads which carry a tremendous seasonal traffic but which in the winter are empty.
§ Mr. Bessell
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I believe that the answer is not so difficult as it appears to be at first glance. First, I do not believe that any rail closure should be authorised until the money has been allocated for an improvement to the road which will have to carry the additional traffic resulting from that closure. In the long term this would mean that a line which was losing money would be closed but that there would still be an adequate means of getting to and from the points served by that line, even during periods of high demand.
I recognise that in these days of difficulties, with capital expenditure restricted, this would be a long-term policy. It is for this reason, and because I recognise the Government's difficulty in providing the additional capital at the moment, that I believe that these services should remain. They are still imperative, not only for convenience, but for the development of areas such as the West Country where there are unemployment problems.
I was glad that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) referred to the necessity of co-ordinating the transport of coal and other heavy goods by rail rather than by road. The hon. Gentleman said that a very considerable tonnage of coal comes into Cornwall by sea and by road which previously travelled by rail. The hon. Gentleman said that if this traffic could be returned to the railways it would go a long way towards making the rail services economic and solving the deficiency problem.
This is an important matter. The hon. Gentleman was right to draw the Minister of Transport's attention to this fact. I cannot dwell too long on rail services, much as I would like to do so. The truth is that this is something in which hon. Members on all sides of the House are greatly concerned. I am convinced that we must make the best possible use of our rail services. We must do everything we can to make them competitive. We must modernise the railways. We must ensure that they play an effective part in a properly co-ordinated transport service.
I have some real sympathy with the Minister of Transport on the subject of roads. I realise that any action he may wish to take is governed by the economic conditions confronting the nation. I shall 1032 not waste time by discussing whether that is the result of 13 years of Conservative administration, whether it is the result of the Labour Party's administration after the second world war, or whether it is the result of the last 12 months. I do not believe that people are really concerned about whose fault it is. They are much more concerned to know what is to happen in the future.
I realise that the Minister has a very real problem, not only to complete the programme bequeathed to him by his predecessor, but also to attempt to improve that programme in the way which is necessary to meet modern demands, demands which are likely to increase in the years ahead.
I have spoken recently in the House on the subject of building motorways financed by loans raised by the Government and repaid over a period of 15 or 20 years by means of a small toll. I shall not go into the details of this suggestion again tonight. I ask the Minister of Transport to give us an assurance that he will at least consider this as a possible solution. There is no need for the whole of the capital cost of a motorway to be raised by means of a public loan and repaid by a toll. It would certainly assist the road-building programme if part of the capital cost could be raised by this means, because the benefit to the economy as a whole would far outweigh the small amount which would be involved by way of cost to the motorist.
It is a well known fact that the saving in terms of fuel and time and wear and tear on the vehicle for the driver of a heavy goods vehicle, or for that matter the driver of a passenger vehicle or a motor car, travelling from point A to point B on a motorway type road would far outweigh the small toll he would have to pay to meet the cost of building that road and amortising it over a period of 15 or 20 years.
There is ample evidence of the truth of this argument. There is the example of Canada, the United States, France, Italy and other countries, which have used this method because they have been unable to provide the money from treasury funds. The resultant benefits have been so considerable that to me it is incredible that the Ministry of Transport did not take this matter seriously long ago.
1033 The docks require the Government's urgent attention during the coming 12 months. There is no doubt that the future of our export drive will depend upon the efficiency of our docks, not only the conditions under which the dockers are working. I was very interested in the speech made by the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon). It must be remembered that for many years we have lagged behind in capital expenditure on improvements to the docks themselves and to the access roads to them. These are matters which should have priority in the Government's planning in the months ahead.
We have a right to ask the Government to take account, in any co-ordinated transport system, of the existing canals and waterways which are surely overdue for a survey. They may well have a real use in this age. They are a cheap means of transporting over long distances where speed is not the main consideration. I should like to think that the Minister will give some attention to some of these inland waterways which I believe have still a useful part to play in the moving of heavy and bulky items that come on to the road and are unsuitable for rail transport.
Then there is the question of airways. As I have said many times before, and no doubt will say many times again, it is useless to talk about regional development and taking to the areas in the far West, in Mid-Wales or in the north of Scotland, the industrial developments necessary to give people in those areas the same degree of prosperity as is enjoyed by people in the big urban centres, unless we not only have better road communications but also have the airports which will enable executive and business men, buyers and sellers, to travel to and from these places quickly and efficiently. I welcome the initiative which has been taken in the West Country by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) in this matter. I am sure that the people in his constituency are very indebted to him for the work which he is doing.
On the question of co-ordination, I accept the point which the Minister has made. This is a problem which has confronted every country of the Western world for many years. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman and I cannot think of any country which has solved this 1034 problem. It would be most unfair, wholly unrealistic and even stupid to expect that the right hon. Gentleman and his Ministry could resolve this problem in a matter of twelve months in office. To suggest that this could have happened and a properly co-ordinated transport system could have been produced in that time is little better than nonsense. I do not expect for a moment that it will be done within the next twelve months either.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
The hon. Member was referring to the nonsense of asking too much, but he has been asking for improved roads to the docks, for improved docks, airways and canals. Can he give us the priority he wants? At the moment he is asking for Utopia.
§ Mr. Bessell
The hon. Member has heard part of my speech—I do not know which part. He has 'not heard all of it and has not been present during the whole of the debate. If he had listened and had heard my speech, he would have known that I gave priority to the docks and the roads leading to the docks because they are essential to the economy of the nation because of the export drive. I said also that the Ministry should undertake, whilst the economic crisis is with us and capital expenditure is restricted, not to authorise any further rail closures. I have said that there is priority in the matter of transport to regional areas. All these things are frightfully important if we are to have a transport system which will enable us to recover our economic position and to distribute the wealth of the nation throughout the length and breadth of the land.
These are long-term policies. I do not ask the Minister to give an undertaking that these things shall be carried out during the next few months, but we want an assurance from him that these matters are being earnestly considered by his Ministry and that in the course of the next few months he will give us a programme to which we can look forward.
As for co-ordination, I return to the original point, namely, that I would hope that we might have some detailed proposal from him today whilst at the same time I realise that this is a difficult problem to solve. I have welcomed the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has 1035 said that he will be making a further statement to the House before Christmas. Assuming that the House sits until Christmas eve, I shall have to wait a further 38 days. I am quite prepared to do that. I hope that we shall have some indication of the Minister's thoughts on co-ordinating the transport services and that he will retain within that framework the essential competition which is necessary for any efficient transport system in any country.
On the subject of safety, we have read a great deal about the horror of motorway pile-ups. We cannot under-estimate the fact that there is a great deal of very bad and inefficient driving on our roads. Is the Minister satisfied with the present system of driving tests? Is he satisfied that this matter does not require a reexamination, and whether people should not be re-tested after a period of time? There is no doubt that bad driving is still one of the main causes of the very high accident rate in this country. It is interesting to note that the United Kingdom Commercial Travellers' Association, which is very concerned that there should be a high standard of driving among its members, has had a remarkable accident-free record. This is something which warrants a little investigation.
As for motorway pile-ups, it is worth noting that illuminated warning signs were erected on the M.5 some two winters ago and during that time there were only two crashes in foggy conditions, neither of them fatal. Therefore, in my view, it has been shown that the warning signs have proved effective, particularly when one compares the considerable accident rates on the M.1 and the M.6 neither of which bear these warning signs.
Whilst on the question of safety—and the Gracious Speech refers to this specifically—there is need for more mobile police to be seen around, because if they are seen it has a salutary effect on bad and careless drivers. People are far more likely to observe the existing laws if they can see that there is danger of their being caught. An eminent personage is reported in the Evening Standard as suggesting punitive punishments might be a good idea for bad drivers. I have no quarrel with that suggestion. The Minister might well consider the need to 1036 introduce new legislation to toughen the penalties for bad and careless and wantonly speedy driving. I recall driving a few months ago in New York State and seeing a sign on the highway which read, "Speeders lose licences". I enquired whether this had any meaning and I was told that it had every meaning. Anyone who broke the speed limit lost his licence automatically. There is a great deal to be said for that kind of highly effective punishment for a person found guilty of breaking the law without any consideration of the consequences.
I believe that there is much more detail needed from the Minister than we have heard in his speech today. I regret his failure to take the kind of powers which I believe he should take if he is to prevent the Beeching Plan from causing real damage to our rail system. I regret the year which has passed in which there has had to be delay in capital expenditure on the road programme and I regret the facts which led to that delay. Nevertheless, an attempt is being made and, within the restrictions put upon him by the present economic condition, the Minister is doing his best.
I do not hesitate to make my criticisms tonight, but I could not advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Opposition in the Lobby on their Amendment. [Laughter.] I shall explain why. I thought that I heard the word "lackey "used by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls). I do not regard as constructive, helpful or likely to be of assistance either to the country or to this House the putting down of an Amendment whichregrets that the Gracious Speech contains little promise of progress in the modernisation of industry, notably in the fields of transport and technologywhen it is plain to everyone who has eyes to see and the wish to see that the financial restrictions placed upon the Minister today make it impossible to carry out the kind of programme which everyone in the House and the country wants to see undertaken.
For this reason, I find it impossible to support the Amendment. Moreover, it is obvious to everyone that, if the Conservative Opposition were sitting on the Government benches, they would not be able to do any better in present conditions. I have listened to speaker after 1037 speaker from these benches today, and I have heard not one suggestion from them which would indicate a way of overcoming the financial problems which restrict the Government and prevent them improving the programme, however much they may want to do so.
§ Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby (Dorset,West)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware— [HON. MEMBERS: "He has just come in."]— that a very large proportion of the cuts made in the road programme are in the South-West? Does he think that this is fair?
§ Mr. Bessell
As hon. Members pointed out, the hon. Gentleman has only just come in. I really do not know why I gave way to him. I have already referred at length, and, I am sure, to the boredom of many hon. Members, to the fact that I deplore the cut-back in road schemes. I recognise that it has been necessary, but no one has shown greater concern than I have in the House during the past 12 months to do everything possible to persuade the Government not to cut back the road schemes but, rather, to improve them.
§ Mr. Robert Cooke
The hon. Gentleman will recall that I was here throughout a large part of his speech, when he was attacking the Conservative Opposition and saying that they could not do any better. Exactly what suggestions has he to make on behalf of the Liberal Party which could possibly assist?
§ Mr. Bessell
This is quite incredible. I sometimes wonder whether hon. Members on this side are completely deaf. One constructive suggestion I made, which no one has challenged, for improving the road building scheme and assisting the Treasury at the present time was that public loans should be raised for the building of motorways.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Roderic Bowen)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to repeat his speech for the benefit of those who have just come in.
§ Mr. Bessell
I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) will read my speech tomorrow, he will find that it contains several, so I hope and believe, constructive suggestions.
§ Mr. Bessell
I am grateful to the Minister for indicating his agreement. I hope that that agreement will show some practical results in the months ahead.
Our transport system and the road programme, including, in particular, the modernisation of the railways, have been neglected for over 50 years. This is not a problem which can be resolved in one or two years. It is not one which will be solved quickly. The problem of coordination is very difficult indeed. But it is incumbent upon hon. Members on both sides to admit that they have failed to resolve the problem themselves during the past 20 or 30 years. I make no political point here. I am not saying that the past Administration should have done more or should have done less, and I am not saying that the previous Labour Government should have done more or should have done less. I am pointing out only that, as the problem has not been solved for so long, it is absurd to expect that it can be solved in 12 months or, indeed, in the coming 12 months. I personally wish the right hon. Gentleman well in what I know is a most difficult task. I believe that all hon. and right hon. Members on both sides have real sympathy with him in his considerable problems.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) into all aspects of transport, although I know that many of us on this side will agree with some of his observations and will feel that it was impertinent of certain Conservative Members who had not listened to the debate and who came in at the tail end of his speech to interrupt him in the way they did.
It is a custom of the House that an hon. Member should declare the fact if he has a particular interest in the subject under discussion. I readily do so on this occasion. Prior to the General Election in October last year, I was in the employ of British Railways as a railway shop man working in one of the motive power depots in the East Midlands. I claim to know something of the problems of railway men and women, and I hasten to assure my right hon. Friend that many railway men and women are rather critical of Government policy. They would prefer the Government to have halted all railway closures until such time 1039 as a plan for co-ordination had been produced.
Earlier today the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) expressed criticism of public ownership. I accept the principle of public ownership and want to see it extended. Certain features of railway policy can be criticised, however. My main criticism is that voiced by railway-men all over the country. It is criticism not only of policy but of the management of the day-to-day affairs of the British Transport Commission. The rot in the industry set in when the Tories denationalised road haulage. Since then, the industry has been chopped and carved and subjected to harsh criticism in this House. Railwaymen are alarmed by many of the things happening.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popple-well) dealt at some length today with the policy towards the railway workshops. Many railwaymen cannot understand why workshops which have been modernised through expenditure of taxpayers' money should suddenly have been closed. For instance, the Swindon points and crossings shop was relatively new— built in about 1960— and was specially constructed and laid out for the manufacture of points and crossings. It cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Although there is adequate work for it, most of this has been allocated to private firms and the shop is due to close next month.
The same applies to Doncaster wagon shop. A considerable sum has been spent on improving it in recent years. About £ 250,000 was expended on the provision of an up-to-date substation for electricity supply and on a new cable throughout the works. In addition, modern toilets were installed. These improvements cost thousands of pounds. Despite this, the Board has decided to move the men, the machines and their work to a shop two or three miles away in Doncaster and the former wagon shop has, it is understood, been sold to a Mr. Arthur Snipe, a mining machinery manufacturer. Although the price is not known, the premises are reported to have been sold rather cheaply.
I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) is here. 1040 I would not like to trespass upon his territory but, as one who went over the Darlington railway workshops some years ago, I assure the House that the locomotive works, due to close in April, is a most modern diesel railcar multiple unit shop equipped to repair and maintain engine units, gear boxes, pumps and final drives, using the latest techniques and equipment.
I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to look again at the policy towards railway workshops. Some of us are perturbed that, by the time the necessary legislation is through the House allowing workshops to compete for orders in engineering, no workshops will be left to compete. A few years ago there were 120,000 men in the workshops. The figure is down to about 60,000. No one can say that the railwaymen have not accepted modernisation. They did so a few years ago and as a result the men have co-operated with successive Governments, although well knowing that it would mean a certain amount of redundancy. They say now, however, that it is time a halt was called to closures and I hope that the Government will look again at the problem, because the position is getting really serious.
Earlier this year, when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food introduced the annual Price Review, speaker after speaker from the benches opposite—including an odd voice or two from the Liberal Party— rose to appeal for extra cash for the farmers. I am doing the same thing now on behalf of the railwaymen. Like the farming industry, the railway industry is one of the great bloodstreams of the nation and if ever it came to another war— which God forbid— we should realise how dependent we are upon the railways.
§ Mr. Ted Fletcher (Darlington)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is not so much a question of cash but of the work being farmed out to private enterprise that could be done in railway workshops? This is borne out by the fact that, only three or four weeks before the Darlington closure was announced, a substantial order for diesel locomotives was given to a private enterprise firm. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport must look at the allocation of 1041 available, work as between private and public enterprise and see that these orders are placed in the first instance with public enterprise.
§ Mr. Lewis
Yes, Sir. I agree with every word of my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington. In fact, a large number of orders for the building of new locomotives have been allocated to private firms such as Brush and English Electric. As evidence of this, in 1965 delivery of new locomotives from private manufacturers will number 300. Apart from this, an order for 50 Type 1 diesel locomotives has recently been awarded to English Electric. This is happening when British Railways workshops are unemployed.
Other work, too, is going out to private enterprise, and railwaymen are asking, I sometimes think rightly, "Is there anyone in the top sphere of management of British Railways who has shares in outside engineering firms?". That is a common saying by railwaymen in railway workshops throughout the country. Some of us are somewhat suspicious that this may possibly be the case. For instance, the whole of British Railways' requirements for concrete sleepers is to be produced by outside firms, including Costains and Dowmak. These orders cover the replacement of wood sleepers by concrete sleepers on all trunk routes over the next five to 10 years. Orders for concrete articles are being placed with the Devon Concrete Co. of Barnstaple, but not long ago British Railways closed their Exmouth Junction Concrete Works. To the ordinary railwayman this seems absolutely absurd. No one has yet produced figures to suggest that these articles can be produced more cheaply by private enterprise. Railwaymen, as my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington is well aware, in the shops at Darlington have proved to the management that many of the things which have gone to outside tender could have been produced more cheaply in railway workshops.
In the Road Motor Engineer's Department, contracts for tyre maintenance and replacement have been placed with outside firms, including Brown Brothers. Tyre maintenance in the past has been economically undertaken by railway staff. Is it any wonder that railwaymen are a little peeved and disturbed when they look at the present management and rail- 1042 way policy? The civil engineers and the signal engineers of the Western Region are hiring motor vehicles, whereas previously they had allocations of railway-owned vehicles which were maintained in the Road Motor Engineer's Department. Furniture repairs have been allocated to private firms at places far from the main workshop centres, although this kind of work was formerly undertaken by staff in the main works.
Again, a considerable amount of breaking up work formerly carried out in the railway workshops has been lost. Complete locomotives and other vehicles are being sold to scrap merchants for breaking up, and a number of railway depots undertaking this class of work have been closed. Just before the General Election some engines were being sold to a firm in Sheffield. Since the General Election, when British Railways could not meet all their commitments and when jobs were being cancelled through lack of power, British Railways engines were being held up for the lack of springs. I am given to understand that since the election a number of locomotives have been sold to scrap merchants and that railway staff have gone to a scrap merchant's yard, taken the springs off the engines and brought them back for use by British Railways.
Is it any wonder that railwaymen are critical not of the Government but of the policy, because in many respects it is typical Tory policy? Wagon repairs are still being diverted to private firms, mostly in South Wales. Orders for rolling stock for the London Transport Board's new Victoria line, which could have been built in railway workshops, were awarded to a private firm. I could go on and on about this. There is a vast amount of criticism at the lack of a coherent policy by those in charge of British Railways. The average railwayman was very glad to see Dr. Beeching go. One constituent of mine said to me, "You gave the Beatles the M.B.E. for making people happy and you made Dr. Beeching a lord because he made so many people sad ". That view is being reflected by railwaymen in various parts of the country. I understand that at a recent consultative meeting in the North-Eastern Region a top-level official of the British Railways Board in that region stated that the only way in which he could achieve 1043 his object was if there were a further reduction in traffic.
It seems that the railways do not want traffic. According to a report in a local newspaper only last week, the pigeon fanciers of Cumberland, who spend about £ 7,000 a year with British Railways, have been told by the Railways Board that they had better go to private enterprise for transport for their pigeons. [Laughter.] The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) seems to like that. He has an interest in private ownership. At one time he was interested in the aircraft workers, but evidently he is not interested in the railway workers.
§ Mr. Lewis
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may think that that sounds funny, but I remind him that he certainly has an interest in private enterprise, and it is private enterprise which I am attacking.
It was reported recently that goods stations in some regions were hiring containers to private hauliers and thus creating a shortage of containers, with the result that some traffic had had to be turned away. This is a criticism not of the Government, but of the Railways Board's policy. Many railway men always have been and always will be keen and loyal supporters of the Labour Party, and many of us hope that the Labour Government will be able to assist them to the ends for which many of them are working.
It has been said by a number of hon. Members today that heavy traffic must be taken from the roads and put back on the railways. The roads are cluttered. Is there an hon. Member who has been in a traffic jam caused by a heavy vehicle who has not said at some time that heavy traffic should go back to the railways? I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider a policy to that end.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether electrification will be extended to Carlisle and even on to Scotland? I share the view that electrification should be extended and I hope that in due course 1044 the vast network of our railway system will be electrified.
There are many who believe that England ends on the north-east side with Newcastle and on the north-west side with Preston. I join with the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) in asking the Minister to do everything in his power to extend the A.6 by-pass beyond Kendal and up to Carlisle. Such an extension is vitally necessary. Hardly a week goes by without accident cases being taken to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. The hospital is now regarded by doctors almost as a casualty ward for the victims of the many accidents on the A.6 in that area. I hope that my right hon. Friend will take at least some notice of the pressure being brought to bear by a newspaper in my constituency, a newspaper which is not Socialist or even Labour but Tory-controlled and which has been pressing for modifications to the A.6.
Finally, I hope that the co-ordination envisaged in the Queen's Speech will take account of the railways and of the roads and that my right hon. Friend will get down to considering a national plan for the roads, for the railways, for aircraft and for the docks
§ 8.50 p.m.
Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis) has not left me sufficient time to follow him in all the points made. There is one particularly interesting feature about this debate, and that is that while almost every hon. Member opposite prefaces his remarks on transport with grandiose phrases about "integrated national transport plans and organizations ", we had no less than 170 minutes speaking time from the Government benches before there was mention of the word "aeroplane". I think that reveals what a modern, progressive party we have in Government today. Having said that, I am not going to refer to aircraft or airport matters.
There are two points which I want to make, which I hope will be constructive— they are certainly meant to be. The first deals with road safety and the second with technology. For too long motorists have been tending to blame the roads for many of their mishaps. The accident rate which 1045 we see at the present time on some of the motorways shows quite clearly that they are not entirely blameless. It is surprising that individuals who are normally meek and mild, once they get behind the wheel of a car, in a steel box, in a world of their own, become demons and maniacs. Even elderly ladies with failing eyesight, who would hesitate to play around with an 8-inch howitzer, do not think twice about stepping into a car and driving off in a weapon every bit as lethal.
My suggestion, which I hope the Minister will take in a constructive spirit, is aimed at approaching the problem of road safety through the mind of the motorist with a view to overcoming what I believe to be the most dangerous of all attitudes, namely, "It can't happen to me." There are two things to which no man on earth would like to admit. One is to having bad breath and the other is to being a bad driver. The Minister of Transport could make a far greater use of television to demonstrate the common faults and failings of motorists and to show up so many of the little mistakes which everyone makes on the road and which lead to accidents. Motorists are often blissfully ignorant of some of the little faults which they commit.
Could the Minister gain the collaboration of the noble Lord, Lord Willis, in another place to produce a television serial on. rather the same lines as "Dixon of Dock Green" which would help to educate the public about motoring in a way that was interesting and which would hold public attention? I tried to make this suggestion to the Minister last summer in the form of a Parliamentary Question, but I am afraid that he brushed it aside. I believe that this is a point worth looking into. If his Ministry and a useful and talented scriptwriter, such as the one I have mentioned, could be brought together, I think that something valuable could come out of it.
There is one example which I think is relevant at a time when there is a great deal of fog about. In daytime fog something like five motorists out of six go along happily with their sidelights on. Invariably one can see a car before its sidelights, and this is a complete waste of time. Why cannot the Ministry give more publicity to asking motorists to put 1046 on their headlights in daytime fog, and snow storms? I have seen posters put up at various street corners, but not nearly enough is done. This is the sort of point which could be made in a television programme.
I turn briefly to a point on technology. I regret that last summer I was discourteous enough to refer to the Minister of Technology in his absence as the Achilles heel of the Labour Party. I hope that I can rectify this act of discourtesy by repeating it in his presence. I complained then, as I do now, that he is neglecting Scotland's interests. If I am wrong, I hope very much that he will be able to correct me later this evening by giving me an answer to a specific question concerning Edinburgh University. This is not a little local problem but a national problem, as can be seen by the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) raised it earlier this evening.
In July 1964, I understand, Edinburgh University applied for a computer in order to satisfy its teaching and research needs. It was rumoured shortly afterwards— I believe in the autumn— that the University Grants Committee was rather favourably inclined towards this idea. But then, as we know, there was a change of Government and a reorganisation of the scientific structure took place. Since then, Professor Flowers has carried out an inquiry. He was, I believe, supposed to have reported in April. I do not know what has happened to his report. I regret to say that I have been unable to discover it.
The delay is very harmful, because not only is it holding up the teaching and research progress which Edinburgh University would like to make, but a large and talented group of experts has been built up by the director of the computer section in Edinburgh University and there is a danger that some of these people will drift away. I understand that one man has already left and that three others are considering accepting posts elsewhere. This is a great pity since a very valuable team has been built up.
It would be very helpful if the Minister could give a specific answer tonight and say what decision he will arrive at or when a decision can be made and at least ensure that he will break down what 1047 appears to be a network of bureaucratic indecision, confusion and delay. It would satisfy Edinburgh University and would. I believe, enable it to get on with an extremely valuable job in the country.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
It is, I hope and believe, no discourtesy to the great number of interesting speeches delivered by hon. Members on both sides of the House today when I say that, to me at least, this has been a very disappointing occasion. It was supposed to be— and I speak with humility in returning to the words of the Amendment — a debate on "the modernisation of industry". Of course, it was hoped that there would be two or three particular examples, of which we named two— transport and technology— from which hon. Members on both sides could take their inspiration. But what has happened? So far as I know, with the exception of the admirable speech of my noble Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) and another constituency speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), all the speeches have been about transport and the great majority of the speeches from the other side of the House have been from those intellectual crustaceans whose sole contribution to the modernisation of industry is to urge the Government in various tones of abuse to reverse the policy of closure of some of the installations of British Railways.
This must, of course, have been as much of a disappointment to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology as it was to me. I suppose that this was why they dug me out of the law courts to wind up and dug the right hon. Gentleman up out of his ruminations on his conflict of loyalties— about which his colleagues in the House of Lords spoke so movingly the other day— to reply. Here we are, both of us, all dressed up and with nowhere to go. This is more of a trouble to the right hon. Gentleman than to me, but I hope that he and I will do our best to help one another with the debate, which we are both to wind up, on the modernisation of industry.
I share the disappointment expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) at the speech of 1048 the Minister of Transport. It was not so much his pathetic failure to defend his inability to retain his road-building programme in his conflict with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have all had our conflicts with Chancellors of the Exchequer, and it is no humiliation— not, at any rate, unshared by other Ministers and ex-Ministers— to have failed in one of those conflicts.
What disappointed me in this respect was was the right hon. Gentleman's defence of his failure. He did not seem to understand the case which is being made against this Government on that point. Just over a year ago the country was being led to believe that if only they had the wisdom, as it was put, to return a Labour Government—[HON. MEMBERS:"Bonkers."]— they would be given a whole new clutch of hospitals, schools, roads and houses, all of it with an increase in the welfare services and no general increase in taxation. I am quoting, from memory, from the all-highest in this respect.
As everybody knows, of course, what has happened is that they have not had the clutch of new schools, hospitals, roads or houses, but they have had a general increase in taxation. So they have all been swindled. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for his party's road programme to come to the House and ask "What would you have cut?", because the truth is that we could have managed with our whole capital programme— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] We did not have to get our overdraft guaranteed. It is they who had to get their overdraft guaranteed, a situation which is now regarded universally on the opposite side of the House as the acme of financial genius.
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman asking me why I voted against the increase of taxation to pay for his roads, because the fact is that he promised a vast increase of roads without a general increase in taxation. I was only casting my vote in favour of the Government keeping their election promises. But that is not the burden of my complaint against the right hon. Gentleman. He was obviously doing his best in an impossible situation, a situation which all Ministers have to face from time to time. He had lost his battle with the Treasury, and so 1049 he adopted the ploy which Ministers always do of pointing to the Opposition and saying: "Well, what would you do?" We have all done that in our time, and it is a very good ploy.
What really disappointed me about the right hon. Gentleman's speech was not his failure to defend his defeat over a road programme which he had sworn to defend with his life as recently as March. What disappointed me was his apparent inability to understand the seriousness of the problems with which he is faced.
As several hon. Gentlemen on this side have pointed out during the course of the debate, what we are faced with at the moment is a rail system which was, to the great credit of our ancestors, not only built but designed before 1855. There are about 17,000 miles of rail track in the country, and about 120,000 miles of road. The right hon. Gentleman's recipe for carrying us into the twenty-first century is to take part of the traffic which is carried on the 120,000 miles of road and put it on to the 17,000 miles of rail. That would be all right if the rail system was devised for the twentieth or even the twenty-first century. But it is not. The distance between stations and the nature and shape of the branch lines were based and designed on the hypothesis that rail transport was the only type of mechanical transport available. The only alternative was the- horse and cart. When he turns to the roads, he finds that the 120,000 miles of road or thereabouts which there are in the country were also designed for the horse and cart, with the exception of relatively few modern roads.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to my constituency, and well he might. Very nearly all the buildings in my constituency are new. If my grandfather, who lived there, went through my constituency he would not recognise the buildings, but he would recognise all the streets because they are exactly the same. They were designed for the horse and cart in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The right hon. Gentleman's remedy for the problem with which he is faced at the moment is to try to force back on to rail traffic which my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) clearly established was not suitable for rail, and he has failed to state at any moment of time at all 1050 the real fact of the case, which is that our transport system needs redesigning from the start.
It is no good prattling about new signalling systems or little bits of electrification here and there. The system needs redesigning as a whole, and the right hon. Gentleman has not even begun to establish the need.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is speaking about the distance between stations, but the distance between London and Glasgow is exactly the same as it was in 1855. Today there are many hundreds of lorries running all the way between London and Glasgow carrying merchandise. It seems to me that it would be of great social benefit for the whole of the country if a lot of that traffic were taken off the road and put on the rail, and that is one of the things that will be done by the liner trains, which started last night.
§ Mr. Hogg
Oddly enough, the Minister has not yet tumbled to the fact that there are a number of stations between London and Glasgow and that the average distance between them is about 2½ miles. Since he raises the question of the comparability of road and rail, he might at least recognise the fact that throughout the world the flexibility of road transport over rail transport is something that has established certain advantages which no sensible Minister can ignore, but which a lot of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends do ignore.
The fact of double handling, which is inherent in every rail journey, has never once been mentioned from the opposite side of the House in this debate—
§ Mr. Fraser
That is not true. In my speech, to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman said he listened, I spoke of the advantages of rail traffic if we were able to use containerisation a little more. That is exactly what the railways are now doing. It is exactly the example of the liner trains. It avoids double handling.
§ Mr. Hogg
But what the Minister never really faced was the fact that double handling was necessary in every rail journey. If he analysed the traffic figures, which he claims to have studied, he would realise that it is physically an impossibility to place upon our rail services the great 1051 proportion of the increased traffic which has come on our roads.
The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ron Lewis), to whose last speech I listened also with great interest, did not appear to have appreciated that much of the traffic to which he referred would not fit on the railways because of the size of the tunnels and the height of the bridges. These, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, were designed and built at a time when the loads referred to did not exist to be carried at all.
The fact of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman has been attempting to defend a policy which I can only describe in this way. He wishes to reinforce failure. He wishes to countermand success. He has sacked Beeching. He has shelved Geddes. He has shanghaied Hinton— I mean the report— he has buried Buchanan and he has forgotten Rochdale. His policy is to reinforce failure and to ignore technical advice.
However, I will leave the right hon. Gentleman for the right hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins), who, with me, has to suffer from the fact that the whole of this debate has centred around transport, when both he and I were expecting and hoping to be answering a debate about the modernisation of industry, of which transport is only one aspect. I should have been much more scornful about the speeches we have heard from the other side had I not also had to recognise that, with two exceptions, the speeches on my side had dealt with transport, and not with the modernisation of industry.
The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) spoke once again of what he alleged to be the 13 years of sterile, empty, hateful, retrogressive Tory policy through which we had just passed. The right hon. Member for Nuneaton will no doubt be able to correct his hon. Friend, because by any objective criteria he will have to say, if he is pressed, that civil science progressed in those thirteen years faster than in any previous 50 of our history. We became the second technological nation of the West, second to the United States, and the United States had the advantage of scale and national income which we could not hope to emulate.[Interruption]
§ Mr. Hogg
Public hospitality does not merit such a toast.
So far as anyone can judge, by any comparison, we expend more money per head of the population on civil science than the U.S.S.R. These achievements were made notwithstanding that the secular trends were against this society, secular trends which we could not prevent if we would deplore and which we could not deplore if we could prevent them. The development right across the world of alternative centres of industrial production, the loss of military power and political Government— in those thirteen years these were factors moving against this island, and we achieved what we achieved despite those factors.
If I may give the House one or two figures in order to inform the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West, the proportion of our national income spent on research and development in those thirteen years rose from 1. 9 per cent.— which was still higher than that of any other European society— in 1951 to over 3 per cent. at present, I understand. The national income has risen in the interval from £ 13,000 million to about £ 27,000 million. No doubt the Prime Minister would remember the exact figure.
§ Mr. Hogg
The right hon. Gentleman would not be able to discount the percentage because of the increase in prices. So I think that was an unwise intervention.
The breakdown of that expenditure on research and development moved in those thirteen years from about 60–40 in favour of military scientific expenditure in about 1951 to the contrary figure of 40–60 last year. Government expenditure on civil science during that period multiplied itself by a factor of not less than seven, from about £30 million, according to my recollection, to something like £180 million, and the research councils by a factor of four or five. This was backed by industrial spending of more than £ 300 million, plus the military expenditure to which I have referred.
1053 Those: are not figures that hon. Members opposite can readily discount, because this myth of thirteen wasted years is always untrue, but in the field of civil science it presents a challenge to the right hon. Gentleman to which at the moment he has shown no signs of rising. So far from there being any sign that the right hon. Gentleman has achieved any advance in the field of civil science and technology, all the signs are that, through faults which are not mainly his but are mainly those of the right hon. Gentleman who is sitting on his left, civil science and technology in this country has retrogressed in the last year instead of advanced. The fact is, whether we look at transport or whether we look at any other branch of industry, that what this country is faced with is not something which can be completed in five years or in thirty years or in one year. We have to look forward to a period of continuous and progressive change in almost every field of economic activity, which will certainly last until the youngest of us is dead and in the grave.
What this country must face, and what is meant by the modernisation of Britain, is nothing less than the redesigning of this country's entire social and capital equipment. When I speak of the design of the railways, I speak not pejoratively of them. They were a tremendous feat, but they were designed and built before 1855. When I speak of the need for urban renewal, I speak not in contempt either of the right hon. Gentleman or of my colleagues. The fact is that most of the centres of our great cities were built for the horse and cart.
Before we can solve these technological problems, we must bring to bear the whole effort, intelligence and coordination of a nation. This is the real answer to the superficial charge of "thirteen wasted years". In those "thirteen wasted years" we built more than any other generation had built before and did more than any other series of Governments had done in a like period. But there still remains for this Government and for many successors to come years and years of patient effort until this country accomplishes its own part in the creation of a new human society. That new human society will go on developing at an ever increasing tempo, 1054 in an ever more revolutionary way, until it has altered the entire physical face of human life in the planet. Therefore, it is idle for one Government or one side of the House to despise another for what it did or did not achieve in thirteen years. We must place high in our list of priorities this country's technological advance.
Technology is only the applied branch of science. It is nothing more, but it is nothing less. Science is the distinctive characteristic of our own generation and age to human civilisation. Other ages have been better at literature, drama, philosophy and religion, but we are at our best in science, pure and applied. That is when we are at our most sincere. This is when we are at our most effective.
In the very few moments during which I wish to take up the time of the House, I want to say one or two things to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology. It would have been very easy for me, as the right hon. Gentleman knows—I have deliberately eschewed it —to have made some kind of personal fun of the position which he holds in the Government. I have deliberately avoided that course. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is in an unenviable position. I think that the real person responsible for this Government's failure to modernise Britain is the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister is my target.
There are certain fundamental things which must be realised before we talk of harnessing science to any system of society or any system of society to science. One must understand something about the nature of science, and the right hon. Gentleman, when he made that famous speech, had not a clue. This has been established again and again by the extraordinary series of suggestions that he made immediately following that speech.
First, there was going to be a great Minister of Science. That went by the board. Then the right hon. Gentleman was going to divide out the science of this country amongst the various executive Departments. That went by the board. Then there were to be three Ministers, a science one, a research one and a higher education and technology one. That went by the board. Finally, he set his right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) the most unenviable and indeed impossible task, because technology cannot be cut off 1055 from pure science. It is only the applied branch of pure science, and the Minister, sitting where he is, has cut it off from its roots.
Technology cannot be divided from education, but the Minister has divided it from technical education by the very fact of his appointment, and that is why the building programme for the technological universities and technical colleges has been cut short in the Chancellor's new measures. Procurement and sponsorship cannot be divided, but the right hon. Gentleman has divided them. He has taken on the sponsorship of the electronics and computer industries, but the Minister of Aviation, with the power of procurement in his hands, is able to ruin any little thing that the right hon. Gentleman is able to do.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot divide technology from business management, because at the level of industrial policy technology is only another facet of business management. But the right hon. Gentleman, by taking on responsibility for the great Government research laboratories from the Research Council, has tried to divide business management from technology. If he had set up the Industrial Research and Development Authority recommended by the Committee, he would have had at his disposal a great industrial authority backed by industrial scientists of repute, with liaison with all the board rooms of important industry, nationalised and private. But the right hon. Gentleman sits alone in his ivory tower on Millbank, unable to move in any direction and unable to influence either economic policy or business policy or education.
That is the measure of the right hon. Gentleman's failure. It is not his fault. He can reflect there upon his conflict of loyalties, but the person who is responsible for this failure is the Prime Minister, who, by his foolish and superficial judgment on this subject, to which he had given no prior thought of any importance at all, committed himself in advance to a policy which was doomed to failure.
All I would add to that is this. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology is to reply to this debate. I trust that he will tell us that his office will forthwith be abolished. There are 1056 two alternative viable models for the organisation of technology in this country. One is to bring it back into the field of education and science, where science is now hopelessly oppressed by the great weight of the machine in Curzon Street and where the Secretary of State shows nothing but contempt for the scientific part of his work. Another is to integrate it with economic policy in the Board of Trade, which is in sorry need of some technological instruction and inspiration. But, either way, the right hon. Gentleman will have to break up his Ministry and destroy it. In the hope that he will tell us that that is what he will do, I now invite him to reply to the debate.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Technology (Mr. Frank Cousins)
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was quite right in supposing that I should be as disappointed as he was at the nature and tone of the debate. The Amendment moved by the Opposition was designed, I understood, to bring to a head the challenges put to the Minister of Transport in the holding of his office and to me in the holding of mine. It was to be a scathing attack on the Government and on the whole basis of their approach to the modernisation of industry. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for attempting, at the end, to bring a bit of life into it, though he certainly did not talk much about technology.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman raised one point of importance. He invited me to make clear that I would be party to the abolition of the office of Minister of Technology. He will be interested to know that, far from it being abolished, there is the intention to strengthen it, and, if it pleases the right hon and learned Gentleman, on the initiative of the right hon. Gentleman sitting on my left, as he described him, the Prime Minister.[Interruption.] I shall come to most of the observations which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made but I hope that those who have been so conspicuous by their absence from the debate will at least allow those one or two worthies who thought they would hear a debate on the modernisation of industry to have an opportunity of hearing it.
I heard with interest the point that no one should despise one side or the other 1057 of the House for what they have not done in one year or in 13½ years. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that this is a job for all of us. The task of modernisation, the reconstruction of the whole of our economy, the recreation of our cities, the development of the fiscal arrangements which go towards making a modern society— all this is not a context in which one should say that it is someone's fault if he has not done it.
§ Mr. Cousins
This is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. I have not noticed you in the House very often.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have been here. The right hon. Gentleman meant to say that he had not noticed the hon. Member for Ormskirk here. I hope that we may now proceed with the debate, in the same good humoured vein that has marked it so far.
§ Mr. Cousins
I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I had, of course, seen you in the House. But the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) I had not seen.
What I was speaking of just before the interruption is what Socialism is about. This is why we asked the electorate to put us into office, so that we could set out on the task and really do something about it. Again, I remind the House of something which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said. He said that we are not talking about a job for this year, but one for the next 50 years. But we hope to get it done a little quicker than that. At least, we shall start it. But I trust that, when we say that we should not accuse one another, this information will be conveyed by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite to each other and to their back benchers. I appear to have been the victim of a lot of this kind of thing.
There has been little discussion of technology in the debate— which has been concentrated mainly on transport— although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe (Sir M. Red-mayne), in his opening, indicated that there would be some reference to it. He also referred to co-ordination of trans- 1058 port. Have right hon. and hon. Members opposite forgotten that we were on the basis of getting co-ordination in 1951, that we had started discussions about co-ordination?
A somewhat sneering comment was made about my not having experience in this House or a deep knowledge of industry. For a number of years I sat on the opposite side of Ministerial tables to successive Ministers of Transport to talk about this problem of co-ordination, but they destroyed the only opportunity there was by wrecking the system whereby feeder services of British Road Services were being used to bring quickly and effectively to the railheads goods for handling by the railways.[Interruption.] This was a long time before we even put Dr. Beeching in and not when we sacked him. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The ex-Carter Paterson and Pickford services which were part of British Road Services were doing the finest job of providing fast liner and container traffic that the country had seen. They came from many parts of the country to the centre and to Birmingham, the Midlands and the Leicester areas.
That system was destroyed. The right. hon. Gentleman said that it was never the intention of the last Government to allow the transport holding company to expand on an unlimited basis. Some of my colleagues with me at the time in the trade unions would have been happy to hear him say even that because not only was the company not allowed to expand on an unlimited basis— it was not allowed to expand at all. We were told that commercial freedom would be the driving influence but that British Road Services would not be allowed to compete with the ordinary road hauliers. In fact, the B.R.S. vehicles were sold off under the 1953 Act until at the last stage, the balance could not be sold so the then Government had to form a new section of British Road Services.
It is this kind of thing that makes me feel a little wild at the idea that we had passed to us when we took office a wonderful transport system and that all we had to do was to let it remain as it was. We have been told what a wonderful job the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) did as Minister of Transport. We were told that he is away 1059 at the moment finding out some of the things—and this was quite offensively put to me— that I ought to know. It would have been well, if he wanted to take part in the handling of technology, if he had been here for the debate censuring the Ministry of Technology, or at least had allowed the hon. Member who is deputy to him to have spoken. The Government regard technology as a serious subject. The problem of the modernisation of British industry must be solved.
The right hon. Member for Wallasey is far from having the wonderful record which has been described so many times to us today. We have even been asked why we have not yet done something about stopping more cars from coming into London. We have been asked why we have not done something about increasing public transport. The hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. John Harvey) said that my right hon. Friend should realise that bus services out of Walthamstow were already so overcrowded that he could not think of driving any more people on to them and would have to be careful about what he did in trying to stop private cars.
This reminded one of another of the projects that the right hon. Member for Wallasey handled so wonderfully. I was a member of the Committee that examined the whole question of London Transport. A proposal was put for a new underground line from Victoria to Walthamstow. At the time it was proposed, the cost would have been £ 17 million but we were told that it could not be afforded. The right hon. Gentleman — who is absent examining what transport ought to do in Tokyo—told me then that if I was suggesting that it should be subsidised I was asking other people to pay for London's transport service.
Now, however, we all accept that this has to be done. Why? Because the situation has reached the stage when the line will cost five times as much as it would have cost then and no one will put it down unless it is subsidised. The Government are, therefore, not merely to assist in paying for the building of the line. We are at the stage when we shall have to pay £4 million a year to subsidise it. I wonder if anyone will put that down as another of the achievements of the right hon. Member for Wallasey.
1060 There has been talk about safety measures. Several hon. Members opposite have spoken of the need for safety measures to deal with fog and to protect people against heavy vehicles. A number of years ago the union of which I was at the time the general secretary made a proposal to the then Minister of Transport for a reduction in the working hours of the drivers. We suggested that in modern circumstances an Act which was passed in 1930 was not the appropriate medium to deal with the regulation of hours of employment for men on these heavy vehicles under present road conditions— particularly as in the meantime the speed of the vehicles had been stepped up from 16 m.p.h. to 20 m.p.h. and then to 30 m.p.h., and subsequently it has risen to 40 m.p.h. We suggested that it would increase productivity, bring about modernisation and allow the vehicles to be more effectively used and the men's time not to be wasted if the hours were cut. But it was not felt to be a proper measure by this wonderful modern Minister of Transport, the right hon. Member for Wallasey. We now have a situation in which men are keeping vehicles out and arguing about schedules of times of employment rather than getting on with the job. When I hear the kind of comments made today about the need for modernisation and productivity, I become a little nauseated, because no one on the benches opposite really means it.
The unions put their views forward on modernisation to the same Minister of Transport. They advanced views about capital reconstruction and about getting the money for the modernisation and mechanisation of the docks. Again they were rejected— by the same Minister of Transport. But today I hear hon. Members say, "We hope that the Government will not neglect that very good Devlin Report but will give effect to it as quickly as they can ". That kind of comment does not mean much to people who sat on the opposite side of the discussion table in dealing with the practical application of the problems which we are discussing.
The problem of London buses is another of the wonderful achievements of the right hon. Member for Wallasey. Some time ago we pointed out to the Minister that the method which was being used for determining the transport needs 1061 of the Metropolis was wrong. It was pointed out that if the number of buses is cut because fewer people are using them—which is inevitable as cars are bought—we shall have such a wide gap in the times between buses that people will look for other means of transport, and thus we shall be in a vicious circle. We suggested that the Government should consider subsidising the service. We, the unions involved in the handling of the affairs of the workers on the London buses, suggested that there should be a subsidy and a recognition that if transport in the great cities were to be effective as a public transport service, then it would need to be a social public service.
I have been interested to hear hon. Members opposite making these suggestions and urging that we should tackle these problems. They say that my right hon. Friend should have done all these things in the year in which he has been in office— all these things which we have said required attention in the last 20 years. I think that you should be ashamed of yourselves for not having done it.
§ Mr, Cousins
I come to some of the comments which have been made by my hon. and right hon. Friends, who have said that every Minister of Transport in the last decade has refused to face up to this problem. That is a fact. I have inevitably been compelled to talk to Ministers of Transport during the past 20 years. A number of them have recognised that we need more roads but they have not had the money available to provide them. When I, in my rather uninitiated and possibly ignorant way, suggested in those days that the Government were obtaining so much money from transport that they ought to provide the roads, I was told that anyone who put this argument could just as well ask for tobacco plantations to be provided, for those who smoke, out of the tax on tobacco. I was told that the tax on motoring had become accepted as a general form of taxation.
If it has been accepted that this is a general taxation system, then the point of 1062 view which was put by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) is quite valid. We must look at other methods of financing the construction of roads. My right hon. Friend is not unaware of this. Examples were given of Tokyo and Italy. Others have used these roads. Others have experienced travelling on the new auto-routes in Italy where one paid the toll for five years before the Italians started to build the roads. They put the end pieces down and charged one to go through them, but they did not build the roads until they had the money. That is one way of doing it. I wish that those who are now asking my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to get on with the job would realise, despite all that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said, that they had 13½ years to put their ideas on costing to the electorate, if that was how they seriously felt. But there is some doubt about whether they felt that way, or feel that way at the moment.
Can we get co-ordination? There were some remarks about the men in the N.U.R. Of course, we can get coordination if we set about it in the right way, if we get the understanding that it is designed not to drive men out of employment but to provide security and efficiency of operation and a higher standard of living for them. Of course, we can get it if we recognise that it does not necessarily take three or four handlings if the right containers are provided and there are the right areas of distribution. Of course, we can get it if we have the right depots and what in America has come to be known as pick-a-back loading, which has been successfully operated there for years. But we cannot get it if we set out to destroy the relationship between rail and docks and inland waterways as a deliberate part of policy.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) said that it was obvious that it was in the country's interest that more goods should be sent by rail, and then, on challenge, he withdrew the word "obvious". He said that it was not obvious, but it was preferable. I repeat his original word. It is obvious. If something is not done about it soon, traffic in this country will come to a standstill. Something needs to be done and it is therefore obvious.
1063 If we are not careful, we shall reach the point of not dealing with technology at all. [HON. MEMBERS:"Hear, hear."] But the debate has been on transport and not by my wish. I would have liked to discuss technology. I thought that hon. Members opposite wanted to do so and I thought that they wanted to know what was happening.
Some hon. Members have complained that we are not giving attention to such matters as the reconstruction of the machine-tool industry, and there was a snide opening to the debate asking whether we had withdrawn from the attitude in "Signposts for the Sixties" which threatened the machine-tool industry with public ownership, as though that was the kind of thing to talk about at this time. We need to discuss the modernisation of the machine-tool industry, an industry which is now doing an effective job of work and will do better because it now has the encouragement of a Minister who, in such ways as he can, is aiding its development.
There were two questions about technology.[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) has made enough interruptions in this debate from a seated position. I hope that he will note what I have said.
§ Mr. Cousins
The two questions were about the prototype fast reactor. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) did me the courtesy to talk about his view of technology and its local effect in his area. In a debate of this kind it is not possible for me to say when a decision will be taken about the prototype fast reactor and its siting. The view is expressed that it ought to be Chapel Cross. I can only say that that view was pressed upon me when I was in that constituency. There are others pressing similar points. I can say that all the questions concerning the economic and social aspects will be given consideration, and a decision reached as soon as possible.
The other question was on the Flowers Report raised by two hon. Members who asked whether I was being a little anti-Scottish because Edinburgh University wanted a computer and the Flowers Report had made, so they understood, a progressive review about the need for com- 1064 puters, and since that time nothing had been heard of it. This is a matter receiving" active consideration at the moment. This review has now been completed by the University Grants Committee, and the Group's report is a very comprehensive document. It covers a wide range of computers, ranging over the whole field of university requirements. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and myself, and others concerned, appreciate the need for an early decision. It is greatly to be regretted that the knowledge of the requirements was not understood five years ago, and the examination put in train five years ago.
Quite obviously in this kind of debate we are not going in depth into technology. I would suggest to hon. Members opposite, if they want a debate on technology, that today's events have demonstrated that it is well to separate the two subjects of transport and technology. I would be pleased if some of those who made critical comments about my participation in today's debate would give me an opportunity to say to them what I feel about their participation.
In opening the debate on the Queen's Speech the Leader of the Opposition made reference to what he described as: "The same flabby words" about technology "from the same Minister." I was at some trouble to read the views expressed by the Opposition on the subject of technology in their policy statement. One statement read:This is not a Manifesto dealing with every aspect of our policies, nor do I think this is what people really want at this stage in the nation's affairs.This is a quite different assumption, and quite different from saying to me, "Give detailed comment about everything you are doing." In order to make quite clear that they did talk about technology a reference was made in two places, to technology. One reference was:… our policy is designed to produce a far greater security of income in this age of rapid technological change.The other was, if we get technological change we should be:… seeking new ways of promoting technological co-operation on a European scale.This is the only reference to technology— a subject which has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1065 Marylebone as being vitally important. I have therefore no hesitation in asking my hon. and right hon. Friends to reject the Amendment.
§ Question put, That those words be there added: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 266, Noes 283.1069
|Division No. 1.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Lambton, Viscount|
|Allason, Junes (Hemel Hempstead)||Emery, Peter||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eyre, Reginald||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Farr, John||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Astor, John||Fell, Anthony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd.Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwer)||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Fraser,Rt,Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Balniel, Lord||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Longbottom, Charles|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Gammans, Lady||Longden, Gilbert|
|Barlow, Sir John||Gardner, Edward||Loveys, W. H.|
|Batsford, Brian||Gibson-Watt, David||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn|
|Bennett, Sir Frederio (Torquay)||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Glover, Sir Douglas||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain|
|Biffen, John||Glyn, Sir Richard||McMaster, Stanley|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Goodhart, Philip||Maddan, W. F. M.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Goodhew, Victor||Maitland, Sir John|
|Blaker, Peter||Gower, Raymond||Maude, Angus|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Grant, Anthony||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Box, Donald||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mawby, Ray|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Grieve, Percy||Maydon, Lt.Crndr. s. L. C.|
|Brewis, John||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Gurden, Harold||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mitchell, David|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Monro, Hector|
|Bruce-Gardyno, J.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||More, Jasper|
|Buchanan Smith, Alick||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Morgan, W. G.|
|Buck, Antony||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Burden, F. A.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Murton, Oscar|
|Buxton, Ronald||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclest'd)||Neave, Airey|
|Campbell, Gordon||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hastings, Stephen||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hawkins, Paul||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hay, John||Onslow, Cranley|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hendry, Forbes||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Higgins, Terence L.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Cole, Norman||Hirst, Geoffrey||Percival, Ian|
|Cooke, Robert||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Peyton, John|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hopkins, Alan||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cordle, John||Hordern, Peter||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Corfield, F. v.||Hornby, Richard||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Costain, A. P.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Howe, Geoffrey (Beblngton)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Crawley, Aidan||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Crowder, F. P.||Iremonger, T. L.||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Curran, Charles||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jennings, J. C.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dance, James||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Jopling, Michael||Roots, William|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsm'd, Sir Henry||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Dean, Paul||Kaberry, Sir Donald||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Sharpies, Richard|
|Doughty, Charles||Kilfedder, James A.||Shepherd, William|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kimball, Marcus||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Drayson, G. B.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kitson, Timothy||Smith, J. L. E. (London, W'minster)|
|Eden, Sir John||Kirk, Peter||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Stainton, Keith||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Stanley, Hn. Richard||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Stodart, Anthony||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wise, A. R.|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Talbot, John E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Woodhouse, Hon. Christopher|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walder, David (High Peak)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Teeling, Sir William||Wall, Patrick||Younger, Hn. George|
|Temple, John M.||Walters, Dennis|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Weatherill, Bernard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Webster, David||Mr. McLaren and Mr. Pym.|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Abse, Leo||Evans, loan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Kelley, Richard|
|Albu, Austen||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Ledger, Ron|
|Atkinson, Norman||Floud, Bernard||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Foley, Maurice||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Barnett, Joel||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Beaney, Alan||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham N.)|
|Bence, Cyril||Freeson, Reginald||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lipton, Marcus|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Garrett, W. E.||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Bessell, Peter||Garrow, Alex||Loughlin, Charles|
|Binns, John||Ginsburg, David||Lubbock, Eric|
|Bishop, E. S.||Gourlay, Harry||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Greenwood. Rt. Hn. Anthony||McCann, J.|
|Boardman, H.||Gregory, Arnold||MacColl, James|
|Boston, Terence||Grey, Charles||MacDermot, Niall|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McGuire, Michael|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mclnnes, James|
|Boyden, James||Griffiths, Will (M'chester, Exchange)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)|
|Bradley, Tom||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hale, Leslie||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Hamilton, William (West Fife]||MacMillan, Malcolm|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Harper, Joseph||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hattersley, Roy||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersneld,E.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hazell, Bert||Manuel, Archie|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mapp, Charles|
|Chapman, Donald||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Marsh, Richard|
|Coleman, Donald||Holman, Percy||Mason, Roy|
|Conlan, Bernard||Horner, John||Maxwell, Robert|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mellish, Robert|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Howie, W.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cronin, John||Hoy, James||Millan, Bruce|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Molloy, William|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Monslow, Walter|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Darling, George||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Mulley,Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk)|
|Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Murray, Albert|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jackson, Colin||Neal, Harold|
|Dell, Edmund||Janner, Sir Barnett||Newens, Stan|
|Dempsey, James||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jeger, George (Goole)||Norwood, Christopher|
|Doig, Peter||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ogden, Eric|
|Driberg, Tom||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Dunn, James A.||Johnson,James(K'ston-on-Hull,W.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Dunnett, Jack||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Orme, Stanley|
|English, Michael||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Ennals, David||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,s.)||Owen, Will|
|Ensor, David||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, Walter|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Paget, R. T.||Rowland, Christopher||Tomney, Frank|
|Palmer, Arthur||Sheldon, Robert||Tuck, Raphael|
|Pannell, Rt, Hn, Charles||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Pargiter, C A.||Short,Rt.Hn.E,N'c'tle-on-Tyne.C.)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)||Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton.N.E.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Parker, John||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Silkin, S. C, (Camberweil, Dulwich)||Wallace, George|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Warbey, William|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Skeffington, Arthur||Watkins, Tudor|
|Pentland, Norman||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Weitzman, David|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Wellbeloved, J.|
|Popplewell, Ernest||Small, William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Prentice, R. E.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Whitlock, William|
|Probert, Arthur||Spriggs, Leslie||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Randall, Harry||Stonehouse, John||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Rankin, John||Stones, William||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Redhead, Edward||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Rees, Merlyn||Stross,SirBarnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Reynolds, G. w.||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Swain, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Richard, Ivor||Swlngler, Stephen||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Symonds, J. B.||Winterbottom, R.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Woof, Robert|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn.K.(St.Pancras, N.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Ziiliacus, K.|
|Rose, Paul B.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Tinn, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Sydney Irving and Mr. Lawson|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South) rose—1070
§ It being after Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.