The question I wish to raise this morning I have described as "aids to production." I want to know the Government's attitude to certain things which have taken place recently in the field of productivity. All political parties and many Members of the Government have stressed the fact that unless we can increase our production and productivity, the future of this country will be very black. Today is the final day of the British" Industries Fair, and it is a suitable occasion on which to raise this subject. It follows, too, the recent publication by the Government of the first Report of the Committee on Industrial Productivity set up by the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March this year. The terms of reference of that Committee were:
I do not know what the Government's intentions are, but no doubt on some future occasion when we have had further reports from the Committee there will be an opportunity for a full Debate in this House on this very important question. Nevertheless, I feel that we cannot too often, in the few opportunities which are available on the Adjournment or other occasions, deal with the matter of productivity, which has the support of all sides of the House and it is not really regarded as a controversial matter, although there are certain elements, to which the Lord President of the Council referred the other day, which are hindering the progress we all hope to make. The Report, which starts off by dealing with the economic position, says:"To advise the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the form and scale of research effort in the natural and social sciences which would best assist an early increase in industrial productivity and further to advise on the manner in which the results of such research can best he applied."
Again, that is a point which cannot too often be stressed. I do not know whether the bulk of the people of this country realise to what extent we are dependent upon overseas assistance at present. We can only overcome that by increasing our own productivity so that this assistance is no longer required. The basic requirements that the Committee felt were essential they set out as adequate supplies of raw material, adequate supplies of good coal, adequate supplies of electrical power, sufficient and up-to-date capital equipment, particularly machine tools, and the proper use of existing equipment and manpower. I would add to that an adequate diet in food for all the workers in this country, because I believe that, if the food position were better, we would immediately get an increased output from the operatives. Nevertheless, they are doing magnificently in our industries on the available rations that the Government obtain for them. The Report deals especially with the textile industry and with the recent interim Report on Organisation and Work in the Cotton Industry which Mr. Moelwyn Hughes, who is Chairman of the Commission, and Mr. Andrew Naesmith, the Secretary of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association, compiled. They said:"It is common knowledge that we are not paying for all our necessary imports of food and raw materials by our own visible and invisible exports. Our continued existence as an influential nation, our health and happiness as individuals, depend at present on the generosity of overseas friends whose currencies we are not earning in sufficient amounts."
They also said that the Cotton Board were in the best position to put these recommendations into practice, although the immediate need in the cotton textile industry is for a more efficient use of the existing labour force rather than for extensive re-equipment of the industry which we all look forward to in years to come as the various technical developments which are taking shape now find expression in improved machinery in our mills. Some of the more outstanding examples of resistance to improved methods have appeared recently in many newspapers, and one of the pioneers in this matter has been the "Daily Express." This paper never fails to take an opportunity of pointing out the foolishness of certain sections of industry which are hampering increased production. The example which immediately comes to mind, and which was raised in a Question by the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) a few days ago, was that of the ship which arrived in the Thames recently with 5,100 tons of sugar loose in the hold which it was intended to unload by mechanical grabs instead of the hand method which is employed when the sugar arrives in jute bags. The saving which Tate and Lyle had anticipated was about £7,500 on this cargo, and it was said that if the Ministry of Food adopted this principle in general, it would be possible to abolish the sugar subsidy altogether and eventually to produce cheaper sugar for the housewives of this country. However, the dockers concerned refused to unload the ship by the mechanical method, and it lay idle in the Thames for over 13 days. Anybody who has a knowledge of these matters realises the mounting costs. Not only must the crew be paid but the capital equipment in the ship is not earning its keep on those other voyages which it could be making in the time spent waiting for the dock labourers to decide whether they would unload the ship or not. Had this experiment been successful, there would have been more ships coming into the Port of London, a greater volume of trade transacted between this country and other countries, an over-all improvement in our economic position, and a general reduction in the prices of the goods we import from abroad, because freight and unloading charges are a large item in the case of many of the goods which come into this country. Then, again, we learn, unfortunately, that the National Amalgamated Stevedores' and Dockers' Union definitely object to mechanical unloading. It was only last November that we had a strike at Butler's Wharf, Bermondsey, against the use of labour-saving machinery. The same thing has been experienced in Middlesbrough, where the Dorman Long Company erected, at a cost of £1¾ million, two mechanical ore unloaders that would unload ships at the rate of—"We believed that these measures could lead to a substantial rise in productivity without the need for a larger labour force, longer hours of work, or large-scale capital investment."
Would the hon. Member allow me to ask one question? I am not disputing his facts, and I shall not deal with the merit of his argument at this stage, but does he know whether discussions had taken place between the employers and workers in these industries before the decision to introduce this new form of mechanisation had been reached?
I do not know whether the hon. Member possesses the information—
No. I would not ask for it if I did.
—but if he does, no doubt he will tell the House later. I hope that these conversations did take place. It may have been that the changes were of such a magnitude that some of the union representatives did not comprehend them to their fullest extent. The fact remains that it must have taken some time before equipment costing that sum was finally completed. This new unloading device, which would handle 350 tons an hour, and would have halved the time spent in turning round ships, was left idle for six weeks while apparently discussions with the union concerned took place. The final solution was that, although on this new equipment only one man would have to be employed, the union insisted on four being engaged, two of whom spend their time in the hold of the ship, their only job being to be careful that they do not get injured by the grab.Both sides of the House are constantly concerned at the failure to increase coal production up to the figure hoped for by the Government and mentioned at the time coal nationalisation took place. Mining experts claim that if the same productive effort were made now as in 1938, the increased mechanisation of the mines which has taken place since the war should give us an annual production of 240 million tons. Instead of that, we shall be lucky if we get a production of 210 million tons this year. Mine managers complain that the men ease off when the machines have produced the same tonnage previously won by less efficient methods, and the Coal Board report that the installation of machines has not released as many men as had been hoped for productive work at the coalface. We all know of the difficulties experienced by both sides of the industry on this matter, but one naturally had hoped that hon. Members opposite, in the Press, on the radio and by all the other methods employed by the Government, would have impressed upon the people the seriousness of our economic problem and tried to persuade them to overcome their prejudices against these new methods. I remember very well that during the Second Reading of the Bill to nationalise the coal industry I was sitting below the Gangway next to an hon. Member of the party opposite. During the discussion on mechanisation in the coalfields, that hon. Member said to me, "The Bill would never have become necessary if this mechanisation had taken place when your party were in power. "I said to him," Are you going to tell me that this mechanisation was welcomed that if the mines had installed modern equipment it would have been worked to the full, and that the economies thereby effected in manpower would have been acceptable to the workers?" The hon. Member thought a moment and then replied, "You are quite right." He started to tell me of the various types of resistance that had taken place against new improvements that had been introduced into the mines in past years. He instanced particularly the case of steel pitprops, and said—remember, this was a Labour Member who was talking to me—"you should have seen the resistance when steel pitprops were introduced into the mines, notwithstanding that they were designed for the greater safety of the workers." Only the other day we learned that the National Coal Board were giving notice to 3,000 workers in the Betteshanger Collieries in Kent because of the policy adopted by some miners there. When this matter was settled, the area secretary, Mr. John Elks, said that when the men returned after Easter, they would no longer indulge in restrictive practices, thereby admitting that such practices had been resorted to all along. Perhaps the most recent remarks on this subject were those of the managing director of the Austin Motor Company, which appeared in the Press a day or two ago, in which he mentioned the hidden resistance of a number of trade unionists to modern methods. The whole House and the country will have been impressed by the tremendous efforts of our motor industry in selling their products overseas, and I believe the Austin Company has the finest dollar record of any of our manufacturers; but it must be most disheartening to all those in the industry that our goods are now appearing in the markets of the world at prices which are too high. In the improved methods of production—which alone, coupled with a reduction in the price of raw materials, can bring about lower prices—great assistance can be given by the unions concerned. Mr. Lord, managing director of Austin Motors, said:
I notice that Mr. Benjamin Gardner, the Amalgamated Engineering Union secretary, said recently:"It is generally known in the Midlands that the A.E.U. does not take favourably to new machinery. Its members will not run them all out."
He added:"There has always been resistance to high-speed machines in this country."
That is a particularly weak argument, for there are many aspects of our life which bear little relation to life in the United States. If Mr. Gardner wants to follow his argument to its logical conclusion, I would ask him, what rates of pay does he suggest for Lancashire operatives who work on Japanese automatic looms? Does he suggest that they should go on to Japanese rates of pay? That is the logical outcome of his argument that operators in this country of American machinery should receive American rates of pay. Obviously such an argument does not hold water. I was very glad to see, in the report connected with Austin Motors, that Mr. W. H. Stokes, the Coventry organiser of the A.E.U., said that"Wages paid in Britain to men working American machines bear no relation to the United States rates."
As I have said already, many people on all sides of industry are doing all they can and have heeded the words of the Government in helping to increase productivity and to overcome resistance to improved methods of production. I wish, however, that Mr. Stokes would confine his activities to the question of increasing production, because his statements that British small cars were unsuitable for long-distance travel in America are very much out of place and will do a great deal of harm to our motoring industry. Mr. Stokes may one day have to share the blame for any unemployment which may arise in that industry as a result of our failure to sell British cars overseas. What is more, those remarks were made on top of the magnificent records established by a British car for long-distance travel in the United States. Those statements by Mr. Stokes were therefore particularly inopportune. In the textile industry, of which I have a little knowledge, more progress has been made in the last few years, perhaps, than in many other sections of industry; but there is still much leeway to be made up. The word which everybody has in mind today is "redeployment." I should prefer the use of a better word. What it really means is re-arrangement—re-arrangement of jobs; re-assessment of pay; reduction of fatigue; because in all these matters the object of increased production is not necessarily to ask people to work any harder. I should like people not to have to work quite as hard as they do now, but to work more efficiently and to get more output from their machines at less expense of effort to themselves. Apart from the difficulties which the Government are experiencing with certain isolated individuals in this industry, we can be extremely gratified at the reception given to our textiles at the British Industries Fair. Those of us who represent Yorkshire and Lancashire are proud of the part our textile industry has been called upon to play in solving our economic problems. One report of the textile section of the British Industries Fair said that the textile showing was magnificent; that for quality, design and colour British textiles have no equal. The reporter expressed his view that this was due to intensive research, a study of buyers' needs and close collaboration with designers. I know that the employers' side of industry is not entirely blameless. Many firms are today sheltering behind the large number of controls maintained by the Government, which tie them to their 1939 quota of raw materials. This policy discourages the more efficient firms and the new entrants who would like to come into industry. I should like the Government to sweep these many controls aside and so leave the inefficient firms to find their own level, allow the efficient ones to have access to the available supplies of raw materials and, as a result, not only increase production, but make our goods available more cheaply overseas. No Government has done as much on paper, or by speeches, to try to improve productivity as the present Government. I have been looking through the publication called "Target," a monthly bulletin on productivity. I was sorry to hear that it has a very limited circulation. I hope it will increase, much as I deprecate Government publications when we have very excellent methods of disseminating news and ideas throughout the country, without Government assistance. The Government have done more on paper than any other and it is, at least, encouraging to see the examples they report of firms in all sections of industry which have adopted new methods and thereby increased their output. But what the Government have failed to do is to produce the right incentive. It is not enough merely to publish pamphlets and cover hoardings with slogans, such as Work or Want," and the picture of two spanners, one designed to do a bigger job than the other. I do not think that is the way to get better results. The Government have failed to produce the right sort of incentive or encouragement for workers and industry to adopt and welcome these new methods. Workers are thinking a little differently now, but they have been saying, "We get all the money we can reasonably spend by working on the old system of four looms"—or whatever it may be" so why should we work more when Pay-As-You-Earn takes half the additional money? The Government could do a great deal if they tackled the matter from a slightly different angle and gave opportunity and incentive to those who make that little extra effort. The present danger to workers in this country is not that they are likely to produce themselves out of work. If one looks around at the devastation caused in our cities by war, one is amazed that the building industry still indulges in certain practices which hamper production. Surely there is enough work for generations of builders. When it is realised what a tremendous demand there is for goods: not only to re-equip our homes but also to supply markets overseas, there should he no fear that they can produce themselves out of work. What they can do is to price themselves out of work, by making the cost of our goods overseas so high that no one will be prepared to buy them. When that happens, we shall not have the foreign money with which to buy raw materials to be processed in our factories. That is where the danger lies, and that is the problem which it is most essential to bring home to the people. The Government, with their elaborate system of statistics, repeatedly say that there is a shortage of labour in fact, they maintain direction of labour in certain industries. It must be obvious that there is plenty of room for employment. In the textile industry there is any amount of machinery which is not in full operation. We see mills working to 70 per cent. of capacity and there are thousands of idle looms in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and hundreds of thousands of idle spindles and it has been proved that by suitable methods of redeployment, with the same labour force, we could get this machinery into operation. The operatives would then be drawing higher pay and our production would be increased. The Report on Productivity says that it could be increased by 20 per cent. by the use of such methods alone. It must be brought home that the question of the prices of our goods is an important one, and that if only we can produce more with the same labour force, we shall automatically cut the costs of our goods in overseas markets. Apart from merely saying that they want higher production, the Government must give the necessary incentive and encouragement to the workers. A long story could be told about profits. Unions and some hon. Members opposite say that they are ashamed at the profits made by some undertakings at present and that we cannot expect greater productivity until those profits are reduced. I ask them to look into the question more closely. The other day I saw that one of our leading manufacturers in the West Riding of Yorkshire made an annual profit of over £1 million, but of that sum only £70,000 went to the shareholders. As much as £700,000 went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and nearly £300,000 was retained in the business for re-equipment and to finance stocks, while the shareholders, who had built up the industry with assets of more than £3 million, got £70,000 for their investment, which was providing employment for thousands of people. I ask hon. Members representing trade unions to look into the balance sheets of companies and decide for themselves whether those companies are putting by enough money to re-equip their industries. I should like trade unions, which have a great responsibility in this matter to the workers whom they represent, to take a serious view of the future of the industry with which they are concerned, and not just the day-to-day problems of the pay packet. I should like them to go through the balance sheets item by item with the managements and, if they see there is an excessive profit, to bring it to light."Union officials have been the most ardent enthusiasts for the Government's increased productivity campaign."
Can the hon. Member tell us how many companies are willing to do that?
Yes, every public company that publishes its balance sheet. The unions are able to go through the balance sheets item by item and I am sure that if there were any point which they wanted to discuss with the managements, there would be no difficulty.
Assuming that the balance sheets are available, as they are, if published, does the hon. Member mean that these companies are prepared to discuss the balance sheets with the trade union representatives? Is that what he is implying?
Not only are they prepared to do it, but a number of companies do it. I heard of the example of the Hoover Co., who did it in a picturesque way, and explained every item in their balance sheet and let the people understand thoroughy how the industry was run. I realise that this is a matter of some significance, and I have introduced it into my remarks because I feel that if it is one of the stumbling blocks, it is a matter which should be ventilated. I have been into the accounts of a number of textile businesses in Lancashire, and I have been amazed at the small amount of money which has been taken out by the managements. I have met men who have a great responsibility in employing many hundreds of people. I have asked them what their directors' fees were, and I have been amazed at the very modest way in which they have lived and at the modest demands which they have made upon the company over whose affairs they have presided. I wish everybody would adopt a more reasonable attitude to this whole problem. If we talk in millions or hundreds of thousands, people get confused. These matters are much more easily understood in terms of a £1 note. I have here some figures relating to the United Dairies Company, who point out that the cost of milk is 14s. 7¾d., salaries and wages 2s. 5d., other expenses 1s. 9d., taxation 7d. and the total amount that goes to the shareholders is 2¼d.
The hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that taxation does not come out of profits, is he?
It goes to the Government.
But is the hon. Member suggesting that it is a cost on industry?
It goes to the Government. It is taken out of the industry and handed over to the Government, and the country benefits. I gave an instance of West Riding Woollen Worsted. They contributed £700,000 to the Government. I would like the unions to say that the Government are taking too much out of this industry. Not only are the Government not allowing higher wages to be paid, they are not allowing the management to put by enough to look after the workers' welfare and to buy modern equipment. The Government are spending 8s. in the £ of the national income; the income is made up of the profits and the revenue of these concerns, and therefore if the Government take the bulk of that money away in taxation it is not available to the workers. The workers are having the money spent for them by the Government instead of spending it for themselves.
A short time ago the hon. Member said that the trade unions should decide for themselves. I am following the hon. Member with very great interest. I wish he would address himself to that point and explain how the unions would decide for themselves on this question of the allocation of profits, reserves and so forth.
Anybody who is in industry has an idea in his mind as to what he regards as being sound and prudent finance. The profits of different companies in the same industry are relative to their respective efficiencies. Some do well and some do not. The general principle that has to be decided is how much money should be ploughed back into the business for re-equipment, how much should be put to reserve against possible contingencies in the future, and how much is considered a reasonable return to the shareholders for the capital they have risked in starting the business which provides the employment for the operatives with whom we are concerned. Surely this is a matter which the trade unions should go into very carefully.
I do not know who is the responsible Minister concerned with the point to which the hon. Member is now addressing himself. He must confine his remarks to matters for which some Minister is responsible.
The Government have a great responsibility in dealing with questions of productivity, and they must equally be concerned with the factors which are preventing their targets from being achieved. If the question of finance is the difficulty, then it is up to the Government to take steps not only to explain the question of productivity but to explain simple questions of finance so that all sides of industry can be assured that that aspect of affairs is being treated in a reasonable manner. I regard that as the second aspect which worries people in industry.The first one, as I said earlier, is that of the workers producing themselves out of work. That I feel is a contingency which will not arise for many years to come. It is quite possible that with improvements in one industry or in one mill, if there is no additional machinery on which to employ those workers who are displaced, they may have to go to a mill next door, and while one naturally appreciates their reluctance to leave workers with whom they have been associated for many years, that is surely a contingency which all people have to face at some time or other. I think that the great responsibility lies on the unions, through' the Government who are in such close consultation with them. My third point is that the Government should provide proper incentives for all sides of industry to carry out the recommendations contained not only in the Report on Productivity but in the various speeches and writings of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade, the Lord President of the Council and all others who are interested in this problem.
The hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) has certainly taken advantage of the occasion of an Adjournment Debate to cover a very wide field. It is unfortunate a at more of us on both sides of the Hot se had not noticed that this subject was to be raised, because of its great importance and the fact that many hon. Members, especially on this side of the House, would like to have replied to what, in most of the hon. Member's speech, was an unwarranted attack on most of the workers in the country. I am not surprised. I gathered that the hon. Gentleman was basing many of his arguments on the "Daily Express" whose distortions are more liable to cause alarm and despondency, as I think his speech was, among the industrial workers of this country than anything else that I know.
I cannot let the hon. Member get away with that remark. I made no attack on the workers of this country. I paid many tributes to them. I mentioned those few people, who have been referred to by the Lord President of the Council in particular, who are holding back the opportunities which present themselves to the workers of the country at the present time.
I intend to deal with that point, but I would first point out that the whole tenor of the hon. Gentleman's remarks was to put the onus and the blame for the present situation on the present actions of the workers in industry without more than a glancing reference to the employers or to the history of this matter.The hon. Member concluded with some remarks about profits and the amounts that went to reserve, but I think I should be out of Order if I dealt with them. On the question of publicity, I do not think that ever in the history of this country—in fact, I am certain—have the injunctions of those famous Socialists, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, been carried out so well. They said that the basis of a democratic society should he measurement and publicity. We have never had such a great deal of information about what is going on in industry as there is today, and no attempt has been spared to inform the workers of this country of the true facts. In fact, many of the things which the hon. Gentleman said about the necessity for further productivity and the lack of danger of workers producing themselves out of work are taken straight out of Government publicity. I do not wish to take up too much time, but I should like to direct the attention of hon. Members to some practical matters concerned with the problems raised by the hon. Gentleman. He gave us no idea of what he thought the Government should do to remedy the situation. We on this side of the House do not deny that in some industries there is a reluctance on the part of considerable bodies of workers to accept new machinery. One cannot expect the conditions of 150 or 200 years of capitalist industrial society to change overnight. I do not think that any of us who were interested in the nationalisation of the coal industry expected that the miners would suddenly, because the industry had been nationalised, forget all the traditions under which they had lived for so long. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in Italy the other day, it is going to take, in the end, a complete change of outlook in this country and one which I believe is being rapidly achieved under the present Government.
The hon. Member has said that there was no reason to expect the miners suddenly to forget the conditions under which they have laboured for so long. How does that cause the miners to produce less per man under the present Government with a greater amount of machinery than in 1938?
The actual facts, I believe, are that we have reached the pre-war level of output per manshift—
1937 and 1938?
Approximately the same figure. The average age of the miners is much greater and there are other factors to be considered.I wish to be quite frank and to answer the points made by the hon. Member for Skipton. One has to face the fact that under full employment conditions, new incentives and new methods of management and a new outlook in society are required. I do not know whether the hon. Member would like us to go back to the conditions in which the incentives to effort was the fear of the sack; the fear that at any moment the manager or foreman might say, "Get your cards and get out." Here I believe the responsibility rests very largely with managements and with the training of managers and foremen at all levels. Some of the cases to which the hon. Member referred can be traced to bad management and bad foremanship and to bad relations between management foremen and men at different levels. The Government have taken great steps in encouraging inquiries and setting up bodies, and have encouraged, by the making of grants, research in this matter in a way which has not been done before and was not considered necessary during the time of mass unemployment under which industry had been working for so many years. There are further steps which can be taken, in particular in the field of production engineering and production management. I believe that we have to raise the standard of production engineering in this country much higher than it is at the present time. I do not believe it is sufficient that the training of production engineers should take place only at night school, at technical colleges, or even nowhere at all. I think we may have to establish technological colleges and colleges of production engineering. These should be associated at least with the universities because there is the danger of producing as technicians and engineers, men whose outlook is so narrow that when they get into a position of responsibility they are not able to carry out the job. I was very impressed some time ago, in talking to the professor of economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—I was impressed first of all that they had such a professor—when he told me that the students who came to him in their fourth year from what is, in effect, this American university, impressed him with their sense of "flow." They did not consider it their business to make something and leave it lying about. The goods had to come in at one end of the factory, had to be made on flow production lines if possible, and passed out at the other end. They did not consider their responsibility finished until that had happened. We should train production technicians generally in this sort of outlook. I believe that we should press on with the recommendations made in the Percy and Barlow Reports for a system of technological colleges of this sort. I do not believe there is any quick method of getting a greater increase in productive efficiency or efficiency in management. It is true that we have industrial consultants, but the numbers in this country are small and their work laborious. It is not a matter of just going into the factory and giving advice and going away. An industrial consultant has to spend many weeks or months with the management of the firm, and when he leaves they are far better educated people. So there is a limit to what can be done in that way. We shall have to rely on training people for this process. It is not only a question of training them in the technical process of production and the use of improved machinery, but in the new technique of management made necessary by full employment, and particularly in what we hope will be an increasingly Socialist society. These are matters to which the hon. Member could perhaps more usefully direct his attention. Picking out a few cases where there has been resistance on the part of workers to the introduction of new machinery, without examining the management relations in the firm, or the past history of the firm, or the attitude of the foreman and management towards the question of joint consultation seems to be completely dishonest. My hon. Friend asked a question about one of the firms, I think it was Austin's, as to whether there had been consultations with the workers on the introduction of new machinery, and we do not know the answer to that. I do know, however, that wherever there is proper joint consultative machinery not only established constitutionally, with a committee and secretary and so on, but joint consultation with people at every level continuously and daily, the workers in industry will always accept new equipment and plant. I was interested in the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman, because I have made it so many times myself in the past, that companies should discuss their figures with their workers. By that I do not mean—and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman did not mean—that it would be sufficient to discuss balance sheets and trading accounts. Those are matters of publication for certain purposes and do not disclose the true facts about the management. I think it would be right, and the only way in which the thing could be done, that there should be weekly, or monthly, or quarterly discussions of costs and what is actually taking place in relation to the firm as well as to the distribution of profits. I feel that the hon. Member has misunderstood the figures of the amounts going to reserve. The proportion of the national income is 50 per cent. more than it was before the war, and I suspect that some managements are not sorry that the Chancellor has restricted their dividends, because he is protecting them from their shareholders, and enabling them to put more to reserve. A good deal more is being put into new plant and machinery and we shall see that in the end good will result from it.
I agree that greater sums are going to reserve but the cost of re-equipment is probably increased to a greater extent than the amount of increased money going to reserve.
I do not think so. What I said was that the percentage of national income, which must take into account the rise in prices, is 50 per cent. more than it was. I will give the hon. Gentleman the point that during the war it was impossible to buy machinery and plant, and reserves lost their value, but at the present time I do not think that is the case. In fact, there is no evidence of inability on the part of industry to put enough by, at any rate for the maintenance of their plant and equipment. These are important matters I agree, and some firms are discussing them with their workers. As this is increasingly done, I believe that we shall see increasing interest in productivity displayed by the workers, and a very great rise in the output of industry in this country.
I should like to discuss a few of the points raised by the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson). What he has said, gathered from the newspapers, is true, but in quoting from those newspapers, he has not surveyed the whole field of industry. If we consider the whole field, we have made progress since 1945. In the sphere of exports there has been considerable progress. I was particularly interested in his remark that the trade unions should decide for themselves. He referred to the First Report of the Committee on Industrial Productivity, a Government publication. That shows that the trade unions are taking an interest in all the points that he raised. The question of incentives is one of consultation with the organised workers. I put this point to him. In what way would he ask the Government to give the unions effective power in the board of directors room, to decide costs and allocation to reserve, investment and profits?Let us consider the matter from this point of view. The hon. Gentleman wants the worker to take a comprehensive interest in industry. The worker invests his life in the industry, say, in the mines and all that follows from working there—mining villages and so forth. How would the hon. Gentleman make miners' opinion effective? I am afraid he has not given any answer. I am interested in the problem and I should like to know how he would give the unions power to decide effectively.
If we could persuade the unions that greater productivity leads to a far better and fuller life with more opportunities, more houses and all the things that they want, that would be the way.
Every trade unionist is aware of that. He can increase output, but the hon. Member does not show how he will guarantee that the, increased output will flow back to the man who works to produce it. Would the hon. Gentleman give the trade unions power at the board to say how much should go to reserve and how much should go to wages?
Yes, I would if I were satisfied that the trade unionists were capable of coming to a sensible decision on such matters. I do not think that some of them are capable just yet.
The hon. Member suffers from the fear of the ordinary employer. He would tell the trade unionist what he should do, he would tell the worker what he should do, but he is awfully afraid of the capability of the worker, though the trade union, to express a rational point of view on any of these questions. Why not get rid of that fear? If the hon. Member will spend as much time in appealing to employers to get rid of their fears and prejudices and to give the trade unions effective powers in the running of industry, he will get better results than those he quoted a short time ago from the Government publication.
The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) was, I thought, seeking to misrepresent the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) in what he said of the workers, the trade unions and productivity. I wish to refer to what he had to say, but first I would suggest that the hon. Member for East Walthamstow (Mr. H. Wallace) is perhaps asking too much when he suggests that the trade unions should decide the matters to which he referred. In all these questions of consultation between workers and employers there must be a proper regard to what is the real sphere on both sides. The danger in all these methods of works councils and consultations is that there will not be a proper appreciation of the limits to which both sides can go. Very often we get people of extreme views on works councils. They have the kind of views which hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the Front Bench opposite used to hold 15 or 20 years ago and which now they condemn with a great deal of righteousness. These people cause a good deal of bother in the works councils because of their tendency to try to infringe upon the sphere of management. If we are to have successful consultation—and I hope that we are—it must be based to an ever-increasing extent upon a firm appreciation of where the respective spheres lie. That is something which we must make clear, before we can have any hope of progress.The hon. Member for Edmonton tried to suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton was running down the workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire. He also suggested that he had not given sufficient time to criticising the employer. In a system of over-employment we will have disincentives both to workers and to employers. Just as certain workers will be able to take advantage of the excessive demand for their services, so will employers be less inclined to put themselves to the trouble to which they would go under competitive conditions. Obviously, if everything is not going right and a man is not making enough money, if he can stick 10 per cent. on the customer's bill without any complaint being received, that is much easier than for him to attempt to improve his efficiency. In a system of shortage where there is over employment, obviously we shall find inefficiency. That is the inevitable outcome. We shall find inefficiency among the owners, the managers and the workers. The hon. Gentleman appeared to doubt whether there were workers in this country who were not pulling their weight. I have always held the view very strongly that no worker is as good as the workers here. There may be workers in other countries, particularly in the United States of America, who by virtue of an entirely different set of circumstances—by staggered hours of production and immense capital investment in production—are able to show a higher output than ours. The vice-president of a very great American manufacturing company said to me when we were crossing the Atlantic, "If I could get British workers; in an American set-up, I should do very much better than I am doing today." There is no doubt that our people in their skill, their application to the job, in their steadiness and common sense, are better than any other workers in the world. To my knowledge that remark applies to the workers in Lancashire and Yorkshire, though the people of both those counties have one characteristic and that is that they are rather stubborn. That applies to workers and employers alike. In Lancashire we must get a very changed outlook towards many of our problems. Only a short time ago we had a meeting upstairs at which the question of redeployment was discussed. At the end of the discussion I asked one of the experts how long he thought it would be before all the industry in Lancashire have been subjected to redeployment. He answered that it would be 20 years. I then asked whether he thought that we would have a Lancashire cotton industry in 20 years if redeployment took that time? The hon. Member for Edmonton said, that statistics were part of the Socialist set-up. Really, that is absolutely nonsense. I should not have thought that the hon. Gentleman, who has had some experience in these matters, would try to put his point over in that way. The best statistics in industry are available in the United States where there is not by any means a Socialist set-up. I think I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we have been failing so far to provide a proper picture. If the Government are to take a greater part in the affairs of industry—and obviously they intend to—then we must have more and better statistics. That is why we on this side of the House supported a Measure to assist in that direction. I agreed with the hon. Gentleman when he said that if we are to have a system of full employment we must have a new technique so far as the management of industry is concerned If employers are not to rely on the sack as a weapon to secure what they want, they must develop new ideas to get people to do what they want them to do. The very first point is that of leadership. That is the most important consideration if we are to get results. When I say that, I do not mean leadership right at the top. Leadership at the top in British industry has always been extraordinarily good. Where we have failed, I think, is that when we have got lower down the scale, we have not had a proper regard for the quality of leadership. We have appointed a charge hand or a foreman because he can do the job better than someone else. That may be a good reason to consider a man for promotion, but it is vitally important that, in addition to being a good craftsman, he must be a good leader of men. There are many foremen skilled at their job who have no idea of getting the best out of their men, and who have adopted methods of bullying and swearing which have produced no results at all. If we are to have a policy of full employment—and I hope we shall, although it is by no means a certainty—we have to get this leadership right down the line. In that connection it seems to me very unfortunate that the present Government have thought fit to indulge in so much nationalisation. I am quite convinced that if we are to have efficiency under modern conditions, we have to have industrial leaders and we have to have them at a relatively low level. Under nationalisation we may have a great genius as a leader of an industry. I am not suggesting that we have but we may have some day, but by the time his influence has got to the perimeter where the men are working, it has faded away. Therefore, this set-up of vast corporations is doing an immense damage to our prospects in industry. I remember an American saying to me in a works which employed 10,000 men, "If I had my way entirely I would never have any unit with more than 500 men because I do not believe that we will get the best social and economic results by having such large-scale organisations." I think that the necessary pre-requisite to full employment is leadership and that the present Government policy of having nationalised concerns is stamping that out.
In all nationalised industry there are indications that the trade unions are paying attention to the education and training of foremen and of others on managerial levels.
I agree, but in all these things the industrial leader or managing director is the man who really matters. One has only to go into an office and see the managing director to get a very good idea what the work of that firm will be like and what the spirit of the work will be like. It is no good trying to remedy the defects of the past by getting the right leadership in the lower levels in industry—among the N.C.O.'s—if we take away the vital support of the industrial leader at the top.The hon. Gentleman made one or two other references which I cannot accept. His first—and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary can enlighten us here—was about the increase in production. Where do these figures come from? It was confessed to me the other day, when I was looking at one of the Government White Papers, that the levels of productivity could not be determined very well. If that is so, how do the Government arrive at these figures? If the increases are accurate we are all very pleased about it. We would like to be assured, however, that these figures of increased productivity are accurate and can be supported. So far as textiles are concerned, I think that the greatest responsibility for the lack of production in that industry rests upon the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was the man who dillied and dallied with these problems for nearly 18 months or two years, instead of getting on with the essential things that had to be done in the industry. It is true that those who followed him have made good, in some part, the deficiency of which he stands convicted. There is no escaping the fact that Lancashire lost at least 18 months production which it might not have lost if a man with more grasp of the situation had taken hold of the industry at the time when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was President of the Board of Trade. I think that those of us who are concerned with Lancashire ought to say that a great responsibility rests on the present Chancellor of the Exchequer for what he has done. I think that any attack upon the unions at the present time in this country would be most improper. I know the difficulties which the union leaders have today in carrying their own supporters with them. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot, as he has been doing, tell one story for over 30 years and then say overnight that the story which he has told for so long is entirely wrong. He cannot, therefore, expect men to do what he now expects them to do without a certain amount of hesitancy. I sympathise with the attitude that the unions have to take up, and I say that there are no better industrial organisations anywhere than the trade unions in this country. I think that our union leaders today are an example to the whole world, and I wish them well in the task which they have to fulfil. It is also important to realise that there are directions in this country where we must have better production than we are getting today. The building industry is one example. We know that the building industry output is hardly one-half what it was in 1938. That is obviously not good enough. It means in fact that the ordinary worker has to pay much more for his house. We have now reached a state of affairs where people are refusing council houses, despite the immense subsidies given by the local government and national Government, because they cannot afford them and because the costs of production are over three times what they were before the war. It is no good anyone in this House or elsewhere saying that the situation is satisfactory when men and women in this country have to refuse subsidised council houses because the costs of production are so high that the rents are beyond their purses. The same applies to the dock workers in this country. I agree that dock workers all over the world are deteriorating. In Australia and New Zealand they are worse than they are here. The fact remains that the output of the dock workers is half what it was in 1938 and the cost of this in turnround is enormous. Therefore, that again is an unsatisfactory position. The mining position is also by no means satisfactory. We ought to have a much higher production per manshift—especially with the rubbish which is now being sold to the public—than in 1938. We have not got it. The reason is that we have, in some instances, overpayment for services and inevitable inefficiency resulting. I think that the answer to that problem is to get, so far as we can, more piece-work into opera- tion because I think that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us that there is not much more piece-work today than there was in 1938. I think that when we look at the figures issued by his own Department we find that there is a small increase in the number of people who now work on piecework compared with 1938. If we cannot have piecework in all directions, we must have the tempo of output regulated by machinery and better leadership. The whole matter is one of adjusting ourselves to the new conditions, and I hope that His Majesty's Government are now reformed characters. I think that hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite are reformed characters, desperately striving to look respectable for the first time in their lives and I hope that they will be successful in advancing the view that all will have to pull their weight, if they are not to find themselves in a mess in a very short time.
I have enjoyed listening to this Debate on productivity and particularly to the speech of the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd), who obviously speaks with some knowledge of industry, however erratic he may be in certain directions. The hon. Member is one of the knowledgeable Members of this House on industry. I always listen to him with a great deal of interest and forgive him for his prejudices, because there is sometimes a lot in what he says. As for the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson), I would describe his speech as a fourth-form essay by someone who has not gone sufficiently deeply into the problems of industry.The hon. Member for Bucklow wants leadership and has told us that it is impossible to have leadership and nationalisation at the same time. I do not know why he comes to that conclusion. I have been connected with an industry that has been nationalised for many years, and although I have had to fight the leaders in the Post Office for the past 30 years, I can say that they are very able and far-seeing administrators who have done certain things which could very well have been followed to advantage by many outside industries. The question of whether an industry is nationalised or not does not affect leadership.
I appreciate the point the hon. Member is making, but I ask him to bear this in mind. In a systematised industry, such as the Post Office, the qualities of leadership in the sense I was suggesting are perhaps less important than they are in competitive industry, where different problems are constantly arising, such as a new variety of goods, which make leadership of vital importance.
I am not suggesting that the problems are identical, but if the hon. Member cares to read the history of the Post Office on the engineering and research side, I think he will modify some of his views. In the field of telecommunications there has been a tremendous amount of research, development and foresight on the part of those concerned.The hon. Member also asked the Parliamentary Secretary to try to convince some of his colleagues that it is time to change some of the things they have been saying for the past 30 years. Is the hon. Member seriously suggesting that I and my hon. Friends have not for the past 30 years been telling those working in industry what are their rights in regard to industry and what they ought to be getting out of industry?
Does not the hon. Member recall that 30 years ago he and his hon. Friends were claiming that the problem of production had been solved and that the only problem which remained was that of distribution, whereas today they are saying that what we have to do is to produce more to maintain existing conditions?
Some of us connected with industry have all our lives been saying that the basic principle in industry must be a good day's work for a good day's pay. It was not until we came within a reasonable distance of a decent day's pay and decent conditions of work and welfare that we had any time left over to deal with the converse side of industry. After having convinced our people of their rights and what is a proper return for their labour, we are now quite rightly asking them to do the right thing by industry in return. This has meant great courage and foresight on the part of the trade union movement and the Government. The hon. Member for Skipton seemed to suggest that the Gov- ernment and the trade unions have done nothing in regard to this problem of productivity.
I said that the Government had done a great deal, and I instanced certain publications they have issued, as well as speeches made by the Lord President of the Council, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of the Government.
I remember so well the cynicism and sarcasm, and I made a mental note of what the hon. Member said. He said that the Government had done plenty of paper work by way of publications. I do not know whether the hon. Member reads these publications; if not, I hope that he will pass a resolution in his mind to read them, because judging from his contribution today, it will do him a lot of good. I read a good many of these publications, and what is even more important they are read by a large number of workers. In these publications we are showing not only what is demanded from the workers but the ways and means by which they can give the results so badly required at the present time. The hon. Member referred to the B.I.F. I do not know whether he has been there—unfortunately I have not been able to go there myself, but I have had reports from people who were there—but I suggest that the exhibition shows better than anything else what has been done in industry. Practically every visitor from overseas is going away with a glowing tribute to the work of British industry represented there. I have been privileged to go to previous exhibitions of this sort, and if there is one thing that stands out in my mind, it is the tremendous advances made during the last two years, both in regard to our old industries and in the development of new industries so essential to the future of this country.I do not think the hon. Member knows much about the trade unions. I suggest to him that he should ask the trade unions to let him have copies of their weekly and monthly journals to see the amount of direction and education that is given, both collectively through the T.U.C. and separately through the unions concerned. I could develop the point I am making, if I had the time, by referring to the joint consideration of productive problems. The hon. Member will find that very good advice is going out to industry from the T.U.C. and the trade unions in connection with training, welfare, education and technical subjects. On the question of joint consideration of problems in industry, there is a big difference, even in the case of nationalised concerns, between what is said about joint consultation and what we consider to be essential. We want consultation not only between the foreman and the men but throughout the whole of industry. We want consultation to permeate from the bottom of industry to the top, and to take in high policy. On the question of profits, it may be easy to convince ourselves in this House that they are not excessive; the difficulty is to convince the man in the factory, who has had his wages stabilised at a certain level for a considerable time, that something more could not be given him if there was a limitation of profits. I sincerely hope that the hon. Member for Skipton, after showing his interest in this question of productivity, will not, in future, confine himself to reading the captions in the "Daily Express." In considering this matter he should look at it from an overall point of view. Anyone who picks out of the bag three or four isolated cases, as he has done today, is not doing himself good service, and is certainly not doing industry good service. I believe that workers and industrial leaders must face up to one fundamental fact, and that is that our whole economic and industrial system is going through the biggest change in its history. Never again will our industrial set-up approximate to what it was in 1938–1939. World affairs have forced a complete change upon us, and I sincerely hope that managements and workers will realise that what were logical and reasonable practices in the past are not so any longer. The whole conception must be changed, because of the events of the last few years. If this Debate does something to spot light the need for careful and calm analysis of new ideas in the training of managers, and consultation between the two sides, it will have served a good purpose. I hope that people reading the Debate will not think only of the three or four small points which the hon. Member for Skipton thought it necessary to raise, but the really big issues which involve the future of our country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. W. R. Williams) has covered almost precisely a number of points I wished to make and, that being so, I shall detain the House for only a short time before the Minister replies to the Debate. We have had an interesting Debate on this subject but, unfortunately, there was a tendency in the speeches of the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) and the hon. Member for Buck-low (Mr. Shepherd) to cloak what is the real problem by references to the conflict between management and labour. I thought it unfortunate that the speeches of both hon. Members departed from the original object of this Debate, which was to draw attention to the First Report of the Committee on Industrial Productivity. The Debate has travelled over a much wider field and I should now like to bring it back for a few minutes to the essential matters put before the country in that Report. They are matters of national importance, and are quite different from any real or imaginary conflict between management and labour.The hon. Member for Bucklow paid a very fine tribute to the British worker and I am only sorry that the benches behind him were not fuller, so that other Members could have heard what he said. But one of the most urgent tasks before the country today is the application of scientific research to the practical problems of industry. This is emphasised over and over again in the Committee's Report. The House and the country are indebted to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council for their initiative in setting up this Committee, with its highly qualified and very representative membership, and I think their Report deserves to be widely known, studied and applied. Some of the passages of the Report were quoted by the hon. Member for Skipton but not, I think, the most important. Some of those he did not quote refute some of the statements he made in the latter part of his speech. The Report quotes our total production in 1948 as being considerably higher than in 1938. It deals with the problems which have to be faced by a country which has adopted a policy of full employment. The essence of the Report is in paragraph 26, which says:
In other words, what we in this country have to learn is what the Americans have already learned—that if we are to make the best use of our limited resources we must be more expert in applying the lessons of science to the practical and technical problems thrown up by industry. That is why it is so important to deal effectively and immediately with training in our technological institutes, and to see that the fruits of that training are used in industry to the best possible advantage. One of the matters which the Report stresses, but has not yet been mentioned, is the importance of agriculture in the overall picture of our economy. If we are to reduce our imports—as we must—then it is essential that we should increase our agricultural products. The Report says:"Sometimes scientific research can have a spectacular influence on productivity without increasing quality. … Broadly speaking, however, an immense increase in the productivity of industry, taken as a whole, depends far more on understanding the implications of scientific advances, and on the application of existing knowledge and of known scientific methods, than on the results of new research."
Other parts of the Report stress"it should be practicable within five years to raise the production of food in this country by as much as 20 per cent.; in other words, to feed some 4 million more people than we now feed from our own resources. We believe that this is well within the bounds of technical possibility."
There is no doubt that in a great many industries there is a sense of frustration on the part of workers, who feel some managements have failed, and are failing, to make the best possible use and deployment of the available materials, machines and manpower. That must be remedied if we are to secure the most economic use of manpower and the best results from the workers. This is the kind of incentive by which management and employers, as this Report indicates, can produce better results. The Government have done everything possible to give fundamental incentives to industry. We have not only got a system of full employment, but we have got security, better provision against industrial accidents and disease, and a National Health Service. I hope that we may make progress, in dealing with all questions relating to human factors in industry, as has been mentioned in this Debate. There is a good deal of work to be done, along the lines indicated in this Report, for the human factor in industry and our most fruitful line of advance here lies in getting the fullest co-operative production from our national resources."the application of the latest scientific knowledge to the problems of industrial productivity."
I have one regret and that is that the general tenor of this Debate has not been on the high level of the last speech. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher), to which we have just listened, is the type of speech that one prefers to deal with when looking at this kind of problem. The hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) approached the problem without undue bias and, despite what was said by some of my colleagues on this side of the House, I think he was looking at the real problem. He dealt generally with the aims of production and the Report of the Committee on Industrial Productivity, but then he seemed to slip. He began dealing with four or five isolated instances which have occurred in this country, and which have caused some trouble in industry. I thought he was unfair to himself. As far as the Government are concerned, they have done more to increase productive rates in the last four years in this country than was ever done by any other Government. They have not only done better, but have done it in the teeth of the opposition of the big industrial interests in this country. The resistance to development councils in various industries is an example of the opposition which unfortunately is not confined to one side of the industry. The driving force of this resistance comes from the employing side.The Government are very conscious of the fact that if we are to go on expanding the lives of our people and increasing the social amenities, there is a danger that our social overheads may become too great for our production. One of the reasons we are driving on with this productivity plan is in order to increase production in this country so as to permit an expanding life for the people. The issue of the first Report of the Committee on Industrial Productivity is an indication of the Government's earnestness about this. We have had economic difficulties in this country many times in the past, but never before has a Government set up a committee to look at this problem and to provide reports on activity and research in relation to that problem. If that is the only example of what the Government have done, we can say that they have done far more than any other Government in the past. The hon. Gentleman dealt with restrictive practices in industry. Most of his speech, unfortunately, was devoted to that side—not the positive but the negative side. Let us see exactly what has happened in regard to the cargo of sugar in the ship at the London Docks. I am sure he is aware that this matter has been submitted to investigation. The fact of the matter is that an attempt was made to use not new equipment, but equipment which had been used for unloading coal to discharge a cargo of sugar. No agreement existed between the union and the employer to deal with this particular problem. I think the trouble very largely was due to the fact that the ship arrived in the dock before any agreement was reached between the employers and the Dockers' Union. As I said, the matter was referred to investigation by Sir John Forster, and I have his report in front of me. I do not anticipate that in the experimental unloading of these cargoes in the future there will be any difficulty in finding a solution to what is a new problem in the London Docks. It is of great importance that the new method should be applied, because I am told there would have been a saving of £7,500 in the unloading of the sugar if the new method had been applied as compared with the old. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the new crane at Dorman Long's Cleveland Iron Ore Company. It was a case of great difficulty. Here was an attempt to do something with a grab which replaced the old methods, and there was no proper consultation nor agreement about it. The upshot of the matter has been that it has been referred by the parties to two arbitrators who will watch the job and decide. I should have thought that that sort of approach to this problem should have been taken earlier, because it would have produced far quicker results and there would have been far less trouble about it. I should like to refer to the question of coal cutters, about which the hon. Gentleman has complained. I started work at the pit coalface when I was 13. I remember having to lie on my side for the best part of an eight-hour shift in order to get underneath the coal. I did that many hours and then one bright day a new machine was put into the pit. When I went to the place next morning, the under-cutting of the coal had been done. There was trouble about the machinery, but it was not about using it. The trouble arose about cutting rates of pay that we had been getting. The coalowners attempted to fix a new rate of pay for the use of the coal-cutting machine which left us far worse off than we were, despite the fact that the owners were getting ten times as much coal. The trouble is not with the machines but with the amount to be paid for the work with the assistance of the machine. I know of very little trouble in the mining industry in connection with mechanisation. Nearly 70 per cent. of our coal nowadays is got by machine cutting. The principle of machine cutting has been accepted right through the industry. Where conflicts arise, they are about the rate of wage to be paid for the job, after the introduction of the mechanical aid. There was a reference to the outburst of Mr. Lord, the managing director of Austin's. I have heard of the controversy, and I am quite satisfied he would agree that the resistance is not to the machine, but to the rate of pay. The trouble is that there are too many rates of pay, where new machines are introduced, which are arbitrarily fixed by the employers without agreement with the trade unions. I am surprised at the complaint in the motor industry, which has reached a higher state of mechanisation than any other industry in the country. It is producing results which give us all a sense of pride, and which are making such a large and substantial contribution to our export trade. Now I come to the very vexed question of the textile industry, of which the hon. Gentleman has had considerable experience and in which he has certain interests. As he knows, I have for some two years been working on this job of building up manpower in the textile industry and attempting to increase its rate of productivity. During that time I have been able to get to know something about it. It is no use blaming the workers or the trade unions in these industries. There is as much resistance to re-deployment in Lancashire on the part of employers as there is on the part of the workers. It is highly desirable that we should get this re-deployment. As wages are not involved in this re-deployment, I would press upon both sides of the industry to let us have the quickest possible results. What Lancashire and the rest of the country must get into their mind is that they cannot produce themselves out of work, but unless they produce more than they are now producing we shall all be out of work. That is the note of warning that ought to be echoed in Lancashire. We must produce more. We must produce at lower prices. We must get our people to produce more and to earn more. One thing I have felt about the textile industry is that it is an industry that has been accustomed to using cheap labour. It has used it for far too long. Cheap labour is usually typical of an inefficient industry. Highly paid labour is usually typical of an efficient industry. What we want in Lancashire is a much more efficient use of labour, so that the labourer can get a greater reward, and so that his output will, in the interests of this country, be much greater. Most of the criticism from the hon. Gentleman was directed towards the workers and the trade unions. It was not very emphatic but it was there, as an undertone. In the textile industry the chemist has gone far ahead of the light engineer and has produced new fabrics, new mixes, wonderful cloth, first-class printing of the cloth, and colours and dyes which seem to be the best in the world. On the other hand, the machines are the same as were in use 100 years ago. The buildings are modelled on buildings that were modern in the days of Queen Victoria. This remark applies even to types of building now going up. There is need for a revolution in the engineering technique of the textile industry. In my view it could make the greatest contribution to progress, and would bring in its train a complete re-deployment of labour. Let me give one or two examples. Why is it that in the spinning room they have to employ so many spinners? It is due to the fact that they are on breaks. Why have not the light engineers worked on the ring frames to prevent the breakage of the yarn? If they could do that, they could have a spinning room without a spinner, and the labour problem in the spinning industry could be settled immediately. The same thing can be said about the weaving room. They still have the same old kind of shuttle movement, kicking up the same awful racket in the weaving shed. I hope that Lancashire will produce a silent loom. Has the industry concentrated as much on its machinery and equipment as it has on the other sides? That is why I say that the chemist has gone right ahead in textiles and that the engineer has lagged too far behind. I hope that it is realised that by a change in the machinery we can obtain re-deployment of labour. There is no resistance at all in Lancashire to the introduction of new machinery. I have examined the industry pretty widely and thoroughly, and I have not found a single case of objection to the introduction of new machines. The hon. Gentleman has mentioned some objection on the part of the mule spinners to the ring-spinning method, but that is a very small thing and does not prevent the introduction of a single ring-spinning frame in Lancashire. There has been a suggestion that the Government have failed to produce the right incentive. I would remind the hon. Gentleman of what he said. In the old days men felt that if they worked hard they would work themselves out of a job. Today they have full employment. By and large, there are jobs for everybody. If they work hard, they do not necessarily become unemployed. Surely that is the greatest incentive in industry. I remember knowing as a collier that if we filled all the wagons on the top of the pit until there were no more wagons there, we would come out only after half a shift. What we used to do was to spread the work, in order to do a full shift. That sort of thing does not apply today. Workers in industry have the assurance that if in their employment they play the game by the country, they will not, as a consequence, become unemployed or, to make it even worse, by working harder on three days a week, as we did in the mines, be unemployed on the other days in the week. I should have thought that that was the first condition for a successful reaction on the part of the workers in industry. Here is full employment. The hon. Gentleman, and his hon. Friend who spoke subsequently seemed to regret that there was this full employment. He said that it had taken the incentive from people. I think he was hankering after the days when the drive was the drive of poverty and unemployment. I hope that I am not misinterpreting what he said. The rather acid remarks he indulged in towards the end of his speech led me to believe that, despite what he said about the part the trade unions have played, he has a Victorian outlook on the position of workers in industry.
That is not quite true of my hon. Friend the Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd), because he has the very highest regard for the workers in industry. I thought his remarks gave quite the opposite impression from that suggested by the Minister.
All I can say is that if I had been working for him, there would have been a strike. That is the effect he produced on me. I do not know what effect he produced upon other Members of the House.The Government have attempted to let the country know what they want done in production. The annual economic surveys are issued in popular form today, and each industry knows what is expected of it as part of the national task. Each individual in the industry can know that, too. We want wider extension of joint production committees and works councils. People should know what the national plan is. They should also know the part their own mill or factory is playing in that plan, and they should know what part they play in the job in which they are engaged. One of the most important factors in relation to the task of getting increased production is for the workers to know what they are doing and to be part of a team instead of an unconsidered cog in a machine, to be doing something co-operatively instead of doing what they are directed to do and being told that their job is to do what they are told to do and not to think at all. We want more of that new spirit in industry. In the trade of the hon. Member for Skipton, there is Fox's, of Wellington, a very old-established firm. They have an elected works council which is presided over by a worker. That council considers the setup of the mill and production and even the allocation of the proceeds of the firm. Perhaps they go too far, but I wish that other industries would, to some degree, copy what has been done in that extremely happy firm in the West of England textile industry. References were made to nationalisation projects killing leadership. The hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) did a great injustice to what has been done in the nationalised industries. Now anyone working in a nationalised industry has an opportunity of getting a scholarship to go into the best technical colleges and universities in order to train for leadership in industry. In order to become a manager it is not necessary these days to have married the previous manager's daughter or to go to the same chapel as the director. All in industry are now getting opportunities, much greater opportunities than existed before, for technical training to fit them for the highest posts in industry. That is one of the most welcome signs in the nationalised industries. The rate of productivity was referred to. That is extremely important and I do not want to underestimate it, but what is important is that we should have continuity in industry; and whatever may be said about the Government, the workers have worked more continuously since 1945 than they were ever allowed to do before the war. Our record of industrial peace is outstanding in the world. I agree that credit is due on that account to both employers' organisations and trade unions—
And American aid.
—and American aid. I do not discount that, but industrial relations in this country are something which the Americans can learn from us, as they readily admit. The matter of restrictive practices, which slipped into the Debate, has been discussed by both sides of industry on the National Joint Advisory Council. The matter has been referred to a subcommittee and I hope that later on the House will be able to get a report from the National Joint Advisory Council as to the conclusions reached. I believe that we shall get greater progress according to the degree that we can get co-operation in industry and we shall get co-operation in industry according to the degree in which managements and workers work as a team. I hope that what has been said today will assist the development of the idea of the team in industry throughout every industry in the country.