HL Deb 22 November 1976 vol 377 cc1656-89

1 Clause 30, page 42, line 12, after" if" insert: (a) it is a transaction the effect of which is to transfer or grant to any person any property or rights belonging to the company effecting the transfer, being property or rights used by the company in connection with the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships carried on by it at a place which is not a shipyard or other works in which the company had an interest in the possession on the initial date, or (b)

2 Clause 31, page 44, line 28, at end insert: (dd) it is a transaction the effect of which is to transfer or grant to any person any property or rights belonging to the company effecting the transfer, being property or rights used by the company in connection with the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships carried on by it at a place which is not a shipyard or other works in which the company had an interest in the possession on the initial date; or

3 Clause 56, page 79, line 23, at end insert or any factory, dry-dock, graving dock, or other premises or land situated in the United Kingdom in which an acquired company was entitled to an interest in possession or a licence to occupy and which on or at any time after the initial date was being used for repairing, refitting or maintaining ships unless—

  1. (i) that factory, dry-dock, graving dock, those premises or that land is or are 1657 wholly appurtenant to the shipbuilding undertaking carried on at a shipyard or other works in which the acquired company had an interest in possession on 31st July 1974 or is or are mainly appurtenant to property or rights which are wholly appurtenant to that undertaking; or
  2. (ii) that factory, dry-dock, graving dock, those premises, that land, that property or those rights, as the case may be, cannot reasonably be severed from the shipbuilding undertaking."

The Commons disagreed to the above Amendments for which disagreement they have assigned the following Reason:

4Because they would undesirably exempt certain transactions from the safeguarding provisions of the Bill.


My Lords, with the leave of the House I beg to move that this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. I to 3 en bloc, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 4. I will, with the leave of the House, also speak on Lords Amendment No. 5, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 6, and Lords Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 9, to which the Commons have disagreed and proposed Amendments in lieu Nos. 10 to 19 inclusive.

My Lords, I wish to make it clear at the outset that the Government will make no concession on their proposals for ship repair. The Amendments carried last Thursday in another place reaffirmed our commitment to vest in British Shipbuilders the nine privately-owned and three privately-owned ship repair companies named in Schedule 2 to the Bill. Those Amendments also set out the timescale for vesting—no less than three months, and no more than six months, from Royal Assent. Ship repair is now the sole remaining issue between this House and another place. My Lords, it must now be clear beyond doubt to everyone in this House that the Government's commitment on ship repairing is as firm as our commitment to bring aircraft, shipbuilding and slow speed marine engines into public ownership.

Ship repairing was included in both the February and October 1974 Manifestos. It was also specifically mentioned, in some detail, in the discussion paper which the then Secretary of State for Industry laid before Parliament on the 31st July 1974. The discussion paper set out the reasons for the Government's proposals on ship repair. The arguments for public owner- ship of the larger ship repair companies were powerfully made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Industry in another place last Thursday. I do not intend going into them yet again in full. Instead, I wish to concentrate on three misconceptions about our proposals which I believe may have seriously misled noble Lords opposite, and possibly even one of my noble friends.

First, it was never the intention to nationalise the smaller ship repair companies or those for whom ship repairing is only a sideline. This was stated explicitly in paragraph 11 of the 1974 discussion paper. Instead, I was the Government's intention to nationalise two main groups of ship repair companies: first, the ship repair subsidiaries of groups like Swan Hunter and Scott Lithgow, where shipbuilding and ship repairing complement each other to a great extent, and where separation would cause loss of flexibility and inefficient use of resources; and, second, the large independent ship repair companies who operate significant dry dock facilities on the main estuaries. These were included to give British Shipbuilders an adequate industrial base for its ship repair interests, and to ensure modernisation and development of the industry in all the main port areas of the country, as was recommended in the PA Management Consultants' report.

The criteria defining the ship repair companies in Schedule 2 were deliberately chosen to fulfil the Government's intention to include only the larger companies with major facilities on the main estuaries, and not the smaller companies carrying out mainly voyage repairs, nor those companies carrying out ship repair as a sideline. The analogy which has been trade that the difference between shipbuilding and ship repairing is like the difference between garages and car manufacturers bears no relation whatever to the Government's proposals in this Bill and is completely misleading.

The second misconception I want to correct is that the workers in some ship repair companies are against nationalisation. This mistaken belief was destroyed conclusively by the evidence presented last week in another place, including the letter from three-quarters of the workforce in one of the yards of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Limited affirming that they fully support the Bill, and the inclusion of their company.

The third misconception is that ship repair will not suffer like shipbuilding from delay in carrying out the Government's proposals. This is not true. The ship repairing industry is also facing a bleak period when work will be hard to find. Delay and uncertainty about nationalisation will make it more difficult to get through this period intact. Many companies have been planning on the basis that British Shipbuilders will be taking over soon. Indeed, one independent ship repair company has told the Department of Industry that even if ship repair was to be removed from the Bill they would still want to come under British Shipbuilders as soon as possible.

My Lords, I would like now to turn to the more general consequences of delay. But before doing so I want to deal with the spurious argument that the responsibility for delaying the proposals for aircraft and shipbuilding will be with the Government. This argument is completely false. I have shown clearly that the Government have a commitment for the ship repair proposals from the 1974 Manifestos. The proposals were clearly set out in the 1974 discussion paper and embodied in the Bill. I have explained the industrial logic behind these proposals. The proposals in the Bill have now been endorsed many times in another place. In these circumstances, the Government would be failing in their duty if they did not do everything in their power to carry out their policy.

If this House continues to insist on its Amendments to delete ship repair from the Bill, this Bill will fall in the current Session. I have to tell your Lordships that the Government will reintroduce the Bill at the beginning of the new Session. It will be the same Bill as came to your Lordships' House from the other place after Third Reading there, together with those of your Lordships' Amendments as were agreed to by the other place on 11th November. The compensation terms will remain the same. The safeguarding provisions will remain the same, with the same effective dates, and they will therefore continue in effect.

My Lords, this House does not have the power to stop this legislation being enacted. Under the Parliament Acts, your Lordships' power is restricted to delaying the enactment of a Bill for a period which can extend to the end of next Session. It is that power of delay this House will be exercising if we fail to agree with the Commons today. It is clear that the responsibility for this delay will be with this House, and your Lordships cannot escape it.

What will be the consequences of such delay? Last week in this House I called them catastrophic. The effect of delay on the British aircraft industry make it very likely that the industry will wholly or partly miss out on the next round of civil aircraft collaboration and that many thousands of jobs will be lost permanently in consequence. But I would like to concentrate on the effect of delay on the problems facing the merchant shipbuilding industry, perhaps the most serious industrial problem facing the country at this time.

This country has a long tradition of merchant shipbuilding. The industry, although its share of world markets has declined dramatically, is still vitally important in certain sensitive areas. In these regions it provides productive employment for a wide range of skills of both management and work people, which go to building some of the best ships in the world. It also provides considerable employment for workers in the marine equipment industries. It is no exaggeration to say that the effect of a collapse of merchant shipbuilding would be catastrophic for whole communities in regions such as Clydeside and Tyne-side.

For many years merchant shipbuilders in this country have had to struggle for existence in the face of severe and sometimes unfair overseas competition. Governments of both parties have tried various measures of support, none of which has had a lasting effect. Some£300 million of public money has gone to the industry over the past decade. Now because of serious world overcapacity, this country's merchant shipbuilders are facing their most severe crisis, possibly in this century. Work in some yards will start to run out next year. New orders have to be fought for against cutthroat competition. Everything possible must be done to help the industry get work.

The Government are sure that the best hope of surmounting the problems is to vest the merchant shipbuilders as soon as possible in British Shipbuilders. The Organising Committee has already begun to introduce a new type of enterprise to the problems of the industry. Once the Corporation is established it can plan a strategy for the industry as a whole in an orderly way. The alternative is a process of disorderly unplanned crises, which have infortunately been experienced in this industry in the past.

But, my Lords, time is short. The seriousness of the situation may be judged by two quotations from a statement made earlier this month by an experienced and practical shipbuilder. I refer to the new President of the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association.

He said: In taking up the reins of office I am—in common with every shipbuilder in Britain—deeply concerned about the effects which the current uncertainty is having on our ability to meet the pressing problems which confront us. And again: As an Association we have always said that if and when nationalisation were to become a fact of life we would do our best—in the interests of the industry and the people who rely on it for their livelihood—to make it work. My point tonight is that our ability to keep the industry vigorous is being negated by uncertainty and that the shipbuilders of Britain are in need of a positive policy which would encourage cooperation in this country among shipbuilders, shipowners, trade unions and Government in their mutual interest. My Lords, the Government are completely convinced that by far the most effective way of bringing that policy quickly into action is to set up British Shipbuilders without further delay. The shipbuilding industry has for too long been a subject of intense political interest. It has now become almost a political football between this House and another place. But it is time to look at the stark realities which lie behind all this. The responsibility for further delaying the Bill rests, as I say, squarely with noble Lords opposite—that is all, as I have said, that this House now has the power to do. If the consequences of delay will be, as I firmly believe, to place in jeopardy the welfare of very many families and whole communities depending on shipbuilding, this House must take care to discharge this responsibility with full regard to the consequences. I have no doubt that the many thousands of people who are likely to lose their livelihoods and the opportunity to employ their productive skills if this Bill is delayed will lay the blame fairly on noble Lords opposite for insisting on their disagreement with legislation proposed by an elected Government and endorsed by the House of Commons. My Lords, the blame will lie on this House, and this House alone.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on the said Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 4—(Lord Melchett.)

11.30 a.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, has confirmed that the Government have not accepted your Lordships' Amendments, which would drop the ship repairing industry from the Bill but would leave the rest of the Bill intact. The additional Amendments which the Government have offered, and which have come to us from another place, simply provide a separate vesting date for the ship repairing industry, nothing more or less. Those additional Amendments numbered 10 to 19 would contribute only a cosmetic gloss because the time proposed for vesting, between three and six months, is about what is expected in timing in any case. So the effect of the Commons Message is therefore that the Government reject this House's Amendments and have produced others which make no material change.

This House has not insisted on any Amendments other than those to remove the ship repairing industry. The Amendments would leave the rest of the Bill fully operative and comprehensive. The nationalisation of shipbuilding, aircraft and marine engine manufacture is not affected by these Amendments, much as we on these Benches dislike those proposals for nationalisation of these three industries. The Government could have obtained the Bill last week with the nationalisation of those industries included in it. The Cabinet can still today obtain Royal Assent for it, leaving open the option to introduce a short Bill on ship repairing at the beginning of the next Session if they persist with the n[...]tion of nationalising that industry. Whatever may be said about other industries, the question of nationalising ship repairing is not an urgent one. But the Government seem to have decided that it must be all or nothing, and that decision presumably was taken by the Cabinet last Thursday morning.

There appear to be three possible explanations. The first is that Ministers have taken leave of their senses. Another is that after what happened to the Docks Bill and at the recent by-elections, the Cabinet feel that any apparent concession would give the impression that the rot had set in even more than it has. There is a third explanation, a deplorable one if it is right. It is that the Government are determined to blame your Lordships for any reverses or distress which the shipbuilding and aircraft industries might appear to suffer during 1977, even though this Bill can be passed today with everything concerning those industries in it. There have been some signs that this could be the Government's ploy, and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, added to them today.

On Tuesday, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, stated that further delay would be catastrophic for the industries. That was repeated by the Secretary of State for Industry, Mr. Varley, in the debate in another place on Thursday. In that debate, the Minister of State, Mr. Kaufman, spoke of the aircraft industry missing out on the next round of civil aircraft collaboration with other countries if the vesting date had not been reached by then. Many will argue that he is wrong. But where merchant shipbuilding is concerned, there is a world crisis because of the shortage of orders and overcapacity. The Governments of all shipbuilding countries have been helping their industries financially and in other ways. The Government may be using the words "catastrophic" and "disastrous" without much thought, except to try to attach the blame to this House. But if the Government are correct, if they believe what they are saying, then their failure to go ahead with the Bill, minus ship repairing, is, by their own words, an unprincipled act of cynicism.

No one can seriously contend that the question of nationalising the ship repairing industry is urgent, or that delay would matter much there. Here then are the Government delaying all the rest of the Bill, where they say that delay would cause disastrous consequences. One or two Ministers have in speeches pretended in public that this House is delaying the whole Bill. The noble Lord said that again today, and I refute that categorically. If the Government are planning to lay the blame for any ills allegedly caused by delay to this Bill at the door of this House, that would be as shabby and squalid a device as ever resorted to in British politics.

I am sure that no noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite would acquiesce in such a course of action. I find it difficult to believe that Ministers in the Commons would stoop to what, from their own statements, would be destructive folly, deliberately to cause delay which they consider would be catastrophic for the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, industries for which this Bill can be passed today. But the Government have not themselves moved with any marked celerity in decisions that have to be taken by them to accompany the Bill. For example, there is still no decision yet, even today, in what part of the country the headquarters of the British Shipbuilders' Corporation is to be. The noble Lord was speaking just now about the urgent need to get British Shipbuilders going. But they have not yet decided on where the headquarters should be. On the Second Reading at the end of September the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said that he hoped it would be decided while the Bill was before this House. It is well known that there is competition between several development areas for the headquarters of the proposed Corporation. The selection of one area will disappoint the others. It would help to remove the suspicions of cynicism if the Government could tell us today the decision, if it has been taken; otherwise. it will look as if the Government are withholding an unpopular decision because delay would make it unnecessary.

The fact is clear: ship repairing is a most unsuitable industry for nationalisation. The reasons have been given more than once during the passage of the Bill. Anyone with any knowledge of the industry knows this. Most Ministers must by now know it. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, knows it, and has told Ministers in no uncertain terms. I suspect that he knows more about the ship repairing industry from his days in Clydeside than the whole of the Cabinet put together. Every informed observer knows it, as the Press has shown. The team from the IMF knows it. Our ship repairing competitors in Europe know it, and they would be content if the industry were to be nationalised.

Ship repairing is a service industry which has to take many decisions and actions, at short notice and in different places. Its units have direct and special links with the customers, the world's shipping industries. Both the British ship repairing industry and the British shipping industry believe that their interests would be damaged by the nationalisation of repairing.

I have not at any stage during the Bill suggested that ship repairing was not mentioned in the proposals for public ownership in the Labour Party Manifestos. What I have pointed out is that it has only been there in attendance upon shipbuilding, not on its own account. The Government would not suffer from any serious accusation of bad faith if, 2½ years later, shipbuilding were nationalised but not ship repairing. In any case, they could propose ship repairing again on its own merits next Session. That would indeed be a more realistic test of the merits of their case, which have so far been invisible. This House has not exceeded its powers which are limited. It has been working within the Act passed in the late 1940s when a Labour Government were in office.

Furthermore, these Amendments have been strongly supported by the Liberal Peers and a large number of Cross-Bench Peers. To speak as if only Conservative Peers have been involved, as some Ministers have in recent days, is thoroughly misleading. We are aware also that there is little enthusiasm from the Benches behind the Government for the nationalisation of shiprepairing. Far from being a conflict with the inclinations of the people, it is clear from every available opinion poll that the sense of this House's Amendments is supported by the large majority of the electorate. The Government are being given the opportunity of second thoughts. I hope that your Lordships will support my noble friends in opposing the Government's Motion and insisting upon our Amendments.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has put the case for the ship repairers very well and in great detail. I shall speak only very briefly and on one or two generalities. Today we are faced in your Lordships' Chamber with two alternatives: to climb down and give way to the Left Wing or to stand form and to do our constitutional duty. If we climb down, we are climbing down to the will of a minority Government elected by about 25 per cent. of the electorate—a Government which stagger, punch drunk, from one disaster to another, a Government, alas! controlled by their Left Wing whose ideological and nonsensical policies are totally against the wishes of the majority of people of Great Britain. We have only to listen to the voices of these extremists, who want not only to abolish the House of Lords, but to do away with a Second Chamber as well. By this, their way and purpose for governing Great Britain might be made possible; but as long as we stand firm, my Lords, our country, our freedom and our democracy will stand.

Most noble Lords will, I know, not shrink from their responsibilities for, if they do, this Chamber, which has for so long over the ages fought for the freedom and liberty of the individual citizen, might just as well not exist. Reformed in some way, we ought to be; but let us not forget the whole of Parliament in this reformation. Before the turnult of "Abolish the Lords!" has died down, let the moderate and sane democratic Members of all Parties in another place take a close look at themselves, for they must be blind or bent on self-destruction if they do not realise that it is as certain as the sun will rise that if we do not have some form of electoral reform in our ancient country we shall, in the not too distant future, become just another Iron Curtain satellite like those other unhappy countries who once—

Several noble Lords



So, my Lords, I wholeheartedly support the idea of not yielding to the blustering outbursts from another place. If I should have a regret, it is that as well as removing the ship repairers from this Bill we cannot also remove the aerospace companies as well. This is a bad, malevolent and harmful Bill and, if it should ever be finally passed, future generations will live to regret it bitterly.

11.44 a.m.


My Lords, if the speech we have just heard from the Liberal Benches was to reflect the view of your Lordships' House, whichever way it decides to vote, then I think a very grave situation confronts us; because if that were so it would be a confrontation between the two Houses not on the merits of the legislation under consideration but representing a direct political attack on the Government of the day and the House of Commons. But I suspect that is not the view and that is not the approach of most noble Lords in the Chamber this morning. I had not intended to speak in this part of the debate. I thought, as one who had been leader of your Lordships' House and had so recently resigned, that it would perhaps be best to remain silent, but the two grave issues which confront the House are such that I thought I ought to participate, because one of them is an issue that I, with other noble Lords from all sides of the House who have had responsibility for leadership, have sought to avoid: that is, confrontation and conflict between the two Chambers.

There are two issues, both very grave. There is the shipbuilding industry in particular; there are thousands of jobs at stake and companies which could collapse in a matter of weeks or months, with consequent unemployment and other economic consequences. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said it would be quite easy for the Government to say: "All right, we will take the Bill as it stands. We will accept the view of the House of Lords. We will merely nationalise the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding industry." But what the noble Lord is asking the Government to do is to accept the view of an unelected Chamber as against the view of an elected Chamber. My Lords, I can only say to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that that is not a position I would ever take; nor do I believe it is one the noble Lord himself would take if he were sitting on this side of the House.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord just one point: is he really saying that this House has no right to exercise the rights which were conferred upon it by the Parliament Act back in 1948?


My Lords, I have only just got to my feet and I will face that issue when It comes. The issue really is conflict between the two Houses. Of course, this House has a constitutional position. It has power; we have been reminded on a number of occasions, and again this morning, that it has the power of delay, which was given to the House through a revision of legislation by a Labour Government. I believe that power of delay is right and proper. Indeed, I rather disagreed with the proposed reforms in 1969 which would have reduced the period of delay.

I believe it is right that a Second Chamber should have the power of delay, but I happen to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his predecessor, Lord Salisbury, that these powers are vested in the House of Lords, the second Chamber, for issues of very great principle—and I repeat, for issues of very great principle. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has on a number of occasions put very clearly the position of himself and his own Party. I have not got the exact words to hand, but he will correct me if I am wrong. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has always taken the position that your Lordships' House should exercise that power of delay only on issues of great principle. So the question that is before the House and which divides the Commons and the Lords today is an issue of very great principle.

I cannot help but reflect on events that happened about this time last year. I was involved in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill. I recognised that there was a genuine concern. I recognised, too, that there was an issue of principle—the question of the freedom of the Press. Your Lordships' House took a very strong view, and the House will know that I was not only conciliatory but went out of my way to see whether it was possible to meet the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and those who supported him. This House declined to pass the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill, but it is interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when opposing it on the last stage, said that if the House of Commons were to pass the Bill in the next Session then he would be content and would raise no further opposition to it. It is interesting to note that that Act has been on the Statute Book for some months, and, whatever may have been the great principles, there has been little change, if any, to the freedom of the Press, fears about which were then expressed with very great passion. But is this an issue of principle?

If there were an issue of principle, surely it would have been on the entire nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry. What we are discussing today is not an issue of principle; it is a conflict of opinion about what fragment should be nationalised with the others. If this were a great issue of principle, I would not disagree with noble Lords going into the Division Lobby and opposing the will of another place, but it is not. It is a matter of detail, and it has been built up in such a way that this House, with its Conservative majority—and do not let us burke the issue—stands shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in the House of Commons to oppose the intentions of a Labour Government. There can be no other construction put upon the action of those noble Lords who may insist, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said today, upon their Amendments to the Bill.

I ask the House to consider what will be the consequences, because the House knows that this Bill will become an Act of Parliament as the Government intend and wish. Your Lordships have made your views clear, and you have made the House of Commons consider it again and again. But what will be the consequences? I believe that they will be profound. I believe that the relationship between these two Houses will be shattered, perhaps for all time. I have no doubt at all that one day they will bring about a reform of your Lordships' House, and none of us would wish to see the way in which it is brought about. I now share with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, a desire for an early reform of your Lordships' House, but a reform of this place as a consequence of the act that is contemplated today would be a reform of the very worst order.

I want to make one other point. We have gone through our legislative programmes, whether Labour or Conservative, with a great deal of understanding. We have had our First Readings, our Second Readings and our Third. Readings, whether there has been a Labour or a Conservative Government, with the knowledge that those stages would be proceeded with without difficulty. Neither Party has ever felt it necessary to keep a quorum. As the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, will know, on one occasion he failed on a Bill and the Liberal Party wanted to defeat the Tory Government at that time. But the noble Earl will remember that it was the Labour Opposition which made it very clear to the Liberal Party that we were not prepared to see that kind of relationship being built up, where legislation introduced by a Conservative Government could be defeated on Second Reading.

What would happen if the majority of this House were to use its power and its strength in overcoming this legislation? A new situation would arise, apart from the bigger one. It would mean that in future no Leader, no Chief Whip, could ever be sure of getting legislation through because there would be a new atmosphere, and I certainly would not wish to be party to it. I can well see that if one day Labour were back in Opposition, the Chief Whip and the Leader of the day would have very great difficulty in persuading their colleagues not to vote or to have wrecking Divisions at any stage of a Bill That would mean that the Conservative Party always had to keep a large number of Peers here at any stage of the Bi[...]l, merely to ensure its position. That would be part of the change in all our relationships in this House. I believe that it would spoil all the good that we have been able to do in the past. I hope that w can see reform, and that we can see it in the right atmosphere, and not, as I suspect it will be, in a spirit of vindictiveness towards this House, because I passionately believe in the need for a second Chamber, but one which works not in conflict with but in support of another place.

11.56 a.m.


My Lords, I rise to make a plea to the Leader of the House, but before I do so I want to make two points to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. First, we are constantly told when there is any kind of conflict between the two Houses that we are dealing with a situation in which we are an unelected House, and down the corridor is an elected House. I am not going to bother about whether it was 28 per cent. of the electorate, or whatever it was. But this situation was known in 1948 and 1949, when the noble Lord, Lord Peart, and I passed the Parliament Act in another place. We knew that this was an unelected Chamber and there were no proposals to make it anything else. Yet we were given this power, so do not let us hear too much about the exercise of this power which was legitimately given. It is significant that when we are in conflict on a matter of principle we are told "This is a time when you should never use your power, not on a matter of principle."But when we are in conflict on a matter of detail we are also told "This is not the time when you should ever use it."


My Lords, the noble Lord refers to the changes that have taken place since the 1948 Act up to the present day. He will accept that the 1948 Act changed the delaying power of the Chamber from two years to one year. It was a try-out to see whether, under the hereditary principle, noble Lords here would agree with that reform and they have done so up till now. But they have now diverted away from that principle which has operated the whole time; hence the need for another change.


My Lords, I was one of the architects—if that is the right word—of the proposed change in 1969, which was defeated b y Mr. Michael Foot and Mr. Enoch Powell in an unholy alliance, and in that reform we reduced the delay to six months in the event of conflict between the two Houses. That is what was to be done, and that is what we could have done in regard to this Bill. But my real purpose in intervening at this point is to make a plea to the Leader of the House. I really do not believe that the Government's decision is a sensible one. I do not like any more nationalisation in the present economic climate, and I think it is wrong. But there are five different industries in this measure, and four of them have been accepted for nationalisation. There is no dispute on aircraft, on merchant shipbuilding, on naval shipbuilding or on marine diesel engines. I ask the noble Lord: is it sensible to stick only on this question of ship repairing? If the Government accept the exclusion of ship repairing, they will have four-fifths of what they want and I do not think that that is a bad deal. In our view, ship repairing is the one industry which is not a proper candidate for nationalisation—certainly not at the present time.

If ship repairing is excluded, as I hope the Government will agree even at this late stage, there is nothing to prevent any company which wants to be nationalised, or which wants one of its associated ship repairing companies to be nationalised, from doing a separate commercial deal tomorrow. That is what is done in business all the time. There is nothing to prevent the Government today from proceeding immediately with Royal Assent to the nationalisation of the other four industries, which, as I say, we deplore. That is why I find the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, to be illogical and specious, because if the Government choose to use the Parliament Act the ensuing delay—and there will be delay, because they will have to reintroduce the Bill—will be their responsibility and not ours. Any uncertainty and any unemployment which arises from this delay will be on account of the Government, not the Opposition.

The Government say that they are determined to carry out their duty. Their duty to whom? I believe that they have a duty to think again. They still have time today not to take up a petty minded attitude against this House but to get this Bill, with the four industries in it, and exclude ship repairing. I hope very much that even at this stage the noble Lord the Leader of the House will take it back to the Cabinet. It is a wrong decision, for the sake of one-fifth of the Bill, to cause delay for another six months or so. That delay is properly laid on the shoulders of that side of the House.

12.1 p.m.


My Lords, the proposition that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has made is not so absurd as at first sight it appears. It seems to have been overlooked in the course of our debates on this subject that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government, nor is it their intention now, to nationalise every ship repairing company. Many of these companies are to be left out of the Bill. For what reason are they to be left out of the Bill? Because it is not worth while including them. Therefore if some of the ship repairing companies wish to be included in the nationalisation scheme and make application, it is possible, even now, for the Government to accept it. That would avoid anything in the nature of a confrontation and everybody would be satisfied. It is up to the Government.

I am less concerned about that aspect, although I would welcome a settlement avoiding confrontation, than I am about some of the speeches to which I have had to listen not only this morning but on previous occasions. I listened with respect to a very vigorous speech made by my noble friend Lord Shepherd which contained an appeal to the Members of your Lordships' House and the Opposition Benches. He spoke as though this confrontation—he used the term; I have not used it myself—would shatter the relationship between the two Houses and would be a complete disaster. But that is precisely what some members of Her Majesty's Cabinet are demanding.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn—I am sorry to mention names but I read them in the newspapers—is one, and even Mr. Michael Foot, the Leader of the House in another place, in his speech the other day described your Lordships' House as decrepit. I presume that includes me! I do not want to be at all difficult, awkward, belligerent, bellicose or many of the other adjectives that I could use, but I think that I could engage in a confrontation with Mr. Michael Foot, not intellectually but physically, which would not present much difficulty, even before breakfast. This is the kind of criticism we have had to put up with for some time. Indeed, that is the language I have read in Hansard's report of the proceedings in another place and in the newspapers. This, and what has been said of us in some of the letters I have received—some in admiration, although very few, and several of another character—describing us as traitors and disloyal is enough to make me stand firm. When the animal is bitten he likes to bite back. I was taught that in the Labour Party long before my noble friend Lord Shepherd was born, and even before his father was born—a man for whom I had great admiration and who was national agent for the Labour Party. I have been trained in this business. I believe in giving knocks and I am ready to take them, whatever anybody says. It is not a personal matter.

I agree that if one is a member of a political Party one is expected to be loyal to that Party, but excessive loyalty can be dangerous. My noble friend Lord Melchett in that vigorous speech, that stern challenge to the other Side which, in the circumstances, was inevitable and natural, referred to "commitments". Commitments where? Are they contained in the Manifesto of 1974? I shared in the Election campaign at the request of several constituency parties. Nobody ever mentioned ship repairing. I never had a question upon it. I go so far as to challenge my colleagues on these Benches who took part in that campaign to say how many questions were levelled at them about ship repairing. I would bet that ship repairing was never mentioned. Ship repairing is minor in comparison with the nationalisation of shipbuilding itself, a quite different subject.

In the course of one of our debates and in reply to my noble friend Lord Lee of Newton I referred to what happened in the Labour Cabinet of 1945 to 1951 when we decided to embark upon steel nationalisation. The question then arose of how far we were prepared to go: with the nationalisation of steel or whether we should include subsidiaries like Guest, Keen and Nettlefold, the nuts and bolts. It was regarded as a frivolous suggestion. Of course they were not to be included.

This is precisely the situation with which we are now confronted. Do not forget what the Government have gained; namely, the nationalisation of shipbuilding which is a fundamental issue. How it is going to work out is another matter. More than once I have ventured to remark that this is a highly speculative undertaking. In his speech about ship repairing, my noble friend Lord Melchett said that there was a very bleak outlook for ship repairing. What are we doing? Are we looking about for more lame ducks? Is that what we are after? Have we not other problems on our plates? Of course we have.

What are we expected to do about it? The decision does not rest with me; it rests with the Opposition. Is their attitude constitutional? What is the answer to that question? The answer has been given by my noble friend Lord Shepherd. Of course, it is constitutional. The Opposition have the right to delay. Is it acceptable that they have the right to delay? The situation, the constitutional principle, is that they have the right to delay and that is all they are doing. The Government have decided, in any event, that they are going to go ahead with the Bill, not immediately but later on, and that they will use the Parliamentary procedure, the relationship between the two Parties and the constitutional situation is not affected, in order to reintroduce the ship repairing element and then defeat the House of Lords. So it is just delay.

Who is going to suffer as a result? Not the shipbuilding industry because it will take some considerable time before they can get down to the business. It will not affect the ship repairing industry because they will carry on as usual. Some will falter by the wayside, some will carry on; some will be prosperous and some will go bankrupt. But that is in the ordinary course of events. So the Government will get all they want; delay—and that is all your Lordships' House is doing. Your Lordships are merely delaying something they dislike. I have no desire to enter into a conflict with Her Majesty's Government; nor do I wish to assist anybody to destroy the Labour Party. They seem to be able to do the job themselves. Your Lordships are laughing, but I do not regard it as a laughing matter; it is very serious. In our Parliamentary democracy we must have a strong Government and a strong Opposition, otherwise democracy will vanish from the scene, and I do not want to see that happen.

What is one to do in this situation? It is for the noble Lord the Leader of the House to say whether the Government will accept the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, or whether they will stick to their own decision or whether noble Lords will vote against the Government. Even if the whole of your Lordships' House decides to oppose the Government will not suffer—except to affect their amour proper. That is the trouble. They cannot stand defeat—though they can stand a defeat from the Left Wing, they cannot stand a defeat from noble Lords. Ho, none of that! In the circumstances, it is for the Opposition to decide but I do not believe that the relationship between the two Houses will be shattered. I shall tell your Lordships why. I read in the newspapers over the week-end that one Member of the Cabinet said, "We are going to abolish that abominable Assembly, the House of Lords. We are going to get rid of it and have no more nonsense"—to shouts of applause from his audience of 25. Then he said it would take five to ten years to do it. That will last my time, anyhow. What a lot of nonsense it all is!

In a minor matter of this kind, the question of whether or not we should take over a small ship repairing industry that in any case has a bleak outlook, are we going to have this intransigence either on one side or the other? The Government can give way without any loss of amour proper; without any loss of dignity. There is no reason for that. Even if they are attacked by the Left Wing that will not matter; they will have to deal with them sooner or later anyhow. Certainly before the next Election—or else. There are no doubts about that. So in the circumstances obviously the right course of action is to stand firm. Once you make a stand, whatever the consequences stand firm. What can happen as a result? So far as I am concerned, what can happen? They could decide to expel me but I do not think they will do that. What can they do? They will go on attacking the House of Lords, threatening to abolish it. I do not think we should worry ourselves unduly about it.

I think we should say to Mr. Callaghan and company, "Look here, you are getting a great deal out of this. You are getting the nationalisation of shipbuilding, and that is something. Make the best of it. Don't bother about this subsidiary, this minor element in the situation. Take it and if you want to proceed again after some delay and carry ship repairing through both Houses of Parliament you will have the opportunity. There is no need for confrontation; there is no need to shatter the constitutional element in our Parliamentary democracy." I say again: what we ought to do is to stand firm. It is probably the kind of shock that the country needs. I really believe that. It needs some kind of catalyst thrown into the works in order to convince the people of this country that sometimes the Government must be corrected. There is no harm in correcting the Government. I do not think it will do much harm and it might do a great deal of good.

12.16 p.m.

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has said so well some of the things I intended to say that I shall be extremely brief but it would be rather cowardly if I said nothing at all, as someone who led the House for three years and initiated some of the moves on which the Party talks so nearly reached agreement. There seems to be some dispute as to whether there is or is not a crisis or confrontation, but in the Daily Telegraph today, which I am sure is impeccably Conservative, we find this main heading: "Lords fight Labour to finish". So when the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—and whatever else we might say about him, we cannot call him decrepit after his efforts this morning—says "We ought to stand firm" apparently he means that the Tory Peers ought to stand firm against the Labour Party.


My Lords, it is not only the Tory Peers.

The Earl of LONGFORD

Well, my Lords, the Tory Peers with some assistance from people like the noble Lord sitting near me. Everyone knows that without the Tory Peers this would not have happened. If they get some allies that is their affair, but it was the Tory Peers who reached the decision in this matter and it is a decision which is very unlike the kind of decision that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has been reaching in past years. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, indicated, some of us prefer the statesmanlike Lord Carrington of yesterday to the Lord Carrington of today; and when there is all this talk about pressure on our own Party—one thinks of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—we know only what we read in the papers, and we read that Lord Carrington has been pressed by Mrs. Thatcher to take these steps. That is what we read, and we are entitled to read the newspapers as much as anybody else. What the noble Lord is doing is quite out of character but the decision has been taken, the challenge has been presented, as the Daily Telegraph points out, and it is a challenge which no self-respecting Government, whether it was Labour or whatever it was, could possibly fail to pick up.


My Lords, if I may intervene for a moment on the point just made by the noble Earl, I should like to ask him whether he has examined the voting list wher this issue was last raised?

The Earl of LONGFORD

No, my Lords, I only want to speak for three or four minutes and I do not think it would help to give way to a series of questions. I have no emotional bias in favour of the House of Commons. I never made my way there, through the grace of God and the obstruction of the honourable Member for Oxford City, now the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. I am an unrepentant House of Lords man. I greatly value the work that we have all tried to do here in our different ways over the last 30 years, but that work has been based on the assumption that in the last resort, whatever the view of the majority, this House would give way to the elected Chamber. That has been a fundamental assumption, otherwise the achievement of tins House would not have been possible during these last 30 years.

When we come to the question of what is constitutional, of course constitutional "is an ambiguous word Constitutionally the House of Lords could do this and could make use of the delaying power on every Bill that came up here. It is a question of what is prudent. I am only expressing my conviction that the House of Lords now is cutting its own throat and is in fact embarking on a course which must seem disastrous and utter folly to many of us who love this House quite as much as any noble Lord opposite, and who believe that this House of Lords, if it is not sabotaged in this way, has a tremendous service to perform for the nation.

12.20 p.m.


My Lords, I do not know whether I should be interpreting the wish of most of your Lordships in suggesting that perhaps we might bring this towards an end, because we have had a discussion on these matters over a considerable time and, indeed, your Lordships will no doubt observe the haste with which Her Majesty's Government are trying to get this legislation through by looking round the House—with noble Lords on the Labour Benches seeking to look like ambassadors, the Official Reporters sitting on the Cross-Benches and things of this kind; so I think the sooner we get on, the better.

My Lords, I do not intend to intervene at this late stage on the merits or otherwise of the exclusion of ship repairing. My noble friends and, indeed, all noble Lords who have supported this Amendment, to my mind have made an irrefutable case against the inclusion of ship repairing in these nationalisation measures. To my mind, the Government have made no industrial case for it, and we remain as unconvinced of the rightness of their case as we did at the outset.

I rise just to say two things very briefly, first on the consequences if your Lordships should insist on your Amendments, and, secondly, about the right of this House to use the power they have to delay these measures. It has been said by noble Lords opposite, was said by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, earlier this morning, and it has been said in another place, that to insist upon our Amendments would lead not only to uncertainty in the industries concerned, but also possibly to bankruptcies and unemployment. I think that nothing in that accusation could be further from the truth, or if I may say so—and I use the mildest terms I can think of—nothing could be a less straightforward argument. Should the Government, even at this last moment, accept our proposal they can, if they so wish, end all uncertainty. They can nationalise the shipbuilding industry; they can nationalise the aircraft industry, and if they want to, they can introduce a Bill next Session, which starts the day after tomorrow, to nationalise ship repairing. The shipbuilders would be nationalised; there would be no uncertainty. The aircraft industry would be nationalised; there would be no uncertainty. The ship repairers would not be nationalised; but since they do not want to be and will fight to the last to prevent it, they would still have a chance of avoiding such a fate. Everything in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, pointed to the fact that the Government want to do that, and should do it, to avoid the consequences that they see. I have an idea that when the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, comes to read later on the speech that he made this morning, he will not think it is one of his better efforts.

My Lords, if, however, the Government are not prepared to accept our proposals, then during the time that it takes to get their Bill through the House of Commons next Session, they can use the powers they have under the Industry Act in exactly the same way that they have used those powers in other circumstances to help other industries. In this present situation, if there is any uncertainty, it is uncertainty created by the Government, by their own choice; and to pretend otherwise is to stretch too far the credulity of your Lordships and of anybody else.

I heard Mr. Foot speaking on the radio yesterday morning. He said that if the House of Lords decided to insist upon their Amendments, it would be an act of the gravest irresponsibility. In my judgment, the grave irresponsibility lies in a minority Government introducing a measure of this kind at this moment, a measure which will involve the expenditure of£1,000 million at a time of grave economic crisis for no national advantage; at a time when we are seeking a loan from the IMF, at a time when Government expenditure and borrowing are clearly far too high, and at a time when it is patently obvious that the British people want no more nationalisation. To talk of irresponsibility of this House in that context is ludicrous.

As for the right of the House to use their powers, there can equally be no question. There is no question of confrontation. The Parliament Act takes care of that. I remember the debates in 1948 to 1949 when the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and the noble Lord the Leader of the House were in another place. I was in this House, and remember those debates very clearly. I remember the Labour Party and the Labour Government in this House and in another place accepting the fact that the second Chamber must have some power, otherwise its usefulness would be marginal. I have two quotations which are quite interesting, one from Mr. Morrison, as he then was, who subsequently became the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, who lead noble Lords in the Labour Party in opposing the Second Reading of the Greater London Bill. On the Second Reading of the Parliament Bill in 1947 he said: If the position were that the Lords sent their Amendments to the Commons but the Commons could indifferently ignore them and pass the Bill into law without further ado, then the Lords would be entitled to say that there was no guarantee that any serious consideration would be given to their Amendments and that we might as well resort to single-Chamber government. The present Bill"— the Bill under which your Lordships are now operating, which gives a delay of one year— adequately safeguards the reasonable rights of the House of Lords". My Lords, a predecessor of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, Lor d Jowitt, when the Bill was passing through this House, said: I believe the arrangement in this Bill is one which enables the Second Chamber to perform its functions and give sufficient time"— that is, one year— to enable the opinion of the electors to be ascertained and to enable the electors to be instructed in what is taking place. At that time, your Lordships had no Life Peerages, no women as Members, and very few Members of the Party opposite. The Labour Government of that day decided that that totally unreformed House would have power to delay for one year measures coming up from another place.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is quite right; that power has been used very sparingly. But it is in exactly such a situation as we now find ourselves, that it was envisaged that the House would act when, in a period to put it at its lowest, there is uncertainty as to the reaction of the public to what the Government are proposing. The argument then, as now, was that there should be a brief period of delay, during which time the Government could reflect on what has happened, and the people could express themselves on the merits. So far from your Lordships acting unconstitutionally, we should, and I hope we shall, be acting precisely in accordance not only with the Parliament Act, but with the thinking of that Labour Government which led to it.

Many of your Lordships will remember the discussions we had nearly ten years ago on the reform of this House. In the end, the Government of the day (again a Labour Government) agreed to a proposal for the reform of this House. Your Lordships overwhelmingly voted in favour. As we have said often, but not too often, it was thwarted by an Opposition combining the talents of Mr. Foot and Mr Enoch Powell. Let me remind your Lordships of the essential elements of that reform.

The House, which was to be nominated, was to be composed in such a way that the Government Party had a small majority over all the other political Parties, but there was to be quite a substantial element of Cross-Bench independent Peers, whose approval of Government legislation would be necessary for the Government, in face of the Opposition of all the other Parties, to pass their Bills. In other words—and I hope the noble Lord will listen to this, because it is quite important—the Opposition plus the Cross-Ber[...]ch Peers outnumbered the Government Peers. This was an idea, a proposal, accepted by the Labour Government of the day and in point of fact negotiated by Mr. Callaghan, the Prime Minister, as one of those who were doing the negotiations; and the noble Lord, Lord Peart, was not unconcerned with it.

What has happened on this Amendment? The Conservative Party is wholly against the Government, the Liberal Party is wholly against the Government, almost all the Cross-Bench Peers have voted against the Government What would have happened if the House had been reformed? All the Opposition Parties are opposed to the Government, the independent Peers are opposed to the Government, and under the proposals of 1968 this Amendment would have suffered exactly the same fate as it suffered in this unreformed House.

The truth of the matter is that the Government are in a minority on this issue but are determined to go their own way, and in order to go their own way they will accuse your Lordships of unconstitutional behaviour, of he hereditary intransigence and all the rest of it, and, of course, they will threaten your Lordships with abolition, extinction and hellfire. In my judgment there is no point in having a Second Chamber which gives way to blackmail and to threats in order to save its own existence, for what use is it if it dare not use the powers it has in order to reserve them for a future occasion when it would not dare to use them either? I hope your Lordships will disregard these threats and do what you think is right.

12.32 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is the general wish of the House that we should now conclude the debate. Much has been said on both sides. I want to make a short speech; indeed I want to follow the precedent of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, although I think I gleaned part of his speech from the Press either at the weekend or two or three days ago. No argument that I put forward will ever convince him to change his point of view, and I do not think any arguments today will change the views of noble Lords who are here on both sides. So I do not want to argue the details of the Bill; I think this has been done very fully on many occasions by my noble friend Lord Melchett, and my other noble friends. I doubt whether there is anything new to say on the subject of aircraft, shipbuilding or ship repairing that has not been said many times over in recent weeks.

Nor do I have anything to say about this House as a revising Chamber. I believe that its role basically is that. I believe in a reformed House of Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Carringtpn, is quite right; I was then Leader of the House, having succeeded the late Richard Crossman, and I took part in discussions with their noble Lordships here. I was sorry that that Bill was frustrated, even though there may have been defects in it—if I were to indulge in the hypothetics of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. All I am saying is that I am reasonable and sensible on this matter, and I have nothing to say about this House as a revising Chamber. We have also covered that subject recently.

I am unable to accept that there is any question of revision before the House at the moment. The proposal to leave out one of the main parts of the Bill is not revision. I know my noble friend Lord Shinwell seems to think that ship repairing is not of such consequence as the national- isation of the aircraft industry, to give one example. I believe it is an integral part of our policy, the policy of the Government. That is what I believe in.


My Lords—


My Lords, the noble Lord has made his contribution. I said I wished to be brief. I did not interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I want to make my point. I will not convert the noble Lord. He knows it. Let me make my speech. Nor do I want to use threats about the House. I do not accept the views of those who make threats; I do not like people who threaten. First, I am certain that all those who are arguing that we should disagree with the Commons recognise the seriousness of what we are doing. I know one can argue that the Government are a minority, but so was the Government of the Conervatives after the 1951 Election. It was a minority Government; it had fewer votes than the Labour Opposition polled in that Election.

Secondly, I think we have reached the present position, at least in part, because there has been too much emotion involved at the end of a long Session, and so much concentrated lobbying, that the House are reluctant to change their mind about the stand they have taken. I would prefer to do away with some of the emotion and look forward to the future in a calm and rational way. I agree that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has tried to be rational, sensible and constructive, unlike what I thought was the dreadful speech of the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley. I think he will regret it when he reads it. So I want to avoid this emotion. I would prefer to do away with the emotion and look forward to the future in a calm and rational way. After all, when seen in the cool light of day—and it is really cool light at this unexpected time on a Monday morning—the issue is a narrow one. In the event of a fundamental disagreement between the two Houses, whose will really ought to prevail? This is what we have been arguing about today. Should it be the Commons or the Lords?

To begin with, I accept that the Parliament Act has laid down the basic rules. If the Commons pass a Bill in two successive Sessions, then the Bill will be enacted, whatever we do in this House. The Parliament Acts recognise that this House should be able to suggest to another place that they think again, and there may even be circumstances when the electorate might want the chance to express an opinion on a really exceptional disagreement. I accept that. But I must also point out that the Commons have already thought again. In addition to the many hours spent on the Bill before it came to this House, they have now thought again not once, but twice. On each occasion the majority in another place have confirmed their decision that the ship repairing industry should be nationalised together with the aircraft and shipbuilding industries. I do not see the value of asking them to take this decision a fourth time.

Secondly, the people of this country have also expressed their view on this subject. It is all very well for my noble friend Lord Shinwell to say that he had few questions about this during the Election campaign. The people expressed their views; as my noble friend Lord Melchett said, there was a specific promise in the Labour Party's Manifesto, in both February 1974 and October 1974, to nationalise the ship repairing industry. The electorate therefore also had a chance to think again and did not change their minds.

I urge the House to look at the effect of what noble Lords opposite are asking us to do. There is a built-in Conservative majority in this House. I say this as a statement of fact, not in any way as criticism of noble Lords opposite, many of whom, I believe, share my wish that they had no such majority. But the majority is there and it does not change. To cope with this, our Parliamentary system relies on conventions to guide us when the majority in the unelected House is different from the majority in the elected House. My noble friends Lord Shepherd and Lord Longford stressed this eloquently. Among these conventions one of the most important, if not the most important, is the theory of the mandate. As a theory, it is not, I agree, very refined, and there are times when it may be pretty blurred at the edges, but the basic principle is well established all the same. When a Party is brought to power at a General Election, it comes in with a programme set out in its Manifesto. The electorate, intending the consequences of their actions, accept the programme of the Manifesto—at least, so long as their elected representatives in another place vote in favour of the measures included in the programme. The unelected House is bound by this. We can, and should, question the Government, of course, raise points of detail and make considerable improvements to Bills brought before us; but where a Manifesto commitment is clear-cut, as it is in this case, the unelected House should not challenge the principle of the commitment. In 1974 the Labour Party's programme said: We shall also take shipbuilding, ship repairing, and marine engineering, and the aircraft industries into public ownership and control. It did not say that we shall take some of these; it said we shall take each of them. So if the House insists on disagreeing with another place it is contradicting a clear programme, and it is undermining the conventions under which this House operates. Without these conventions, Parliament, as we know it, will not work.

I have not been long here in this House, even though it feels like a lifetime from my point of view, and the eight weeks since my introduction may not be the most typical that have ever been seen. But I believe I have—and I think this sincerely—a true understanding of the way in which this House has worked. I know that, if the conventions on which our Constitution is based are to be broken like this, this House will become unworkable. This convention is, as I have said, one of the most important, and once it is broken I do not see why any of the others should be secure. I am not going to forecast, and I do not forecast, anarchy overnight, but I expect a gradual breakdown of our Parliamentary system as we know it if this House is to pick and choose between those Manifesto pledges which it will accept and those which it will reject. In conclusion, I urge your Lordships to think again and not to insist on your Amendments. I ask this, first, to respect the will of the electorate. I ask it, secondly, in the interests of the House for the reasons I have just given. Thirdly, I ask it in the interest of the industries which we have been discussing. As my noble friend Lord Melchett explained at the beginning of the debate, this is a Bill of crucial importance for the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. I want there to be no misunderstanding about that or about the risks involved in delaying enactment of the Bill any longer. If this Bill fails and damage comes to these industries as a result, it will be noble Lords opposite who will be responsible. It is they who have broken the traditions of our democracy.

Several noble Lords



And it is they who are forcing the industries to wait. I earnestly hope they will not come to this. I still trust that noble Lords opposite will not put the interests of some pressure groups before the interests of nationwide industries. If my trust is misplaced, I still hope the

industries will survive the damage, but I stress that the stakes are very high and that noble Lords opposite will have a lot to answer for in the industries in this country. I ask them therefore to ignore the lobbying to which they have been subjected and to think about the far wider issues at stake. If they do so, they will recognise that the right course would be to accept the decision of another place and not to insist on their Amendments.

12.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 90; Not-Contents, 197.

Allen of Fallowfield, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Pargiter, L,
Ardwick, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Parry, L.
Aylestone, L. Hacking, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Bernstein. L. Hale, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Birk, B. Harris of Greenwich, L. Platt, L.
Blyton, L. Hayter, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L
Bowden, L. Henderson, L. Popplewell, L.
Brimelow, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Rhodes, L.
Brown, L. Jacobson, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Jacques, L. Sainsbury, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kagan, L. Segal, L.
Burntwood, L. Kaldor, L. Serota, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Kennet, L. Shepherd, L.
Caradon, L. Kilmarnock, L. Slater, L.
Champion, L. Kirkhill, L. Snow, L.
Chorley, L. Leatherland, L. Soper, L.
Collison, L. Lee of Asheridge, B. Stedman, B.
Cranbrook, E. Listowel, E. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Cudlipp, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.[Teller.] Stone, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Stow Hill, L.
Darwen, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. Longford, E. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Vaizey, L.
Diamond, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. McCarthy, L. Weidenfeld, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. McCluskey, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. White, B.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Melchett, L. Winterbottom, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Gardiner, L. Northfield, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Oram, L.
Adeane, L. Barrington, V. Byers, L.
Airedale, L. Bathurst, E. Caccia, L.
Aldenham, L. Beaumont of Whitley, L. Camoys, L.
Amherst, E. Belstead, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Berkeley, B. Carr of Hadley, L.
Amory, V. Birdwood, L. Carrington, L.
Ampthill, L. Bolton, L. Cathcart, E.
Amulree, L. Boothby, L. Chelwood, L.
Argyll, D. Bourne, L. Chesham, L.
Ashdown, L. Boyd of Merton, V. Clancarty, E.
Astor, V. Brabazon of Tara, L. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Auckland, L. Bradford, E. Clwyd, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Braye, L. Colville of Culross, V.
Banks, L. Brock, L. Cork and Orrery, E.
Barnby, L. Burnham, L. Cornwallis, L.
Cottesloe, L. Hood, V. Reigate, L.
Crawshaw, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Renwick, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Howe, E. Robbins, L.
Daventry, V. Hunt, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Davidson, V. Hunt of Fawley, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
de Clifford, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Rochdale, V.
De Freyne, L. Ilchester, E. Rochester, L.
De La Warr, E. Inglewood, L. Romney, E.
Denham L. [Teller..] Kemsley, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Deramore, L. Killearn, L. Sackville, L.
Derwent, L. Kilmany, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Digby, L. Kimberley, E. St. Davids, V.
Dudley, B. Kings Norton, L. St. Helens, L.
Dudley, E. Kinnaird, L. St. Just, L.
Duncan-Sandys, L. Lauderdale, E. Salisbury, M.
Ebbisham, L. Leathers, V. Sand ford, L.
Eccles, V. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Sandys, L.
Effingham, E. Long, V. Seear, B.
Ellenborough, L. Loudoun, C. Sempill, Ly.
Elles, B. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sharples, B.
Elliot of Harwood, B. McNair, L. Shinwell, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Malmesbury, E. Shuttleworth, L.
Erskine of Rerrick, L. Margadale, L. Sligo, M.
Exeter, M. Merley, L. Spens, L.
Faithfull, B. Merrivale, L. Strathclyde, L.
Ferrers, E. Mersey, V. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Forbes, L. Molson, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Monck, V. Strathspey, L.
Gainford, L. Monk Bretton, L. Tanlaw, L.
Garner, L. Monson, L. Tenby, V.
Gladwyn, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V. Terrington, L.
Glasgow, E. Mottistone, L. Teviot, L.
Glendevon, L. Moyne, L. Thomas, L.
Glenkinglas, L. Munster, E. Thorneycroft, L.
Gore-Booth, L. Nelson of Stafford, L. Thurlow, L.
Goschen, V. Newall, L. Trefgarne, L.
Gray, L. Norfolk, D. Trevelyan, L.
Greenway, L. Northchurch, B. Tweedsmuir, L.
Gridley, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Vickers, B.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Nunburnholme, L. Vivian, L.
Haig, E. O'Hagan, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Onslow, E. Ward of Witley, V.
Hampden, V. Orr-Ewing, L. Wardington, L.
Hankey, L. Pender, L. Waverley, V.
Hanworth, V. Penrhyn, L. Westbury, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Polwarth, L. Wigoder, L.
Harvey of Prestbury, L. Porritt, L. Willingdon, M.
Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Rankeillour, L. Wolverton, L.
Hawke, L. Rea, L. Young, B.
Hereford, V. Reading, M.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Redesdale, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

A Committee appointed to prepare Reasons for the Lords' insistence; the Committee to meet forthwith.