HL Deb 30 October 1958 vol 212 cc83-137

3.20 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday by Earl Jellicoe—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:

" Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."


My Lords, on Tuesday last millions saw and heard the State Opening of Parliament and millions heard the gracious Speech from the Throne which your Lordships are now debating. We know that the gracious Speech is a record by Her Majesty's Government of their relationships in world affairs, of their efforts to promote international co-operation, of their participation in our Commonwealth ideals and of their promotion of the development and the progress of our Colonies and Dependencies. The gracious Speech covers the records of Her Majesty's Government in the great problems—industrial and sociological—affecting us all, living together in these Islands and presenting an example and perhaps an inspiration to the many millions who look to us for guidance in political and practical affairs.

The gracious Speech also outlines the programme of legislation which Her Majesty's Government has mapped out for itself in its fourth year. I submit to your Lordships that it is essentially a sound one. It covers a wide variety of subjects, including measures designed to protect the freedom and liberties of the individual against undue encroachment by the State; a proposal to make home ownership easier; a five year plan to improve secondary modern education; and the establishment of a graded pensions scheme. The gracious Speech also makes particular reference to the resolution of Her Majesty's Government to ensure the strength of our currency and a high and stable level of employment. I submit to your Lordships that the gracious Speech shows clearly that the Government are deeply conscious of the needs of the economy and mindful of the hopes and the aspirations of their fellow citizens.

I was privileged to speak in the debate in your Lordships' House on the economic situation on the 4th February last when I made the following remarks [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207, col. 355]: It was Abraham Lincoln who said: ' If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it '. I went on to say: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government do know where they are and whither they are tending. But they also know what to do and how to do it, and they are determined to pursue those policies in which they feel they have the support of the responsible people in the country, policies which are already showing signs of success. I suggest that to-day it would not be out of the way if I paid a tribute to all those—and they were the vast majority of the people in the country—who supported the hard measures which we felt to be necessary to retain confidence in our currency and to build up our reserves in support of the world-wide trade in which we are such great participants.

It is said that results speak for themselves. Was there ever a greater—a more spectacular—demonstration of this saying? And to-day the credit restrictions have gone; the high bank rate has been progressively reduced; hire purchase regulations have been abolished; confidence in sterling has been established and strengthened; and our reserves have been built up, month by month. We may differ as to the methods used to bring about the result: we cannot fairly differ as to the measure of the accomplishment. What then could be our fears?

The economy of a country is a nicely balanced affair. We took the necessary steps to arrest inflation and to build up our reserves in the midst of a general set-back in world trade. I personally prefer the plain English word "set-back" to the description with a somewhat Continental flavour, "temporary recession". We faced the inflationary situation and dealt with it, and now we face for a short time some decrease in the level of production and a small increase in unemployment. If there is one matter which we share with noble Lords opposite it is a dislike—nay, a hatred—of unemployment, with all its attendant miseries and frustrations. Social measures can alleviate, but they cannot obliterate, the effects upon men wanting work when none is available. I have seen, and I have understood. But though the figures show a small increase, and though this may persist for a short time, we have not hesitated to take immediately practical steps to deal with the situation. An Administration that has not been afraid to take drastic action to preserve confidence in the currency and to build up the reserves can be relied upon to he equally resolute in action to prevent unemployment.

My Lords, it has been made clear by the speech of the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, which I had the privilege of listening to yesterday, that the Government proposals will, rightly, be subject to searching inquiry when we resume the debate next week. Nevertheless, perhaps I may have your Lordships' permission to comment on one or two matters in regard to which I have had some little experience.

The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in discussing the economic situation, talked about the stagnation of industry and seemed to find a state of complacency on the part of the Government in their approach—or perhaps, presumably, lack of approach—to the question. I beg leave to differ from the noble Viscount. I have already referred to the set-back in world trade and its effect upon our progress: "stagnation" seems to me a harsh word, and one not justified by the facts. But in any case the word "complacency", while it may be a good debating word, is totally unjustified. No one could have been more assiduous in their endeavours to support the efforts of our virile industry than the present Government.

I listened with great interest to what the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, had to say about the pension proposals contained in the Government White Paper on this subject. It is many years ago that I became interested in practical plans for pension provision related to the earnings of individuals. What remarkable strides have been made by private schemes in this field!It is true that we have a national pension plan, providing a basic pension which this Government have not failed to increase to meet inflationary pressures; but time has shown that the national flat-rate scheme is not self-supporting and that the Exchequer is faced with mounting deficits.

The problem is to deal with the situation while recognising that in the private sector there do exist many private schemes which provide adequate pension rights on a contributory basis. It would not be in the interests of the country or of the companies and individuals concerned to disrupt these schemes, many of which are the pride and satisfaction of those engaged in them. So the new pension proposals recognise the facts of the situation, direct the increased Exchequer grant to the lower paid and provide pensions on an earnings basis, to cover minimum needs. Much time and anxious thought have been given to this subject, and the proposals should meet properly the need for a soundly based national scheme.

As to house ownership, the noble Viscount yesterday seemed to direct his remarks against the use of the building societies to promote this desirable objective, rather than against the objective itself. I hope that means that his Party have at last seen what would be the reaction of the individual against their suggestion that dwellings should pass entirely into the hands of the State, either through the local authorities or in some other way.

The noble Viscount now suggests that the finance for house ownership should be provided direct from the State or through the local authorities. Why should we ignore not only the great experience possessed by the building societies, but the great services they have rendered to the community in this important aspect of national life? It is still true that people of our country value the ownership of the homes in which they live and that the building societies have played a great part in catering to their needs.


My Lords, I am much obliged for the attention the noble Lord is giving to the speech I made yesterday—I felt a little naked last night on getting no response from the other side on my points. But in regard to this matter of building societies, may I say that I was directing my remarks from this point of view: that if no new effort should be made to assist in regard to house ownership there is already a system which is working quite well, even among the smallest urban districts as well as the larger urban districts and municipal corporations. Individual applications through such bodies as these are working quite well. I simply say, in regard to making loans to building societies, that one should have greater elucidation as to which societies are to be concerned. Is it proposed to lend indiscriminately? There are many societies which, to my mind, appear to be quite unsound, and some of them work at far too high a figure of charges. If we could have a little more elaboration on that matter it would be of assistance. I am not against the building societies. They are one of our great engines of thrift in general, apart from their assistance in regard to householding by the people. I am a member of one myself. But if the noble Lord will read my speech again he will find what I am after.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Viscount. I am aware of the arrangements for the provision of loans. I do not think that the noble Viscount need have any fears that these matters will not be carefully and properly handled. But what we seek to do is to put some speed into this process—to give people the opportunity of enjoying, in their lifetimes, the ownership of their own houses.

One last point. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referred to the finances of the nationalised industries and thought that they ought to look to the market for their money. I do not disagree with this objective, but nationalisation brought together not only high accumulations of existing assets but unprecedented demands for new capital. For the time being, and in order that their effect on the economy could be measured and carefully managed, it was desirable that this finance should be the care of the Exchequer. It may not have escaped attention, for example—I am sure it has not—that the Electricity Act which your Lordships passed last year provided power whereby any Electricity Board could go to the market; and such a practice may in due course prove to be a practical one. I am afraid that I have trespassed on your Lordships' time, but I thought it advisable to deal in general terms with some of the general observations made in the course of the debate.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down could he make some reply to my remarks about the foreign travel allowance?


My Lords, I did not touch on the question of foreign allowances because that is to be dealt with later on in the debate.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mills, in a most careful speech, to which your Lordships will have listened with the same attention as I have done, has covered a pretty wide field regarding the gracious Speech. In that respect I do not propose to follow him, because I propose to devote most of my remarks to the question of the pension scheme, which forms so prominent a part of the programme of Her Majesty's Government. There are, however, one or two other points that I should like to deal with briefly before I come to that main question.

The noble Lord, Lord Mills, touched on this question of inflation and, if I may be allowed to say so, did so in a very unprovocative manner, to which none of us could take any exception. The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, dealing with the same subject yesterday, hit about him with some vigour, in his usual style, and dealt not only with noble Lords of the Liberal Party sitting above the gangway but also with those of us on these Benches. I take issue with him on what he said about us in the matter of inflation.

I myself have never thought, and to the best of my knowledge have never said, either in this House or elsewhere—nor, I think, has any responsible member of my Party—that a sufficiently high bank rate, together with the modicum of luck which the noble Viscount himself admitted Her Majesty's Government had had, could not squash inflation. What I have said is that it would do so at a very great price; that it was undiscriminatory; that it attacked and injured a very large number of people who have nothing to do with inflation, and that it would have many disastrous effects upon the economy of the country as a whole. I maintain that all those things have taken place and that some change in the bank rate, together with other measures, could have achieved the same end without the same loss to the country as a whole.

I note in the gracious Speech a reference to penal reform. That comes very near to my heart, for reasons of which I have no doubt your Lordships are aware. I was very glad to see that at Blackpool the Home Secretary did not make any concessions to what I should call the "floggers and hangers" of the Tory Party, and provided that resistance to that body of people is carried out in the proposals introduced by Her Majesty's Government I am confident that the Government will have no factious opposition from these Benches to any measure of genuine penal reform—which I believe to be of very great importance to the prosperity of this country.

I should like to say a word or two about two omissions from the gracious Speech, one of which I am sure will concern the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, who I understand is to reply to the debate. I notice that there is no mention of the Domicile Bill. The noble and learned Viscount will remember that in the last Session we had a number of fruitful discussions with regard to that Bill, and though it was nominally a Private Member's Bill I think it was generally understood that it was a kite flown by Her Majesty's Government, with the intention that the Bill should be brought in again this Session. I hope that the omission of any reference to it is not an indication that the Bill is to be dropped and that all the trouble we took about it here just before the Recess is going to be wasted. I believe that that would be greatly regretted by many people in the country, and in particular by the women who took a very active interest in the change in the law of the domicile of married women which it was proposed the Bill should bring about.

The other matter of which I see no mention is reform in the matter of taxation from more or less the administrative point of view. I was reading the other day an interesting speech by an accountant, Sir William Carrington, in which he mentioned quite a large number of reforms, in particular one relating to the item, expenses, both in favour of persons who ought to get expenses and also, on the other side, against those who abuse the right to charge expenses against their income for the purpose of securing reduction of tax.

I want now to come in particular to the pensions scheme of Her Majesty's Government. Noble Lords on the Front Benches opposite will not be surprised if, before dealing with the particulars of the proposals, I draw attention, as I am bound to do, to the electoral timetable and the consequences of what is intended at the present time. I understand that in the other place, either yesterday or on Tuesday (I believe that it was on Tuesday) the right honourable Gentleman the Prime Minister said that this Bill would not be introduced into the other place until January. It will obviously be a very complicated Bill and will require an enormous amount of the attention of the House and therefore, clearly, it will not be carried through all stages of both Houses for several months. Without more ado I would say that that seems to be a pointer to the earliest date at which a general Election is likely to take place.

I want to deal with another aspect of the proposals. What chance shall we have of considering the question in this House in any detail? A great many people have already noticed that the White Paper requires a great deal of amplification before it will be fully understood, certainly by the people of the country and even, I think, by most Members of Parliament—those in another place and your Lordships in this House. I am sorry to realise that in ordinary circumstances we shall have very little chance of discussing that important measure until quite late in the Session, after it has gone through all its stages and been discussed and amended in another place, as no doubt it will be, with the good will of both Parties. But I want to treat the matter to-day not so much from a controversial Party point of view, which will perhaps be more appropriate next week, when we are likely to have an Amendment dealing with domestic affairs to discuss in this House. I want rather to discuss it from a factual point of view, because it is a question which is not at all a one-Party issue. Most of the previous measures which have dealt with pensions and other social welfare have been carried, broadly, with the consent of both Parties. Your Lordships will remember that the great Beveridge Scheme was approved by the Coalition Government and all sections of the House of Commons in those days.

Before coming to the details of the present proposals I should like to recall to your Lordships some of the historical facts. In the nineteenth century there were, of course, no public proposals at all for dealing with the old. The only public provision was the Poor Law—and a pretty harsh affair that was, separating, as it did, old couples who had lived all their lives together and treating the old people as paupers, as they were called: men and women who all through their lives had worked very hard, and had no help to look to in their old age except this very harsh Poor Law, unless they had children or other relatives who were prepared, at very great expense to themselves, to keep the old folk in their later years.

Apart from those two means of support, people tried to save—and this is a point that I want to bring to your Lordships' notice. Of course, they saved by definite physical means. They saved coins of the realm, sovereigns in those days, if they ever saw them, and they put them under the bedstead, or in a mattress, or in a money-box of some kind, where they remained for years; and then, when the people reached old age they opened this box and took from it for as long as the money lasted. Or, a little later, they got bank notes which they sewed into their clothes, or somewhere or other where they thought they would be safe from marauders—they used physical assets that they themselves had created.

The next stage occurred at a time when, instead of physical assets, the people who could afford it—they were not very many—took out insurances, and out of the proceeds of those insurances they got some sort of allowance in their later years which enabled them to carry on. But the first Parliamentary effort that was made—and we had already passed into this century before the first Parliamentary effort was made—was the old-age pension scheme, which was carried very reluctantly, or with a good deal of opposition, and provided the enormous sum of 5s. a week for old people who had reached the age of seventy. No pretence was ever made, even in those days, that 5s. was enough to keep a person for a week. It was intended as a little bonus, rather like the French dower which the wife brings to her husband, and was the sort of bonus given to the person who was going to keep them for the rest of their lives.

Time went on, and we had the old-age pension schemes and contributory schemes; and the idea still remained right throughout that a person starting at the proper and early period in his life contributed enough, during the course of his life, together with the contributions made by the employer and the State, to build up a fund out of which could be paid the money to keep him in the later years. That was one thing. The other thing that was decided—and it has been true up to to-day—was this: that the money should not be considered as an adequate sum on which a person could live; it should be considered as a minimum which would provide him with bread and butter and shelter, and no more. We had the Beveridge Scheme, which was an excellent scheme as it appeared in those days: it met the requirements of the position, and professed to provide, for as long as could be foreseen, a method by which old age could be freed from the burden of distress to which otherwise it had been subject.

What has happened in the last few years to change that situation? Two things have happened. In the first place, there has been a movement in large works for employers and their workpeople to enter into superannuation schemes which enable a differential rate of pension to be paid to the workers, so that in some cases a worker, drawing first of all on the State scheme on a flat rate, would also draw the higher rate under the superannuation scheme with his employers. That is one thing that has happened. Another thing that has happened at the same time is this. Owing to the change in the value of money, and owing to the improvement in the real standard of living of the people, the old basic rate has become entirely inadequate; and a great many people, particularly those workers who have been in receipt of something above the minimum rate of wages, have found that the drop from their full rate of pay while they were working to this minimum rate has been so extreme as to bring in effect poverty of a really desperate kind.

So we have had a double change. We have had a realisation that the scheme was becoming more and more actuarially unsound, and also the feeling (which there has been in all sections of society) of persons who had no capital wealth but lived on their earnings that when the time came for them to retire from work the jump-down would be excessive if they depended only on the fixed provisions of the State. That is what really lies at the back of this new revolution which we are going to deal with in the course of this Session. It is a double revolution. It is a departure from the actuarial basis of pensions and a departure from the idea that all we have to do is provide a flat rate of pension which applies equally to the man who is earning £800 or £1,000, or more, a year and to the man who has been earning only a few pounds.

The second point is that we are going to depart definitely from the flat-rate scheme. I believe that the second point is recognised. The first point has not been fully recognised by people who have discussed both these proposals, the Labour proposal and the Government proposal. We are completely changing the basis on which pensions are secured. Instead of the idea that every person is contributing to a fund which, in general, would provide him with a sort of rate of pension when he is old, we are substituting a contract between the people of this generation and the people of the next generation. The man at work to-day says to the next generation, "If I promise to pay for the pension to the old people of my time, will you in your next generation undertake to provide me with my pension when my time comes?" That is the big revolutionary change which both these schemes really bring about.

I wanted to say that to your Lordships in this House because I feel that it is very important that we should recognise that fact, and the reason why that change is taking place is because nowadays we have not that sense of everything going on in exactly the same way year after year which people had in the old days. I remember the time when people left to their children or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, sums of money, because they felt that in that way they were providing for their future. Changed circumstances have made nearly all of those provisions ludicrous; and the same has happened with regard to pensions. We cannot sit here to-day and say that in twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years' time the sum of money which is going to be put down will be in the least adequate for providing a pension then. We know perfectly well that, just as over the last ten years we have had alteration and amendment, a bit tacked on here and a bit added there, so that is likely to go on, even if we succeeded entirely in defeating inflationary pressures in the future, which is, I am afraid, almost more than we can hope. Therefore we must be conscious that we are dealing with to-day.

In turning to the Government scheme I do not want to criticise it entirely at the present time, because I think we shall have much more opportunity of doing that next week. I will just put what I have to say in this way, because offhand I see these objections to the scheme as it is adumbrated in the White Paper. In the first place, it is very unfortunate that nothing is done for the self-employed. The self-employed are a very important section of the community, and I consider that to cut them out of this superannuation scheme entirely is distinctly unfortunate. I hope that, in the course of its passage through Parliament, if this scheme of the Government is going to be the basis on which a workable scheme is made, that defect and deficiency will be remedied.

In the second place, I do not think the Government scheme quite meets the case that no rise in the minimum pension rate is contemplated, at any rate for a certain number of years. That means, as I am sure a great number of your Lordships have already realised is the case, that large numbers of old-age pensioners will continue to have to go to the Assistance Board to get public assistance to supplement their inadequate pension. In the third place, I think that it is rather unfortunate that the majority of women at work will not get any benefit out of the scheme at all, because of the fact that women are in the lower brackets, which are the brackets that do not gain any essential advantage whatever from this new scheme.

In the fourth place, I am not satisfied with the fact that the proposal is to stop the grading at £15 a week. £15 a week was a large sum twenty or thirty years ago, but it is almost a small sum to-day. There are a very large number of manual workers who are earning well over £15 a week, and I do not see at all why the gradations should not go a great deal further. In the Labour Party's scheme I think it goes right up to £24 and even £60 a week, and I do not see any reason why it should not do so in the scheme which the Government are introducing. It is not contradictory to anything in the Government scheme. The fact that it does not do so has this grave disadvantage.

I quite understand that the cost of the mounting gap which would, without any alteration, have to fall on the Exchequer is a very grave consideration for the Government. It would be a very grave consideration for any Government of any Party, but offhand (although I may have read it wrongly) it would seem to me that the burden of meeting that gap is largely placed on the workers earning between £9 and £15 a week, with possibly a small accession by people above £15 a week. I think it is very unfair that that particular section of the community should be singled out for meeting what is a national charge. Rightly or wrongly, all Governments have realised that there had to be a pension adequate for the lowest grade of workers—a bread-and-butter and houseroom standard which must not be gone below. Now, someone has got to pay for that—not those particular people. But I do not see why it should fall on the workers earning from £9 to £15 or £20, and I think it would be much more correct if it were spread over a larger area, to include still more well-to-do people.

Another defect that I see—and I am sure that it must be realised on all sides—is that in giving an option, in certain circumstances, to stand out of the scheme, the option is to rest with the employer. Like everyone else, I realise the difficulties, but it does not seem a very satisfactory result. I remember, of course, when originally the health insurance and other schemes of insurance were started, that a great deal of position was given to the friendly societies. In time that has to a large extent melted away, and it may be that at the beginning here we shall have to allow these excellent schemes that exist to play a permanent part in the future pensions system of this country. Nevertheless, I cannot help feeling that this must, ultimately, at any rate, become a universal scheme, just as the Beveridge Scheme was universal. I think that in the long run all these individual schemes will gradually be merged in the universal scheme, and I doubt whether we can have any entirely satisfactory scheme unless that ultimately comes about.

Those are the points that I wanted to bring before your Lordships. I think they should form the background of any controversy that we may have, here or elsewhere, with regard to the different schemes that are proposed. It is a problem which we have all to meet, and the question and controversy that will arise in the future will be as to the precise merits of the various schemes being put forward. Of course, the Government scheme, the one which will come before Parliament in the shape of a Bill, will naturally be the basis on which any new scheme will be formed. I doubt very much whether you can produce a scheme to-day in which you can plan what is going to happen five or ten years hence, with additions to the contributions, and all the rest of it.

I have come across many of those things in the course of my Parliamentary experience, and nearly always in the course of the period when there was going to be some change effected the Parliament of that day takes an entirely different view from the Parliament which formed the original Act. Therefore, I think a good deal of the planning to-day of what is going to happen in so many years time is a bit of "eye-wash" that will not count for very much when those later periods arrive. But, as I said earlier on, I am sorry that it looks as if your Lordships will have so little opportunity of bringing the valuable contributions which I am sure many of you have to this question before the House. If it were possible, within the procedure of this House, I should welcome it later on, after the Bill has been introduced and the precise details of the Government scheme have been put forward, if it were possible for us to debate this question and thereby add, I hope, to the light and not to the heat of the discussions on this very important matter.

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, I hope I shall be forgiven if I speak very briefly on a completely different subject from that which has been raised by other noble Lords previously in this debate—on the vital necessity, as I see it, for increased expenditure on our overseas information services. I take as an excuse the fact that my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, in his excellent introduction to this debate, mentioned this particular field, and I should like to support what he said about the importance of these services and to urge that now is the time when something further might be done.

As my noble friend Lord Jellicoe was speaking on the general international situation, I found myself in complete agreement with the picture that he was painting. We seem to have reached a kind of military stalemate, where the major powers possessing nuclear weapons are at considerable pains to avoid any kind of situation in which there might be the need to use those weapons, realising the fearful destruction which they would cause. The struggle, therefore, has now been shifted on to the plane of politics and economics, and the scene of the struggle is the territory of the uncommitted nations, principally in the Middle East and the Far East.

The evidence of Soviet activities in these areas is well known to your Lordships. On the economic side there have been several instances where Russia has taken an interest in giving financial aid to the uncommitted countries, the last, of course, being the offer of financial aid to Egypt for the Aswan Dam. On the political side, the propaganda side, the Soviet Institute of Oriental Studies, recently re-organised, has been increasingly active in its propaganda directed to the Middle East. Russian experts there are at work on the staff of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Council in Cairo, and in effect as from last spring have been broadcasting direct to Africa from Radio Moscow.

In my opinion, we must take urgent steps to counteract the growing Russian influence in the Middle East and the Far East and we must do so in the closest conjunction with our Allies. We have recently seen a welcome strengthening in our military alliance with the United States in the agreement to share information on nuclear research. I hope that we may see a much closer drawing together of our alliance in the political and economic fields. The essence of an effective and efficient alliance or partnership is that the allies have to give of their best in the particular skills in which they are best suited, to the mutual advantage of the partnership. I believe that the United States, with her vast resources, will have to carry the major burden of the economic action which is required. That she is willing to do so is amply evident, especially since the offer of President Eisenhower to give financial aid to the Arab States. Where I believe we in this country can make our most effective contribution to our alliance with the United States lies in the political field, including the information services.

So often in the past an offer of Russian economic assistance has made a much greater political impact than the actual size of the aid offered, whereas the steady flow of assistance from the Western Nations goes almost unnoticed. I believe that we should make it our responsibility to see that the true facts of the scale on which this economic assistance is flowing from the Western countries to the rest of the world are known as widely as possible. We are fortunate in having the equipment for the task. Our information services, given the means, are completely competent, and we have a unique instrument in the B.B.C.

When times are hard, when economic conditions are unfavourable, the first thing that happens, whatever Government are in power, is that there is a cut in our information services. When the times get better, it takes a very long time before anything is done to restore the situation. I should like to suggest, now that our economic position is improving, that we should take urgent steps to restore our information services to an effective level. As a particular example of what I consider should be done, I believe we should strengthen our broadcasting services in the Middle East and the Far East.

In the Middle East, we must be able to counter effectively the distortions of Cairo Radio, broadcasting in Arabic and various African languages, of the so-called "Voice of Free Africa", which is also broadcast from Cairo, not to mention the direct transmissions in African coming from Radio Moscow and now from Peking, which is broadcasting 81 hours a week in Arabic. In my opinion, the Arabic service of the B.B.C. is doing an excellent job and it is very much more effective now that it is being re-broadcast on medium wave from Cyprus; but still more needs to be done if not only that service but other services of the B.B.C. directed to the African countries are to be given a proper coverage. In my opinion, some further transmitters must be erected on the African Continent or in the Middle East, which will give the coverage which is required.

The story is the same in the Far East, although this area has not attracted so much attention recently. As long ago as 1954 a Committee, sitting under the chairmanship of the late Lord Drogheda, recommended that two more high-powered transmitters should be installed in Malaya. But nothing has been done. Admittedly the economic situation since then has been difficult, but my point to-day is to re-emphasise that now that our economic situation is improving we should make good these defects and do more to make the voice of the Western world heard more loudly in the Middle East and the Far East.

4.17 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add a note of my own to what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has just said. Like him. I was much impressed by what the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said the other day about the need to adopt some countermeasures to the propaganda that is being put out by Communist Russia and Communist China. This was brought forcibly to my mind when I read a report of the speech of the Commander-in-Chief of the Peking forces to the inhabitants of Quemoy and the other islands. He did not threaten them with dire results if they did not give in, but told them that his forces were not going to shoot at them except on the odd days of the month and that they would be allowed to feed and clothe themselves during the other days of the month provided they did not allow the Americans to rearm them. It seemed to me that if ever a soldier was almost succeeding in winning a war without fighting, that kind of propaganda would bring about that result.

It brought to my mind the words of the Preamble to the U.N.E.S.C.O. constitution which, your Lordships will remember, reads something like this: Since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed. In continuing our own means of propaganda to persuade the non-Western world of the rightness of our cause, we could do so even more effectively, perhaps, if we tried to affect the minds of the people of the rest of the world by an appeal to peace rather than by an appeal to war. In that way I think the B.B.C. could do some valuable work.

Now I turn to the few notes that I have prepared in anticipation of rising to my feet. Whatever views noble Lords may take about the imminence or otherwise of a General Election, I think we may all agree that a gracious Speech is intended to be a kind of shop window in which a Government display their most attractive wares. We do not expect to see all their wares displayed in the window, but we do expect to see some brightness and originality in those that are shown. I ask myself: what are the brightnesses that appear in the present gracious Speech? I do not intend to go through the whole of the items dealt with in the gracious Speech—I should not wish to bore your Lordships by so doing—but, as your Lordships know, some are of specific English interest, some of United Kingdom interest and others of more local interest. But, taking the view that Scotland is still part of Britain, it seems to me proper that some reference should be made to matters of Scottish interest; and in looking through the gracious Speech, I find that only two items are mentioned: first, a Bill for the protection and control of deer in Scotland; and, secondly, a Bill consolidating existing building regulations.

I am not against a Bill in relation to the protection and control of deer in Scotland, but I feel that I should tell your Lordships this. I was viewing a television programme on Tuesday evening. A large number of people were looking with interest and appreciation at what was taking place, and listening to Her Majesty's speech with interest and affection, but there was one titter went round that group and it arose because of the reference to red deer in Scotland. I cannot believe that the Government would so ignore the general interests of Scotland as to concentrate on those two items.

Perhaps, to be fair, that is not a correct picture of the whole of the gracious Speech. There is a reference to a higher level of employment generally, and Scotland has, I submit, a very deep interest in the unemployment problem. That, indeed, is evidenced by the fact that the Secretary of State himself referred to the intractable nature of unemployment in Scotland; that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, raised the matter in your Lordships' House before he reached the eminence of his present position (upon which I should like to congratulate him), and that my right honourable friend Mr. Gaitskell, in his recent tour through Scotland, told us in moderate and measured language that it was a condition that was causing him anxiety, because in places like Dundee, Greenock, Coat bridge and Glasgow, where the numbers are somewhat high—I think that in one part of Scotland the figure is as high as 8 per cent. of the working population—there was undoubtedly a problem. It was not merely the general problem of the increasing unemployment in this country but was one which was peculiarly severe in that part of Scotland. If I may say so, although the present Minister for Scottish affairs is not present (and I should have liked to congratulate hire on his appointment) I hope he will show the same kind of interest in the unemployment problem, and in industrial conditions generally, in Scotland, as I am sure he will in the agricultural interests of the country.

We talk of a stable level of employment, and it has been remarked by others that the Government are somewhat chary of using the expression "full employment". I hope this does not mean that we are now taking for granted and are reconciled to the notion of a higher level of unemployment than we have been accustomed to in, recent years. Members of the Government have said that there is evidence of a decline in production and that we must expect a larger measure of unemployment, but that while it will be at a fairly high level they hope it will be stable. I do not think that that is satisfactory as a promise by the Govern- ment. It seems to me to indicate a belief on their part that we are bound to have in the near future a measure of unemployment that we had hoped we had managed to cure for ever.

We are told by the Prime Minister that a White Paper is to be prepared in regard to education, and that there will be a similar White Paper for Scotland, outlining a 5-year plan for an increase in the number of schools, an increase in the number of teachers and better teachers (if that is possible), in the hope that we shall now be able to encourage a greater measure of interest in technological education and so contribute to the industrial improvement of our country. There, too, I sometimes think that we are perhaps adopting an attitude in which mass advertising indulges, of trying to arouse an interest for a short time in a somewhat concentrated form, in the belief that the mere advertising of this particular short-time interest is going to satisfy the people, who later will forget all about it, until they have some other thing again put before them in that concentrated form, and so in that way carry on.

As to the reference in the gracious Speech to the method of dealing with crime, I think we are all considerably perturbed at the immense incidence of crime, not only among adults and teenagers, but even among adolescents. While consideration has been given to the problem of the after-care and supervision of discharged prisoners, I venture the opinion that that is not going to be a complete method of remedying this serious situation. Whatever advantages there may be in dealing with those who have already been convicted of crime, I think there remains a much bigger and more important problem into which a process of long-term research should be undertaken. I have in mind research into home conditions and the parent/child relationship; and even the curricula in schools ought to be examined carefully in order to see whether there is not some connection between this unusual outbreak of crime and delinquency (because the offences do not all come to the notice of the police) and whether something cannot be done to deal with the situation, which is not peculiar to this country but appears to be in evidence throughout the Western world. I do not know—others better informed than I am can perhaps tell me—whether something is being done to deal with this wider aspect of the question of crime, but I think the Government should give some evidence of their interest in that aspect so that we can, in the course of future debates, apply ourselves more closely to the problem.

Finally, as my noble Leader referred to it yesterday, I should like to say a word on a purely English measure—it is an important measure which will come before Parliament this Session—the question of mental illness. Scotland has considered these problems within recent years and issued at least two reports upon the question of mental illness, but my impression is—and it is a personal one—that though the recent Royal Commission, who went into the whole of the problem very carefully, have shown a great and detailed interest in almost every aspect of the problem of mental illness and mental defectives, they are over-emphasing the importance of certain aspects.

One which occurs to me is this. I think we can all agree that the principle of certification is now no longer necessary for the purpose of enabling a person suffering from mental illness to receive attention in any hospital. But I am not quite so happy about the apparent intention of permitting a mental defective—and I speak of the adult mental defective—to leave an institution at his own will. I think there should be the most careful consideration on the part of the medical authorities in the institution before leave is given to that type of person to leave, because although "mental defective" indicates to the ordinary man in the street a person of low mentality, one can say with some little knowledge that the actions they are capable of performing, and the things they are capable of making which can do very real injury to the general public, are things which ought to be taken into consideration before that type of patient is allowed to leave.

For that reason, when it comes to the question of giving a legal definition to the term "psychopath"—a term which I think has no precise meaning in the minds either of psychiatrists or of legal people—great care should be taken to make clear what it is. However, that is not a matter I wish to pursue further, nor do I wish to prolong the debate this afternoon.

There is one subject to which my noble friend Lord Pethick-Lawrence referred and upon which I should like to give my personal view. It is the question of home-owning. I think we all agree, no matter to what political Party we belong, that it would be a good thing if people could own their own homes. It would be a good thing if facilities were granted which would enable people who cannot at the moment do so to buy their own homes. Let us bear in mind that there is a large section of the population who, with the best will in the world, are unable to maintain the charges which buying a home would entail. What I want noble Lords to bear in mind is that while it is true that the person owning his home possesses an asset, that asset is not without its real liabilities. For that reason, in the pushing of this particular scheme great care should be taken to see that the section of the community mostly in need of houses should not be prevented from owning them by reason of the financial burden it would impose upon them. As the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, said yesterday, the time for saying nasty things to one another has not arrived, and with that I will sit down.

4.36 p.m.


My Lords, I wish I could follow the noble Lord who has just spoken in the field of home affairs with that great understanding which he has shown. One of the penalties of living abroad all one's life is that we return home to find we know all too little about our own country. That being so, I shall naturally confine myself to foreign affairs. I was a little worried when this debate seemed to be drifting out on the economic seas; and for that reason I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Aberdare for sounding the note of foreign affairs in his references to the overseas information services. I myself shall touch not specifically on information services as Government services, but certainly on perhaps the greatest information agency we have in the country, and that is the work of the Press.

The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, with great eloquence and imagination, which I think we shall now associate with all his speeches, offered us a fairly full plate in regard to foreign affairs—the Middle East, Cyprus, the overseas information services, and last, but certainly not least, our relations with the Soviet Union. It is on our relationship with the Communists; that I should like personally to treat for a few moments this afternoon, particularly while the memories of my visit last week to Berlin are still fresh in my mind. The noble Earl mentioned the visit to this country of President Heuss; and it is around that visit and our relationship with Germany that I should like to develop my argument. It was certainly difficult, as one read the comments in certain sections of the British Press, to recall that it was Sir Winston Churchill, just about twelve years ago, who in his vision declared that our task was to lead Germany back into the family of nations. In the Daily Mirror, "Cassandra's" reply to that challenge, twelve years later, is to say that: The present rapprochement by the British Government to the German Government is a flagrant demonstration of power politics … give us fifty years to forget them and their unspeakable deeds. My answer—and I shall hope to demonstrate it clearly before I finish—is that, so far from leaving the Germans alone for fifty years, if we forget them to-day for one moment we shall only hasten that day when another power, whether through political or physical processes, will sweep Fleet Street and all the "Cassandras" of this world into oblivion.

I would ask your Lordships' forbearance if I approach this subject in a somewhat indirect way, hoping that the links in the argument will be apparent before I conclude. I have sometimes in this House put the view that we are repeatedly in danger of being caught up in matters of great controversy—disarmament, nuclear tests and the like—where the Communists move their pieces with all the usual skill of chess players and with their familiar sense of international publicity. In following them we lose our way in interminable arguments, at the expense of the great and fundamental issues of morality which lie behind all the armaments, the tests and the arguments which surround them. Certainly in the world to-day Her Majesty's Government are not alone in drifting into the habit of thought which would regard an increase in tension as the one and unforgivable sin. He who decreases tension is looked upon as a great statesman, and he who dares to increase tension is looked upon as a failure. My whole case is based on the proposition that, provided the third world war is avoided, within those limits, in so far as a decrease in tension connotes always a compromise with expediency at the expense of a decision based on moral premises, then an increase in tension becomes indeed a moral obligation.

The noble and gallant Viscount, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein, in his address the other day at the Royal United Service Institution used these words: I do not think that the Russians have any intention of making all-out war against us so long as we retain the nuclear deterrent. That statement, coming from that source, I think we must accept. It is because I accept it that I suggest we could be better employed concentrating less on the ad hoc day-to-day situations, which by and large often represent differences of opinion, and concentrating more on the struggle that concerns the neglected, I might even say abandoned, matters of human rights. I would ask your Lordships to reflect for a moment on some of the daily manifestations of that betrayal of human rights in this great year of progress, 1958. Is it not paradoxical that, while men are boasting of being able to conquer space, we are unable to fly in freedom over our own Mother Earth? Literally I suggest that we shall reach the moon before we can fly one yard outside the corridor running from Hamburg clown to Berlin.

Again, your Lordships will remember that there is a European Convention on Human Rights and within a matter of months a court is to be set up. While that is happening in Europe, men and women in their millions in Eastern Europe are thinking and planning their lives in terms of the one word, "escape". It is a curious word to use of Europe, of all areas, from which the glory of the heritage of Western culture and thought has diffused itself throughout the centuries over the world. Yet daily we read in our papers of Poles escaping from ships into free ports; 400 a day escaping through Berlin from East Germany to the West; of men and women in Europe thrown into prison only for remaining loyal to their political convictions, for refusing to betray friends and relations; families torn asunder, husband from wife, parents from children; cities and countries turned into human cages. I saw the other day identically the same watch towers and wire, with patrols of men moving about like hungry wolves in the East German Zone, as I saw last year on the Hungarian frontier. Yet "Cassandra" in the Daily Mirror of October 24 seemed to regard it as curious that the Germany of President Heuss, led to-day, as I believe, by men who suffered under Hitler more than most of us in these islands, should hold anything against the Soviet.

My Lords, are we not to help these men in Germany who fought the Nazis in the 1930's? Are some of these gentlemen of the Press too blind to realise that 17 million Eastern Germans have now lived under a dictatorship, in one form or another, for the last twenty-five years? And where in the Daily Mirror of October 24, or in the Daily Express of October 25, in that mischievous innuendo and suggestion, was there one constructive suggestion as to how Europe would be freed from this tyranny? The comment in the Daily Mirror on the visit of President Heuss was in these terms: The German Press is already expressing its anger at our incivility. This is not surprising. But blame should go not to the British people, but to the Government that issued the invitation. I suggest that the blame goes neither to the British people nor to the Government: that it goes to those irresponsible Press men who seemingly went out of their way to sabotage that visit.

To-morrow these remarks will either be ignored or those concerned will hit back in the many ways at their disposal, in their ability to speak to millions in this country. I can use this kind of occasion only to speak my mind to a few of your Lordships, in the hope that, somehow, somewhere, it will make some small impact; and I do so because it so happens that at the time when this vicious, destructive campaign in print was in operation, I was in Berlin; a Berlin which, as I see it to-day, faithfully mirrors and concentrates, on a small stage of about twenty miles diameter, all the hopes and fears of the Western World as it looks out into an unknown future. Walk East through the barrier near the Brandenburg Gate and you leave behind all the freedom and folly of democracy, and at first enter what looks like a desert. You are in no way comforted—indeed, your worst fears are realised—when you come to the great Stalin Avenue, the shop window of Eastern Germany under Communism. The significance of this seems to me just this; that there, out in a sea of Communism, is an island of about two million Western Berliners who regard themselves, and I think rightly so, as the standard bearers of Western democracy, very sensitive to their position as the living symbol of this great division.

Whatever the sentiments between British troops and Germans may be in Western Germany, I say most emphatically that, so far as Berlin is concerned, there is friendship and understanding and respect. That one independent brigade of British troops in Western Berlin is, of course, only a token. One presumes that the Soviet forces and the Eastern German forces together, should they so wish, could wipe it out within a matter of hours. But as a token it represents the will of this country to defend not only Western Germany but the whole of Europe; and as such Western Berliners take pride in their position. They sense a purpose, they sense some mission in this Western defence. Your Lordships can readily imagine the immense damage done to that purpose, the immense damage that is done also to the devoted work of the handful of Germans and Englishmen who have laboured now over many years to lay the foundations of unity in face of this great challenge, when they see this work suddenly ridiculed by irresponsible writers—ridiculed by men who seem incapable of putting values, in terms of rival world systems, in any perspective or in any priority related to the facts on the ground.

The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in so far as he touched on foreign affairs yesterday, gave us the impression, I think, that we should tread very warily. He quoted, not unnaturally, the coming conference starting tomorrow in Geneva. Of course, nothing should be done to jeopardise the success of that conference. I respect that solicitude. Nevertheless, in my experience of debates on foreign affairs in this House, I would say that, so far as foreign relations are concerned, there never comes a time when you can say, "Now is the psychological moment to discuss this or that situation." On the other side the tactics may vary, the strategy may vary; but the purpose never does vary. Bearing, that in mind, in the long run it seems that it makes no difference whatsoever when we emphasise a point or when we withhold it.

It is against that background that, finally, I should like to leave in your Lordships' minds a specific suggestion—and I beg Her Majesty's Government to take it seriously. We make these suggestions and they became just sentences lost in vast volumes of Hansard up on the top shelves of the Library. I would suggest that sometimes a conference might be staged, or even attempted, if it cannot be staged, not to cover the disarmament issues, the nuclear tests, Formosa or the Middle East, but to take the form of an open battle of men's minds covering the ideological divisions as between the Communists and the free world, and certainly supported on this side by a marshalled statement of all those charges of cruelty, whether mental or physical, to which I have referred, and which indeed are the direct result of these physical and ideological divisions. Your Lordships may say that that is too vague, too ephemeral. I would submit that, if such a conference were possible, the eyes not only of Europe but of all those areas of the so-called uncommitted countries would be on it.

We have been repeatedly told that this country is the repository of ideas. Well, that is lust an idea. If it does not appeal to the Communists, I would say: Let us shout it at all levels from the housetops. I would stress that it is ideas and not men that we are asking Her Majesty's Government to attack. The late Dean Inge, in his letters, used this wisdom: There is much to support the belief that there is a struggle for existence between ideas, and that those ideas tend to prevail which correspond with the changing needs of humanity. It is because the free world is constantly adjusting itself to the needs of humanity in terms of toleration while the Communist world surely continues to interpret those needs in terms of a single doctrine, enforced at the very peril of humanity itself, that we must prove Dean Inge's wisdom; and to that end I have submitted that for once we step aside from the more conventional methods of international diplomacy.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, I do not want to follow the noble Lord who has just spoken so movingly and eloquently upon such widely important matters. I want to confine myself to one or two aspects of the gracious Speech which I think will cause a great deal of pleasure and interest to a large number of people. The point I refer to particularly is the statement that legislation will be introduced to deal with various aspects of the Report of the Royal Commission on Mental Health. That, I think, will give a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction to a large number of people in the country, whether they be doctors or workers who deal with mental health.

One of the points that I think is really worth while making is the need for patients suffering from mental illness or mental frailty to be admitted to hospital in the perfectly normal and informal way in which a person suffering from physical illness is admitted. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, who has just spoken, referred to the fact that certification is no longer necessary, and I think that that has been proved now in connection with the great advances in medical hospitals, where the doors do not get shut and the patients can come in and go out as they wish. One would like to see that greatly encouraged. That applies particularly to the type of person in whom I take a great deal of interest and whose troubles come to me quite a lot—I refer to the senile, confused patients who now, all too frequently, have to be subjected to the trouble of certification before they can be admitted to a mental hospital for the purpose of continued treatment. One can say that it is possible for them to go into these hospitals as voluntary patients, but even that requires rather more stability of mind than they possess at the present time.

One of the ways by which it is possible to get them to go for proper treatment is by calling upon the services of a duly authorised officer from the local authority. That, again, is something of a formality and is rather worrying both to patients and to their relatives. I trust that when the legislation is before Parliament there will be plenty of opportunity for what I may call informal admission for people suffering from mental frailty, or mental disease, or mental confusion, to hospitals where they can get better treatment than they can in the ordinary hospital.

There is one further point. Suppose some form of compulsory detention in hospital is found to be necessary. I am not at all sure that it is, but it may well be important that where people are really dangerous to the community, the process of the law should remain much as it is now, whereby a magistrate is concerned in the committal. I think it would be a retrograde step if people were to be kept permanently in hospital at the wish of their relatives and the doctors concerned. I have a great respect for the law and I think the law can play an extremely important part in this question. I am bound to say that I share the apprehension of the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, over mental defectives. I think we have to be extremely careful not to let people who are dangerous but are admitted normally to be allowed out in the world. There, again, I think some legal processes may be necessary in order to confine such people. That, I think, covers what I meant to say about mental health.

I should like to say a word about pensions. I do not intend to follow my noble friend Lord Grantchester into what should be the basis of the pension, but I trust that whether it is to be a flat rate or a graduated pension, the minimum pension will come back to the Beveridge principle of a subsistence level. At present I do not think it is a subsistence level. A large number of the sick people that I see live in the poorer parts of London, and when they are admitted into my wards obviously they have not been getting enough money to keep body and soul together, except in cases where they have been to the National Assistance Board for help, as I am bound to say a very large number of them do. So I trust that it will be possible for pensions to be stabilised at a subsistence level, though I am not quite sure whether or not they can move with the cost of living.

One final word: I was disappointed to see that there was no reference in the gracious Speech to the Wolfenden Report. I feel that that is a pity, for the Report deals with a large number of vital social problems of the present time. Although it can possibly be said that there is not a great demand for the recommendations of the Report to be put into effect, there must have been a sufficient demand to justify the setting up of the Royal Commission. It seems to me that if there was sufficient demand for that, the demand should be sufficient to justify the implementation of some, at least, of those recommendations. Further, I feel that in all matters of social legislation it is a pity if Her Majesty's Government, or whatever Government are in power, are to wait until demand is such that they are forced to take action. Governments are there to lead the country, not to be led by those who have elected them.

5.2 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by saying three things which most speakers on both sides of the House have said before. The first is to offer my congratulations to the Mover and the Seconder of the Loyal Address. I do so in no formal sense, and I hope that they will not regard the shortness of my remarks about them as any indication of the extent of my appreciation of the way in which they discharged their obligations. Secondly, I should like to reinforce what my noble Leader and others have said in welcoming to this House the new Peers and the Baronesses. I confess that I had personal reasons for welcoming them, because I look forward with great eagerness to the assistance which I hope we on this side of the House, and indeed the House as a whole, will receive from the new blood which has been provided. As the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack knows, perhaps better than anybody else, we on this side are extremely thin on the ground when we come to discussion of Bills on the Committee and Report stages, and I hope that the new Peers and the Baronesses will play their full part, particularly in that kind of activity. We are very glad to have them here. We have representatives on the other side of the House, a representative on the Cross Benches and representatives on this side. I should have liked to see one also on the Liberal Benches, for perhaps they need an accession of strength more than any other Party in the House.


Hear, hear!


It is a great pity that we have not had a representative from the Liberals as well.

I should like to say a word about television and the State Opening. I believe that the televising of the gracious Speech, with all the colour and ceremony, has been a success. Unfortunately I do not possess a television set and I have not seen it for myself. There was a leading article the other day in The Times newspaper which expressed some doubt whether it would be wise to repeat this practice every year, and I believe that we ought to consider that point, without necessarily taking the view that it was wrong to do it on this occasion. I think it was a good thing; but it would be a great help to some of us, when considering the matter, if we could have some pictures shown in the Royal Gallery of how the televising came out and what the general public saw. If the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack would put that suggestion before his colleagues it would be of great help and some of us would be in an easier position to make up our minds as to whether the experiment should be repeated. There is, for instance, a suggestion that the televising should not he done annually but that it might be done at the commencement of every new Parliament. At this stage I do not wish to be at all dogmatic about the matter, and if the general view was that it is a good thing for the ceremony to be televised annually I do not think the Government of the day would get a great deal of kudos from what is contained in the gracious Speech.

Now I want to come to the gracious Speech itself. I am in some difficulty, because it contains so much that is rather dull and conventional, and so many pious and unexceptionable phrases, that one just does not know where to start. It so happens that on five of the matters referred to Bills have actually been produced, but the noble and learned Viscount will not he surprised to know that in the short time that has elapsed we have not read—or, at least, have not digested—the majority of them, although I propose to refer to one or two. I cannot help feeling that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who spoke from the opposite Benches, had rather the same kind of view about the gracious Speech, because in the course of his very interesting remarks he quite failed to make any serious reference at all to the gracious Speech. He gave us a very interesting disquisition on the philosophy of my Party, his own and the Liberal Party. So far as the Liberal Party were concerned, I could not help feeling that he was addressing himself to some of his noble friends behind him. rather than to the Liberal Party. Some of what he said would be quite appropriate to many of his own colleagues.

So far as his observations about my Party are concerned, I would say that it would not be a bad thing if he took the trouble to find out what our policy and philosophy really are. Once he had learned that, many of us would be happy to take him on and debate the subject with him. At any rate, he gave us little or no information on many of the points in the gracious Speech about which my noble Leader had inquired, having gone to considerable trouble in setting out a number of matters which required further elucidation. I am not sure that he received one single answer—if he did it could not have been more than one. With great respect, the noble Lord, Lord Mills, who spoke to-day, and who, from that point of view, certainly put up a better show, also did not answer many of the points that my noble Leader had raised. So one hopes, with a certain amount of confidence, that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will have gone through the points raised by my noble Leader and will make an attempt to deal with some of them.

In the course of the two days' debate of which we are now approaching the end most of the subjects that are incorporated in the gracious Speech have been referred to. As the House knows, it is the intention of noble Lords on these Benches to move an Amendment next Wednesday in which we shall deal with particular aspects of the gracious Speech which we feel require some criticism. These two days have been somewhat of a preliminary canter, but there are one or two matters on which perhaps I might say a word at this stage. The first of the matters in which I have a special interest is that of town and country planning. I have tried to read the Town and Country Planning Bill which provides for a new basis of compensation in respect of land which is to be compulsorily acquired. I want to say at once that I am not in favour of doing an injustice to any owner of land whose property has been acquired. Indeed, can claim that I put that in writing, because I was a member of the Franks Committee and they had some comments to make on it with which I entirely associated myself. Therefore, it is not a question of doing nothing. On the other hand, I feel that in these matters of compensation to individuals one has to hold a balance between the interest of the individual and the interest of the community, and one must be very careful that one does not go too far in one direction or the other.

I take the view that the Town and Country Planning Act, 1954, was somewhat of an injustice to a number of owners of land, large and small. I think it came from too great a desire on the part of the present Government to wipe out the financial provisions of the 1947 Act, which were very good provisions and which took account of the public interest. They were an attempt to implement the Uthwatt Report which was the Report of a Committee set up by the Coalition Government and approved by the Coalition Government in terms; and indeed the financial provisions of the 1947 Act were never seriously opposed or objected to. Nevertheless, the present Government felt, in their wisdom, that they had to repeal those financial provisions and they put back nothing that was satisfactory.

I believe I am on record as having said that I doubted whether the 1954 Act would stand up for more than a very few years, and the fact remains that the pressure to amend the Act has come, not from my side of the House but from members of the Party opposite. So we have this Amending Bill, and, if I may venture another prophecy, I will say that I doubt whether the Amending Act will stand up for much longer than the 1954 Act if it is passed as it stands at the present time. It is obscure; it will give rise to a great deal of controversy; it will lend itself to improper prejudice against the local authorities; it will be unfair to the local authorities and it will enable some owners to obtain for themselves the benefit of improvements which have been carried out at the public expense. I doubt very much whether the Act can last for very long without a tremendous amount of amendment. It may well be that the Bill is so complicated and will take so long in its passage through another place and this House that it will not go through in the time that will be available for it. But I want to say to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor that I hope that, whatever happens to that Bill, it will not come to this House and be expected to go through in the course of a fortnight or three weeks. I hope that he will not expect us to be parties to approving that Bill because of the pressure of time. It will have to be adequately examined and closely scrutinised, and I would humbly suggest that there are quite a number of people in this House who are peculiarly competent to give a Bill of this kind that particular close scrutiny.

Coupled with that is a statement that the Government propose to introduce a measure for dealing with the new towns when they are substantially completed. As your Lordships know, the present position is that when a new town has been substantially completed the management of that new town, which is at present with a development corporation, will go to the local authority on terms which have to be settled as between the Minister and that local authority. I was instrumental myself in getting the previous Bill through, and I remember the great pressure from the other side in the other place to make sure that there were no loopholes and that in no circumstances would the new town not go to the local authority at the time of completion. I do not know what has changed, or what has induced the present Government to change their view about it—except possibly one thing, and that is that inevitably the political complexion of the local authorities that are in the area of the new towns has changed. I think that that was only to be expected, and it may be that the feeling, although it is not expressed openly, is that local authorities of one political complexion can be trusted to administer the affairs of a new town impartially and fairly and that local authorities of another political complexion cannot. If that view is not taken by the Government then I fail to understand why they have thought it necessary to change their minds so emphatically on the view that was taken at the time of the passage of the Bill. However, I hope to be able to speak on both those measures at somewhat greater length in due course.

Another matter which has loomed very prominently in the discussions here is the question of home ownership. I should not wish it to be thought for one single moment that we on this side of the House were in any way opposed to the principle of home ownership. The noble and learned Viscount made one slight jeer at us yesterday, I thought somewhat unworthily, by suggesting that we could not be sincerely in favour of home ownership, having regard to our policy on rent-controlled dwellings. This is not the time to debate that, but I should be very glad to take him up on it. However, we are in favour of home ownership within proper limits.

At the present time, if the views of the Government are carried into operation it will be possible for a person to buy a house in bad condition, to get a 100 per cent. mortgage on it from a building society, as I understand it, and to get a grant from the Government to put it into good condition. He will go to the furnishing people and get his furniture on hire purchase, presumably paying hardly any deposit; he will get his wireless set on the same terms and, for good measure, he will also buy a car on the same terms. This is not a fanciful picture. It is a great temptation to a great many people who do not realise what buying a house involves. They never take the trouble to calculate what are the rates and the taxes involved, the Schedule A payments, the cost of repairs, interest repayments and all the other repayments. Unfortunately, many people are not made that way. They never sit down with a pencil and paper and work it all out, and they find themselves in difficulties. It would be a great pity if any Government made life so easy for people that they thought it was right to live on a scale which they afterwards found they could not afford; and I beg of the Government to be extremely careful about advances of 100 per cent. for the acquisition of houses.

Moreover, I visualise that if it is made so easy for people to buy houses without money a black market will be created in this type of house. People are not very discriminating. I know that building societies have their surveyors, but they make it abundantly clear that they are not there to advise the purchaser of a house; the purchaser has to look after himself. They are there merely to look after their own interests, and it is quite consistent for the building society to be satisfied that an advance can properly he made and yet for the price of the house to be substantially in excess of its true value.

There is one other point should like to make about this matter, and that is—what has become of our ideas of the desirability of mobility? After all, in a changing world (and nobody knows this better than the noble Lord, Lord Mills) people have to change their employment. It is desirable that they should. One of our problems in the present state of uncertainty is that people get so tied to a particular place that whereas they might find work if they were prepared to be mobile they find themselves compelled to remain where they are. Now the encouragement to acquire a home and possessions will all tend to decrease the mobility of the individual, and I think that that is not a good thing. So while the Government may find this a very popular shop window and in the interest of forthcoming events may think that encouraging home purchase is a very fine thing, I hope that in the public interest they will be a little cautious.

I should have liked to follow the noble Lord in his statement on foreign affairs, but I have already almost exceeded the time that I allocated to myself, and therefore I will reserve my remarks for a future occasion. We shall have other opportunities for discussing foreign affairs and Commonwealth affairs. But I should not like it to be thought that we on this side are satisfied with the way in which our foreign affairs have been handled recently in the Middle East, in Cyprus, and elsewhere.

I will conclude by saying a word about penal reform. I shall watch with great interest the proposals of Her Majesty's Government in that respect, and I hope that they will be of a nature which will be non-controversial. It would be a terrible thing if we had Party divisions on the question of crime, the increase of crime, and the methods of dealing with it. If there is one subject on which we ought to try to agree it is that subject. I hope I am wrong, but I read into the gracious Speech much more emphasis on the punishment of crime than on its prevention. There has been a great deal of investigation, without much result, into what are the causes of crime. I do not think that any of us can yet be dogmatic about the causes—there are probably a great many—but I am sure that one cause of crime, possibly among many, is that there is a sporting chance of getting away with it. If detection inevitably followed the commission of a crime, that, of itself, would act as a very great deterrent. But on present figures the odds against being detected are something like one in three—they are possibly more than that, but the noble and learned Viscount will probably have these figures at his fingertips.

At any rate, there is a great chance of not being detected, and I would suggest that we might make better use of our police force than we are making at the present time in persecuting poor motorists who are forced to use their cars for business purposes and then find that they just do not know what to do with them and have to leave them somewhere, at the risk either of finding them taken away and then having to go and collect them or of being prosecuted for so-called obstruction, when in many cases there is no obstruction at all. The number of members of the police force—certainly in London and the large towns—who are engaged on this form of crime prevention is very considerable, and if only those police could be used to deal with the prevention of the breaking open of safes and attacks on elderly ladies, and so on, I am sure they would be rendering a much better service to the community than they are rendering at the present time.

My Lords, we on this side propose to be rather more critical of the Address on Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and many of the matters that I might have raised to-day we propose to reserve until that occasion. In the meantime, I hope that I have said enough to indicate that we by no means take the same favourable view of the gracious Speech as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, or even the noble Lord, Lord Mills.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has in one aspect spoken dangerously, because he almost made an appeal to me to answer the various points that had been so far raised in this debate, and therefore I ask for indulgence if, in an attempt to do so, my remarks are rather longer than they might have been. What I intended to do was to deal, as briefly as could be done with such meritorious material, with the points raised to-day and then to return to four important points, if I may say so, which the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition raised in yesterday's debate.

Before I come to the points may I take two that are rather outside the general stream of subjects, in order to deal with them at once? The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked me whether I would consider providing stills (I think that is the technical term) in order that he could see what the public had seen in Tuesday's ceremony. I shall be very pleased to look into that matter, and I will communicate with him about it. The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, asked my noble friend Lord Mills about travel allowances, and my noble friend indicated that I would try to deal with it. I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to ease restrictions on foreign travel as soon as he possibly can, but the difficulties that he has had to face this year are twofold. Of course, an increased allowance would cost something in foreign currency, and it would do so at a time when we are assuming a number of other heavy commitments on overseas accounts. We are freeing some dollar imports, and we are undertaking development loans to the Commonwealth and an increased quota to the International Monetary Fund. These are the present difficulties.

The other aspect of the matter is that the £100 does meet the present requirements of O.E.E.C., and, although I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, had this fact in mind, on the average the £100 allowance is not fully drawn upon by travellers. About £50 is drawn upon in Europe and £70 in North America. I hope that in these circumstances the noble Lord will think that it is not unreasonable, when we have to retain certain controls, to retain this one. Nevertheless, I repeat my assurance that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the arguments well in mind and desires to ease the restriction as soon as possible.

I pass to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. I hope that he will not think it fulsome but will take it as a sincere expression of opinion, on behalf of the whole House, when I say that we are always delighted to hear from him on economic subjects and that that delight is no less strong today. He asked me about two relatively minor yet none the less important matters—the Domicile Bill and administrative reforms on taxation expenses. My noble friend Lord Meston was here at an earlier stage to-day, and I do not think the noble Lord need worry about whether he has seen the end of the Domicile Bill. He will see it again. I am sure I can assure him on that point. With regard to the other, I should like to mention it to my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and consider it more fully before I reply.

If I may now pass to pensions, which formed the major part of the noble Lord's speech, I should like to thank him for his historic sketch, which I found interesting. It is rather disconcerting to think that it is nearly fifteen years since I was one who adumbrated the Coalition Government's policy on the Beveridge Report, but I could not help feeling a little pride at being part of the historic scene which the noble Lord had in mind. I would deal with his criticisms shortly to-day but, though I have not discussed the matter with anyone, I should have no objection if the noble Lord and his friends thought it worth while having a specific debate on the White Paper before the Bill is introduced. Of course that is a matter for the usual channels to discuss; but, speaking personally, it would give me nothing but pleasure to discuss the subject more fully, because it is a very important one.

I should like to pick out one or two of the points which I think worried the noble Lord. I do not believe that this scheme falls more severely on the lower paid workers. In fact, one of its advantages is that it makes it possible to concentrate the contribution from the Exchequer in a greater degree on those who, because their earnings are lower, would otherwise have difficulty in making provision. I do not want to recite large blocks of figures to-day, and if the noble Lord would have another look at the figures which my right honourable friend gave yesterday about the incidence on groups and sexes, I think that he will find, so far as women are concerned, that even at the moment they are seriously and, I think, well affected by the scheme, and he will find that there is a higher figure between £9 and £15, and one which I should have thought was likely to grow.

I have read all the speeches that have been made on this subject by the speakers for the Party of the noble Lords opposite, and I still do not quite understand what is meant by the argument that those at £9 a week are outside the scheme, because the scheme must be considered as a whole and there must be taken into account the benefit they get from the functioning of the scheme as a whole. After all, it is a fair point that in, I should have thought, a very large section of industry we do not find static wages. I know that we can find one or two jobs where that may be the position to a certain extent, but in most industries there is a progress to higher wage limits as the years go on. In order to look at the picture as a whole, we must remember that we are dealing with a period which is extraordinary to those of us who were politicians in the years between the wars: we are dealing with a period in which the average industrial wage is somewhere approaching £12 a week.

There is one other aspect that I should like to put before your Lordships, although, in fairness to the noble Lord, I must say that, while he mentioned it, I do not think that he stressed this. The scheme is not universal and omits those above £15 a week, since they do not pay any more after reaching £15 a week. I do think that it is for consideration—and I hope that we shall hear the views of noble Lords, not from a Party standpoint but from the point of view of considered political philosophy—whether it is right that the machinery of the State should be used to compel people to make provision for their old age beyond a fairly modest and reasonable provision.


My Lords, what is the position of the civil servant? Pension provision is made for civil servants, but it is forty years before pension amounts to two-thirds of their retiring salary.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord would agree that we have to consider the whole picture. It has always been one of the rewards of those who do not go into a profession where large incomes are made but go into the Civil Service that they have, in substitution for the opportunity of a large income, security and favourable pension schemes. But when I look at the country as a whole, I feel that to compel people, as their earnings rise, to make a proportionate provision is an undue interference with their personal liberty and freedom. This is where I take almost a middle course between the strict mid-nineteenth century, John Stuart Mill attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, and the view of the Party opposite.

I would put it—and I put it for serious consideration, because I think it is an important social problem—that we have secured the right balance in saying that we do not want to compel people to go beyond a fair, reasonable and modest provision.


I think the argument is very fair and interesting, but is it not the fact that in many of the privately maintained schemes in the larger industrial organisations the contributions from the employed persons do go up according to their incomes, right to the top sphere?


I think the noble Viscount, while not falling into the error, is making a point which is cognate to the error that my right honourable friend the Minister pointed out in the debate yesterday. In this matter we have to consider the scheme as a whole, and the fact that all the contributions to the scheme, those of employees, employers and Treasury, must be so used as to support the first part of the scheme as well as the second; and it is that duty which adds the complication that is not at present in the other schemes. I do not want to leave my main argument, but the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition will remember that a number of the private occupational schemes are financed, first of all, by the employer putting down a large initial sum, which takes the scheme over the difficult years. They are not all done in that way, of course, but in my experience a great number are, and that faces one with an entirely different financial problem.

I now want to say a word or two on another point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. He rather regretted that the contracting out should be a group contracting out and not an individual one. Again, I should like him to consider—I am sure he has already done so, but I know that he is fair-minded enough to consider it again—the position of the employer in schemes of this kind. He is liable to the Minister not only for his own contributions but also to collect those of the worker; and that responsibility includes the contribution for national insurance at the moment. I put it to noble Lords opposite, and I put it with confidence, that, despite their political views, they are men of experience who know the employers as they exist in 1958. No employer would wish to contract out of this scheme against the wishes of his men, because these schemes have largely been introduced in order to improve industrial relations; and although the group contracting out is made the responsibility of the employer, or the trustees, or whoever runs the scheme, in fact, it would have to be the result of a joint feeling, which would be the governing feeling at the time.

I come now to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, when he said that the scheme appeared to statify or make static the benefit for a number of years. My noble friend Lord Mills drew attention to the fa[...]t, and I do so again, that the rates of benefit must be kept constantly under review. That has been done—in fact, it was only in January that the Government increased them to the highest level, in real terms, that has ever been known in the history of insurance in this country—and they must continue to be kept under review. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, in his heart of hearts, agrees with me in this: that it would be utterly wrong for any Government, of any political colour, to allow the national scheme increasingly to go into deficit and do nothing about it. That must weaken the fundamental position of the contributor—that is, in regard to the pension which he has as of right—because it is only if there is a scheme on a sound financial basis that he can say: "Whatever cold winds blow, that is mine as of right "; and it would be difficult for anyone, however freezingly the winds were blowing, to do anything to interfere. That is, I think, a most important part, and therefore our financial reason for what we have done should not lightly be put aside.


I was not making a controversial Party point at all. What I was saying was that the fact that benefits would be changed, probably upwards in the course of years, involved a break in the actuarial idea. I was defending my claim that the actuarial idea was necessarily largely "going west", and that what was left was this contract.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for explaining his point. One other point he asked me was about the self-employed. I think the noble Lord appreciates that here there are two practical difficulties. The first is that with regard to the self-employed there is no employer's contribution to help; and the second—and this is a purely mechanical point—is that in the case of someone self-employed the collection of a graduated contribution is very difficult. There is some consolation in a third point: that under the Finance Act, 1956, it has been made easier for self-employed persons to provide from their own savings.

If I may put the points in the scheme which appeal to me, as an ordinary man, and not as one who has ever claimed to be an economic expert, I should say that there are really four things which appeal to the ordinary man. The first is that this scheme will help the lower-paid worker, who will pay lower contributions and get the greatest support. Secondly, it will help the better-paid worker to get a pension more in line with his earnings. Thirdly, the scheme, as we have drafted it, will encourage the private occupational schemes, which already cover 9 million people and which have increased so enormously even since the Beveridge days; and fourthly, there is the point I have just made, that our scheme will protect the rights—I repeat, the rights—of pensioners by putting the pensions on a sound financial basis.

I should like to turn now (because I do not intend, after my noble friends Lord Hailsham and Lord Mills, to go into the general economic situation) to the specific points that were raised by other noble Lords. My noble friend Lord Aberdare made a powerful plea for the information services. I should like to tell him—he may know, but I think it is important that I should state it publicly—that in the Recess my right honourable friend Dr. Charles Hill, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, made a tour in which he visited Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In fact he visited India, Pakistan, Aden, British Somaliland and Kenya. I am sure the noble Lord has heard, as I have, some of our noble friends like my noble friend Lord Hastings, stressing the importance of the Horn of Africa at the moment. I can tell my noble friend that it was a most thorough and profitable tour. The tour was only during the Recess; I have seen the first proofs, but it is a matter that we want to go into further. I thought it would cheer Lord Aberdare to know—I am not just saying: "This is an interesting subject, and a very good subject" (though I entirely believe it is both)—that it is a subject which we have very much in mind, and we have our own information at a Ministerial level which I hope will produce results that will be satisfactory to my noble friend.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, had two major points although he had certain others to which I shall return. The first was that our native land did not get sufficient mention in the Speech. That is a subject which, of course, touches me very closely indeed. I would remind the noble Lord that although the two specific mentions are deer and building, if one goes through the subjects of small farmers, pensions, factories, compulsory acquisition, emergency powers repeal, education and, above all, the fishing industry (because he knows, just as I do, and perhaps I know more poignantly than anyone, being an Aberdonian on my father's side, how important that is) though they are mentioned for the United Kingdom as a whole they do touch Scotland very closely.

I want to say this with regard to the two specific subjects. I think the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, will agree with me that, looking back over our lifetime there has been more general agreement on the Deer Protection Bill, because of the horrible cruelties that have been committed in the illegal taking of deer, than on any other Bill or any other proposal with regard to that aspect of life that I can remember. The noble Lord will understand that although I do not go into details on Scottish building, I tell him and warn him that I am expecting to hear a great deal from him when that Bill comes on, and I want him to guide me, as he would a child, through all the difficulties of Scottish local government, Dean of Guild courts and the like, in regard to building. He will have a very interesting time when that Bill comes on.


I wish I were more competent to do so.


I look forward to that. There was one other matter on which I should like to say a word, because it was very much in the noble Lord's mind, and again it is very much in mine, and that is the unemployment position in Scotland. I know, as he does, that the unemployment percentage for Scotland is 3.7 as compared with the appreciably lower English figure. I want to do a diagnosis, and I hope the noble Lord will not think that I am complacent. I sat for Liverpool through the 'thirties, with its high unemployment, and it is not a subject about which anyone in that position could be complacent. That applies as keenly to my native land.

There are three points with regard to the present figure. One is that, as the noble Lord knows, the best month is July. Since July, the purely seasonal influences have had a considerable effect in the Highlands and in the other rural areas. But I want to make it clear that I know that at the same time the situation has been aggravated by increased unemployment in the steel-making centres, especially in North Lanarkshire, which suffered from the reduced home and export demand for some of the heavier steel products. I wanted to say that, because I wanted the noble Lord to know that we have that point in mind. The third point, which is rather interesting, is that the actual number of people in employment has increased, but the working population has also increased. That is the difficulty, as the noble Lord knows; but in a sense there is some consolation that the working population has increased and that people are not going away. I put it no higher than that, and I think he understands my feeling about it.

There are two other aspects which I think are more cheerful. The first is with regard to textiles. In the last period, the demand for Scottish textiles and jute has increased, and it has been reflected in lower unemployment figures. The other, which is perhaps a slightly mean-minded one, but still the noble Lord can think for a moment that he and I are discussing this privately, is that the position has kept a bit steadier in Scotland in the last few months than it has in England. I am not going into percentages, because I think they are misleading, but may I put it this way? In the last few months the effect of the increase in England has been 3 out of every 1,000 workpeople, while in Scotland it has been only 2. I think that is the fairest way of putting it, because one has to do some arithmetic.

I have made that survey really to show the noble Lord that we have this matter very much in our minds. When I have said all that, I want him to understand that we in the Government believe that the level of unemployment in Scotland continues to be far too high, and I want to give him the assurance that the Government will not slacken their efforts to stimulate new industrial development where it is most needed. I hope the House will forgive me for taking some time on this matter, but I have tried to deal with the real anxiety which the noble Lord had, and which I shared.


I should like to express my gratitude for the manner in which the noble and learned Viscount has dealt with this matter. I refrained from dealing with any specific point because I did not wish to enlarge the field.


I am obliged to the noble Lord for his consideration.

The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, made a most interesting speech. I should like to consider and discuss with him his suggestion for a conference, because I have not quite in mind the kind of conference which he wanted. With regard to the other point he mentioned, the State visit of President Heuss and certain comments that had been made upon it, I only want to say this: that we and the Germans are allies. In his speech the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition made a moving plea for complete recognition of the importance of N.A.T.O., and I am confident that the enormous majority of people in this country are glad that we are allies. It is certainly the policy of Her Majesty's Government to do everything they can to further this alliance and to make Anglo-German relations even closer than they are already. We believe that by cultivating the strong ties of interest which exist between Germany and ourselves we have at hand the best remedy for the evils and unhappiness of the past. I know that not everyone agrees with this view. There are some people—I believe they are a small minority—who are still fighting the last war; but I am quite sure that that ought not to deter Her Majesty's Government from doing what they think right. This is a matter where they may have to be in advance of some elements of opinion and where it is their duty to give a lead; and that they will not shrink from doing.

The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, raised in a welcoming way the proposed Mental Health Bill. He will remember, because we both took part in it, the fascinating debate on this subject that we had in this House, introduced by the noble Earl, Lord Feversham. He will remember that I promised legislation, and I am glad that it is coming in the succeeding Session. I should like to consider carefully the two specific points which the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, raised; and the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, raised one which Lord Amulree supported. I can assure them that the points will be taken into account in the preparation of the Bill. That is a great task, but it is well worth doing, and I can assure him that an immense amount of labour is being put into the preparation of the Bill.

With regard to the Wolfenden Report, owing to the pressure of business there has not been a debate on that subject in another place. I think the noble Lord will appreciate the difficulty that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary would have in going further at the moment until he has heard the views of the House of Commons. It is not a Party matter; it is a matter where par excellence we want to hear the general views. While fully realising Lord Amulree's view, perhaps he will bear that fact in mind and allow my right honourable friend Mr. Butler some time for that purpose.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, came to the question of the Town and Country Planning Bill. I am not going to go into the details of the Bill; that would be quite wrong. I want only to say one or two words on the principle. Its principal object is to replace the present system of compensation for compulsory purchase of land. What is that system? It is that to-clay an owner gets existing use value plus 1947 development value. That is what we want to supplant by a system based on market values. I should have thought there was fairly general agree- ment that the present basis often works. unfairly. It does not in all cases.


Nor a majority.


I would not go as far as the noble Lord there. I wanted to put it fairly. It does not in certain cases—for example, where the land is fully developed the existing use value and the market value coincide, or are not very different. But where undeveloped land is being bought for development, the compensation payable under the present system may be much less than the current market value of the land. Of course, that applies particularly in regard to land on the fringes of towns. But I think it is quite clear that, as time goes on and circumstances change, this injustice is not going to disappear; it is going to get worse, and it is really beyond any twist of logicality to take as the basis 1947 values.


Would the noble and learned Viscount agree that that would be the case only if development is continuous in the degree taking place now?


I am not quite sure of the word "continuous," but there would have to be substantial continuation of development; I go as far as that. I should have thought there would be for some time, but we can discuss that later.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, indicated that in his view this position was the result of the Conservative Act of 1954. He also asked for plenty of time to discuss the matter, and I am sure that he and I will be able to cross swords; he will wield the rapier of saying that it was due to our Act of 1954, and I shall wield the claymore and say that it was due to his own Act of 1947. I only want to remind the House that we had full support, I think, except for Lord Silkin, when we abolished the development charge. I believe the vast majority of the public thought that it was inevitable that the two-price system would, in the long run, lead to difficulties; and we have come to the conclusion that the market value should be restored. I want to make only one further point, because I do not want to argue the Bill: that the increase of cost to local authorities and Government Departments should not be exaggerated. It will vary from area to area, but over the whole country the increase may be of the order of 25 per cent. It should be remembered that where land is bought by local authorities for development the cost of the land is not usually very large in comparison with the cost of the development itself. Therefore the extra burden on the finances of local authorities is not, in general, likely to be heavy.

My Lords, I would suggest to your Lordships that in this, as in so many other problems to-day, we should adopt the language of the Queen's Speech and endeavour to secure a just balance between the expanding demands of the modern State and the freedom and status of the individual. I believe that this is not a Party point. I believe that the days are over when either free enterprise parties say "We must look only at the individual," or Socialist or near-Socialist Parties think that we should look only at the State. I believe we are all trying to get a just balance, and all I do is to ask noble Lords to consider the problem from that point of view. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will not expect me to follow him into the New Towns to-night. He touched on that matter and I hope that we shall have another chance of looking into it.

I should like now to come to the four points of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. The first of these, in which he was followed by the noble Lords, Lord Greenhill and Lord Silkin, was on our house purchase proposals. It has been indicated and announced that the Government intend to encourage house ownership by lending Government money to the building societies. The noble Viscount asked us to beware on two points: first, that the building society given a loan was in a sound financial position, and secondly, that it needed the money—that is, that it needed more money than it could have from its deposits. I want to assure him that these points have been well considered, as I hope he will agree when he sees the Bill.

I am not going to enlarge on the arrangements, but I think I ought to tell the House that my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government proposes to lay before Parliament within the next week or so an Explanatory Memorandum setting out the scheme in detail. I ought to tell the House that, apart from this scheme, it is proposed to widen the powers of local authorities to assist house purchase, by enabling them, if they think fit, to make loans of up to 100 per cent. of the value of the property. At the present time, as the noble Lord, Lord Latham, is aware, they are limited to a figure of 90 per cent.; but it has been represented on behalf of the local authorities that a wider discretion is desirable, and we are going to meet that. Then, finally, opportunity is being taken to simplify and make more effective the present system of improvement grants. So that I think, if your Lordships take the whole of the scheme of the Bill, it is something that is well worth doing.

The noble Viscount also asked about new money in the assistance of small farming. I want to respond to the remarks of the noble Viscount, who will find the full details of the proposed scheme in a White Paper published this afternoon. It is estimated in the White Paper that in the first full year of operation the direct cost of the new scheme will be about £9 million, but against that must be offset the present cost of the marginal production schemes which are being discontinued—this amounts to £3 million. The net additional expenditure of about £6 million will be taken into account at the 1959 Annual Review, as part of the general Government guarantees to agriculture. But I would ask the noble Viscount to note this fact, because I think it meets his point. In addition we expect that the scheme will lead to more advantage being taken of the existing grant and subsidy scheme, and this may involve additional expenditure of £3 million to £4 million a year under the present ploughing-up and fertiliser subsidies. So that you have that for certain, and you have the other element, which of course depends on the course of the Price Review.

My Lords, the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition referred to the remarks of the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Montgomery, about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. So far as I am concerned I want to remind the noble Viscount (I am sure that with his naval experience he does not need reminding) of the unfortunate result of the three-cornered duel which is so vividly recounted by Captain Marryat in one of his novels. I do not want to put myself in the same position, as one of the participants in a three-cornered duel between myself, the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition and the noble and gallant Field Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein. But I do want to say this about N.A.T.O., in order that there should be no uncertainty about it. Of course no human institution can ever be perfect; still less can an institution subjected to political limitations ever be militarily perfect. But Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that good progress has been and is being made in the development of N A.T.O., both politically and militarily, and that that development is on the right lines.

The noble Viscount asked about the reports of the noble and gallant Field Marshal. The noble Viscount will realise that these reports were made while the noble and gallant Viscount held his appointment as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. It was his responsibility to report to the N.A.T.O. Council and not directly to Her Majesty's Government, and the disclosure of his reports must be a matter for international consultation. The noble Viscount was good enough to refer me to some exchanges that took place when I was in another place. I am sorry that I have not had the chancre of getting them yet. He told me this afternoon and I should like to look them up. But that is the position as far as I can see it. I should like to add this comment, because it is important on the main point: that as the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, has himself said, the criticisms which he felt called upon to make are on a situation which is itself the result of the success of N.A.T.O. in meeting the direct threat in Europe which faced it at its inception. The Field Marshal himself said that Europe is now the theatre in which war is least likely. I think my noble friend Lord Birdwood took up that aspect in his speech this afternoon.

Finally, let me say that the noble Viscount opposite may rest assured that Her Majesty's Government share his view that without the continuing strength and effectiveness of N.A.T.O. this country would be in a most serious position. We shall continue to do all we can to support it 70 the full extent of our available resources, and with our Allies will study the ways in which its effectiveness can be increased.


My Lords, I am much obliged for the detailed reply which has has been made by the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, so far as he can go; but if one harks back to the past controversy—from 1951 and especially in 1953—it seems quite clear that whether or not it is constitutionally possible for a Deputy Supreme Allied Commander to report to the Government who nominate him for the appointment, certainly Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at that time, said that Press reports of the kind which we have been getting over the last week-end were matters of which Her Majesty's Government would take full cognisance. I should have thought that, after all these years, this growth of unnecessary machinery, delay and wasted expenditure which now form the subject of the charge ought long since to have been investigated and, if necessary, something done; or else it should have been made quite plain that such charges are not justified. They may well be justified; but how do you act? Because you belong to N.A.T.O. do you do nothing?


My Lords, I have assured the noble Viscount, and I assure him again, that it is our belief that we should be in a most serious position without the continued strength and effectiveness of N.A.T.O. and we shall do all we call with our Allies to maintain and improve it. If the noble Viscount will be so kind as to allow me, I should like to look back and to consider, for I cannot remember everything that happened in another place when I was in it. I will certainly do that and I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his kindness in mentioning it.

Your Lordships will be relieved that I now come to the last subject on which I have been questioned—the subject of crime. The noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence and Lord Greenhill, among others, mentioned it. There were two aspects. The first was: how are we acquiring our knowledge? I was very glad that my noble friend Lord Ingleby was in the House this afternoon, because he is Chairman of a Committee which is dealing with the treatment of juvenile offenders and investigating that aspect of crime. That Committee has now been sitting for some time. With regard to adults, the learned Judge, Mr. Justice Streatfeild, is chairman of a Committee which is dealing not only with the arrangements for bringing to trial but also for providing courts with information necessary to enable them to select the most appropriate treatment for offenders. That is one side of the matter.

The other side, which worried all noble Lords who spoke, was the prevention and detection of crime. When I was Home Secretary it was extraordinary to find the number of forces where they were still either at a central headquarters or in some district headquarters in buildings which were right out of date, and in which it was very difficult to put in the new equipment necessary to let the policeman, in a scientific age, be "upsides" with the criminal who is using scientific methods. I tried to get as much done as I could. I feel that that is a very important matter.

I know exactly how noble Lords feel about the use of police manpower for traffic offences. This is a very difficult problem, but, on the other hand, noble Lords have only to turn their minds back to the strong speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, when we were discussing the road traffic law in this country, to see how seriously and strongly a lot of people feel on that point. I make that observation in no debating sense, for it is far too serious for a debating point. I will certainly convey to my right honourable friend, Mr. Butler, the view that the noble Viscount holds. I know that the Home Secretary will pay great attention to it, because he knows, as I do, the experience in government of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. I would therefore add, as being necessary at the present time, not only the deployment of personnel but the better use of equipment and the better arrangement of personnel.

But after we have made every constructive suggestion to judges, magistrates and the police, we are still left with something much deeper than that, and it is no good trying to avoid it—I found it when I had been at the Home Office and in charge of the problem for only a few months. I came in as the wave was going up in 1951. It is to the standards of the Lords Spiritual in this country that we have to return. It is the homes which are not the same: either they are broken, or the standards are much lower. This has ceased to be an economic problem. It was easier when one could say that crime was the result of poverty, but to-day that is not so: it is the result of a real deterioration of that aspect of life.

Speaking for myself the other day I said that what is practically needed is two figures—a latter-day Peter the Hermit who would put the spiritual side, and a twentieth century Sir John Moore who could sublimate the ebullience and excess spirits of youth in the way he did with his famous Light Division at Shorncliffe 150 years ago. Those, I believe, are the two needs: one to restore the spiritual values, the other to give young people some place where they can work off their high spirits and energy. I mention that only because without both these things—I stress the spiritual side—the rest will not be sufficient. I apologise for occupying so much of your Lordships' time and I can only make the outworn excuse that I have tried to the best of my ability to answer the points which have been raised.


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount, especially for his last point, and I should like to make one request which may perhaps be met. I am anxious to put right something which needs to be put right. In some newspapers this morning it was said that I am attacking members of watch committees. What I wanted to have included was consideration of their function and how they can be brought more into the administration than they are at present. If the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor can bear that point in mind, I shall be glad.


My Lords, I understood the noble Viscount to be making the point in regard to watch committees and standing joint committees that what was worrying him was whether they have enough to do and enough power to do what they wanted to do. I am glad he has put the matter right.


My Lords, might I supplement what has been said by the noble Viscount opposite? My only excuse for speaking on this matter is that I was once at the Home Office. This point raises tremendous issues and I do not know whether it can be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government in this Bill—namely, the powers of watch committees and standing joint committees and whether or not too much power or too little is in their hands vis-à-vis chief constables. There is a view that some chief constables have too much power. This is political dynamite, of course, because if we were to interfere with the rights of a local authority there would be considerable objection. Might I say, with great respect to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, that if this point is to be dealt with in this Bill it is a very big question.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Ogmore, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate he now adjourned.—(The Earl of Lucan.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.