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Gas Act, 1948 (Vesting Date)

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

10.11 p.m.

I beg to move,

"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 7th March, 1949, entitled the Gas (Vesting Date) Order, 1949 (S.I., 1949, No. 392), a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th March, be annulled."
The Statutory Instrument which this Motion seeks to annul is the order made by the Minister of Fuel and Power in order to fix the vesting date for the nationalisation of the gas industry. Under the Gas Act, which, as the House recollects was passed last year, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power was given a certain discretion as to the fixing of the date for nationalisation to come into effect, and by this order, he has fixed 1st May, 1949, as the vesting date—[Interruption.] I am not surprised that hon. Members opposite do not appear to regard the prospect of the gas nationalisation Act coming into effect with any apparent degree of enthusiasm. By this order, and the bringing into effect of gas nationalisation, there would be completed what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War so felicitously described as "a trilogy of power nationalisation"—a trilogy, as the House will recollect, being a tragedy in three acts.

As I understand it the only issue before the House at this moment is whether or not 1st May is the correct and appropriate date for nationalisation to take effect. I do not know what factor has dictated that date. I know that 1st May is a date which has a certain sentimental appeal for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, it being the day on which they are apt to indulge in a certain amount of pedestrianism in somewhat mixed company, and a day on which this year they will not be permitted to do so within the London area, under the recent order by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I do not know whether that has anything to In with the selection of this date by way of compensation.

The point I desire to put to the House is that the date selected is too early for a smooth and efficient take-over of the industry. I am certain that any hon. Member, whether he supported or opposed the nationalisation of this industry, will wish that the change-over to nationalisation shall take place with the minimum of dislocation to the community and damage to the industry itself. The process of taking over 1,046 separate municipal or gas undertakings and vesting them for all purposes in 12 area boards is a process of very great difficulty and complexity. It calls for what hon. Members opposite are so apt to call for in other circumstances—planning. It is extremely doubtful whether time has been given for sufficient planning to take place to ensure the smooth and efficient take-over of this industry.

It is material to appreciate that a comparatively small proportion of the senior appointments in the area boards have yet been made, although the date fixed for them to take over the responsibility of ownership and control of this industry is now only some four weeks ahead. The picture differs from one area to another. For example, in the East Midlands Area—and I do not suppose the Parliamentary Secretary will challenge this—there is really only a skeleton of the area board staff. In the North Western Area there are still many vacancies to be tilled, the North Eastern Area is still far from complete, and the Northern Area is only half complete, and both in Wales and, I regret to say, in Scotland, there are still many vacancies to be filled.

Is it conceivable that bodies not ye, fully appointed and staffed will be in a position effectively to take over this great and diversified industry only four weeks from now? It is material to observe from the experience of the electricity industry, which went through the same process approximately a year ago, how complex and difficult the process is and how necessary it is for there to be ample time for the preliminary work to be done. I would put as the best possible witness before the House no less a person than the Deputy-Chairman of the British Electricity Authority, Sir Henry Self. No doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will recollect the paper which Sir Henry read before the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants in May of last year just after he had himself undergone the experience of taking over a somewhat similar industry. He then said:
"For the central authority themselves the time between their first meeting on 11th September, 1947, and vesting day was very fully employed in preparing the ground for the transfer of the industry; there were fundamental questions of finance and banking, superannuation, labour conciliation, and a multitude of legal and administrative problems relating to the physical take-over to be considered.…"
Those words are particularly material when one recollects that approximately the same interval has been fixed between the Gas Act becoming law and the vesting day as was fixed between the Electricity Act becoming law and vesting day for that industry. There is a difference of about one month. The experience of Sir Henry Self, as having responsibility only second to Lord Citrine for precisely the process through which the gas industry has to go, is surely one which the Government should treat with respect. I should like to quote one further passage from the same paper:
"Throughout the deliberations of the Organising Committee and the early meetings of the Central Authority and Area Boards, the shortness of time before vesting day was the greatest single controlling factor in shaping their programmes… The shortness of time in which to complete this task inevitably resulted in many temporary arrangements to tide over until proper consideration could be given to the multitude of important questions arising: it could not be expected that a complete reorganisation could be achieved without some transitional period and a certain amount of teething trouble. Nor could there, of course, be any attempt to seek quick results, for it is far better to build slowly and build well than to rush into premature treatment of imperfectly considered problems."
I ask the House and the Parliamentary Secretary to pay serious attention to these observations of an experienced administrator appointed by them to the second position in a somewhat similar industry, because they give to the suggestion of further time being given to the preparations for the take-over of this industry a very high degree of authority indeed.

The other point which I think one is entitled to raise is that the actual date selected, quite apart from the question of time allowed, is in many ways an inconvenient one. A great many of the enterprises to be taken over are municipal, and the ordinary accounts of municipalities end on 31st March. Consequently, the gas meters of the municipal systems are generally checked sometime about then, in order to enable the accounts to be completed. A similar check will be necessary for the handing over on nationalisation, and, if that handing over is to take place only a month later, it looks as if a great deal of unnecessary work will be caused, owing to a second reading of the gas meters within a period of one month from the first.

When hon. Members recollect that there are in all, in both the municipal and the private systems, no fewer than 10 million gas meters in the country, it will be appreciated that there is a heavy administrative task involved, and it therefore does seem that it would have been wiser, as it proved impossible, quite rightly I think, for vesting date to be brought forward to the 1st April, which is in some ways a much more appropriate date, to allow some further months to go by so that the end of the period when the gas meters would have been read could have been approached. It is surely unreasonable to have a large number of meters read twice within a month unless there is really some sound administrative justification for it. No doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us whether there is, but, on the face of it, it does appear to be wholly unreasonable, and that applies directly to the municipal undertakings, which are a very substantial proportion of the whole.

Finally, one is left wondering what is the hurry. The period selected before vesting date is short. It will involve those concerned working under great pressure. It is now only four weeks from today, and many of the relevant officials have not yet been appointed. Many of the consumers' councils have not been appointed either, and, therefore, why the hurry which is causing the right hon. Gentleman to lay his hands so speedily upon this industry? It has never been suggested that this industry is inefficient, and in the long Debates on the Gas Bill it was never sugested that it was so incompetently conducted by its present owners as to need at once the beneficial influence of the right hon. Gentleman. That was never suggested, and one is left wondering why this hurry. One knows that so many decisions of the Government recently have not been unconnected with political considerations. One is led therefore to speculate whether the unseemly haste which the Minister of Fuel and Power is showing in his attempt to bring nationalisation so speedily upon this industry is not dictated by some question of political tactics and some possibility that the Government may desire, in view of the serious position of the country, to go early to the electorate, and having a very proper doubt as to what the verdict of the electorate may be, to make certain that the gas industry has been nationalised before the electorate have the opportunity of saying that they would prefer it not to be.

10.25 p.m.

I beg to second the Motion.

The Minister announced on 27th January that the vesting date would be on 1st May and I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary why it was that, having made that announcement on 27th January, the order to implement it was not made until 7th March. Was it that the Minister thought he might, after all, wish to go back on his announcement? It is now, in case the Minister may regret having made the order on 7th March, that we have given him this opportunity to reconsider it, because there is evidence that there was a frantic scramble going on in the Ministry during January in order to get the area boards sufficiently constituted to enable 1st May to be prescribed as the vesting date. Up to 12th January only six out of 12 area boards were sufficiently constituted for that purpose. It is provided by subsection (2) of Section 17 of the Act that
"The vesting date shall not be less than three months after the establishment of the … Area Boards."
It is provided by subsection (2) of Section 5 that during any period before the vesting date area boards can be constituted by the appointment of a chairman and three other members.

If we look at the announcement which was made on 10th February of the dates of the various appointments we shall see that the Ministry ran it very fine. I read in an article entitled "By a Short Head" in the publication called "The Gas World" of 19th February—on page 290—as follows:
"The hard-run race to get all the Gas Boards legally constituted on time was won, but only by a short head. On the morning of the 31st January—the very last possible day if the vesting date was not to be postponed—the Northern Gas Board was still without a deputy chairman. But the postman arrived in time with an acceptance of the position from Mr. J. R. Bradshaw, and the Ministry breathed again. The list could now be regarded as complete What would have happened if the letter from Mr. Bradshaw had been a refusal can only be guessed."
While it is perfectly correct, as is apparent from the Minister's statement on 10th February, that Mr. Bradshaw's appointment was made only on 31st January, I should in fairness make one qualification to the statement which I have just read, because in the case of the Northern Board the three part-time members, in addition to the Chairman, had been appointed by the 13th January. The Southern Board was, however, not sufficiently constituted for the purpose of fixing the vesting date until 28th January but, notwithstanding that, the Minister had the day before announced that the vesting date would be 1st May. It seems to me that he was a little premature and that he was taking a considerable chance, because if there had been a refusal he might have been right out of order. In the case of the East Midlands Board it was not constituted for this purpose until 27th January.

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what was the need for all this scramble in order to get the vesting date fixed for 1st May? My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has suggested—and I believe he was right—that there was a political motive, but I suggest that there might also possibly have been a concurrent financial motive. It looks as though the Treasury were anxious to get this gas stock which has to be issued in compensation issued while gilt-edged prices can still be maintained at something around the present level. If the vesting date should coincide with a slump in gilt-edged prices, then a very much higher rate of interest would have to be paid on compensation stock to the former proprietors. Under the provisions of the Act the Treasury, in fixing the terms to be attached to the gas compensation stock, have to have regard to the value of Government securities at or about the vesting date. There well may be in the minds of the Government an anxiety that the onset of a considerable amount of unemployment will cause the National Insurance Funds to become sellers of gilt-edged stocks, whereas recently they have been the mainstay of the gilt-edged market. There may be something in that reason, as a secondary reason to that put forward by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames. I hope very much that hon. Members have closely examined the Report of the National Coal Board for 1947. I do not propose to read what it says but it is perfectly evident that very great difficulties were experienced as a result of the vesting date being fixed too early. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he will give an assurance that the regulations dealing with compensation for displaced persons from the industry will be made before vesting date? Will he also give an assurance that all consultative councils to deal with the interests of consumers will also be established before vesting date? I feel that we should have an assurance from the Minister that he is satisfied that the transition period can be carried through efficiently and smoothly if the vesting date is to remain at 1st May. If he has any doubt, it is quite easy for him to concur in our Prayer tonight, and allow the order to be annulled, and make a fresh order fixing another vesting date at any time he thinks fit.

10.33 p.m.

I will not detain the House for very long, but I want to make one or two short points. I was startled to listen to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) because generally he makes some attempt to find some reasons for bringing forward a Prayer, but he completely failed to do so this evening. He ended with some fanciful references to political motives in the minds of the Government because they feared what might be the outcome of the General Election. The hon. Gentleman does not seriously suppose that the Conservative Party, in the unlikely event of the return of a Conservative Government, would denationalise the gas industry? He does not really expect us to take that seriously. Surely the Industrial Charter is a slight hint of what a Conservative policy might be—just a slight hint? I also noticed that the hon. Gentleman did not bring any evidence from the gas industry itself that gas experts—the leaders, technicians, engineers and administrators in the industry—are against this vesting date. He has not brought forward a single word, not a tittle of evidence. My memory may be at fault in this matter, but I recollect that when we discussed the Electricity Act and the Gas Act in Committee upstairs, it was often argued from the Front Bench opposite that if nationalisation had to come it would be well for it to come quickly because it was important not to have a long period of uncertainty. I am speaking from memory, but I believe that argument was used by the hon. Gentleman's own leaders in favour of early vesting dates. The hon. Gentleman made a somewhat long-winded comparison with the electricity supply industry, and quoted from an address by Sir Henry Self. I have read that address. I make it my business to read many statements made these days in connection with the electricity supply industry and the gas industry. I do not think it will be found that Sir Henry Self was arguing in particular against the relatively early date of vesting the electricity supply industry. He was suggesting that there had been inevitable difficulties and teething troubles, and that these difficulties and teething troubles were bound to continue for quite a considerable period.

I quoted fairly from the paper, and I do not think it is possible to dispute that Sir Henry refers several times to the disadvantages of what he calls the shortness of time.

I do not think he was arguing against the actual date of the vesting, because it was the view in the industry that if the change had to come it ought to come quickly. That was the general view. Might I commend to the hon. Gentleman the leading article in the "Electrical Review" of this week. I wish I had it with me. The "Electrical Review" is a paper which is in no sense a political paper, and during the time that this House was discussing the nationalisation of the electricity supply industry the paper if anything was hostile to nationalisation. It is a financial and commercial paper. But it has paid tribute in a leading article this week, on the first anniversary, to the extreme smoothness with which the change over to national ownership has been carried out. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he should for a few moments, if he can, forget his politics in this matter at least and come down to facts.

10.37 p.m.

The matter we are discussing is whether the 1st of May is the right date for the vesting of the gas industry, and I understood that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) was rather worried in case this date was so early that there would not be a smooth take-over, and that as a consequence we should not get the benefits of public ownership from the very beginning. He then wanted to know whether there was a political motive for this choice. I would have thought that if the 1st May was rather early, and the take-over was consequently chaotic, the political advantage would be with the hon. Gentleman and his friends. So I do not think that we can be accused of choosing 1st May as politically advantageous to us.

In point of fact, I think it is desirable that when a Bill has been passed which completely reorganises an industry, in the interests of those employed in the industry, the technicians, managers and others, there should not be an undue length of time between the passing of the Act and the vesting day. We thought that the 1st May, knowing all that would be required to be done, was a reasonable date for the vesting. There is no need for a scramble, and I am rather surprised that the hon. Member considers that there would be a scramble to fill posts on the area boards. There has not been a scramble as far as I know, unless it has been among men in the gas industry who have been scrambling to get appointments which they have not received. But I have seen no scramble in my right hon. Friend's Department. He has made these appointments in accordance with the Act in the time laid down by the Act. Those appointments, generally speaking, have met with the approval of the industry. The trade papers have not been markedly hostile to the appointments. I think it is reasonable to make appointments early so that managements in the industry, particularly, can be settled. So, there is no real "political motive." There is certainly no financial reason, as the hon. Member has suggested, in selecting 1st May as the vesting date. The 1st of May was considered to allow a reasonable period; it gave sufficient time for us to fulfil the obligations placed on us with regard to vesting day, and I will have something to say about those obligations. I have been asked if the consultative councils will be properly constituted prior to vesting date. The answer is "No," but the hon. Baronet will probably recollect—the hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames certainly will, because he spent a lot of time on consideration of the Gas Bill—that it was decided, and laid down in the Bill, that the councils should be established within six months of the vesting date. Well, we are getting ahead with the preparatory work, and in all probability the chairmen of the consultative councils will be appointed within the next few weeks.

May I remind the hon. Gentleman that on 27th January last, the Minister was asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies):

"Surely, my right hon. Friend, on the Second Reading of the Gas Bill, gave an undertaking that these consumers' councils would be set up as speedily as possible and, if possible, be in operation by the time the vesting date was fixed?"
The Minister replied:
"Yes, Sir, and I have already asked for nominations from the various bodies concerned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th January, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 1099.]

I do not think that I have made any statement at variance with that. We have to negotiate with the Association of Municipal Corporations, and other bodies of a public character in order to get nominations sent to us, and it takes time to get all the names that are suitable.

The right hon. Gentleman has got all the names from the local authorities.

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I understood that the difficulty was that the names had not come in from the Association of Municipal Corporations, and the like. What I suggest to him is that he has had the names for some considerable time. I do not understand what is the difficulty.

Perhaps I was misunderstood; there is no difficulty about getting the names. There is a time lag. Councils have to make nominations, and they have to be sieved, and there is necessarily a time lag. But we have got a lot of the names, and we are in the process of looking through those names, and making certain selections. My right hon. Friend hopes to be able to announce the names of the chairmen of the consultative councils within the next few weeks, and we hope to establish the consultative councils within about three months of vesting date; so, we shall halve the time which is allowed under the Act for doing that particular job. I must emphasise to hon. Members that it is to our interests, as a Government, when a Bill has been accepted by this House, and has become law, to get such things as consultative councils into operation as speedily as possible. We shall do that with all speed, and I hope that we shall have the consultative councils established within about three months. That is our aim, and I hope we shall be able to do that. The fears of hon. Members opposite—and I thank them for their expressed concern about the way in which we are running the Department—are quite groundless.

This date of 1st May, it may interest hon. Members to know, was not fixed without consultation with all the area boards' chairmen. It was important to do that and we did it. There is a difference between this industry and the electricity industry to which the hon. Member referred. There is a good deal more decentralisation and the area boards are autonomous. They have their administrative arrangements well completed and therefore when the area boards' chairmen themselves are agreeable to the 1st of May I think it can be taken that the 1st of May—

Is not the gas industry a much more com- plicated industry than the electricity industry? With electricity it is largely a matter of distribution only but with gas one has the manufacture of all the byproducts and other side lines which one does not have in electricity, and so they should have more time.

I would not accept that view. I am only a layman but I would not accept that the gas industry is the more complicated industry. I think it makes it much easier when production and distribution are under the same body of people. The gas industry is well served by an efficient management and technicians and I do not think there will be any problems about reading meters twice. It would not arise at all. They would not have to be read again. It would not be necessary. Readings are continuous and cash will flow into the area boards and adjustments can be made where necessary. There is not any problem of administration in this.

I see hon. Gentlemen opposite shaking their heads, but it all vests on the vesting day. Cash will vest on that day and there is no point in reading meters twice. If there should be any administrative problems they can easily be handled by the area boards. The House need not worry that because 1st May is the selected date it will in any way upset the industry and I hope from that date that the industry will go on giving the good service it has in the past and that it will be fruitful and productive.

Before the Parliamentary Secretary sits down will he tell the House that in view of the three months' delay he agrees to a freeze in prices and charges for gas until the consumers' councils, of which so much is made by the Government, are set up?

No, not at all. There is not a three months' delay. There is no delay at all. The Act lays it down that the consultative councils must be established within six months. We hope to establish them within three months, and far from there being a delay there is really a gain.

10.48 p.m.

I do not think I have ever heard the House treated with more contempt than it has been treated tonight by the Parliamentary Secretary's reply to my hon. Friends who moved and seconded this Prayer. First, with regard to the date of 1st May. The Parliamentary Secretary has made no attempt to explain why he selected a date a month after the end of the financial year. He knows quite well that between 1st April and 1st May various financial accounts and everything else have to be made out. He has told us that meters will not have to be re-read. If the meters have not to be examined once again who is going to decide what in fact in each meter belongs to the companies and what belongs to the boards? The meters have to be read by someone between 1st April and 1st May. The money which is put into the meters belongs to the companies and does not belong to the area boards. If they are not read there is only one way out of it and that is that when the area boards take over they guess the amount. If they do not make a guess, the meters must be read. Are we to understand that a guess is to be made on the basis of previous months—the winter months—in order to ensure by that sort of guess that people who pay into meters will have to pay considerably more than they are likely to pay in the summer? I do not often speak with warmth, but the way that meter-reading is being cast aside by the Parliamentary Secretary—as if meters could read themselves—is an utter condemnation of the arguments he put forward.

The hon. Member must appreciate that in a public-service industry there are consumers' meters and bulk supply meters. To which is the hon. Member referring?

Whichever they may be, some of them are municipalities' and some are not, but the fact remains that unless these meters are read during the first month in the new financial year, it is perfectly impossible to make a clear calculation of the money which is being put into them in the last month of private enterprise—particularly in regard to the company meters.

We have electricity vested in eight and a half months from the passing of the Electricity Act. That period up to the vesting date has been admitted and it has been made manifest in the quotation read by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) that they needed another eight and a half months. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, has every new municipal undertaking been taken over yet? Over a year has passed since vesting date. If they have not all been taken over, what is the number running on their own and being paid for by B.E.A.'? There is no answer to that.

Electricity is a centralised industry and it is a much easier industry to take over than gas. Nine months for gas is an absolutely fantastic figure so far as the vesting date is concerned. It was only in February this year that the Minister announced the minimum number of members of area boards. Now it is just the beginning of April and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary—and I think we should have a further reply from him—are the staffs still skeleton staffs, or is he satisfied that the minimum numbers on the boards will form workable staffs by 1st May? He is pretty poorly staffed. These are the sort of things we are wanting to know. We find electricity easier to take over than gas. I am not making a party point of it at all.

The right hon. Gentleman may say it is all very well. It is all very bad. That is what we are complaining about at the present time.

We want a smooth transitional period. The Government want to take the industry over in such a fashion that it can work as effectively as it is possible to make the nationalised boards work. My point is that electricity in eight and a half months had great difficulty, which has been pointed out in the observations by Sir Henry Self himself.

It has been difficult to do it in eight and a half months. We have not been told in regard to gas whether there is a full staff yet, although it is almost the 1st of May. We have not yet had any serious answer in regard to the question of gas meters. We know there is a colossal job here in an industry where there are over a thousand undertakings which have to be turned over to a small number of area boards. Is the machinery in complete operation? And finally, as I said, there are our municipal undertakings being taken over completely on this date. We have had no answer on that point. Gas being far more difficult than electricity to deal with on 1st May, is it to our advantage for the industry to be taken over as soon as this? We have had no answer whatever from the Parliamentary Secretary to any of the points made by my hon. Friends tonight.

10.57 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Raikes) protested against the contempt the Parliamentary Secretary has shown to the House. I want to protest against the words he used about the members of the gas industry. He said the members of the gas industry were "scrambling for jobs"—

May I finish the sentence, please? I hope that that remark will have wide publicity so that the gas industry may know what the Parliamentary Secretary thinks of his new employees.

From the point of view of correctness, perhaps the hon. Member will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."] I cannot when hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite mutter instead of standing up and speaking. I have not had some of the advantages of hon. Members, but at least I always learned to be quiet when somebody else was speaking and others wanted to hear. All I was saying is that when the hon. Gentleman reads—[Interruption]. It is no use the hon. Gentleman lying there on his back saying, "Yes, you did." I am inviting the hon. Gentleman to read the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that the OFFICIAL REPORT will not be altered between now and tomorrow?

I am sorry the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests that I should go and alter what I have said. I am not in the habit of doing that. If he is now giving me some information which I have not known while I have been in this House, that I can go and alter the text of what I have said, it may be because of his own experience. The hon. Gentleman certainly misinterpreted what I have said and I am content to leave it to the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow.

It will be within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, and the recollection of hon. Members in the House that the words which the Parliamentary Secretary used were that the only scramble he knew about was a scramble by members of the gas industry to get jobs. He may not have remembered what he said, but he had better withdraw or if it is correct, to stick to what he has said.

11.0 p.m.

I am not lacking in courage, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman.

And it is not any use the hon. Gentleman saying that I said that. I am prepared to repeat what I said. [Interruption.] I am offering hon. Gentlemen opposite an opportunity of looking at HANSARD.

I gave way to the hon. Gentleman to enable him to make an interjection and not to make a speech. Because he is a Minister he has no right to abuse the privilege I gave him.

I was saying when I allowed the hon. Gentleman to interrupt me, and I will have to beware if he wants to interrupt me again, that it is within my recollection that he said in a negative form that he did not know about any scrambling for jobs unless it was among members of the gas industry who would be scrambling for jobs.

It is quite clear then that that is an insult to the gas industry, particularly if we couple it with the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) who asked why the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) had not brought the evidence here. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames cannot bring the evidence because the Government would victimise anyone who opposes nationalisation. What happened to Sir Robert Rennie under the Electricity Act? If they are going to be victimised they will find themselves—and I use the word advisedly—swindled as to their compensation just like the people on the N.C.B. were swindled.

This is not a question of the nationalised Coal Board but of the vesting date for the gas industry.

Division No.97.]


[11.3 p.m.

Agnew, Cmdr. P. GHaughton, S. G.Odey, G. W.
Baldwin, A. E.Head, Brig. A. H.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Barlow, Sir J.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. c.Prescott, Stanley
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HHenderson, John (Cathcart)Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
Bossom, A. C.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountRaikes, H. V
Bower, N.Hogg, Hon. Q.Roberts, H (Handsworth)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hollis, M. C.Ropner, Col. L.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Howard, Hon A.Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. THudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Scott, Lord W.
Channon, H.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Hurd, A.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Clifton-Brawn, Lt.-Col. GHutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (, W.)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Smithers, Sir W.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Snadden, W. M
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Jennings, R.Spearman, A. C. M
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Keeling, E. H.Spence, H. R.
Crowder, Capt. John E.Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Cuthbert, W. N.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Darling, Sir W. Y.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Studholme, H. G.
De la Bère, R.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon WingfieldLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (p'dd't'n,S.)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Low, A. R. WTeeling, William
Donner, P. W.Lucas, Major Sir J.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Drayson, G B.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Touche, G C.
Drewe, C.McCallum, Maj. DTurton, R. H.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)McCorquodale, Rt. Hon M. SVane, W. M. F.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.McFarlane, C S.Wakefield, Sir W. W
Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. WalterMackeson, Brig. H. RWalker-Smith, D
Erroll, F. J.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Ward, Hon. G. R.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Maclay, Hon. J. S.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale.)Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)Williams, C. (Torquay)
Gage, C.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)Maude, J. C.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Molson, A. H. E.York, C.
Gates, Maj. E. E.Morrison, Rt. Hon W. S. (Cirencester)Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. AMullan, Lt C. H.
Gridley, Sir A.Neven-Spence, Sir B.


Harden, J. R. ENicholson, G.Sir John Mellor and
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Nield, B. (Chester)Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Harvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P

Evidence cannot be brought from the industry, and we in this House have to be the voice of the industry. The Parliamentary Secretary will see in HANSARD that he did say that they were scrambling for jobs, and I think that is an insult to the industry. It is not right that he should say this about people who have worked very loyally, and I am sure will cooperate loyally with the Government in a very unsatisfactory and repugnant changeover. He ought to amend his words, because he will have to get on with the-industry.

Question put,

"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 7th March 1949, entitled the Gas (Vesting Date) Order, 1949 (S.I. 1949, No. 392), a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th March, be annulled."

The House divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 213.


Acland, Sir RichardGuest, Dr. L. HadenPorter, E. (Warrington)
Adams, Richard (Balham)Gunter, R. J.Porter, G. (Leeds)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Guy. W. H.Price, M. Philips
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RProctor, W. T.
Attewell, H CHannan, W. (Maryhill)Randall, H. E.
Attlee, Rt. Hon C R.Hardy, E. A.Ranger, J.
Austin, H. LewisHastings, Dr. SomervilleRankin, J.
Awbery, S. S.Henderson, Rt Hn. A. (Kingswinford)Reeves, J.
Bacon, Miss A.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Reid, T. (Swindon)
Baird, J.Herbison, Miss M.Robens, A.
Balfour, AHobson, C. R.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Barton, C.Holman, P.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Bechervaise, A. E.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bing, G. H. C.Horabin, T. L.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Blenkinsop, A.Houghton, A. L N. DRobinson, K. (St. Pancras)
Blyton, W. R.Hoy, J.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Boardman, H.Hubbard, T.Royle, C.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Scollan, T.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Segal, Dr. S.
Bramall E. A.Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)Shackleton, E. A. A.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Jeger, G. (Winchester)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Broughton, Dr. A. D.D.Jager, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S E.)Shurmer, P.
Brown, George (Belper)Jenkins, R. H.Silverman, J (Erdington)
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Johnston, DouglasSilverman, S. S (Nelson)
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Jones, D. T (Hartlepool)Simmons, C. J.
Burden, T. W.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Smith, C. (Colchester)
Burke, W. A.Jones, Jack (Bolton)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Butler, H W. (Hackney, S.)Keenan, W.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Byers, FrankKenyon, C.Snow, J. W.
Cobb, F A.Kinley, J.Sorensen, R. W.
Coldrick, W.Kirkwood, Rt. Hon DSoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collindridge, F.Lee, F (Hulme)Sparks, J. A.
Collins, V J.Levy, B. WStrachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Comyns, Dr. L.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Stross, Dr. B.
Cook, T. FLindgren, G. S.Stubbs, A. E.
Grossman, R. H. S.Logan, D. G.Symonds, A. L.
Cullen, Mrs. A.Longden, F.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Daggar, G.Lyne, A. W.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Daines, PMcAllister, G.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Dalton, Rt. Hon H.McGovern, J.Timmons, J.
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Mack, J. D.Tolley, L.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Mackay, F. W, G. (Hull, N.W.)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Delargy, H. J.McLeavy, F.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Diamond, J.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Vernon, Maj. W. F
Dobbie W.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Wadsworth, G.
Driberg, T. E. N.Mainwaring, W. H.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwicn)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Dumpleton, C W.Mann, Mrs. J.Warbey, W. N.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Watson, W. M.
Evans, Albert (Islington, W)Medland, H. M.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Evans, John (Ogmore)Middleton, Mrs. LWest, D. G.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mikardo, IanWheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Ewart, R.Millington, Wing-Comdr E. RWhile, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Fairhurst, F.Mitchison, G. RWhiteley, Rt. Hon W
Farthing, W JMonslow, W.Wigg, George
Fernyhough, EMoody, A. S.Wilcock, Group-Copt C. A B
Field, Copt W. J.Morley, R.Wilkins, W. A.
Fletcher, E G. M. (Islington, E.)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Follick, M.Mort, D. L.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Foot, M. MMoyle, A.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Forman, J. C.Nally, W.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Freeman, J (Watford)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. NNoel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Willis, E.
Ganley, Mrs. C. SOliver, G. H.Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Gibbins, J.Orbach, M.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Gilzean, A.Paget, R. T.Woods, G. S.
Glanville, J. E. (Consott)Paling, W T. (Dewsbury)Yates, V. F.
Grey, C. FPalmer, A. M. F.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Grierson, E.Pargiter, G. A.Zilliacus, K.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Parkin, B. T.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Pearson, A.


Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Pearl, T. F.Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Bowden.