HL Deb 05 May 1953 vol 182 cc206-7

2.42 p.m.

Order of the Day for the consideration of the Commons Amendments to certain of the Lords Amendments read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons Amendments to the Lords Amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons Amendments to the Lords Amendments be now considered.—(Lord Leathers.)


My Lords, it is not the intention of noble Lords on this side of the House, when the time comes, to do other than agree with the Motion that the Commons Amendments to the Lords Amendments be agreed to, but I hope that I may have the indulgence of your Lordships to make one or two observations on the Motion to consider the Amendments. It was from this side of the House that the first words were spoken on the occasion of the introduction of the Government's transport policy almost a year ago. Your Lordships will remember that on that occasion I begged and pressed the Government to consult fully with the British Transport Commission before they formulated legislation to deal with the policy as outlined in the White Paper. Unfortunately, that was not done; and the story that followed has, I think, been an unfortunate one. Legislation was introduced and with drawn. Fresh legislation was then introduced. Then, when the Government saw—and, let it be said here and now, to the great credit of the Minister in another place—that it was absolutely imperative, to satisfy public demand and allay disquiet, the Transport Commission were consulted, and the Bill underwent a radical alteration. What a pity, my Lords, that the whole of this country's transport should go through this upheaval without having the steadying influence of that consultation which, twelve months ago almost to the day—it was on May 15 of last year —we on this side of the House begged the Government to give!

It has been an unhappy experience and I want to say frankly—and I think the whole country agrees with me—that the Government do not come out of this transport debate with a great deal of credit. They have misjudged public opinion and they have misjudged the needs of the country. Their real difficulties are only just starting, and I can only hope that after the Bill receives the Royal Assent to-morrow, as we anticipate it will, and the administrative difficulties become apparent, the Government will have in their minds only one thought—that is, the good of the country as a whole and not the good of any section of the community to which specious electioneering promises have been made.

On Question, Motion agreed to.