HC Deb 21 June 1966 vol 730 cc262-3
11. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Minister of Power when he will publish the Steel Bill.

Mr. Marsh


Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

As we are still in a state of economic crisis, will the Minister try once again to negotiate a compromise with the steel industry in this matter instead of dividing the nation in these difficult times by pursuing the old-fashioned White Paper nationalisation policy?

Mr. Marsh

The argument for nationalising the steel industry is precisely that it will aid the nation's long-term economic plans. I would have thought that, having waited for such a long time—right until 10th May—before proposals arrived which it was obvious to everyone were totally unacceptable, there was not much point in going on much longer.

Mr. Park

As in two successive General Elections the people of this country have expressed their clear support for the principle of nationalisation, does not my right hon. Friend agree that the Steel Bill should be introduced as soon as possible?

Mr. Marsh

I think it is fair to say that there has never been a Bill before the House on which, whether hon. Gentlemen opposite like it or not, this side of the House has been given a clearer mandate at two successive General Elections, and we intend to discharge it.

Mr. Barber

Does the Minister realise that the evidence shows that the majority of the electors of this country are not in favour of steel nationalisation? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Secondly, does not the—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate the Steel Bill now.

Mr. Barber

On the question of timing to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, does he realise that at a time when Britain is in the midst of a dangerous economic crisis, and becoming increasingly reliant on overseas support for the £, it is the height of irresponsibility to press on with steel nationalisation?

Mr. Marsh

There is no evidence that the nationalisation of the steel industry would have an adverse effect on the nation's economy.