HC Deb 22 November 1966 vol 736 cc1273-311

The Board shall not exercise any of their borrowing powers conferred by the Coal Industry Act 1965 for any purpose in connection with the exercise of the powers conferred by this Act in excess of £6,000,000:

Provided that the Commons House of Parliament may resolve that this section shall have effect with the substitution for the reference to £6,000,000 of a reference to such greater sum (not exceeding £12,000,000) as may be specified in the resolution.—[Mr. Corfield.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

9.21 p.m.

Mr. F. V. Corfield (Gloucestershire, South)

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

This and the next new Clause on the Notice Paper can be said to go to the root of our opposition to this Bill. It is a Bill which gives to the National Coal Board powers to indulge in activities, either by itself or through subsidiaries, which take it into realms far beyond the getting and making available of coal, which is a fair summary of its existing powers under the 1946 Act.

Our opposition is based on the proposition that, whatever the merits of diversification may be in private industry, wholly different criteria are applicable in the case of a nationalised industry, particularly the Coal Board. One of the principal differences is the ease with which the National Coal Board can borrow capital money under the Act of 1965. That must give it an unfair advantage in competition with private industry.

This is particularly so, though not exclusively so, in conditions of credit restriction and high interest rates which are current. The Government have done absolutely nothing to refute this charge of unfair competition throughout our proceedings. We must, therefore, assume that it is something with which they in their heart of hearts agree, and realise cannot be refuted.

When the Bill was first published it had, as is usual, an Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, paragraph 3 of which made it quite clear that any borrowing required by the Board in the exercise of the powers conferred by the Bill would be governed by the Act of 1965 and such moneys could be borrowed from the Exchequer subject to the overall limit of the Board's borrowings in the 1965 Act.

The limit was £700 million which can be increased to £750 million by an Order made by the Minister and approved by the House of Commons. The Memorandum goes on: The exercise of the Board's new powers may accelerate This would seem to be the euphemism of the week. It is quite clearly a conclusion which follows as night follows day that it will accelerate. The Memorandum continues: progress towards their borrowing limits and cause an increase in the moneys issued out of the Consolidated Fund, and such an acceleration might cause the House of Commons to be asked to approve an Order increasing the limit under the Coal Industry Act, 1965, earlier than would otherwise be required. Here again I should have thought that "will" would have been a more appropriate word. Not only has the Coal Board substantial advantages in borrowing as compared with private enterprise under this Bill, in its exploration for and exploitation of natural gas or petroleum beneath the North Sea, but it also has the advantage that it can, if it so desires, provide any gas or petroleum that it acquires to its subsidiaries on favourable terms.

As the Bill stands, this is a situation in which there can be no Parliamentary opportunity to check to what use the Coal Board is putting its new powers, whether they are being profitably operated and, if so, in what circumstances, and whether it is at least endeavouring to trade fairly vis-à-vis private enterprise.

The Government have failed completely in the Bill to accept their responsibility to ensure fair trading conditions between the nationalised sector and the private sector. It therefore seems to my hon. Friends and myself that the next best safeguard would be a Clause on these lines to ensure that there was a limit to the capital which could be used in this enterprise and that that limit should be exceeded only up to another limit—we have doubled the estimate which the Minister gave—on coming to the House with a resolution and that any subsequent funds required would have to be the subject of further legislation. In the light of the large sums which could be sunk in an enterprise of this sort, this is an essential safeguard for Parliament to have over what is, after all, the taxpayers' money.

Throughout our proceedings, my hon. Friends, and particularly my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Fylde (Colonel Lancaster), with his very great experience in these matters, have been at pains to emphasise that drilling for oil or gas in the North Sea or anywhere else is a highly speculative operation. That is a proposition which the Government have not attempted to deny. But if the Coal Board or its proposed associates, Gulf Oil or Allied Chemicals, are unlucky, not only will the Board's investment—that is, the taxpayers' investment—prove abortive, but there is always the temptation in speculative operations of this sort to go on sinking further capital in the hope of recovering the original capital. It is surely right that Parliament should have some say as to when this operation should stop.

As I understand it, the proposal is that the Coal Board should have a 40 per cent. holding in some sort of subsidiary, of which 60 per cent. would be held by Gulf Oil or Allied Chemicals. If this is so, the decision on whether to go on sinking money must lie with the majority interest, namely, the American associates, rather than the Coal Board. I find it a little curious how respectable the word "speculation" becomes when applied to a nationalised industry compared with the use to which it is put by right hon. and hon. Members opposite in any other context.

There is another aspect, namely, the Coal Board's interest in the various subsidiaries and particularly in the Staveley Chemical Company. It is of some interest that in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) yesterday the Minister gave a list of companies in which the nationalised industries had interests and failed to mention the very important Staveley Chemical Company. As I said on Second Reading, that company has powers under its memorandum of association which go far beyond anything which Parliament conferred on the Coal Board.

The important point is that if the Board's explorations and exploitations are successful, and if it deems it right or wise to supply gas or petroleum to this subsidiary or indeed any other, then clearly the activities and the results of the operations carried out by the Staveley Chemical Company are every bit as much important to Parliament and the public as the operations of the Coal Board. This again is something where there will be no Parliamentary opportunity to review the matter until the whole £700 million borrowing powers are exhausted.

We take the view that it is right to place a limit on the investment that the Coal Board can make in these entirely new activities, in which it has no experience, and that it should be necessary to come back to Parliament if those limits have to be exceeded and for Parliament to be able to have second thoughts and further discussion. That is why I move the new Clause.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Circencester and Tewkesbury)

I support the new Clause because the principle is of the greatest importance. We know that it is the Government's policy that the nationalised industries should diversify. They have announced this and, to the surprise of many hon. Members, they have confirmed it in the Bill and in certain proceedings on the Iron and Steel Bill and other Bills.

I see no parallel between diversification by nationalised industries and diversification by private industry. This whole policy is likely to cause the Minister to run into many Parliamentary storms before he has finished, and it will also cause the country a great deal of difficulty to sort out the mess which is left when this policy has been put into effect. The two angles are completely different. The point of the Amendment is to limit the amount of capital that the nationalised industry, in this case the Coal Board, can invest because of that obstacle, which it is completely impossible to overcome if the Coal Board has limitless capital at its disposal.

The Minister has said that if he considers it to be in the national interest for a nationalised industry to diversify in this way, anyone who attempted to question this would be doing a disservice to the nation. The Minister should think about this, because his interpretation of what is in the national interest may well not be the same as the interpretation of my right hon. and hon. Friends. We sincerely question whether it is in the national interest that large numbers of private enterprise firms should face this extremely unfair competition, which in the end, and if the Coal Board has a mind to do so by pumping in more and more money, can reduce those private enterprise firms to a position where they have to capitulate to the great power of the State.

That is the doctrinaire objection which my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) has so ably put, but I would like to go on to a more practical observation. Already the Coal Board has invested nearly £4 million in activities which are not directly concerned with the production of coal or its ancillary products. The vast bulk of this investment has taken place since the present Government came into power. What is so extraordinary is that there was no mention whatever of this investment of £4 million until my hon. Friend dragged it out on Second Reading. The amount of secrecy that has gone on about these investments by the Coal Board underlines the need for the new Clause, so that Parliament will always know when the Board intends to diversify and will be kept fully informed of progress.

I know that the Minister has accepted the need for full accountability of the nationalised industries in diversifications of this sort. On other occasions, he has frequently worshipped at the shrine of Parliamentary accountability. This House is not able to control the day-to-day decisions of the nationalised industries—quite rightly, I think—but it has always kept a stern control over the investment of public capital in their doings. I believe that this is an opportunity for us to write into the Bill a stringent control over the investment of taxpayers' capital in enterprises which are not strictly to do with the production of coal.

Capital is one of the most precious assets that the country has. It does not grow on trees, and it cannot be made in factories. It comes from two sources: the savings of the people and the over-taxation of the people by the Government. This year, they are over-taxing us to the extent of some £1,000 million to provide the capital for the nationalised industries which they cannot borrow because their credit is at rock bottom.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)


Mr. Ridley

If the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) cares to look at the Budget accounts, he will find that everything that I have said is true. He will also find that, last year, investors took out £357 million from gilt-edged stocks because they have no confidence in the Government's interest rates.

Mr. Palmer

Does the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) suggest that the gas industry's or the electricity supply industry's credit is at rock bottom? That is utterly absurd.

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Member for Bristol, Central displays abysmal ignorance. Does he not know that the gas industry and the electricity supply industry do not borrow from the public direct but from the Government, as doss the Coal Board?

The point which I am making is that the Government's credit is at rock bottom, and they are trying to provide the capital for ventures such as this from money which has not been saved by the people and which we will have to find as taxpayers in the Budget surplus. If such capital is as scarce and as important to us as I say it is, it is vital that the House, which taxes the citizens, should have the power to see where that capital is invested. The private sector of the economy has the disciplines of the market, and it cannot borrow other than at high interest rates if its prospects are bad. It has all those difficulties in the way of its investment of capital and its expansion into other spheres of activity, whereas the public sector has none of those difficulties. Therefore, it is vital that this House, which is the only authority left in the land which can provide some check, should be given the facts and allowed to comment on the investment of the Coal Board.

It is right that after £6 million the Coal Board should come back to the House and give an account of how it has invested that sum, what its profit has been —[Interruption.] It is all very well for the Minister and his Parlimentary Secretary to laugh, but this is an argument of extreme seriousness which has a considerable bearing on the future economy of the country. It is an argument which he has consistently failed to answer upstairs and which he has simply laughed at, but it will have the gravest consequences on our future economy.

I would only add this to my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South. I wonder if £6 million is not too high a figure. The Coal Board has already diversified into many other industries and, nominally, has invested only £4 million. If it is going outside the activity of winning coal, something should be laid before the House for each investment made, and I feel that £6 million is rather a high figure. To any private company, £6 million would be an enormous investment. In my view, it is quite wrong for the Coal Board to be able to invest £6 million in North Sea gas, may be wrongly and may be in unfair competition with other firms, and expect the House not to take any notice.

I commend the new Clause to the House, and I hope very much, that it will be accepted.

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)

The matter of Parliamentary accountability of nationalised industries has, of course, been a very long-standing controversy in this House—for the last 15 years, in fact—and I recall that on a date in 1956, when Mr. Aubrey Jones, now the Chairman of the Prices and Incomes Board, was the Minister of Fuel and Power, I took a miscellany of hon. Members from all three parties into the Lobby against Mr. Aubrey Jones on this very principle of accountability of nationalised industries year by year.

My shibboleth in those far-off days, a matter of nearly 11 years ago, was that each nationalised industry should present to the House of Commons annually a Statutory Instrument in respect of its capital investment required to be borrowed under Treasury guarantee. There was nothing exceptional about this. It was to copy the principles enshrined in the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Acts which the Minister of Power will recall—though he has no responsibility for those boards—requires that every year a Statutory Instrument shall be brought to the House to cover the investment requirements of the board so that the House may judge in retrospect how the capital moneys voted in the preceding year have been expended.

I have always sought the same kind of thing for the National Coal Board. This is what the Clause is all about. It seeks to limit the amount of money which may be devoted to North Sea exploration and extraction of natural gas and oil from under the North Sea. It seeks to limit the money applied to it in relation to the more orthodox processes of the Board which, as I said during my Second Reading speech on the Bill, are correctly applied to the deep mining of coal, to the majority of output, and the open-cast mining of coal for a small minority of tonnage output.

Let us consider the position of the Coal Board during the present year. Its capital investment figure is £88.3 million. It is a generic sum, voted by the House of Commons once every four or five years as part of a Finance Act. It is not part of any Ministry of Power statute, if I may use that expression. It is part of a Finance Act which goes forward by log rolling every four or five years, advancing by thousands of millions of pounds the upper borrowing limit of an aggregation of four, five, or six, nationalised industries.

Once that money is voted every four or five years, the Minister decides each year how much money shall be spent by each of the nationalised industries—this year it is £88.3 million by the National Coal Board—and no Member of this House has a jot or tittle of control over the application of those moneys. We cannot say whether the moneys are to be devoted to sinking new pits, or enlarging open-cast mining sites, or making more Bronowski bullets—

Mr. Ridley

Or making candy floss.

Sir G. Nabarro

—or making candy floss as my hon. Friend says, or making naphtha, or making ammonia, or making aspirin, or making hydrochloric acid, or making sulphuric acid, or any by-product of coal. No one knows.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir G. Nabarro

I am always delighted to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lubbock

The hon. Gentleman can correct me if I am wrong, but surely the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries has power to inquire into any of the matters which he has mentioned?

Sir G. Nabarro

That febrile and vacuous body!

Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)

On a point of order. My hon. Friend has cast aspersions on a Select Committee of the House. Is that in order?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that it is perfectly in order.

9.45 p.m.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am deeply grateful, as always, for your timely support, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Ridleyrose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that we shall not have too many interventions. Mr. Ridley.

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend will be aware that there are now 14 nationalised industries and that at the present rate of progress the Committee will get round to each industry every 14 years, which is hardly Parliamentary accountability.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am grateful to my hon. Friend; that is one valuable point. The point that I am about to make is an even more powerful one. Members of this House sit in an interrogatory capacity hauling in front of them reluctant and recalcitrant chairmen of nationalised industries and firing a load of ill-informed questions at them. They rarely receive any replies of substance, and they investigate capital expenditure long after it has been expended, when it is too late to bring it back.

Here is the whole miserable British nation subject today to the deepest economic freeze in history. Every motor car worker in the Midlands, every coal miner and every railwayman is told that he cannot have a rise in pay, while these voracious and extravagant nationalised industries spend tens of millions of £s without any effective control from Parliament whatever. That is why, in the Second Reading debate, I said that I would oppose the Bill at every stage.

The purpose of the new Clause is to segregate from the £88.3 million of capital investment in the Coal Board during the current year such sums as will be spent by the Board for the exploration for natural gas and oil under the North Sea, to enable us to vote a specific sum of money for that purpose and then, shortly after the end of the year, that sum having been expended—to use the characteristic and favourite terminolgy of the Prime Minister—to take a cool look and a hard look at them—[An HON. MEMBER: "In depth."]—in depth in the white heat of technological revolution, to see if the money has been properly spent.

The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) who jumps up a dozen times in every speech that I make on fuel and power is the only Member of the House who is a member of the Institute of Fuel other than myself. We have always disagreed on this point. He believes in unlimited investment by these boards without Parliamentary scrutiny and notably believes that the electricity supply industry should do what it likes for ever and a day with the thousands of millions of £s it has at its disposal—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should come back to the point.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am sorry to have incurred your wrath, Mr. Speaker. It was a passing allusion. The hon. Member intervened in my hon. Friend's speech. He wants the same principle transplanted to the Coal Board. I will have none of it.

All that I would give the Coal Board is a relatively small sum of money. The new Clause is an admirable one. At the end of a year, or 18 months, or 21 months—or whatever may be necessary—we can have a look at it again to see how the Board is getting on. If we have to have the wretched Coal Board in this North Sea business—which I claim we should not, because it is none of the Board's business, but as the Socialists have a majority and foist it on me I have to be democratic and accept it—if we have to have this money spent, I want this long, cool hard look, in the white heat of technological revolution implemented, so that I can take another careful look at it next year.

This is in pursuit of objectives which you, Mr. Speaker, have painstakingly listened to me talking about for over 16 years in this House. You have heard me pleading this cause. I shall never be satisfied until there is an annual Statutory instrument for every nationalised industry, covering every year's capital investment.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil) indicated assent.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am glad to have my hon. Friend with me. He has been with me man and boy for 15 years in this major cause. I believe, as a Conservative and as a business man—at least I have spent my life running businesses and know how to read a balance sheet, whereas the great majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite have not the qualifications to run a whelk stall profitably—that every industrial investment, nationalised, State or otherwise, should turn in a profit.

I reiterate what my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury said—this is taxpayers' money. The hon. Member for Bristol, Central sat there nodding in dissent. Did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer budget this year for a surplus, below the line, of £1,007 million? What for? To cover the investment of nationalised industries—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Man and boy, I am very kind to the hon. Gentleman. He must keep to the Clause.

Sir G, Nabarro

I am very sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was trying to put matters in their correct perspective.

This is taxpayers' money which is being spent and I dislike intensely, therefore, the levity with which Socialist hon. Members approach this important matter of safeguarding the interests of their constituents—

Mr. Palmer

Was it not the Conservative Party, when in office, which changed the method of financing from mainly borrowing to public financing?

Sir G. Nabarro

We greatly improved accountability—[Laughter.] I do not know what the hon. Member is cackling about. He was not here anyway. In view of your admonitions, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to stray. There is a second new Clause on which I shall hope to catch your eye, and the intervention from the benches opposite will more properly be connected with that argument, but arguments there will be. I invite my hon. Friends, as I shall do, to divide the House in support of the new Clause, again demonstrating in the House our anathema for profligate and extravagant Socialist finance.

Mr. Peyton

I am glad to be able to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro). Man and boy, I am so glad to be able to salute this long companionship and I hope that it will ever be fruitful. I do not always agree with every word my hon. Friend says—it would be unreasonable to expect such harmony, even between friends such as we—but tonight I agreed completely with every word he said. I do not believe that he lent himself to even the slightest minutiae of exaggeration. Hyperbole was entirely absent from his speech, and I am able only to congratulate him on the modesty with which he addressed himself to this subject.

I must apologise to my hon. Friend for not being here when he moved the Second Reading of the new Clause. I respect the perspicacity which led him to put down the Clause and I support its principles entirely. I cannot see for one moment why there should be any demur on the part of the Government in gracefully accepting this new Clause. The figure of £6 million is a very generous allowance for the first bite at this highly speculative cherry which may or may not be growing out of the middle of the North Sea to be reaped by the National Coal Board.

It would be unreasonable and even, perhaps, out of order—a crime which I never committed—if I commented upon the lack of experience of the National Coal Board in boring for oil or gas in marine waters. Therefore, I regard this enterprise as highly speculative. I cannot understand what factors led the National Coal Board, at this comparatively late stage to take part in this exercise in the North Sea. I am led to believe by my suspicions, which I have endeavoured to throttle, that the National Coal Board is being encouraged by other forces to go forward. I want to ask the Minister about this, because I do not believe that the Coal Board's finances need here be very much committed. I believe that there may be other interests who wish to ride in on the back of the National Coal Board. They have seen how profitable to another American oil company has been the partnership with the Gas Council, and as the National Coal Board is not committed, I ask the Minister is it or is it not a fact that the Coal Board is really acting as laissez-passer to another American company to get in cheaply.

I notice that the Minister makes no denial of this, but I think we are entitled to ask and be clear about it. One of the things which I find intolerable in this Government's policy has been its hostility, through the Corporation Tax and other things, toward the interests of British oil companies, while at the same time their policies, in the Corporation Tax and in other respects, have produced nothing but a hoot of laughter from American oil companies who must be gleefully rubbing their hands at seeing themselves put in the £ seat on something which is primarily British.

Mr. Speaker

That is a little wide from the Clause we are discussing, which is about borrowing power.

Mr. Peyton

There is nothing further from my mind than to trespass on your good will and indulgence, Mr. Speaker. I will therefore content myself with saying that in these sort of circumstances, where it may be that the Coal Board is not really called upon to advance any large sum of capital—indeed I hope this is the case—that it does not seem at all unreasonable that the arguments adduced by my hon. Friends should be listened to with some care, although I recognise—and this includes my hon. Friends the Member for Worcestershire, South, the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) and the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin)—that we have all learned by bitter experience recently that neither the Minister nor the Parliamentary Secretary regard the word "accountability"—let alone accountability to Parliament—as being in any way a sacred or important cause. We know that these appeals are likely to fall on two deaf ears, but nevertheless we hope that the Minister, who is himself a Member of Parliament—Heaven knows what fortune may hold for him; in the future he may once again sit on the back benches and regard Parliament as being an institution of some importance rather than a mere rubber stamp—may feel that it would be right to accede to—have I the advantage of the Minister's attention?

The Minister of Power (Mr. Marsh)

I had been wondering what this is all about.

Mr. Peyton

After that intervention, I hope you will permit me to say, Mr. Speaker, that in recent weeks there have been many occasions on which I have felt inclined to thank the Minister for his interventions, because constantly he exposes his weakness, constantly he shows that this question of accountability which we put to him, as we put to him now, is something which he regards as being of no importance. I say roundly that if the Minister is going to flout the sort of appeal which is now made under this new Clause, he stands condemned for contempt of Parliament.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin (Wanstead and Woodford)

The whole House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) for having drawn our attention to the fact that a number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen present are now spending perhaps the greater part of their working hours in fighting nationalisation and its extension and in fighting for an increase in Parliamentary control over nationalised bodies. He has already drawn attention to the fact, together with my hon. Friends the Members for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley)—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on Government Business may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Ioan L. Evans.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Jenkin

As I was saying, those of my hon. Friends and my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw) are fighting for Parliamentary control over nationalised bodies while, on the other side, fighting for nationalisation and constantly resisting appeals for greater Parliamentary scrutiny, are the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary and, occupying a silent and somnolent place on the sidelines, as always, is the genial figure of the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Edwin Wainwright), who appears as somnolent now—I have wakened him up—as he does in the Standing Committee.

These arguments lie at the very heart of the political argument that has raged and will rage in this country for years, and for as long as the Labour Party remains wedded to the doctrines of nationalisation and State control. As long as it has a majority, it will force its will on Parliament and the country. The most that we can do is to try to inject into the Government's legislation some meagre form of Parliamentary control so that these organisations, these great bodies, that are set up, have at any rate some measure of accountability.

My hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil was absolutely right in stressing the importance of accountability. It was very revealing that just now the Minister of Power—and he has revealed this attitude so often in past weeks—should have intervened on the question of accountability to say, "I do not know what this is all about". He thereby stands condemned from his own mouth in a way which, with respect, my hon. Friends will be unable to condemn him.

This new Clause is essential, and I should like briefly to look at the impact of a Bill which gives the Coal Board power to look for natural gas in the North Sea, and at its relationship to the Board's existing statutory function, when Parliament set up the National Coal Board under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, it gave the Board a number of powers which, though fairly wide, were nevertheless very closely defined. The fringes were very narrow although, within the limits, the powers were relatively wide.

Since then, Parliament has from time to time given the Board powers to borrow money from the Treasury arid, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) has said, its most recent powers are given under the Act of 1965.

Sir G. Nabarro rose

Mr. Jenkin

I was referring, if my hon. Friend will forgive me, to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South.

Section I of the 1946 Act gives the Board its powers and quite clearly delineates its functions and its essential connection with coal. The Board is entitled to mine coal, to sell coal and to manufacture and sell the products of coal—but its functions are always linked with coal. For years, of course—indeed, for decades—the coal industry has been engaged in selling the products of coal, and particularly the chemical products.

Mention of chemicals at this point makes me declare an interest. It is right that I should do this, although the interest is a fairly shadowy one. I work for a chemical company which is concerned with chemicals which may be in competition with chemicals based on coal, but which certainly would be in competition with chemicals based on oil and natural gas. I can, therefore, speak with some knowledge of these matters.

That was the limit placed by Parliament on the National Coal Board when it was established. The products from coal have now gone very wide indeed, such is the art of the organic chemist. Starting from coal, one can make chemicals of an extremely wide variety and the N.C.B., in seeking to exploit the opportunities open to it and seeking to make use of the powers given to the Board by Parliament, sought technical assistance and, in the form of a partnership, a chemical company was established. It is with Stanton Staveley, a part of the Stewarts & Lloyd complex, and the joint company set up is known as Staveley Chemicals.

Many of the products which Staveleys will make have been discussed widely in the technical Press in recent years, and here I must take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, who said that the matter had been kept secret. That may be true from the point of view of Parliament, since hon. Members were not told anything until the Second Reading of this Measure. We were not told about the ramifications of this venture into chemicals through Staveleys. However, this has been no secret from the technical Press and the matter has been discussed openly there from 11th June, 1966, when an announcement was made to the people concerned in this sphere. These people were worried about the extent to which the N.C.B. appeared to be going deeper into chemical manufacture, and although the N.C.B. proposed to advance from a coal base, nevertheless, it is now moving a long way from that. The N.C.B. announced that it intended to make 20 million gallons of benzole a year and 40 million tons of cycho-hexane a year, and products resulting from that manufacture.

It was also stated—and here we come to the link with this Measure—that the N.C.B. was interested in making p.v.c., poly-vinyl-chloride, and at that stage it was thought that there was a process whereby one could make acetylene, which is the essential intermediate for p.v.c., from coal. It was thought that the N.C.B. would be able to do this within the powers of the 1946 Act. If there is such a process, it is a long way off. However, much closer to hand are hopes of unlimited quantities of this material from natural gas.

Mr. Webster

My hon. Friend will be aware that calcium carbide, which is one of the principal ingredients of acetylene, is made by fusing limestone with deep-seamed anthracite, which is an N.C.B. product. Thus, there is some substance for that argument.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that that intervention will not prevent the hon. Member for Wan stead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) from addressing his remarks to the Clause under discussion.

Mr. Jenkin

I am tempted to reply to my hon. Friend's intervention about calcium carbide, about which I know something, but I will resist the temptation.

The key to this matter is p.v.c. It was thought that it could be made from coal. It has since been discovered that, if this could be done, it is a long way off, although it could be made from natural gas or oil.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The background to this matter is very important. However, we are discussing a financial limitation on borrowing powers. I hope therefore, that the hon. Member will address his remarks to that subject.

Mr. Jenkin

I apologise for straying out of order, Mr. Speaker, but I do believe that it is important to realise the background to why the Bill has been introduced, what a big departure it represents for the N.C.B. and why, therefore, it is so essential that Parliament should retain the closest possible scrutiny over the powers given to the Board. The Bill is necessary because, as the Minister pointed out on Second Reading, the powers contained in the 1946 Act were not sufficient.

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is not a Second Reading or a Third Reading debate on the Bill. I must ask the hon. Member to come to the Clause.

Mr. Jenkin

The powers were outside Parliament's intentions and we were therefore asked to give new powers. The need for Parliament at this stage to give closer scrutiny to these new powers seems absolutely paramount. Whereas before under the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Act it may have been appropriate—and I do not take issue at all with my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South in his desire for a much closer scrutiny even of those powers—while they may have been adequate for expansion and extensions within the field originally covered by the 1946 Act, where we have an industry such as this which will branch out into a wholly new field which has no relation to the basic field it has been in for 20 years, the case for much closer Parliamentary scrutiny is overwhelming.

The figure of £6 million is the figure which was mentioned by the Minister on Second Reading as the sort of likely expenditure which would be incurred by the Coal Board as its share of this tripartite adventure with the two American oil and chemical companies in the North Sea. It seems therefore entirely appropriate that this is the limit that Parliament should put on the borrowing powers of the Coal Board in which it exercises all these functions under the Bill before the Board should come to Parliament and say that it wants to go ahead. Parliament should have an opportunity to examine the success which the Coal Board has made of the first stage which the Minister estimated would cost not much more than £6 million. Parliament should have an opportunity to see whether this speculative venture is a venture in which it is right to sink more of the taxpayer's money in the hope that a return will be made.

That is the purpose of this new Clause. We in Parliament as guardians of the public purse should retain this measure of control. It is the only measure of control open to this House. We should retain the measure of control, limited as it is, over the activities of these corporations and in particular over activities such as are embodied in this Bill which represent an entirely novel departure from anything that this corporation has done before.

I believe the case for this new Clause with its limit of £6 million for borrowing is an overwhelming one. I hope that my hon. and right hon. Friend will think it right to divide the House.

Mr. Webster

I am privileged to join in this debate as an outsider from the debates in Committee on the Iron and Steel Bill, and hon. Members who come down from that Committee to brighten our activities in this House—[Interruption.] I could not quite hear what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro).

Sir G. Nabarro

I said that we had descended from the Olympian heights.

Mr. Webster

I am glad that my hon. Friend has come down to earth, and I am glad to see him sitting slightly lower than myself. I agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), with his great experience and authority as a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power, about the laissez-passer of American companies which he was discussing. I gather that my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) was discussing this when he gave the remarkably excellent lecture on polymerisation and the fusing of deep mined anthracite with calcium carbide to make acetylene. I think that very relevant to this Bill.

I see the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris), the present Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, present. Last time we discussed borrowing powers he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power. In his constituency there are many deep pits from which anthracite is mined for this purpose. There is a problem of considerable difficulty. We are considering voting, or trying to resist the voting, of a mere £6 million of taxpayers' money. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Edwin Wainwright) sitting on a bench opposite with his genial smile every time the taxpayers' money is passed away.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright (Dearne Valley)

When Colvilles were granted £50 million by the Tory Government, the hon. Gentleman smiled frequently because the money was going to private enterprise.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Webster

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was there to see me smiling or not smiling, but I am grateful for his deep recollection of my Parliamentary history. It is flattery and I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said.

In the context of a mere £6 million, where a matter of considerable principle is involved, we are in the presence, as the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport knows, of the process of increasing during the last two years the borrowing powers of the gas industry from £650 million to £1,000 million and, without further redress to Parliament, to £1,250 million. This is the taxpayers' money, of which we in the House are trustees.

We are also in the presence of the process of increasing the finances available to the Ministry of Transport in the Transport Finances Bill. These are very considerable increases in the borrowing and acquisitional powers in the public sector of our economy, at a time when the squeeze has been biting deeper and deeper and when the Leader of the House is saying that it is high time that the squeeze was being relaxed.

The squeeze is being relaxed. Considerable spending power is being released by the granting of this purchasing power. The spending power, as usual, goes to the public sector, which will be the patron of all industry if we in the House do not exercise the greatest care. It is for Parliament to exercise discipline upon this usage of public money.

The Minister of Power is smiling. He is a cheerful chap, but all this money from his constituents is being voted away. This is a process of a freeze and squeeze on the private sector whilst there is an increase in the moneys available to the nationalised industries.

I see the Chairman of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries here. I was sorry that he did not rise in wrath when my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) used a phrase about our Select Committee on Nationalised Industries which I very much regretted and resented.

Sir G. Nabarro

What was that?

Mr. Webster

I cannot remember it. I apologise for the fact that, for once, I do not remember what my hon. Friend said.

Sir G. Nabarro

I said that his Committee was febrile and vacuous.

Mr. Webster

I thank my hon. Friend for quoting one of his previous speeches.

Sir G. Nabarro

It was a jolly good expression, was it not?

Mr. Webster

Excellent. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is asking you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or me that question. This is a time when we should return a little to the discipline of the market. People abroad are looking to our entry, or hoped-for entry, into the Common Market. They are looking at our economy. They are looking at the gradual growth of public sector, which is nationalised. Why is it nationalised? It is nationalised simply because the Government wish to interfere with the economy of the market place. The more this happens to our economy, the more we lose our ability to compete with our friends overseas.

Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)

And the less attractive we become to them.

Mr. Webster

My hon. Friend is always extremely attractive. I am very grateful for what he has said. The new aspect we are worried about is this. In the past we have been willing, albeit reluctantly, to grant moneys on a debenture and fixed interest rate to these industries. The Minister of Power is talking about giving equity capital. This is happening also in the Ministry of Aviation. This is the taxpayers' money on speculative risk. This is what the House should exercise the deepest and most careful scrutiny on.

The moment that, in this country, we start to speculate with taxpayers' money, there should be the deepest reservations. If we are outvoted tonight we must at least see that every year we have a scrutiny. Hon. Members opposite are forever saying that the shareholders in equity interests are mute and unable to have any authority. Yet now they are voting equity risk capital to the National Coal Board, speculating with the taxpayers' money. This principle needs the deepest scrutiny and consideration.

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

I do not speak as an expert but as a back bencher representing the people who have to find the taxes which the National Coal Board is likely to lose as it has lost them in the past. The new Clause, which I support, would limit the amount of money the Board could borrow without coming back to the House and giving an account of what it has done with the money it has borrowed. That seems a sensible and reasonable principle and one which I would have thought that the Minister could have accepted.

I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman were sitting here, this is the sort of speech that he would be making if this Bill had been introduced by a Conservative Minister. I am not so much objecting to the diversification of the Board's activities—I am not sufficiently competent to judge of that. But I speak on behalf of my constituents, who have to pay taxes to keep the Board going, in saying that, before more money is lost, those of us on the back benches should have an opportunity of criticising where the money is going and inquiring whether there is any means of stopping the losses which have been incurred.

It is not diversification which worries me but whether the Board is creditworthy and really worthy of having unlimited amounts voted to it. If we were going as ordinary business men or indidividuals to our bank to borrow, the banker would say, "Let us look at your assets. What have you done with your money before? Can we trust you with a lot more money?" This House has a right to say to the Board, "What have you done with the money previously voted? Have you made good use of it? This is the taxpayers' money". I am not speaking as an expert, although I remind the House of what the Board has done with public money in the past and invite right hon. and hon. Members to consider whether that record does not justify this new Clause limiting the borrowing power to £6 million, which seems reasonable.

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools) rose

Sir C. Osborne

I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. I do not claim to be an expert. I am speaking as a taxpayers' representative.

Mr. Leadbitter

Would the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir C. Osborne

Very well.

Mr. Leadbitter

Assuming that the hon. Gentleman's argument is sincere—

Sir G. Nabarro


Mr. Leadbitter

I do not think that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) should butt in here. If the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has an argument which he presumes to be sincere, would he be prepared to test it against the £400 million which the Conservative Government handed out to private steel interests and compare that sum with the £6 million to be voted to the N.C.B., which has a much better record? How does he reconcile these two facts?

Sir C. Osborne

If I attempted to go into that I should be ruled out of order at once. But I say to the hon. Member that I have had the great honour to be a Member of this House for 22 years and I do not think that anyone who has known me over the years would doubt my sincerity.

Mr. Leadbitter rose

Sir C. Osborne

I do not mind my judgment being doubted, but the hon. Gentleman should not question my sincerity.

I want to bring to the attention of the House these pertinent arguments from the taxpayers' point of view and to examine what has been done with public money previously and to consider whether in view of that it is reasonable to say to the National Coal Board, "If your borrowing exceeds £6 million you must come back to the House and explain what has happened to the £6 million which we granted you permission to borrow." That seems very fair and reasonable.

I remind hon. Members that so far the Coal Board's accumulated deficit is £115.6 million, a colossal sum, of which £24.8 million was lost only last year. If you had a business, Mr. Deputy Speaker, which last year had lost more than £24 million you would not readily get as many millions as you wanted in the future. It would be said that there should be some control. With so much money having gone down the rat hole before, I want to see that it does not go down the rat hole so quickly in future.

Hon. Members should also bear in mind some other figures. Capital expenditure by the Coal Board so far has amounted to £1,431 million, a lot of money, taxpayers' money, and in addition there are loans from the Ministry of £960 million, totalling £2,391 million sunk into this industry.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

On a point of order. If you are to allow this debate to carry on so widely, Mr. Deputy Speaker, some of us will have to defend the Coal Board, and I intend to do so.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is perfectly in order in mentioning these matters as long as he does not go into too much detail.

Sir C. Osborne

I am trying to set the background as to what has happened to public money before and to ask against that background whether it is wise to give unlimited borrowing powers in future. I am sorry that a representative of the National Miners' Union should be so nervous about having the facts put before the House. I am reminding the House of what has happened in the last few years, and in the Clause we are saying that the borrowing should be limited to £6 million and that when that has gone the Coal Board should justify what it has done before being able to borrow more. This is the background: in 1957 the Coal Board lost £5.3 million; in 1958 it lost £13.5 million; in 1959 £24 million; in 1960 £21.3 million; in 1962 £13.8 million and last year £24.8 million. Against these figures nobody, not even the Treasury, would allow open-ended borrowing.

I am not an expert in these matters, as are so many other hon. Members present tonight, but I am speaking for the taxpayers who have to find this money. I hate a lot of extra taxes which are unnecessary. In a normal industry we reckon to get about 10 per cent. on the capital employed, half of which goes in taxation to maintain the Welfare State. Ever since the Coal Board has been in existence, it has not paid one brass farthing out of profits to help to maintain the Welfare State. Therefore, we ought to have a check on this. The nationalised industries have done nothing to help the Welfare State. They have sponged on it. It has been carried by the private sector of industry. It seems reasonable, without going into further details, that we should say that before the Board spends unlimited millions it should come back to this House and justify the manner in which money has been lost. That is why I shall support this Clause.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

Everyone who has spoken has not addressed themselves to this new Clause. They have attacked it by engaging in another Second Reading debate. [Interruption.] Hon. Members have had to be brought to order, so I am not far off the mark in what I say. I have heard nothing in the arguments to justify the Clause and I want to put before the House a consideration which would tend to make me vote against it if hon. Gentlemen insist on pressing it to a Division.

I quite agree with everything said about accountability of the nationalised industries, and if I thought that we were not to have any explanation of how this money is being spent until the whole of the £6 million or £6½ million has been exhausted, I should be extremely concerned, because the Minister told us on Second Reading that this money would be expended over a matter of years on exploration.

Between the time when this Bill has its Third Reading and the exhaustion of the moneys, which it is suggested that we should put into this Bill, there will have been several annual reports and accounts issued by the Board.

I hope, incidentally, that we shall have half-yearly accounts from the National Coal Board, as we have from the Air Corporations. This would be a great advance in accountability. I would also hope that as soon as any discoveries are made by the Board in conjunction with its partners, Gulf Oil and Allied Chemicals, in the North Sea, the Minister will immediately make a statement, just as the other consortia operating in the North Sea have disclosed, as far as possible, their evidence, and say in the preliminary stages what the results of its drilling have been.

Mr. Corfield

The hon. Gentleman has been arguing that there will be several reports and accounts, but it has been made clear that this operation will be carried out in co-operation with an American oil company, as some form of subsidiary. If the hon. Gentleman can find anything in the accounts that gives him anything to go on about subsidiaries, showing that this will come before the House, then he is very much cleverer than I or the Minister.

Mr. Lubbock

If the hon. Gentleman will look at page 16, Vol. II of the Accounts and Statistical Tables of the National Coal Board's Report and Accounts, 1965–66, he will find a complete list of all of the enterprises upon which the Board has embarked. Furthermore, if he reads the Report carefully he will see—1 must say that hon. Gentlemen do not seem to have done their homework very thoroughly—

Mr. Ridley

Do not be patronising.

Mr. Lubbock

The hon. Gentleman said that no information has been given to the House about Staveley Chemicals, and I would like to draw his attention to paragraph 107 of the Annual Report and Accounts of the Board, in which these figures, given by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), of 70,000 tons a year of high quality benzine and 40,000 tons of cycho-hexane appear. The hon. Gentleman produced them as though they were a revelation from some totally different source, when they are contained in the Board's accounts.

Mr. Ridley

Will the hon. Gentleman do his own homework and accept that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) who gave these figures?

Mr. Lubbock

There have been so many speeches on this rather limited Clause that it is difficult to remember everyone who has spoken.

Sir G. Nabarro rose

Mr. Lubbock

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, but if I give way many more times we will prolong this debate unnecessarily, and already there has been a great deal of heat and very little light, to no purpose so far.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member has alluded to the National Coal Board Report and Accounts, Volume II: Accounts and Statistical Tables, to 26th March, 1966, page 16. I have it before me. On that page there is no trading account and no profit and loss account. What there is is a heterogeneous mass of minor investments by the Board in non-coalmining activities. The point of all my hon. Friends and myself is that we want a separate trading account and a separate profit and loss account for all these non-coal-mining activities. Now, will the hon. Member tell me that I have not done my homework?

Mr. Lubbock

No. The hon. Member has before him, now that I have drawn it to his attention—

Sir G. Nabarro

We all read it before the hon. Member brought it up.

Mr. Lubbock

—the table in the Coal Board's accounts, "Interests in trade undertakings not wholly owned". I was replying to a question put to me by one of his hon. Friends, who said that no information was given in the Annual Report and Accounts of the National Coal Board about these other enterprises.

There is, however, an important point here. As the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) has pointed out, this new operation in the North Sea will not be subsidiary of the Coal Board, which, I understand, will invest only 40 per cent. of the capital. Therefore, I assume and I hope that separate accounts will be published by the consortia and that these will be available to the House and the general public, just as any other report and accounts might be of a commercial undertaking.

What I said at the beginning is still true: that before the £6 million or £6.5 million mentioned in the Clause and by the Minister on Second Reading is exhausted, we shall have had very full information about the financial success or otherwise of the Coal Board's venture into the North Sea, and, I hope, not only that, but several statements in the House as well.

Many hon. Members on this side seem to feel that the investment by the National Coal Board in the North Sea exploration is a bad bargain. I do not know how they come to that conclusion. If they look at the enormous success story of the consortia which have engaged in this great undertaking, they will find that the number of commercial strikes is an extremely high percentage compared with almost any other natural gas area in the world. It is already established, even to the Minister's satisfaction—and he is notoriously pessimistic—that the reserves available in the British section of the North Sea are at least as large as those which have been discovered in Schlochteren. I think that in a few years' time we shall find that they are many times as large as those of Schlochteren. I very much hope that the estimates given by the Minister on Second Reading of the reserves of natural gas will also prove to be grossly underestimated and that the National Coal Board will reap the benefit of its own part in this investment.

I do not see this as unfair competition with private enterprise, because there is nothing to nationalise here. We are dealing with the resources of the subsoil under the seabed of the North Sea. Therefore, these are not already in private ownership. We are not expropriating something which belongs to private capitalists. We are developing a completely new resource.

It is entirely wise and right for public undertakings to be involved in this so that it can be done as quickly as possible. If the Minister says that he needs more than £6 million over a period of years to do this, I will certainly go along with him because, as I said on Second Reading, I think that this will be a very good bargain for the taxpayer. I speak for the taxpayers, too, and I am concerned that their money shall be spent carefully and with the maximum possible return from the enterprises in which the Coal Board engages.

Because I believe that this enterprise of the National Coal Board is almost certain of success and because I wish us to get on with the exploitation of this marvellous resource, which will save the country millions of £s in foreign exchange, I wish that the Government would reject the new Clause.

Colonel C. G. Lancaster (South Fylde)

I had not intended joining in this debate, because I was fully satisfied that my hon. Friends had made a full case for the accountability of this £6 million. However, I have listened to the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), who speaks with great confidence on almost every known subject, and he has already made a number of statements about the North Sea situation which are wholly erroneous and have no basis in fact. He now gives it as his opinion that this is likely to be a successful operation. Indeed, he went further and said that he was very anxious to see it go forward, because it would expedite the exploration of the North Sea.

How does he imagine that it will expedite it? The National Coal Board will not do the exploration. It has been accepted by both sides of the House that all the National Coal Board will do is invest public moneys in a subsidiary company which will be operated wholly by Gulf Oil in some connection with Allied Chemicals, and rightly so. Gulf Oil will do it in its own time, and the fact that the National Coal Board has invested money in it will have no bearing on the speed with which it is effected. The idea that at regular intervals we shall then get a full account of what is occurring and that we shall be able to determine whether the £6 million has been wisely invested in nonsense.

Naturally, we expect that the Minister will look upon this with a considerable degree of responsibility. I am much more worried about the way in which he will determine whether the £6 million is adequate. That will be one of his most difficult problems. He is to put £6 million into an undertaking which itself will need considerable capitalisation. The decision as to whether £6 million is adequate can be reached only by Gulf Oil. Only Gulf Oil can decide whether its scheme of exploration is likely to show results.

One does not simply bore a hole and expect gas to come out of it. One must take part in a comprehensive approach to the exploration of the petroleum geology of a particular sector of the North Sea. Only at that moment will Gulf Oil be able to reach a conclusion as to whether the prospects lying ahead of us are sound or otherwise. It is not something which is within the competence of the National Coal Board, and to that extent, the Minister will find himself in considerable difficulty.

I should have thought that, in his own interests, the Minister would wish to see a condition of accountability so that he could clear himself in what is a complete speculation by him. I do not expect that the Minister wants to find himself in a position where, having spent public money on a speculation and the thing having gone wrong, he has to come back to ask for more. He would be wise to accept my hon. Friend's Clause. I cannot see that it is injurious to his approach to the matter. He would be a very sensible man to do just that.

He is asking us to provide public moneys for what, in effect, is a purely speculative approach in a very involved problem. I cannot but believe that, on reflection, he will agree that it would be wise to accept the Clause as put forward by my hon. Friends.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Dr. Jeremy Bray)

This is a restricted Clause dealing with a narrow point on a very modest Bill, and we have had a very substantial debate. If I were to attempt to reply to it in full, I fear that I might stray beyond the bounds of order.

10.45 p.m.

The Clause deals with the borrowing of money, whereas the Bill deals with the investing of money in a particular venture, namely, North Sea exploration. There is no precedent in the legislation dealing with the nationalised industries for using the borrowing powers to control spending on investment.

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes there is.

Dr. Bray

The Clause as drafted would not have the effect of restricting expenditure in the North Sea at all, because this comes from the general cash flow of the Board. It is financed not only out of borrowings, but also out of depreciation. The amount of money spent in the North Sea could well go far beyond £6 million without the Clause as drafted having any effect at all.

The capital expenditure of the Board has, of course, to be agreed each year with my right hon. Friend, and in that capital investment review my right hon. Friend exercises a far closer scrutiny—

Sir G. Nabarro

Not this House.

Dr. Bray

—than the House would do, as proposed in this Clause.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman has really let the cat out of the bag. He is being his usual indiscreet self. We know that the right hon. Gentleman authorises the capital expenditure programme of the Board, but we do not agree with what he so authorises. The power to authorise ought to belong to this House, and not be in the bureaucratic fastnesses of the Minister of Power.

Dr. Bray

Through its ability to question and to call the Minister to account through many different procedures in this House, the House is able, often and effectively, as the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) said, to follow the progress of such programmes as North Sea exploration.

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman knows that we cannot put down detailed Questions about the administration of the nationalised industries. How can he say that the Minister is answerable to the House for his decisions on capital expenditure of this sort? It is just not true.

Mr. Hirst

What year, what month?

Dr. Bray

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Order Paper he will find many Questions relating to my right hon. Friend's exercise of his responsibilities in relation to the National Coal Board and its activities.

The figure of £6 million is only an estimate of the cost of exploration in the initial phase. Were that exploration to be successful, and gas or oil to be found, it would be investing in success if further expenditure were required. The imposition of a specific limit is, therefore, both unnecessary to achieve the end which hon. Gentlemen opposite desire, and undesirable because it would put the Board at a disadvantage in relation to other companies in the North Sea.

Mr. Webster

On a point of order. Would it be appropriate on this Clause to ask the hon. Gentleman when the Minister is accountable to the House for this money, or would it be better to raise the matter on the next Clause?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of Order for the Chair.

Sir G. Nabarro

Would the hon. Gentleman answer it all the same?

Dr. Bray

I shall come to the hon. Gentleman's speech in due course.

The charge of unfair competition made by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) is one which can be refuted by considering the way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite would like to see the Board operating in the North Sea. It needs to operate on the same basis as any other operator, not only for its own interests, but also for the interests of those operators about whom hon. Gentlemen opposite are concerned, a chemical company and an oil company, to enable them to find the Board as equally satisfactory a partner as anybody else.

The hon. Member referred—as did the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin)—to the question of the Coal Board's interest not only in North Sea exploration but in companies which might use gas discovered in the North Sea. The hon. Member for Wan-stead and Woodford declared his own interest in this matter. He has referred to this repeatedly. I can assure him that we have had no representations from either the very distinguished company that employs him or any other chemical company about the diversification of the Coal Board into chemicals. If anybody has any misgivings about this we are ready to meet him and listen to what he has to say—but we have had no representations, apart from those of the hon. Member.

On the question of the publication of a list of the Board's diversified interests—

Sir G. Nabarro


Dr. Bray

No—diversified interests, the list of companies which my right hon. Friend gave in reply to a Question earlier this week referred to the end of the last financial year, when the Board had no interest in Staveley Chemicals. That is the sole reason why it was not included in the list.

The House has been treated to a "commercial" of the proceedings which are going on regularly upstairs in the Committee on the Iron and Steel Bill. We have heard in particular the amiable and amusing—

Sir G. Nabarro


Dr. Bray


Sir G. Nabarro

What is that?

Dr. Bray

I am sure that the hon. Member knows a darned sight better than I do.

Mr. Peyton

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary has used the word "commercial" in the sense that a commercial is not something done for nothing. Is the hon. Member making some suggestion that someone—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Whatever the hon. Member said is not a point of order.

Sir G. Nabarro

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I distinctly heard the Parliamentary Secretary allude to my speech in this debate as a "commercial". My hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) has pointed out with great veracity that a commercial operation is one carried out for profit. That is a highly insulting remark by the Parliamentary Secretary, who is evidently lost for words, and it ought to be withdrawn by the hon. Member. May we have this opprobrious epithet withdrawn?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If the Minister was imputing that what was done in this House was done for financial gain it is out of order, and I hope that the Minister will withdraw it.

Dr. Bray

I was making no such imputation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If hon. Members opposite now lack the sense of humour which they show so fully on other occasions I wholly withdraw any suggestion whatsoever that the genial and entertaining activities of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) have been coloured in any way by any commercial interest in respect of anything that he has said in this House. Nevertheless, we have had from hon. Members opposite, if not a "commercial", a sample of the kind of proceedings that we have listened to upstairs, which is no doubt of interest to the House as a whole as an example of the way in which debate is now being conducted there.

The hon. Member for Yeovil raised the question whether having the Coal Board as a partner gave the interested American companies any unfair advantage. The hon. Member is aware that it was the Conservative Government who licensed the Gas Council, with its partner, Amoco, to explore so very successfully in the North Sea. I therefore take it that he has no criticism of the principle involved, of a public fuel company co-operating with an American oil company in North Sea explorations—which is all that the Bill seeks to achieve—in precisely the same terms as the Gas Council is now operating under licence issued by hon. Gentlemen opposite—

Mr. Peyton

What happened in the case of the Gas Council and its partners was that application was made jointly and together. What I do not understand is the reason for this subsequent junction between the Coal Board and its proposed partners.

Dr. Bray

The circumstances are precisely analogous. An approach has been made jointly by the Coal Board and its American partners in the case of the applications for the licences, which the Bill will make possible.

The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) was concerned about the creditworthiness of the Coal Board in general and the question of whether or not it had paid any taxation. The hon. Gentleman's knowledge of and interest in taxation no doubt extends to the fact that many of our greatest oil companies have also not paid any United Kingdom tax for years. But I am sure he would not wish to say that they had made no contribution to the economy, any more than, I am sure, he really feels that the Coal Board fails to make its full contribution to the economy.

The hon. Member for Orpington set the debate in proper perspective when he said that the House has frequent opportunities to review the progress of a particular exploration in the North Sea, and that the review of the capital expenditure of the nationalised industries needs to be done in a wider framework than that of any one activity such as this. The new Clause is both unnecessary to achieve the Opposition's objectives and would restrict the Coal Board operating in the same way as any other operator in the North Sea. I would therefore advise my hon. Friends to oppose it.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The House divided: Ayes 109, Noes 185.

Division No. 204.] AYES [9.12 p.m.
Albu, Austen Cray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Grey, Charles (Durham) Molloy, William
Alldritt, Walter Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Allen, Scholfield Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Morris, John (Aberavon)
Anderson, Donald Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Moyle, Roland
Archer, Peter Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Murray, Albert
Armstrong, Ernest Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Norwood, Christopher
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Hamling, William Oakes, Gordon
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hannan, William O'Malley, Brian
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orme, Stanley
Barnes, Michael Haseldine, Norman Oswald, Thomas
Barnett, Joel Hazell, Bert Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Baxter, William Heffer, Eric S. Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Bennett, James (C'gow, Bridgeton) Henig, Stanley Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Bidwell, Sydney Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Blackburn, F. Hooley, Frank Pardoe, John
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hooson, Emlyn Park, Trevor
Boardman, H. Horner, John Parker, John (Dagenham)
Booth, Albert Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Pavitt, Laurence
Boston, Terence Howie, W. Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hoy, James Pentland, Norman
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, Roy (Newport) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Brooks, Edwin Hunter, Adam Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Buchan, Norman Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P, cras, S.) Price, William (Rugby)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Randall, Harry
Cant, R. B. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rankin, John
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Reynolds, G. W.
Chapman, Donald Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Coe, Denis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Concannon, J, D. Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Kelley, Richard Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dalyell, Tam Kenyon, Clifford Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Rose, Paul
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Lawson, George Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Leadbitter, Ted Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Ledger, Ron Sheldon, Robert
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lee, John (Reading) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Dell, Edmund Lestor, Miss Joan Skeffington, Arthur
Doig, Peter Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Slater, Joseph
Dunn, James A. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Small, William
Dunnett, Jack Lomas, Kenneth Spriggs, Leslie
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Longden, Gilbert Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Luard, Evan Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Eadie, Alex Lubbock, Eric Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Edelman, Maurice Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) McBride, Neil Varley, Eric G.
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McCann, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Ellis, John Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Ensor, David Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Mackintosh, John P. Watkins, David (Consett)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) McMaster, Stanley Wellbeloved, James
Faulds, Andrew McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) White, Mrs. Eirene
Fernyhough, E. McNamara, J. Kevin Whitlock, William
Finch, Harold Mahon Peter (Preston, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Floud, Bernard Manuel, Archie Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Foley, Maurice Mapp, Charles Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Winnick, David
Forrester, John Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Fowler, Gerry Mason, Roy Winterbottom, R. E.
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mayhew, Christopher Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Galpern, Sir Myer Mendelson, J, J. Yates, Victor
Gardner, Tony Mikardo, Ian
Garrow, Alex Millan, Bruce TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. G Miller, Dr. M. S. Mr. Bishop and Mr. Gourlay.
Astor, John Batsford, Brian Blaker, Peter
Awdry, Daniel Biffen, John Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John
Balniel, Lord Biggs-Davison, John Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward
Brewis, John Grant-Ferris, R. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gresham Cooke, R. Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Gurden, Harold Onslow, Cranley
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Osborn, John (Hallam)
Bryan, Paul Hamilton, Marques of (Fermanagh) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bullus, Sir Eric Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Peel, John
Burden, F. A. Hawkins, Paul Pink, R. Bonner
Campbell, Gordon Hiley, Joseph Price, David (Eastleigh)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hill, J. E. B. Prior, J. M. L.
Clark, Henry Hirst, Geoffrey Pym, Francis
Clegg, Walter Holland, Philip Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Cooke, Robert Hordern, Peter Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Corfield, F. V. Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Costain, A. P. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Russell, Sir Ronald
Crawley, Aidan Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Cunningham, Sir Knox Kimball, Marcus Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Currie, G. B. H. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Sinclair, Sir George
Dalkeith, Earl of Kirk, Peter Smith, John
Dance, James Knight, Mrs. Jill Stodart, Anthony
Dean, Paul (Somerset N.) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Langford-Holt, Sir John Summers, Sir Spencer
Doughty, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Eden, Sir John Loveys, W. H. Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maddan, Martin Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maginnis, John E. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Errington, Sir Eric Marten, Neil Walters, Dennis
Farr, John Maude, Angus Whitelaw, William
Fisher, Nigel Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Wilts, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mawby, Ray Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fortescue, Tim Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Foster, Sir John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Younger, Hn. George
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Monro Hector TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Glyn, Sir Richard More, Jasper Mr. Grant and Mr. Eyre.
Gower, Raymond Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Division No. 205.] AYES [10.58 p.m.
Astor, John Foster, Sir John More, Jasper
Awdry, Daniel Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Balniel, Lord Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Batsford, Brian Glyn, Sir Richard Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Biffen, John Grant, Anthony Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Biggs-Davison, John Grant-Ferris, R. Onslow, Cranley
Blaker, Peter Gresham Cooke, R. Osborne, John (Hallam)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Gurden, Harold Peel, John
Brewis, John Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Peyton, John
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Pink, R. Bonner
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harris, Reader (Heston) Prior, J. M. L.
Bryan, Paul Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Pym, Francis
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hawkins, Paul Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hiley, Joseph Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Campbell, Gordon Hill, J. E. B. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Chichester-Clark, R. Hirst, Geoffrey Russell, Sir Ronald
Clark, Henry Holland, Philip Sharples, Richard
Clegg, Walter Hordern, Peter Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, Robert Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Sinclair, Sir George
Corfield, F. V. Kaberry, Sir Donald Smith, John
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Stodart, Anthony
Crawley, Aidan King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Currie, G. B. H. Kirk, Peter Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dalkeith, Earl of Kitson, Timothy Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Knight, Mrs. Jill Wall, Patrick
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Langford-Holt, Sir John Waiters, Dennis
Doughty, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Webster, David
Eden, Sir John Loveys, W. H. Whitelaw, William
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maddan, Martin Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maginnis, John E. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Errington, Sir Eric Marten, Neil Wylie, N. R.
Eyre, Reginald Maude, Angus
Farr, John Mawby, Ray TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fisher, Nigel Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Mr. David Mitchell and
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S- L, C. Mr. George Younger.
Fortescue, Tim Monro, Hector
Allaun, Frank (Sallord, E.) Dunn, James A. Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Alldritt, Walter Dunnett, Jack Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Allen, Schotefield Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hunter, Adam
Anderson, Donald Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)
Archer, Peter Eadie, Alex Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)
Armstrong, Ernest Edelman, Maurice Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ellis, John Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Barnes, Michael Ensor, David Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Baxter, William Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham. S.)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Evans, loan L, (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Bidwell, Sydney Faulds, Andrew Kelley, Richard
Bishop, E. S. Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, Clifford
Blackburn, F. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Floud, Bernard Lawson, George
Boardman, H. Foley, Maurice Leadbitter, Ted
Booth, Albert Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Ledger, Ron
Boston, Terence Forrester, John Lee, John (Reading)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Fowler, Gerry Lestor, Miss Joan
Bray, Or. Jeremy Fraser, John (Norwood) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Brooks, Edwin Galpern, Sir Myer Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Gardner, Tony Lomas, Kenneth
Buchan, Norman Car-row, Alex Loughlin, Charles
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Gourlay, Harry Luard, Evan
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Lubbock, Eric
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Grey, Charles (Durham) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Cant, R. B. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McBride, Neil
Carmichael, Neil Hate, Leslie (Oldham, W.) McCann, John
Coe, Denis Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)
Concannon, J. D. Hamling, William Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Conlan, Bernard Hannan, William Mackintosh, John P.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Haseldine, Norman McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hazell, Bert McNamara, J. Kevin
Dalyell, Tarn Heffer, Eric S. Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Henig, Stanley Manuel, Archie
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Hooley, Frank Mapp, Charles
Davies, G. Eifed (Rhondda, E.) Horner, John Marquand, David
Davies Harold (Leek) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Howie, W. Mayhew, Christopher
Doig, Peter Hoy, James Mendelson, J. J.
Mikardo, Ian Pentland, Norman Spriggs, Leslie
Millan, Bruce Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Steele, Thomas (Dumbartonshire, W.)
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Molloy, William Price, William (Rugby) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Moonman, Eric Randall, Harry Varley, Eric G.
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Reynolds, G. W. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Morris, John (Aberavon) Rhodes, Geoffrey Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Moyle, Roland Richard, Ivor Wellbeloved, James
Murray, Albert Roberts, Albert (Normanton) White, Mrs. Eirene
Norwood, Christopher Robertson, John (Paisley) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Oakes, Gordon Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Williams, Clifford (Abertiltery)
O'Malley, Brian Rodgers, William (Stockton) Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Orme Stanley Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Oswald, Thomas Rose, Paul Winnick, David
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Ross, Rt. Hn. William Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Owen, Will (Morpeth) Ryan, John Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Sheldon, Robert Yates, Victor
Pardoe, John Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Park, Trevor Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Parker, John (Dagenham) Silverman, Julius (Aston) Mr. William Whitlock and
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Small, William Mr. Alan Fitch.