HC Deb 09 February 1977 vol 925 cc1424-5
15. Mr. Hodgson

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will now announce the abandonment of all further plans for nationalisation of the transport industries; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. William Rodgers

No, Sir.

Mr. Hodgson

In the light of that reply, will the Secretary of State accept that his failure to give a clear undertaking about his party's and his Government's future plans for the road haulage industry is gravely damaging the efficiency of, and the prospects for, that vital industry?

Mr. Rodgers

I do not accept that. The road haulage industry is getting on nicely, thank you. My White Paper is coming out in May. We must be reasonably relaxed about the situation.

Mr. Loyden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the nationalisation of the docks industry has been on the Labour Party's agenda for 25 years? Is he aware that workers are becoming cynical about the lack of policy of the Government, or their desire to implement that nationalisation? Does he agree that the growing concern among workers in the industry, such as those at the port of Preston, indicates the need for a sensible, planned transport policy?

Mr. Rodgers

I agree that the subject of the condition of the ports and their ownership has been on our agenda for a number of years. The Preston situation is a matter for the Preston council, and I have no statutory powers in that direction. The pressing business of this Session has ruled out the possibility of a Bill involving the wider nationalisation that my hon. Friend mentioned.

Mr. Viggers

Is the Secretary of State aware that he has a first-class record of achievement on ports nationalisation? If he maintains his present record he will have support from Opposition Benches.

Mr. Rodgers

The hon. Member tempts me to abandon my record.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that the Leader of the Opposition voted for the denationalisation of the National Freight Corporation, which has only 10 per cent. of the predominantly private market? Does he agree that doctrinaire and dogmatic attacks on the competition between private and public enterprises are gravely damaging to the morale of the management of the corporation, which is trying to make a success of the mixed economy?

Mr. Rodgers

My hon. Friend is correct. There has been some shocking irresponsibility on the Opposition side of the House. Opposition Members voted in favour not only of the denationalisation of the National Freight Corporation but of the denationalisation of the British Steel Corporation. I am not surprised that morale in some of the nationalised industries is low. Some unthoughtful and unfair attacks have been made.