Order read for consideration of Lords Amendments.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."—[ Mr. Barnes.]
On a point of Order. Could you inform me, Mr. Speaker, whether it is usual for the Amendments which are passed by another place, and which the Government do not intend to accept, not to be printed on the Order Paper?
I did not quite catch what the hon. and gallant Member wanted. I am bound to put all the Amendments to the House. I cannot avoid that. I can put together those which are agreed, and that I hope to do.
Is it not a fact, Sir, that a list of the Lords Amendments has been issued. I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) should get a copy, so that he will know what the Lords have agreed to.
Question put, and agreed to.
Lords Amendments considered accordingly.
May I, at this stage, ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to the procedure which we might follow for the general convenience of the House? In referring to three documents, those which set out the Lords Amendments, the Motions on the Order Paper in my name, and the Bill as it left this House—and which has been considerably altered by the Lords Amendments—we may find ourselves in a difficulty in following various related matters There are 10 major issues on which the Government will ask the House to disagree with the Lords, and there are 42 Amendments which are connected with these major issues. There are some 240 Amendments which have been made in another place, some 200 of which are either mainly drafting, or result from agreement which took place during the discussions, or which give effect to pledges and undertakings which I gave on the Report stage. If it meets with the general convenience of the House I would like, on behalf of the Government, to advise acceptance of those Amendments, limiting, in the main, our discussion to the major Amendments on which there is disagreement. If it meets with your approval, Sir, and the general convenience of the House, would it be desirable to consider each related group of Amendments, and take the discussion on each of them on the main Amendment?I would like to run over, briefly, the issues on which there is major disagreement between this House and another place. They are the limitation of the powers of direction; the appointments to the Executive; the Scottish Executive; the doubling of the mileage limit for road haulage; the exclusion of "A" contracts; the exclusion of milk; the onus of proof; the subordination to the licensing authority; the decision of the referees on staff compensation, and the procedure on inquiries. I would be glad, Sir, if you could give me your guidance on the submission I have made.
I agree that the position is a little complicated, but, speaking for myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side, the procedure which the Minister has outlined seems to be convenient to the House, and if it meets with your approval, Mr. Speaker, I shall be very glad to support it.
If we are to take these Amendments in group, may we discuss each set of the group as may be necessary from time to time? There will be difficulty in deciding which Amendments fall in each group, and as each Amendment is moved could we be told what group goes with it?
At the time, yes.
I have no particular wish to fall out with any understanding that may have been arrived at. If we are going to discuss the Amendments in groups, that is one thing; but there are a vast number of other Amendments Which, it would seem to me, we should have a chance of discussing separately when coming to the group of vetos. I think that we should be careful not to rule out those that are not exactly dealing with the same point. I am not quite clear whether the Amendments are printed correctly. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to page 22 of the Lords Amendments. Near the bottom of the page will be seen "page 101," and then comes "page 108," after that "page 105." In going through the Amendments, I found very great difficulty, and I could not follow what happens after the first one in fitting in the Amendments on pages 28 and 29. It seems that there must be a misprint and I am not sure that this is the only one. I should like to know when we come to these, if we may have the position made clear.
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct. There are some misprints. I have a list of them. I do not think that they are our fault; I believe that the fault arises in another place. I would propose as we come to each misprint—I do not think that they are serious—to read it out, and to make it perfectly plain to the House how it should read. As regards the other point, I thought that this arrangement might be generally for the convenience of the House, but I cannot, of course, very well put the Amendments en bloc to disagree with another place, in case there is a desire to discuss any particular point. I think that it would be better to put them separately, unless they are purely drafting or consequential Amendments. With regard to points generally agreed, I suggest that I put these page by page, and if any hon. Member wishes to raise a point he should stop me when I read out the Amendment.
Clause 1—(The Commission)
Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 10, leave out, "four" and insert "not less than four nor more than eight."
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."This is one of the Amendments on which there is agreement, but I think that it is of sufficient substance for me to say a word or two about it. In the Committee stage of the Bill, I resisted a similar Amendment, but later on, the Government reconsidered this decision and, on the understanding that the whole of the increased members should not be full-time members, it was agreed to modify the decision. So we have agreed with the Lords Amendment, which lays down that the chairman and four members of the Commission shall be full-time, leaving the others open to part-time appointments if so desired.
Question put, and agreed to
Clause 2—(Powers Of Commission)
Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 34, at end, insert:
"(d) to provide houses, hostels and other like accommodation for persons employed by the Commission;"
Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
I am not sure precisely what is the purpose of this Amendment.
The Commission had this power in the original Bill, but this is an Amendment to make it abundantly clear that they can provide that accommodation.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause 4—(Powers Of The Minister In Relation To The Commission)
Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 30, at the end, to insert:
"Provided that the Minister shall not give the Commission a direction in relation to any matter the effect of which, taking one year with another, will be or will be likely to be, that the revenue of the Commission will be less than sufficient for the meeting of charges properly chargeable to revenue, unless the Minister shall at the time of the giving of such direction notify the Commission that it is given in the interests of national security."
On a point of Order. This is one of the cases where, I think, there is a misprint.
There is no misprint here.
May I draw attention to what I think is the misprint—the words "or will be likely to be" do not appear to me to have been passed in another place. I am looking at the OFFICIAL REPORT of another place and before this Question was put Lord Balfour of Burleigh said:
On the question being put whether the said proviso, as amended, should be there inserted, their lordships divided. I take it, therefore, that it is not correctly recorded here, and that the words"We are voting on it, with the exception of the words 'or will be likely to be'."
are therefore omitted."or will be likely to be"
These words are actually as they came to us from another place. If anything has been left out, we have no knowledge of that.
I would like your guidance on this inconvenient situation, which is of a kind which I have never known before. I have the record of their Lordships' HANSARD, which records this quite clearly, and I should think that for this purpose it is quite in Order to draw attention to it and to ask your guidance.
Surely it is out of Order to quote in the same Session, anything said in another place and we should take the official record of another place, and not the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The OFFICIAL REPORT is published for our convenience, and for their convenience, and is not really an official record. I think the only thing we can do is to take the official Amendment which the other place have sent to this House. No doubt this point will be noticed when it goes back, and there will be opportunities for note to be taken of the point.
I am not quite clear about this matter, because I understand you Sir, said to the House not long ago that you knew there were certain things wrong with these Lords Amendments. That being so, is it not possible that this is one which has not been brought to your notice? It that is so, it seems to me we are going to be in great difficulty. Either we have to take this as it stands, with all the misprints, or it will be open to objection on every side.
I was wrong when I said all the misprints were due to another place; indeed only one is due to error in another place and the others, I am afraid, are misprints due to our own arrangements.
May I ask what the position is going to be in the event of our passing or rejecting the Amendment, and then being told that it is not the Amendment which another place sent to us? That would be the position if we accepted or rejected an Amendment which did not come down to us, because we could not rectify it, or because we did not have some rule to deal with these doubtful questions.
If the hon. Member chose to come to the Table, he would see the actual Amendment, and that is the wily thing we can go by.
With great respect, supposing this goes back and they say that the right Amendment did not come to us, what happens then?
We say, "It is your fault and not ours."
It seems unfortunate if we are going to spend time in discussing Amendments which the House of Lords have not sent to us—[HON. MEMBERS: "They have sent this to us."] I suggest from the reading of HANSARD that this has been misprinted. I hoped that there might have been some means of ascertaining from the other House what their real intention is. Would it be possible to adjourn for some time, to ascertain that intention?
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."I think we can easily resolve the difficulty by rejecting this Lords' Amendment. That is the course which I propose to recommend to the House on behalf of the Government. To relieve the anxiety of the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) I will say that I would have moved the same Motion whether the words
were in, or out. It occurs to me that we should devote our attention to what such an Amendment seeks to accomplish. The purpose of it is to limit the Minister's power to give directions to the Commission in reference to the carrying on of their undertakings if, in the opinion of the Minister, such a direction is necessary in the national interest. As a matter of fact, I am informed that it is very doubtful whether even if this Amendment were accepted in its present form, it would in fact limit the Minister's power. We all know from experience that it might in circumstances of very serious national emergency, be the subject of legal action for the purpose of delaying any action which the Government of the day might take in the exercise of such power. Therefore, in the opinion of the Government, we cannot possibly have in regard to important services which represent a considerable volume of employment in the country, the possibility of expenditure of large sums of capital either in accelerating or retarding development, as the case may be, and in other matters. I should have thought, in view of experiences which this country had in the early part of this year, that the wisdom of the Minister having power of direction of this character should be abundantly plain to hon. Members of this House, and of the other place. Hon. Members are aware that during the fuel crisis it was imperative to maintain the economic life of this country when certain action had to he taken in regard to the use of transport for the transport of coal. Even today, the community is being compelled to suffer considerable inconvenience for the necessity of the railways contributing to and augmenting the coal stock position. A decision like the 10 per cent. cut in passenger services for the sake of building up coal stocks, represents an interference with the revenue-taking capacity of the railways at present. That is quite a recent example of the need for the Minister to have powers of this description. For those reasons, I have not the slightest hesitation in asking the House to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment."as or will be likely to be"
We are dealing with this Amendment as it is reported to us on the Order Paper, and I apprehend that when we have dealt with it we shall not have dealt with the Amendment which their Lordships made to the Bill, and that some further opportunity will be given to the House to deal with the Amendment which in fact was made in another place. By that time, no doubt, we shall have had a report from the other place as to what the position may be. As the House will recall, Clause 3 (3) lays it down that:
That is a very important Amendment indeed because on it depends the whole finance of this Bill, and this House laid it down and intended to lay it down that the Transport Commission should not run at a loss. It was not intended that there should be a subsidy from the Exchequer towards deficits made by the Transport Commission, but it was laid down that, taking one year with another—although I should have preferred to have omitted those words—the Commission would have to pay its way. It appears from the answer which the right hon. Gentleman has given this afternoon that he is prepared, in certain circumstances, to depart from that position. When this matter was discussed in another place it was not quite clear whether the Government thought that the Amendment was undesirable or merely unnecessary. It appears to me now from what the Minister has told us today that they definitely think that it is undesirable. That was not made sufficiently clear perhaps—"All the business carried on by the Commission, whether or not arising from undertakings or parts of undertakings vested in them by or under any provision of this Act, shall form one undertaking, and the Commission shall so conduct that undertaking and, subject to the provisions of this Act, levy such fares, rates, tolls, dues and other charges, as to secure that the revenue of the Commission is not less than sufficient for making provision for the meeting of charges properly chargeable to revenue, taking one year with another."
In asking the House to disagree with this Amendment, I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it does not alter at all the obligation on the Commission to carry out the duties laid down in Subsection (3). Action along those lines would follow if it were necessary.
I fully appreciate the point which the right hon. Gentleman makes, but it was pointed out in another place with considerable weight and with the authority of at least two former Lord Chancellors, that the position was not as the right hon. Gentleman has now described it to us. It is true that Subsection (3) is not directly contradicted by this provision, but it is equally true that if the Minister were to give a direction which resulted in losses falling upon the Commission then, if the Commission carried out his direction, it might not be able to recoup those losses. A situation might very easily arise in which the Commission was led into making a loss whether it wanted to do so or not. The Minister has taken powers to give these directions, and all that we have sought to do is to limit those powers in such a way that he cannot put the Commission into the position of making a loss against its own intentions. Of course, in the Amendment which the Lords have sent to us, there is an exception in the interests of national security, and everybody in both Houses would agree with that, but the Minister wants to go a great deal further than that.I am bound to say that I am not at all happy at the attitude which the Minister has taken on this Amendment, and I hope very much that on reading what has been said in another place, he will be prepared to concede this Amendment. I am still not quite certain from his intervention whether he is suggesting to the House that the Commission cannot be put in the position of being forced to lose money under his direction, but it is clear to me that certain directions he could give might have that effect, and therefore I suggest very strongly that we should agree with the Lords in this Amendment.
I was worried by the Minister's speech because it seemed to me that his main theme was that he should have the powers of direction in an emergency such as we had last winter. But surely this Amendment gives him those powers, since at the end, it provides for exception in the case of national security. That makes it plain that in time of war or at any other difficult period, the Minister could make regulations under this very Amendment which he says deprives him of that power. That was explained by his argument, but the other part of the Amendment seems to have been rather avoided in his speech. I do not know whether it is because of the doubtful clarity of the Amendment, but the guiding purpose of the Amendment is that the Minister should not give directions to these Commissioners which will compel them to run the railways in such a way that they will be financially unsound. When the Minister in his original reply leaves out that part of the Amendment, I find it rather surprising, because I know that he has a very sound financial mind as far as certain business interests are concerned, and I do not think that he wants to run the railways at a loss. I can think of Ministers who might give directions which could lead to such a loss, and I should have thought that there was a very strong case for the Amendment since no one desires that. In these circumstances, at this early stage in our discussions, it would he what I might call a lubricant on the part of the Minister to give way on this and to say that on further consideration this is a matter in which be can accept the Lords Amendment.
We may agree or disagree with the Lords in this Amendment, but before we get to that stage we should understand clearly what is the attitude of the Government to the Amendment. I do not understand it at the moment and, at the risk of being, a little repetitive, I should like to put the point to the right hon. Gentleman again. Clause 3 lays down that this Commission must balance its revenue with its expenditure, taking one year with another. Its says nothing whatever about the national interests or anything of that kind, but simply lays a duty upon them to balance revenue with expenditure. It all depends upon one's point of view, and, according to the view taken, the national interest might involve many other things besides effecting such a balance. There might be hon. Gentlemen opposite who thought that the national interest demanded that we should subsidise the railways out of public funds, that we should run them at a loss, or that we should use the transport system to subsidise coal or exports, or something of that kind. In Clause 4 the Minister is given power to make directions which the Commission have to follow and which, in the opinion of the Minister, will favour the national interest. It is therefore evident that the Minister can override the obligations placed upon the Commission in Clause 3. Does the Minister agree with that? I think it is self-evident. If there is any disagreement about it, I hope that the Minister will say so.4.30 p.m. The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that whatever directions the Minister may give, they shall in no sense override the obligation of the Commission to balance revenue with expenditure. I do not know whether the Minister agrees with that object or not. I do not know what his case is yet. He ought to tell the House before we go to a Division. Is it his case that the Amendment is unnecessary because the Minister could not give such directions? Is that his case? He has not told us at all. If it is his case that, although he agrees with the principle behind the words, the words are wholly unnecessary, he should tell us. I think that the Minister can override the general provisions of Clause 3. That is made even more plain by Subsection (5), of Clause 4, in which the Minister can give directions to the Commission to discontinue any of their activities or dispose of any part of their undertaking. In fact, he can override the whole purpose and object for which the Commission is set up to operate. It is obvious that the general directions which the Minister can give are powerful and can override at any moment Clause 3, or any other part of the Bill. His direction can, for example, tell the Commission to stop owning docks. So far, the only case which the Government have made is that the proposal in the Amendment is unnecessary, but it is wholly unsupported by any sort of argument. The House is entitled to know whether the Minister contends that the Amendment is wholly unnecessary. The Minister said he was doubtful whether the words would limit the Minister's power. What does he mean? Does he want them to limit the Minister's power or does he not? That is what we want to know. Will he tell us? Then he said something about another coal crisis, and that in the winter we might be moving into a difficult period, and somebody might start a law action in some way or another and that somehow, this Amendment would make it more difficult for the Government to deal with that situation. How on earth would directions from the Minister making the Commission unbalance its revenue and expenditure, help in a coal crisis or any other sort of crisis? Will the Minister explain what he means? I do not want to delay the House, but we have not had an adequate explanation from the Government. Will the Minister tell us at this stage? We cannot proceed with the argument very much further until we have had a further explanation. Will the Minister tell us whether he thinks the Amendment is unnecessary, and if so, will he meet the argument which I have brought forward to show that the words are necessary and that his power of direction will override all the duties of the Commission? Will he tell us whether he thinks that the Minister should have power to direct the Commission to unbalance its revenue or expenditure or not? If he tells us the answer, we might be able to proceed with the Debate upon a rather more intelligible basis.
My hon. Friends and I do not want to go into the Division Lobby on this matter. We want to know what the Minister intends. My hon. Friend has just used arguments which contain a very important principle. Clause 3 lays down obligations which were considered by many of us, and were supported by us, in the Committee. We want to know whether the Minister can, under Clause 4, override those provisions which were laid down very clearly as a safeguard in Clause 3, and which we supported. I think I am speaking on behalf of quite a number of hon. Gentlemen when I say we are anxious to know whether that is so or not.
I want to deal with a couple of points made by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft). Clause 3 provides for the carrying on of nationalised under-takings in the national interest. Subsection (1) lays down that the Commission must take such steps as they consider necessary
Those words are subject to very wide interpretation. It might easily be that for a temporary period in time of crisis or otherwise it would be necessary that the railways or some other section of the transport industry should operate at a loss, and it is conceivable that the loss might be temporary. Take, for instance, the staggering of hours of work which is to be brought in during the coming winter. It might be necessary to put on extra buses for the carriage of people to work at uneconomic periods, and it might be necessary for the Minister to give instructions to that effect, even though the buses were run at a loss. The Amendment is tampering with that very—"to provide most efficiently and conveniently for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry."
I think the hon. Member is getting unnecessarily at cross-purposes with us. Clause 3 lays down no obligation about particular bus services, but it does oblige the Commission, in Subsection (3) to secure that its revenue is not less than sufficient to balance its expenditure, taking one year with another. The purpose of the Amendment is to prevent Clause 4 from overriding that broad instruction as to balancing income and expenditure, taking one year with another.
We all agree with that, and the Bill lays that down. The argument on the other side of the House is that the Amendment is necessary because the instructions given by the Minister might cause a loss of revenue and prevent the Commission balancing its accounts. I am arguing that the Amendment might be so interpreted so that any direction by the Minister which caused a loss of revenue to the Commission could not be operative. There is no doubt that the financial position of the transport industry today as disclosed by answers to Questions put to the Minister on Monday, is such that any addition to expenditure might make it very difficult to balance its accounts. Any direction which led to an increase in expenditure could, therefore, be resisted, under the Amendment. For that reason, I think the Amendment is a hampering one.
I wonder whether hon. Members opposite who know something about railways realise that, even under nationalisation, there may be times when losses will be sustained? Simply because you nationalise an industry, it does not mean that you put right all its difficulties. I have read very carefully the Debates which took place in another place, and there it was clearly demonstrated that the Government opposition to the Amendment was on the ground that the Amendment was unnecessary. Now it is said that the Minister must have the power to instruct the Commission on any occasion he desires, even if it has an effect on the balancing of the budget of an undertaking. I thought that throughout the stages of the Bill in another place and even today, we had accepted the principle—the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) implied that he believed it—that all transport undertakings brought under nationalisation should be made, as a Yorkshire friend of mine says, "To meet and tie" In other words, revenue should equal expenditure. That is the principle involved in this Amendment. We either believe in that and vote for the Amendment, or we do not believe it and vote for the Government Motion. If we accept the Lords Amendment and the undertakings are balanced financially we shall have an exact record of their efficiency. We shall know whether under nationalisation the industry is more efficient than under private enterprise. It is a measuring stick which I ask the Minister to bear in mind. I hope that he has sufficient faith in this nationalisation scheme to allow this Lords Amendment to be carried.
There seems to be a certain amount of shadow boxing about the objection to the objection to the Amendment from another place. The first part of Clause 4 says that the Minister shall only direct the Commission on matters which appeal to him to affect the national interest, and that is sufficient indication of how rarely this power will be used. It will only be used on rare and important occasions, and it is a very necessary power for the Minister if we believe that transport must come before finance. There might be occasions in some particular emergency when it would be unnecessarily hampering the conduct of the transport system if such a provision as this were inserted. The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) quoted Clause 4 (5) as to the powers of the Commission and said that under that the Minister could direct the Commission to close docks and had the power to issue all kinds of instructions to cease activities, but in the second portion of Clause 5 it is laid down that the Minister can only give those directions if he is satisfied that the undertaking is unnecessary for the proper discharge of the duties of the Commission under this Act. It is not therefore, conceivable that he would issue an instruction to close docks because presumably docks will be necessary to this country for a long time.
Some Ministers of Transport might come to the conclusion that the national interest demanded that they should get rid of all the undertakings.
I am presuming that the Minister of Transport will be a Labour Minister of Transport—
He will not be next time.
—and I cannot imagine a Labour Minister of Transport taking that view. Hon. Members opposite have professed not to understand on what grounds the Minister was objecting, but I listened to him and he was perfectly clear. He has been advised that it would lead to unnecessary limitation and place in the hands of the Commission or outsiders an opportunity to object on the grounds that such a direction in the national interest will unbalance their accounts. It would be very wrong and unnecessary to insert a limitation of this kind, and I hope the Minister will stick to his guns.
Surely there are two points at issue here. The first is the major one, and the second the lesser one. As my hon. Friends have said, we have got to clear up the major one first. The major one is whether in the Bill as it stands without the Amendment, Clauses 3 and 4 are not mutually antagonistic. Is it the intention that Clause 3 in its broad lines is to operate and that Clause 4 is to take nothing away from it, namely, that taking one year with another, the proceeds which the Commission draw shall meet its expenses and that it shall be a paying concern? The Minister, who was followed even more emphatically by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), pointed out that in certain temporary circumstances or national interest circumstances, that might not happen. The Minister instanced the coal situation last year. Are we to suppose that the words, "taking one year with another" would have got rid of that difficulty? Perhaps the Minister expects that coal situation to return. If it was only a temporary situation, this Amendment allows the Minister to deal with it in the way he wants. If it is a question of national emergency, once again this Amendment allows him to deal with it in the way he wants. I am, therefore, led inescapably to the conclusion that the Minister wants to have Clause 4 and Clause 3 mutually antagonistic and to cut out one of the broad principles on which we have insisted throughout the Bill.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. It is very much that which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) has in mind. Two quite separate questions arise here. I can quite well imagine that one of them gives rise to a real difference between the two sides of the House. It is whether or not certain powers should be given to the Minister. That is a matter on which we may well differ, but there is another question on which we ought to be agreed, and that is: What are the powers of the Minister under the Clause as it stands? Whatever else may divide one side of the House from the other, we should be absolutely clear on the powers that are being given to the Minister under this Clause. The question I wish to put to the Minister is a perfectly simple one. Does he or does he not say that he would be entitled to give directions under Clause 4 (1) which disregard the obligations of Clause 3 (3)? He will agree that that is a perfectly simple and direct question. He will he able to obtain skilled legal advice on the question whether or not in the Clause as it stands unamended he is taking that power. In the first view that some of us take, it would appear that he is, but, if he advises the House that on the most skilled legal advice open to him he would not be able to give any direction under Clause 4 (1) which would disregard the obligation of Clause 3 (3), it might carry great weight in certain sections of the House. So far, he has not given that assurance, and to talk about the Amendment being unnecessary may mean so many different things.The only point on which I differ from my hon. and gallant Friend is that he asked the Minister to state what his intentions are. I am asking something different. I am asking what he is advised his powers are. Intentions would only govern himself and not his successors, but powers would bind him and his successors. I hope he will give a perfectly clear and direct answer to the quite simple question as to whether on the Clause as it stands he could over-ride the obligation which is laid down in the Bill under Clause 3 (3). While this House may be willing to give many powers to the Minister, it does not want to give him powers to disregard other Clauses in the Bill.
Replying to the specific point which has just been submitted to me, it appears to me that it could have been put with more purpose when the Bill was before the House, because it has very little relation to the Amendment we are discussing. The powers given to the Minister under Clause 4 (1) are quite specific and do not over-ride the clear and specific responsibility placed upon the Commission to balance its budget one year with another laid down in Clause 3 (3). One does have to take into consideration a direction from the Minister under circumstances in the national interest made for the moment and for the period affecting the situation, but the responsibility for discharging that situation would be net and steps and action would have to be taken for the purpose of righting any temporary position. However, that is not the issue which the House is considering now, which is the Amendment proposed in another place that introduces into Clause 3, where it is inappropriate, the intention to limit the Minister's powers—
In Clause 4; the right hon. Gentleman said Clause 3.
I am sorry, it is Clause 4. I was referring to Subsection (3) which is the responsibility of the Commission. The purpose of the Lords' Amendment is to introduce words as to which, I am advised, it is doubtful whether they do limit the Minister's powers. The fact that they are inserted, may raise a doubt and, on the occasion of the Minister using those powers, it may—I do not say it will—lead to legal action. In the opinion of the Government there is no doubt about the situation as it exists today, and we do not see the value of accepting this Amendment which tends only to add confusion. I venture to suggest that the discussion which has taken place this afternoon supports the wisdom of the Government's action. The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) put up all sorts of bogies and assumptions—
I asked questions.
—and then proceeded, in the hearty and vigorous way to which we are accustomed, to destroy his own assumptions. Therefore, from the point of view of the Government, having made the position clear, I ask the House to come to a decision on this Amendment.
I have listened, as I always do, with the greatest care to what the right hon. Gentleman has said on this Amendment, and I should like to remind him that we are in the happy position in this instance, of not only having had the advantage of knowing what Government spokesmen have said, to which we can refer, but also the brief on which Government spokesmen made their pronouncement, because that was quoted with great frankness by their representative in another place. This is the difficulty which I put to the right hon. Gentleman. The Government brief on the point was:
May I put to the right hon. Gentleman our difficulties on that? Under Clause 3 (3) there is a duty placed on the Commission. When in a Statute, after placing a duty on one body—in this case a public corporation set up by the Bill—then in a subsequent Clause you give a right to a different body which, by its terms, may override or interfere with the duty, the subsequent provision giving the right to the Minister would be the prevailing provision in the Statute. The right hon. Gentleman knows that this is not merely my own opinion. I cannot go into it in detail, but it is the opinion of high legal authorities. If the position he that the Government, as is stated in their brief, do not think this is necessary, but high legal opinion in various quarters thinks that this doubt may arise, then surely it is reasonable to put words into the Bill which will remove this doubt? That is all we are seeking to do. The right hon. Gentleman his said that it raises a doubt, but there cannot be any doubt because, according to their view, it is governed by Clause 3 (3). If we put in these words, then it makes clear that the Minister's directions are limited so that he cannot interfere with Clause 3 (3), and in that case assurance is made doubly sure. We have been rather worried on this side of the House by the arguments advanced in favour of the Government case by their more intrepid supporters because, of course, they always go a bit further in finding arguments which do not accord with that main argument which has been advanced, and it is the feeling and attitude behind these arguments which make it difficult for those on this side of the House to depart from this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that there are three difficulties about which we are alarmed, and from which we are trying to protect the country. The first is an interference by the Minister—I am not referring to the right hon. Gentleman but to the person who holds the office of Minister of Transport for the moment—with charging schemes that have gone up through the process from the Commission to the tribunal and are being considered by the tribunal. If there is then an interference with the charging schemes, the whole of that work may be thrown up. Secondly, you may have the imposition of such grave obligations on the Commission that it cannot pay its way on the present charging scheme which it has got up. Then it has to go back for further charging schemes and, as the right hon. Gentleman and every hon. Member knows, there comes a point where you"The amendment is entirely unnecessary as, having regard to the requirement in Clause 3, subsection (3), that the Commission shall make both ends meet, it would not be competent to the Minister to give a direction under Clause 4 (1), to a contrary effect."
Division No. 319.]
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Collins, V. J.||Grey, C. F.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Colman, Miss G. M.||Grierson, E.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Comyns, Dr. L.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr ||Griffiths, Rt. Hon J. (Llanelly)|
|Anderson, F (Whitehaven)||Cove, W. G||Griffiths, W. D (Moss Side)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Daggar, G.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gunter, R. J|
|Awbery, S. S.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Guy, W. H.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hall, W. G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras s W)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, R J (Westhoughton)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A J||Deer, G.||Hardy, E A.|
|Barstow, P. G.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Harrison, J.|
|Barton, C.||Delargy, H. J||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Battley, J. R.||Diamond, J||Haworth, J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Dobbie, W||Henderson, A (Kingswinford)|
|Benson, G.||Dodds, N. N||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Beswick, F.||Driberg, T E. N||Herbison, Miss M|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dugdale, J (W Bromwich)||Holman, P.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Dumpleton, C W.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Durbin, E. F. M||House, G|
|Blyton, W. R||Dye, S.||Hubbard, T|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Edelman, M.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pt Exch'ge)||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Ewart, R.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Farthing, W. J.||Irving, W. J|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Field, Capt W J||Janner, B.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Foot, M. M||Jay, D. P T|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W T||Forman, J. C.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Buchanan, G.||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Burden, T. W.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Burke, W. A.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S)||Ganley, Mrs C. S||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Callaghan, James||Gibbins, J.||Keenan, W.|
|Carmichael, James||Gibson, C. W||Kenyon, C.|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Gilzean, A||Key, C W|
|Champion, A J.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||King, E. M.|
|Chater, D.||Gooch, E. G.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Goodrich, H. E.||Kinley, J|
|Cluse, W S.||Gordon-Walker, P C||Kirby, B. V|
|Cocks, F. S.||Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood)||Kirkwood, D|
|Coldrick, W.||Grenfell, D. R||Lang, G.|
cannot depend upon getting a return from increased charges.
Thirdly, we want to strengthen the hands of the Minister in the direction of freights. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council and Leader of this House has emphasised on many an occasion that, if the public corporation is to succeed at all, it must be protected from its charges and its fares being subjected to political pressure. Now the direction of the Minister is the vehicle of political pressure, and it is in order to restrict that possibility, to keep the Transport Commission within the unsullied lines which the Lord President of the Council has laid down as desirable, that we feel we cannot let opposition to the rejection of this Amendment go, but must support the Amendment in the Division Lobby.
Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
The House divided: Ayes. 295; Noes, 148.
|Lavers, S.||Palmer, A. M. F||Stross, Dr. B|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Pargiter, G. A||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Parker, J.||Swingler, S.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Parkin, B. T.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Lever, N. H.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Symonds, A. L.|
|Levy, B. W.||Peart, T. F.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Piratin, P.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Piatts-Mills, J. F. F.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Logan, D. G.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Longden, F.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Price, M. Philips||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|McAdam, W.||Proctor, W. T.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Pryde, D. J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McGhee, H. G.||Randall, H. E.||Tiffany, S.|
|McGovern, J.||Ranger, J.||Timmons, J.|
|Mack, J. D.||Rankin, J.||Titterington, M. F.|
|McKay, J (Wallsend)||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Tolley, L.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Reeves, J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Maclean, N. (Govan)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|McLeavy, F.||Rhodes, H.||Usborne, Henry|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Richards, R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M||Viant, S. P.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Robens, A.||Walkden, E.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Walker, G. H.|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Marquand, H. A.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Royle, C.||Watson, W. M.|
|Mathers, G.||Sargood, R.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Scollan, T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Medland, H. M.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Segal, Dr. S.||West, D. G.|
|Messer, F.||Shackleton, E. A A||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Sharps, Granville||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Shawcross, Rt Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Wilkes, L.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shurmer, P.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Monslow, W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Moody, A. S.||Simmons, C. J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Morley, R.||Skinnard, F. W.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Moyle, A.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Williamson, T|
|Murray, J. D.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Willis, E.|
|Nally, W.||Snow, Capt. J. W.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Solley, L. J.||Woodburn, A.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Sorensen, R. W.||Woods, G. S|
|Nicholls, H R (Stratford)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Yates, V. F.|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Sparks, J. A||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Stamford, W||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Stephen, C.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Orbach, M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Paget, R. T||Strauss, G R. (Lambeth, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Pearson and Mr. Daines.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Cuthbert, W. N.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Davidson, Viscountess||Haughton, S. G|
|Astor, Hon. M.||De la Bère, R.||Head, Brig. A. H|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Digby, S. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Beamish, Mai. T. V. H||Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Hogg, Hon. Q|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Drayson, G. B.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Birch, Nigel||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col D. G. (Wells)||Duthie, W. S.||Hope, Lord J.|
|Bower, N||Eden, Rt. Hon A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Elliot Rt. Hon. Wallet||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W||Erroll, F. J.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow. C.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P G. T.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Jeffreys, General Sir G|
|Butcher, H. W.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Keeling, E. H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Byers, Frank||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H|
|Challen, C.||Gage, C.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Channon, H.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Lancaster, Col. C. G|
|Clarke, Col R. S.||Gammans, L. D.||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Grant, Lady||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gridley, Sir A.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Grimston, R. V.||Lindsay, M (Solihull)|
|Crookshank, Capt Rt. Hon. H F. C.||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Linstead, H N|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Lipson, D. L|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Hare, Hon J. H (Woodbridge)||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Ll||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Low, Brig. A R W||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Strauss, H. G (English Universities)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Studholme, H. G|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon O||Pickthorn, K||Teeling, William|
|McCallum, Maj. D.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Thorp Lt.-Col R A F|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Touche, G. C|
|Maclay, Hon. J S||Rayner, Brig R||Turton, R. H.|
|MacLeod, J||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Vane, W M F|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Wadsworth, G|
|Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)||Ward, Hon G R|
|Manningham-Buller, R E||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)||Watt, Sir G. S Harvie|
|Marsden, Capt. A.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland||Wheatley, Colonel M. J|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Ropner Col. L||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Marshall S H. (Sutton)||Sanderson, Sir F.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Mellor, Sir J||Savory, Prof. D. L||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Molson, A. H E.||Scott, Lord W.||York, C|
|Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G (Salisbury)||Snadden, W M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S. (Cirencester)||Spearman, ACM||Commander Agnew and|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B||Spence, H R||Major Ramsay.|
|Nicholson, G||Stanley, Rt Hon. O|
Lords Amendment: In page 7, line 28, at end, insert:
"and shall include a statement of the salaries or fees and of the emoluments of each of the members of the Commission during that year."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
I do not see why I should not thank the Minister for putting into the Bill something which I think improves it. It is a very good thing that the public should have a right to know what emoluments and payments are being made to the members of the Commission; and it is the duty of someone to thank the Government for having accepted this Amendment, which is rather unusual for this Government.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause 5—(The Executives)
I should point out, in accordance with the agreement arrived at, that there are a number of allied Amendments, all dealing with the question of the appointment of Executives. It may be for the convenience of the House if I give particulars. They are: In page 7, line 36; in page 7, line 37; in page 9, line 13; in page 106, line 23; in page 107, line 37; and there are 13 Amendments on pages 129 and 130.
Do any of these Amendments which you have read out, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, contain misprints?
We will deal with that question as it arises on a particular Amendment.
Are we keeping the question of the Scottish Executive clear of this one?
Thank you very much.Lords Amendment: In page 7, line 36, leave out from "be" to "but" in line 37 and insert "decided by the Commission."
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."This Amendment and the series of Amendments which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have just indicated, transfer to the Commission the power of the Minister to appoint Executives. Hon. and right hon. Members will recall that this subject was debated at great length both in Standing Committee and on the Report stage. Here we see evidence of the acknowledgment which the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) made in the discussion on a previous Amendment, that is, that in carrying this type of Amendment the other place was, in fact, carrying out the Conservative Opposition's attitude. The hon. Member referred to the previous Amendment as "our Amendment," indicating clearly that it represented an Opposition attitude to the Bill. In this Amendment that emerges even more clearly. The Government have considered this, and we advise the House to disagree with this Amendment. A good deal of confusion and misunderstanding has surrounded this question of the Minister appointing the Executives, and reference has been made, in the discussions, to other appointments It is essential that we should recognise the structure, both for policy and management, which this Bill embodies—the division of the two. In this case the Executives are not area or regional bodies; they are national and functional bodies, and the Commission, by an instrument, delegates to the Railway Executive, if I may use that as an example, the running and the conduct of the whole of the railways of this country. Therefore, if one considers the importance of the Executives, the extent to which their functions will affect the whole community, both in their capacity as traders and as the travelling public, I cannot for a moment conceive that Parliament would not, in the larger aspects of administration, wish to be able to examine, or to put to the Minister from time to time their requests or observations or opinions on, certain aspects of the administration of these Executives. Therefore, from the point of view of Parliamentary control, there is a lot to be said for the Executives being appointed by the Minister, rather than that he should delegate that duty to the Commission. Further, in matters of this description it is far better, in the public interest, that they, should know clearly where the responsibility rests. If the Commission had the responsibility of appointing these Executives, it is inconceivable that they would proceed to do so without consultation with the Minister. If, in these consultations, there developed a divergence of opinion, at the commencement of the establishment of bodies of this character, I do not think it would make for a good ultimate result. On the other hand, if the Minister is charged with the responsibility of appointment, there is no question of the Minister riding off on the assumption that another body has appointed persons of this importance. The next aspect of this problem to which I wish to refer is that I have noticed in another place, and in speeches by Members of Parliament, that the question of patronage has been introduced. HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I gather that that has some support. I want to deal with the question of patronage fairly and frankly. I find that usually it is raised when persons of the wage-earning or working classes are appointed to positions of importance. We are dealing with those who are going to run the railways of this country in their capacity as a Railway Executive, and with the appointment of a limited number of persons who are to run the ports, and so on. Since the fall of the last Government, a number of right lion Members sitting on the other side of the House have been appointed as railway directors In the ordinary way, I would not raise a matter of that kind, but is that patronage or is it not? If the Minister did a similar thing to what the existing railway boards have done, and if he appointed a person of that character, would hon. Members then allege that patronage had been applied? I have sat in this House for many years and I have witnessed many appointments by Governments. Usually they were drawn from a very limited circle in the community, and I have never heard the question of patronage raised by hon. Members opposite. It is only when some individual who, as a rule, has fought his way up against many adverse circumstances and won through by character and determination, normally over great odds, is appointed to a post of this description, that we hear this question of patronage raised. I hold the view that when we come to the executive positions in industry, commerce and administration, the personnel have been drawn from a far too limited circle in the community. During the Committee stage of this Bill I made no secret and caused no doubt about the position. In an industry like the transport industry, where there will be over one million persons employed possessing a very wide range of experience and knowledge of their industry, I would not accept the position that those who are to run the industry should be drawn from a very limited class in the community. I think it is essential when Parliament is establishing and carrying out a great change of this kind, which springs from new ideas moving in the community, that the Minister should see that in the executive administration all walks of life and all experiences are reflected in the public administration. When a Minister makes appointments of that description, he should be prepared to have his appointments examined publicly on the Floor of the House, in the Press, or anywhere else. The Minister should accept responsibility for the appointments he has made. I have made it quite clear through all our discussions, both here and elsewhere, that the appointment of the Commission and the Executives is primarily a job which the Minister must do. He must see that this administration starts off with a personnel capable of doing the task, the very onerous task, placed upon them, namely, to co-ordinate the whole of the transport system of this country and to run it in the interests of trade and of the community generally. Therefore, I state that the Government have considered this issue, which has run through all the stages of this Bill, on more than one occasion. We have examined all the views that have been put forward, both in this House and in another place, and we have come to the considered decision that we intend to adhere to the position of the Minister appointing not only the Commission but the Executives. We think it is essential and, in the long run, desirable that, if we are to have criticism of that kind in our public life at this stage, the best thing is that it should not be in the form of an underground type of campaign of criticism, but that the Minister should make the appointments and should be able to stand on the Floor of the House and defend those appointments
I should like to deal with the points which the right hon. Gentleman has made in proposing this disagreement, in the order in which he has put them before the House. Like him, I cannot but remember that we have discussed this matter before. I think it is important that we should give a little time to it today because this is one of a number of Amendments which show how carefully the improvement of the structure proposed in the nationalisation of transport has been examined in another place. From the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman's own words on structure and policy, I put my first considerations before the House. The Executives are to be the agents of the Commission with delegated powers. Once again, I base my argument on the conception of the public corporation that has been put forward. It is essential, if such a public corporation is to have any chance of success, that it must have full powers and be able to carry on its business undertaking. That is the essence of the Socialist approach, and so far, and within the severe limits of our general objections, that is common sense5.30 p.m. Our point all along has been, How can your structure succeed, how can your set-up work, if it has this sag in the middle? You have the Minister with great powers, you have the Executives carrying on the day-to-day work, and between them you have a body so hamstrung that it has not even got the power to appoint its own agents.' That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman's point—that we are not giving sufficient consideration to the structure and policy of this Commission. It seems a very long time ago, but I gather that it is only some seven months, since I moved the rejection of this Bill on Second Reading, when I said that one of the dangers to which we had to have regard was whether we would get on the Commission "yes-men" and sycophants. That will be a danger if we give the Commission such limited powers that, on the one side, it is subject at every turn to the directions of the Minister, and, on the other, has not even the power to appoint the agents by which it works. There is another practical point on which the right hon. Gentleman did not touch, and, therefore, I venture once again to bring it to his attention. That is the point that we do not know when the Executives will be appointed. We know that there is a contemplated delay in appointing the Hotels Executive, and others may or may not come, but the body which will be there, and which it is planned to have from the start, is the Commission. The Commission will be working, and that seems to me an additional point for leaving it to this body, which is tackling the problem, to appoint those who are going to work under it. I want now to deal, with equal frankness to that of the right hon. Gentleman, with the question of patronage. As he knows, I have, probably more often than anyone else, raised this point in the House and in speeches outside it, and I want to deal today with his argument and to give what I conceive to be the counter argument to it. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to those of my colleagues on these benches who have been made directors of railway companies. Those are appointments made by the companies for reasons which seemed good to them and in the expectation that useful members of the board would be obtained, but, whatever disadvantages there may be, the right hon. Gentleman, who has been in this House longer than I have—and I have been here for a good many years—must agree with me that one of the points on which we have all been primed is the complete frankness with which interests have been declared in this House. It was referred to the other day when we were discussing Privilege. It does not matter whether they were railway directorships or anything else, such interests have always been disclosed with complete frankness, so that hon. Members could attach such importance to, or make such discounts from, what somebody said as they thought was right. What we are worried about in the set-up of these nationalisation schemes is the largely increased political patronage which is placed in the hands of Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman has considered this subject, and he will know that, over the centuries, and especially in the 18th century, the fact that Ministers had well-paid jobs at their disposal was used as a method of attracting votes and getting men of a certain political line. I am not making any personal reflections, but just raising the general point. It is, I submit, putting too big a strain on the Minister, and putting too big a strain on Members of Parliament, to have in front of them as they come along, an ever-growing number of jobs which they can get from one or other of their political leaders on the Front Bench. I say that, by making a large and ever-growing number of jobs open to political patronage, we are doing a dangerous thing. The right hon. Gentleman has had some regard to that matter, and he has said "Well, the answer to that is that, although the jobs are in my hands, I am subject to Parliamentary control, and people can blame rue if they do not like it." I am trying to make a general point, and there is no personal edge in this in any way. Parliamentary control, in the last resort, however, is control by the party that has the majority in the House. The party that has the majority in the House is in this matter ex hypothesi, the party that is to be affected by the Ministerial appointments, and the Parliamentary control which will operate in the last resort can be decided by the majority of those who are potential beneficiaries. That again is dangerous. I seriously put this point to the Minister, because it is a danger and a difficulty in the way not only of the working of nationalisation schemes, but in the working of the democracy which is so dear to us all. I want only to say very few words on the other aspect of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, namely, the category of people from whom the appointments are made. I am sure that I speak for everyone of my colleagues on these benches when I say that the background or the past of the appointees does not matter at all to me or to anyone who co-operates with me in this matter. We are only too anxious that if they have had the requisite experience, they shall come from whatever section of the community will provide that experience, and the right hon. Gentleman may take that as being a firm view, but here we are dealing—and the right hon. Gentleman will realise it—with highly-paid jobs, and it is a case of the first consideration which I have endeavoured to develop, that of the political background. We consider that there is a danger in its application, and not from the other point of view. Therefore, from the point of view of the set-up and its workability, from the point of view of making it work in time, and from the point of view of avoiding this patronage, in which we see some dangers, we believe that the Commission is the proper body to make these appointments, and I shall advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote in that sense.
The Minister, in suggesting that this Amendment should be rejected by the House, dealt particularly with three aspects. The first was responsibility to Parliament in the appointments, the second was patronage, and the third the selection of personnel. But there is another aspect connected with this Amendment, and I think win other Amendments, and that is the commercial aspect. We are now approaching tremendous economic difficulties. We are being exhorted by Members of the Government, and by all people of good will to do everything possible to increase production. Production is completely interlocked with transport. In this question of the appointment of the Executive, the commercial aspect must be taken into consideration. I cannot conceive that the Commission, which will be selected from the ablest men that the Minister can induce to accept appointment, will thank him for taking on the job of appointing the Executive. After all, it is not the kind of thing that would be done in a commercial concern. If the board of directors of a commercial concern was responsible for the operation of branches throughout the country, that board would not thank some ordinary shareholder who had a controlling interest in the company for making the appointments of branch managers.In Committee upstairs—I do not know whether I am in Order in referring to what happened there—it was said, over and over again, that the Bill having been given a Second Reading, it was the duty of everyone concerned to make it work properly. Amendment after Amendment was introduced for the purpose of making the. Bill work properly. The Minister has an immense responsibility to make transport in this country efficient and successful. If we go back over the history of the Bill since it was first introduced, and consider the various Amendments to it, it will be found that they have been very helpful. Personally, I deplore and deprecate the feeling that seems to have arisen that these Amendments from another place are in the nature of obstruction, and that they should. ipso facto. be rejected. I know that these things were argued out in Committee, but we have had more time since then to consider many of the Clauses and others which were not debated there at all. I think that, from a commercial point of view, as well as from many other points of view, this is a good Amendment, and I propose to support it.
The right hon. Gentleman urged the House to reject this Amendment on three grounds. The first was that it had come down from another place, and that, therefore, it was an obstructionist Conservative Amendment and, ipso facto, should be rejected. The second reason he gave was that the possibility of patronage had already been considered. He then referred to some of my hon. Friends who may or may not have been directors of railway companies, and virtually said that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. His third reason was that he, himself, would be personally responsible for the appointments. I suggest that every one of those reasons is bad. He said that the matter had been argued at very great length on every stage of the Bill, and that he and Parliament had taken careful note of what had been said about it. I should have thought that he would have put forward a better argument than he has done for the rejection of this Amendment.It is quite obvious that there is no substance in the argument that the Amendment ought to be rejected. What most concerns me is how is this really going to work. Is the Minister going to say to the Commission, "I am going to make you responsible for this enormous task"—and no one can lay down a complete blueprint of how the Commission will work—"but I do not consider that you are capable of choosing the Executives who are to put your policy into practice"? How can the right hon. Gentleman have so little confidence in his choice of people that he should believe that they will not choose the right people to put their policy into effect? He says that he must be responsible to this House for the appointment of the Executive. He is responsible for the Commission, and, therefore, is responsible for all their actions. But why does he limit his responsibility to appointing the Executive? Why does he not say that he is going to appoint everyone, all the way down? 5.45 P.m. The reason why we have fought for this Amendment throughout the whole proceedings of this Bill is because experience has shown that, where there is divided responsibility at the top, the thing must automatically fail. That has happened over and over again in every walk of life. It happened in Government departments during the war, in the Services, and in business. To any of us who have had the least experience of these things that is the one salient feature. We are starting this vast organisation—far greater than anything hitherto—with no idea of how it is going to work. This Bill is really the broad outline of what the Commission is going to do, and yet the first thing we do is to put divided responsibility at the top. It is absolutely indefensible. If I needed any further proof that it was indefensible, I would listen to the ridiculous argument put for- ward by the right hon. Gentleman for the rejection of this Amendment. I hope that, even at this last stage, the Government will reconsider the matter. I shall vote against it again unless they are able to do that.
I listened with great interest to the opening remarks of the Minister as to why this Amendment should be rejected. It seemed to me that he was less logical than usual, and certainly less clear headed. He spoke about patronage as though it were something new, and objected to it as such. The fact is that patronage is inescapable with any Government. After all, the Government Chief Whip is officially the Patronage Secretary, and what we on this side of the House have objected to, with growing anxiety, is the unchecked development of that patronage beyond all possibility of control until it creates and spreads corruption.
The hon. Member seems to be getting rather wide of the Amendment.
With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you were not in the Chamber when the Minister spoke on this Amendment. He criticised the attitude of hon. Members on this side of the House because we said that patronage was a bad thing, and he accused us, as a party, of blaming the Government only when it appointed a wage-earner to a job, whereas, he said, had it been some mysterious member of the upper classes, we would, for some reason, not object to it. The point was very strongly made by the Minister, and I do submit to you, Sir, that I am not out of Order in dealing with it.
I did not rule that the hon. Member was out of Order; I merely said that his remarks were somewhat wide of the Amendment.
I think it is only right to point out that the Minister devoted pretty well two-thirds of his speech to the question of patronage, a question which, I understand, has been raised and debated at length in another place. I am not going into all the arguments that he advanced, but I earnestly submit that those arguments were admitted as being in Order at the time, and that, therefore, it is surely in Order for us to answer them.
I repeat that I did not rule the hon. Member out of Order; I merely pointed out that he was getting somewhat wide of the Amendment. May I express the view that we should keep to the Amendment. Any widening of the Debate is undesirable.
I shall endeavour not to go beyond your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. At the same time, I must say this about patronage, because the subject was brought up before us, and I think we must discuss it. What we are doing here is to try to protect the Minister. [Laughter.] We are becoming very accustomed in this House, every time a serious point is made, to hear this cackling laughter from the other side. A famous dramatic critic once described the laughter of a certain comedian as being like the falling of February sleet upon the roof of an empty coffin. That is what the laughter of hon. Members opposite is like. The development of patronage will be carried another stage further, unless this Amendment is accepted. It does not involve the personal honour of the Minister, because none of us doubts his honesty; but it is the approaches to him which become fouled—those who advise him, right down the line. If the Socialist Party think they will escape the inevitable corollary of this increasing patronage, they are wrong, and sometimes I begin to wonder if the Government want to escape it, and whether they have got these unlimited perquisites to hand out.I would have liked to discuss the appointment of the Governor of the B.B.C., but I think that might be a little "off the line." I wish to ask this question of the Parliamentary Secretary, in the absence of his chief. Nowadays we do not expect Ministers to speak with the same voice. They are a very discordant choir. The Minister of Fuel and Power said that he would not appoint to the Electricity Board any man who said he did not believe in nationalisation. May we ask whether the Minister of Transport is going to take that same attitude? If a capable man in the transport business honestly opposes this Bill, is he now to be excluded from these new appointments, or is his ability to count? We have a right to know where we are, and whether Tammany Hall is being established here or not. This growing patronage is a very great menace to the country and to its future. We have a right to know whether it is the Minister of Fuel and Power or the Minister of Transport who speaks for the Government, and we want an answer. The other House has done good service, and we in this House should be very grateful for the wise counsel they have given. They have brought to this subject vast experience and impartiality. For that reason, I hope this House will reject the Minister's advice and will accept this Amendment as the first check which the Government will ever have made to the growing and inevitable corruption.
My objection to the Minister's attitude to this Amendment arises from the tendency of His Majesty's Government to concentrate power in the hands of Ministers, in the whole of the legislation which they are now promoting. I rise particularly to say to the Minister that I think his suggestion that the administration of the railways by past railway directors has not been on as high a level as the administration in any other part of the world, should not have been expressed. I served on both the Committees of this House in 1921, and we all know the men who were railway directors then. Think of the contributions they made to the problems concerning the railways at that time. Think of the contribution which Lord Banbury made. He was, perhaps, rather a peculiar character in this House, but he was also a very competent authority on railway administration. Think of the contribution made by Lord Horne. These gentlemen were directors of railways in this country, and they administered the railways on the very highest level. Think of what the late Lord Stamp did for railway administration.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that one of the first things the late Lord Stamp did when he became chairman of the L.M.S. was to appoint his son to a department newly created in the L.M.S.?
He was a very efficient man, and he did a first-class job. Unfortunately, he was killed during the raids on this city. In spite of the good intentions of the Government Front Bench, political influence will play a big part in these appointments if this Amendment is rejected. The Parliamentary Secretary will receive letters from his constituents saying that Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones is a fit and proper person to serve on the Executive. All the Members of the Front Bench will be subjected to the same kind of attack from their constituents; and if this Amendment is rejected, applicants for these appointments will, no doubt, receive favourable consideration from the Minister when this Bill becomes law, provided they have strong Socialist convictions. It is a very strange situation that the Minister, in spite of the consideration extended to him in Standing Committee upstairs, has arrogated to himself the power to appoint the members of the Executive to carry out the management of the railways. No doubt hon. Members opposite will go into the Lobby in support of their Front Bench, no matter what happens. No matter how much wisdom or what authority we may quote, or how much we may plead for the exercise of sound judgment, they will still support their Front Bench.
It is a good Front Bench, too.
I have no doubt that while the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) remains where he is, the Government Front Bench will feel perfectly safe. The hon. Member may have in mind somebody whom he wishes to propose for one of the executive appointments, and, no doubt, the Parliamentary Secretary will listen to any application that he makes. I do not wish to pursue these arguments, but I sincerely hope the Minister will have the wisdom to accept this Amendment.
The speeches made on both sides have dealt with two particular questions. One is whether this Amendment is right or resistance to it is right, having regard to the structure of the Bill. The other question is the question of patronage. These two questions are related to this extent. If we find that the Government's proposal is entirely bad, having regard to the structure of the Bill, that will very much strengthen our suspicion that the object of the bad pro- vision is patronage. Let me deal straight away with the question of the structure of the Bill. Here let me remind the House that, while my party has taken this line on the appointment of the executives from the beginning, critics of the Government's proposal are by no means confined to the Conservative Party on this issue. On this particular issue of the structure of the Bill an intelligent Socialist is as much entitled to object to the Government's proposal as a good Conservative.Let us deal with one of the things that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister quite rightly said was important, namely, the responsibility. Let us consider the question of the responsibility of the Commission. How on earth can the Commission be held responsible if it is not even entitled to choose its own servants and agents? Whatever else the effect of the Government's proposal is, it must be to diminish and to make vain any idea of the responsibility of the Commission. Let me remind the House of the relevant phrases in the Bill itself. If hon. Members will look at Clause 3 (4) they will find that:
If it had been said that these Executives were to be agents of the Minister, then, of course, the Minister would be quite right to appoint them. What is so utterly wrong in the structure is for the Minister to appoint them and then to say they are not his agents but those of somebody else. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will look at Clause 5 (6) they will see the words:"Each Executive shall, as agents for the Commission, exercise their functions, etc."
Throughout the structure of the Bill they are made the servants and agents of the Commission and not of the Minister. For the Minister, in the circumstances, to take upon himself their appointment can have one main effect only, which is to diminish the responsibility and the effectiveness of the Commission. Now that is not good sense. It is not even good Socialism. If the Government are going to nationalise an industry at all and set up a statutory body for that purpose, and if they are good Socialists, they want to make that statutory body a good and effective body. That is not done by the structure of the Bill as it stands. Let me pass to the question of patronage. The right hon. Gentleman said, "What about the case of an ex-Minister or a former politician, either inside or outside this House, being appointed to a railway board?" Let me say at once that any such appointment, it seems to me, may be good or may be bad: it depends on the circumstances. But the responsibility of the board is to its shareholders, and those appointments can be called in question. Whether it is good or bad, there is no doubt at all as to the effect of the appointment. The patronage here in question is a patronage about which the House of Commons is always right to concern itself. These enormous powers of patronage in the hands of the executive Government constitute a matter which is rightly of concern to the House and to lovers of our constitutional machinery in whatever quarter of the House they may sit. The power of the Executive through patronage is a matter of great importance which had, in the past, legislative and other checks, and- in which this House has always been rightly concerned. At this part of the right hon. Gentleman's case he made it quite clear that what he desired was patronage. That was why he welcomed this Clause. That was why he was so loudly cheered in getting up to move disagreement with the Lords Amendment before he had even addressed a word to the House. It is frankly welcomed on the benches opposite, not in spite of making patronage possible, but precisely because it makes it possible. [Interruption.] These words and cries, whether they are in some cases of assent or in some cases of misunderstanding of what is taking place in the House, very much confirm the view I have just expressed. There is no doubt that these powers of patronage which the Government are taking by this provision, as I have pointed out, are entirely wrong even on the principles of good Socialism. These powers the Government are taking are welcomed precisely because they make patronage possible. One of the things that I wonder is this: whether the Government not only say, "We shall not accept this Amendment," but have already put it out of their own power to accept this Amendment by the promises they have already made for filling these positions. It is, I think daily the expectation of reward, the expectation of reward for political—"Every Executive shall, in the exercise of their functions, give effect to any directions which may from time to time be given to them by the Commission."
I was not quite clear whether the hon. and learned Member was talking generally or in relation to these specific appointments. It is drawn to my attention that his remarks could be applied to these specific appointments. I want to know if that is so or not?
What justification has the hon. and learned Member?
I have pointed out that the provision which the right hon. Gentleman is defending—let me put the argument—is utterly wrong from the point of view of the structure of the Bill.
I am not going to give way for the moment. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks, when I have finished my reply, that I have evaded him I shall give' way again. Secondly, I say that the fact that this is utterly wrong from the point of view of the structure of the Bill strengthens my own suspicion that its object is to secure what it undoubtedly does secure—the increased power of patronage. Now let me get on to the specific question the right hon. Gentleman has put. I promise I shall yield to him if he is not satisfied with my answer. I say that it is an open secret how he has already filled—or plans to fill—some of the positions on the Commission. It is an open secret already.
What I want to put directly to the hon. and learned Member is that he should submit evidence of that, or else withdraw.
I am going to give the grounds of my suspicion. I shall give them clearly, and I shall be interested to know whether anyone is going to get up on behalf of the Government to deny them
On a point of Order. The hon. and learned Member has made a definite statement that it is an open secret that the Minister has already appointed members of the Commission—
That he has made promises.
that he has made promises, that it is an open secret that the Minister has made promises. I ask, in view of the reputation of the Minister, if the hon. and learned Member is in Order?
I have no power, of course, to instruct or to insist upon an hon. Member making any particular statement. That is left to the good sense and good taste of hon. Members and the House will judge accordingly
I should like to deal with that point before giving way. The last speaker, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), mentioned refutation by the Minister. So far there has been no refutation whatsoever by the Minister, and I say—
I will yield to the right hon. Gentleman in one minute. I say that the post of chairmanship on the Commission is going to be obtained by Lord Latham. I also say that I am highly suspicious of why this Amendment has been resisted, and my belief is that a good many indications have been given to people who are likely to fill some of the positions on the Boards.
I have taken particular care to avoid this situation—[Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to laugh. There is not an atom of truth in what has been stated by the hon. and learned Member—no truth whatsoever—and I demand his withdrawal of the statement. No hon. Member is entitled to get up in a Debate of this kind and make insinuations of that nature, which affect the standing and integrity of the Minister, unless they are substantiated. I say, without any hesitation, that the person referred to has never had any contact with me, that I have never made any statement to any person, and have never considered that individual. Now I ask the hon. and learned Member to withdraw.
The right hon. Gentleman has combined two demands. On one, of course, I at once defer. If the right hon. Gentleman says there is no foundation for the statement that the right hon. Gentleman to whom I have referred is going to be a member of the—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am going to make—
Does not the hon. and learned Member know the meaning of decency?
The Communist Party had better endeavour to behave itself. I have no particular eagerness to withdraw these things. I am going to withdraw, but I am also going to make quite clear what I am withdrawing and what I am not withdrawing. And, in case that can be used either for or against me, I wish to be clear. I say that until the right hon. Gentleman assures the House that he has no intention of appointing this right hon Gentleman—
I really am not going to yield until I have made my statement. Surely hon. and right hon. Members opposite know me well enough to do me the honour of agreeing that I do yield—
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. and learned Member—[Interruption.]
Unless hon. Members are quiet I cannot hear what the hon. Gentleman says.
Keep those fellows opposite in Order.
I am not concerned with any one side of the House. I am concerned with the House as a whole.
Is it in Order for the hon. and learned Member, in his attempt to defend what he says he did not say before, to attribute to the Minister a statement which the Minister did not make, as the hon. and learned Member did a few moments ago?
I understood that the hon. and learned Member was about to make a certain withdrawal, the nature of which I was waiting to hear. If that withdrawal is not satisfactory, then it will be quite open to the Minister himself to say so.
I confess, I do not remember the exact terms the Minister used, but I intend to make clear the nature of my withdrawal, what it is I withdraw and what it is I do not withdraw. Whatever attacks may be made, it is much better for them to made on accurate knowledge. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Certainly. I say at once, if the Minister assures me that he has no intention, and has never intimated such intention, that the Government have no intention, and that the Government have never intimated such intention, of appointing the right hon. Gentleman to whom I have referred, then, of course, I accept that from the Minister. I would not doubt it for one moment but—
What a twister.
Do not be so nervous. I promise that I will sit down if the right hon. Gentleman likes, but do let me get my own statement right. The Minister then goes on to say that I have made some frightful charge against the Government. I have not made one single charge against the Government which is not explicit or implicit in this Clause which we are discussing. And in the Minister's defence here he, in so many words, claimed the right—he did not object—
On a point of Order. I really cannot allow this to go on any longer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite will not get away with it like that. As I understood it, the hon. and learned Member stated that it is well known that promises have been made by the Minister. I now ask that he substantiates that or withdraws it.
If the Minister says to me that no promises have been made, of course I will withdraw. I say, though—and still my main point seems to me to remain quite unaffected—that these great powers have been given to Ministers, and they have made it clear that they think it is quite in order for them to fill these appointments with their political supporters. I say that there is very strong rumour—with which I have acquainted the House, and which I certainly believed to have some foundation; the right hon. Gentleman says to me that it has none, and I accept his word—as to how one particular appointment is to be filled. Now, I say in the case of these Executives—
May I put a point to the hon. and learned Member? My right hon. Friend did not hear the end of the statement which the hon. and learned Member made, and I directed the attention of my right hon. Friend to it. What I want from the hon. and learned Member is either a substantiation or a withdrawal of the original statement. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has withdrawn."] What the hon. and learned Member said was that my right hon. Friend had put it out of his power—
I am within the recollection of the House, and the OFFICIAL REPORT will show me to be correct. The hon. and learned Member said that my right hon. Friend had put it out of his power to accept this Amendment because of promises that had been made about this appointment. That is what the hon. and learned Member said; it is a very serious charge to make, and any gentleman of honour would either substantiate it or withdraw it.
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for making clear what his point was. The OFFICIAL REPORT will, as he says, make clear what were the exact words, and I shall take the precaution of not going up and making any amendment to my speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—certainly of grammar. I rely on my recollection, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will find—
The hon. and learned Member had better give it up.
I am quite aware of the Communist Party's desire that nobody—
I think this is a quite deplorable turn which the Debate is taking, and I hope the House will come back to the Amendment.
I yielded to the Minister of Health, and always shall yield, because his interventions always provide useful contributions to the Debate. I think he will find that what I said was: Having regard to the way this Amendment is being resisted, I wonder whether the Minister not only says "I won't withdraw the Amendment," but has put it out of his power to withdraw it, having regard to the expectations that have been aroused with regard to this appointment. I think it will be found that that is what I said. If the Government do take this alleged step—and I am saying quite directly in this House what is becoming to be suspected increasingly, I think on reasonable grounds, outside—not only that reward for political services can be expected in the way of appointment, but that fairly early rewards can be expected merely for joining the Socialist Party—I say that this is the first—
On a point of Order. I rise to ask whether the hon. Member is now making an apology to the House, and whether the House is entitled to ask him to make an apology for a most offensive statement against the Minister?
The Chair has no power to ask for any apology to be made, nor has it power to ask an hon. Member to withdraw. In all seriousness, I would ask the House, and those who are addressing the House, if they will address themselves to the Amendment.
On a point of Order. Is it conceivable that the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) or myself would have been allowed to behave in this way?
The only thing is for the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs and the hon. Member for West Fife to try and see how far they can do it.
I have tried and failed.
I am making no apology of any kind. I am not under the illusion that I am making a speech which is popular with hon. Members opposite. I am making— [Interruption.]
I do hope that the House will allow the hon. and learned Member to conclude his speech.
I am stating, on the first Amendment when it has been possible, what I believe to be a public issue of the very first importance. In these Bills, and especially—[Interruption.] I am anxious to conclude my speech, but I assure hon. Members opposite that I shall continue until I have made my point absolutely clear.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker has said that the hon. Member is to conclude his speech.
I did not say that he had to conclude it, but simply expressed a wish.
I can assure you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that my desire to conclude my speech is no less than that of any other Member in the House, but I mean to go on until this point is absolutely clear, and every characteristic attempt from hon. Members opposite to try to prevent me from saying what I believe it is my duty to my constituents to say—[Interruption.]
We cannot have a speech carried on with these persistent interruptions.
On a point of Order. It is certainly a very ancient Rule that any hon. Member has a right to address the House, but surely the House is at liberty to decide whether or not it will listen?
Yes, but it is within the discretion of the Chair that the speech be listened to.
Is it out of Order for a Member to show his appreciation of the efforts of any hon. Member in addressing the House?
There are other forms of appreciation, and silence is one of them.
On nationalisation Bills, and particularly with this one, it is of the utmost importance that the House shall watch what opportunities are being given of patronage by the Executive, particularly when these opportunities are wholly unnecessary and can be avoided by an Amendment which positively improves the structure of the Bill. That criticism has been made, not only by Conservatives, but by commentators on this Bill from the time it was introduced, and in papers so divergent as the "Manchester Guardian" and the "Economist." There is no doubt whatever that the structure of this Bill will be improved by accepting this Amendment, which will also have the effect of diminishing the Government's opportunity of patronage. On both these grounds I commend the Amendment, which has been made in another place, to the good sense of the House.
I, too, wish to voice my opinion upon the question of political patronage. Up and down the country, I have accused the Socialist Government of seeking to introduce more and more political patronage, and I consider it is therefore right and proper that I should make the same accusation in this House.
Does that mean the hon. Member is challenging us all on that this evening?
I would tell the hon. Member that patience is a virtue. It seems to me that the Minister tried to justify his case on the grounds that "Because you boys have done it in the past, we are going to do it in the future."
What is wrong with that?
The Minister pointed in the general direction of this side of the House, inferring that the Conservative Party had had the right in the past—goodness knows where they got it from—to appoint railway directors. That is certainly an argument which none of my hon. Friends has been able to discover before; it is the most wonderful invention of the Minister. I will not ask the Minister to withdraw it. If he likes to make that sort of point, the intelligent public can give it the weight it deserves. If the railway directorships in the past were given to Conservative Members because they were Conservative Members, then I think that it is a thoroughly disreputable thing, and so do most of my hon. Friends. If that had been the case in the past, the right hon. Gentleman and I would have joined hands in condemning it, and I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite know that I am speaking the truth. The point is that there happened to be many Conservative Members of Parliament who were in business before they came into the House. If they had been appointed to railway boards on the grounds that they were competent administrators that is not my affair, because they were appointed on their merits.If the Minister will appoint members of the executives purely on their merits, then there will not be a great deal of complaint in any part of the House. The Minister implied that the provisions of this Bill were to make it possible to put working men on the Executives. I beg leave to doubt whether any single working man will be put on one of these Executives. Do right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite Front Bench think that they are working men? Some, but very few, may have been working men 20 or 30 years ago.
On a point of Order. What has this to do with the Amendment?
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to conduct the proceedings of the House.
Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not working-class men today in the sense that many men who started work in industry, who saved money and put it back into their businesses, and who rose to high places, are working men. The men who are appointed, if they are appointed on merit, will not be working men.
Can the hon. Member define a working man "?
Perhaps the hon. Member will think about it, and then he will find out. I will give him his due; he is a good type of working man and proud of it, but he will never be on the Government Front Bench.
I fail to see what this has to do with the Amendment.
I apologise to you, Sir, and to the hon. Member for that digression. What we on this side of the House are trying to do is to prevent the worst features of political patronage becoming a reality. The Minister is an honest man, but we cannot guarantee that future Ministers of Transport, of any party—I want to be perfectly fair in this matter—will be as honest and straightforward as the right hon. Gentleman. We know that there are far too many men with political ambitions to give carte blanche to all future Ministers of Transport. There can be no doubt that resistance to this Amendment will put power into the hands of all future Ministers of Transport to distribute political patronage far and wide. It is on those grounds that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will oppose the Government on this issue.
The Minister and the party opposite seem to be nervous of this Amendment, and I think they have good reason to be. There arise the questions: How far will there be incompetence through red tape, and how far will there be incentive towards corruption and graft? Taking the former question first I am surprised that we have not had a speech from the Government side in support of this Amendment. In the past, I have heard the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards) speak on this very point of the danger of incompetence through red tape. He has said that there must not be over-centralisation in nationalisation proposals, that a certain amount of freedom must be given to a Commission. This Amendment raises that very point. Here, the Government are to appoint to the Commission men who
Those men, I should have thought, could be trusted to choose the Executives. The Government have done that under the Civil Aviation Act. There they appointed three corporations, and gave them the job of choosing the Executives. The Hotel Executive was chosen, not by the Minister of Civil Aviation, but by the corporation. Now the Government are doing something entirely different which, I believe, the Labour Party will rue afterwards. The Minister, in opposing this Amendment, asked whether it would make for a good ultimate result if there was divergence of opinion. The man the Commission chose might be a man who was disagreeable to the Minister. Why should the Minister impose on the Commission a man who is not fit for the job? If he does not intend to do this, there is no point in the right hon. Gentleman trying to reject this Amendment. I cannot see that transport in this country will be run competently if, at any time, the Minister can appoint to the Executive a man who has not the confidence of the Commission. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) pointed out that the Executives were the agents of the Commission. In that case, the Commission should be entitled to choose their own agents. I am an opponent of the Government in this business of the nationalisation of transport, but I feel strongly that if we are to have nationalisation we must make it work efficiently. It will not be efficient if it is bound up with red tape. It is a facile but dangerous argument for the Minister to say, "It is all right. Parliament will be able to 'vet' everything we do." If the Government continue to prosecute their present programme this House will be cluttered up with Questions, which will make the work of the Transport Commission unwieldy. A great deal has been said about patronage. This country, since the time of Lord Liverpool, has had a great reputation for honesty in public life, and for absence of inducements towards graft. I am afraid that these nationalisation Measures are being regarded in the country as giving opportunities for graft. The rumours that go about, which Ministers have to contradict, show that danger. The wisest way of dealing with this problem is to remove the opportunity for those rumours. In other countries, there are jobs that are given by the parties in power—"have shown capacity in transport, industrial, commercial, or financial matters, or in administration or in the organisation of workers."
Where did that originate?
I have lately been in a country where the allocation of the oil ration was handed out to the Communist Party. I am sorry that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has left the Chamber. That went on for about six months until there was such an uproar that all the Communist Ministers were dismissed from the Government. That happened two months ago, in South America. That is the kind of thing which everybody wants to avoid happening in this country. At present, there is general dissatisfaction here with the way things are run. People believe that there is too much red tape, and there are rumours of blackmail and corruption. I hope that the House will not disagree with this Amendment.
I am sorry that I did not hear the whole of this Debate, but I was at a Cabinet meeting. On the point of the merit of the Amendment to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred, I would put the following considerations to the House. These Executives are to be bodies of very great importance. They are not merely departmental bodies within the transport organisation of a domestic character. The Railway Executive will be in the executive sense responsible. I agree, under the Transport Commission, for running the whole of the railway system of this country. The Road Transport Executive will be similarly responsible for the whole of the road transport system, and so on. I think that in these cases where there are bodies which are running great undertakings as distinct elements of the British transport' system, nevertheless being coordinated by the British Transport Commission, it would be wrong from the Parliamentary point of view if there was no Ministerial accountancy for the appointment of these important executives.I think that the House would not be much older before it complained if the Minister said, "I have no responsibility for the appointment of these Executives," and the House would complain if he said he had no responsibility for their salaries or conditions of service. In these cases, where they are, from time to time, discharging big functions and running vast economic units, it is right that there should be Parliamentary responsibility for the appointment of these executive bodies. It is proposed, and the Bill provides, that the Minister appoints the Executives after consultation with the British Transport Commission; therefore, the Commission will have a good opportunity of discussing with the Minister the appointments that are to be made. Personally, I think, as does my right hon. Friend, that that is the happiest way out of this problem, having regard to the very important nature of these bodies. I would remind hon. Members opposite that they have repeatedly pursued my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power with regard to the appoint- ment of the divisional boards under the Coal Industry Act. They have complained most vigorously—we had a discussion on the Adjournment only last week—that the Minister has refused to accept responsibility for the appointments of the divisional boards or to give the House information as to their salaries and conditions of service. The reason he does not do so is that in the case of the Coal Industry Act, the same provision was made in respect of the divisional boards—not quite the same—nevertheless, the provision was made or implied that the appointment of the divisional boards under the National Coal Board was the responsibility of the National Coal Board. I really think that the Opposition ought to make up their minds. If they accept the view that within the Coal Board the appointment of boards for its geographical organisation, much less important than the appointment of these bodies, which are really conducting vast industries within the wider industry—if they accept the view that the divisional coal boards should be the responsibility of appointment by the National Coal Board, they ought not to follow that up by Parliamentary questions and agitations wanting to know why the Minister of Fuel and Power will not give the House information or, in fact, take responsibility for the appointment of the divisional boards. On this occasion, they are taking the line that the Minister should not appoint. Do they appreciate that if the Minister is not responsible, it will be utterly useless to come along hereafter and question my right hon. Friend as to why he has appointed Mr. So-and-so to an executive? It will be quite impossible. The question of their salaries would, I submit, be ruled out of Order on the ground that the Minister has not the responsibility. The fact is that the Opposition have got themselves into a thorough muddle as to their point of view and philosophy on this matter. They must make up their minds whether they want Parliamentary responsibility or whether they do not. I admit that all these things are a matter of fair argument —I do not complain that there should be argument. We thought in the case of the Coal Board that as these were domestic geographical units within the Coal Board organisation, it was right that they should be a domestic matter for the Coal Board itself. We equally thought in the case of these Executives which have very big direct executive powers, in one case over the whole of the railway field, and in another case over the whole of the road transport field—we thought it was right that the Minister should be in a position of taking responsibility for the appointment, and that this House should have the right to shoot at the Minister for the appointments which he made to these executives. I think that the Opposition ought to make up their minds as to what they want. 6.45 P.m. I am told that the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) made an allegation which I am a little surprised should come from a university Member of this House; but we live and learn about university Members as we go along. I understand that he made an allegation that my right hon. Friend was not free to accept this Amendment because he had already committed himself to certain appointments. That followed on a rather low-down speech, if I may say so, that was made in the country by the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in which allegations of corruption and jobbery were made against this Government. I do not feel that I need to stand up to defend the Labour Party about jobbery and corruption. Our record is open—it is public—and I am prepared to defend it and my own.
This is out of Order.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that I am out of Order. I thought that Mr. Speaker was in the Chair, but I will be careful in view of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's great knowledge of procedure. I do not want to argue back and to say that the Conservative Party has been guilty of irregularities in public appointments. I dare say that I could make something like a case if I wanted to. But it is not going to help to hurl these cases across the House, nor will it help the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities if he makes a serious allegation of that kind against my right hon. Friend. I have known my right hon. Friend for a great many years and, with great respect, I do not believe that he is the kind of man who has engaged in or ever will engage in irregular practices. If the hon. and learned Gentleman says it, he ought to prove it. He should produce some evidence, or he should withdraw it, one of the two. If he is going to make accusations across the Floor of the House that my right hon. Friend has already made appointments without the authority of Parliament or without telling Parliament—
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber when I spoke, because, if he had been, he would have been in a better position to reply. Let me make it quite clear that whatever accusations I made—and the right hon. Member will be able to see it in HANSARD—
You mentioned a name.
—certainly applies to the whole of the Government and not to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister. That is absolutely clear.
It was not in the plural. You singled him out.
My second point is that I did not say that he had made these appointments, I said that he had indicated, as I think the Government had indicated in certain cases, how the executive appointments were to be filled, and I gave that one example.
It does not much matter whether the allegations were made against my right hon. Friend or against the Government. I should have thought that if he made these allegations, and it is perfectly clear that he did, he ought not to make them irresponsibly or out of malice or in a vicious way, because he is doing that if he does not produce evidence. The hon. and learned Gentleman should produce the evidence upon which he bases his allegations and if he is in a position to produce that evidence, I will willingly give way and then deal with it.
Since the Leader of the House is dealing at the moment with a matter of courtesy and perhaps procedure, might I ask him quite seriously whether he thinks it right that in two important Debates such as that on newsprint and that on this Amendment we should have Ministers coming in at the last minute and endeavouring to reply without having heard any of the speeches? The Minister of Health did not take a note of any of the speeches on the newsprint Debate and then he attempted to reply to that Debate. The same thing is occurring now in regard to the Lord President of the Council. Is that right?
The hon. Gentleman is a little thin-skinned. He sees that the Opposition are getting the worst of the argument, and he wants to find some way out of it for them. I said that the hon. and learned Gentleman for the Combined English Universities had made an accusation and that the onus was upon him to produce the evidence. I am willing to, give way if he will produce that evidence
I do not desire that there should be any misunderstanding in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. who did not hear my speech. The grounds on which I said what I did, I explained in that speech, but the main ground for my suspicion—let me repeat the words "main ground" — is the treatment of our case on this Amendment. As long as the Government persist in not answering any of the points we on this side of the House have made on this issue my suspicion will remain.
With great respect, the Amendment has been argued on the merits. I only want to add that it is perfectly clear the hon. and learned Gentleman has no evidence whatever, and if I may say so with respect, it is not fitting for hon. Members of this House, and in particular an hon. Member who is elected to represent cultured university life, to make these allegations against my right hon. Friend or against the Government as a whole without apparently possessing the slightest evidence that that is so. I understand that the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities made some reference to the leader of the London County Council. This is a free country and if the leader of the London County Council wishes to cease to be leader of that body I suppose he may be permitted to do so, but what kind of mind is it that reads suspicion into that?
I did not.
I understand so. That was what I was told. What was the point of mentioning it? The fact is—and I can assure the House that this comes from my own knowledge—my right hon. Friend has not approached or sounded anybody for any of these appointments. If he had done so, and if he had made provision for appointments as was done in the case of coal or of the organising committee in the case of electricity, his right course would be to tell the House. He has not done so. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House that he has made no such provision at all, and, therefore, in those circumstances I say again that if these allegations, which come particularly ill from the so-called gentlemanly party, are made, if these smear tactics are to he indulged in, and if this mud-slinging is to be gone in for, then I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite if they have the courage to sling the mud, let them have the courage to produce the evidence.
I rise only for a, few moments in order to say how glad we were to see the Lord President of the Council come in to assist us at a rather late hour in our discussion.
Listen now to the bright young Tory.
I will get through my arguments much quicker if I do not have too much interruption. As a matter of fact, this Debate has been rather one-sided, and I regret it. I thought I saw many hon. Gentlemen opposite, who could have contributed to this discussion, showing signs of deep emotion, but at no time did they translate it into any form of coherent utterance. Now, at last, we have had the Lord President's speech. The Lord President dealt quite a lot with the question of patronage, and he that we on this side of the House were very thin-skinned. I must say that I think the Government are being a little thin-skinned. We have spent a lot of time talking about what was said to be a fearful allegation that had been made against the party opposite. That allegation was that some approach had been made to Lord Latham with the possibility of his serving on the executive.
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. All that the hon. Gentleman is doing is to erect a man of straw in order to knock it down.
My recommendation to hon. Members is that they should not generate more heat than they can contain.
I am ready to accept your Ruling, Sir. I was en-deavouring to introduce a soothing note into the Debate. I think a great deal of heat has been generated about very little. It did not seem to me that the suggestion that Lord Latham was going to be invited to be a member of the executive—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] —that he had been invited by the Minister to act on the executive should have been treated as a charge of gross indecency. The broad charge on patronage, if I might put it to the Lord President, was raised not by this side of the House at all, but by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport, who devoted two-thirds of his opening speech to this question of patronage and the allegations about manipulations with regard to railway directors and the Conservative Party. That was why the matter was raised in the form that it was. I mention it only because the Lord President was not in the House, and I think he should know the way the discussion generally developed. The main point about the question of patronage was largely this: without making an allegation against the Minister of Transport, the Government or anybody else, if we go on in Act after Act putting more and more jobs at the disposal of the people who are the political leaders of the country today, it makes for a bad system. All history has shown it to be so.If I may leave this, following your advice, Mr. Speaker, not to generate any more heat than is necessary, may I say one word on the merits of this Amendment, because merits have been neglected in this discussion. I am not sure that the Minister, in devoting two-thirds of his speech to the question of patronage, did not hope that the merits would be somewhat neglected; but the merits are important. They have nothing to do with the principle of whether transport is nationalised or not. It is simply a question of efficiency. Therefore, I take the case which the Lord President has put forward. He said that these are very big Executives; but what has that got to do with it? The point is that somebody is responsible for the policy of the Commission, and the Minister is responsible for laying down the main points, just as a board of directors of a company are responsible for laying down the broad policy of the company. Surely, in those circumstances the Commission who are responsible for laying down policy should have the power to appoint the executives. What board of directors of any company, however vast, could ever tolerate the managers of the departments —however big those departments—being appointed by someone else? It seemed to me that the Lord President's point about the size of the executives was utterly irrelevant. 7.0 p.m. Then the right hon. Gentleman comes along and says, "Well, supposing the Commission do in fact appoint these Executives; then the House of Commons cannot ask about them." The right hon. Gentleman says this, but personally I have never quite understood why, and I think that it is a very nice point. Whether the Executives are appointed by the Commission of the Minister, I really cannot understand why the Minister should not disclose the details of the appointments and salaries, not of the smaller people, but of the main officials. That would be a fair, courteous and sensible way of dealing with the House. It does not appear to me that the question and answer is dependent upon this particular decision. Why does the Minister want this power? He said that he wanted to see
Division No. 320.]
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Daggar, G|
|Allen, A C (Bosworth)||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Daines, P.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Davies, Edward (Burslem;|
|Anderson, F (Whitehaven)||Brown, George (Belper)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Attewell, H. C||Brown, T. J. (Inee)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Bruce, Maj D W. T.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Buchanan, G||Davies, R J. (Westhoughton)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Burden, T W.||Deer, G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Burke, W. A||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Balfour, A.||Chamberlain, R. A||Delargy, H. J|
|Barnes, Rt Hon A. J||Champion, A. J||Dobbie, W|
|Barstow, P G.||Chater, D.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Battley, J. R.||Chelwynd, G. R.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Cluse, W. S.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Belcher, J W||Cobb, F. A.||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Benson, G.||Cocks, F. S.||Durbin, E. F. M|
|Beswick, F.||Coldrick, W.||Dye, S.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Collick, P.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Collins, V. J.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)|
|Binns, J.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Blenkinsop, A||Comyns, Dr. L.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Cove, W. G||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Crawley, A||Ewart, R.|
|Braddock Mrs E. M. (L pl Exch'ge)||Crossman, R. H S.||Fairhurst, F.|
men of all classes appointed to the Executives, and I am sure that everybody would like to see that, but why should not the Commission appoint to those bodies men from all walks of life: Surely, the test of whether a man is suit able for the Executives is whether he knows about transport, and not whether he went to Eton or somewhere else: [ Interruption.] My remark was inspired by the sight of an old Etonian on the benches opposite. As I say, it is question of whether a person knows about transport. The Minister appoints this Commission, and surely the Commission itself is as good a judge as he is? The worst solution of all, which is thaadopted by the Government, is not really to make up their minds who is responsible, but to have someone doing some thing after consultation with someone else so that no one will, in fact, be responsible for the appointments.
The Minister will be
It seems that while we have spent a good deal of time talk ing about patronage, which is, I admit, important, we have not had any satis factory answer from the Government on the merits of this Amendment, and in those circumstances I hope that we shall express our views in a Division.
Question put, "That this House cloth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
The Houses divided: Ayes 304; Noes, 143.
|Farthing, W. J.||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mack, J. D.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Field, Capt W J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skeffingion. A. M|
|Fletcher, E G. M. (Islington, E.)||McKinlay, A. S||Skinnard, F W.|
|Follick, M.||Maclean, N (Govan)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Foot, M. M.||McLeavy, F.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Forman, J. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W)|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Solley, L. J.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mallalieu, J. P. W||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gibbins, J.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stamford, W.|
|Gibson, C. W||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Steele, T.|
|Gilzean, A.||Martin, J. H.||Stephen, C.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mathers, G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Goodrich, H. E.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mayhew, C. P||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Greenwood, Rt Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Medland, H M||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Mellish, R J||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Grenfell, D R.||Mikardo, Ian||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Grey, C. F||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R||Swingler, S|
|Grierson, E||Mitchison, G. R||Sylvester, G. 0|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Monstow, W.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon J. (Llanelly)||Moody, A. S.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Morgan, Dr H. B.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gunter, R J.||Morley, R.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Guy, W. H||Morris, P (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Hale, Leslie||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hall, W. G.||Moyle, A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Murray, J. D.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Hardman, D. R.||Nally, W.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Naylor, T. E.||Tiffany, S.|
|Harrison, J.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Timmons, J.|
|Haworth, J.||Nicholls, H. R (Stratford)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Tolley, L.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Oldfield, W. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Holman, P.||Oliver, G. H.||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Orbach, M.||Viant, S. P.|
|House, G||Paget, R. T.||Walkden, E.|
|Hubbard, T.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Walker, G. H.|
|Hudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Parkin, B T.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Watson, W. M.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pearson, A.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Peart, T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Irving, W. J||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Janner, B||Popplewell, E.||West, D. G.|
|Jay, D. P T||Porter E. (Warrington)||Westwood, Rl. Hon. J.|
|Jeger, G (Winchester)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Price, M. Philips||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Proctor, W. T.||Wigg, Col. G. E|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Pryde, D. J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Keenan, W.||Randall, H. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kenyon, C.||Ranger, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Key, C. W.||Rankin, J||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|King, E. M||Reeves, J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Kinley, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Kirkwood, D||Rhodes, H.||Williams, Rt. Hon T (Don Valley)|
|Lang, G.||Richards, R.||Williams, W R (Heston)|
|Lavers, S.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williamson, T.|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Robens, A.||Willis, E.|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannook)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Leonard, W.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wise, Major F J|
|Leslie, J. R.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Woods, G. S.|
|Levy, B. W.||Royle, C.||Wyatt, W.|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Sargood, R.||Yates, V. F.|
|Lindgren, G. S||Scollan, T.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col M||Scott-Elliot, W.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Logan, D G.||Segal, Dr. S.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Longden, F||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Sharp, Granville||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McAdam, W.||Shinwell, Rt Hon. E||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|McAllister, G||Shurmer, P.||Mr. Hannan.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Silkin, Rt. Hon L.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Astor, Hon. M.||Baxter, A. B|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Baldwin, A. E.||Beamish, Maj. T. V. H|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Barlow, Sir J.||Bennett, Sir P.|
|Birch, Nigel||Mollis, M. C||Pickthorn, K.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col D C. (Wells)||Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Boothby R.||Hope, Lord J||Ponsonby, Col. C. E|
|Bower, N||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm, Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Poole, O B. S (Oswestry;|
|Boyd-Carpenter, ||Hutohison, Col J R (Glasgow. C)||Prescott, Stanley|
|Butcher, H. W||Jarvis, Sir J||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Byers, Frank||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clarke, Col R. S||Jennings, R||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L. W||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Keeling, E. H.||Reid, Rt Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O E.||Lambert, Hon. G||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Cuthbert, W. N||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|De la Bère, R||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Digby, S. W||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Lindsay, M -Solihull)||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Dower, Lt.-Col A. V. G. (Penrith)||Lipson, D L||Soott, Lord W.|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklew)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Low, Brig A R. W||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Duthie, W. S.||McCallum, Maj. D||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Eden, Rt. Hon A||Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight)||Spence, H. R.|
|Elliot Rt. Hon. Walter||Maokeson, Brig. H. R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||McKie, J. H (Galloway)||Strauss, H. G (English Universities)|
|Fox, Sir G||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fraser, H. C. P (Stone)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Sutcliffe, H|
|Fyte, Rt Hon Sir D. P M||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)|
|Gage, C.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thorneycroft, G. E P. (Monmouth)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Touche, G. C.|
|Gammans, L. D||Marples, A. E.||Turton, R, H.|
|George, Maj Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Marsden, Cap! A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Grant, Lady||Mellor, Sir J||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Molson, A. H E.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Grimston, R. V.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T||Wheatley, Colonel M. J|
|Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Morris, Hopktn (Carmarthen)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morrison,'Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Hare, Hon J H. (Woodbridge)||Neven-Spence, Sir B||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre A. V.||Nicholson, G||Winterton, Rt Hon. Earl|
|Head, Brig A. H.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||York, C.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Herbert, Sir A. P.||Osborne, C.||Major Ramsay and|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.|
|Hogg, Hon. Q||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
Lords Amendment: In page 7, line 37, leave out "other provision is made by such an order" and insert:
"determined otherwise by the Commission."
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment." This is an Amendment related to that which we have just discussed.
Question put, and agreed to.
Lords Amendment: In page 7, line 40, after the second "Executive" insert: "the Scottish Transport Executive."
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."The Amendment proposes to introduce an entirely new type of board into the Bill, and for that reason we disagree with it. I would recall that so far, we have established the British Transport Commission and a series of functional executives to conduct the operations of the railways, ports, hotels, and 1 catering. If the Amend- ment were adopted, we should be creating a new type of body. In no way have their Lordships attempted to define the duties which the proposed Scottish Transport Executive would have to perform. I would briefly indicate what the present position is and how the Amendment would work out. I think hon. Members will sec the anomalies that would develop if the. Amendment were accepted. The existing railway organisation in Scotland will be merged into one railway system, and the management side will be unified and strengthened. From the point of view of being able to function in the executive and management way, the requirements and railway needs of Scotland are bound to be better served. On the road passenger side, when the area schemes are developed, it is inevitable that there will be two, three, four or more road passenger transport organisations developed. The bodies that will be appointed to administer those area transport schemes will be drawn from bodies representative of the locality and will be largely responsible for the operation of the schemes, in consultation, conforming to the co-ordination policy of the executive at the national end. The Commission are under the obligation to consult local opinion fully, and it is only when a large measure of agreement is eventually achieved that the Minister can approve the scheme. If at any time there is a divergence of opinion, the matter must be submitted to Parliament, and it becomes subject to the special Parliamentary procedure. During the Debate on the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive, I explained that there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the Commission and the ports executive, if they represented opinion on the Clyde, from accepting and putting into force a scheme similar to that reported upon by the Cooper Committee. Therefore, on the road passenger side, and on the ports and harbours side, it is clear that the type of organisation which will administer these schemes locally in Scotland will be essentially Scottish in character The Scottish Transport Executive proposed in the Amendment would have to have formulated for it a transport executive for Scotland, and would have to cut through the whole of that executive machinery. So, in fact, unless it dealt with railways alone, if it absorbed the functions of the other executives it would become a Scottish transport authority. I do not know what kind of function or responsibility, financial or otherwise, such a body would exercise within the provisions of the Bill. In the Amendment which comes from the Lords we are, therefore, confronted with a completely anomalous situation. I am satisfied that with the Scottish Consultative Committee which the Bill establishes, and with the machinery provided for area transport and port schemes, the legitimate desire of Scottish opinion to manage, as far as possible, their own affairs is attended to, without completely destroying the economy, co-ordination, and integration which the Bill establishes. The Bill meets legitimate Scottish aspirations. Further, I am satisfied that I am serving Scottish national interests by adhering to the existing structure of the Bill, because if, by any chance, Scottish transport in all its aspects is cut off cleanly from British transport as a whole, it meets many difficult circumstances which are peculiar to Scotland and represent heavy financial obligations upon any transport system. Therefore, from the angle of the economic interests of Scotland, there is everything to be said for it being integrated in the British transport system and for capital control and receipts passing into a common pool so that the peculiar physical handicaps which affect many parts of Scotland can be taken in its stride. Hon. Members who were on the Standing Committee will recollect that Members representing Scottish constituencies pressed very strongly the peculiar and urgent needs, particularly of the Highlands and the Western Isles. Although I was not able to meet their requests in the Standing Committee in regard to certain shipping services, on another occasion in this House quite recently a further step was taken in that direction, and I gave a general undertaking that I hoped that when the position was established, these peculiar problems would, for the first time, receive special and sympathetic study in a way possibly to enable them to be met in the future in a form which has never been possible in the past because transport has been broken up into so many pieces. I have taken a little time in explaining the situation on this Amendment, not because I consider this Amendment, of itself, of any definite value to the Bill, but because it is essential that the relationship of these problems in Scotland to the British transport system as a whole should be thoroughly appreciated so that we can dispel any attempt to exploit on false sentimental or nationalistic grounds a proposal which, on the face of it, might appear to be giving Scotland an advantage but which is anomalous in the structure of the Bill and in its ultimate result. If the Government had accepted this Amendment and then attempted to clothe the Amendment with the necessary powers to make it work, I am confident that we would have injured Scottish national interests rather than advanced them.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not consider this Amendment was a very valuable one in itself. I would start by pointing out that it was designed not to wreck the Bill, but to make the scheme workable in Scotland. There is a very remarkable circumstance in connection with this Amendment. If the record of what has gone on in Scotland is of any value, this is not and cannot be a party matter. Let me quote to the House what one or two Scottish bodies have said about this, bodies which are in no way identified with any political party. I refer, first, to the Scottish Council for Trade and Industry, which consists of members owning allegiance to every political party. This is what they say:
—and so on. Then we have the opinion of the Scottish T.U.C. In moving the rejection of this Amendment, the Minister said that he was satisfied with the Consultative Committee in terms of Scotland's interest being well and truly served. That is not at all what the Scottish T.U.C. thinks of the Consultative Committee."The Council feel very strongly, however, that if firm provision is not made beforehand for a system of control in Scotland which will be satisfactory in practice, there is no guarantee that a satisfactory system will in fact be provided. The Council, therefore, urge the Government to insure by direction beforehand, either by the insertion of a suitable Clause in the Bill that … that provision must be met by the Transport Commission for the fullest possible delegation of effective administrative authority to offices in Scotland.…"
Of course, it is.
This is what it says:
That is what the General Council of the Scottish T.U.C. says about it. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman knows very much better what they meant, but that is what they said."The General Council, whilst welcoming the provision of a consultative committee for Scotland, considers that such a Committee … will not adequately meet the wishes of the Scottish people.…"
Yes, very much better.
The third non-party source which I would quote is the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, whose opinion is as follows:
There are three opinions, all of them given by bodies composed of men belonging to all political parties, completely ignored by the Government. If this Amendment is not accepted, the Government will merely be fomenting Scottish Nationalism. There is no one who would regret that fomentation more than I. In its concept it is wrong, and inimical both to the interests of Scotland and of the United Kingdom, but this is just the way in which that kind of undesirable trend will be encouraged. The Government would have a precedent if they allowed the formation of a Scottish Executive. They would find it in the Transport Bill which the Labour Government brought in in 1930. That Bill treated Scotland as a separate region for the purpose of the Bill, and I cannot see why this Government could not do the same thing. 7.30 p.m. I quoted at the beginning of my speech three non-party sources in favour of the setting up of a Scottish Executive, and in that connection I would quote two admittedly biased sources, both distinguished Members ef the Labour Party, in favour of this kind of decentralisation. First that distinguished Scottish Socialist, Mr. Thomas Johnston, considered the statutory creation of a Scottish Board in land transport essential"The General Assembly, seriously considering the possible invasion of human rights and local independence by large-scale collectivism, and noting the continued disregard of Scottish sentiment and the claims of Scotland as a nation in many matters which vitally affect the prosperity of the Scottish people, declare their conviction that schemes of nationalisation must be accompanied by a large measure of devolution and decentralisation if the achievements of a genuine democracy is not to be frustrated."
"it the social and administrative services of the country are to be run with efficiency and with a minimum of frustration and annoyance to the North."
Was that in the "Sunday Times," a Tory paper?
That was from the "Sunday Times." [An HON. MEMBER: "A Tory paper."] Whether it is a Socialist or Tory paper—and whether I his is in Order or not—Mr. Johnston is surely recognised by hon. Members opposite as a distinguished and loyal Member of the Labour Party. The final authority I wish to quote from the Socialist ranks is the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council who, in his speech winding up the Second Reading Debate, made the following two observations:
and he added rather unkindly:
"I believe fervently that, in regard to the detailed management of an undertaking in its day-to-day activities, the Minister had be out of it—"
He then said:
"and Members of Parliament had better be out of it as well."
Neither of those suggestions is being followed by the Government in their refusal to set up a Scottish Board, and I would utter a friendly but firm warning to the Minister that, if he continues to neglect non-party Scottish opinion, and the desires of the Scottish people generally in this matter, he may well have the distinction of starting a legend which will tell the story of Alfred who burnt, not the cakes, but his fingers.
"In the administrative scheme, it is the intention of the Government to prevent over-centralisation. There will be the maximum practical amount of devolution.…"—[OFICIAL REPORT, 18th December, 1946; Vol. 431, cc. 2082 and 2083.]
The argument,we have been hearing from the noble Lord the Member for Midlothian and Peebles, Northern (Lord John Hope) mentioned the Scottish National Party, Mr. Tom Johnston, the Church of Scotland Assembly, the Scottish Council of Trade and Industry, and the T.U.C. the most bizarre coalition of which I have ever heard. As for the Church of Scotland Assembly, even that draws a subsidy from the British Exchequer in order to continue as the Church of Scotland—but I will not pursue that point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. There is nothing Scotland wants more than what this Bill is trying to provide in this Clause. We have suffered from the lack of what this Bill will provide, a decent co-ordinated system of transport in Scotland; and nowhere more than in the North of Scotland where, under this Bill, we hope to see the progress we have never had under the existing system—I would call it chaos, rather than system. The noble Lord said we must not pander to the Scottish Nationalists on this issue. He said they were wrong, and then went on to argue that we should give them all they ask and so create more Scottish Nationalists.
All I said was that Scottish Nationalism as a concept is wrong. I did not say Scottish Nationalists were wrong on every single point; of course, that would be better ridiculous.
The noble Lord brought in all the arguments the Scottish Nationalists use. They certainly are not wrong over everything, but in this Amendment as it is framed they are wrong. We have a Bill here which implies throughout that Scotland will have the same financial consideration as England and will have an adequate transport system which has not existed before under private enterprise or any other system. Indeed, it is by State subsidies we have provided a shipping company, in the West Highlands and Islands. We have even with the subsidy an inadequate transport system, and everything has pointed to the need for taking it over completely and running it properly as a service for the people and industry. To provide such service ultimately is what this Bill is trying to do, and in trying to destroy the Bill hon. Members opposite are depriving Scotland of it. I do not suggest for a moment that is their intention, but that will be the effect; it will deprive Scotland of the hope of getting what it has never had before, a properly integrated system of transport. The noble Lord said he would not wreck the Bill, but he would do much more than that—he would rob Scotland of a decent transport system; and it is no use dragging in the Scottish T.U.C.—
The hon. Member means it is not convenient.
It is extremely convenient for hon. Members opposite to be able to quote the Scottish T.U.C. for the first time in their lives when they think it is guilty of a convenient aberration, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) might put it. We will not have Tom Johnston thrown at us, time afer time, as a leading Socialist—
Does the hon. Gentleman repudiate him?
I am not repudiating Mr. Tom Johnston's membership of the Socialist Party, but I am repudiating certain statements he has made in public which make him appear more a Member of the Scottish Nationalist Party and, therefore, at present conveniently acceptable to the Tories. He has repudiated us in so far as he has attacked the Transport Bill and certain other actions of the Government. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) has much less reason to be sorry than I have. Let us resist this thing to the limit. What we are after here is a much bigger thing than the plaudits of a small oft-rejected section of opinion in Scotland. If the Tories want to pander to the Scottish Nationalists, let them do it, but on the same basis as the Scottish Nationalists are talking—Home Rule and self-government. If the Tories want that, let them say it and not pick out a convenient point of this kind. Let them come out into the open, either for or against the Scottish Nationalists and Home Rule and self-government, but on the merits of this Bill I say to them, do not wreck the Bill because to do so will wreck Scotland's chance of getting a decent transport system.
I hoped we were sailing into, or that we were in, calmer waters than those through which we passed in considering the previous Amendment, but the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) seemed to be generating a spurious and quickly manufactured feeling of indignation as he took us towards the Western Islands of Scotland, and at the same time conveniently threw overboard Mr. Tom Johnston.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman do me the common courtesy of believing that our indignation at the inefficient and chaotic Scottish transport system is, to say the least, genuine?
Of course, if it was heartfelt, as it now seems to be, and also spontaneous. I make no apology for delaying the House on this question, because, although the Minister gave the impression that this had been closely considered in another stage of the Bill, in fact that was not so. Owing, perhaps, to my unfamiliarity with the complicated technique aid machinery, Amendments down in my name and in the names of hon. Friends in this direction were in fact never called, and we thought that our opportunity of speaking to this matter had gone. I draw the attention of the hon Member for the Western Isles to the fact that this is not in support of Scottish Nationalism, but for the very purpose of providing an antidote. We never had an opportunity of dealing with this mater until out of the treadmill at length has come this Amendment. I ask the House to disagree with the Government in disagreeing with the Lords Amendment, and in fact to support the Amendment. We in Scotland consider this Amendment desirable and helpful. My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Lord John Hope) has already mentioned bodies which supported this course, and hon. Members opposite threw scorn on the quotations. But I would like to know from them what more suitable examples they would like given. He mentioned the Scottish Council for Industry, which advocated something very like what the Amendment proposes. The Scottish Council for Industry is made up of industrialists and trade union representatives. Can hon. Members opposite give a better example of representation for Scotland. Then, in order to clinch the matter, in case it were thought not completely representative of trade union interests, he quoted the Scottish T.U.C. who, in contradistinction to what one hon. Member opposite said, have in fact asked for this executive.
When I find it I will furnish it to any hon. Member opposite who wants it, but I am afraid I have for the moment mislaid the document. Those are bodies who have asked that this measure should be taken. Is there any other body which hon. Members would like me to quote—any other body they would like me to bring into the fold, to show that Scottish opinion as a whole, is favourable to this, as indeed most of them were not so long ago?
At he General Election.
What is this executive for which we are asking? Let me draw attention to exactly what an executive is, as described in the Bill:
The right hon. Gentleman threw some scorn on the fact that we have not defined the functions of the executive, but they are defined there. They are, in fact, the agents of the Commission, and are to carry out such tasks as the Commission think right. When we tried to consider this in Committee upstairs, we thought we were being helpful in not trying to tie it down too closely. So far from this executive being ill-defined and unfavourable to our contention, we submit that it ought to help. On what do we base our demands, and on what do these bodies base a demand for a Scottish executive? First, on the statement of the Lord President of the Council that devolution was to be sought in all these nationalisation Measures: we still have confidence in promises of that kind, but I am bound to admit that in the nationalisation Measures I have watched so far—and I have taken part in most of them—there has been a very poor attempt at devolution, and at carrying out that promise. We also base the demand on the special character of the Scottish problem. It cannot too often be emphasised that Scotland has separate rating, separate land tenure, and a separate law system, different geography, and different customs. Yet it is claimed that there is no foundation for our claim that we should be treated somewhat separately because of all these differences and distinctions. The next reason upon which we base our claim is that we see an overgrown colossus being established to run the transport system in London. Already many think that each of the four railways were too big to be run by one set of men. Yet here, we have the four lumped together and the whole of their policy and functioning being dictated from London. There the Government are creating a Juggernaut car which will drive—slowly, I have no doubt, as Government machines do not go fast—over Scottish aspirations, Scottish hopes, and Scottish incentives. In this matter there is much in the incentive there would be for a Scottish transport system of road or rail, or, as I would like to see, both, controlled from Scotland, and an element of competition, which is the lifeblood of efficiency, if a Scottish Executive were set up and given a chance of running transport in its own country."Each executive shall, as agents for the Commission, exercise such functions of the Commission as are for the time being delegated to them by or under a scheme made by the Commission and approved by the Minister."
How is it possible for a Scottish Executive to indulge in competition if they act as agents for the Commission?
Easily. If the hon. Member will imagine the situation which will arise, he will see that there will be transport dealt with in England by a transport Executive, and a Scottish transport Executive dealing with transport in that country. Would that not be a form of competition in which one could compare results one with another?
I suggest that the hon. Member goes to the Library afterwards and looks up the definition of the word "competition." We claim that there is another advantage in the question of speed of decision. I want to give an illustration of what has happened in the past. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because illustrations are perhaps rather more graphic than academic discussions. There was the case of a graving dock belonging to a railway company and the dock was closed down for widening. The problem went from those working the dock to the Scottish committee of the railway company concerned. They then had to submit it to London, and the London committee then had to consider it, and pass it back to the Scottish committee. I may say that each of these moves took a minimum of a month. The Scottish committee passed it back to the concern, the concern had certain questions to ask about the answer, and the whole matter took about a year before a conclusion was reached. This kind of thing is typical, and will be even greater and slower under this Measure. We say that it should be possible for a decision of that kind to be taken locally, by people who know the local circumstances, and who have the power to say "Yes" or "No."What, then, are we offered? In his opening statement, the Minister said that we were in fact being offered everything that was good for Scotland—perhaps he will allow us to know what we think is good for ourselves—and that he would be doing a disservice to Scotland if he agreed to what we are now asking. There was some question about financial responsibility. What difference would it make in that respect if Scotland had its own executive? That executive would have the same financial powers as the other executives which are being set up under the Commission. We are to be fobbed off with a consultative committee, with no executive powers, area boards for transport, approved authorities for ports, but all ultimately subjected to the main body, part of the colossus in London. Local initiative and power of decision is what we want. If the Minister would give power to these local boards, a great deal of our objection would be removed. We have seen little coming to us so far from these consultative or advisory committees which have been set up already. I do not know how many Members opposite noticed the figures given by the Minister today in reply to a Question of mine, as to the activity going on at Prestwick on the part of foreign air lines and the lack of attention which Prestwick is being given by our Corporation. That is not a great advertisement for the Scottish Advisory Committee, which was to put Scotland and Scotland's air lines on to the map.
Is that not because international lines have been given certain freedom rights at Prestwick in order to safeguard civil aviation?
I do not want to get out of Order by pursuing that matter too far, but I would like the hon. Member to reflect a little on the significant fact that there were 19 departures by British lines in the month of June—
The hon. and gallant Member is getting right away from the Amendment with which we are dealing.
I had passed on but I was led back.
The fault of the hon. and gallant Member was that he allowed himself to be led.
I am too gullible. I would say that if we are to take examples from the past of what advisory and consultative committees have done for Scotland then those in this Bill will not get us anywhere near where we want to be.I again quote the Scottish T.U.C., who have said that this proposal which the Government have put into the Bill, and the Bill as it stands now, will not adequately meet the wishes of the Scottish people—[HON. MEMBERS: "When."] This is the same quotation as before, and I will furnish the context to any hon. Member when I sit down. At the same time, they went on to say that what the Minister said is good enough for us, is not, in fact, good enough for them. What is the Government's objection to this proposal? First, they make a great deal of play with the point that everything must be functional and not regional. I cannot see that there is anything sacrosanct about functionalism as against regionalism. By geography and by distance, one place can be so different from another that it becomes functionally different. The Government have allowed the London Passenger Transport Board to have its own executive. Is there not just as big a difference in the carriage of persons and goods between England and Scotland as there is between Middlesex and London? Are the populations not comparable? In fact, is not the number of vehicles ran-fling in Scotland probably greater than the number running in London? Therefore, why should there be this clear-cut case, which no doubt existed in the Minister's mind, in favour of London having its own executive and for Scotland being denied the same? If the right hon. Gentleman considers it is difficult to handle a Scottish Transport executive because a train has to go across the Border, then leave that aspect cut. The more the executive handles the better I shall be pleased. It is really nonsense to say that because a train is to go from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow, and has to cross the Border, it makes it impossible for the two countries to have their own transport systems. What about a train which, starting in Paris, crosses Italy, then Yugoslavia and finally arrives at Istanbul? Is it to be argued that neither the Yugoslays, the Italians nor the Turks are entitled to have their own transport system because that train crosses their frontiers? There is nothing in such an argument; it does not make much sense. There is a growing depth of feeling about this matter. I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly to the hon. Member for the Western Isles, who, I think, purposely tried to pull wool over the eyes of the House, that this is not a question of Scottish Nationalism but one of an antidote to Scottish Nationalism because those Members who represent Scottish constituencies are aware, and cannot help being aware, of the growing feeling at this centralisation of all Scottish interests in London. Those who are English Members know nothing about it. I have no doubt that the Press considered that we were benefiting when they instituted the system from which we are suffering of the major English daily papers having brought out a Scottish edition, with the result that Scottish matters, such as demands for Scottish transport—
The hon. and gallant Member is now much too wide of the Amendment.