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Clause 39—(Certain Road Transport Undertakings To Be Acquired By Commission)

Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 23 July 1947

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Lords Amendment: In page 48, line 24, leave out "forty," and insert "eighty."

On a point of Order. Before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport begins I think it would be for the convenient of everyone if it is possible to take this Amendment and the next Amendment to line 27 for discussion together.

There are several Amendments which follow each other here and deal more or less with the same subject. I thought it was agreed that we would have a general discussion on the first Amendment to cover the lot.

Further to that point of Order. I think it would be convenient if we discussed these two together, that is, line 24 to leave out "forty" and insert eighty"; and line 27, to leave out "twenty-five" and insert "fifty." They are a test in regard to long distance haulage. The other Amendment—in page 66, line 8, to leave out "twenty-five" and to insert "fifty"—which looks rather similar actually raises a different point, and might he more conveniently discussed by itself. I think that the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me, and I hope that my suggestion will commend itself to you, Mr. Speaker, and to hon. Members generally.

10.15 p.m.

I understand that the Amendments which it is desired to discuss together are those in page 48, lines 24 27, and 32 that the other Amendment is that in page 66, line 8 referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Am I to understand that we are agreeing to discuss the Amendments in page 48, lines 24 and 27 and that we then go on to the next one in line 29 which deals with the carriage of goods and which does seem to be a different point? It might be very easy to discuss the first two Amendments concerning the words "forty" and "eighty" and "twenty-five" and "fifty," which is a point upon which the whole House would like to be clear, and then to go on to the other point winch does seem to be rather different and to be more suitable for a, separate discussion.

I think that if the hon. Member will listen to the opening argument he may perhaps find the answer to his question.

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

We are confining ourselves on these two Amendments to the definition of long-distance road haulage. According to the Bill as considered in this House and in the Committee, and finally passed by the House, long-distance road haulage was described as road haulage where the haulier did most of his work over distances greater than 40 miles within a radius of 25 miles from his base. The arguments for and against that particular definition were advanced on many occasions in the House and in the Committee, and it was agreed that the figure was an arbitrary one and that there was no scientific figure which one could say was the correct one. Nevertheless we believed that it was right, but the Lords in their Amendment have exactly doubled it.

I suggest that if we accepted the Lords Amendment we would, in fact, be saying that the Commission should have no road haulage organisation at all, because if only those vehicles which came within the definition suggested by the Lords could be taken over, the number of vehicles would he so exceedingly small that it would be quite impossible for the Commission to have the resources with which to carry on long-distance road haulage work and which it is essential for it to have for the integration purposes defined in Clause 3. I say quite definitely, and I think it is generally accepted outside this House in responsible circles, that this is, in fact, a wrecking Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No "]—in so far as if it is carried it will be impossible for the Com mission to do long-distance road haulage effectively, if at all.

I noticed that hon. Members opposite disagreed with me just now when I said that this was a wrecking Amendment. Perhaps I may quote a few lines from a source which I am sure they would not consider biased in our favour—an article in the "Financial Times" of 23rd June in which this matter and other Lords Amendments were considered. On that occasion, the "Financial Times" said:
"The Lords have now, for all practical purposes, deleted long-distance road haulage from the scope of the Bill, and has done much the same for harbours and docks. These deletions —particularly the former—strike at the heart of complete co-ordination, which means that the economies of fusion cannot be secured and the possibility of making both ends meet is remote."
That is a fact. I quote this independent source, which is unbiased, but which clearly indicates what the effect would be if this definition of long distance road haulage were accepted.

Under the provisions of the Bill as they stood when the Bill left the House, we anticipated that there would be approximately 20,000 "A"-licensed vehicles taken over and about 2,500 "B"-licensed vehicles, as well as a number of vehicles taken over with the railway companies. If we are to take over only those vehicles which do long distance work of over 80 miles instead of 40 miles, the number of vehicles which will be taken over by the Commission will be reduced—I cannot say exactly how much because there is no means of saying with any certainty—probably to a third of that amount and it may be to less.

that is a very interesting argument, but are we to understand that the Commissioners are never to have any new vehicles in the future and that they will always use the vehicles taken over?

Nothing of the sort. They have to get going. If the Commission are to start with about 8,000 vehicles, it will not be able to give a long distance road haulage service to the country and there will be all the disadvantages of disintegration. We shall have competition from the road hauliers with the Commission. The Commission will be unable to take those unremunerative services which are so essential. Indeed, the whole purpose of the Bill of getting a properly integrated road and rail service will be frustrated. For those reasons we invite the House to say that the definition put in by the Lords, just doubling the figures which were inserted by this House, is unreasonable, and that we cannot accept it.

I would say further that any definition of long distance road haulage which has been put forward in the past by representatives of road haulage concerns, has been in the neighbourhood of 25 miles, and not of 50. There was one definition put before the Royal Commission which sat in 1930, in which the road haulage industry said they considered that 30 miles was the boundary between the long distance and the short distance road haulage. On another occasion, as I have already cited to the House on the Third Reading, many leaders of the roar haulage industry considered for another purpose that 20 miles was correct.

After careful consideration we are convinced that 25 miles is the correct radius, and that the journey of 40 miles is the correct criterion to judge whether a haulage activity is long distance or short distance. Because we believe our figure is correct; and because we are convinced that if the Commission takes over only those concerns which do long distance haulage on the basis of 80 miles that it will have so few vehicles as not to be able to give a proper service to industry; and because we feel that this is a wrecking Amendment, we ask the House to disagree with the Lords in their Amendment.

It is not without interest that this Amendment, which has been so contemptuously rejected with such an economy of words by the hon. Gentleman, is the Amendment on which the House was engaged when the Guillotine fell at the end of the Report stage and discussion was prevented, and even the few crumbs contained in the speech of the hon. Gentleman show that there are certain matters on his side of the argument which might profitably be discussed. I observe also that none of the arguments which we advanced have been discussed or met in any way. I will take the hon. Gentleman, first, through the arguments which he has put to us tonight. He commenced—and so far we are in agreement with him—by saying that the declared object of the Bill was to nationalise long-distance road haulage. Therefore, it is necessary to decide—and, we suggest, to decide by ordinary commonsense rules and tests—what is long-distance road haulage.

The hon. Gentleman has confessed that this is an entirely arbitrary figure, and we are still waiting, after seven months' consideration of this problem, for some reason why the figure has been suggested. Today we have had from the hon. Gentleman one or two tentative suggestions. He said that 30 miles was put before the Royal Commission and that 20 miles was mentioned on another occasion by some leader of the road haulage industry, and so those two had been put together and divided by two and this figure had been arrived at. That is not the sort of basis on which the businesses of thousands of hardworking people who have built them up should be taken away. When we come to this stage we are really entitled to have some reason for the test which the Government have attempted to put into operation.

I ask the Government once again to try to find a test by ordinary reasonable considerations of the most important parts of the country. Greater London is being planned, and the arrangements of London for a great variety of purposes are being based on the area of Sir Patrick Abercrombie's plan for Greater London. There we have an area of approximately 2,700 square miles, with a diameter of approximately 60 miles and a radius, therefore, of approximately 30 miles, so that from the point of view of London in this problem anyone on the outskirts of the Greater London area cannot come in to Hyde Park Corner and remain a short-distance haulier. That is the test for London.

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I understood that at his request we were discussing only the definition of long-distance road haulage from the point of view of taking it over. I understand that he is now arguing about the distance which hauliers who are not being taken over will be allowed to run.

10.30 p.m.

the hon. Gentleman has quite misunderstood me. I am certain that he must have misunderstood the basis of this argument, or else he could not have put before the House the arguments he did. What I am saying i3 that he has totally failed to give any basis for his figure of 25 miles, that he has admitted it is an arbitrary figure, and that I am, therefore, trying to find a test or what is long-distance road haulage by taking the circumstances on the most important parts of the country I submit that is a most reasonable way of approaching the matter. First, I take the Metropolitan area. I have defined what is the Greater London area, and I go to an area which has general acceptance in all parts,of the House—the area of the Abercrombie plan for Greater London. My argument, I submit, is a sound one. The radius of 25 miles is less than the radius of the Greater London Area as laid down by Sir Patrick Abercrombie. In my own part of the country, take the distance between Liverpool and Manchester. Even on the short haul from Liverpool to Manchester, the Government s test again fails. I will go further North, to the town where I was born, Edinburgh, and there again say that if the test is less than the haul between Edinburgh and Glasgow—and it is an understandable test—it fails.

I ask the House to travel with me to the rural counties. 1 care not whether it is in Devonshire or in the North of England, or the counties In the North of Scotland: I say that any test which prevents a man from going more than 25 miles from his operating centre and does not allow him to make a total mileage of over 40 miles is a test which is utterly out of touch with reality, judged by rural conditions today. That is the first point I make. Surely, the hon. Gentleman follows the argument I am making; I do not ask his agreement, of course, but I ask him to appreciate that argument, for I am seeking to find a reasonable test. The hon. Gentleman will remember that these figures which we have put forward are the ones on which I was engaged when we last discussed this matter in the House. They are the same figures If the hon. Gentleman could give us any criterion, on the basis I have endeavoured to put before the House, that is, the basis of the needs of important sections of the community, then we would be prepared to consider it.

I am very anxious to understand the purpose of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument There has been a series of distances chosen and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned a number of distances, and apparently contends that on the figures as they stand, haulage over those areas will become impossible.

Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to explain the matter we are now discussing. The Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that as a test of long distance the Government suggest that a haulier is not to go beyond a radius of 25 miles from his operating base. That is one of the things he must not do, and while he must not do that, he must not, at the same tine, make his total carriage more than 40 miles Suppose that he starts 20 miles on one side of his operating base, he cannot go more than 20 miles on the other side of it. That the is effect of the test in Clause 39

I am still uncertain about the right hon. and learned Gentleman's contention. It seems to me that he is arguing that on a 25 miles limit we shall stop traffic beyond that distance.

If the hon. Gentleman will read a copy of the Bill, and particularly Clause 39, he will see that the test that is being suggested for taking away the businesses of road hauliers is the one I have stated. If he does not accept the test I have stated, I ask him to read the Bill again, and he will then see that I have correctly stated it. If he will look at Clause 52 in the Bill, he will see that the other point which I mentioned is dealt with in that Clause. It is important that before people's businesses are taken over, the test should be understood. The test is a flat rate of 25 miles and being confined to the radius of 25 miles, which is not commonsense or reasonable test of what is long-distance haulage.

The Parliamentary Secretary fortified his argument on the question of the effect on the number of vehicles taken over. As I understood him, he said that now it is 20,000 "A" licences, 2,500 "B" licences, and, of course, all the railway vehicles, which includes Carter Paterson, and the like. But he said that he would reduce the 20,000 "A" licence vehicles to about one-third. The hon. Gentleman, with the frankness which he has always shown during the consideration of this Bill, was the first to admit that that was entirely a guess. When the Government attitude on this point was indicated in another place by the Government spokesman, he said that he anticipated that, roughly, the number of vehicles now being taken over would be nearer 2,000 than 20,000. He said that he put it in that vague way, but he did not think anyone could make a better guess.

That is the position which the Government have always taken—that this is entirely guesswork; and it is, surely. If that argument is to be adduced against what I. suggest is the commonsense and reasonable basis of test, then we ought to hay more information than has been given to us on this point. I remind the Parliamentary Secretary and the House that, apart from this test, the acquiring body has two other great factors in its favour; it is allowed to go either on a basis of weight or on a basis of cost, in applying the test; that is in deciding whet traffic falls into the alleged long-distance and the short-distance classes. It had the further advantage, until an Amendment was made to the Bill which will come before us shortly, of not even having to prove its case on that very favourable test which has been put forward. When these points are taken into account, we come back to consider what is the purpose of this Bill as originally put before us. It was to take over long-distance haulage.

As I understand the Parliamentary Secretary's argument today, he has said that this Amendment would interfere with integration and co-ordination. May I point out two answers to this? First, the Government have deliberately chosen to set up under this Bill, Executives which perpetuate functional differences, and Executives based on functional differences. Secondly, when this long-distance road haulage which it is sought to nationalise has been treated by this legislation, what one will really have to deal with, as I understand it, is the goods road haulage which would compete with the railways over the distance where it is desired to limit that competition. Taking that point of view—and that is what co-ordination has come down to—I ask bow will it help to make the carrying of goods over 25 miles a co-ordinated matter? I entirely fail to see that. The difference between the results of which the Parliamentary Secretary has complained bitterly tonight and results originally intended by the Bill cannot seriously affect that point

But we on this side are back to the point which we have always maintained; that is, that before one takes away a person's business on the plea that it is a long-distance haulage business, one must fix a test as to what is long-distance haulage. The 25 miles contention is not common sense. In another place they have taken a distance much more in accord with common sense, and I hope the House will face up to its original determination to apply the common-sense test once again.

I was surprised at the casual way in which this important Amendment was rejected by the Parliamentary Secretary. I suppose that casual manner comes from the knowledge of the support of the great majority behind him, but I think we must not be dispirited, but rather we ought to examine the case as it really is. The Parliamentary Secretary's case is not a sound one. He gave some arguments, but the arguments he put forward would cause me to vote for this Amendment. I would say at once that I agree that no figure can be correct. Any figure must be an arbitrary figure although we would prefer to see road haulage free of nationalisation. We have always made that clear—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not always."] I repeat that we have always made it quite clear. If one is going to take over these vehicles, the wider the radius one gives the less problems one will have to face in administering the Measure. I think the actual calculations necessary for running vehicles on this formula of 25 miles and no farther will be necessarily tremendous. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to extend this radius as far as we can. The Government would do this if they were reasonable people. What really stops the Government from widening this radius is the fact that they fear competition from road haulage concerns against the nationalised undertakings. Quite frankly, I think that is a fantastic way in which to go into public ownership.

We on these Benches are supporters of a limited amount of public ownership. Hon. Members opposite cannot complain. We have supported them on a number of nationalisation Measures.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—Yes, we have. I make no apology for it; but I say that, in an industry like this, public ownership ought to be able to stand up to the test of private enterprise competition. The Parliamentary Secretary says, "If we extend this radius, instead of taking in 20,000 vehicles we should take in 8,000, and, therefore, the Commission would not be able to provide the service." I ask hon. Members opposite to note that. The emphasis should be on the fact that the Commission would not be able to provide the service. But the service would be there all the same. Those 12,000 vehicles would not disappear. They would run, and I believe that we would get very efficient service.

10.45 p.m.

The hon. Member says, "Why take any of it over?". The hon. Member is on my side. I am in difficulty because I do not believe in any of these figures; but I suggest that the wider we make the radius the better. The reason the Government want to take over these vehicles is, not to give public service, but to get rid of those vehicles as competitors. Do not let us make any mistake about that. I say it is a pretty shocking thing—that the first thing public ownership is to do is to knock competitors out of business. Is not that what we have rightly been attacking the Conservative Party for doing over a good many years? I suggest that the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. J. Paton) made a very interesting intervention when he tried to prove that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) was trying to say, in his argument, that, as a result of the Government's rejection of the Amendment, there would not be a service. My point is that there will be a service. The service up to 80 miles will be by private enterprise. Does the hon. Member object to that?

The hon. Member says he does not believe in private enterprise in this industry.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] —I believe it is the only way in which it can work, and I believe we have got to put forward our case. That service will still be there. What the Government are trying to do is to clear competition out of the way. They know they cannot stand up against it. I suggest that it is not 'common sense. Let us suppose we went to a place tonight and said to a man running road haulage between one town and another—a distance of 30 miles —"So you are a long-distance road haulier." Do hon. Members think that he would call himself a long-distance road haulier when he runs 30 miles one way and back? Of course, he would not. That is not long-distance road haulage. I consider that the Government have been motivated by one concern, and that is to get out of the way competition they know they cannot face. If they cannot stand up against that competition, then it is a rotten system which the Govern- ment are bringing in. On those grounds, I shall certainly vote for the Amendment.

It is not a very great surprise to me that the Parliamentary Secretary, in moving the rejection of this Amendment, did not give any very clear reasons why the particular figures of 25 miles and 40 miles had been selected by the Government; because throughout all the stages of this Bill, in Committee upstairs and in this Chamber, we have had no clear guidance from the Government as to what really actuated them in selecting those figures, when we ourselves have pressed these alternative figures, for these figures in this Amendment are the same figures as hon. Members of this side have proposed.

We have been told that the Amendment is designed to wreck the Bill, and far mere time has been spent by the Parliamentary Secretary in trying to prove how wrong are our figures than in showing that the Government's figures are right. That is all the more remarkable since we have had it clearly stated by the hon. Gentleman that the Government's figures were necessarily purely arbitrary. It is, therefore, reasonable that we should be allowed to argue other figures on the basis that any figure chosen is an arbitrary enc. We are trying to select a middle position, in view of the fact that there are great differences between localities in different parts of the country. I do not think it is reasonable to say this Amendment is a wrecking Amendment without giving reasons or logical arguments.

In point of fact, a very great deal more argument can be put forward for the 80 miles limit than for the 40 miles. I base part of my argument on the statement made during the war by the Road Haulage Organisation which operated on a 60 mile limit. Experience showed that 60 miles was not far enough. A Select Committee made a report on the work of the Road Haulage Organisation in which a most scathing criticism was made, and it was pointed out how impossible it was for the Road Haulage Organisation to take over vehicles working over such short distances. It must be borne in mind that the Road Haulage Organisation was working during the war to a limit of 60 miles. Yet the Government are now bringing in a figure 20 miles less than that of the Road Haulage Organisation, and with a limitation of radius as well. I should have thought that on that argument there was a great deal more to be said for our figure of So miles than for the figure put forward by the Government

Another argument mentioned briefly by the Parliamentary Secretary is in reference to the number of vehicles being taken over. The Parliamentary Secretary made a rather curious statement. He estimated the number of vehicles to De taken over on the 40 miles and 20 miles basis, and said it would be impossible to calculate the number of vehicles to be taken over on a wider basis. If the Government can bring out the number of vehicles for the one, it would be perfectly simple to find out the number of vehicles for the other. I believe that the figures the Government are working on are built up on the experience of the Road Haulage Organisation which was based on 60 miles, and had no radius limitation.

I suggest that the Government have not the slightest idea of the number of vehicles they are taking over, and that it will be vastly more than they have budgeted for so far. If one accepts what the Parliamentary Secretary said--that it is impossible to estimate the nurnber of vehicles which would be taken over under the Amendment—it might be suggested that this is a wrecking Amendment; but in fact it has been clearly shown that the distances of 40 miles and 25 miles will be absolutely impracticable in many parts of England. They can lead only to inefficiency in the transport services. Vehicles would run empty and a large number of vehicles being taken over by the Commission would be engaged solely on short distances and never embark on long distances at all. For these reasons I urge the Government not to treat this as a wrecking Amendment, but to treat it on the merits, and to see whether there is not some possibility of taking it into the Bill, because if it is rejected great chaos and disturbance will be created especially in tie earlier stages.

It is again most unfortunate that this is a one-sided Debate. I feel that hon. Members opposite must have something to say. Even the Communist Party and the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) apparently have no views about this.

I have no intention of giving way. It is entirely open to the hon. Member to follow me.

The hon. Member can make a speech later. I am glad to see that the Minister of Transport has returned. We realise he is having a hard day, but he will probably have a harder night. From the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) he would have learnt that we are wholly unsatisfied with the Parliamentary Secretary's reasons for rejecting this Lords Amendment. The Parliamentary Secretary's main case, I would remind the Minister, was that if the Lords Amendment were accepted, he would not be able to take over a sufficient number of vehicles. That was his main case. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will not contribute to the Debate, they might at least listen to those who do. The case which the Parliamentary Secretary put forward was that if the Lords Amendment were accepted, he would take over an insufficient number of vehicles. The point struck me that he quite obviously had not the faintest idea whatever of how many vehicles he was going to take over. It is a remarkable thing that we should have reached this stage in the Bill without any ascertainment of what the practical effect would be on the transport industry. I should have thought that some inquiry would have been made before this stage. The Parliamentary Secretary quoted the "Financial Times" as lending some support to his arguments. He said it was an unbiased newspaper. I am sure it is, and I would like to quote this extract from today's issue:

"This all goes to show that the Government would have been better advised at the outset either to leave transport alone or wait until they have devised something better than a series of half-baked proposals for a problem which would tax Solomon himself"
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will accept that as an unbiased view.

What we are discussing are the terms and circumstances in which road haulage lorries are to be taken over, and the Clauses which deal with it are Clauses 39 and 41. A very complex system of tests is laid down. Those tests involve the distance that a vehicle travels: they also involve, quite separately, the radius of its operation from its operating centre; they involve the weight of goods which it carries and the amount of takings which should be appropriated to long-distance and short-distance. At the same time, some tribunal—and I have a great sympathy with it—has to decide, within an appropriate period of time, which distances broadly are long and which are short. My first criticism of the Government is that I do not really see that this is practical at all. I hope the Minister will give at least a little further explanation of what this 40 mile distance and 25 mile radius really mean. I do not believe that anyone on either side of the House understands it.

11.0 p.m.

Let me give to the right hon. Gentleman an example with which he might deal in his reply. Supposing a vehicle starts off in the morning—it does not go to one place but to six places—with a mixed load. Let us call the places, A, B, C, D, E and F. Supposing A and B are inside the 25 miles limit, no problem arises there. Supposing it goes to C, still within the 25 miles limit, that is well and good. But supposing that, in order to get to D, it has to make part of the journey outside the 25 miles limit. It drops its load at D and then returns to E and F doing a total of 70 to 80 miles, part of which is caught up in Clause 39, because it went outside the 25 miles radius. How is the tribunal supposed to differentiate as to the weight of that particular operation? Is the route or the double journey to be taken into account, are the supplies for that particular customer to be taken into account, or is the whole of that journey to be treated as long-distance haulage? That is the sort of thing which will have to be decided, because this is a fantastic, complicated arrangement which the Government have set up.

The question is what ought to be a proper distance? In my reading of this Bill, it is difficult to find. I cannot see why we have the distance and radius factor. I do not see why we should have the radius factor. Possibly the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain that when he replies. I do not know why. It seems to me that the whole thing is an unnecessary complication as to what should be the distance. All sorts of tests could be applied. Take the case of the Road Haulage Association. They suggested 60 miles, and the right hon. Gentle- man knows that that was not a radius, but 60 miles from the point of collection to the point of delivery, which was more generous to the road haulage industry. Why has that been abandoned? May we have an explanation? What factors in the operation of the road haulage system caused the right hon. Gentleman to abandon a system which was tried out? He may have some practical experience of that matter, and if he has, could we be informed of it?

For my part, I agree with the opinion of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) that the test should not be what some road haulage association said at some time or other, but should be a practical test. Again, if there had been some inquiry before this, if someone had paused a moment before launching into this particular scheme and had looked at the operation of practical hauls in this country, we would have had some better argument than that which has been put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. The sort of test which should be applied is such as was suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend—a long-distance haul which a haulier operates between distant and differing towns. That is the sort of long-distance haulage picture that I have. Short-distance haulage means operating in the Greater London area or between Cardiff and Swansea or between Glasgow and Edinburgh or some regular orbit of that kind.

The right hon. Gentleman has not the slightest idea where the preponderance of traffic is, because he has never troubled to find out. If he had done so we would have been able to apply practical tests to these things. We would have been told the particular number of haulage lorries which would, in fact, have been taken over by the Commission, and what number would have been left. We could have looked at the thing objectively, and would have been able to judge it on the basis of adequate co-operation and coordination Instead of that, we are invited to judge matters on some basis put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. That is a wholly unsatisfactory system and for that reason, I would reject it. I do not know whether the Amendment itself is satisfactory, but it does make some extension in this matter and offers some measure of freedom to the road hauliers.

There is only one other thing I want to say. I believe that the Government have got themselves into a difficulty over this matter in another way. This point was made by a well-known transport authority in "The Times" this morning. The difficulty the Government have get into is the result of making it the duty of the Commission to take over all the men who happen to fall into their own arbitrary definition. If they had made a definition that would have allowed the Commission to have exercised some common sense, and to say that in the Greater London area, for example, or in the Scottish Region, or something of that kind—

I am sure the hon. Member does not want to mislead the House. The Commission have latitude, wherever they think there is a special reason, or there are special conditions b refrain, by agreement, from taking over a road haulage firm.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. If the point is conceded and there is no compulsion, though it does come within the definition, naturally I withdraw what I was saving. I do not want to make a false point. But in the matter of distance my point is this: I think it is based on no evidence whatever, but on guesswork, and that it will do an extraordinary amount of harm and little good. I hope the House will support the Lords Amendment, extend this area, and reduce the number of men whose businesses are to be taken away.

In view of the bait thrown out by the hon. Member, it is necessary for me to say that I do not like the Amendment, I do not like those who are supporting it, I do not like being drawn into a silly campaign of obstruction, and so with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will resume my seat.

I wart to ask the Minister one or two questions which I think have not yet been raised. It is very important that when we are asked to reject these Amendments, we should think of what the effect will be. I want to ask how the Minister envisages that the limit of 25 miles will he enforced There can be no doubt that a very heavy burden will be placed on the police. Serious crime, as we, know, is giving Home Secretary and the Government—and indeed all of us—very great anxiety.

When this Bill becomes law, there will be a very heavy burden on the police. If it is not to be on the police, the right hon. Gentleman may be forced to imitate his colleague the Minister of Food and employ "snoopers."

Some of these people who are not being taken over will find it very difficult when they are going in and out of the 25 miles radius. I cannot envisage that an ordinary driver will not be able to get past any police block or check if he wants to do so, particularly in the London area, or any area where there is a large number of side roads. In the case of the coastal towns it might be possible to use some scheme of colours, but there are not enough colours in the rainbow to put marks for every village and town. It might be possible to use blackboards with the name of the town, but what a frightful waste of time and money that would be I am certain that what will happen is that the police will be spending their time checking petty little breaches of these regulations instead of getting on with their job. Furthermore, just at a time when manpower is stretched to the full and when we are all being asked to work harder, unnecessary work will he placed on an already overworked force. If the Amendment were accepted, there would still be a certain amount of additional work put on the police, but not so much.

From the point of view of the coastal towns, I regard this refusal to accept the Amendment as most unjust and unfair. It does not need anyone of brilliance to work out that in a place like Cornwall or East Kent, not only will an operator be restricted to half a circle, but sometimes to a segment of a circle. I cannot understand why an inquiry is not being held in connection with these coastal towns. I regard it as absolutely fatal to the horticultural industry, and am perfectly certain that no one will be able to get fresh fruit to town. If a lot of forms have to be filled in, the situation will be a great deal worse. It is a first-class scandal.

I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister. Let him take a map of Lancashire and he will see clusters of towns engaged in textile and other industries. Movements of goods in different stages of processes have to be made from one town to another. With that background, let him take his "notional callipers," fxed arbitrarily, and with these not very snbtle planning instruments, let him start to measure out what it will mean if he puts this scheme into operation. He will sec that it will produce complete chaos. This is not a wrecking Amendment; it is an attempt to stop a wrecking scheme which will do a great deal of harm in Lancashire

I want to try to find out what the Government have in mind. I oppose this nationalisation of road transport and believe it is a form of lunacy which will result in a great deal of unpopularity for the Government Let us assume a right to nationalise the long-distance haulier, leaving the vehicles of the local carriers unnationaliseo How are you going to apply that in the country area of Britain—to local carriers in Yorkshire, who go far beyond a radius of 25 miles—to lorries that collect milk in tanks, which go up to 30 miles and hack and are the only way in which the milk can be got to the towns for the children to drink? The vehicles of these carriers, who are really local carriers, will be taken over by the Government. I am speaking for the men who are producing the milk, the men who want to get on to their farms the fertilisers which have to be moved in the moorland areas a good deal more than 30 miles.

I ask the Government whether they a wise, in their experiment of road nationalisation, to undertake the task of feeding the most difficult areas in England—the dales of Yorkshire and, equally I suppose, the Highlands of Scotland That is what they have to do under this Bill. Local carriers at present serving those areas are predominantly working over 25 miles, and often more than 40 miles. I cannot find that the Parliamentary Secretary had any argument against this Amendment. I thought he had one. I thought there was one argument in which he referred to some special cases that were regulated under this Bill presume that he means C1ause 40 Subsection (3). If not, per taps he will enlighten us. Clause 40, Subsection (3), will not help +he remote areas

11.15 p.m.

I ask the Government to think over this matter again. They ought to have a different yardstick for the built-up areas and the remote country districts, and if they do not make an Amendment, I warn the Government that they are going to get themselves into very great administrative difficulties. One cannot have a state of affairs in the remote areas of Britain where, under State transport, there is a 30 miles basis. In the case I am thinking of, there is a distance of some 60 miles, and I ask the Government, in their own safety, to try to get some compromise on this matter, and to arrive at a limit that will exclude the remote areas while securing that private transport collects the milk it, churns and brings the fertilisers and materials to the farms. One of the tasks that will face the right hon. Gentleman, if he adheres to the basis in the Pill, will be to get his transport over most difficult roads for 40 or 50 miles in the northern areas of Britain. At the present time it is being done by local carriers. I do not see that right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench are fitted to take on that work, and I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman in the discrimination that has been made.

We have heard of the position in Yorkshire and West Derbyshire, so I think that Devonshire should be mentioned. The Bill applies in all its worst aspects to a countryside that is full of winding, twisting roads, and which is a segment of a circle bounded on one side by the sea. There are two points which I want to raise. They have been mentioned already but not in detail. One relates to how the Bill is to be enforced. I noticed that, in the Debate in another place, it was said that records of road hauliers were not in all cases available, but that there was a good deal of information available from their applications for petrol licences. That may hit the road haulier rather where he does not wish to be hit, because when he applies for a petrol licence he makes out that he has to go as far as possible. If that evidence is to be used, the majority who have applied and who are just over the margin owing to their licence being for more than 25 miles radius, will presumably be taken over.

The second point, as I understood it, is that within the limit of the 25 miles radius a carrier may go any distance he likes; he is not limited to any distance of 40 miles, or any other distance. I should very much like the Minister of Transport to confirm this, so that people in the country may understand it. It is rather difficult. If a small cage were erected and one were allowed to rotate within that cage as much as one liked, one would not escape from it, and could not get out beyond the 25 miles. That, I am sure, is not understood in the country. I can only say that I shall strongly oppose the Measure and Vote in favour of this Amendment.

My brief support of this Amendment is based on an inherent dislike of injustice. I suppose that injustice is inevitable in nationalisation schemes; but in this scheme we find it in a number of peculiarly vicious forms-First, we find it in the compensation pro-visions. It is easy to see that this is-inescapable if we throw our minds back to the words of the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), for I was aghast to hear him say that the amount of compensation which should be paid—

I am afraid that is not the subject we are discussing now.

I will pass on to another matter. It is clear that whatever arbitrary yardstick is taken for measuring the distance in a Bill of this kind, some concerns will be left with a reasonable trade and others with something which is quite unworkable and not worth having. I can understand the Government's dilemma. They have put themselves in the difficult position of trying to solve what is I think, an insoluble question, That is not our fault. The Government are there to produce a Measure with an amount of equity and reasonableness behind it which will commend it to the community. In that they have failed. Tacitly, the Government's dilemma has been admitted. The Parliamentary Secretary said that if, in fact, this change were made from 25 and 40 miles to 50 and 80 miles, he would be left with an unworkable amount of business under the long-distance definition.

I want to tell the Parliamentary Secretary that he will be left with an unworkable amount of business now. I have heard remarks made when concerns were seriously discussing whether they should now buy their own vehicles and run them under "C" licences. A smile may pass over the Minister's face, but when I said to these men, "Are you so satisfied that this is going to be a failure before it has even been tried?" They said that they were. Here was a set of men who, after all, are not going to cut off their noses to spite their faces. They were hard-headed business men, but they were so satisfied that the scheme would. be a failure that they were talking about purchasing their own property. What will be the use of the Minister's 20,000 vehicles if, in fact, there is no trade left for them to carry? I believe the scheme is un- workable, and because I believe this definition will lead to a large measure of injustice, I support the Amendment which has come to us from another place.

I rise only to endeavour to get information on a point which has been raised. I, too, read the letter in "The Times" this morning, and I thought it contained a valuable suggestion. According to the Minister, the letter was unnecessary and redundant be- cause the matter was provided for. I am only asking for information. The matter is not clear to me. In the first line of Clause 39, it says

"Where the Commission are of opinion,"
and it goes on to refer to certain long-distance undertakings—
"it shall be the duty of the Commission to give, in accordance with the subsequent pro-visions of this Part of this Act, a notice of acquisition in respect to the undertaking"
The latter part of the Clause gives them no option at all. They must acquire it. I assure the Minister that I am only asking for information, and I think that many other hon. Members are interested in this matter. I hope he will make this provision clear.

I have listened to most of the arguments tonight, and having listened to them, I think there can be no doubt that this rejection of the Lords' Amendment by the Minister is for the purpose of eliminating competition and creating a "closed shop" in the transport industry. It is not a good augury for this nationalisation Bill that the Minister feels so touchy about a little competition from the road hauliers. If he rejects this Amendment and leaves the restriction of 25 miles, it will create chaos in the rural areas—and I am speaking for Scotland, whose voice has only been heard for a few moments tonight—and it will bring chaos to our agricultural life. There are a number of provisions later in the Clauses which deal with exemptions for livestock, and so on, but that does not cover the whole picture. If the Minister can show us tonight where the powers lie and where is the direction that carriers are, in certain circumstances, not to be taken over, we shall feel grateful. Can we have a statement that Edinburgh and Glasgow, and I might say, Aberdeen, are to be treated as local areas?

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) and other hon. Members on this side have made a most impressive case in support of why the House should agree with the Lords Amendment. On the other hand, we have had a short and rather sketchy speech from the Parliamentary Secretary, and I have been waiting to see whether the Minister would get up, but he has shown no inclination to do so. If I deal first with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), it will clear the air a bit. Some of us found it difficult to understand, in view of Clause 39, how it was that the Parliamentary Secretary could give the assurance that the Commission would have a discretion for taking over any particular road haulier, but I observe that in one of the Lords Amendments we have this provision. There was much ribald laughter when my hon. Friend made that point, but I do not think that any of the hon. Members opposite who joined in the ribald laughter understood what they were laughing at. In the Standing Committee, the Government refused to give way and we assumed that the Clause remained as it was originally in the Bill. The last Amendment, which was passed without any discussion, had not been entirely appreciated by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth and certainly not by myself, nor, I think, by other of my hon. Friends. Those who laughed did not know what they were laughing about. I am not suggesting, of course, that the Parliamentary Secretary did not know the answer, but those behind him did not.

11.30 p.m.

We have had no answer to the case made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby. He gave three very good examples; he spoke of Greater London, Liverpool and Manchester, and Glasgow and Edinburgh, and pointed out how ludicrous it was that road hauliers within those areas should be called long-distance hauliers. The only case made by the Parliamentary Secretary was that if we accepted the Lords Amendment, it would reduce to a very small number the vehicles that were to be taken over. Of course, that is a thing we should naturally welcome on this side of the House. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers), on the Liberal benches, was quite right in what he said. He said the reason the Government reject this Amendment is to get rid of as much competition as they can. They know it perfectly well, and I hope the Minister will tell the House that that is the real reason. The road hauliers who are being dealt with in this Clause are being dealt with in a most frivolous manner. They are not being given a fair deal. It is entirely an arbitrary test, for which no sound reason has been given in the House. The Parliamentary Secretary admitted and confessed that it was an arbitrary test, and he did not give any reason for it that we could accept. It is not a reasonable test of what long-distance haulage is. I suggest that the Lords Amendment is a reasonable and sensible one, and I hope the House will accept it.

With the permission of the House, I should like to answer one or two of the points that have been made in the Debate. Let me first repeat to the House, as there has been some confusion, what is the purpose of the Clause we are discussing. The Clause lays down which road haulage firms shall and which shall not be taken over by the Commission. It has nothing to do with permits for running over certain distances by the firms that are left free; it merely lays clown criteria as to which firms should be taken over completely. The Commission is charged with the duty of running long-distance road haulage, and, therefore, it is essential to lay down some criteria.

The question is, what shall the criteria be? I can understand the views of hon. Members opposite, who believe that the Commission should not run road haulage at all, and that it should be left entirely to the free competition of the existing firms. They argue that the limits we have put in are not satisfactory, that the much bigger limits put in by the Lords are better, and that if there were bigger limits still, it would be better still. That is logical from their point of view, because if that happened, no firms would be taken over by the Commission, and long-distance road haulage would remain entirely, or almost entirely, in the hands of the existing road haulage companies. But the purpose of the Bill is to effect the integration of transport, and the most important integration and the most urgent, as is recognised by everybody in the transport industry, is that of rail and long-distance road haulage; and it is essential, if this Bill is to be a success, that the Commission should be empowered to take over long-distance road haulage.

What is long-distance road haulage? I ask the House this question in reverse. What is short-distance road haulage? Our object has been to leave out the local haulier, because we think it is desirable that he should be able to carry on his work as he does at the moment. It does not interfere with the rail services and the railways' short-distance to al haulage. Surely, the radius of 25 miles that the local haulier has is a generous one? A radius of 25 miles includes an area of 2,000 square miles, and I suggest that anything larger than that area would be quite unreasonable. The definition laid down by the Road Haulage Association itself some years ago—the House must bear it in mind—was 30 miles. We think that for the purpose of setting up a national road haulage service—it has to be a good service for industry, it has to be efficient, it must have resources, 25 miles is the correct radius, with a 40 miles distance. That is definitely our view, and I would point out that some of the figures that have been men-tioned—

If the area is 2,000 square miles, and the operator lives in the middle of it, can he work both ways, making his calls over a distance of 49 miles?

That was not the question. Supposing the area in which he operates covers 2,000 square miles, can lie live in the middle and go 25 miles north and 25 miles south, so that his real distance is 49 miles.

He will be allowed to operate 25 miles north, south, east or west. I was making this point in reply to the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who said it would be difficult to work this scheme at all with the 25 miles and 40 miles proposal. In some cases it will not be easy, I agree, but it would not be any easier if one made it 50 and 80 miles. The same difficulties would arise, and the method of ascertaining whether a firm came within the definition or not would be exactly the same whether the Lords Amenament were accepted or whether the Bill is allowed to stand as it is. I have been asked to amplify the statement I made, and on which the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) touched, about compulsion, that is, whether the Commission is bound to take over road haulage vehicles.

Before the hon Gentleman leaves the point about the 40 miles and 80 miles limit, will he answer the question I put? When a journey is of go miles, part of which, for one delivery, is outside the area, does the whole of that journey count for long distance, or only that portion of it which arises from the delivery outside?

To decide whether a firm comes within the category of long-distance, the records over the year will be examined and the case will be argued before the tribunal. There will be difficult cases, I agree, where it will Le difficult to decide; but the, work of the vehicles and the records, where kept, will all he put before the tribunal, and the tribunal will be able to decide, not one journey, but on the records of the firm for a Year, whether it falls within or outside the definition. Exactly the same problem would arise regarding long distance if the Lords Amendment were accepted, so it is quite irrelevant to the discussion we are now having

The Parliamentary Secretary should understand his own Bill sufficiently to give me an explanation which I am entitled to have It has nothing to do with the particular difficulties of the tribunal. Unless the Parliamentary Secretary knows what the Clause means, it is very unlikely that the tribunal will know. Will he answer the the specific point I made? Will a journey of over 40 miles—say, go miles, if you like—part of which is outside the radius, be considered, when the tribunal comes to consider journeys of that kind, long distance or short distance, or a portion as long distance in respect of.,nods delivered outside the area?

I have answered that point. If the hon. Gentleman did not hear me, I will repeat it. The records of the firm, which would show the journeys each vehicle had made over the year, would be taken and would be considered. These total records—not one tricky journey—would be considered, and on them the tribunal would decide whether they constituted long-distance journeys or not.

Secondly, it. is quite impossible to establish a road haulage service—a national service—which is efficient and which gives industry what it wants, unless the Commission have a sufficient number of vehicles and proper resources with which to carry out that work. For those two reasons, I ask the House to accept what was originally in this Bill, and which was with great care put before the House and discussed at length in Committee. All that another place has done has been to double the figures, making 25 miles 50 miles and 50 miles 80 miles. As the "Financial Times," which is opposed to this Bill, has said, if we were to accept this Amendment it would make impossible the fusion which the Bill seeks to provide.

I asked two questions of the Parliamentary Secretary, and I have not had an answer. Has he anything to say about the coastal areas?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has already spoken once, and he may not speak twice.

I have not yet intervened in this Debate, and I want to ask a question about administration. How is it possible to administer the provision about carriers going over the 25 miles limit or the 50 miles limit? If a carrier goes from Sheffield to Wakefield and beyond, how it is to be held against him if he goes outside the 25 miles area? The Parliamentary Secretary must have some idea, and at the same time it is absolutely fantastic that he should come to the House at this late stage and not give us any idea of how he proposes to carry this out.

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it really in Order or has it any relevance to the Amendment under discussion to ask whether the distance should be 25 or 50 miles?

I must press this point. It is absolutely vital that we in this House, in passing legislation, should know how the Government propose to carry it out. From an administrative point of view it is difficult for the police or anyone else to say when a vehicle has gone beyond the 25 miles. My hon. Friend has suggested boards or placards, but the Government must give us some idea of how this is to be carried out, and we should have an answer from the Government Front Bench.

There is a terrifically long coastline in this country and there is a very large number of vehicles operating in my own constituency, and a much larger number if one takes in the whole of the Cornish coast as well. We ought to

Division No. 323.]


[11.45 p.m.

Adams, Richard (Balham)Crawley, AGriffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Crossman, R. H SGriffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Daggar, G.Griffiths, W. D (Moss Side)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Daines, P.Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Alpass, J. HDavies, Edward (Burslem)Gunter, R. J
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Guy, W. H.
Attewell, H. C.Davies, Harold (Leek)Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Austin, H. LewisDavies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)Hale, Leslie
Awbery, S. SDeer, G.Hall, W. G.
Ayles, W. Freitas, GeoffreyHamilton, Lieut.-Col R
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BDelargy, H. JHardman, D R
Baird, J.Diamond, JHardy, E. A.
Balfour ADobbie, WHarrison, J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Dodds, N. NHastings, Dr Somerville
Barstow, P GDonovan, THaworth, J
Barton, C.Driberg, T. E. N.Henderson, A (Kingswinford)
Battley, J. R.Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Bechervaise, A E.Dumpleton, C. WHerbison, Miss M
Bellenger, Rt Hon F JDurbin, E F. M.Hewitson, Capt. M
Beswick, F.Dye, S.Hobson, C. R
Bing, G. H CEde, Rt. Hon. J. C.Holman, P
Binns, JEdwards, John (Blackburn)House, G
Blenkinsop, AEdwards, N. (Caerphilly)Hubbard, T.
Blyton, W. R.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr H. WEvans, John (Ogmore)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L' Exch'ge)Ewart, R.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Fairhurst, F.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Bramall, E. A.Farthing, W. JHynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Fernyhough, EIrving, W. J
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Field, Capt. W. JJanner, B
Brown, George (Belper)Fletcher, E G. M (Islington, E.)Jay, D. P T
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Follick, MJeger, G. (Winchester)
Bruce, Maj. D. W TFoot, M. MJeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)
Buchanan, GForman, J. CJones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)
Burke, W. AFoster, W (Wigan)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S)Fraser, T (Hamilton)Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Carmichael, JamesFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Chamberlain, R. AFreeman, Peter (Newport)Keenan, W.
Champion, A. JGaitskell, H. T. NKenyon, C.
Chater, D.Gallacher, W.King, E. M.
Chetwynd, G. RGanley, Mrs C. SKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E
Cobb, F. A.Gibbins, J.Kinley, J
Cocks, F. S.Gibson, C WLang, G.
Coldrick, WGilzean, ALavers, S.
Collick, PGlanville, J E (Consett)Lee, F. (Hulme)
Collins, V J.Goodrich, H ELee, Miss J (Cannock)
Colman, Miss G. M.Gordon-Walker, P CLeonard, W
Cooper, Wing-Comdr, G.Greenwood. A W J (Heywood)Lever, N. H
Corbet, Mrs. F K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Grey, C FLevy, B. W.
Cove, W. G.Grierson, ELewis, A. W. J (Upton)

know what the position is in these areas, for in many cases the operators cannot have half the area to go over, and when the Parliamentary Secretary refers to a great number of square miles, it must be remember that our position is entirely different from that which exists in the centre of England. Considering the enormous number of these vehicles operating in coastal districts, I hope that in some other part of the Bill they will be given consideration. This matter affects many ports and all the seaside towns. I do not want to go back to my constituency with tie message that the Government absolutely refuse to think about them, but I shall have to do so if I do not get an answer.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 306; Noes, 128.

Lewis, J. (Bolton)Pearson, A.Symonds, A. L.
Lindgren, G. S.Peart, T. F.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Lipton, Lt.-Col MPiratin, P.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Logan, D. GPlatts-Mills, J. F. F.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Longden, FPoole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Lyne, A. W.Popplewell, EThomas, Ivor (Keighley)
McAdam, W.Porter E, (Warrington)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
McAllister, G.Porter, G. (Leeds)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
McGhee, H. G.Price, M. PhilipsThomson, Rt. Hn. G R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
McGovern, J.Pritt, D. N.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Mack, J. DProctor, W. T.Thurtle, Ernest
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Pryde, D. J.Tiffany, S
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Randall, H ETimmons, J
McKinlay, A SRanger, JTitterington, M F
McLeavy, F.Rees-Williams, D. RTolley, L.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Reid, T. (Swindon)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Rhodes, H.Ungoed-Thomas, L
Mallalieu, J. P. WRichards, R.Usborne, Henry
Mann, Mrs. J.Ridealgh, Mrs. MVernon, Maj. W. F
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Robens, A.Walkden, E.
Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Mathers, GRobertson, J. J. (Berwick)Watkins, T. E
Mayhew, C PRogers, G. H. R.Watson, W. M
Medland, H. MRoss, William (Kilmarnock)Weitzman, D.
Mellish, R. JRoyle, C.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Middleton, Mrs LSargood, RWells, W. T. (Walsall)
Mikardo, IanScollan, T.West, D. G.
Millington, Wing-Comdr, E. RShackleton, E A. AWestwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Mitchison, G. RSharp, GranvilleWhite, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Moody, A. S.Shawcross, Rt Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Morgan, Dr H BShurmer, P.Wigg, Col G. E.
Morley, R.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A B.
Morris, P (Swansea, W.)Silverman, J (Erdington)Wilkes, L
Murray, J. D.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Wilkins, W A
Nally, WSkeffington, A. MWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
Neal, H. (Claycross)Skinnard, F. WWilley, O G (Cleveland)
Nichol, Mrs M. E (Bradford, N.)Smith, C (Colchester)Williams, D J (Neath)
Nicholls, H R (Stratford)Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Williams, W R (Heston)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P. J (Derby)Snow, Capt. J. W.Willis, E.
Noel-Buxton, LadySolley, L. J.Wills, Mrs. E. A
O'Brien, T.Sorensen, R. W.Wilmot, Rt Hon. J
Oldfield, W. HSoskice, Maj. Sir FWise, Major F J
Oliver, G H.Soarks, J AWoodburn, A.
Orbach, M.Stamford, W.Woods, G. S
Pagel, R TSteele, T.Wyatt, W.
Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)Stephen, C.Yates, V. F.
Paimer, A M. FStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Pargiter, G. AStrauss, G R. (Lambeth, N.)Zilliacus, K
Parker, J.Stubbs, A E
Parkin, B. T.Swingler, S.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Paton, J. (Norwich)Sylvester, G. OMr. Simmons and Mr. Hannan.


Assheton, Rt. Hon. RElliot Rt. Hon. WalterLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Astor, Hon. M.Fletcher, W. (Bury)Low, Brig. A R W
Baldwin, A. EFraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Lucas, Major Sir J
Barlow, Sir J.Fyfe, Rt. Hon Sir D. P. MLucas-Tooth, Sir H
Bennett, Sir P.Gage, C.McCallum, Maj. D
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Galbraith, Cmdr. T. DMacdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)
Bossom, A C.George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Bowen, R.Grant, LadyMcKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Bower, N.Gridley, Sir A.Maclay, Hon. J S.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Grimston, R. V.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. THannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Butcher, H W.Hare, Hon J. H (Woodbridge)Maitland, Comdr. J W
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Haughton, S GManningham-Buller, R E
Byers, FrankHeadlam, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon Sir CMarlowe, A. A H
Clarke, Col R. S.Herbert, Sir A. P.Marsden, Capt. A.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GHinchingbrooke, ViscountMarshall, D. (Bodmin)
Conant, Maj. R. J. EHogg, Hon. Q.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Mellor, Sir J
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)Molson, A. H. E
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CHurd, A.Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Neven-Spence, Sir B
Crowder, Capt. John EHutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Nicholson, G
Cuthbert, W. N.Jarvis, Sir JNoble, Comdr A. H P
De la Bère, R.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Orr-Ewing, I L
Digby, S. W.Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. HOsborne, C
Dodds-Parker, A. DLambert, Hon. G.Peto, Brig C. H. M
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.Langford-Holt, J.Pickthorn, K.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V G. (Penrith)Law, Rt. Hon R. K.Pitman, I. J.
Drayson, G B.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Linstead, H NPrescott, Stanley
Eden, Rt. Hon A.Lipson, D. LPrior-Palmer, Brig. O

Raikes, H. VSnadden, W. M.Vane, W M F
Ramsay, Maj. SSpearman, A C MWadsworth, G.
Rayner, Brig. RSpence, H. R.Walker-Smith, D.
Reed. Sir S. (Aylesbury)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)Strauss, H G (English Universities)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Sutcliffe, H.Williams, C (Torquay)
Roberts, H. (Handsworth)Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)Willink, Rt. Hon. H U.
Roberts, Maj P. G (Ecclesall)Teeling, WilliamWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)York, C
Ropner Col LThorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Ross, Sir R. D (Londonderry)Thorp, Lt.-Col R. A FTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Sanderson, Sir FTouche, G. C.Cmdr. Agnew and Mr. Studholme.
Scott, Lord W.Turton, R. H.

Lords Amendment: In page 48, line 27, leave out "twenty-five" and insert "fifty."

Division No. 324.]


[11.55 p.m

Adams, Richard (Balham)Driberg, T. E. N.Irving, W. J
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Janner, B.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Dumpleton, C. W.Jay, D. P. T
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Durbin, E. F. M.Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Dye, S.Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Attewell, H. C.1Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)
Austin, H. LewisEdwards, John (Blackburn)Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)
Awbery, S. S.Edwards, W. J (Whitechapel)Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BEvans, John (Ogmore)Jones, J. H (Bolton)
Baird, J.Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Balfour, A.Ewart, RKeenan, W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Farthing, W. JKenyon, C.
Barstow, P GFernyhough, E.King, E. M.
Barton, C.Field, Capt. W. J.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E
Bechervaise, A E.Fletcher, E G M (Islington, E.)Kinley, J
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. JFollick, M.Lang, G.
Beswick, F.Foot, M. M.Lavers, S
Bing, G. H. CForman, J. C.Lee, F. (Hulme)
Binns, J.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Blenkinsop, AFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Leonard, W.
Blyton, W. R.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Levy, B. W.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. WGaitskell, H. T. NLewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)Gallacher, W.Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Ganley, Mrs. C SLindgren, G. S.
Braddock, T (Mitcham)Gibbins, J.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Bramall, E. A.Gibson, C WLogan, D G
Brook, D. (Halifax)Gilzean, ALongden, F
Brown, George (Belper)Granville, J E (Consett)Lyne, A. W
Brown, T J. (Ince)Goodrich, H. E.McAdam, W.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Gordon-Walker, P. CMcAllister, G.
Buchanan, G.Greenwood, A W J (Heywood)McGhee, H. G.
Burke, W. A.Grey, C. FMcGovern, J.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Grierson, EMack, J. D.
Carmichael, JamesGriffiths, D, (Rother Valley)McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Chamberlain, R. AGriffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)
Champion, A. JGriffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)McKinlay, A. S
Chater, D.Guest, Dr. L. HadenMcLeavy, F.
Chetwynd, G. RGunter, R. JMacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Cobb, F. A.Guy, W. H.Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Cocks, F. S.Haire, John E (Wycombe)Mallalieu, J. P. W
Coldrick, W.Hale, LeslieMann, Mrs. J.
Collick, P.Hall, W. G.Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)
Collins, V. J.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col RManning, Mrs L (Epping)
Colman, Miss G. M.Hardman, D. R.Mathers, G.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Hardy, E AMayhew, C. P
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb well, N.W.)Harrison, J.Medland, H M
Cove, W. GHastings, Dr SomervilleMellish, R J.
Crawley, AHaworth, JMiddleton, Mrs L
Grossman. R. H SHenderson, A (Kingswinford)Mikardo, Ian
Daggar, G.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R
Daines, P.Herbison, Miss M.Mitchison, G. R.
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Hewitson, Capt. MMoody, A. S.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Hobson, C. R.Morgan, Dr. H B
Davies, Harold (Leek)Holman, PMorley, R.
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)House, GMorris, P (Swansea, W.)
Deer, G.Hubbard, TMurray J. D.
de Freitas, GeoffreyHudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)Nally, W.
Delargy, H. J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Neal, H. (Claycross)
Diamond, J.Hughes, H D. (Wolverhampton, W)Nichol, Mrs. M. E (Bradford, N.)
Dobbie, WHutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Nicholls, H. R (Stratford)
Dodds, N. NHynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Donovan, T.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P. J. (Derby)

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 297; Noes, 122.

Noel-Buxton, LadyShackleton, L A ATitterington, M. F
O'Brien, TSharp, GranvilleTolley, L.
Oldfield, W. HShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St. Helens)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon G
Orbach, M.Shurmer, P.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Paget, R. TSilkin, Rt. Hon. L.Usborne, Henry
Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)Silverman, J. (Erdington)Vernon, Maj. W F
Palmer, A M. FSilverman, S. S. (Nelson)Walkden, E.
Pargiter, G ASkeffington, A. M.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Parker, J.Skinnard, F W.Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Parkin, B JSmith, C (Colchester)Watkins, T. E.
Paton, J (Norwich)Smith, H. N (Nottingham, S.)Watson, W. M.
Pearson, ASmith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Weitzman, D
Peart, T. FSnow, Capt. J W.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Piratin, PSolley, L. JWells, W. T. (Walsall)
Platts-Mills, J. F. F.Sorensen, R. WWest, D. G.
Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Soskice, Maj. Sir FWhite, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Popplewell, E.Sparks, J. AWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Porter E (Warrington)Stamford, WWigg, Col. G. E
Porter, G. (Leeds)Steele, T.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A B
Price, M. PhilipsStephen, C.Wilkins, W. A.
Pritt, D. NStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Willey, F T. (Sunderland)
Proctor, W TStrauss, G. R (Lambeth, N.)Willey, O G. (Cleveland)
Pryde, D. J.Stubbs, A EWilliams, D. J. (Neath)
Randall, H ESwingler, SWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Ranger, JSylvester, G OWilliams, W R. (Heston)
Rees-Williams, D. RSymonds, A. L.Willis, E.
Reid, T. (Swindon)Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)Wills, Mrs. E A
Rhodes, H.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Richards, R.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Wise, Major F J
Ridealgh, Mrs MThomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Woodburn, A.
Roberts, A.Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)Woods, G. S
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Wyatt, W.
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Thomas, George (Cardiff)Yates, V. F.
Rogers, G. H. R.Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Zilliacus, K.
Royle, C.Thurtle, Ernest
Sargood, RTiffany, S.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Scollan, TTimmons, J.Mr. Simmons and Mr. Hannan.


Agnew, Cmdr P OHaughton, S. G.Pickthorn, K.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. RHeadlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Pitman, I. J.
Astor, Hon. M.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Baldwin, A. EHogg, Hon. QPrescott, Stanley
Barlow, Sir J.Hope, Lord JPrior-Palmer, Brig. O
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hudson, Rt. Hon R S (Southport)Ramsay, Maj. S.
Boles, Lt.-Col D C. (Wells)Hurd, A.Rayner, Brig. R
Bossom, A. C.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Bowen, RHutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bower, N.Jarvis, Sir JRoberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Boyd-Carpenter, J A.Joynson-Hicks, Hon L. WRoberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Lambert, Hon. G.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Butcher, H W.Langford-Holt, J.Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Butler, Rt. Hon. R A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Ropner, Col L
Byers, FrankLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HSanderson, Sir F
Clarke, Col R. S.Linstead, H N.Scott, Lord W.
Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G.Lipson, D. LSnadden, W. M
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Spearman, A. C M
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F C.Low, Brig. A. R. WSpence, H. R.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O E.Lucas, Major Sir JStoddart-Scott, Col. M
Crowder, Capt. John ELucas-Tooth, Sir HStrauss, H G (English Universities)
Cuthbert, W. N.McCallum, Maj. D.Studholme, H. G
De la Bère, R.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Sutcliffe, H.
Digby, S. W.Mackeson, Brig H. R.Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A (P'dd't'n, S)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Teeling, William
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr, P. WMaclay. Hon. J S.Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)
Dower, Lt.-Col A V G. (Penrith)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Thorneycroft, G. E P. (Monmouth)
Drayson, G BMacpherson, N. (Dumfries)Touche, G. C.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Maitland, Comdr. J. WTurton, R. H.
Eden, Rt. Hon AManningham-Buller, R EVane, W. M F.
Elliot Rt. Hon WalterMarlowe, A. A. H.Wadsworth, G.
Fletcher, W (Bury)Marsden, Capt. A.Walker-Smith, D.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P. MMarshall, S. H. (Sutton)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Gage, C.Mellor, Sir JWilliams, C (Torquay)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. DMolson, A. H E.Willink, Rt Hon. H U
George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)Neven-Spence, Sir BWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Grant, LadyNicholson, GYork, C
Gridley, Sir A.Noble, Comdr. A. H P
Grimston, R. VOrr-Ewing, I. LTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Osborne, C.Major Conant and
Hare, Hon J. H (Woodbridge)Peto, Brig C H MLieut.-Colonel Thorp

Lords Amendment: In page 48, line 29, after "that" insert:

"the carriage of goods in a vehicle authorised for use under a licence granted under subsection (I) of section seven of Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933."

I would point out that this Amendment is grouped with three later Amendments in page 66, lines 8 and 19.

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of this Amendment is to exclude from the computation to determine whether an undertaking is long-distance road haulage or not, the type of traffic that is carried in an "A" contract vehicle. Under Section 7 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, a road haulier can enter into a direct contract to carry the commodities of a particular firm in an "A" contract vehicle, and very often part of the arrangement is that the hirer arranges for the name of his firm or company to be also inscribed on the vehicle. The argument which has been advanced to support the exclusion of the "A" contract vehicle has been that this type of vehicle is very similar to the "C" licence vehicle. I have never been able to accept that position, because the "A" contract vehicle is in fact hired for reward and a variation, in so far as it is tied to one particular company, does not alter the character when the vehicle is plying for hire and reward. Therefore, as it is essential that this type of vehicle should be treated in the same way as the haulier who generally takes on any type of contract, we are unable to accept this Amendment. The Commission obviously can undertake work of this description in the same sense as any private haulier can do so, and I do not consider that any case has been made out for this Amendment.

One of the things that used to endear the Minister to us in Committee was his ability to indicate agreement with a nod of the head, and then, when he got up to speak, we found that he was going directly contrary to what he had indicated earlier in the day. Recently, he was the recipient of the hospitality of the shareholders of one of the great shipping companies, and today we hoped that he would be somewhat more generous in the acceptance of some of these Amendments sent down from another place. But the way in which he has treated this particular Amendment is extremely brief, and I cannot see the logic in his refusal.

I will deal very briefly with the object of this Amendment as I see it. It is to exclude from the acquisition, as he has said, any vehicle under an "A" licence which is subject to a licence limiting its use to the goods of a particular undertaking. It is often the custom for a specific undertaking to have one, two or three vehicles. It is not economic and efficient for it to run as a single unit, but much better to operate with others in a pool. A group of firms in a town will get together and have one individual to run the business for them. The individual firm, whether a laundry or someone sending perishable foodstuffs about, or whatever it may be, has its name inscribed on the side of the vehicle, and it is, to all intents and purposes, a "C" licence run by someone else for that firm for the sake of economy and efficiency of operation. I say efficiency, because I think, as some hon. Members will be aware, that perhaps the one case where it was not efficient was when the Government tried to do this sort of thing during the war. On one occasion two hundred trailer films were to be taken round. The Post Office was invited to distribute them, but this distribution by the Post Office broke down and a private undertaking had to be brought in to do it. That was not a good augury for what the Government are proposing to do, namely, to nationalise these "A" contract vehicles.

The second point I want to make is that of economy. Obviously, if a firm has one or two vehicles, it has certain overheads to meet. It must have the vehicle overhauled, and once a week it must give the driver his day off. If it wants to use the vehicle for six or seven days a week, it is more economical o run it in a group under some appointed individual. The firms may appoint this person for a year and, if at the end of the year they find that he has not been very satisfactory, they can change to someone else.

The Minister will probably say, or at least imply, that the Government could carry this out as effectively as could private enterprise; but I think he would find that his colleague, the Secretary of State for War, and even his well-known and very respected war-time colleague, Jane, would not place one R.E.M.E. company in the same class as another. With those who had any choice, one R.E.M.E. company would go up rapidly in favour, while another would pass out altogether. Under the proposals in the Bill, there will be no consumers' choice. This "A" licence system ensures that choice to the users of road vehicles. Those are two reasons why this Amendment should be accepted. The system of running a comparatively limited number of vehicles is more efficient.

Another suggestion put forward elsewhere which the Minister may consider, and which I believe was elsewhere not unfavourably considered is that a number of these people in a certain town should be permitted to run a pool of vehicles on a certain basis, and see if that would work. I ask the Minister to say whether it would not be possible to make an attempt of this nature, running it on a co-operative basis by some person for the individual users of vehicles, who could contract in or contract out of a particular pool as they wished.

I put it to the Minister that this seems to us to be another instance of the fear of competition. The Government maintain that the nationalised services will give the country and the individual trader who employes this type of vehicle the service he needs and that, therefore, there is no need for the contract "A" vehicle. Why not let them go ahead and see? If the Government's services were good, in a year or so there would be no need for contract "A" vehicles. Why not give them a chance? Just as in another place it was urged by the Government that the Commission should be given a chance, let us give this system of "A" contract licence vehicles a chance and see which comes out best from that competition. If what the Government have maintained throughout this Bill, is correct, that the Government's system will be perfect, and no one else will want to run any vehicles and even the "C" licence vehicles will go out, let them try it. Then we shall see.

Finally, I would put it to the Minister that we believe and fear that this is another example of the Government wanting to set up an absolute monopoly. Of course, the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) holds the view that the figure ought not to be 25 miles, but nought miles. We see the Government creating an absolute monopoly to do away with the consumer's choice, and we see that the small employer is not to be allowed to do what he has done in the past. I suggest that the Minister, who sometimes starts by saying "No" to the first Amendment and then changes his mind on later Amendments, should, in this case, say "Yes".

12.15 a.m.

The proposed rejection of this Amendment would be more easily understood if there were any certainty that the business connected with contract "A" licence holders would be brought into nationalised transport, but the whole situation changed during the Committee stage when it was decided to give freedom to the "C" licence holders. The contract "A" licence is a very specialised thing and a trader does not enter into a contract of that kind without good reason. One of those reasons is that he uses a particular type of vehicle and he does not want to run his own transport, but gets a haulier to do it for him. What will happen? If this Amendment is rejected on the general idea that all these Amendments must be rejected, it will e. that an individual or firm requiring that specialised type of vehicle will have to get one made and run it as a "C" licence holder. It may well be that he will not use the vehicle to full capacity and, speaking in general terms, transport will not be as efficient as it ought to be. The proposal to reject this Amendment which would enable contract "A" licence holders to have the same freedom, more or less, as "C" licence holders appears to be very petty, and it would compel traders of the sort to whom I have referred to place orders for vehicles. That would be undesirable in the present state of the motor industry, and in the end none of this particular business would he brought into the nationalised transport undertaking.

I apologise for not having been in my place during the whole of this discussion, but I would like to speak particularly on the points made about the contract "A" licences. Even if the Parliamentary Secretary were here, could he say that this was a "wrecking Amendment," or that it was a matter of great party difference? It is a technical matter, and I hope that we can argue it on those lines. I think that even the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) would support me when I say that the whole aspect of the contract "A" licence was changed when the regulations about the "C" licences were changed. Certain trades have certain reasons for contracting vehicles rather than having vehicles of their own. They prefer to go to a haulier who manages the vehicle for the trader, who advertises on the vehicle. If that situation is changed, one of two things will happen. Either the trader will try to acquire a vehicle with a "C" licence and will run it himself, or he will have to go to the Commission and ask for his goods to be carried. He will consider that less efficient. If that were a satisfactory arrangement, he would have a haulier providing those services for him. I cannot see any justification for including the "A" licence contracts in the Bill.

I think there is at the present time—I hope the situation will be changed in due course—one other factor to be taken into consideration. If the Commission takes over haulage with "A" licences, it will take over the "A" licence men's vehicles. Many of these vehicles are of a specialised nature, and the trader will have difficulty in acquiring a new vehicle in getting a "C" licence. Therefore, there will be a considerable gap between his losing his "A" licence vehicle and getting his new vehicle and the "C" licence.

Will the hon. Gentleman inform us why those vehicles should not be used by the Commission for the carrying of that trader's goods in the same way as they are carried by "A" licence contractors?

I think the answer is because, in practically every case, there is a special reason why a trader prefers to have an "A" contract vehicle provided for him permanently, rather than to have a vehicle provided casually. These people are not competing against any particular road haulier. They will not be putting up enormous competition against the Commission. This will not make a great hole in the work that the Commission carries out. Obviously, it is undersirable from many points of view to increase the number of "C" licences more than is absolutely necessary. I should have thought that in this case it would have been worth the Government's while to have accepted the Amendment, since it does not seem to me to be a major issue, and it does not affect the principle of this Bill.

I was very anxious earlier in the day that this Amendment should be discussed separately.

It does not involve major principles as did the last two Amendments on which we divided. It is rather a matter of small, specialised traders in "A" contract businesses for the special purpose and special convenience of small firms. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman really wants to make things more difficult for the little firms which, in the main, will be affected by this Amendment. I do not honestly believe he wants to do that. These little firms like to have a van provided by a haulier, with their own names and advertisements on them, to carry specialised goods. When the vehicles come under the enormously powerful, large system of the Government, these firms cannot hope to have the same special consideration and special vans which carry their own advertisements.

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to speak, I am sure we shall be delighted to hear him. I know he is an expert, and I am just an ordinary person who happens to see and hear people. I do not move in his high falutin' circles. I think the Ministry of Transport has a kind spot in its hear if only one can find it. I plead for the smaller people, as my friends have done By this Amendment we would help the small specialised businesses. It is exceedingly unlikely that one great, colossal transport business is going to dead with them. I ask the Minister on this Amendment to give something to this side of the House. It would be a concession which would show the human side of the Government to those outside the House and show them that the Government do not use their power ruthlessly to squash every section of the community.

I should like to deal with one point which the right hon. Gentleman raised, and which I think i., vital to this special problem. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had noted the arguments that the contract "A" licence was in a similar position to the "C" licence. He rejected that argument because the contract ' A vehicle is a vehicle that is hired to carry goods for reward. The position of doth these types of vehicle under the old Road and Rail Act should be borne in mind. It seems to be a most material and consider, able factor. The right hon Gentleman will remember that under that Act, so long as a holder of the contras, "A' vehicle tied himself down to carrying goods for one particular person for a period of up to a year, he was not able to carry the goods of another person. When he put that limitation on himself, he was, under Section I of the Act, in exactly the same position as the holder of the "C" licence under Section 6; that is, he could make application and the application could not be refused.

That is statutory history. I am sorry to have inflicted it on the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he will see the effect it has on the present position. It means that up to now, the contract "A" vehicle has been in the same position as the "C" licence holder. Therefore the problem the right hon. Gentleman now has to face is why he should change the position that has obtained up to the present. I have tried to appreciate the arguments, but I cannot see why the fact that the person who wishes goods to be moved wants to hire a vehicle which is confined to his goods, should alter the position. At the same time it is perfectly rational that he should want the servicing of his vehicle, or a number of vehicles of which his is one, to be done by an expert; but none the less, the governing factor that the vehicle is being restricted to carrying his goods, and his goods alone, still remains and still, brings it into the same position 12.30 a.m.

If that is so, then what we are really asking for here is that there should not be a mileage restriction on the contract "A" vehicle, and that the vehicle, by reason of the longer carry that it may do, should be brought in to swell the amount of what is long-distance carriage under the Bill. That seems to us very reason- able, and there is not a very large number of vehicles involved, because the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that he has to take the whole of the contract 'A" vehicles and diminish that number in proportion to the number that carry over the 25 miles and the 40miles.agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) that this Amendment falls into a very different category from the others. It is a very practical one which will affect number of people who have wanted a particular and individual vehicle appropriate to their own needs for special reasons, and they have wanted the upkeep and maintenance of the vehicles to remain with the haulage business. That is not an unreasonable position The Amendment affects a very small number of vehicles, and I suggest that it would not do any harm to the right hon. Gentleman's principles, or affect his Bill, if he were to make a concession in this matter.

I still feel that the actual significance of this service has not been understood. This service of "A" contract vehicles has grown up side by side with the "A" licence, the "B" licence and the "C" licence, and has definitely filled a need for which none of the other services catered. The firms which use these types of vehicles—and I illustrate my point by giving the instance of chocolate firms, which require a special type of van and also a specialised type of driver—could not be served by pool vehicles. In many cases the drivers have to collect cash, to return empties, to give receipts and credit notes, and have to build up at the same time the goodwill of the firm for which they carry. All these services could not be done by a nationalised transport service.—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why not? "]—Because they not only require a specialised type of van, but trusted workpeople who know the firm's customers, and in a nationalised pool service I cannot believe that they would have the same service. I hope the Minister will reconsider this Amendment sympathetically because there is a need for this service. If he does not give it himself, he will be driving all these services into "C'' licences. By conceding this point—and it is a very little one—he can surely give greater efficiency to the transport services'

I intervene in this Debate with a strong desire to be helpful, because judging from some of the speeches tonight, some hon. Members do not know what they are talking about. I hope that, if the Minister is going to reply to this general discussion, he will clarify one point in regard to the "A" licences. Is it true that it is possible, having surveyed a firm to see whether it is eligible to 'be taken over, that its contract "A" vehicles need not necessarily be taken over if they operate outside a 25 miles' limit? It would be a great help to the House and to the country, if we could get it absolutely clear whether, under the Clause we are now discussing, that is correct. As I understand it, we are concerned with whether it is predominantly a long or a short haul. If it is predominantly a long haul, it will be taken over, but if it is a short haul under an "A" licence, it will not he taken over even if it should happen to operate outside the 25 miles' limit.

I am only too pleased to intervene again in this Debate if it is really necessary, but I think I have stated the facts fairly without—

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he can speak only by leave of the House, as he has spoken already.

As we want to hear the right hon. Gentleman, can we have a Division on the Question whether the right hon. Gentleman should have the leave of the House?

It the right hon. Gentleman cannot control his own followers, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, who presumably knows the Minister's case on this Amendment, can put forward the Government's point of view. This is a very important matter. A great deal of laundry is carried in rural areas with the help of these "A" contract vehicles, and if the Minister is to take them over, it will mean great inconvenience in rural areas, with the present shortage of soap. It might even lead to unhealthy conditions for those who live in the rural areas. As usual, the Government have hit the small man, and the big sinner—in their view—gets oft because he is a "C" licence holder. It is the very small man who has vehicles for this purpose. With this encouragement, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will now have sufficient courage to address the House on this matter and not convey that he knows nothing about the "A" licence holder. We have the advantage of having the Solicitor-General with us, and he is at present reading the Minister's brief. If I can go on a little longer, it will give him more time in which to grasp the essentials in that brief, and knowing his capacity for grasping quickly a point put before him, that will be sufficient time for him to understand the Amendment and its implications, as well as the Government's view on the matter. Perhaps he will now be able to address the House and give us an answer to the arguments that have been adduced on this Amendment.

If I may have the leave of the House, perhaps we can, without developing a controversy on a subject which does not really justify it, have a solution to the problem. I do not accept the view put forward that the "A" contract vehicle requires a specialised driver with a particular knowledge of delivery. The average person who undertakes "A" licence work performs it daily and weekly, and there are thousands of such persons in the country. The real point at issue is whether, in equity, a vehicle is for hire and reward. There is no dispute that an "A" contract vehicle comes under that definition. It represents a special contract, and it is probably tied to a particular firm by agreement with the road haulage undertaking. There are many other contracts that are not tied in the same specific form as 'A" contract vehicles, but nevertheless they are carrying goods of other firms regularly week after week. On the point of equity, I cannot possibly see how Parliament should apply to one haulier this test of whether the majority of his journeys are over 40 miles or not while another contractor, because of his special type of contract, is excluded from the Bill. Any "A" contract journey that is below the 25 miles will count in his favour; any journey over 40 miles will count for the long-distance calculation.

When we talk about the small contractor, who is often trotted out on these occa- sions, I would remind the House that "A" contract operators would come in only if the majority of their journeys were over 40 miles distance. There are from 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles hired under this system and it is too big a block of vehicles to be treated in any special way. What I have added does not alter substantially the explanation I gave in asking the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment. I hope the House will now come to a decision.

But the Minister will admit, in rejecting this Amendment, that he is preventing there being any consumer's choice in the future? If a firm that uses

Division No. 325.]


[12.43 a.m.

Adams, Richard (Balham)Dodds, N NHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Adams, W. T (Hammersmith, South)Donovan, T.Hughes, H D (Wolverhampton, w)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Driberg, T E. N.Hutchinson, H L. (Rusholme)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Anderson, F (Whitehaven)Dumpleton, C. WHynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Attewell, H. CDurbin, E F MIrving, W. J
Austin, H. LewisDye, S.Janner, B
Awbery, S SEde, Rt Hon J. C.Jay, D. P T
Ayrton Gould. Mrs. BEdwards, John (Blackburn)Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Baird, JEdwards, W J. (Whitechapel)Jeger, Dr S W (St Pancras, S.E.)
Balfour AEvans, John (Ogmore)Jones, D. T (Hartlepoole)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A JEvans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Barstow, P GEwart, R.Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Barton, C.Fairhurst, F.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Bechervaise, A. E.Farthing, W. J.Keenan, W.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. JFernyhough, E.Kenyon, C.
Beswick, F.Field, Capt. W. J.King, E M
Bing, G. H CFletcher, E G M. (Islington, E.)Kinghorn, San.-Ldr E
Binns, JFoot, M. MKinley, J
Blenkinsop, AForman, J. C.Lang, G.
Blyton, W. R.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Lavers, S.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Lee, F. (Hulme)
Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)Freeman, Peter (Newport)Lee. Miss J (Cannock)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L', Exch'ge)Gaitskell, H. T NLeonard, W.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Gallacher, W.Levy, B. W.
Bramall, E. A.Ganley, Mrs. C. SLewis, J (Bolton)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Gibbins, J.Lindgren, G. S.
Brown, George (Belper)Gibson, C WLipton. Lt -Col M
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Gilzean, A.Logan, D G.
Bruce, Maj. D. W T.Glanville, J E (Consett)Longden, F.
Buchanan, G.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Lyne, A W.
Burke, W. A.Greenwood, A W J (Haywood)McAdam, W
Butler, H W. (Hackney, S.)Grey, C. F.McAllister, G
Carmichael, JamesGrierson, EMcGhee, H. G
Chamberlain, R. AGriffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Mack, J. D.
Champion, A JGriffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Chater, D.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull. N. W)
Chetwynd, G. RGuest, Dr. L HadenMcKinlay, A. S
Cocks, F. S.Gunter, R. J.McLeavy, F
Coldrick, W.Guy, W. H.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Collins, V. J.Haire, John E (Wycombe)Macpherson, T (Romford)
Colman, Miss G. M.Hale, LeslieMallalieu, J P. W
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. GHall, W. G.Mann, Mrs. J.
Corbet, Mrs. F K (Cab we. N W.)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RManning, C (Camberwell, N.)
Cove, W. GHannan, W. (Maryhill)Manning, Mrs L (Epping)
Crawley, AHardman, D. RMathers, G.
Crossman, R. H SHardy, E A.Mayhew, C. P
Daggar, GHastings, Dr SomervilleMedland, H M
Daines, PHaworth, JMellish, R J
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Henderson, A (Kingswinford)Middleton, Mrs. L
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Harold (Leek)Herbison, Miss MMillington, Wing-Comdr E. R.
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Hewitson, Capt. MMitchison, G. R.
Deer, G.Hobson, C. R.Moody, A. S.
de Freitas, GeoffreyHolman, PMorris, P (Swansea, W.)
Delargy, H. JHouse, GMoyle, A.
Diamond, J.Hubbard, TMurray, J. D
Dobbie, W.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Nally, W.

"A" contract licences is dissatisfied with the service it gets from the Commission, its only alternative is to buy a vehicle—not go to another firm.

It is quite true that they have that opportunity and it appears to me that they have an effective consumer's choice. On the other hand, we do not accept the view that the Commission cannot provide an equal and even a better service than the private undertakings.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 110.

Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)Scollan, TTolley, L.
Nicholls, H R (Stratford)Shackleton, E A ATomlinson, Rt. Hon G
Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)Sharp, GranvilleUngoed-Thomas, L
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P J (Derby)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St Helens)Usborne, Henry
Noel-Buxton, LadyShurmer, PVernon, Maj W. P
O'Brien, T.Silverman, J (Erdington)Walkden, E.
Oldfield, W HSilverman, S S. (Nelson)Walker, G H
Orbach, M.Simmons, C. J.Wallace, G. D (Chislehurst)
Paget, R. TSkeffington, A MWallace, H. W (Walthamstow, E.)
Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)Skinnard, F. WWatkins, T. E
Palmer, A M. FSmith, C (Colchester)Watson, W. M
Pargiter, G ASmith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Weitzman, D
Parker, JSmith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Parkin, B. I.Solley, L. J.Wells, w. T (Walsall)
Paton, J. (Norwich)Sorensen, R. WWest, D. G
Peart, T FSoskice, Maj. Sir FWhite, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Piratin, PSparks, J. AWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Plaits-Mills, J. F. P.Stamford, W.Wigg, Col G E
Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Steele, T.Wilcock, Group-Capt C A B
Popplewell, E.Stephen, C.Wilkes, L
Porter E (Warrington)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Wilkins, W A.
Price, M. PhilipsStrauss, G R. (Lambeth, N.)Willey, F T. (Sunderland)
Pritt, D. N.Stubbs, A. EWilley, O G. (Cleveland)
Proctor, W. TSwingler, SWilliams, D J. (Neath)
Pryde, D. JSylvester, G OWilliams, J L (Kelvingrove)
Randall, H ESymonds, A. LWilliams, W R (Heston)
Ranger, JTaylor, H. B (Mansfield)Willis, E.
Rees-Williams, D RTaylor, R J (Morpeth)Wills, Mrs. E A
Rhodes, H.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Wise, Major F J
Richards, R.Thomas, D E (Aberdare)Woodburn, A
Ridealgh, Mrs. MThomas, Ivor (Keighley)Woods, G S
Robens, A.Thomas, I O (Wrekin)Wyatt, W
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Thomas, George (Cardiff)Yates, V F.
Robertson, J. J (Berwick)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R (Ed'b'gh, E.)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Rogers, G. H. R.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Zilliacus, K
Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Tiffany, S
Sargood, RTitterington M PMr. Snow and Mr. Pearson.


Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gridley, Sir APeto, Brig C H M
Assheton, Rt, Hon. R.Grimston, R. VPickthorn, K
Astor, Hon MHare, Hon J H (Woodbridge)Pitman, I J
Baldwin, A EHaughton, S. GPoole, O B S. (Oswestry)
Barlow, Sir JHinchingbrooke, ViscountPrescolt, Stanley
Beamish, Maj T V. HHope, Lord JPrior-Palmer, Brig. O
Birch, NigelHudson, Rt. Hon R S (Southport)Rayner, Brig, R
Boles, Lt.-Col O C. (Wells)Hurd, A.Reid, Rt. Hon J S C. (Hillhead)
Bossom, A C.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W)Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Bower, NHutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, Maj P G (Ecclesall)
Boyd-Carpenter, J A.Jarvis, Sir J.Roberts W. (Cumberland, N.)
Buchan-Hepburn, P G TJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WRobinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Butcher, H. WLambert, Hon. GRopner Col L
Byers, FrankLangford-Holt, J.Scott, Lord W
Clarke, Col R S.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E A RSnadden, W. M
Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. GLinstead, H N.Spearman, A. C M
Corbett, Lieut.-Col U. (Ludlow)Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Spence, H. R.
Crookshank, Capt Rt. Hon H F C.Low, Brig A. R. WStoddart-Scott, Col. M
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Cot O ELucas-Tooth, Sir HStrauss, H G (English Universities)
Crowder, Capt. John EMcCallum, Maj. D.Studholme, H G
Cuthbert, W. N.Mackeson, Brig. H RSutcliffe, H
Davidson, ViscountesMcKie, J. H (Galloway)Teeling, William
De la Bère, RMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Thomas, J P. L (Hereford)
Digby, S W.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dodds-Parker, A. DMaitland, Comdr. J WThorp, Lt-Col R A F
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. WManningham-Buller, R ETouche, G. C.
Dower, Lt.-Col, A V G. (Penrith)Marlowe, A. A. HTurton, R H.
Drayson, G BMarsden, Capt. A.Vane, W M F
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Wadsworth, G.
Eden, Rt. Hon A.Marshall S H. (Sutton)Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Elliot Rt. Hon WalterMellor, Sir J.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fletcher, W (Bury)Molson, A. H. E.Williams, C (Torquay)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Sallsbury)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earn
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P MNeven-Spence, Sir BYork, C
Gage, C.Nicholson, G
Galbraith, Cmdr T. DNoble, Comdr. A H PTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)Orr-Ewing, I. LMajor Conant and Major Ramsay.
Grant, LadyOsborne, C.

Lords Amendment: In page 39, line 32. after "meat" insert "the carriage of milk."

I should announce that with this Amendment we take the Amendment in page 66, line 19.

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

In some respects, this is similar to the previous Amendment—that milk should be excluded from long-distance traffic. This, too, has been debated at length through all the stages of the Bill, but those who desire to accomplish this purpose have, I consider, signally failed to make out a case. Therefore, I should like to repeat again the facts of the situation before the House comes to a decision. A very considerable quantity of milk is carried by rail. Therefore, under the terms of this Bill it would continue to be carried by the Commission. Also, there is a considerable quantity of milk carried in the owners' own vehicles, the "C" licence vehicles. Glass-lined tanks that carry milk are exempt because of the character of the vehicles. The percentage of milk carried by road hauliers probably is not more than from 10 to 20 per cent. of the total. Many of these road haulage organisations pick up the milk—that is, the churns—at the farm gate and carry them either to creameries, processing plants, or the rail head as the case may be; and I consider that no case has been made out to suggest that the picking up of the churns and taking them either to the creameries or to the rail head requires any special qualification. The Commission will be able to perform that function quite as well as, and probably better than, it is done at the present time, and therefore, I ask the House to disagree with this amendment because there is no reason why the carriage of milk should be exempt.

I am very disappointed. This is an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman could well accept without feeling that he had given way on a substantial point. The supply of milk is a very serious matter, and hon. members opposite should realise it. Many of us feel that we want an assurance on many points. First, it has been argued—and the Minister would be the last to deny it—that meat has been accepted and that milk is a very perishable food commodity. On this side we join issue with the Minister, for we maintain that under the Commission there would be delay. The Minister says that the Commission would give as good service, but we do not think there will be the personal touch. This matter requires personal knowledge and experience in many cases. Those who are engaged in the collection and delivery of milk are farmers or ex-farmers, and they make a point of knowing all the various circumstances. One day milk may be required to be collected at a certain time. The flow of milk changes and arrangements have to be made to meet special circumstances. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may enjoy themselves to their hearts' content, but it will not prevent hon. members on this side of the House from doing their duty. There is another essential required in this matter of the collection and delivery of milk, and it is that the service should be a flexible one, ready to change, whatever circumstances may arise, such as a change in the weather or a change in the place where the milk has to be sent under the orders of the Ministry of Food.

1.0 a.m.

The last point I wish to make is that in the past, the collection and delivery of milk has been a very intricate and complicated organisation. It has been built up very largely by the Milk Marketing Board, and it has, as far as I know, given most efficient service. I suggest that the Minister should think two or three times before he is prepared to smash a service which it has taken so long to build up, and which has given such excellent results. The right hon. Gentleman, during one stage of the Bill, said that he would like to be made aware of what the Milk Marketing Board thought about this. The Board has expressed its opinion in no uncertain manner. I hope hon. Members will bear with me if I quote from a letter sent to me by the chairman of the Milk Marketing Board on this matter. He says:
"The sudden diversion of loads—and we collect from 120,000 farms"—
so it is not so small—
"is a feature in the day-to-day marketing of milk."
He then goes on to say:
"The Board determines which individual farm supplies shall be carried by each haulier, and the destination to which the load is to be conveyed. This transport service represents one phase of the wider service of marketing milk which is the Board's primary function, and there would be unnecessary duplication if a second authority"—
It is not only the Ministry of Food, but the Transport Commission—
"Intervenes in this service."
He then states:
"The service is under constant review and is being constantly amended to meet the flow of milk."
At the very last moment they may have to change their orders. It may be found that only a certain amount of milk is going, or that instead of its going to a certain place, it has to go somewhere else. Hon. Members cannot possibly maintain that these people could get the same quick alteration of plans from the Transport Commission as they get when they have made these arrangements themselves. I have never known a Government organisation or board to act with the same swiftness as one gets in private enterprise. Hon. Members may have had contrary experiences, but I have not. The chairman of the Milk Marketing Board finishes with these serious words:
"I trust, as chairman of the Milk Marketing Board, that after a final review of our case, the Minister will feel able to add the carriage of milk to the lost of excluded traffic, in the same way as meat and livestock. In that way duplication of control by two statutory bodies can be avoided, and the delay which that would cause."
That is our case, and we put it forward with all earnestness to the right hon. Gentleman. The supply of milk is a vital service, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will ask himself seriously whether that service will be carried out as efficiently under his proposals. We on this side of the House do not believe it. I am prepared to concede that the Minister is earnest in his views, but at the same time I would like him to know of the responsibility which he will be taking over. I would like to point out to him that if the milk is not delivered he will be responsible all over the country for the supplies being carried in an inefficient way. It is a responsibility which I would not be prepared to assume if I were in his shoes.

I must say that, of all the Amendments in the Order Paper, I am most surprised that the Government are not prepared to accept this Amendment. I feel that the reason is partly that the right hon. Gentleman has not got all the facts correctly in connection with the supply of milk. First, this Bill applies only to 18 per cent. of the total milk supplies of the country. I know that there are certain exempted traffics—tanks and the like, and milk which has not travelled more than 25 miles from the farm—but there will be a disorganisation in not allowing that 18 per cent. of milk traffic to be exempted. The Milk Marketing Board have clone excellent service in co-ordinating the milk traffic, and they actually take milk from 120,000 farms in England and Wales.

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It has been stated that a great deal of milk is transported by rail. In fact, the figure is 0.4 per cent. of the milk traffic, and that, I suggest, is not a high figure. In the Committee stage of the Bill, the Minister, in reply to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton), said that this business of transporting milk was not so much one of a contracting, interest as an accounting interest. In other words, it was a matter of figures. The Minister said that he was speaking not so much as a Minister, but as one who had had great experience in this trade. What are the facts? In addition to operating its own fleets, 3,945 vehicles are operated on its behalf. I give these facts because the Minister should know them. The Government speakers in another place said that the Milk Marketing Board did not actually carry milk. The Boards owns between 200 and 300 commercial vehicles collecting and carrying milk, and with that number I suggest that they are very large hauliers. The motion to reject this Amendment is based on false information. There is a co-ordination of transport in existence. If the Minister takes over this 18 per cent. he will create great chaos in the distribution of milk, and of all perishable articles, milk is perhaps the most perishable. I ask the Minister to reconsider his view.

I would like to deal with the question of how the Milk Marketing Board is to be treated. The Minister has not mentioned that co-operative organisation, I am sorry to say, but it is the producers' main weapon, and so far as I can see from the figures that have been given, there are to be three different types of operator to deal with the milk supply. Today, under a very carefully worked out scheme, the Milk Marketing Board has the complete confidence of the Ministry of Food. It delivers the goods to the satisfaction of all concerned, and it uses one type of organisation—in addition to the amount that comes in glass lined tanks on the railways, I admit. I am surprised that the figure is only 0.4 per cent., for I should have thought it was rather larger.

What will happen if this Amendment is not accepted? First, most of the milk will be handled by the small carriers who operate over distances of less than 25 miles. In addition, we shall get the Commission coming in for those areas which extend beyond the 25 miles' radius, unless the Commission use the powers contained in the Amendment with which we agreed a short time ago. I shall have a word to say about that in a minute Thus we shall get two separate organisations working in the same area, and, if not in the same area, certainly under the mantle of the Milk Marketing Board's co-ordination scheme. In addition to that, we shall get a third type of collection, and that will be by the "C" licence dairy companies.

I had some experience of milk distribution during the war, and I have no love of anything in the way of organisation or of investigation handled by a Government Department. I had in my own constituency a case which shows how much reliance we can place upon the investigation which may take place under the Commission. In the particular circumstances, in Nidderdale, there was a small haulier, and the Ministry of Food, in their wisdom, decided to put that man out of business, because they said the job could be done much more economically by a larger haulier. So they set to work to try to do this. Fortunately, the whole of the dale was up in arms, and, with a certain amount of pressure from myself, we fought that case. I was actually given a categorical set of figures and information by the Ministry of Food which proved in the end to be wholly inaccurate. As a result of my finding what the proper figures were, we did eventually—it took about six months—get that decision reversed. That is exactly the type of case which will come before the Commission, and which may get the same cursory and inadequate investigation as was given by the Ministry of Food; and it may be a very much more difficult case to undo than in that instance I have mentioned. Therefore, I say we should not place much reliance upon the possibilities of investigation by this Commission.

1.15 a.m.

It has been stated that specialised vehicles are not required for this work; but that I believe to be inaccurate, in a number of cases—I am not quite sure how many. There is a large number of vehicles operating on the roads today which are used almost wholly, if not wholly, for the carriage of milk churns I believe they could also carry beer barrels if there were any beer. I doubt very much if a joint organization for carrying milk and beer would be an easy one to handle. If there are specialised areas where there is a large number of vehicles used in the carriage of milk churns, I think we ought to know. I think the Minister has got to show us what the position is in regard to the Milk Marketing Board.

Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, there is no safeguard that the Commission will investigate and pronounce accurately and fairly as to whether a particular case is or is not to be exempted. I am sure that if the Minister persists in refusing this Amendment, he will not only break up—break down, if you like—what is now acknowledged on every side to be a thoroughly efficient organisation, but he will also have to bear the onus when the market supplies slow down as a result of bringing this part of the Bill into force. Therefore, I hope that he realises what he is doing in breaking up this organisation. The effect of his inability to see the practical difficulties of what he is doing will place upon him the responsibility for a breakdown in the milk distribution industry which it has taken farmers and the Milk Marketing Board many years to build up. That is not the sort of thing which should happen as a side wind under the Transport Bill.

I hope the Minister will think again on this matter. I represent the biggest dairy constituency in this country, and I cannot for one moment accept the figures given by the Minister with regard to their difficulties vis-à-vis long-distance haulage. Nearly all the farms in my constituency are between 80 and 100 miles from the Glasgow distribut- ing centre. I can assure the Minister that if he does not think again, chaos will immediately ensue in that very important milk producing area, and I am sure that is not what the Minister wants. I impress upon him the fact that he certainly did not give the House an accurate picture of the situation, especially so far as Scotland is concerned.

The effect of the policy of this Government as also of the previous Government and the Government before that, has been to encourage milk production above everything els in agriculture. Possibly that has been overdone; perhaps the true balance has not been held But what do we see in the Bill as it now stands? The carriage of meat is to be allowed and the carriage of milk is to be excluded as a result of the Minister's refusal to accept the Lords Amendment. This certainly mystifies me. If the Government live up to their maxim and encourage milk production over meat, why include meat and exclude milk? I should have thought the right hon. Gentleman would have joined with us, if there was to be a choice, by including milk and excluding meat. We are told that too much eating of meat is bad for blood pressure, and that the consumption and production of milk should be encouraged. Surely, if the Minister thinks on those lines and is prepared to act accordingly, he will see that this is a reasonable Amendment and on second thoughts, in order to avoid a complete breakdown which undoubtedly there will be, particularly in Scotland, he will agree with the Lords Amendments.

I should like to tell the House that it is not only farmers from the North of England and Scotland who are concerned in this matter. Those in the South are equally anxious that the economies in their co-ordination schemes should not be lost. One of the most interesting exhibits in the Royal Show at Lincoln was on the stand of the Milk Marketing Board, where they had a demonstration of the whole of their collecting system, how it was planned, routed, and how many churns a lorry could take up. The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in saying that this is not a specialised job, for it is a specialised job, and that is how the Milk Marketing Board have achieved their economies. It is difficult to believe that nationalised transport will achieve the same results, and the Minister would be well advised to leave well alone. I cannot see what advantage he or the Commissioners will get from this provision of the Bill. They will not do the job more economically from the point of view of the producer or the consumer.

During the last six months quite a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have asked me to give them particulars about the Northern Ireland Transport Board of which I have been a member since its inception, with the exception of the war years, and I think it is not without significance to point out that milk was excluded from the operations of the Northern Ireland Transpert Board in the 1935 Act. Over there milk production has increased out of all knowledge, and during last year millions of gallons have been supplied to the city of Glasgow from the surplus of whole milk produced in Northern Ireland. At present there is a surplus which cannot be taken by that great city, and I think it gives some idea of the production, and a better one than could be obtained by quoting figures.

Being very interested in this Transport I have re-studied the system of the transport of milk which enables the supplies not only to come to the cities, but to be shipped overseas. It is a tremendously specialised job which involves seven days' work a week, at all hours and I am very doubtful whether it could be handled successfully by a nationalised scheme of transport. The.-e is in this case, a working example to be seen by any Member who cares to look at it in operation. The transport industry has been doing a very successful job, and it has been left on its own to accomplish it. Instead of disagreeing with the Amendment, would it not be possible for the Minister to say that later on, having gone into the matter and seen what is taking place in Northern Ireland, a scheme would be framed? At any rate over there, the transport of milk has been kept outside the operation of the Northern Ireland Transport Board, and I think that is worthy of note.

I want to add one word by way of a request to the Minister to look at this matter again and do something about it. I represent one of the Divisions of the County of Somerset, which is one of the oldest milk-producing counties in England. I will not quote figures, but everyone knows that a high proportion of agricultural activities in Somerset is devoted, as has always been the case, to the production of milk. I have been looking at this thing on the spot to try to get some picture of how it will work in my own county. The picture I have is very alarming indeed. What strikes me most is the question of elasticity. The difficulty is once we get a system which is as centrally controlled as this system is bound to be—I do not say that it is to be controlled from Whitehall, or any nonsense of that kind, because it will not be, though it is bound to be more centrally controlled than the present system—the reaction to sudden diversion is slowed down, just at the moment when sudden diversion has to be carried out.

That would not matter very much if a perishable commodity like milk were not being dealt with, but we have to remember that, in addition to dealing with such a perishable commodity, we are dealing also with a most intricate network of narrow lanes and roads in the country. If, suddenly, supplies are diverted down one of those side roads, there are bound to be most appalling difficulties when there are zones centrally controlled. There will be long delays in picking up supplies, and deliveries will be made at the wrong place. During the war years, and in the recent extreme weather, we had some experience of sudden diversion. I do not think the Minister, no matter how strongly he believes in this system, would claim that it is likely to be more elastic than the present one. If he is claiming that, I hope he will tell us so, though I do not see that he has really any grounds for so believing.

In the present elastic system the greatest problem is that of handling. The men working in this business and dealing with the milk have been engaged in it for years, especially in a county like Somerset. Long before there was any Milk Marketing Board, Somerset was a great milk supplying area for such places as Bristol and South Wales. The men who are engaged in milk production in that county know what they are talking about. They are unanimous in declaring that the Minister's proposal will not work as efficiently as the present system. The Minister will make a grave mistake if he does not accept this Amendment.

It is interesting to note that the argument about milk appears to be a one-sided argument tonight. There are a number of Socialists who represent agricultural constituencies, and I should have thought it would have been interesting to the House and to their constituencies for them to give their views on a matter which cannot be a controversy between parties. It is a question of what will be best for agriculture and for the health of our people. The hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn (Major Wise), who occupies a distinguished position in the Socialist Party in regard to agriculture, should tell the House what he thinks of the Minister's proposal to take away from the Milk Marketing Board and the Ministry of Food the question of allocating milk supplies, for that is what it boils down to. It is true to say that in certain areas school children are not going to get supplies of milk sufficient to meet their needs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It means that in certain parts the hospitals are going to have their supply of milk delayed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am trying to explain to hon. Members how the existing organisation operates. I should have thought that if they had listened carefully while I was trying to explain it, they would have understood why.

1.30 a.m.

In another place, when this matter was raised, the Lord Chancellor drew attention to the fact that the carriage of milk was not a specialised carriage and that the vehicles could be used for the carriage of other commodities. That is against the regulations of the Milk Marketing Board and the Ministries of Food and Health. That is why, if there is a system of having milk sent with other loads by the Transport Commission it will jeopardise its safety for hospitals. [Interruption.] I should have thought the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) would have had a more humble attitude towards his leaders. After all, the Lord Chancellor is now a Socialist. If the Minister of Food were to regard the Transport Commission as the best body, the safest body, to transport this 18 per cent, of milk, even if we did not disagree with this Amendment it would be open to the Minister of Food and the Transport Commission to turn over this work to the nationalised industry. This Amendment would not stop that happening. The allocation is made at the present time by a reputable board under the Milk Marketing Act and by the Ministry of Food. Why does the Minister fear the competition of the men at present carrying milk for the Milk Marketing Board? I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent agricultural constituencies, will give the House their views on this Amendment. Are they prepared to say that what the Minister is proposing is a safe thing for the children and other consumers of milk, and an economic thing for this country?

The right hon. Gentleman asked the House to disagree with this Amendment on the ground that no sufficient argument had been put forward in favour of the case for it. The arguments in favour of the Amendment were fully set out in another place, and I think we have heard substantial arguments in favour of the Amendment since the right hon. Gentleman spoke. If he really meant that he wished this Amendment to be rejected, lie did not show the reasons why the change in the present system should be made. I venture to think that his opinion may have been altered after he has heard many opinions put forward for his consideration.

Moreover, I think the argument should be the other way round. The right hon. Gentleman has adduced no reasons whatsoever why the present system should be changed, and if a change is to take place in the present system, surely the House is entitled to receive some argument in favour of that change. We have, on the other hand, had the benefit of the acceptance of the maintenance of the existing principle with regard to the carriage of other perishable commodities. No argument has been put forward to show why this particular perishable commodity should be separated from meat, livestock, and other things of that sort. I am not surprised that neither the Minister of Agriculture nor his Parliamentary Secretary is present. Both of them would have great difficulty in sitting on that Bench and listening to the proposals now being advocated for the disruption of the organisation of milk distribution which they have played a great Dart in building up.

An argument has been advanced against some other Amendments that they were wrecking Amendments, because they were of so much substance. I do not accent that argument as correct. But now the Government advance, in regard to this Amendment, the argument that it is of little substance because it affects so small a part of the trade that is carried. The Government cannot have it both ways. Why should they seek to impress the House with an argument one way on one Amendment, and at another time use an argument the other way? Naturally it is a small proportion of the trade that is carried, but it is a vitally important proportion, and if—owing to the disruption of the system that has been built up over many years, and which has, in consequence of trial and experience, reached something that is near perfection—the milk distribution system of this country is jeopardised, the one claim that the Government can make at the present time about increased food supplies will go by the board. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear that in mind when he ha s to face his Cabinet colleagues about the breakdown of milk distribution.

May I put another point for the right hon. Gentleman's consideration? We why are in closer association with the question of agricultural distribution realise, perhaps even more than he has had the opportunity of doing, how essential it is to have a flexible service. Often it happens that for one reason or another, the collection from the farms, and the distribution, has to be switched in regard to both time and place. Suppose a lorry is collecting 10 miles from its centre, and is delivering within a radius of 25 miles, and it is switched to deliver to a point which takes it outside the 25 miles; is the driver or the owner of that lorry going to be able to obey an instruction, and switch in that way, without feeling that he is jeopardising his position as a shortdistance haulier? He will be going outside his radius to fulfil a necessity, but I think that will be an occasion when the delivery and distribution of milk will be jeopardised.

If that happens, what will arise in connection with claims relating to this perishable commodity? Many claims are bound to arise, and hardship will be caused to farmers if, because of delays due to this or many other reasons, the milk goes bad. It will be very difficult to decide when the milk went bad. It is hard enough to do that under the present system, but in future, when questions such as those I have described arise owing to the switching or alteration of routes, it is going to be infinitely harder, and the claims for compensation will be substantial and extremely difficult.

Finally, I appeal to the Minister to revise his original opinion—first, because he has given no ground whatever why the present system should be discarded and the new system brought into force, and, secondly, because in the interests of the consumers of the country there is no clue or indication, and no presumption, that they will be better served by whatever plan, if any, the Minister has. He has given no indication of his plans for carrying out his new proposals.

May I hark back to the West Country. In Devonshire, we produce even better milk than Somerset, and we are very proud of our milk transport system—both as regards the county and the Milk Board organisation. I would like to echo the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) that the Minister should leave well alone in this matter, and accept the Lords Amendment.

I think my hon. Friends have built up a formidable case for the Minister to answer. We had some discussion on these matters, as the Minister will remember, in Committee and at that time I suggested that he should take account of the views of the Milk Marketing Board on this subject. I was not at that time aware of the views of the Board. I received a letter from the chairman of the Milk Marketing Board only today in which he expressed his views most clearly and enclosed a copy of a letter he had addressed to the Minister. The Ministry have acknowledged the letter formally, but no further reply has been received. The chairman of the Milk Marketing Board has very considerable responsibilities with regard to marketing, and I should have thought the representations which he made would be considered very carefully by the Minister. He put a very strong case in his letter to the Minister and most of the points have already been admirably put by Members on this side of the House. I do not propose to go over them again. I urge the Minister to think again on this matter, and particularly not to take the very unnecessary risk which it appears he is going to take in this regard. Nobody has suggested that this question of the transport of milk is not being satisfactorily tackled at the present time by the Board, and it does seem very extraordinary that a new Board should be set up to take on some of the work of a Board set up by a previous Government.

I suggest that the difficulties of milk transport are rather more considerable than the Minister has so far recognised. There are all sorts of fluctuations to which attention has to be paid. There are occasions when there is a glut of milk in particular parts of the country, and others when there are considerable reductions of supply. There are times when great variations are caused—such as at school holidays, at weekends, during holiday rushes, and so on. There was an occasion not long ago—I hardly dare to mention it—when there was a strike of workers of the Co-operative Society, and that resulted in a considerable diversion of milk suddenly from Essex to another county. All these things happen, and it is rather a difficult job.

1.45 a.m.

The Milk Marketing Board have had very considerable experience of doing this job, and they have done the job very well indeed. I cannot understand how it is that the Minister wants to take away from the Board this job which they are doing satisfactorily and to take upon himself the unnecessary risk of depriving himself of their services and doing it himself. Surely, he has enough troubles on his hands. All the new tasks which the Ministry is taking upon itself now will need a great deal of doing. This is a job which has been perfectly well done by the Board, which was set up under the approval of Parliament. It has done the job very satisfactorily, and I ask the Minister to reconsider his opposition to this Amendment, and to accept it.

If, with the leave of the House, I may speak again, I will reply to one or two points. I take the figures which the hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) gave, that approximately r8 per cent. of milk supplies at the outside are affected by this Amendment. I also gather that there is practically complete unanimity, among those who have asked me to reconsider the position, that the Milk Marketing Board are doing a good job on this occasion. The Milk Marketing Board are a statutory body and they are working on the lines of centralised control of the milk supply—[HON. MEMBERS: "Co-ordinated."]—Centrally co-ordinated.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not centrally."] I thought hon. Members said that the Milk Marketing Board were doing the job. Are they doing it or not? Surely, there is no dispute now among hon. Members. I cannot see their point in introducing the Milk Marketing Board into this discussion, unless they are satisfied that the Milk Marketing Board, with centrally controlled distribution, is doing a very good job. I would like to know if that is their case or not; otherwise, the Milk Marketing Board has nothing to do with this matter.

Centralised control is a quite different thing from administration. Of course, it is centralised control, but the actual action and order given is decentralised to a very high degree. The system would never work under the Milk Marketing Board unless there were decentralisation.

If that is the case, I cannot understand why, when we are to shift to the Transport Board, it should be assumed that the Transport Commission will not be able to do the job as efficiently as the Milk Marketing Board. Let me come to the question of decentralisation. I made it plain that there is nothing in this Clause or in the measure of control which we are proposing to institute that will affect 80 per cent. of the milk that is now handled through the machinery of the Milk Marketing Board. Of the 18 per cent. that is in dispute, I think hon. Members will agree that a very large proportion of it is short-distance milk carried by road. I say that it is, and hon. Members in argument have proved that case.

The only point really raised in this Debate concerned the occasions when it is necessary to divert the milk. In the ordinary way the bulk of the milk carried by road is within the 25 miles radius. It is not affected at all. The only point I am now dealing with under the Amendment is whether the milk traffic of an operator should be computed within the test of whether he is in fact a long-distance operator or not. If an operator is carrying a quantity of milk in churns—because it cannot be in a glass-lined tank—it can- not be a "C" licence vehicle; if that operator, for hire or reward, is carrying churns of milk for 40 miles, on what grounds of equity should that traffic be excluded from this Bill?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Meat.") In the case of meat, 80 per cent. is carried less than 25 miles, and the majority of long-distance meat is carried in insulated vehicles of the meat organisation. When one comes to milk, the question is raised whether the small percentage of traffic carried for 40 miles could not be equitably excluded from the long-distance provisions. I have listened to the discussion on milk all through the proceedings on this Bill, and I know of no matter which has been subject to greater exaggeration or more grossly misunderstood that this commodity. If a long-distance operator is carrying mill: and his business is taken over by the Transport Commission and passes to the Road Executive, the business of the Mill: Marketing Board need not be interrupted because a haulier business ceases to belong to a private company and becomes part of the Transport Commission. If the Commission has to carry out any particular milk transport, it can fall in with the scheme just as well as any private operator.

Will the Milk Marketing Board have the same control over the Executive as it now has over the private haulier?

It certainly will not have control over the Executive, but it will have the same service and will be able to give the same directions, if you like, with regard to a consignment of milk carried on a lorry operated by the Transport Commission, as it could to any private haulier carrying its milk supplies.

Certainly. The Commission will be able to carry out the task of moving milk, just as it can carry out the task of moving any other commodity. My final observation is that the arguments put forward today, and on another occasion in another place, about disturbing the machinery of distribution of the Milk Marketing Board have not been sustained.

It will be necessary to get a permit if a haulier exceeds the 25 miles radius. If a sudden emergency arises and a milk haulier wants to take milk for more than the permitted distance, is it not the case that he will not be able to get the necessary permit from the Transport Commission in the necessary time?

I do not consider there would be any difficulty in the Road Executive of the British Transport Commission coming to arrangements to deal with any sudden traffic emergency. One might imagine that these things are not done every day in the field of road transport. Actually, they are quite a common occurrence in the industry, and the British Transport Commission, with its organisation and the extensive range of vehicles and services under its control, will be equal to them. Any suggestion that the organisation will not be able to perform these services as well as the limited organisations do today would not stand a moment's examination. With regard to the issuing of permits, I am sure that the Commission, working in co-operation with the Milk Marketing Board, will be able to meet all emergencies. In fact, day by day, in all kinds of industries, and under all kinds of circumstances, there will be similar transport emergencies.

But can one get a permit in half-an-hour out of any Government Department? The thing is preposterous.

I do not know that, but what I do know is that our policy is right. We are convinced of that, and this Amendment represents a difference of view on policy.

I would like to ask one question. Is this Commission going to be available at any hour of the day or night, as in the case 'of the Milk Marketing Board?

Are we really to be fobbed off in this way? I am certainly not clear about this matter, although I have listened to at least the last sir speeches, and I was on the Standing Committee; and I am quite sure that other hon. Members on this side are as uncertain. Hon. Members opposite think that every question can be answered merely by saying that the Commission can give just as good, or better, service than the private people are giving today—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is being done with coal"]—The Government have still to prove that it can be done with coal, but, in any case, that is not the argument. My argument is that it is of no use saying the Commission can and will provide a better service, and then sitting back with the hope that it will. Hauliers are restricted to the 25 miles limit, and we are all agreed that, in the case of milk, sudden diversions are likely and necessary—diversions which would normally take the vehicles outside the 25 miles limit.

There are three things which can be done. The haulier can, first, break the law, secondly, he can get a permit, or, thirdly, he can transfer the milk to one of the Commission's lorries. Of course, what will happen, if the haulier is keen to get the milk to the right place at the right time, is that he will break the law. Is it suggested that one can get a permit to divert a lorry over 25 miles within two or three hours? I ask the Minister, can one?—[HON. MEMBERS: Why not?]— Well, if one can get the permit which becomes necessary, it is quite obvious that there is to be machinery set up to enable these diversions to be catered for. But it has to be remembered that these diversions occur daily. If we are to have a permit issued with that ease every day, what is the purpose of having permits at all? One has to make a proper application and say for what one needs it. Or is one, as in the Army, going to ring up and say, "Can we go to such and such a place?" These are all important matters. I do not mind telling hon. Members opposite that, within a year or eighteen months, they will be answering these questions when the crisis has occurred.

The Minister has certainly not given an explanation of why he is now seeking to introduce the Transport Commission into part of the milk distributing system when the Milk Marketing Board are apparently running the thing properly. I have no interest in milk, except that I represent a rural constituency. It is not, indeed, a question of milk: it is a question of proper administration. I do not believe there is an atom of foresight on the Government Front Bench. I am quite convinced that the reason the Minister cannot give satisfactory answers tonight is that he does not know what is going to happen. He has not looked into it, and he is just hoping.

This Debate has served two or three useful purposes. I had always understood that the Socialist Party were rather proud of the Milk Marketing Board. It took a considerable time to build up its transport system. Having built it up, largely by the help of outside people—at least, by the help of their knowledge—and having created a system which is really doing something to help agriculture and to bring good food in the form of milk to the people, the Government are now setting up this new system. We are to tack the present system on to another system which is far bigger. It cannot have any other than one effect. It means the reorganisation of the milk apply all over again. When we have built up a system in this way, it is rather a pity to throw it over in the manner the Minister is doing.

It is rather interesting to note this further point. We have had on a good many occasions from hon. and right hon. Gentleman on the other side, the profession of a desire to organise agriculture and milk and other things in a high degree; a profession of concern for them. It is, however, quite obvious from the Minister's reply that he shares the rather common feeling on the Government Front

Division No. 326.]AYES.[2.5 a.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham)Cove, W. G.Grey, C. F.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Crawley, A.Grierson, E.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Crossman, R. H. S.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Daggar, G.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Attewell, H. C.Daines, P.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Austin, H. LewisDavies, Edward (Burslem)Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Awbery, S. S.Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Gunter, R. J
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Guy, W. H.
Baird, J.Deer, G.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Balfour Freitas, GeoffreyHale, Leslie
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Delargy, H. J.Hall, W. G.
Barstow, P. G.Diamond, J.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R.
Barton, C.Dobbie, W.Hardman, D. R.
Bechervaise, A. E.Dodds, N. N.Hardy, E. A.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. J.Driberg, T. E. N.Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Beswjck, F.Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Haworth, J.
Bing, G. H. C.Dumpleton, C. W.Henderson, A (Kingswinford)
Binns, J.Durbin, E. F. M.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Blenkinsop, A.Ede, Rt. Hon J. C.Herbison, Miss M.
Blyton, W. R.Edwards, John (Blackburn)Hewitson, Capt. M.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Hobson, C. R.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Evans, John (Ogmore)Holman, P.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p, Exch'ge)Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)House, G.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Ewart, R.Hubbard, T.
Bramall, E. A.Fairhurst, F.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Farthing, W. J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Brown, George (Belper)Fernyhough, E.Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Field, Capt. W. J.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Bruce, Maj O. W. T.Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Buchanan, G.Foot, M. M.Hynd, J B. (Attercliffe)
Burke, W. A.Forman, J. C.Irving, W. J.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Janner, B
Carmichael, JamesFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Jay, D. P. T.
Chamberlain, R. A.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Champion, A. J.Gaitskell, H. T. N.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Chater, D.Gallacher, W.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Chetwynd, G. R.Ganley, Mrs C. S.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Cocks, F. S.Gibbins, J.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Coldrick, W.Gibson, C. W.Keenan, W.
Collins, V. J.Gilzean, A.Kenyon, C.
Colman, Miss G. M.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)King, E. M.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr G.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.
Corbet, Mrs F. K. (Carnowell, N.W.)Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Kinley, J.

Bench that they care not two hoots for the agricultural industry. He not only does not care two hoots for the agricultural industry, but he does not care even one hoot so far as the health of the children in the towns is concerned. Not one hon. Member behind him has defended the Amendment. This is a vital matter so far as food is concerned. If we have an organisation such as the Milk Marketing Board, it is quite feeble to try to break it down just when it is really successful, and to have some new plan, when the Government have not the faintest idea who is going to work it or how. I am absolutely amazed that not one hon. Gentleman from among those opposite, who so often profess to know about milk and farming, has shown that there is even one Socialist in the House who has the slightest interest in the effect of this Bill upon agriculture.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 270; Noes, 106.

Lang, G.Pargiter, G. A.Sylvester, G. O.
Layers, S.Parker, J.Symonds, A. L.
Lee, F. (Hulme)Paton, J. (Norwich)Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Peart, T. F.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Leonard, W.Piratin, P.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Levy, B. W.Platts-Mills, J. F. F.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Lewis, J. (Balton)Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Lindgren, G. S.Popplewell, E.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Porter E. (Warrington)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Logan, D. G.Price, M. PhilipsThomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Longden, F.Pritt, D. N.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Lyne, A. W.Pryde, D. J.Tiffany, S.
McAdam, W.Randall, H. E.Timmons, J.
McAllister, G.Ranger, J.Titterington, M. F.
McGhee, H. G.Rees-Williams, D. R.Tolley, L.
Mack, J. D.Richards, R.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Usborne, Henry
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Robens, A.Vernon, Maj. W. F.
McKinlay, A. S.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Walker, G. H.
MeLeavy, F.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Watkins, T. E.
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Royle, C.Watson, W. M.
Mallalieu, J. P. W.Sargood, R.Weitzman, D.
Mann, Mrs. J.Scollan, T.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Segal, Dr. S.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Shackleton, E. A. AWest, D. G.
Mathers, G.Sharp, GranvilleWhite, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Mayhew, C. P.Shurmer, P.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Medland, H. M.Silverman, J. (Erdington)Wilcock, Group-Capt C.A.B.
Mellish, R. J.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Wilkes, L.
Middleton, Mrs. L.Simmons, C. J.Wilkins, W. A.
Mikardo, IanSkeffington, A. M.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.Skinnard, F. W.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Mitchison, G. R.Smith, C. (Colchester)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Moody, A. S.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Williams, W. R.(Heston)
Moyle, A.Snow, Capt. J. W.Willis, E.
Murray, J. D.Solley, L. J.Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Nally, W.Sorensen, R. W.Wise, Major F. J.
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Soskice, Maj. Sir F.Woodburn, A.
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Sparks, J. A.Woods, G. S.
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Stamford, W.Wyatt, W.
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)Steele, T.Yates, V. F.
Noel-Buxton, LadyStephen, C.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Orbach, M.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Zilliacus, K.
Paget, R. T.Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Stubbs, A. E.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Palmer, A. M. F.Swingler, S.Mr. Hannan and Mr. Pearson.

Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Gridley, Sir A.Osborne, C.
Astor, Hon. M.Grimston, R. V.Peto, Brig C. H. M.
Baldwin, A. E.Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Pickthorn, K.
Barlow, Sir J.Haughton, S. G.Pitman, I. J.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Birch, NigelHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Prescott, Stanley
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Hurd, A.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Bossom, A. G.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Ramsay, Maj. S.
Bower, N.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Rayner, Brig. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Lambert, Hon. G.Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Butcher, H. W.Langford-Holt, J.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Byers, FrankLaw, Rt. Hon. R. K.Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Clarke, Col. R. S.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Ropner, Col L.
Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. GLennox-Boyd, A. T.Scott, Lord W.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Linstead, H. N.Snadden, W. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Spearman, A. C. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F. C.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Spence, H. R.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crowder, Capt, John E.McCallum, Maj. D.Strauss, H. G (English Universities)
Cuthbert, W. N.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Studholme, H. G.
Davidson, ViscountessMcKie, J. H. (Galloway)Sutcliffe, H.
De la Bère, R.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Teeling, William
Digby, S. W.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Manningham-Buller, R. E.Touche, G. C.
Drayson, G. B.Marlowe, A. A. H.Turton, R. H.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Vane, W. M. F.
Elliot Rt. Hon. WalterMarshall S. H. (Sutton)Wadsworth, G.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Mellor, Sir J.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Molson, A. H. E.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.York, C.
Gage, C.Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Nicholson, G.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Commander Agnew and
Grant, LadyOrr-Ewing, I. L.Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.

Further Lords Amendment disagreed to: In page 48, line 36, leave out "forty" and insert "eighty."