HC Deb 25 January 1972 vol 829 cc1331-5

10.12 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

I beg to move, Amendment No. 1, in line 16, leave out subsection (3).

Although the Amendment is innocent in appearance, it seems to embody the whole argument between the two sides on this Bill.

Section 53 of the Transport Act, 1968, provides that the Transport Holding Company can be wound up, but only under subsection (1)(b), to which the Amendment is directed, and which provides that the property remaining in the Transport Holding Company—in other words, Thomas Cook & Son—is transferred to a publicly-owned body.

We deeply regret and oppose the Government's intention to put up the company for sale to private interests. I move this Amendment because, if it is not possible to make Thomas Cook & Son a viable and prosperous concern as a separate publicly-owned company, and if a change of structure and management is thought necessary, I see no reason why it cannot be retained in the public sector. It is the view of hon. Members on this side that some consortium could be arranged for the purpose, perhaps with British Railways, the new Air Holdings Company, B.E.A., B.O.A.C., or possibly under the general supervision and direction of one of the tourist boards. If the Government feel that it cannot be left as a separate, viable, publicly-owned body then their first duty should have been to make some arrangement where it could be transferred to a public body.

The Under-Secretary argued in Committee that technically and legally the

Bill was unnecessary but that the Government are making doubly sure by coming to the House for the legislation. We are grateful and agree that they should do so. I and my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that it is a totally unnecessary and doctrinaire Measure because Thomas Cook, like the State breweries, has been in public ownership for many years, under successive Governments. At a time when the country is demanding more public investment to deal with our desperate economic situation, the Government should not be concerned with this matter. The issue is whether we should keep the important assets and potential of Thomas Cook in the public sector or whether it should go up for auction. I hope that the Government will undertake to look at this again and consider the possibility of Thomas Cook remaining in the public sector if it cannot remain a publicly-owned, separate entity.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

The right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) is always persuasive but I must advise the House that if subsection (3) were to be left out we should be left with Section 53 of the 1968 Act and this would not be consistent with the purposes of the Bill. I must advise the House to retain subsection (3) and to reject the Amendment, because, as the 1968 Act made clear, it is appropriate and expedient—hon. Gentlemen agreed to this—for the Secretary of State to have the power to transfer elsewhere the assets of the Transport Holding Co. and thereafter to dissolve it.

As the parent Act now stands it cannot be said unequivocally, beyond peradventure, that after the sale of Thomas Cook we could use the Section 53 procedure to dispose of any vestigial assets or liabilities that might remain and thereafter to wind up the T.H.C. Since this is the whole purpose of the Bill, we must dispose of any possible doubt, and I must ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 223.

Division No. 43] AYES [10.19 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Armstrong, Ernest Atkinson, Norman
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Ashton, Joe Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Oswald, Thomas
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hattersley, Roy Palmer, Arthur
Bidwell, Sydney Heffer, Eric S. Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bishop, E. S. Horam, John Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pavitt, Laurie
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Peart, Rt. Hn. Freo
Booth, Albert Huckfield, Leslie Pendry, Tom
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hughes, Mark (Durham) Pentland, Norman
Bradley, Tom Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Prescott, John
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hunter, Adam Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Buchan, Norman Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Price, William (Rugby)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Janner, Greville Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) John, Brynmor Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Cant, R. B. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Roper, John
Cohen, Stanley Kaufman, Gerald Rose, Paul B.
Concannon, J. D. Kerr, Russell Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Conlan, Bernard Kinnock, Neil Sandelson, Neville
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Lambie, David Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Crawshaw, Richard Lamond, James Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Latham, Arthur Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Lawson, George Sillars, James
Dalyell, Tam Leadbitter, Ted Skinner, Dennis
Davidson, Arthur Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Small, William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lestor, Miss Joan Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spearing, Nigel
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Lomas, Kenneth Spriggs, Leslie
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Loughlin, Charles Stallard, A. W.
Deakins, Eric Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
Dempsey, James McElhone, Frank Swain, Thomas
Doig, Peter McGuire, Michael Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Dormand, J. D. Mackenzie, Gregor Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Mackie, John Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Duffy, A. E. P. Maclennan, Robert Tinn, James
Dunnett, Jack McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Tomney, Frank
Eadie, Alex Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Torney, Tom
Ellis, Tom Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Urwin, T. W.
English, Michael Marks, Kenneth Varley, Eric G.
Evans, Fred Marquand, David Wainwright, Edwin
Ewing, Henry Marshall, Dr. Edmund Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood) Meacher, Michael Wallace, George
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Watkins, David
Foot, Michael Mikardo, Ian Wellbeloved, James
Ford, Ben Millan, Bruce White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Forrester, John Milne, Edward Whitehead, Phillip
Garrett, W. E. Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Whitlock, William
Gilbert, Dr. John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Golding, John Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gourlay, Harry Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Murray, Ronald King Woof, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Oakes, Gordon
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Ogden, Eric TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hardy, Peter O'Halloran, Michael Mr. James Dunn and Mr. William Hamling.
Harper, Joseph O'Malley, Brian
Orme, Stanley
Adley, Robert Bray, Ronald Clegg, Walter
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Brinton, Sir Tatton Cockeram, Eric
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Cooke, Robert
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Bruce-Gardyne, J. Coombs, Derek
Astor, John Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Cooper, A. E.
Atkins, Humphrey Buck, Antony Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Balniel, Lord Bullus, Sir Eric Cormack, Patrick
Benyon, W. Burden, F. A. Crouch, David
Berry, Hn. Anthony Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Curran, Charles
Biffen, John Carlisle, Mark Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)
Biggs-Davison, John Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James
Blaker, Peter Channon, Paul Dean, Paul
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Chapman, Sydney Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Boscawen, Robert Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Drayson, G. B.
Bossom, Sir Clive Chichester-Clark, R. du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Bowden, Andrew Churchill, W. S. Dykes, Hugh
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Eden, Sir John
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kershaw, Anthony Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kilfedder, James Redmond, Robert
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Eyre, Reginald King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Farr, John Kinsey, J. R. Roberts Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Fell, Anthony Kirk, Peter Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Kitson, Timothy Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fookes, Miss Janet Knight, Mrs. Jill Rost, Peter
Fortescue, Tim Knox, David Royle, Anthony
Foster, Sir John Lane, David Russell, Sir Ronald
Fowler, Norman Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Scott, Nicholas
Fox, Marcus Le Marchant, Spencer Sharples, Richard
Fry, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Longden, Gilbert Shelton, William (Clapham)
Gibson-Watt, David Loveridge, John Simeons, Charles
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McAdden, Sir Stephen Sinclair, Sir George
Goodhart, Philip MacArthur, Ian Skeet, T. H. H.
Goodhew, Victor McCrindle, R. A. Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Gorst, John Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Soref, Harold
Gower, Raymond McMaster, Stanley Speed, Keith
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) McNair-Wilson, Michael Spence, John
Gray, Hamish McNair-Wiison, Patrick (NewForest) Sproat, Iain
Green, Alan Maddan, Martin Stainton, Keith
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Madel, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Grylls, Michael Mather, Carol Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Gummer, Selwyn Maude, Angus Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Gurden, Harold Mawby, Ray Stokes, John
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Sutcliffe, John
Hall, John (Wycombe) Meyer, Sir Anthony Tapsell, Peter
Hannam, John (Exeter) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Haselhurst, Alan Miscampbell, Norman Tebbit, Norman
Hastings, Stephen Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Havers, Michael Moate, Roger Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Hawkins, Paul Molyneaux, James Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Hay, John Money, Ernie Trew, Peter
Hayhoe, Barney Monks, Mrs. Connie Tugendhat, Christopher
Higgins, Terence L. Monro, Hector Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Hiley, Joseph More, Jasper van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Waddington, David
Holland, Philip Morrison, Charles Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Holt, Miss Mary Murton, Oscar Ward, Dame Irene
Hooson, Emlyn Nabarro, Sir Gerald Warren, Kenneth
Hordern, Peter Neave, Airey Weatherill, Bernard
Hornby, Richard Nicholls, Sir Harmar Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael White, Roger (Gravesend)
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Normanton, Tom Wiggin, Jerry
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Onslow, Cranley Wilkinson, John
Hunt, John Osborn, John Winterton, Nicholas
Hutchison, Michael Clark Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby) Woodnutt, Mark
James, David Parkinson, Cecil Worsley, Marcus
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Peel, John Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Younger, Hn. George
Jessel, Toby Pike, Miss Mervyn
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pink, R. Bonner TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Mr. John Stradling Thomas and
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Proudfoot, Wilfred Mr. Michael Jopling.
Kaberry, Sir Donald Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
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