§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom King
I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 10, at end insert'Provided that the Secretary of State shall not use any of the money for the acquisition of pharmaceutical firms, and'.
No. 7, in page 1, line 13, at end insert
'or finance houses, merchant banks, and hire purchase companies'.
No. 8, in page 1, line 13, at end insert
'or the acquisition of any port'.
No. 9, in page 1, line 13, at end insert
'or the acquisition of any road haulage company'.
No. 10, in page 1, line 13, at end insert
'or the acquisition of building and civil engineering contractors'.
§ Mr. King
You will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Bill is not quite the same Bill as left the House after the Second Reading as long ago, amazing as it may seem, as 22nd April. I pay tribute here to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) because now the Bill has added to it a remarkable passage. The Bill is not a simple Bill for it is an extremely expensive one, although it is not very long. It has been lengthened by the important wordsProvided that the Secretary of State shall not use any of the money for the acquisition734or assistance of banks or insurance companies".The House will have noted that the Government have made no effort to remove those words from the Bill. We welcome that perfectly proper action by the Government. Unless the other place decides to mutilate this measure, those words will remain.
We should also pay tribute to the conscience of the hon. Members from Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) and Coventry, North-west (Mr. Robinson) whose abstention on that occasion enabled this important amendment to be made. They are not present for the debate today, and they are obviously well satisfied with the condition in which the Bill has returned to the House.
However, there are other matters and items which should also be written into the Bill. I do not in any way decry the efforts of my hon. Friends in Committee, but I wonder whether they went far enough. We have therefore listed a number of other exclusions that we think are relevant. Amendment No. 5 deals with the acquisition of pharmaceutical firms. The others deal with the acquisition of the ports, road haulage companies and building and civil engineering contractors. There may be some who wonder where these items come from. Let me refer them to "Labour's Programme 1976." It is twice as expensive as the Conservative policy document, and I believe there is something symbolic in that. It sells at 50p and we know that it is the Prime Minister's favourite reading. He often quotes from it in the House.
This document, which was put forward and approved by the Labour Party National Executve Committee and endorsed by the Labour Party Conference, is, if I can remember the Prime Minister's words correctly,the sum of all our hopes".735 To a number of gentlemen overseas it is the sum of all their fears of what may happen if the Labour Party carries its programme forward. I need hardly add that it represents the worst fears of the great majority of people in this country, too.
So the interests mentioned in our amendments are at risk under Labour's programme. They are all under the threat of nationalisation in one form or another. It is important, therefore, for Ministers to have the opportunity to make their position clear. The House will listen to what they say, as will the country and, I am afraid, certain gentlemen overseas. We are giving the Government the opportunity to make quite clear that in view of the country's economic situation "Labour's Programme 1976" is obsolete almost as soon as it has been printed, and that they will no longer attempt to pursue this policy. In the unlikely event that they are not prepared to accept the amendments we must draw our own conclusions, and many other people will notice their action in that case.
In the past couple of weeks we have seen just how much everybody in this country has suffered from the lack of confidence in the Government and in the policies that they have been pursuing. We have seen the damage that these have done to the pound and the damage that they will do to the rate of inflation and the standard of living of our people. It is therefore important to take every opportunity to try to secure a united voice in the House of Commons, a voice which speaks the language of common sense, which shows that we are not prepared to pursue more Left-wing policies, that the situation is far too serious for that, and that instead we shall ensure that the nationalisation proposals are not allowed even to be discussed in our present economic difficulties.
There is a difficult problem here because whatever the Prime Minister or other Ministers may say, observers at home and abroad will have seen the amazing incidents yesterday in which the NEC of the Labour Party actually carried a vote to lead a protest against the policies of its own government, and where the General Secretary of the 736 Labour Party was instructed to send orders to all the constituency parties—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order, I do not like interrupting the hon. Member, but strictly speaking what he is referring to has nothing to do with the amendment.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Unpalatable though my hon. Friend's words may be to some, surely they are directly relevant. We are talking about whether this money should be expended in the nationalisation and acquisition in all sorts of concerns, and that is at the heart of the Labour Party's internal debate. I would have thought it possible for my hon. Friend to develop these most interesting arguments.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The Chair is not concerned with whether what the hon. Member says is palatable or unpalatable. I am concerned only to discharge my duties while I occupy the Chair. We are discussing a series of amendments which specifically mention items or areas of industry on which the Opposition do not want the money spent. I cannot understand what that has to do with the goings on in the National Executive.
§ Mr. King
I appreciate your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know that there is no dispute whether these are palatable or unpalatable matters, because they are clearly most unpalatable to all of us. The issue was whether it was relevant to refer to the control or lack of control that exists within the Labour Government and the Labour Party. I submit that it is relevant. It is important when such substantial sums are made available by the Bill that we should clearly define the uses to which they may or may not be put. We believe it important to add these new categories because we have to restore confidence both at home and abroad by showing that the Government do not intend to nationalise these activities.
But then there is a weakness in my argument. If the Government accept our amendments and agree that confidence must be restored we must recognise that not many people will find such an undertaking by the Minister very convincing. It was that factor which led me on to the problem of the division within the Labour Party and the appalling situation 737 in which Mr. Ron Hayward will be forced to write to the constituency parties inviting them to lobby Parliament and protest against Government policy. Thus our difficulty is whether anyone would believe such a statement by the Government and whether it would carry widespread conviction here and abroad. Apart from the damage which the commission of nationalisation may do, I have always been equally concerned about the damage done by the threat of nationalisation.
I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to imagine that you are responsible for the investment of a pharmaceutical company. When you read this Labour Party document, are you likely to expand investment in this country? Imagine an overseas company considering investment in the EEC and wondering which country to choose as the site. When it looks at the SPD in Germany and the Labour Party programme for 1976, which country is it most likely to choose?
I trust that it is still Government policy to encourage inward investment. If so, have they no concept of the damage which these threats, gaily delivered in party policy statements, do in the minds of people throughout the world who are considering investment?
No. hon. Member with even the slightest understanding of the regional problems of this country or the present industrial structure of Scotland and, in particular, Ulster, and the contribution made by inward investment to the employment and economy of those areas, can doubt the value of that investment. But it is a competitive business. Many other countries would like to attract mobile international investment and any country which produces unnecessary and damaging handicaps and hindrances of the kind contained in this document has only itself to blame if investment is not forthcoming.
We should also remember another major disincentive. International companies who have invested here in recent years have been forced by the weakness of sterling to pay a heavy price. Their assets have steadily depreciated and in many cases they have had to be written down in consolidated accounts. We do not want to make the handicaps any greater.
Our amendments are a small effort to make the Government see sense and to 738 agree that funds will not be used under this Bill for any of the purposes set out in the amendments.
Some of my hon. Friends may wish to speak on individual amendments. We feel that their inclusion is a test of the Government's faith. Are they going to pursue the industrial strategy much heralded at Chequers but seemingly forgotten ever since, or is the NEC now rampant with the Labour programme for 1976 as the bible for implementation? What will be the industrial future of this country?
§ Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Luton, West)
I wish only to ask the Minister two questions. First, can he confirm that even if the amendments were passed, they would not affect the power of the National Enteprise Board to buy into or buy out the whole pharmaceutical industry if it wished and would have no effect on the power of the National Enterprise Board to buy into or buy out any workers' co-operative?
Secondly, can the Minister confirm that nothing in the Bill, not even the words:Provided that the Secretary of State shall not use any of the money for the acquisition or assistance of banks or insurance companies.".affects the power of the NEB to buy into or buy out every insurance or banking company in the country if it so wishes?
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
I start by declaring an interest in insurance and engineering.
The amendments seek a simple and direct answer from the Government. I expect that the Minister will have no difficulty in making abundantly clear that he fully supports the intentions behind the amendment and in confirming, on behalf of the Government, that under no circumstances would they seek to use public money to acquire sections of the industries listed in the amendments.
I do not expect that the Minister will even require a brief to be able to say that. He may, for some technical reason, wish to turn aside individual amendments, but he can still undo much of the harm already done by the Labour Party document if he makes a clear declaration along the lines I have indicated.
739 My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) spoke about the damage done to industry and investment from spoken or written threats to acquire sectors of the economy. I have had recent experience of some of the problems with which our industrialists have to contend. They find it difficult enough to sell their products in a highly competitive environment.
In so many instances, the quality of our goods is better than anything produced by our competitors and we have been making inroads in overseas markets. The problem facing industrialists is that no matter how good their products are, they are having to answer for the quality of the Government. Whatever difficulties they experience in selling their goods, they are nothing compared to the difficulties they have in selling the Government.
The lack of credibility in the Government is undermining the efforts of British manufacturers in overseas markets. This is a point which the Minister should take to heart. He should know that if a document produced by a political party is extreme in its demands or tendentious in its language and is not disavowed by the party leaders, it can do great damage. There is a precedent. Statements have been made on behalf of his party which have subsequently found their way into law.
There is, therefore, every justification for people being concerned about the recent publication and about statements made by members of the Labour Party. I hope that the Minister will make clear on behalf of the Government that he has a sense of responsibility towards British industry and commerce and that he will stand up against the lunatic advice of some members of his party.
Various sectors of industry are represented in this group of amendments and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will find it easier to make the formal and straightforward declaration for which I have called on some rather than others. He may find it difficult to make such a declaration in respect of financial institutions. Perhaps that will be so because from some old-fashioned loyalty he does not want to pre-empt the inquiry into City institutions that is to be headed by the former Prime Minister, or does not want to prejudge some of the conclusions. 740 If he has difficulties in that respect, at least he should have no trouble in making clear the Government's view about the essential quality of the contribution made to our balance of payments and the economy by City financial institutions.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will use the amendment to take the opportunity to make such a formal declaration, and in so doing to discount some of the anxieties, which are substantial, which have been spreading throughout the insurance and banking industries, for example, as a result of the views of elements within the Labour Party, their professed desire being to take such institutions into public ownership.
I wonder whether Labour Members could enumerate the advantages that they expect to accrue to the insurance and banking sectors, for example, and the economy were there to be wholesale acquisition by means of increasing public expenditure through the public purse. What benefit would they expect to give to any one area? Would they not be wiser first to examine the performance of the sectors of industry that are currently within public ownership? I have no doubt that they would have much to say about the improvements that are needed. After all, within our memory are recent statements by the previous Chairman of British Rail condemning so much of the service to the public that is provided by that nationalised industry. I have no doubt that other Labour Members are concerned about the quality of service that is given by other sectors of public industry. We do not want to add to the problems, which are large enough as they now exist, by embarking upon any further adventures with the investment of public money.
In these few brief remarks I hope to have indicated to the Under-Secretary of State the areas in which he could usefully make a positive contribution to the economic and industrial well being of this country by firmly and openly declaring on behalf of the Government that he agrees with the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater and that he, too, will support the amendment.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
I shall briefly take up some of the points made 741 by the right hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden). It was suggested earlier that this was to be a fairly narrow debate, bat in the course of the past few minutes it has been broadened considerably. Therefore, it will be necessary for me to view these matters from a rather broad spectrum although the amendments themselves are considered to be fairly narrow.
The right hon. Gentleman should understand even better than I do, as a member of a recent Government between 1970 and 1974, that when in Government it is extremely difficult to go about denationalising some of the industries and sectors to which he referred. Even a Tory Government that took office on a Selsdon manifesto would have extreme difficulty in following that course. We know that between 1970 and 1972 attempts were made to hive off certain parts of the public sector industries into the private sector in a so-called attempt to swing back the pendulum or to reverse the ratchet. Those attempts were made by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) and they failed.
Although it is all right for Conservative Members to have some fun and games in the Chamber by talking about the great new private sector, the great new Utopia and the benefits that they will bring, they know that if they had the opportunity to be in Government the chances of doing al I the things that they may well include in their manifestos and get past their respective national executive, or whatever it is called, would be remote. That is because technology has developed as a result of collectivisation, and as a result of that the multinationals and the large monopolies gather pace year by year.
§ Mr. Nigel Lawson (Blaby)
Before the hon. Gentleman gets carired away, may I say that I agree with him that there are certain technical difficulties in denationalisation. However, does he not realise that it is partly for that reason that it is all the more important that industries are not destroyed by nationalisation in the first place?
§ Mr. Skinner
I read in my newspapers of large amounts of money being lavished in all directions. For example, there was Courtaulds, a part of the private sector that had never been tarnished by nationalisation. It has never been mentioned in 742 the long lists that we produce at Labour Party conferences from time to time. Despite having received £2 million under the Industry Act 1972, Courtaulds are now assisting in throwing out of work up to 25 per cent. of the whole working population of Skelmersdale and adding to the misery in many other areas throughout the country. That is the private sector. The hon. Gentleman knows that that has nothing to do with nationalisation. Indeed, it can be argued that if the nationalised sector, with an improved manufacturing base, were able to use more products, it might be able to use some of the Courtaulds capacity. If we had an alternative strategy, the chances of taking that course to a faster extent and to a greater degree would be rapidly improved.
As the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) knows, it is a nonsense to suggest that we can suddenly transform everything by the Opposition moving over to the other side of the Chamber. That is not on. There might be marginal changes and promises would be made, but the hon. Gentleman knows the way in which the ratchet is moving. He knows that if the private sector continues to hang out its begging bowl to whatever Government are in office—I am told that since this Government took office it has received £7,600 million—the hon. Gentleman's friends in manufacturing industry and other parts of industry will not be totally sold on the ideas that he and his Friends propound in the Chamber. They know that the days of complete and utter freedom and the playing of market forces have long since passed. The limited areas where that could operate are not included in the amendments. Eric Morley might be able to operate on free market forces and Ladbrokes and William Hill might just about do it. They could continue with a growth industry completely unfettered by these gifts from the State—indeed, from the taxpayer. The hon. Member for Blaby knows it, and he knows it to our cost.
The debate on this aspect should get down to the fundamentals of this small but, for some people, important measure. What astounds me is that, despite having written in these few words about not including any reference to the banks and finance houses, the pound has not shot upwards. We are constantly told that, if 743 it were not for these Left-wing measures, the pound would be rocketing towards two dollars and, who knows, possible three dollars.
I suppose that my right hon. and hon. Friends have inserted these few words for the benefit of the International Monetary Fund. I think that Friedman and others ought to comment on the fact that they have slid a little way towards what the Opposition want in an attempt not merely to placate them—there may be some truth in that—but to placate the IMF.
As for the banks and the insurance companies—that area of our life which is so important—I take the simplistic view that this is not a matter of principle. I think that hon. Members, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore), know that in banking there is a degree of intervention or interference. I sometimes detest the kind of interference about which I read—for example, the £70 million which was dropped on Slater Walker's desk back in November to assist Jim Slater or Jimmy Goldsmith with his problems.
This is not a matter of principle. Only recently two special attempts have been made by the Government, supported by the Opposition—at least, they have not said too much about it—to take away from the four major clearing banks their ability to do what they like.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I have allowed a great deal of latitude not only to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), but to others. The hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out that he was replying to some of the general remarks which have already been made. But we are not discussing the joint stock banks or the Bank of England. We are discussing finance houses, merchant banks and hire-purchase companies. A general debate on the banking system is completely out of order.
§ Mr. Sedgemore
Yes. I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, more than most hon. Members, because of your deep understanding of financial matters, will be aware that Slater Walker, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) referred, was in part a merchant bank and, indeed, was involved in one of the so-called great merchant bank takeovers which was to be a banque d'affaires. My hon. Friend is precisely on the point of this amendment. With respect, he could not be more in the centre of it.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The debate has gone much wider than the amendments. Therefore, I ask the hon. Member for Bolsover to try to keep that in mind.
§ Mr. Ridley
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will it be in order to discuss the Crown Agents, Cable and Wireless, Giro, and other concerns of that kind? Surely that would be in order.
§ Mr. Skinner
The point which I was trying to elaborate is quite simple. I was putting forward the general proposition as it affects all banks. I was including the special position of the major clearing banks with all their subsidiaries which are affected by these amendments. They are called on by the Government to take certain action which will control their ability to act freely. Even in this context the banks are not allowed to do just as they wish.
I shall skip over this point as quickly as possible. We suggest that, instead of the Government merely asking for special deposits and reducing the banks' opportunities to operate just as they wish in certain circumstances, control should go much further. We believe that in that way we can control investment and possibly, not necessarily, get away from the need to have the amendments or the Bill.
The Bill and the amendments are an attempt to control the economy by handing out palliatives and cosseting certain companies to enable them to operate within the economy to the better advantage, as the Government see it, of the 745 country. Some of us believe that extension of that control would be a major step forward, but that it is not a matter of principle because, by and large, the banks are to some extent controlled, but not as much as we would wish.
That is the message that I want to get across to the Minister. I do not want to stray too far. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have been listening with great interest.
§ Mr. Skinner
And, as you say, you have been very lenient.
I hope that, whatever attitude the Government adopt towards these amendments, they will bear in mind that there has been an extension of the public sector over many years and that that extension will continue. It cannot be rolled back in the way which many Opposition Members may imagine. We should understand that there is no way of rolling it back. Therefore, we should be brave and say that we have to roll it forward and that extension should take place in the most vital areas of the economy. That is the spirit in which we should be tackling these amendments and the Bill.
According to the latest registered figures, there are nearly 1½ million on the dole. That is why the Bill has been introduced and why the amendments should be opposed. On the basis of a gradual increase in unemployment, a higher interest rate over the last two or three decades spiralling up to 15 per cent, and an increased plateau of inflation after two or three years, back to the situation in the early 1950s, we recognise that such measures have not proved totally successful. That is an under-statement if ever there was one. Therefore, we must strike out and be prepared to take any necessary measures to advance the public sector, to get people back to work, to have a larger manufacturing base, and to provide a better society and perhaps prevent the riots in the streets about which some of our leaders constantly talk.
I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will address himself to the direction in which I have tried to guide him, because that is the only way it will go anyway.
§ Mr. Ridley
I must first declare an interest as a director of a bank and an insurance company. In my own interest I should like the joint stock banks and seven big insurance companies to be nationalised because my company is small and not on the list. Nationalisation would mean that vast numbers of customers would come knocking on the doors of small companies and it is therefore in my interest that they be nationalised. But, as one who always puts the public interest first, I am prepared to forgo the great gold rush which these nationalisation measures would create.
The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) lectured his two hon. Friends on the Front Bench in no uncertain terms. We are always delighted to hear his economic expertise in debate, and today was no exception. The hon. Gentleman did not need to lecture his hon. Friends because both are unwilling defenders of the Government line. I thought that I detected a shade of embarrassment cross the face of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), whom I congratulate on his appointment. I wonder why he has not been asked to respond to this group of amendments. I thought he might have shown us his newfound fervour for the Government line that the major financial institutions should remain in private ownership. But, no. He has had the grace to be present but his colleague has been chosen to rebuff the arguments.
It is a pleasure for these matters to be argued in the Chamber. The Left wing and members of the National Executive Committee, most of whom are hon. Members of the House, usually argue privately. It would be refreshing not to have a sea of vacant green staring at us. But I give credit to those hon. Members who have come here to put forward their silly ideas in public instead of all this hiding behind the closed doors of Transport House and issuing statements ex cathedra.
The hon. Member for Bolsover did not say why he wanted to do all this rolling.
§ Mr. Ridley
That pun does not help The hon. Gentleman wanted to roll forward the frontier between the public sector and the private sector but he did not stop to say why.
§ Mr. Ridley
Perhaps there would be more if the hon. Gentleman had his way, and maybe that is one of the troubles.
Those industries which have been nationalised are flops and ghastly failures, so what is the point of extending that system? There are many reasons for their failure but the basic reason is simple.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I cannot see what the failure or success of nationalised industries has to do with the amendment under discussion. I should like the hon. Gentleman to satisfy me on that point, although I doubt whether he will be able to do so.
§ Mr. Ridley
I shall try to do that Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am in favour of Amendments Numbers 5, 7, 9 and 10. Because, if all of these industries were nationalised—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Let us get the matter straight, otherwise the debate will go far wide of the Bill, which we are not discussing, and of the amendments. The position is clear. Certain industries which the amendments seek to exclude from the use of public money have been listed.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Sir J. Eden
On a point of order. If one is talking about the use of public money to acquire a road haulage company, as in Amendment No. 9, a building and civil engineering contractor, as in Amendment No. 10, or a pharmaceutical firm, one must first try to envisage what improvement, if any, would follow. Since we are supporting the amendments, surely the onus is on us to prove why. We can do that only by comparing industries in the private sector with those that are nationalised.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I agree with the hon. Member's interpretation of what we should be discussing. Hon. Members should show why public money should not be spent in those particular fields. That is what the debate should be about. But they go too far when discussing the wider area of other industries, joint stock banks, Labour Party manifestos or the National Executive.
§ Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)
Further to that point of order. Surely it is relevant to compare the present performance of existing nationalised industries when debating whether further companies or industries should be nationalised.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We should be discussing the effect of the proposal upon, for instance, the pharmaceutical industry, and that is all. Hon. Members must not go into a general examination of industries on which public money has already been spent or say what will automatically happen to the industries under discussion. Hon. Members must show what will happen to a port, for instance, if it should be acquired.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Les Huckfield)
Further to that point of order. I should like to help the House. Opposition Members have raised points of order and I am sure that it would be of help if they realised that we are talking about matters which are based upon their own legislation. There is nothing in the Bill, in the 1972 or 1975 Acts upon which this Bill is based, about nationalisation. The Bill and those Acts are about voluntary acquisitions and acquisition by consent. There is nothing in the Bill—
§ Mr. Lawson
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine). I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be aware that in Aristotle's "Logic," upon which the rules of order are based, certain categories of argument were laid down. One of the main categories was argument by analogy.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Aristotle did not lay down the Orders of the House of Commons. I am prepared to allow passing references, but hon. Members should not go into great detail. We have now exhausted this matter.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely you must accept that if we do not discuss the record of industries which are already in public ownership we shall be discussing the matter as though this were some new idea which has never before been tried.
749 We would then have nothing but theory to go on, whereas in fact we have much practical experience. It would be wrong if we were not able to draw upon that, or to draw upon the general remarks of Sir Richard Marsh—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. This is typical of what we are getting now. I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point of order. I agree with a fleeting, passing reference to, say, a disaster in some particular field of nationalisation. That is all right. However, it is not in order to go into the whole history of what Sir Richard Marsh said or what someone else said. That would not be in order.
I must make this comment to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). I am quite sure that, having heard the points of order, he now realises exactly what is and what is not in order.
§ Mr. Ridley
What I propose to do, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is this. Rather than refer to the pharmaceutical industry, the finance houses, merchant banks, hire-purchase companies, ports, road haulage companies and building and civil engineering contractors, I shall refer to them as "the industries in the amendments". Perhaps that will be all right.
I do not think that the industries in the amendments should be nationalised or should have public money provided for them in the event of serious trouble overcoming them. I want to put a very serious point to the House. I hope that hon. Members will listen to it, because it will not be popular, even among some of my hon. Friends. However, it must be said. This is not concerned with nationalisation at all.
What I am trying to point out is that once a company is connected to possible rescue by the Treasury there is bound to be a different attitude in the minds of those who work in it and those who manage it. The only reason why managers can manage successfully and why people will accept the disciplines of industry and, indeed, the unpalatable fact that often they cannot get the wage claims that they would like, or that they have to work hard, is that they have had great enthusiasm but also the fear that if they failed to do that, it would result in bankruptcy and, therefore, unemployment.
750 Once one says that certain companies and industries, whether in the public sector or the private sector, are to be supported with taxpayers' money, whatever people do, that attitude is changed and one has to rely entirely upon people's good will.
This is one of the things that have gone wrong with British industry, public and private. Heaven knows, it is a hard enough job to be an industrial manager. To run a private sector company with all the disciplines of the market is a very difficult thing. It requires great skill, patience, and hard work to do it well. However, it is infinitely harder to do it once that company is nationalised or is guaranteed the assistance of the taxpayer if it gets into trouble. It is certainly a job for professionals.
One of the most extraordinary things that the present Government have done is to believe that our erstwhile colleague from Newcastle upon Tyne, Central, would be expert at running a company in the public sector. I should like to hear a justification for that, just en passant. Here we have one of the most difficult tasks in our society. We should use people who have proved themselves to have the necessary skills and who have worked their way up through industry.
The reason why it is so much more difficult in the public sector is, first, the reason I have already given, that people's attitudes have changed, and, secondly, that the position of the managers in the industries that we are discussing would be greatly altered if they were the subject of Industry Act assistance. They could not say "No, I insist on a better manning schedule. I insist on harder work. I insist on disciplining you for not turning up on time. I cannot pay these wage claims". Everyone knows that that is not true and that if the worst comes to the worst, there is a tranche of money available under the Bill. Therefore, the job is infinitely more difficult.
What is more, the motivation of these people is changed. The motivation of those managers about whom we are talking would equally be changed as well. If they are running a private sector company, every pound that they can save out of their revenue is a pound that will go to them and to the shareholders, enriching them. The motive is there to force down costs as far as they can. It 751 is that motive that makes industry efficient.
However, if these managers are in the position of a public sector manager, the only way that they can better themselves and improve themselves is to have a bigger organisation. If one looks at the pecking order of the chairmen of our present nationalised industries, one finds that the chairmen who get the most are the chaps who have the biggest payroll, so the only way to get more money, if one is a public sector manager, is to try to get a bigger payroll. That is why we find that putting these industries into the public sector would have the effect of greatly increasing their costs and the number of people they employ, and of making them less efficient in every way.
§ Mr. Cryer
I have been following the hon. Gentleman's arguments. I am sure that he will accept that the 1972 Act is about assistance only, and that acquisition can be undertaken only with the consent of the companies concerned. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would care to square his remarks. Would he care to repudiate, in the light of his remarks, the section on page 31 of the Conservative Party document "The Right Approach", which says,There may be occasions when a Government has to intervene to assist a company in financial difficulties on strategic, or technological or other grounds.Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that there are never any grounds, and does he repudiate that document?
§ Mr. Ridley
I would not go as far as to say that there are never any grounds. What I am trying to say is that in the generality the answer should be "No". The general answer should be "No". There will be companies which for defence, strategic or other reasons, or where there is some particularly sensitive reason, should be given assistance. But that is entirely different from the present situation, in which I would bet that the biggest 100 companies in Britain believe that if they get into trouble they will be rescued. I do not believe that there is one man running a big British company, or one trade union representing workers in a big British company, who does not have a fairly certain feeling that it would be rescued. That is what is 752 doing the damage and it is one of the reasons for our industrial decline.
Therefore, when the hon. Member for Bolsover talks about rolling on the frontier, my first reaction is that he simply wants to make the whole of British industry inefficient.
§ Mr. Ridley
The hon. Gentleman says that it will happen anyway. However, let us suppose that he had his way and rolled right up to the edge and over it, so that there was nothing left in the private sector, in the end, there must be a discipline, because there are no workers left on whom to live. There is no one lying around anywhere upon whom one can be parasitical, so we are all square again. What happens then with this Communist system of industrial management is that gradually little bits of it get returned to incentive, to the profit motive. With agriculture in Russia, all the time Russia is having to find incentives to motivate the people whose motivation she destroyed when they accepted Communist industrial régimes.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is right and he will get his Eldorado and the public sector will be everywhere. I shall resist it, because I am interested in the standard of living of ordinary working people. I should like them to be richer. I do not like the Government who say that there is no more money for anyone, that there shall be misery for everyone and that all they want is nationalisation and State Socialism. That does not make anyone better off. It makes people worse off. The Government's target is to make people less well off. We are told of the marvellous achievement last year when the standard of living came down one or two points. That is Socialism working. My solution is that we should have twice the wages and twice the standard of living.
§ Mr. Skinner
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that he and people like him wanted Britain inside the Common Market because the Treaty of Rome was based upon the free movement of capital and labour, the free play of market forces and the enhancement of the private sector, which would enable Britain to trade 753 more effectively and give economies of scale in the private sector to produce a better standard of living for Britain? Is not the real answer that since we went into the Common Market in such a short period we have suffered the biggest decline in living standards and is not that one of the main reasons why we have these problems today? In other words, the private sector, Common Market attitude is milking the country dry.
§ Mr. Ridley
Other events have occurred since we joined the Common Market. One is the vast increase in the amount of money going to industrial subsidy. Another is the vast increase in the rate of inflation. The two are not disconnected. The heavy bill for industrial subsidy is one of the main reasons for inflation. Both the subsidy and the inflation have damaged industry. I do not think that the Common Market is to blame. It is the hon. Member for Bolsover and his lot, and the policies which they advocate, that have done the damage.
Another reason for supporting the amendment is that we cannot divorce debates on the economy, such as the debate we had 10 days ago when we were all saying that we must do something about the economy and save public spending, from debates on pensions, health or industry when we ask for more money to be spent. This group of amendments would slightly restrict the area in which public money could be spent.
If the Government are in earnest about wanting to restrain public expenditure, there is no conceivable reason why they cannot accept every one of these amendments. They would be doing a service to the country by restricting their ability to spend money and allowing the industries listed in the amendments to remain more efficient than they would be if they were taken over. They would also be doing a service for the reason given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden). If only the Government would signal to the world that they repudiate the hon. Members for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) and Bolsover, the pound might go up in value and our recovery might start. That is why I shall vote for the amendments.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
The amendment brings to a crunch the difference in approach to the National Enterprise Board by the Conservative segment of the Opposition, on the one hand, and the Liberal segment of the Opposition, on the other. The Liberal Bench finds it impossible to support the Conservative amendment which has been selected for the vote.
The Liberals were very pleased when the Government bowed to the decision in Committee to exclude banking and insurance. Never at any time when we have advocated the National Enterprise Board have we considered that it should become a City of London institution—God forbid. The amendment for which I was happy to vote in Committee was admirable, and I am even happier that the Government accepted it.
The amendment we are considering today is a very different matter because it would constrict the National Enterprise Board in the exercise of the functions for which we have always maintained that a board of this kind should exist.
Where private enterprise for an understandable reason, not out of malaise or stupidity, has become too crippled to intervene to exploit a new technology, the function of the National Enterprise Board is to intervene, not necessarily in perpetuity, but to get a particular technology or invention propertly exploited.
§ Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)
I think that the hon. Gentleman is on the wrong amendment. The amendments we are discussing have nothing to do with the National Enterprise Board. They have to do with the scale of financial assistance under the Act unfortunately passed by my hon. Friends in 1972.
§ Mr. Wainwright
The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) cannot have been here earlier in our proceedings when it was pointed out forcefully from the Conservative Front Bench that the Bill enables more money to be injected into the National Enterprise Board. That is why I still maintain that it would be crippling to the National Enterprise Board. [Interruption.] I shall be glad to be corrected and released from a dilemma if those who are winding up the debate can make this clear.
755 As long as the whole industry is not nationalised—there is no suggestion of that in the Bill—and as long as the takeover is not compulsory, there should be nothing to shackle the Government in intervening where they discover, to Parliament's satisfaction, that a technology, device or valuable saleable product is not being adequately exploited by private enterprise and seems unlikely to be so.
It seems quite wrong that an attempt should be made to prevent the Government from taking over a small pharmaceutical firm which had gone to sleep on a product, perhaps its sole product, and where to secure the patents and other rights it would be necessary for the Government to intervene. To shackle the Government in that way is to go too far. Subject to the explanations which the Front Bench feels confident it can make, our intention is to vote against the amendment.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
I declare not a personal financial interest but an interest in that more than 4,000 of my constituents work with pharmaceutical companies. ICI Pharmaceuticals and Ciba-Geigy (UK) Limited, both important companies and very good employers, operate within my constituency. It is extraordinary that Labour Members of Parliament who are members of the Labour Party National Executive and who feel so strongly on these matters are not present to participate in the debate. Perhaps parliamentary democracy is not their platform, and I hope that the country appreciates that fact.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Those Labour Members will be entertaining their guest whose job it is, according to his publications, to ensure that industry is no longer kept in private hands.
§ Mr. Winterton
I would be out of order if I were to take up that point, but I believe that the people of this country have made their views clear on that Soviet visitor.
In addition to the general political and economic arguments that can be advanced against the theory of nationalisation or State participation in industry, there are a number of specific points that apply to the pharmaceutical industry. I particularly 756 wish to direct my remarks to Amendment No. 5.
The compulsory acquisition of a pharmaceutical company by the National Enterprise Board or by any Government body during the present Parliament would mean the present Socialist Government breaking undertakings given in the White Paper "The Regeneration of British Industry". Even though this policy is suggested in the recent report published by the Labour Party on the pharmaceutical industry, it would constitute a serious breach of faith by the present Socialist Government.
The pharmaceutical industry by its very nature is not suitable for nationalisation or for State participation. No one pharmaceutical company has more than 7 per cent. of the value of sales to the National Health Service, and therefore the purchase of one or even a number of pharmaceutical companies could not have a significant effect on the cost of drugs to the NHS.
It is also suggested that a State-owned company could give a lead on reducing advertising. This matter has been in the news recently and the Department of Health and Social Security obviously considers it important. This is a superficial argument. The only effect would be to destroy the competitiveness of the State-owned company and thereby to decrease its earnings and its ability to carry out research without large injections of State aid.
It is argued that the acquisition of a pharmaceutical company would enable the Government to discover information about pharmaceutical costing and methods of operation. This is already known to the Government in regard to pharmaceutical companies because of the detailed financial returns which they make to the Department. It could possibly be said that the Department does not have enough information about foreign companies, but it is unlikely to gain any new information just because the Government own a British company, however small or large it may be.
The Government already exercise sufficient controls over the activities of the pharmaceutical industry, and this applies to British and foreign-owned companies. All aspects of safety and efficacy are controlled by what is recognised to 757 be one of the best systems in the world. Prices are controlled through a voluntary price regulation scheme, and there are sufficient powers to control advertising in existing legislation. We must remember that advertising of prescription products is restricted to doctors—who must be considered reasonably intelligent people, despite the claims of the Labour Party that they are unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies. This is a tremenous slight on doctors who seem rarely to be consulted on their views about the activities of the pharmaceutical industry.
I would go further and say that Government participation in the pharmaceutical industry would reduce confidence for further private investment in the United Kingdom industry. The present Government have done a great deal to reduce confidence in practically every sector of industry, and it would certainly not help confidence in the pharmaceutical industry if there were Government participation.
At present there is considerable foreign investment in the industry which provides many jobs and affords this country the opportunity to earn substantial exports. I hope that Ministers will pay tribute to the fantastic export record and performance of the pharmaceutical industry. That record has been founded on private investment and based on private research which has been extremely successful. Therefore, the introduction of unnecessary controls for purely political purposes would discourage the use of the United Kingdom as one of the major worldwide bases for pharmaceutical research and manufacture. Inevitably this would mean a reduction in the United Kingdom pharmaceutical exports and an increase in imports, and perhaps also lead to a reduction in the amount of employment it provides. In 1975 exports of pharmaceuticals contributed £370 million to the United Kingdom balance of payments. That is a fine record. Why should there be any need for Government intervention in any way whatever in this industry?
No State-controlled company or institution anywhere in the world has succeeded in pharmaceutical research and development and there is no reason to believe that this pattern will change in future. It is the competitiveness in pharmaceutical research that makes companies strive for greater discoveries for the 758 benefit of mankind. Even though a valuable contribution is made by State bodies, as I am prepared to admit, the significant developments over the last decades have been made by private industry. That is the message I want to get across to the Minister.
Any company acquired by the NEB would be bound to be tinkered with by the Government in trying out their pet ideas. This would seriously affect the company's profitability and it would become a drain on the taxpayer. But, more important, any pharmaceutical business in the United Kingdom is dependent on successful export performance. The United Kingdom represents only 3 per cent, of the world pharmaceutical market; this is an important point and I hope that it is not underestimated by the Government. Effort might well be diverted away from this area towards the implementation of Government schemes.
The question of nationalisation and Government participation was considered in depth by the independent Sainsbury Committee of Inquiry in 1967, and the reasons which it advanced against public ownership then are still true today. In paragraph 251 of its report the Committee said:In the first place, the industry cannot be said to have failed to provide the people of this country with many medicines of great value.I am sure the Minister would admit that that is true. I wonder whether the State-controlled economies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union can boast a single new drug which has been internationally recognised to be of great benefit. I do not believe the Minister will be able to instance one such country. I could go further, but I shall not do so because many other hon. Members wish to take part in this debate.
I speak in this debate not just as a member of the Conservative Party or as Member for Macclesfield but also for many people in every grade and sector of those companies located in my constituency, 99.9 per cent, of whom strongly oppose any State involvement in the British pharmaceutical industry. They have afforded to them by the company good wages, good prospects, good pensions, good conditions at work and excellent facilities after they have left 759 work. Those facilities are all provided because of progressive and successful company policies. Judging by the past record of Government involvement in industry, I do not believe that this enlightened policy could continue if the Government took a stake, large or small, in the pharmaceutical industry. If they do so, the precedent will be set and this country will no longer be the base of many international pharmaceutical companies for the carrying out of research and manufacture.
A great deal is at stake in these amendments. I fully support my colleagues who have tabled the amendments and I hope that the many absent Socialist Members who are at present away elsewhere will consider well what they are doing before they vote against them. My comments have been directed to one amendment, but a good argument could be made out for all the amendments on the Order Paper. We want no part of State intervention in successful industry. I say to the Government: keep your hands of.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
I am sorry to see that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) have left the Chamber, because I wanted to begin, like my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), by declaring an interest. My own very small stock of sterling is dwindling rapidly, and I observed on the tape that an article yesterday by the hon. Member for Luton, West had already removed 1.5 cents from the value of sterling. I can hardly wait to discover from the tape the further impact on sterling of the speech made by the hon. Member for Bolsover.
§ Sir A. Meyer
I address myself to the very narrow point of Amendment No. 8. During the past weeks I have been devoting a good deal of time and energy to trying to ensure the continued survival of the small port of Mostyn, in my constituency. Like many other small ports throughout the country, it is absolutely vital to the prosperity of the wide hinterland which it serves. I know this to be 760 particularly true of a number of small ports in the West Country and in Scotland.
Despite the disagreements that we may have had across the Floor of the House in connection with this Bill, it is probably true to say that there has been a fair measure of good will and understanding about the Bill as it has travelled on its way—partly because of its ancestry. But certainly within the context of this measure, to talk about Government money for small ports is to conjure up an image of a fairy godmother who will come to the rescue of any small port that finds itself in distress. I fear that that fairy godmother may be the fairy Carabosse, bringing with her a poisoned needle that will send our small ports to sleep for 21 years—and perhaps a great deal longer.
In another setting—that of the Dock Work Regulation Bill—if the Labour Party, and particularly the Labour Members who sit below the Gangway, get their way, the prospect is a very desolate one indeed.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) made it quite plain—he also made it quite plain that he expected Ministers to share his point of view—that the object of Labour Party policy and, as he would have it, the object of Government policy is to destroy the small ports because they prey upon the prosperity of the big scheme ports. It is quite clear that that is the object of the Dock Work Regulation Bill.
What I fear is a combination of the debilitating effect of the big stick of the Dock Work Regulation Bill, compelling the small ports to adopt working practices which have brought the great ports to somewhere near ruin, and the poisoned carrot of this measure, holding out the hope that the Secretary of State will come along with money bags in order to make good the ravages of the Dock Work Regulation Bill. I fear that this mechanism will separately and conjointly achieve the total destruction of these small ports, which are so vital to the welfare of many of our citizens. I speak at a moment when unemployment in my own constituency has risen to about 13.7 per cent, and looks like going higher still.
If, within this group of amendments, there had been a specific amendment 761 excluding the firm of Courtaulds from the operations of the Bill, I might have been rather in two minds about it. I confess to being somewhat schizophrenic about the operations of a firm headed until recently by a successful Socialist peer—so successful that he has been put in charge of our North Sea oil reserves. I reflect on the total lack of providence or far-sightedness shown by the management of Courtaulds in allowing this once great firm to get into a state in which it has to declare massive redundancies throughout the country, because of a total failure to foresee a change of demand that could have been been seen coming a mile off by any real entrepreneur.
But we are not dealing with Courtaulds; we are dealing now with ports and docks. If the Government wish to nationalise the ports, let them say so and bring forward a Bill to that effect. Let them not try to do so by first debilitating the operations of the ports by means of the Dock Work Regulation Bill and then coming along with bogus money bags in order to rescue the ports with poisoned money.
I shall have no hesitation at all, therefore, in supporting this group of amendments. I very much hope that these and other amendments will tighten the scope of the Bill in order to reduce the damage that it can do.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Our debates these days tend to be rather sad affairs. As I always understood it, the essential of a debate was that there were two points of view expressed—sometimes more—and that there was a discussion and perhaps even a meeting of minds. But day after day, in debate after debate, we find that there are Members present on only one side of the House and that, apart from a little squeak or two from the Minister, only one point of view is put forward.
I am particularly sorry that the hon. Members for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) and Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) are no longer in the Chamber. Apart from anything else, I, like you, Mr. Speaker, remember the hon. Member for Bolsover when he came here—a sort of proud, bouncy and uppish young political virgin. But in his speech today he sounded like a poor old tired and raddled political camp follower, still protesting 762 his virtue—a virtue that no one wants to take from him.
At least the Under-Secretary of State, who is not here now, had the common sense to sell his political virtue while he still had something left to sell—while there was something attractive about him. He had not lost that sort of fresh innocence when he got on to the Treasury Bench, but he was losing it pretty quickly today, I must confess.
But since there is no one else here on the Government side, apart from the Minister, and we must have our debate on our own, we had best get on with it. At this stage I must declare my interests, as always. One is a rather individual interest, in that I work for the National Federation of Building Trades Employers, and civil engineering and building are mentioned in one of the amendments.
The other is a rather wider interest. I, like many people in this House and many people outside, am a member of a pension fund. What worries me is that as time goes on, unless the Government forswear any intention of nationalising the industries mentioned in these amendments—in other words, unless the Government go back on "Labour's Programme for Britain"—before long there will be very few investments available for pension funds to put their money into. Almost the only thing that a pension fund will be able to do will be to put its money into Government stocks—those things which in bygone days were called gilt-edged investments. That is an expression that we do not hear any more. Can you, Mr. Speaker, imagine anyone going to his broker now and saying" I want to buy a gilt-edged investment, and I had Government securities in mind"? Not many funny things happen on the Stock Exchange these days, but that might bring a smile to the broker's face.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Tebbit
My hon. and learned Friend may well be right. But the serious point that we have to consider is what pension funds will do in the future. Admittedly, at the moment, a yield of 15 per cent, or 16 per cent, sounds moderately attractive. With inflation running 763 at a mere 15 per cent., which I understand is a triumph of Government policy, I suppose that it is something just to hold it to the value of money. But, traditionally, the pension funds looked for investments which would appreciate and show a return in order that they might pay pensions to the members of the funds. If these industries go, too, what hope is there? There will be a narrower and narrower base of industry in which to invest. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) implied, there will be fewer and fewer host companies with more and more parasites to feed upon them. So I am especially worried from the point of view of a member of a pension fund. I hope that the Government have noted the difficulties which will face these funds in future.
After all, once a company is tainted with Government money and a Government shareholding, who in his right mind will invest in it, even if it is not nationalised outright? We know that, from there on, other considerations than the commercial ones will come into play. If a by-election arose, for example, the company might be told that it could not do what was thought commercially necessary because its operations affected a constituency where there was a Government party seat at risk. I do not say that, especially partially, of the present Government. Having found the neutrality of the Chair, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you are even more aware than most that when an hon. Member refers to the Government he includes Governments of all persuasions. They have a great deal in common, and I do not trust any of them to a great extent.
As I understand it, at the moment the Labour Party is committed to the nationalisation of all the industries mentioned in the amendments. I understand that it is also still committed to the nationalisation of the banks, although the Prime Minister is not personally so. When the Under-Secretary—the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), in his new Front Bench job—emphasised how important it was to do what the unions wanted, he did not mention that the National Union of Bank Employees did not want to see their banks nationalised. Apparently, that is one issue on which 764 it is not necessary to consult the trade unions concerned.
We also have to consider whether, at this time, public funds should be used to acquire these firms or whether it would be better in every respect for this House, perhaps even with the support of the Government, to say "We want none of this. We shall not indulge in this nationalisation lark."
Can we afford to spend money on these acquisitions? I say "we" in a rather loose way, because we do not have any money. If we had any money, we should not be going to the IMF for more. So the money that would be used for the acquisitions is not our money; it is money that we hope will be given to us by our foreign creditors as a result of some form of grovelling or threat.
I ask hon. Members to consider the case of the pharmaceutical industry, which is one of those under discussion at the moment. There are substantial foreign holdings in that industry. I do not know that bankers abroad are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about being required to give us another tranche of money in order that their assets in this country can be nationalised and that we can then, having spent the money, go back and ask them for more.
Then we have other problems. The Government talk about investment—and certainly some of these industries need investment—but could one honestly advise anyone to invest in a company threatened with nationalisation? I do not want at this stage to go through arguments that will come up before long in this House about the compensation terms for industries at the moment under the threat of nationalisation. Suffice it to say that they are not such as would encourage anyone whose company was threatened with nationalisation to invest more shareholders' money in it.
Let us not worry about the other threats to investment. Who can make more than 15 per cent, on an investment these days? Who can hit MLR levels? To put on top of it this nonsense of the threat of nationalisation is just too much.
We talk a great deal these days of confidence, because of the problems of sterling. Too often, confidence is thought to mean only something quite narrow—the confidence of the dealers in money; 765 the confidence of the money market. But confidence is much more than that, and the sort of confidence that is lacking in this country is the confidence of an importer or an exporter in the port through which his goods may go. If he thinks that the port through which he wants to operate is under the threat of nationalisation, it will jaundice his whole outlook on his investment in that port.
Then there is confidence in a bank or in a finance house. Who, in all seriousness, would want to put his money in the Government bank on the record of what the Government have done with money in these past years? Certainly no foreigner wants to put his money into the Government bank. One or two of them say that it is a very good bank, that they have great confidence in it, and that it is a bank which should be supported. But, when it comes to the point, none of them is willing to put his own money in except in the last resort under the duress of threats such as a semi-withdrawal from our NATO commitment.
Would civil engineering contracts flow more freely if the civil engineering industry were nationalised? Would the Saudi Arabians or the Persians have more confidence in a nationalised engineering industry than they have in the present free enterprise one? I do not think that they would. They would rather deal with the companies that they know than feel that they were dealing with a firm at the back of which in the end were people like our two Under-Secretaries of State for Industry—the hon. Member for Keighley and the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield).
We have to ask whether the rejection of these amendments and the implication thereby that the Government are still intent upon the nationalisation of these industries would be good for our economy. Would it be good for industrial production? Would there be a sudden surge of confidence that the Government were committed to Socialism and that industrial production would thereby rise? After two and a half years of this lot's nonsense, industrial production is lower than it was during the three-day week. I repeat that for the benefit of the Minister of State, because I do not think that these facts always get through to him. Production is lower now and has been for some time than 766 it was during the three-day working week. That is the triumph of Socialism so far.
Will the record of other nationalised industries create a great surge of confidence? Will managers in the industries concerned say, "Hurrah, I am to be treated like Dick Marsh and Monty Finniston. I know where I am at last and I can confidently go ahead with a programme of investment"? Will they hell! Will it do anything to help unemployment, which is now two and a half times as high as it was when the Government came to office?
The record of the nationalised industries is a sad one. Almost without exception they have shed labour on a massive scale, yet because their markets have declined, they are still generally overmanned—certainly by the standard of their competitors abroad. As for sterling, I do not think that we need say anything more about that.
One other matter that particularly concerns this House is the issue of accountability. If these industries were taken into public ownership, how would their managements be accountable to their owners—that is, to the people of this country? We know already that there is not enough time for this House to discuss things which we feel are absolutely vital. We do not have time for debates on defence, foreign affairs or the economy, so we are told.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Or, as my hon. and learned Friend says, for law and order. How could we conceivably find the time, let alone the right machinery, to oversee the investment by the taxpayer in these companies?
We are familiar with the annual reports of the nationalised industries and they are a shabby joke. We are familiar with the valiant but totally vain efforts of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries to probe what goes on in those companies and what happens to our investment. Time and again Ministers come to the Despatch Box or appear in the Statutory Instruments Committee, in one of those ludicrous one-and-a-half hour debates, when the vote at the end is meaningless, and casually say that they want to increase the borrowing requirement of a particular industry by a quick £400 million or so.
767 They appear with a scruffy departmental brief and with very little idea of what the money will be spent on. Any of us with any experience knows that if he turned up at a merchant bank in the City to make a case for £40, let alone £400 million, with the miserable lack of information with which this House is presented on these occasions, he would rightly be thrown out on his ear. If he tried to raise capital on the public market in a similar manner he would probably be jailed—and rightly so.
That is the final reason why we must encourage the Government to take the opportunity of repudiating the tendentious rubbish in "Labour's Programme for Britain" by supporting the amendments and showing clearly that, whatever the idiotic posturings of the NEC, the Government intend to run the country on some sort of sound basis.
§ Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)
My hon. Friend said that we know all about sterling. I am not sure that we do. I found out something about it about 10 days ago when I was in Hong Kong. For an air edition of the Daily Telegraph, I had to pay the equivalent of 70p in Hong Kong dollars. That shows in the gentlest terms how sterling is regarded. I went into 11 shops and asked the price of everything and they gave the prices in Hong Kong dollars or US dollars. I said to them "But this is a British colony"—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I did not call the hon. and learned Member to make a speech; three other hon. Members have been seeking to catch my eye. Perhaps the hon. Member has now made his point to his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. All that I would say about sterling is that it stood at $2.30 when the Government came to power and it is now $1.57 and sinking fast. T hope that the Minister makes a short speech tonight. If he makes a long one he may knock another couple of cents, off the exchange rate before he sits down.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester)
My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), in his customary manner, has dealt eloquently and energetically 768 with the case for all the amendments. He undermined considerably the case that we have heard so often enunciated by Labour Members for massive increases in the level of financing of public enterprises. Like my hon. Friend, and my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who spoke so pertinently about the threat to the pharmaceutical industry without the amendments, I have strong constituency interests in their being passed. I have constituents employed in every one of the industries named in the amendments and I should be surprised if that were not true of other hon. Members on the Opposition Benches.
It is a matter of great regret that sufficient accountablity for the massive financing provided by the Bill and similar Acts has not been provided and that, on the few occassions when we have been able to discuss these matters, it has been on the basis of wholly inadequate information and too little time to do justice to the arguments for and against any Government proposition.
The Government have the nerve consistently to suggest that in some mystical way the Conservative Party is responsible for the legislation that they are now presenting and for the levels of expenditure that they are now making in the public industrialised sector—that, in some way, the Conservative 1972 Industry Act bears some similarity to the whole paraphernalia of their industrial legislation.
That Act has been entirely emasculated by many of the amendments made by the 1975 Industry Act, and the further extension in monetary provision under this Bill will have exactly the same consequence. Let us consider the figures applying under Section 8 of the 1972 Act and the industries that are mentioned in these amendments. A total provision of £550 million would be increased to about £1,600 million—a massive increase in the scale of public finance and therefore of taxpayers' liability which may be provided as unprofitable public investment in the industries mentioned in the amendments. How can this possibly be desirable when no adequate criteria are adopted and when even the criteria for the National Enteprise Board, which has a similar role, are still only in draft?
I wish to make a few remarks about Amendment No. 7, which deals with 769 finance houses, merchant banks and hire-purchase companies. I find extraordinary the changing attitude among Labour Members, with a large proportion of them—a majority I am sure—supporting proposals for the nationalisation of commercial banks and a merchant bank, as proposed by the national executive committee.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford mentioned the attitude of the National Union of Bank Employees. I have the impression—having had experience of the banking industry myself, that the vast majority of bank employees are against nationalisation of the banks and, indeed, of the merchant banks. I wholly regret, and put on record my strong objection to, the abstention by the NUBE at the last TUC conference in the vote on the nationalisation of the banks. The NUBE absolved itself from responsibility on a critical issue which would affect a substantial number of its members. This is equally pertinent to Amendment No. 7, which specifically mentions merchant banks, as many of their employees are members of NUBE.
It is wrong for hon. Members on either side of the House to reduce the argument to one of details. It is nothing of the kind. The proposals put forward in the NEC document were essentially philosophical and ideological. While they must be argued, and argued against, by showing the contribution that merchant banks, the banking system and other financial institutions make to the economy, we must recognise that in a political forum we are essentially dealing with a political and ideological problem. The Left and the Labour Party in general strongly hold to the basically Marxist or neo-Marxist theory that control of the private sector of industry and productive resources is essential for effective control over the economy. The Keynesian view, which I suspect and hope most hon. Members on the Opposition Benches hold, is that such ownership and control is not necessary when macro-economic control can be exercised through the deflationary and reflationary policies that various Governments may adopt.
However, I accept—and this is a point of admission to those who hold Marxist views—that the degree of gearing or 770 borrowing by companies may upset that theory, in that companies with substantial borrowings must pay interest in bad times as well as good. That includes merchant banks and many of the industries mentioned in the amendments. They are not, therefore, so susceptible to Government policies and therefore to Keynesian economics.
The essential point is that we cannot see the case for increasing political control or rectifying our economic ills by substantially increasing the size of the public sector, or by letting it move into strategic areas such as merchant banks, finance houses and hire-purchase companies. We feel strongly that such moves, which would be facilitated by the defeat of the amendment, would act against the interests of depositors. Ordinary people who, through the medium of insurance companies and pension funds, have a vested interest in the security of their deposits, would inevitably be affected if the attitude and intentions of hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) were adopted. Funds would be diverted into the less profitable and less commercial enterprises and industries, and therefore the security and return to depositors would be affected.
Many members of the public, including many of my constituents, have an underlying fear that Government control of the banking system, extended into hire purchase and the merchant banks, would inevitably mean that the Government would have totalitarian control. A cross-information process would allow them, for example, to ascertain for taxation purposes the size of people's income and many other personal details which at present are not wholly available to the Government but are a matter of private but legally-required disclosure. Such fears are expressed by ordinary members of the public. The passage of such an amendment would go a long way to back up the denials that the Government have made about the proposals of the NEC and members of the party for the nationalisation of the banks.
The object must be to restore the confidence and profitability of industry if we are to see investment in the sectors and industries set out in the amendments. We must provide for a period of stability.
771 What is needed is not only the prospect of making a reasonable return and confidence to invest money but a political consensus that companies will be allowed to keep that return and that conditions will not change over a medium period.
Many Labour Members point to the Conservative Government of 1971 and say "You made tax cuts to give industry an opportunity to invest and it did not". That is a fair criticism. Industry did not invest. The Government have tried a different way, but industry is still not investing. Perhaps we should be trying to move towards a modus vivendi—consensus of political opinions where concessions or compromise will at least allow a longer period of security for industry to undertake investment on a profitable basis—a basis of a return assured by all political parties. So long as an ideological gulf exists between the parties, so long as we have the sort of pronouncements made by the hon. Members for Bolsover and Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) today, so long will our economic performance be below that of our industrial competitors.
The subject of Amendment No. 7, which refers particularly to merchant banks and financing institutions, has rightly been recognised by the Prime Minister as a political albatross. This is surely an albatross that must not be allowed to fly. I commend the amendments to the House.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
I begin by declaring a simple interest—the share of the bill that my constituents pick up, which is £1,600,000 a year. For the most noble cause on earth all the professional money-raisers in Europe would find it impossible to raise that sum in Kinross and West Perthshire. Let us not forget the scale of the funds to which the Government, by this Bill, are committing my constituents. When Governments use these enormous figures I wish that they would more often relate them back to human beings, on whose behalf they are allegedly being used and from whose resources they are allegedly being raised.
There is a fundamental difference between the man who is spending his own money and the man who is spending someone else's. I saw it last week when I asked members of the British Council and 772 the Arts Council whether they would have spent one sou of their own money on the things on which they were spending thousands of pounds of other people's. The answer was always "No". The same applies when the Government spend vast sums of money in industry for political reasons. That is what the Bill is all about.
If the Government make a bad investment from the funds for which they are are asking it makes no difference. If they make a good investment it probably makes little difference. The psychology is not sufficiently appreciated. It is that of a man who takes an exam that he cannot fail. If this company loses money he can go to the Government for support. If his company gains money he gets no benefit from that. It is an exam that one cannot fail.
The psychology is also the same as that of a lawyer who says "It does not matter whether I get the drop off at first instance because the case can go to appeal. If that fails we can go to the House of Lords, and if that fails he can always get a Queen's Pardon." If we have that attitude in industry an attitude which Government support constantly engenders—the whole motivation and basis on which profit, wealth and investment depend is lost.
During the recess no less a person than the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to my constituency, staying at what he would call the Russian end of Loch Tay, at the Kenmore Hotel. He went into the little shop in Kenmore to buy various things—he could not go to the Co-op, because there is only one shop there. When he felt for his wallet, he said to the shopkeeper "I am terribly sorry, I have forgotten my money. I shall have to borrow some from my wife." The shopkeeper replied "That may be the way you think you can run the country, but it's no' the way we do business here." That is the way in which this sort of Bill makes people think. They think that they can run industry, and it does not matter if there is no money to do it because the Government will always provide at the end of the day.
I shall read to the House some words that are fairly topical at the moment:Economic power is the key to political power. The economy is the main battlefield 773 for the victory of the revolution. State takeovers of the banks, the insurance companies, and private firms will deprive the opposition parties and the middle classes of their means of resistance. Inflation and taxation can then be used to grind the class enemy into the ground.These are the words of Mr. Ponamaryov, written in "The World Situation and Revolutionary Process" and published in the World Marxist Review 1974. It is no coincidence that this Government want to do exactly what he says in order to pave the way for a Marxist victory.
§ 7.0 p.m.
The Minister of State Department of Industry (Mr. Alan Williams)
In the absence of our Liberal colleague, I welcome his speech as the one constructive contribution that we have heard from the Opposition Benches this afternoon. The official Opposition have spent the afternoon in much the same way as they spent the Committee stage, inventing demons and pursuing them round the Chamber. Everyone who reads their speeches, or who was ill advised enough to sit and listen to them, would think that the Bill is about nationalisation, but of course it is not. It is about assistance. I understand that the Opposition are playing little political games in advance of the by-elections, because they must know that shares cannot be acquired without the consent of the firms that own them. Therefore, there is no question of nationalisation.
§ Mr. Tom King
The Minister of State was not here at the beginning of our debate, and we understand why he was not able to be present. But it takes a certain nerve to criticise in quite such an irrelevant way speeches which he did not hear.
I am sure that my criticism was justified on the basis of the speeches I did hear. Shares cannot be purchased without the consent of firms; therefore, most of the arguments that we heard this afternoon were irrelevant to the basic issues which we should be facing.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. When he reads what he just said he will find that he made a Freudian sort of statement. He suggested that our interest in deploying arguments 774 about nationalisation was concerned with the forthcoming by-elections. Does he think that nationalisation is a subject that should not be spoken of at the time of by-elections, for fear that the Labour Party will lose if people think it intends to indulge in further nationalisation
Nationalisation is one of the big pieces of demonology which seems to obsess the Opposition, and it is being raised in an election atmosphere. I assume that is why we have listened today to such sustained irrelevancies, because this Bill is not about nationalistion. The requirement for consent was in legislation brought forward by the Conservatives when they were in office. Therefore, I assume that hon. Members opposite are fully aware of this fact.
The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) made a typically entertaining speech. His contributions in Committee were one of the most lively elements, and they helped to sustain us over the long-drawn-out proceedings. He said that he believed that people's attitudes changed when a company was assisted. That is his personal evaluation. I question whether attitudes changed in regard to Rolls-Royce, for example. This was a case of nationalisation undertaken by Conservatives. The aircraft industry also had considerable contact with Government funds in the whole of the post-war period, but I cannot see that that noticably altered anyone's attitude in the way the hon. Member has suggested.
The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) said that he thought there should be a consensus. I agree with him. It would be highly desirable. At one stage in Committee I began developing this line of approach and suggesting that there should be a drive towards consensus, but I was diverted by Conservatives who did not wish to pursue the matter at that stage. The hon. Member repeatedly referred to the fact that investment has been low under both Governments. When his Government came into power, because they would not agree to the consensus approach and undid dogmatically and doctrinally the industrial assistance policy that was in existence at the time, investment fell, and it never rose in the whole time they were in office to the level at which it stood when they came to power. I think that the public want to see more 775 consensus, just as they did in those days, because the Conservatives subsequently had to back-track and reintroduce grants, having disposed of them. This created the downturn in investment from which we have never fully recovered. Also, Conservatives clearly ignore the fact that we have lived through the worst recession since the war, and that was expected to have a certain impact on levels of investment.
§ Mr. Heseltine
Perhaps the Minister will explain why manufacturing investment rose substantially in 1972 over 1971, and subsequently again in 1973 over 1972.
Because it was trying to get back to the level it had been at in 1970. It was because hon. Members opposite, who purport to know so much about public expenditure, had the printing presses running under their Chancellor, that they had to do an about-turn in economic policy, with disastrous results. I do not want to engage in a general economic debate at this stage, as I know I would be quickly called to order.
The hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) suggested that once a company was tainted with Government money no one would invest in it. I am told that shares in BP do quite well on the market, and that the company does not have any great difficulty in raising capital. It is a nice debating phrase to use, but the hon. Member knows that as a general truth it is not supportable.
The hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) wants to save a small port in his area, and he used this as an illustration. Obviously I cannot get involved in particular issues like that. The hon. Member spoke of the government's being portrayed as a fairy godmother with a poisoned needle. Presumably, then, he would prefer to condemn ports or firms to the slower death of financial starvation. Presumably he would gladly preclude his port or others, or a particular firm, from this kind of help, even if it were conceivably the only help available. I am surprised about that, knowing how much he has the interests of his constituents at heart.
§ Sir A. Meyer
Of course the case could be made out for financial help for any particular firm or undertaking. However, when there is the accumulation 776 of these one arrives at a situation in which none of them becomes viable.
That is the sort of ambivalence that we find in the Conservative policy statement. There is of course, the built-in caveat that there are some instances which are exceptional, but they do not spell them out, thus leaving a complete escape route. The Conservatives know that if they were in office and were faced with the same industrial situation they would pursue the same policies.
There is no intention of nationalisation in this Bill, and we would require consent before there could be any acquisition.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who brandished verbal clubs robustly throughout our Committee proceedings, has nobly volunteered his constituents to be excluded from help under this legislation, even if, at some time, they may need it. No doubt in Macclesfield they will be ringing the bells tonight and saying "What a good Member we have, he has said that because of his political purity we shall not have help even if we need it at some time."
The hon. Member was making a point about a firm in his constituency and I am glad to hear of the good conditions existing there. I wish the firm well. I also wish that other firms could be as successful. Not all firms are in the same position. Some firms in the same industry may not even be in the same position. In that event, as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) said, it may be reasonable to pursue the option which the hon. Member seeks to exclude.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield spoke of inward investment. We welcome inward investment. Indeed, 20 per cent. of our manufacturing industry is overseas-owned. I spend a large part of my time trying to persuade foreign business men to invest further in this country—[Interruption]. The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) has to make a quick comment about that. I would have thought that this was the sort of thing that all parties would 777 support. We all want inward investment. All Governments have been consistent in ensuring that overseas investors are treated on the same basis as domestic investors.
§ Mr. Tom King
I could not agree more with what the Minister has said. We on the Conservative side of the House desperately hope that the inward investment position will improve. The hon. Gentleman has said that all parties want inward investment. If he looks below the Gangway and considers the policies of some of his colleagues—who are apparently members of the same party—on such matters as nationalisation, and considers their attitude towards multinationals, can he honestly say that such policies assist in obtaining inward investment?
The hon. Gentleman does my hon. Friends an injustice. It is quite legitimate to say, as the OECD has said, that while multinationals can be desirable as international guests in a country, they also bring problems, and consequently controls are needed. It is for that reason that the United Nations is now working—[Interruption.] I am sorry that the hon. Member disdains the United Nations. It is an interesting insight and to some extent, it depreciates any comments he makes. It is clear that he is not interested in serious discussion. Even the United Nations has now undertaken an analysis of the problems created by transnational companies. Far from this being a Machiavellian Marxist plot, as seems to be suggested by some Tory Members, it is a matter of widespread international concern—so widespread that even the Americans welcomed the OECD recommendations. They will be taking part in discussions in the United Nations.
§ Mr. Tom King
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman spends any time, as I have done, trying to encourage overseas firms to invest in this country. The simple fact is that the activities of his hon. Friends are a positive block to that investment. If he has not had that experience he cannot really be doing his job and trying to encourage investment.
I can only say that I have been happy with the discussions that I have had with foreign business men.
There are some very substantial names. The hon. Member knows quite well that when a Minister meets a board and undertakes preliminary discussions with major international companies concerning investment that may run to over £100 million, he cannot publicly declare the names before the companies are ready.
When the companies are willing for us to do so. I am not in the habit of fabricating comments in the House, any more, I am sure, than the hon. Member is. I am sure that he will accept that.
The important thing is that in three sectors covered by the amendment—civil enginering, ports and inland waterways, and road haulage—there are 1,600,000 people working. Tory Members will troop into the Lobby in a few moments in an attempt to preclude all of those people, many of whom are constituents of theirs, from receiving assistance at a time when it might legitimately be needed.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
Will the Minister accept that there are other more positive ways of encouraging successful business, and that the State handout is inclined to encourage the wrong kind of business? Does he realise that high taxation too often penalises the successful company? Would not a reduction in corporation tax be a successful way of encouraging good companies?
The hon. Gentleman is almost implying that the only method to be used by the Government is that of acquisition. I have said that this is, if anything, an exception, and can arise only with the consent of the firm. Let me give a simple illustration. There could be a firm which is basically quite viable but wrongly geared in its capital structure. It requires certain assistance. Government participation by way of a shareholding could alter the gearing and give the company the facility to borrow from private sources in the market. That can be the most sensible and cheapest way of giving assistance. It is a perfectly normal market consideration.
This Bill is not about nationalisation; it is about acquisition, where it occurs, as one option with consent. It is keeping that option open and giving a discretion. The bitterness on the part of Tory Members is not aimed at the Government side of the House. The Tories get worked up about this legislation because they feel a sense of betrayal in that it ever reached the statute book. In Committee we had the incredible revelation from the hon. Member for Circencester and Tewkesbury—who at the time when the original legislation was being prepared was an Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Trade and Industry—that as a Minister he was not even aware that the measure was being prepared in his Department. As far as we could gather, this was on the express instructions of the then Leader of the Conservative Party.
I see the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) present in the Chamber. He was Secretary of State at the time. At that time a colleague of Tory Members, Frederick Corfield, whom many of us recollect as being involved with aerospace functions, felt impelled to write to The Times saying that several Ministers in the Department were deliberately and expressly excluded from knowledge of the fact that the legislation was even being prepared. They were deliberately kept in ignorance and almost certainly presented with misleading briefs by their civil servants. That is why Tory Members are so bitter—because they were betrayed by their party. Now they are venting their spite, regardless of whether it will hurt their constituents, on a piece of legislation that they know is needed. They realise that its objectives are sensible.
§ Mr. Grylls
The Minister's speech is to be commented upon for one thing, namely, that he has read the amendments carefully. He talked to us about the road haulage contractors being worried that they could not have any assistance from the Government. If he reads the amendments he will see that we are talking about the acquisition of the companies listed, and not any assistance given to them. I suggest that the 1,600,000 people the Minister mentioned would be greatly relieved to know that if the amendment is approved, as it will be, their firms will 780 not be nationalised. Far from their being angry, I would expect them to be pleased. It is odd that the Minister should admit that he has not read the amendments.
They apply to the ports, the pharmaceutical companies and the road haulage companies. We are talking of acquisition. That was never the intention of this Bill or the 1972 Act. This has been a strange debate because there have been only two speeches from the Government side—
Mr. Alan Williams
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he sees acquisition as being 100 per cent., and further, if it is anything less than 100 per cent., he is in favour of it? Some of his hon. Friends might find that they are not in step with him if that is what he is saying.
§ Mr. Grylls
I did not say that. We were talking about the Government taking over companies. I was drawing a perfectly clear distinction. We have made it clear in the amendments that these companies are to be excluded from acquisition, and that is the point.
Mr. Alan Williams
The hon. Member is saying that we have misunderstood what is meant by acquisition. By that term does he mean the Government getting control of a company or does he mean the purchase of 100 per cent. of a company? I think that his hon. Friends are thinking completely differently from him. Some of them would think that the purchase of even one share was an error of policy.
§ Mr. Grylls
We are talking about control of a company, and in normal terms that means acquiring 51 per cent. of it. We are not talking about assistance. It was perfectly clear in the original legislation that there was not to be more than a 50 per cent. takeover under the Act.
There has been no great enthusiasm for this debate from the Government side. We have heard two speeches from Government Back Benchers. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) was interesting. He said that it did not matter what happened with this Bill because everything was going the way he wanted. We were gradually sliding towards State control, and, therefore, he was not worried. The hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) inquired about the National Enterprise Board. He said that it did not matter what happened under 781 the Bill because the NEB could take these things over anyway.
The Government should realise that we have been trying to help. The Prime Minister has made perfectly clear that the banks and insurance companies are not to be taken over. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) was seeking in his original amendment to help the Government, and the Government were right in not trying to reverse that amendment. As soon as the threat of take over hangs over an industry confidence in it sinks very fast indeed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) in an excellent speech, in which he drew on his experience of industry, made clear that once the threat emerges investment comes to a full stop.
We are delighted that the Government accepted the amendment in Committee, but we are sorry that they have not gone a little further, because the ports, road haulage and the pharmaceutical companies are most important to this country.
We should recall the Private Bill on Felixstowe docks. The Lords came down in favour of the people who work in that industry and they kicked the Bill out. They came down in favour also of the shareholders who voted against nationalisation.
Much the most important part of this political battle is to ensure that investment in the industry continues. As my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) said of his own port of Mostyn, it is important to maintain our small ports, and it is important to maintain investment in them. We would wish to back my hon. Friend in everything that he is doing to see that his port thrives, and to remove the threat of State control. We would be happy, therefore, if the Government would at least accept that amendment.
We then come to the pharmaceutical companies. My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) drew on his experience of companies in his constituency and made the case for their staying as private enterprise firms. They have thrived as such. They have invested, they have exported, and they have done all the things that the Government have told industry to do. What is the reward for all this hard work? It is to 782 be threatened with take over. I hope that the Government will accept the amendment relating to this sector, because the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster promised on 19th May this year that there was to be no nationalisation of pharmaceutical companies. If that is the case let us equate acquisition with nationalisation and hope that this amendment can be accepted. Presumably for the hon. Member for Luton, West the amendment would not embrace acquisition by the NEB.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) said that he was opposed to selective nationalisation, but I think that we could be on common ground here. That is what we are opposed to, and I am sure that he is, therefore, against any form of acquisition under the Industry Act 1972 or in any other way.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
I am sorry that the hon. Member did not hear the whole of my speech. Will he confirm that it is one of the objectives of Amendment No. 5 to prevent the Secretary of State from giving specific grants for the acquisition of any pharmaceutical company?
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
It is on that basis that I oppose his amendment, because I do not wish to shackle the NEB.
§ Mr. Grylls
I think that there is a confusion here. We are not talking about the NEB but about using the Industry Act. Earlier the hon. Member spoke about the NEB, but this subject is distinctly different. The Industry Act was a modest measure introduced by the Conservative Government to give to industry selective help where it was needed. It was never intended that that Act should be used for nationalisation. I hope that the hon. Member, whose thoughts on industry I follow carefully, and to whom we listened in Committee with great interest, will agree on that point.
The Minister of State declared that the 1972 Act was our Act. There is, however, one major difference. When we were in Government £6 million was spent under the Section 8 procedure during 783 the 18 months before the February 1974 election. We are now talking about the expenditure of more than £1,000 million under that procedure. The Act has, therefore, been completely transformed. That is why we want to impose firm restrictions in the Bill, to ensure that it will not be used for nationalisation purposes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), referred quite rightly to consultation with the bank employees. We are told that there should be participation, and that is correct: one should try to do what the people in the industry want. He made it clear that the consultation so far had shown clearly that the employees wanted nothing to do with nationalisation. Therefore, to the extent, at least, that the Government are accepting the amendment, we are on common ground.
The great mass of people in this country do not want more nationalisation. That puts the Government in a difficult position, because hon. Members below the Gangway opposite want more. The Government know that if they go to the country on a nationalisation platform they will lose. A purely cynical party politician would say that it would be a good thing if the Labour Party went to the country on the basis of nationalising the banks, the insurance companies and everything else. That would be a bonanza for us, but not for the country.
It would be a tragedy, because all the polls show that people do not want full-scale nationalisation. I believe that is because the majority of people see the grim, grey brutality of life in countries where nationalisation is the order of the day. Our people have looked across the Iron Curtain and seen what it is like
§ working in those nationalised industries. It is bad enough in this country with so much nationalised industry. People can imagine how restricting it would be if all industries were nationalised.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ With the exception of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, most people accept that real progress has been made in countries such as France, Germany and Japan where private enterprise has modernised and been allowed to go ahead. By the amendments we are seeking to preserve the right of modern free enterprise to move ahead and adjust to the modern day.
§ May be there is some hope. According to the newspaper headlines tonight there is a moderate backlash in the Labour Party; a counter-offensive by the Manifesto Group to rescue the country from the financial peril into which this incompetent Government have led us. The hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) has apparently said that the Manifesto Group is reading the mood of the country better than his colleagues in the left wing of the party and on the EEC.
§ I believe that we are reading the mood of the country aright in asking the Government to accept the amendments and to preserve free enterprise and let it grow. If the Government have the sense to accept the amendments, industry can go on investing and expanding, and the workers and the country will be better off.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 179, Noes 203.787
|Division No. 353.]||AYES||[7.32 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Buck, Antony||Dodsworth, Geoffrey|
|Arnold, Tom||Budgen, Nick||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Bulmer, Esmond||Dykes, Hugh|
|Awdry, Daniel||Burden, F. A.||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Bell, Ronald||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Elliott, Sir William|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Carlisle, Mark||Emery, Peter|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Channon, Paul||Eyre, Reginald|
|Benyon, W.||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Farr, John|
|Bitten, John||Clegg, Walter||Fell, Anthony|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Bottomley, Peter||Cope, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Cordle, John H.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Costain, A. P.||Forman, Nigel|
|Brittan, Leon||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f d)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Crowder, F. P.||Fox, Marcus|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)||Fry, Peter|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Gorst, John|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Macfarlane, Neil||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||MacGregor, John||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Madel, David||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Gray, Hamish||Marten, Nell||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Griffiths, Eldon||Mates, Michael||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Grist, Ian||Mather, Carol||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Grylls, Michael||Maude, Angus||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Hall, Sir John||Mawby, Ray||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mayhew, Patrick||Scott, Nicholas|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Hannam, John||Mills, Peter||Shepherd, Colin|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Miscampbell, Norman||Silvester, Fred|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Sims, Roger|
|Heseltine, Michael||Moate, Roger||Speed, Keith|
|Hicks, Robert||Molyneaux, James||Spence, John|
|Holland, Philip||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Sproat, Iain|
|Hordern, Peter||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Morgan, Geraint||Stanley, John|
|Hunt, John (Bromley)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|Hurd, Douglas||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|James, David||Mudd, David||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Jessel, Toby||Neave, Airey||Tebbit, Norman|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Nelson, Anthony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Neubert, Michael||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Jopling, Michael||Nott, John||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Kilfedder, James||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Trotter, Neville|
|Kimball, Marcus||Page, John (Harrow West)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Paisley, Rev Ian||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Parkinson, Cecil||Wakeham, John|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Pattie. Geoffrey||Wall, Patrick|
|Knox, David||Percival, Ian||Warren, Kenneth|
|Lamont, Norman||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Lawson, Nigel||Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Raison, Timothy||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Lloyd, Ian||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Luce, Richard||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Mr. John Corrie and|
|McCusker, H.||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Mr. Jim Lester|
|Abse, Leo||Cralgen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Allaun, Frank||Crawshaw, Richard||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Anderson, Donald||Cronin, John||Hardy, Peter|
|Archer, Peter||Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Harper, Joseph|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Ashley, Jack||Cryer, Bob||Hatton, Frank|
|Ashton, Joe||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Davidson, Arthur||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Horam, John|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Huckfield, Les|
|Bates, Alt||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Deakins, Eric||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dempsey, James||Hunter, Adam|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Doig, Peter||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)|
|Boardman, H.||Dormand, J. D.||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Janner, Greville|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Duffy, A. E. P.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Dunnett, Jack||John, Brynmor|
|Bradley, Tom||Eadie, Alex||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Edge, Geoff||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Buchan, Norman||English, Michael||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Judd, Frank|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Faulds, Andrew||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Canavan, Dennis||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Cant, R. B.||Flannery, Martin||Lamborn, Harry|
|Carmichael, Nell||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lamond, James|
|Cartwright, John||Forrester, John||Lee, John|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Freud, Clement||Lipton, Marcus|
|Cohen, Stanley||George, Bruce||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Coleman, Donald||Ginsburg, David||Loyden, Eddie|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Golding, John||McCartney, Hugh|
|Conlan, Bernard||Gould, Bryan||McElhone, Frank|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Gourlay, Harry||McGuire, Michael (Ince)|
|Corbett, Robin||Graham, Ted||MacKenzie, Gregor|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Grant, John (Islington C)||Maclennan, Robert|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Rooker, J. W.||Tuck, Raphael|
|Madden, Max||Rose, Paul B.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Magee, Bryan||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Mahon, Simon||Rowlands, Ted||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Ryman, John||Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Sandelson, Neville||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Sedgemore, Brian||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Ward, Michael|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Watkins, David|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Watkinson, John|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Stlverman, Julius||Weetch, Ken|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Skinner, Dennis||Wellbeloved, James|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Moyle, Roland||Snape, Peter||White, James (Pollock)|
|Ogden, Eric||Spearing, Nigel||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Ovenden, John||Spriggs, Leslie||Whitlock, William|
|Pardoe, John||Stallard, A. W.||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Park, George||Stott, Roger||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Parry, Robert||Strang, Gavin||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Radice, Giles||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Woodall, Alec|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)||Woof, Robert|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Robinson, Geoffrey||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Roderick, Caerwyn||Tinn, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Tomney, Frank||Mr. John Ellis and|
|Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||Torney, Tom||Mr. David Stoddart|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Grylls
I beg to move Amendment No. 12, in page I, line 13, at end insert—'(2) If offering such financial assistance by means of acquisition of equity capital the Secretary of State shall not acquire more than half by nominal value, of the equity share capital of any company'.
No. 13, in page 1, line 13, at end insert—
'(2) In section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 where financial assistance is given under this section by acquiring shares or stock in a company the Secretary of State shall dispose of the shares or stock as soon as, in his opinion, it is reasonably practicable to do so; and before making the disposal the Secretary of State shall consult the company'.
No. 14, in page 1, line 13, at end insert—
'(2) The Secretary of State shall not, after 31st December 1980 make, or undertake to make, a payment by way of financial assistance under this section, but this section shall not prevent the making of a payment in pursuance of an undertaking given within the time allowed by this section'.
No. 15, in page 1, line 13, at end insert:
'(2) In reaching any decision about providing financial assistance under subsection (1) of this section, the Secretary of State shall be guided by the following criteria—
§ Mr. Grylls
I shall be short because these matters were discussed fully in Committee. I have a feeling that the House would rather like to come to a conclusion quickly.
Certain checks and safeguards were written into the 1972 Act, and we regretted that they were removed in the 1975 Act. We regretted even more that they should have been removed and the money increased in this Bill.
The Section 8 powers under the original Act were made wide and flexible. That was done on purpose. We believe that if we are to have wide and flexible powers 789 Parliament needs firm control over them. One of the most important powers is that of reviewing the whole procedure at the end of a specified period.
With those few words, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will support these important amendments. We debated them at great length in Committee and I suggest that we do not need to go through all the arguments again on the Floor of the House. If they are not accepted by the Government, I hope that we shall win them when we vote in the Lobby.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
To facilitate progress I shall be anxious to reply briefly to the hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls). As the hon. Gentleman said, most of these arguments have already been rehearsed in Committee. I am glad that he does not want to rehearse them again. I think he will recognise that he has already tried all the amendments and that they have been defeated.
§ Mr. Grylls
To be accurate, the votes were tied. If that were not so, they would not now be back on the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Huckfield
The significant thing is that the amendments are not in the Bill as it stands. If the hon. Gentleman considers the matter, he will recognise that he is trying to restrict the Government's powers to assist industry in various ways. The amendment would prohibit the Secretary of State in certain ways from acquiring more than 50 per cent. equity capital. Another amendment would require the Secretary of State to get rid of holdings as soon as was reasonably practicable. The time limit that the hon. Gentleman seeks to put on
§ the assistance given to industry and the new tightened criteria have the same aim, namely, to hamstring or restrict the various ways in which my right hon. Friend is able to assist industry.
§ As my hon. Friend the Minister of State said on an earlier occasion, the Bill is an extension based on the Industry Act 1975, which stemmed from the Industry Act 1972. I can well understand why Conservative Members have certain queries about that legislation. As we have heard, it was prepared in a way that meant that Conservative Members and the Ministers involved were not consulted. I urge my hon. Friends to oppose the amendments.
§ Mr. Tom King
One of the amendments provides that the Secretary of Stateshall dispose of the shares or stock as soon as … is reasonably practicable to do so".Does the hon. Gentleman believe that there will ever be a situation in which shares that have come into public ownership should be disposed of again to the private sector? If he does not, how does he expect to have a fixed frontier between the public and private sectors?
§ Mr. Huckfield
The incredible thing is that the hon. Gentleman is asking for something that was not in the Industry Act 1972. Power to carry out the recycling of funds, for which he is asking, was not contained in that Act.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 181, Noes 195.793
|Division No. 354.]||AYES||[7.55 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Burden, F. A.||Elliott, Sir William|
|Arnold, Tom||Butler, Adam (Bosworlh)||Emery, Peter|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Carlisle, Mark||Eyre, Reginald|
|Awdry, Daniel||Channon, Paul||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Bell, Ronald||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Farr, John|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fell, Anthony|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Clegg, Walter||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Biffen, John||Cope, John||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Cordle, John H.||Forman, Nigel|
|Bottomley, Peter||Corrle, John||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Costain, A. P.||Fox, Marcus|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Freud, Clement|
|Brittan, Leon||Crowder, F. P.||Fry, Peter|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutstord)||Gorst, John|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)|
|Buck, Antony||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)|
|Budgen, Nick||Dykes, Hugh||Gray, Hamish|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Griffiths, Eldon|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Madel, David||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Grist, Ian||Marten, Neil||Roberta, Wyn (Conway)|
|Grylls, Michael||Mates, Michael||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Hall, Sir John||Maude, Angus||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mawby, Ray||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mayhew, Patrick||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Hannam, John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Scott, Nicholas|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Mills, Peter||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Miscampbell, Norman||Shepherd, Colin|
|Heseltine, Michael||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Silvester, Fred|
|Hicks, Robert||Moate, Roger||Sims, Roger|
|Holland, Philip||Molyneaux, James||Speed, Keith|
|Hordern, Peter||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Spence, John|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Sproat, Iain|
|Hunt, John (Bromley)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hurd, Douglas||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Stanley, John|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|James, David||Mudd, David||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Jessel, Toby||Neave, Airey||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Nelson, Anthony||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Neubert, Michael||Tebbit, Norman|
|Jopling, Michael||Nott, John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Kilfedder, James||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Kimball, Marcus||Page, John (Harrow West)||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Trotter, Neville|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Paisley, Rev Ian||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Parkinson, Cecil||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Pattie, Geoffrey||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Knox, David||Percival, Ian||Wakeham, John|
|Lamont, Norman||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Wall, Patrick|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Lawson, Nigel||Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Raison, Timothy||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Rathbone, Tim||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Lloyd, Ian||Rees-Davies, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Luce, Richard||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Mr. W. Benyon and|
|McCusker, H.||Ridsdale, Julian||Mr. Carol Mather|
|Macfarlane, Nell||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|MacGregor, John||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Abse, Leo||Cronin, John||Hooley, Frank|
|Allaun, Frank||Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Horam, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Huckfield, Les|
|Archer, Peter||Cryer, Bob||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen M)|
|Ashley, Jack||Davidson, Arthur||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Ashton, Joe||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Hunter, Adam|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Mill)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Deakins, Eric||Janner, Greville|
|Bates, Alt||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Dempsey, James||John, Brynmor|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Doig, Peter||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dormand, J. D.||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)|
|Boardman, H.||Duffy, A. E. P.||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Dunnett, Jack||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Eadie, Alex||Judd, Frank|
|Bradley, Tom||Edge, Geoff||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||English, Michael||Lamborn, Harry|
|Buchan, Norman||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lamond, James|
|Buchanan, Richard||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Lee, John|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Faulds, Andrew||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Loyden, Eddie|
|Campbell, Ian||Flannery, Martin||McCartney, Hugh|
|Canavan, Dennis||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McElhone, Frank|
|Cant, R. B.||Forrester, John||McGuire, Michael (Ince)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||MacKenzie, Gregor|
|Cartwright, John||George, Bruce||Maclennan, Robert|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Ginsburg, David||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Golding, John||Madden, Max|
|Cohen, Stanley||Gould, Bryan||Magee, Bryan|
|Coleman, Donald||Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Simon|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Graham, Ted||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Conlan, Bernard||Grant, John (Islington C)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Hardy, Peter||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Corbett, Robin||Harper, Joseph||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Hatton, Frank||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Heffer, Eric S.||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Stiverman, Julius||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Moyle, Roland||Skinner, Dennis||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Ward, Michael|
|Ogden, Eric||Snape, Peter||Watkins, David|
|Ovenden, John||Spearing, Nigel||Watkinson, John|
|Park, George||Spriggs, Leslie||Weetch, Ken|
|Parry, Robert||Stallard, A. W.||Wellbeloved, James|
|Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Stoddart, David||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Stott, Roger||White, James (Pollock)|
|Radice, Giles||Strang, Gavin||Whilehead, Phillip|
|Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.||Whitlock, William|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Robinson, Geoffrey||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Roderick, Caerwyn||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Rooker, J. W.||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Rose, Paul B.||Tinn, James||Woodall, Alec|
|Rowlands, Ted||Tomney, Frank||Woof, Robert|
|Ryman, John||Torney, Tom||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Sandelson, Neville||Tuck, Raphael|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Urwin, T. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)||Mr. John Ellis|
|Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.—[Mr. Alan Williams.]
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom King
It is significant that a Bill which has attracted so little interest from hon. Members on the Government side has been moved in such an abrupt way by the Minister of State. He said not a word in favour of the measure. That is entirely in keeping with the way in which the Bill was introduced by the Secretary of State on 29th April. The Secretary of State picked up a small piece of paper and described the Bill as a straightforward amendment of one subsection and one section of a previous Act. Any bystander listening might not have realised that the Government were proposing the additional expenditure of more than £1,000 million. A measure of the way in which the currency has been debased by this Government is that they regard as insignificant a sum of money of that size.
We are talking of a massive sum of money and we were right to scrutinise the spending of it. But we are not sure that it is such a massive sum as the Secretary of State thinks because of certain technical reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) will explain later.
There has been one common feature between today and the Second Reading debate. When the Secretary of State moved the Second Reading there was one hon. Member on the Back Benches behind him and during tonight's Report stage, 794 for a considerable length of time, there was only one hon. Member of the Government Back Benches. I am not sure that we welcome the presence of two other hon. Members who are now in the Chamber but who were not here earlier. Perhaps they are not aware of the significance of what is taking place tonight.
What is the reason for the total absence of hon. Members? Could it be that they have already received their instructions from Mr. Hayward and are now preparing for demonstrations against Government policy? During the entire Report stage we had only two speeches from two Government Back Benchers—the hon. Members for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) and Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), two stragglers of that one-legged army.
We do not know whether it is a measure of the lack of interest or a measure of the division within the Labour Party. The moderate backlash has been advertised in this evening's papers and we have read of the Manifesto Group's counter challenge to the Tribune Group's proposal. There is certainly a lack of interest amongst so-called Government supporters. It is a contempt of Parliament when a measure to which the Secretary of State attaches importance in his opening speech cannot command the interest or even the passing attention of one Government Back Bencher for the greater part of the proceedings. We had an important debate on a series of amendments concerning possible further acquisitions and it makes a mockery of any form of debate if the Government side of the House is not even prepared to 795 show itself and to debate the issue openly in the Chamber. I trust that we never again see the day when hon. Members cannot be bothered to attend a debate of this importance.
I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Surrey, North-West and Arundel (Mr. Marshall), and other of my hon. Friends who were members of the Committee, on the sterling work which they did. I was not a member of that Committee because of another contentious measure—the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. I particularly congratulate them on their skill and success, not merely in probing general issues but in the excellent amendment which they succeeded in adding to the Bill and which the Government treated with such caution that they felt unable to attempt to remove it.
Throughout the proceedings on the Bill we have had no justification for the enormity of the sum of money proposed. All the evidence shows that under the 1972 Act modest expenditure has been incurred. The Government have initiated certain further schemes, a number of which we support, but even all those schemes do not begin to add up to the sums of money that are now required.
Even recognising that commitments discussed between both sides must be taken into account, there is no evidence that the Bill will be required before 1978. It is grossly irresponsible, if Parliament is to fulfil its rôle of controlling public expenditure, to allow a Bill to come forward so far ahead of the time when such sums will be needed.
The Secretary of State and the Minister of State have tried to imply that by attempting to criticise the Bill we were also criticising the 1972 Act. The 1972 Act was a modest scheme of financial assistance in areas in which such help could be justified. However, because that was a scheme that was supported—Labour Members supported it, too—that does not mean that it carries with it the obligation to support every extension of it no matter how profligate the expenditure might be. There is a limit in all things, and there must be a balance in all things.
In this situation, to be told that this is the principle and idea that we supported 796 and that, therefore, in some way this £1,000 million—or £2,000 million, or £5,000 million—is all right, and what a U-turn we would be committing if we even began to criticise such a measure when it was originally passed as a measure of our own creation, is a totally spurious and unjustifiable argument.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)
My hon. Friend may recall that on the occasion of the passing of the 1972 Act, the present Secretary of State for Energy, speaking from the position in which my hon. Friend is now speaking, said that he could see ways in which that measure could be utilised to the ends of the Labour Party. I forgot his precise words. However, it will be appreciated that it would be an ideal measure and is a massive injection of public money to further Socialist aims.
§ Mr. King
Certainly not. My hon. Friend is always true and extremely unmischievous. I always regarded that remark of the present Secretary of State for Energy as more mischievous than true, because while he chose to pretend that it would be an ideal measure and eminently suitable for a Socialist Government, the first thing that he had to do on coming into office was to make massive changes and to introduce his own Industry Act, simply because he was unable to use for the purposes he wanted our 1972 Act, which contained a number of important safeguards. Those of my hon. Friends who—as I did—served on the Committee considering the 1975 Act will know that the whole reason for that measure was that the 1972 Act did not fulfil the purposes that the present Secretary of State for Energy thought were necessary. Therefore, we can kill the argument about the question of principle once and for all.
In this area there must be the right and duty to question the scale of the sums involved in such Bills. I have already said that from our evidence—unless the Minister of State has failed to inform the House about other commitments that the Government may have entered into—if the House has been properly informed about the commitments, it is impossible 797 to see why the Bill has been brought forward at this time. This is interesting, because with all the strange events of the past summer and this Session, the Bill has been a long time going through the House. It had its Second Reading on 29th April. It is not exactly the world's longest Bill. It has two clauses.
§ Mr. King
Yes. It has been the subject of all sorts of incidents on its way. It was supposed to be considered by a Committee of the Whole House. That matter arose on a couple of occasions. That was turned down. The Government changed their minds. Eventually, very belatedly, it went to a Standing Committee.
One of the advantages of some period of time having elapsed is that it gives an interesting historical slant on the speeches made on Second Reading. I do not know whether the Minister of State has had a chance to look again at those speeches. One of the most interesting points is the number of my hon. Friends who warned the Government that if they indulged in the scale of profligate expenditure envisaged in the Bill and which had been envisaged two days earlier in a £2,000 million commitment for the further borrowing powers of British Steel, that profligate expenditure on such a scale, no matter how worthy the end, would inevitably lead to economic disaster for Britain.
§ Mr. King
It is exactly as my hon. Friend says. We now find ourselves at the end of October and we can see just how sadly prophetic those words were. It is a fairly humiliating thought that the money the Government are now proposing in the Bill is not actually in their possession. I suppose that the ability to implement the Bill is now dependent on, possibly, Chancellor Schmidt or the International Monetary Fund. That shows the Government's lack of wisdom and foresight in bringing forward Bills involving this scale of expenditure when they simply have not got the money.
This is intended as a measure to help to regenerate British industry. That claim has not been made in exactly those words, but I think that the Minister of State would agree that that is part of the 798 strategy he would claim that his Government are following. What we said at the time, which is supremely true now, is that there is simply no way in which the Government can, by this public money, bring about the regeneration of British industry. That will not come from measures of this kind. It will not come from the expenditure of public money in all sorts of areas identified by the Government, by civil servants or by particular pressing, urgent needs in different parts of industry.
The only way in which the regeneration of British industry can be achieved is by the successful operation of the vast multiplicity of industry, both large and small. I am delighted to see in the Chamber my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell), because it is throughout the whole range of British industry that we must achieve the scale of activity that we need. With investment in British industry running at about £3,000 million a year, the contribution that will come from the National Enterprise Board in financial terms is just a speck on the ocean, as is the contribution that will come under the Bill. This is simply no substitute for the ability of companies to generate their own funds from profitable operations and the success of those companies in having the funds to be able to invest in the future.
The danger in the Bill is that even with moneys on this scale—I have referred to it as profligate expenditure—it provides a smoke screen. There may even be some Ministers who still honestly think that they can make a real impact on British industry by a measure of this kind. I leave aside entirely the question whether the money will be well spent or spent on viable projects. It is only a small part of what is needed and it is simply no substitute for the generality of successful British industry.
Instead of bringing forward endless additional temporary measures of various kinds, whether in employment subsidies—which are clearly being grossly abused at present—or pouring more and more funds into support schemes of various kinds, what I should like to see the Government doing is addressing themselves to the real problems. On Second Reading I dealt with some of the problems of price control. That again involves no change of principle on my part, or on 799 the Opposition's part. We introduced a system of price controls at a time of acute difficulty. However, the analogy that I have used previously is still perfectly apt. I regarded that as a tourniquet applied in a crisis situation in which certain measures had to be taken. The analogy of a tourniquet is that it is necessary in an emergency to stop the bleeding; but leave it on too long and one gets gangrene. British industry is in a similar position today.
Although there have been modifications to the Price Code, it is still far too complicated. Now, we have a bright new Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, whose first pronouncement was that the Price Code was too complicated. He said that it would have to be changed and that something might be done about it by next July. How pathetic, when a change in the Price Code is probably the most immediate way to regenerate profits within one sphere of British industry!
Something will also have to be done to regenerate and remotivate people in British industry. I went to a factory in the Under-Secretary of State's constituency and asked what was the problem. I was told that it was the shortage of skilled men. That company had a successful export record. Even with the unemployment level in Keighley, there is a shortage of skilled men in that factory. I was told that 10 skilled men had been lost in the past six months. Three had emigrated to South Africa because they saw no future and no opportunity in this country. Others had gone to work with public sector bodies, two as wardens of local amenity centres, at much higher salaries.
We must ensure, first, that public authorities paying high salaries do not siphon off skilled people who are vital to British industry and, secondly, that people still feel that there is real opportunity and motivation for their effort.
Reference has been made to pop stars, film stars and others who leave the country. What worries me much more is the haemorrhage of skilled talent—the chemists, engineers, technicians, dentists, doctors, architects and all the skilled professional and able people who have had the finest training in the world in this 800 country who are no longer available to us. If the Government think that they can paper over this crisis and conquer those handicaps by bringing forward a Bill which empowers the payment of £1,600 million of someone else's money, we are really in trouble.
§ Mr. Cryer
Is the hon. Gentleman arguing that engineers should have higher wages, or does he accept that the trade union movement as a contribution towards the recovery of British industry has made significant sacrifices, first in accepting the £6 wage limit and currently in accepting the 4½ per cent. limit? If he accepts that, does he not think that British industry should also make an effort by increasing the level of their investment?
§ Mr. King
If the Under-Secretary of State misunderstands the problem to the extent indicated by that intervention, we have real problems. It is a matter not just of wages but of the tax structure and tax levels. The greatest sacrifices that have been made in the last two or three years have been made by the people who are moving up into the skilled areas. That is shown by the figures. Although there are many who for various reasons have no alternative but to take it on the chin for family and personal reasons, those who have more ambition and drive are determined to do the best they can for themselves and their families. We are losing the people whose skills are in international demand, and they are the people we can least afford to lose.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)
I shall not follow closely the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King). Anyone listening to his arguments might think that unemployment and the low level of investment in industry were phenomena of the 1970s which had come about in the past five years or so. He said that the Government's policies were responsible for high unemployment levels and that their policy in pursuit of the revival of industry by greater investment was inadequate.
In the 1920s and 1930s British capitalism was not faced with the problem of low profitability. Why then was there mass unemployment and a low investment level? Again, in the 1960s, why 801 was there a low level of investment? The hon. Gentleman suggested that if British industry had the opportunity to be profitable it would carry out its responsibilities and secure its recovery. If that is so, why has not British industry done that in the past?
The over-simplified way in which the Opposition approach the problem is astounding. Production is no longer a problem. New techniques and technology have changed the nature of British industry which, from being labour-intensive, is moving towards being capital-intensive. The system has advanced to such an extent that production is no longer dependent upon an industry being labour-intensive. The problem we face is not that of production but of distribution.
I turn now to what may be considered a parochial problem. In my area unemployment is running at 11.5 per cent. Private enterprise has shown no willingness to come into areas where new industries are needed. In areas where old industries such as docks, warehousing and distribution are declining, there is no evidence that those who reaped profits during the last century in Lancashire are prepared to invest cash in the new industry that is needed in that area. The Government must be more positive in intervening to secure the introduction of industry where it is most needed.
Some of my Labour colleagues and I believe that the Government do not go far enough in that direction. We believe that the only way forward, as was made clear in our manifesto and in the policies on which we fought the General Election, is to bring about a radical change in the power structure of our society for the benefit of those who produce our wealth rather than those who own and control it. As the beginning of that process, we look to the setting up of the NEB which we hope will reinvigorate areas of decline, such as Merseyside. Such areas face both industrial and population decline and they also suffer many social problems. Liverpool, London, and all major conurbations are suffering from a population decline. We hope that finance is made available from central Government to further social policies in those localities. Although at this stage the Government are thinking about cuts in public expenditure, we know that there is 802 a growing need to make available more public expenditure in those localities.
I am sure that many Opposition Members are not aware of the crisis in industrial conurbations. Although we believe that this Bill does not go far enough, it will at least go some way towards arresting that decline. Therefore, it is important that there should be no further handouts of central Government finance to private enterprise because that money is only moved from place to place, as is happening in the Courtaulds company. In the Courtaulds situation, a new factory is being built to the detriment of other factories in the North-West and in other areas—and that is all being done with the aid of Government money.
We hear much criticism from the Conservative Benches about the activities of the public sector, but they should turn their minds to the amount of money that is being made available by the Government for private enterprise activity. What happens once those private enterprise concerns receive the handouts is that they then move to other more attractive areas. That has happened on many occasions in areas in the North-East and North-West. I hope that the Minister will set his mind against the giving of handouts to private enterprise and will provide a firm base at the centre—namely, within the NEB—so that that money can be used to establish industries under principles decided by the NEB.
I repeat that the Bill does not go far enough, but we welcome its provisions as a means of achieving the aims of the NEB so that industry is brought into the areas where needed. Because private enterprise has failed to take on that job, the Government have a right to intervene on behalf of the people in those areas.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)
Tonight the House is being asked to approve a Bill to spend up to £1,000 million of taxpayers' money which the Government have not got. Throughout the week many hon. Members on both sides of the House have been oppressed by a feeling of unreality. One sees on the tapes and in newspaper headlines how our sterling is under pressure and realises the appalling consequences for our people, be they workers by brawn or brain, skilled or unskilled, or management. If the falling 803 away in the value of our currency is not checked, there will be the most appalling outlook for our nation.
Against this background we are now being asked to spend up to £1,000 million which, I repeat, the Government have not got. Do they not know the effect on sterling of spending money which they do not possess? We had no assurances throughout the long Committee stage that the money will be spent only on viable projects. The money will be raised partly in taxation—even by taxing people who now live below supplementary benefit level. That money is to be spent on a "rake's progress" by the Government.
We shall vote tonight in the knowledge that following previous legislation the Government have spent money against the advice of their own ministerial advisers and planners. Therefore, we must ask ourselves three questions—and we should consider the answers carefully before deciding how to vote. First, will this lucky dip into the fairy gold succeed in spotting the winners? Secondly, how are genuine jobs to be created? The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) mentioned the decline of industry in certain areas—and one can only wonder how new industry can be made to take the place of the old industries. Thirdly, where will the money come from that the Government are proposing to spend?
We all recognise—at least, on the Conservative side—that business is something alive, not something static, with a lot of small firms at the bottom, middle-sized firms in the middle, and a few very large ones at the top. That is not the picture. It is the picture that perhaps is seen by people in the Civil Service, but the reality is that business is a living community, in which old firms and their products and ideas get older and become ossified in the way that people do—if they are not propped up in a bureaucrat's nest for "lame ducks"—and their place is taken by vigorous, thrusting young firms with new ideas. But these vigorous new firms can get the resources to do this only if the old firms are not taking the resources away from them. In other words, it is an area in which there has to be constant change.
804 The Bill picks out certain firms and gives them Government money. It does not give money to the generality. The question is how the Government can spot the winners. Would any board of civil servants, faced 20 years ago, with a project to make life easier for housewives having to mix puddings, ever have succeeded in getting public money for it? Of course, they would not. But that, indeed, was the concept in the mind of one small business man, leading to the great Kenwood Mixer firm, with all the jobs and wealth it has created, as well as the benefits for a multitude of housewives.
It is not possible for the Government to spot the winners. The reality is that out of a massive number of small firms, only a small number will grow through to be the giants of industry in 10, 15 or 20 years' time—and they will do that by ploughing back their profits into their own business. The Bill will tax all firms in order to give to a few, and the few to which it will give will not be the winners. The winners will have been taxed out of their ability to win, and all of industry and all of us will be the loser for it.
The crucial question is how to create new jobs. Jobs are created by the bringing together of four things—skilled manpower, motivated management, capital, and a market—plus the certainty that that situation will continue without the threat of nationalisation hanging over successful firms.
The Under-Secretary of State for Industry, now responsible for small businesses, may laugh, but his record of advocating nationalisation and threatening the life of small businesses makes his appointment one of the most interesting since the Emperor Caligula made his horse a consul.
§ Mr. Cryer
I wish the lion. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) would keep his eye on the purpose of the Bill. The Bill is not about nationalisation. I know that the Tories are having a little game tonight, but will the hon. Member concentrate his mind on the fact that the Bill is about assistance to industry which the Government are trying to provide? Let us not have any red herrings of the sort that the hon. Member has been putting forward.
§ Mr. Mitchell
If the hon. Gentleman does not think that confidence is a key factor in providing employment in this country and creating successful industry, he knows even less than I assumed he knew about it. He must be aware that the sort of comment he has made on so many occasions in the past has posed a substantial threat to that confidence.
I ask the House to consider for a moment the factors that I mentioned, the first of which was skilled men. On Merseyside there are plenty of skilled men. The trouble is that they, are unemployed. I praise the Government for the work they have done—building on what we did before, but I make no party point—in re-training people, because it is not only manpower that we need. We need skilled manpower. The more we can do to re-train people and give them the skills which industry will need when trade picks up, the better.
All praise to those hon. Members on both sides of the House who have done that kind of work. But it is not sufficient just to have labour. Look at China, Jamaica, and a hundred other poorer countries in the world. They have labour, but not the standard of living that we hope to have in this country.
We need motivated management. What is happening to management? Time and time again, we find skilled people going abroad. The number of skilled managers in this country going to Germany and France to take up executive posts because of the level of taxation in this country means that it is not worth their while to stay. I deplore that. I wish that people would stay. But, unless they can see the opportunity of building up savings for themselves and for having something to show for what they have done, they will not stay.
Thirdly, we need capital. Investment is essential. It is because we have not got investment that we have not what we need on Merseyside and in other parts of the country. But how can we expect anyone to borrow money at 18 per cent.—the level to which this Government have driven interest rates—and make a profit? What is more, "profit" is still a dirty word to Government supporters below the Gangway, and, if anyone gets anywhere near that sort of return, he is in trouble on a multitude of fronts.
§ Mr. Ron Thomas (Bristol, North-West)
Perhaps the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) will be kind enough to explain why these innovating entrepreneurs failed to invest between 1970 and 1974 when the Conservative Government gave them everything that they asked for.
§ Mr. Mitchell
It is nice to see the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr Thomas) joining our debates. However, since my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) dealt with that point at some length, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will read Hansard tomorrow.
The position is that no one can borrow at 18 per cent. and make a profit. Therefore, the crucial question which this House must ask itself is why interest rates are so high and how we are to get them down.
Money is a market, just like every other commodity. In that market, it is supply and demand which determines the price. When the Government are borrowing £12,000 million, they are sending the borrowing rate soaring up. If the Government did not overspend—they are spending £5 for every £4 that they have in income—we should not have the interest rates that we have today and, if we did not have those interest rates, it would be worth while for people in Merseyside, Basingstoke and elsewhere in the country to borrow money and start an enterprise by bringing together the available manpower, the motivated management which taxation is destroying, and the investment which we are so determined to oppose that we clobber people who are willing to invest with taxation.
I know a man who has invented a remarkable device to assist the motorist. He would have been able to put up about £10,000, mortgaging his house to find it. He already has a skilled job in industry, so it would be an investment. If he were lucky he would get a return of £1,000 a year in interest. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would leave him with about £20—just about enough to take his wife out for a good dinner in the West End provided that they did not have champagne. Who will risk the value of his house for that sort of return? That is what causes the problems of Merseyside and other places where areas of deprivation are developed because it is not worth while to invest. This Government want 807 employment but not employers, and investment but not investors.
I ask from where this £1,000 million is to come. Where, indeed, my hon. Friends may ask. Government supporters may also ask, where, indeed. We have the sorry sight of the Chancellor of the Exchequer polishing up his begging bowl as he goes from one place to another. A great nation has the bailiffs arriving in a few weeks. Will Government supporters have the courage to abstain and allow the curtain to fall on this sorry farce of a Government? I doubt it. Will they accept, then, that so long as this Government stay in office with their present policies, so long as they overspend, so long will they overborrow, and interest rates will be too high? So long as they overspend, they will overtax.
The greatest potential for the recovery of this country's industry lies in the small business, and it is from that area that most of this money will come. Over £200 million will be taken from the small business sector alone by the 2 per cent. extra that the Chancellor will get by the employment tax which he proposes to introduce on national insurance. That is money which should have been left in the small business sector. Left there, it would do much more to create jobs and production. Taken from that sector, transferred to the Government and spent, it will add to the arid wastes of Merseyside and other places where we cannot get people to invest.
A large proportion of that money will come from those who are overtaxed already, unable to expand and without the incentive to do so. The time has come for the House to reject this sort of Bill and to look to restoring incentives to industry.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
On a topic which, by common consent, is as intractable as it is urgent, the House seems to have been largely denied a really penetrating and probing debate, mainly because both Front Benches, each for their different but not meritorious reasons, have had too much to gloss over. Because of the Government's delicate position at the moment, both at home and abroad, we have not heard from them tonight the real purposes of the Bill or the 808 detailed use they intend to make of this vast increase which they are piling on to the 1972 Act, as amended by the 1975 Act.
It was particularly disappointing, certainly to a fellow Yorkshire Member, that from the newly-arrived junior Minister we did not have that joyful exultation in the prospects for using the Bill to which some of us had been looking forward. I mean nothing offensive when I say that the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer)—in dealing with the amendments today, seemed to be back in the days when he was unveiling new fire engines for the borough of Keighley, saying that a magnificent engine was now on the scene but that he hoped that the occasions for using it would be very sparing. That is not what we hoped for from this side of the House.
The shyness of the Conservative Front Bench has been manifested throughout the proceedings on the Bill, from Second Reading onwards. The Bill has parents, of course. One of the oldest jests in history is the silly excuse for the unwanted child. "It is only a very small one." But this is the first time that I have heard the excuse that the parents were very small. Conservative Front Bench speakers tonight have repeated that although they had to admit that they provided the model for the Bill their model was a very tiny one. The apparent offence of the present Government is that they have blown up the Tory model to an exaggerated size.
That, of course, is to miss the main point of the argument. I must exempt from this bit of criticism the spendidly clear and logical contributions that we have had throughout and with which we were especially regaled in Committee from the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). His position at least has been crystal clear on this matter ever since he was so shamefully treated by having the provisions of the 1972 Bill hidden from him when he was a Minister in a Conservative Government.
I am sure that the whole House knows the story now. The hon. Member revealed it to us in Committee on 20th July. He said that he was not in any sense consulted on or made part of the 809 preparation of that Bill in 1972. If only the two Front Benches had exposed their philosophy of State intervention with the same frankness and intellectual rigour as the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, we should have had a great deal more illumination from the debate.
In considering British industry, we are dealing with a patient which has been afflicted grievously for many years under many different Governments. When one says that private enterprise is unfortunately not in a state to shoulder all the burdens which it might wish to shoulder, one is not necessarily criticising those in charge of the private sector. What we are saying is that they have been so maltreated over the years that many of them are in a debilitated condition, very often through no fault of their own.
I must protest about the facile assumption of some Opposition Members that by a series of changes in our tax system and our law of competition private enterprise, which has been so ill-treated in the past, can suddenly be made to flourish like the green bay tree with the advent of a new Government, and therefore will not need the financial assistance which it has previously sought from the Government. The idea that the situation will be transformed by a change of Government has surely been shown by the history of zig-zag government since the war to be a complete myth. At long last the electorate is beginning to realise that simply to put Box instead of Cox will not regenerate British industry.
We must admit that there has to be a great deal of assistance and that much of it has to be long lasting, if not permanent. I wish that the Bill were in such a form that I could recommend my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for it. I hoped when we opposed it reluctantly on Second Reading that the Government would have further thoughts, not necessarily accepting amendments from this side but introducing some financial discipline and a real measure of parliamentary control. I hoped, too, that they would indicate from the highest quarter that they were prepared to look at some of the other economic institutions of government to see whether they could adapt them to the tremendously increased rôle which Government finance is to play if the Bill is passed.
810 We had hoped for many months that there might be an announcement that the NEDC was to be extended to include representatives of the Opposition parties, so that there could be a wider involvement in discussions about Government intervention in industry. But nothing has been forthcoming. Instead, for strange tactical reasons, the Government have accepted one amendment which was passed in Standing Committee. That is not enough.
The Bill provides for no budget to be presented to the House of the sums involved. There is no proper provision for accountability. There is no alteration of the procedures of the House to control the fantastic sum of £1,600 million. For those reasons, and because the whole thing lies open to be used as a great engine for vote-catching by whichever major party happens temporarily to be in power, we shall reluctantly have to oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I want to take up a point raised by the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) who said that Ministers did not always take the advice of IDAB. This was something which was raised recently in the Public Accounts Committee Report and we have heard it quite often from both the Front Benches and the Back Benches on the other side. It is important once again to clarify this point. The IDAB was appointed under the 1972 Act, and we are discussing the amendment of that Conservative Act this evening. The Board was appointed by a Conservative Government which was heavily biassed in the direction of people from the City, and, as a result, only one, or perhaps two, trade unionists served on it. In my opinion it was not a balanced view which came on occasions from IDAB. It was a view based on the philosophy that money should be given only to companies if the criterion of of viability was accepted totally.
The criterion of viability is all right in most circumstances, but not in all. In areas of very high unemployment, such as Merseyside—and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loydon) made a very good case for my area this evening—one cannot just look at the question of viability. Social consequences of the closure of companies 811 adding to the already high level of unemployment, must be considered. We have about 86,000 unemployed people in Merseyside and any company that closes obviously adds to that problem. When we talk in terms of viability, we must also consider the social consequences of closure.
Take, for example, the closure of the Courtaulds factory at Skelmersdale in the Merseyside area, which means that another 1,500 workers will be thrown out of jobs. The level of unemployment in that small town will be 25 per cent. of all workers—that is, one in four. Just imagine the effect this has on their families. If another part of Courtaulds, the Furzebrook Knitting Company, is to close down, that, too, will add to the very high level of unemployment in the Merseyside area, which is already suffering terrible problems.
If Conservatives are honest, instead of just making propaganda speeches, they will admit that their 1972 Act was brought in because they knew that they had to deal with the consequences of closures taking place at that time and the need for investment in industry.
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders was saved by a Conservative Government. Rolls-Royce was saved by a Conservative Government. They had to look at the social consequences in precisely the same way as this Government had to look at the social consequences of British Leyland collapsing.
§ Mr. Grylls
It is true that the Industry Act is designed to help regional policy where high unemployment is a worrying problem—but not the part with which we are now dealing. We are dealing here with Section 8, which has nothing to do with regional policy. The hon. Gentleman is making a good case for regional policy. That comes under Section 7, not Section 8.
§ Mr. Heffer
The hon. Gentleman must listen carefully to what I am saying. British Leyland was covered by Section 8 and it had nothing to do with regional policy. Rolls-Royce was Section 8. That was not regional policy. UCS could be concerned purely with regional policy. I am talking about the rescue of companies under Section 8. I am not talking about 812 Section 7. Of course Section 7 deals with regional policy, and incidentally is allied to Section 8. There is no point in saying that it is not.
I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument. I did have somthing to do with administering this measure for a period and in helping to change it—in my opinion in a better way although it is still not good enough. I do have some knowledge of the issues involved. Even in the context of viability, we have to look at the social consequences. The rescue of Rolls-Royce and British Leyland was important for the social welfare of our people. It was necessary to rescue those companies irrespective of whether they were in assisted or non-assisted areas.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) has left the Chamber because I wanted to take up his point about small businesses. Believe it or not, I am a believer in small businesses and in assisting them. I always have been. Small businesses have a rôle to play in this country. I hope that the Department of Industry will pay more attention to what happens in the major conurbations when new roads are pushed through a city and all the small businesses are cleared out. There are then no premises which can be rented at a reasonable rent by the small businesses. In that way we lose a tremendous amount of employment.
We must step up our encouragement for the type of factory known as the "nursery unit". That should be developed on a much greater scale so that we may attract back to the city centre areas all those small businesses which have left and which provide employment for hundreds of workers. This can help to create employment and make a positive contribution towards the development of urban life. I want assistance for small businesses. I am not saying anything new. I have argued this strongly in the House before.
§ Mr. Cryer
May I assure my hon. Friend that the problem of small businesses is very much in the mind of the Department. Early next month I shall be inaugurating a pilot counselling service in the South-West which is designed to help small businesses. If it is a success it will be extended to other 813 areas. The sort of problems my hon. Friend has raised will be directly transmitted to the Department.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am delighted with that statement. I am delighted that we have a Minister with responsibility in the Department for pushing this matter ahead. I look forward with great interest to the statement that will be made and to see how the policy works out in practice. I do not want to be too sceptical, but I have heard many other Ministers from Governments of both parties promising to help small businesses, but their intentions never seem to bear fruit.
I wish now to deal with the rôle of the National Enterprise Board, which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston. I wonder whether part of this money will go to the NEB. I think that the Board needs its own capital, without having to go through the Section 8 procedure to get it. Without its own capital the NEB could be greatly restricted.
One of the main rôles of the Board should be to assist in the development areas. Areas with a high concentration of unemployment should benefit from the NEB coming in and developing new companies and new factories. The Board should have the task of creating positive and meaningful work. It could, for example, examine how best to help in getting commodities or machinery to the development areas. The NEB would create publicly-owned companies which would produce goods which are badly needed in the underdeveloped countries. This would be much greater help to the underdeveloped countries than merely giving them grants and loans when they need goods, sometimes capital goods, which could be made in our development areas.
I am sure that the Bill will make some contribution to bringing down the level of unemployment, although in some respects it does not go far enough. If it helps to reduce the numbers who are out of work it should command the support of every hon. Member. I make an appeal particularly to the Conservatives. The original Act was their Act, and it is their policy. We are only bringing it slightly up to date.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)
I wish to correct the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) on one point. He said that Rolls-Royce was saved under Section 8. It was not; it was saved under separate legislation, and I was one of the Ministers who steered that legislation through the House. It is important to explain that, because it will show hon. Members that I believe in a mixed economy and that I am prepared to see legislation used to save an industry in difficulty.
As a Minister I refused IDCs in the South and the Midlands in order to try to persuade industry to go to unemployment areas, particularly to Merseyside. I shall not go through a general account of the firms with which I was successful, or of those with which I was unsuccessful. I agree entirely with the social objectives of hon. Members. We have come down, however, to discussing the means by which those objectives are achieved.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) ignored one major point. Capital does not just exist in a vaccum. It has to be created. Capital, whether from the public or private sector, whether produced voluntarily or enforced through taxation, comes from a forbearance to spend in the current year in favour of ploughing back in future years. There is no trick of government by which one can cheat that simple arithmetic.
Hon. Members opposite must address themselves to the fact that the public sector, which represents about 60 per cent. of the total economy, is borrowing £12,000 million this year. That money must come either from the 40 per cent. of the economy in the private sector or from abroad. In fact, it comes from a combination of both those sources.
The degree to which it can attract funds at home is affected by our ridiculously high interest rates in terms of industrial investment needs. I think that I would carry Government supporters below the Gangway with me on that point. This Government borrowing therefore involves a high level of foreign borrowing, which hon. Members below the Gangway probably dislike as much as I do.
815 The Minister of State said on Second Reading that the Bill was:a proper job-creating and investment-inducing measure."—[Official Report, 29th April 1976; Vol. 910, c. 648.]I am sure he continues to carry the whole House in his desire for job creation and methods of encouraging industrial investment, but investment comes only from savings.
At the end of July or the beginning of August the Treasury produced papers for the NEDC called Scenario I and Scenario II. The latter was adopted. I suggest that it is putting hope before experience. It expects the value of exported goods—at 1970 prices—to increase next year by 14¼ per cent., in 1978 by 13¼ per cent., and in 1979 by 10 per cent. Manufacturing investment, on which this all depends, is expected to increase by 21¼ per cent. next year, by 27½ per cent. in 1978, and by 11½ per cent. in 1979, with the result that industrial output will increase by 11 per cent. next year, 10½ per cent, in 1978, and 6 per cent. in 1979.
For the reasons I have already indicated, there is not a cat in hell's chance of getting that level of investment. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) has left the Chamber. He said that he would like to see Members of the Opposition on the NEDC. I should like to see a closer link between the little Neddys in various industrial sectors and the Council. It would not then have produced Scenario II.
The little Neddy in the chemical industry has a better track record of forecasting trends accurately than has any other sector of British industry, and there are extremely good working arrangements between representatives of the management and trade unions. They could have told the Government and the Council that Scenario II was not on.
Over the next four years, Scenario II involves an average growth rate in chemicals of 10.8 per cent., in ferrous metals of 12.3 per cent., in instrument engineering of 11.3 per cent., in electrical engineering of 10.7 per cent., and in motor vehicles of 11.1 per cent. These rates of growth have never been achieved. I should love them to be achieved, but that is a hope well beyond experience.
816 We are talking about a growth in chemical exports of 20 per cent. a year for each of the four years covered by Scenario II. That means in real terms a doubling of exports in four years. It Is not as if the industry does not have a good track record in exports. In fact, its record is acknowledged by one and all. To fulfil the Scenario II targets for the chemical industry would involve twice the increase in world trade that is foreseen either by the OECD forecast or by the assumptions of Scenario II looked at in macro and not in micro. We must also bear in mind that the chemical industry is one of the key industrial sectors.
It is fairly clear that the Government's industrial strategy was based on mythological grounds or, to say the least, on hope. Since then we have had the minimum lending rate increased to 15 per cent. and another increase in inflation. We are talking about a rate of inflation of 14 per cent. a year. We have had a continued fall in the value of the pound, which, if nothing else, has a bearing on the price that industry has to pay for raw materials and semi-finished products, and in some cases for equipping itself with machine tools and the like.
I do not suppose that I shall carry either Front Bench with me when I say that I am critical of continuing the detailed pay control. I see the situation in micro terms and not in macro. I have knowledge of individual companies in individual industries, where the lack of the ability to negotiate a proper productivity arrangement between management and trade unions is, in my judgment, a considerable obstacle to reducing manning and increasing productivity.
As the House knows, I have some credentials in this area. I worked for many years as an industrial engineer. Perhaps I shall carry one or two Labour Members with me when I say that any rigid and detailed application of a pay policy for any length of time has the effect that I have described. If the Government feel that overall the advantages of a detailed pay policy have precedence over the factors to which I am referring, they must acknowledge it and accept the consequences. They must not preach higher productivity to managers who know how to get it, but who are not able to share that productivity with their 817 work force and with those with whom they co-operate and work on the shop floor. That is industrial participation on the shop floor, and managements are not able to enter into proper productivity agreements because of the detailed pay control imposed from the centre.
I believe that these obstacles—they are very real—have become worse since Second Reading. I think that the Minister owes it to both sides of the House, to managers, trade unionists, work people and the sources of capital to restate the Government's industrial strategy.
The Government's industrial strategy reminds me of a scene in J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" when the audience is asked to continue to believe in the existence of Tinker Bell. The audience is askedDo you believe in fairies?They all shout "Yes" and they are told that Tinker Bell will continue to live. The Government's industrial strategy is a Tinker Bell situation. It will continue to exist in the Government's minds and in the public's minds as long as the TUC and the CBI get together in Neddy and say "Yes, we still believe in the Government's industrial strategy" when asked. However, when we get out of the theatre we know that Tinker Bell does not exist. When we get to the shop floor we know that the Government's industrial strategy, like Tinker Bell, does not exist.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I was intrigued by the almost lyrical conclusion of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price). I assure him that the Labour Party does not believe in Tinker Bell.
I was also intrigued when the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) referred to how few Labour Members there were on these Benches. The hon. Gentleman has a point. But there seems to be some illusion. The serried, seething ranks of Opposition Members behind the hon. Gentleman passionately waiting to speak are a figment of his imagination. I suggest that he should be a little fairer in his assessment.
Throughout the debate there has been a fundamental difference between the two sides. It is always the same fundamental difference. The lust for profits dominates almost all the speeches by Opposition Members, whereas we really 818 believe in the Labour Party's manifesto intention of giving to those in need by taking away from those who have too much, as instanced in the sale of certain houses recently.
The Opposition want public funds to bolster up a faltering economy to put profits into their pockets. They never hesitate to come with the begging bowl. In Sheffield there is a private firm in desperate need of public cash. The Labour Government will no doubt see to it that that faltering firm gets public cash through the very Bill that the Opposition are opposing. If they succeed in their opposition, they will prevent money going to their own supporters in many cases. That is an intriguing thought. Private possession and public squalor have always followed the Conservative Party. Indeed, that is going on now.
We are deeply worried that the £1,000 million relaxation in the Price Code will not be invested in the way intended by us. We all know that the legislation that we are putting through is to try to rectify the damage done to the economy by lack of investment year after year. There is not the slightest evidence that moneys going from this Government to private enterprise will be used to produce the Goods that we need to stabilise our faltering economy.
There has been a lack of investment for many years, despite the fact that the money has been available. Indeed, the banks are bursting with money now, and the Opposition know that. No talk can conceal that fact. A year ago we heard from the then Secretary of State for Industry something that many of us did not appreciate—that no less than £3 million a day of public money was going to aid faltering private enterprise. We wondered exactly where that vast amount of money was going.
§ Mr. Flannery
There is not time. I want to make this point in view of what has been happening. That money, somehow or other, did not find its way into the economy. Workers throughout the country who need this money urgently are being laid off because their firms in private enterprise, as well as in the public 819 sector, cannot compete in world markets due, to the failure to invest in our economy.
The Opposition talk about patriotism. Yet they invest money abroad where they can get the maximum profit. That is the reality of what has been happening. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen may shout at me from their serried ranks as much as they wish, but that is the reality.
I take it for granted that the Opposition want to reduce unemployment just as we do and want the money going from public funds to help the faltering private sector to be used to achieve a reduction in the numbers of unemployed. If so, hon. Gentlemen opposite should vote for, not against, the Bill, because that money is destined to go to their private factories in an attempt to reduce the level of unemployment. Are the Opposition for more or for less unemployment? The Labour Party is for less unemployment. The Opposition should support the Bill if they want to reduce the level of unemployment.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Grylls
The debate has been unusual, because the Minister did not make a speech to introduce the Third Reading. That could be said to be a debasement of parliamentary currency or, to put it less strongly, somewhat arrogant.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) is a teacher and I hope that he teaches the facts of industrial life more accurately than he did tonight. He lives in cloud-cuckoo-land if he believes that industry is really like that.
During Committee there were no speeches from the Government Back Benches. The Bill contains only one clause but there were seven sittings of the Committee—six before the Summer Recess and one afterwards. I thought that Government Members would come back bouncing after the recess to support the Bill, but not one speech was made by them. We can only assume that they have nothing good to say about the Bill.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) was a Minister and operated the Industry Act. He knows a good deal about it and he was Minister in the Department when the 1975 Act was 820 going through the House. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) has converted the hon. Gentleman to a belief in small business. That was a stroke of genius which I never believed even my hon. Friend could achieve. It is an important step forward which I welcome. The only question mark which hangs over the issue is, why should it be respectable to be a small business but be threatened with nationalisation if it becomes bigger? It is hard to understand the logic of that.
§ Mr. Heffer
I must put the record absolutely straight. If the hon. Gentleman attended the House at Question Time he would know that I have been on about small businesses from the day I left the Government. In fact—and I do not think this is giving away any State secrets—I was on about small businesses all the time that I was in Government. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) can hardly claim to have converted me to a particular viewpoint tonight. He has never converted me to anything.
§ Mr. Grylls
It is ironic that in this week, when the economy is almost in total collapse, Parliament should be considering the Third Reading of such a Bill. Under the Bill the Government may spend two and a half times the total that it could spend before. The need to cut public expenditure is clearly understood. About 76 per cent. of people in a recent poll said that they were in favour of cutting public expenditure. It is odd that the Government should make cuts in social services and so on but never think of cutting the public money that they are throwing around in other directions. Today the Minister is pressing the button of further public expenditure. This is the gambler's last throw because the Government's industrial policy, however worthy originally, is today in tatters. Perhaps that is not entirely the fault of the Secretary of State but a little the fault of the current Secretary of State for Energy who started the nationalisation and the Industry Bill 1975. Perhaps it is also the fault of the other culprit—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose total failure of economic policy has almost brought this country to its knees. It is these two failures that have resulted in the present Government's industrial policies being in tatters.
821 However, even with that, the case for more money has not been made out. In replying to a Question of mine yesterday, the Minister said that the total sum of money committed under the Section 8 procedures was £435 million. On Second Reading in April, the Minister said that the level of expenditure under Section 8 might rise to £550 million by the end of this financial year. But the Government have got £550 million under the original 1972 Act, so why are they coming to the House in this extraordinary way? As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) so ably put it, the Bill has been subjected to a most extraordinary procedure. How well he described it.
However, this is a small Bill involving massive sums of money which my hon. Friends and I believe to be totally unnecessary. We know that the TUC is bludgeoning the Government into creating 11 million new jobs. I suppose that the natural reflex for any real Socialist Government, in reaction to this demand from the TUC to create these extra jobs, is to react, as the present Government are reacting, in the only way in which a Socialist Government know how to react—by spending more of the taxpayers' money. They have no more imagination and no policies other than just spending money like that.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
Would not one of the best ways of increasing employment be to withdraw the poll tax? In present circumstances the extra poll tax means that before an employer starts to pay a man's wages he must find about £17 a week, and therefore it is cheaper for him to put people on overtime than to take on new employees on a sufficient scale.
§ Mr. Grylls
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When the Government announced this extra £1,000 million impost on industry, the employers' contribution, a poll tax, we said that it would have a detrimental effect on industrial investment. We are seeing exactly what has happened. Part of this money is going to the accelerated project scheme announced by the Government earlier this year. I think that even the Minister will agree that this has had only modest success. Some £80 million of that has been taken up. It is described in rather lurid but amusing language in the 822 Investors Chronicle as the biggest rip-off ever. People will invest their money anyway. When they see that the Government will offer to pay one-third, they say "We shall take your money." That is the Government's only contribution to industrial policy.
It is not that the Opposition are saying that Governments in other countries do not help their industries. We know that they do in Germany, Japan and other countries. However, the difference is that in those competitor countries their Governments believe in the private enterprise principle. They do their best to ensure private enterprise wherever they can. The present British Government do not truly and honestly believe in private enterprise.
§ Mr. Grylls
Some of them want to believe in it, just for a short time. Some of them pretend that they are believing in it. Others say that they do not. I prefer that. At least one knows where one stands with them. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater was talking about investment from overseas. Overseas investors look at the appearance of our industry. They judge by appearances. They do not add up the number of votes in the Cabinet as between the Left and the Right wings. They just get a general impression that the Labour Government are not very keen on private enterprise. The result of that is lack of confidence. One can hardly expect anything else.
Another worrying thing happened in July. Through the NEDC procedures, the Government—
§ Mr. Ron Thomas
Will the hon. Gentleman explain why there was a dramatic fall in sterling following the decision of the previous Conservative Government to float it and why we find a dramatic fall from then on, until that Conservative Government left office?
§ Mr. Grylls
Talk about the fall of sterling does not come well from the hon. Gentleman's lips. I do not think that his hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench will welcome him raising that point. When the Conservative Government left office the exchange rate for sterling was $2.30. That is not what it is now. It has dropped to nearly $1.50. 823 It may have dropped since the debate started, so I think that we should hear less from the hon. Gentleman about sterling in this respect.
I want to say a word about the NEDC. The sectoral studies of industry by employers and trade unions were welcomed by the Opposition. We were glad when the meeting in July produced 300 recommendations for doing away with bottlenecks and so on. We now have Labour's "Red Book", "Labour's Programme for Britain" for 1976—
§ Mr. Grylls
I am glad that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) is with me. What does the good little book say about the sectoral studies of the employers and trade unions? They have been working together to try to solve the problems of industry in an entirely non-party political way and they have done it well. The little "Red Book" says that these 32 sectors are where public enterprise should seek to expand. Put in blunt English, that means that if those sectors co-operate with Government, Government will take them over or expand into their industry. If it means anything else I hope that hon. Gentlemen will get up and tell me. If those sectors co-operate with Government, the price of that co-operation is that the Government sooner or later will take them over. No wonder industry is reluctant to invest its own money.
Then there is another harebrained scheme from the Left wing, the National Executive Council, that certain companies should set aside a proportion of their profits for a centralised investment fund. Companies are not trusted. The profits they make by the efforts of their own management and work force must be put into a centralised pool. Mr. Big, the Minister, must tell them what to do with their profits. Such a plan is misconceived and thoroughly mischievous.
In considering the Bill, we have to hammer home the truth that companies will be able and willing to invest their own money only if the right climate is created by the Government of the day. That might seem the most obvious platitude but, my goodness, it is true. If a framework for successful investment can 824 be set by the Government, perhaps the Government need to do nothing else.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater referred to incentives for attracting skilled labour and his visit to Yorkshire. The NEDO report said that we need to attract and retain people with the skills that are needed. We want skilled manpower. How can we set about it? Incentives are crucial. Figures were produced recently which showed that industrial profitability had dropped from 13 per cent. to 2 per cent. The low profitability of industry and the high interest rates mean that people will not invest their money. The GEC has £250 million in cash earning 15½ per cent.—perhaps more. It cannot be right that encouragement should be given for that money to be left doing nothing. The Government's policies are at fault in driving up interest rates. That is one of the most damaging things the Government have done.
Last Friday I visited a small firm in my constituency which I knew wanted to expand. It had an IDC and planning permission for a new extension to the factory. I asked when the extension would be built, and I was told that it would not be built because the interest rate was 18 per cent. That is the sort of trouble that the Government have brought on themselves. That is why I said at the beginning that the collapse of the Government's industrial policy must be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is the guilty man. I shall not attack the Secretary of State when he is not here. I do not believe that he is the real nigger in the woodpile. It is the central collapse of the Government's economic policy that is responsible for what is happening.
This Bill is physically rather insignificant, but financially it is grotesque. No case has been made out for it in terms of money needed, no explanation has been given to Parliament as to what has been done with money spent so far, and there has been no explanation of the achievements of various schemes—although we may be told a little more about that aspect in the Minister's reply.
The question of accountability has not been dealt with. The original Bill contained an Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the effect that the Bill would increase the "total possible limit" 825 to £1,600 million. The Bill itself refers to making changes in the lump sum from £150 million to £600 million. There are then four separate occasions on which those sums can be further increased. Those occasions involve an increase from £100 million to £150 million. Therefore the Government thave added £600 million, and four lots of £250 million, reaching a total of £1,600 million.
I claim that the Government have already had two of those occasions—one in February 1975, and one in March 1976. Therefore, two of those occasions have passed. I do not see how in a Bill one can go back retrospectively and take account of earlier spending. Once a Statutory Instrument has been laid and claims are made under it, they cannot be undone and then increased.
I hope that if I put these points slowly to the Minister, he will receive some inspiration from his advisers in the Box. If the Minister discovers that the figure of £1,600 million should be instead a figure of £1,300 million, we shall be thankful. No doubt if there is such a revelation, the pound sterling may go in the right direction tomorrow. But I think that Parliament is entitled to an explanation.
I appreciate that when the Bill goes to the Lords it will be regarded as a money Bill and that their Lordships will have no power to amend such legislation. It will be too late to think about amendment at that stage. Therefore, we shall heave a sigh of relief if the Minister now discovers that the figure should be £1,300 million, because that will save a great deal of money.
This Bill is a financial extravaganza more suited to a Hollywood epic filmmaker than to a member of the Govern-meat. Legislation of this kind is rapidly bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy. It is a disgraceful Bill to bring to Parliament at any time. It is a hundredfold more disgraceful to bring such a Bill before Parliament at this time of economic crisis. The Government should be ashamed of themselves. We know why the Secretary of State is not present for this debate. He must be lurking somewhere in the House, but he is certainly not in the Chamber. For all these reasons, I asked my right hon. and hon. Friends to perform a national 826 service by rejecting the Bill on Third Reading.
§ 9.44 p.m.
Mr. Alan Williams
The Third Reading debate has been markedly different from the debates that took place earlier this afternoon. It has been a stimulating valuable and worthwhile debate. The hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) asked whether the Government ever considered cutting expenditure. He might like to know that recently we made changes in regional development grants in respect of the mining industry. I assure him that many of his colleagues have been eager to assure me that I should not be making those cuts at all. It seems to me that Conservative Members are in favour of cuts in principle but against them in practice.
The aims of the Government, as we indicated in the Second Reading debate, have been to develop a flexible range of incentives which will enable us to undertake both counter-cyclical and general industrial policies, including modernisation and the stimulation of investment.
The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), in opening for the Opposition, said that by the time the Conservatives left office—this was a demonstration of their virtue—of the £550 million they were allowed to spend, they had only spent £6 million. As I told the hon. Gentleman on Second Reading, that is the most incredible indictment of a Government who had to introduce the legislation because they had themselves generated a slide in investment, and never got the investment back to the real level it was at in 1970. Far from being a point of virtue, it is an astonishing revelation for the hon. Gentleman to put forward.
It was also said that there was no evidence that the Bill will be required until 1978. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) said that he would like more detailed information as to how the sums were arrived at. I hope the House will bear with me while I try to provide this, because it has been touched on by quite a few hon. Members. I shall try to cover all the points, although not necessarily in the sequence that hon. Members might wish. As we have an agreed timetable, I hope that they will be tolerant concerning interjections.
827 The current limit under the legislation would be £550 million, and, as was indicated by the Secretary of State in his speech on 29th April, at that stage the commitments to be counted against the legislation amounted to £315 million. Since that time, in six months, the figure has now arisen to £440 million—an increase of £125 million.
If we extrapolate ahead, it will be appreciated that it is highly unlikely that we shall reach the statutory limit by early 1977. This is why I dissent from the proposition that 1978 is the earliest date by which we shall need the money. Indeed, simply on the basis of existing measures, our estimate is that by 1980 the commitments will be about £1,100 million. That is without the introduction of any new measures such as may arise from the industrial strategy operations in the 39 sectors that were welcomed as being a valuable contribution.
It will be borne in mind that the offshore scheme which was introduced is an open-ended scheme, and we estimate that by 1980, of the £1,100 million, about £250 million will be made up by the offshore scheme.
Let me reiterate the points stressed on Second Reading, because tonight there has been far too much reference to actual spending. It should be remembered that much of this may eventually be by way of guarantees, rather than finance used. Much of it will be in loans, those loans being repayable. At the moment, although the commitments are for about £440 million—I gave the precise figures in a parliamentary answer yesterday—the actual payments to date amount only to £108 million; therefore, much of the commitment against ceiling is spending yet to come. The £440 million breaks down into £250 million for individual companies, of which the largest single element is the £162.5 million to Chrysler, to help a company in particular difficulties.
The hon. Member for Surrey, North-West asked whether we believed in private enterprise. I might point out to him that much of this money is going to support private enterprise and will do so in the future. Of the £440 million, £250 million is to individual companies and the balance of £190 million is on special schemes; for example, £80 million 828 has gone on the accelerated projects scheme, £35 million has been committed under the industry scheme on such things as the ferrous foundry scheme and so on, and £75 million is so far committed under the offshore scheme. That makes up the existing £440 million commitment.
The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) asked how genuine jobs were created. He said that it was not possible for the Government to spot winners. I think that the success of the accelerated projects scheme refutes that proposition completely.
Hon. Members will bear in mind the objective of the accelerated projects scheme. Investment must be brought forward, it must be demonstrated to have been brought forward, and it must start by 30th November of this year. Applications have now closed, of course. So far, 106 offers have been made totalling £80 million and generating investments of £588 million. That is £588 million which has been brought forward into the trough situation. But by 1980, as a result of the projects covered by the accelerated projects scheme, we shall get an annual benefit on the balance of payments of £400 million. There will be 13,000 jobs either safeguarded or created as a result of this, and more than half the cost of the project—
§ Mr. David Mitchell rose—
I explained just now that if hon. Members wanted a detailed explanation they would make matters easier for me if they did not attempt to intervene during the course of it.
Of the £588 million, more than half will be spent on plant and equipment in this country and, therefore, will generate further thousands of jobs in the plant and equipment supplying industries. The accelerated projects scheme is an excellent example of the good use of public funds. We are still processing further applications that were in by the closing date. These are for further assistance of about £17 million and can generate projects of about £100 million.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the 13,000 jobs to which he has referred have to be set against the 160,000 jobs that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will lose as a 829 result of the additional 2 per cent. on national insurance contributions?
I did not know that the hon. Member for Basingstoke was interested in playing silly games—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) does not know what the debate is about. We have hardly seen him throughout our proceedings. Hon. Members have asked me for details. I am doing my best to provide the information which the Opposition Front Bench and the hon. Member for Colne Valley, who has paid great attention to the Bill throughout its stages, have asked me.
The hon. Member for Surrey, North-West asked about the success of industry schemes. So far, assistance totalling £18 million has been offered and projects amounting to £95 million have arisen as a result of those offers. Since the Second Reading debate, when we announced what the existing industry schemes were, four new measures of industry schemes have been introduced. They are paper and board, printing machinery, textile machinery, and poultry meat processing.
The other question that the hon. Member was concerned about was the need not only to go beyond the £550 million but to get up to the figure of well over £1,000 million which the Bill will permit. Our legal advice is completely different from the hon. Member's, incidentally. The existing tranches can be subsumed in the first one. The £1,100 million is arrived at—
§ Mr. Tom King
The Bill refers to four occasions. Two have already happened. It may have been a fast ball to bowl at the Minister late at night, and he may have to look at this, but obviously this matter could be challenged. Our legal advice is that the Government have drawn their Bill wrongly and that what they think they have is not in fact in the Bill.
I do not think that the hon. Member is correct, nor do my legal advisers, but even if he were, we should still think it right to go for the level that would then be indicated, even if we had subsequently to make a change, for the reasons that I am about to explain to the hon. Member for Colne Valley.
830 As I have said, £440 million is permitted and we expect to reach the current ceiling early next year. A further £200 million will probably eventually be allocated to British Leyland as stated in the public expenditure White Paper. Another £200 million is likely to go on the hon. Member's own offshore scheme. I am not condemning it—it is a very good scheme, doing good work—but that is another £200 million. The balance is likely to go on further Section 8 industry schemes, such as ferrous foundry and so on, and those which will emerge from the discussions with industry.
I apologise to the House for all that detail thrown out in a hurry, but hon. Members wish to get away. On the other hand, I think that I have given all the data for which hon. Members asked. I am a little surprised, in view of the debates in Committee, that we heard so little today about the problems of small firms. Conservative Members made great play with that in Committee but no doubt those who look after the interests of small firms will note that their wish to get their hon. Friends away to the sleepers overcame their wish to press the case of those in small industries.
I ask Opposition Members to bear one thing in mind when they return to their constituencies this weekend, on those very same sleepers. If, as they apparently wish to do, they turned down a Third Reading for the Bill, the ceiling under the existing legislation would be reached early next year. From then on there would be no further Section 8 money available for industry.
I hope that Conservative Members will tell the people of Workington, for example, that for them there will be no hope of a further 16 projects and a further 650 jobs under Section 8. I hope that they will tell the people of Walsall and the West Midlands of the effect that their vote tonight would have on the car industry, on the car components suppliers, and on the very small firms which depend on the existence of that car industry.
What will happen in Walsall and the West Midlands if hon. Members carry the vote tonight? No doubt they will search their own consciences and their constituents will search their voting records. In this debate, we have become involved in the religious war that is 831 going on in the Conservative Party. They are still fighting the fight they fought way back in 1972. It still rankles with the hon. Member for Circencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) that, as the then Minister for Aerospace revealed, seven Ministers in the Department were not even consulted when the Tory Industry Act was being prepared and their officials were debarred from giving them
§ the necessary briefing. That information was concealed. Hon. Members are willing to deny industry finance it urgently needs, to deny people work, in pursuit of an out-of-date squabble with their ex-Leader.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 246.833
|Division No. 355]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Dunnett, Jack||Lever, Rt Hon Harold|
|Allaun, Frank||Eadle, Alex||Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)|
|Anderson, Donald||Edge, Geoff||Lipton, Marcus|
|Archer, Peter||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Loyden, Eddie|
|Ashley, Jack||English, Michael||Luard, Evan|
|Ashton, Joe||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mabon, Dr J. Dickson|
|Atkinson, Norman||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Faulds, Andrew||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McElhone, Frank|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)||McGuire, Michael (Ince)|
|Bates, Alt||Flannery, Martin||MacKenzie, Gregor|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Ford, Ben||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Forrester, John||McNamara, Kevin|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Madden, Max|
|Boardman, H.||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Magee, Bryan|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Freeson, Reginald||Mahon, Simon|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||George, Bruce||Marks, Kenneth|
|Bradley, Tom||Gilbert Dr John||Marquand, David|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Ginsburg, David||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Golding John||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Gould Bryan||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Gourlay, Harry||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Buchan, Norman||Graham, Ted||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Buchanan, Richard||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E.Kilbride)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Hardy, Peter||Moon man Eric|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Campbell, Ian||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Cant, R. B.||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hatton, Frank||Moyle, Roland|
|Healy Rt Hon Denis|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Heffer, Eric S.||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Cartwright, John||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Hooley, Frank||Newens, Stanley|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Horam, John||Oakes, Gordon|
|Cohen, Stanley||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Ogden, Eric|
|Coleman, Donald||Huckfield, Les||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Ovenden, John|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Corbett, Robin||Hunter, Adam||Padley, Walter|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||Park, George|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Parker, John|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Janner, Grevitle||Parry, Robert|
|Cronin, John||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Perry, Ernest|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Cryer, Bob||John, Brynmor||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Radice, Giles|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Judd, Frank||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Deakins, Eric||Kaufman, Gerald||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Kelley, Richard||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Dempsey, James||Lamborn, Harry||Rooker, J. W.|
|Doig, Peter||Lamond, James||Roper, John|
|Dormand, J. D.||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Leadbitter, Ted||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lee, John||Rowlands, Ted|
|Dunn, James A.||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Ryman, John|
|Sandelson, Neville||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||White Frank R. (Bury)|
|Selby, Harry||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)||White, James (Pollock)|
|Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Whitlock, William|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Tierney, Sydney||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)||Tinn, James||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Tomlinson, John||Williams Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Tomney, Frank||Williams Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Stiverman, Julius||Torney, Tom||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Skinner, Dennis||Tuck, Raphael||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Urwin, T. W.||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Stallard, A. W.||Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)||Woodall, Alec|
|Stoddart, David||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Woof, Robert|
|Stott, Roger||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Strang, Gavin||Ward, Michael||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.||Watkins, David|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Watkinson, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Swain, Thomas||Weetch, Ken||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Weitzman, David||Mr. Peter Snape|
|Adley, Robert||Farr, John||Kimball, Marcus|
|Alison, Michael||Fell, Anthony||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Finsberg, Geoffrey||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Arnold, Tom||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Kitson Sir Timothy|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fookes, Miss Janet||Knox, David|
|Baker, Kenneth||Forman, Nigel||Lamont, Norman|
|Banks, Robert||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Lane, David|
|Bell, Ronald||Fox, Marcus||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)||Latham, Michael (Melton)|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Freud, Clement||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Benyon, W.||Fry, Peter||Lawson, Nigel|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Bitten, John||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Lloyd, Ian|
|Blaker, Peter||Glyn, Dr Alan||Loveridge, John|
|Body, Richard||Godber, Rt Hon Joseph||Luce, Richard|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Goodhart, Philip||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Bottomley, Peter||Goodhew, Victor||McCrindle, Robert|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Goodlad, Alastair||Macfarlane, Nell|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Gorst, John||MacGregor, John|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Brittan, Leon||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Madel, David|
|Brotherton, Michael||Gray, Hamish||Marten, Nell|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Grieve, Percy||Mates, Michael|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Griffiths, Eldon||Mather, Carol|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Maude, Angus|
|Buck, Antony||Grist, Ian||Mawby, Ray|
|Budgen, Nick||Grylls, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hall, Sir John||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hampson, Dr Keith||Mills, Peter|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hannam, John||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Channon, Paul||Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hastings, Stephen||Moate, Roger|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Havers, Sir Michael||Monro, Hector|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Hawkins, Paul||Moore, John (Croydon C)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hayhoe, Barney||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Clegg, Walter||Health, Rt Hon Edward||Morgan, Geraint|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Heseltine, Michael||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral|
|Cope, John||Hicks, Robert||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Cordle, John H.||Higgins, Terence L.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Corrle, John||Holland, Philip||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)|
|Costain, A. P.||Hooson, Emlyn||Mudd, David|
|Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Hordern, Peter||Neave, Airey|
|Critchley, Julian||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Nelson, Anthony|
|Crowder, F. P.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Neubert, Michael|
|Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutstord)||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Newton, Tony|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Nott, John|
|Dodsworth Geoffrey||Hurd, Douglas||Onslow, Cranley|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally|
|Dykes, Hugh||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Page, John (Harrow West)|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||James, David||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Jessel, Toby||Penhaligon, David|
|Elliott, Sir William||Johnson Smith. G. (E Grinstead)||Percival, Ian|
|Emery, Peter||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Eyre, Reginald||Jopling, Michael||Pink, R Bonner|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Kershaw, Anthony||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Shepherd, Colin||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)|
|Raison, Timothy||Shersby, Michael||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Rathbone, Tim||Silvester, Fred||Trotter, Neville|
|Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Sims, Roger||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Sinclair, Sir George||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)||Speed, Keith||Viggers, Peter|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Spence, John||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)||Wakeham, John|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Sproat, lain||Wall, Patrick|
|Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey||Stanbrook, Ivor||Walters, Dennis|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Stanley, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||Wells, John|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Stokes, John||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Stradling Thomas, J.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)||Tapsell, Peter||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Royle, Sir Anthony||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Sainsbury, Tim||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Tebbit, Norman||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Scott, Nicholas||Temple-Morris, Peter||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret||Mr. Cecil Parkinson|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|Bill read the Third time and passed.|