§ [Nos. 3 and 4]
§ Page 2, line 40, leave out paragraph (c).
§ The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:
§ Because it is wrong that the National Enterprise Board should be prevented from extending public ownership into profitable areas of manufacturing industry.
§ Lord BESWICK
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on their Amendment No. 3 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 4. This Amendment would have deleted the National Enterprise Board's function of extending public ownership into profitable areas of manufacturing industry. I think it can be said that we have taken to heart what has been said by noble Lords opposite that it would be good occasionally for publicly-owned industries to be able to point to their profitable experience; and because we take that to heart we think it would be quite wrong to prevent the National Enterprise Board from operating in a profitable area.
§ Moved, That this House doth not insist on their Amendment No. 3 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 4.—(Lord Beswick.)
§ Lord ABERDARE
My Lords, again this is a matter in which we are in total disagreement in principle. Although we are the first to wish to see national enterprises making profits and the first to encourage private enterprise to make profits, we do not think it right that if private companies are making profits they should then be liable to be taken over by the National Enterprise Board. That is the matter in a nutshell. As I said on the first Amendment, we feel that we were right to make this Amendment and to make our position perfectly clear. We very much regret that our Amendment has not been accepted, but in the circumstances once again I am not advising my noble friends to insist upon it.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, it is of course one thing to extend public ownership into profitable areas of manufacturing industry on a partnership basis; it is quite another thing to take over 100 per cent. of the shareholding, as was suggested might well be done. If the 624 noble Lord will read what Mr. Varley said in another place be will see that this is specifically what he suggested. He gave reasons that it might be desirable to do that in order to locate industry in particular parts of the country where private industry might not itself wish to do so. But we should make it very clear that, while we ourselves have not been opposed to the conception of joint enterprises, we should look with very great disfavour on the taking over of an industry which was doing well from the profit point of view, and taking it over lock, stock and barrel.
§ Lord LEATHERLAND
My Lords, we have to take a broad view of this whole question. In the past those industries which have been taken over by the State have almost invariably been industries that were losing money, but were socially desirable for the nation on the other side of the consideration. I do not see that it is any more wrong for the State to take over an industry that is prospering and showing profits than it is for Slater, Walker to take over an industry that is prospering and making profits. To my own certain knowledge, a number of companies which were prospering and which were happy were taken over by Slater, Walker and have had a most undesirable time ever since.
I think that we are talking sense when we say that it is not right in the interests of the nation that the mere fact that a company is prosperous should prevent it or debar it from being taken over in the national interest.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ 3.56 p.m.